It’s not often you get the chance to be transported to a magical world located somewhere along the edge of reality, filled with unicorns, neon rainbows, international candy, and whimsy. Unless, of course, you’re visiting Disney World or you’re on some combination of substances, this seems impossible.
But nestled somewhere in the dark under-ground (literally!) of the bustling LES in Manhattan, such a place exists - and one hot summer day in July, as part of a joint interview with my friend and employer, I got to visit it and meet its magical inhabitants.
A few weeks ago Lo, the mastermind behind Heartschallenger and Heartsrevolution - one of my favorite bands - invited my employer and myself to meet up for a three way interview of sorts. My friend Doe runs her own magical makeup company which I work for, and the two connected over Twitter over their shared love of unicorns, neon, and bright colors - not to mention their strangely paralleled entrepreneurial ventures as independent businesswomen.
As a longtime fan and supporter of Heartsrevolution, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Lo, the adorable, pint-sized riot-grrrl punkette who sells heart-shaped lollipops from her pink ice cream truck but thrashes around on stage, swears like a sailor, and fights viciously against a system that spawns empty, wide-eyed pop-stars and corrupted role-models.
I certainly wasn’t expecting one of the friendliest hugs and most sincere greetings I’ve ever received. “It’s so nice to finally meet you!” Lo exclaimed happily. “It’s so fucking hot out, sorry if I’m sweaty!”
The Heartsrevolution lair - described by Lo as a dark, fly-infested “Mordor” when they first rented the space - is anything but. After trekking down some seriously steep stairs, we are greeted by brightly colored neon lights (some unicorn and heart-shaped) which illuminate the walls of the tiny space. Beautiful artwork, too-pretty-to-eat candy, and charming toys with painted pink masks like the one Lo wears on stage drench the office with color and light.
At his computer, Lo’s counterpart and the dude behind Heartsrevolution’s electro-punk beats, Ben types away, quiet but very hospitable. (He helped us down the scary stairs!) Not so quiet is Lo’s spunky, pretty “almost 11” year-old daughter, who at once swipes some of the gifts we’ve brought along for her mom (candy and lipstick) and never hesitates to chime in with charming banter during our interview.
Lo, who is wearing sweaty streaks of her trademark fluorescent pink makeup over her soulful eyes, explains how the office came to be. “This stuff used to be in my house, and one day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted all this shit out of my house so I called up my friend, a realtor, and had them find this place for me...”
Read the rest of our interview after the jump, below!
She begins filling up magical goodie bags for us filled with Heartsrevolution merch, vintage treats, and international candy, and as she talks I can’t help but notice a child-like hopefulness and sincerity in her mile-a-minute voice. She is petite, warm, and eager to share her world.
She begins to chat about her long-awaited upcoming debut album, a 13-song LP due out fall, and how she chose its title, ‘Ride Or Die.’ “It’s a reference to hip-hop, and these “ride-or-die” girls in the lyrics of the songs. It’s referencing this beautiful thing that happens in hip-hop - real hip-hop like Biggie and 2Pac - where in the first album, they’re rapping about rising up from nothing and trying to make it. And then the second album comes along and they’re singing about how they made it! They have a real story to tell. That’s what our album is about.”
Somewhere along the way I inquire what Lo - who I’ve read in many other interviews shies away from the term electro - would classify, if she had to, her music. It’s no doubt that the band, whose song “Dance ‘Til Dawn” has been featured on ‘Gossip Girl,’ is known for their dizzying synths and disco-punk beats. But underneath, there is a raw force that propels the music from dance into something more.
“I really don’t like that word - electro,” she explains. “We’re not electro. Not really. When it comes down to it, we make electronic dance music but with rock n’ roll lyrics, a punk spirit. We tell a story. I would describe our music as storytelling.”
Considering that the album will contain songs about “children’s suicide, drug use, and the daily objectification of women,” it’s not hard to see what kind of story Heartsrevolution is trying to tell.
“We really want to talk about these things that no one else has the balls to talk about. But it’s not all about how big our dick is. It means something. We have this song, “Teenage Teardrops,” about kids who are so depressed, they want to commit suicide. And instead of really confronting the real problem here, their parents can’t handle it and just give them these pills. And all this medication makes them numb. But not really. They still feel these feelings and they don’t go away.”
She excitedly gives us a glimpse of a “top-secret project” on her laptop. It’s a brief look into visual aspect of the album, and something that proves the album is going to be very exciting and a big milestone for music. But I’ll save the surprise for you.
As we continue talking in her candy-land office, I can’t help but notice the somewhat odd juxtaposition between the sugar-sweet marketing and serious, somewhat dark underlying messages in the music. But the fairy-tale isn’t a façade. It’s all part of the big picture for the band, which combines marketing and message through worldly, thought-provoking lyrics and colorful, childhood whimsy... such as a pink ice cream truck.
Heartschallenger, the brand behind the band, is the name of Lo and Ben’s ice cream truck project. Currently there are three pink, unicorn-adorned trucks in the country, but the group is hoping to expand globally, as well as take the trucks with them on tour as a mobile merch booth. And one of those trucks is going to sparkle.
“Right now,” Lo explains, “we’re part of this exciting collaboration with Swarovski, who has donated one-hundred- thousand beautiful crystals that we are going to cover the first Heartschallenger truck with! We’ve got these cute paper jumpsuits, and gloves, and pink ski masks and we’re going to build this army, this big group of kids and get together to put all these crystals on!”
But this sparkling venture isn’t just for show and shimmer. As Lo explains, there’s a deeper reasoning for this creative collaboration, one which ties into the future of the youth, music culture, and a sense of adventure.
“Kids today listen to music that they can get fucked-up to, and go out and party. But they’re not really doing anything productive. They’re not making anything. But there’s so much music culture. I want to get these kids up and make them a part of something and get them contributing to something.”
And already on their web site, Heartsrevolution.com, the band is enlisting their fans into the “Heartschallenger Army” in support of “a revolution of the heart” and a “call to arms for those who think outside of the box.”
Hopefully, this philosophy of “Choose Your Own Adventure” – the name of one of the band’s biggest hit songs – will inspire fans to get involved and find themselves, like the Heartschallenger truck, sparkling with possibilities. And regardless of where this adventure takes Heartsrevolution, it is clear that their story will lead to a happy ending. For now, though, they’re just enjoying the ride.
To join the revolution, visit Heartsrevolution online here. You can here the music on MySpace here.