Week in Pop: Banny Grove, Beasteater, Mean Jolene

Sjimon Gompers

Welcome to the wonderful/incredible world of Louise Chicoine's Banny Grove; photographed by Nicky Giraffe.

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Banny Grove

Glam queen of LA—Banny Grove's Louise Chicoine; photographed by Nicky Giraffe.

Glam queen of LA—Banny Grove’s Louise Chicoine; photographed by Nicky Giraffe.

Ever since Peter Nichols (Grape Room, fka Great Valley) & Louise Chicoine (of Massachusetts’ Rabbit Rabbit) founded their magical new imprint Nicey Music we have heard nothing but murmurs & rumors of Louise’s upcoming debut Banny Grove album, Who Is She?. A record that introduces the world to Chicoine’s self-styled hyper-glam, cartoon-esque alter ego who dwells in her own enchanted version of Los Angeles where inspiration, truth & beauty abounds everywhere. Recorded with creative comrade Peter, together the two create a synergy that sounds & feels like what we can only imagine life is like in one of those neon bathed bubbly hologram stackers that were ubiquitous in the 90s. Banny Grove is the flaghsip bearer of Nicey Music’s values that turn over the tables of hopelessness & pessimism to reveal a truly remarkable, edifying & uplifting universe that is absolutely attainable—if only we dearly believe it to be & make it so.

Your first adventure through the wonderland regal-realm of Banny Grove is adorned with candy-synth harpsichords powered by retro video game processors, Casios & more on the world premiere of “Friends 4 a Long Time”. With Who is She? available from Nicey Music October 21, the intriguing & passionate presence, persona, demeanor & pop aesthetic of Banny Grove blasts forward in full force with a contemporary devotional dedicated to the trusted bond & mantle of friendship. With rich rhythmic vocal loops of Peter & Louise reciting “I” & “you” throughout the entire mix, the illustrious botanical Banny Grove gardens grow before your ears with the infectious ear-worm chorus “I knew that we would be friends for a long time” that is sung like a nursery rhyme heard from a dream tale fable that resonates like something you have heard your entire life. The sacred connection of timeless connections that involve watching movies or making music until three am in the morning, shooting hoops that celebrates the differences between the best of friends that are always bonded by a phone call or text away. Another facet from the Banny Grove/Nicey Music queendom is a view into the intrinsic dynamic that Louise & Peter share in their own power couple bond that is echoed in the ecstatic & enamored closing lyrics of “It was like from the moment I met you I knew we’d be friends forever…like the fox & the hound [howls & recitations of the chorus can be heard overdubbed in the background by both Louise & Peter]. Banny Grove has arrived to save us from our own depressive delusions on a mission to save the world with the message of enlightened happiness & joy on a level that majority of the world still has yet to discover. Immediately after the following debut of Banny Grove’s “Friends 4 a Long Time”, read our candid interview with the always awesome Louise Chicione.

Describe the evolution & origins of Banny Grove from the beginning to now.

Banny Grove was born in my mind as a super diva—hero, so beautifully simple and positive that she comes off as naive or childish. I dreamed of her while setting the tables early morning at The Greenbean in Northampton, MA where I worked then. I would bump my fav Blondie hits and twirl around doling out ketchups to the tables before the sun rose, like flowers to the crowds. I would BE Banny. I would be filled with this peace, this powerful positive energy that brought me up above any bad mojo that was clinging. She was just a fantasy but when I described her to Peter he was all about her reality. Peter and I began creating songs together and with his guidance I tried something that was new to me—lyrics as joy rather than catharsis. We made these beautiful love filled tunes and they were obviously Banny’s songs! Over the course of the next year together we made some really big moves. A two month tour with Grape Room and The Lentils, then a month of living with my mom, Wendy in western Mass, then a move all the way back to Los Angeles…through it all we found the details of Banny Grove’s persona and wrote most of the songs that would become her first album, Who Is She?. Now, Banny Grove is this real force. She is determined to give everyone this magical sense, this love gift, so everyone can feel the buoyant warmth of gratitude and joy.

You & Peter have been touring a lot, what have been some favorite on-the-road stories as of lately?

[laughs] I love that you ask for stories! That’s whats up. In June we toured Grape Room up the west coast. Between Portland and Oakland I rented us a cabin in the Umpqua Forest. Going out there we had no idea that we would be doing this 30 mile, cliff edge drive in Peter’s mini van [laughs]. We made it to this remote cabin at Musick Guard Station which was part of this gold rush town called Bohemia that is long gone. There were remnants of the old gold mining equipment close by and letters in the cabin log from a man who lived and worked there long ago. It was like tapping into a different era. The woods had this eerie serenity, like they were this greater force that had seen crazy dreams come and go…it was incredibly beautiful and freaky!

We also just got back from touring the east as Grape Room and Banny Grove. It was such smooth, sweet sailing. All the shows we played up north were like reunion shows so we really got to tear it up with friends we hadn’t seen for a while. Hanging with my mom was really special. She is really creatively powerful but so gentle and humble. She showed us the painting she is working on now of the old sand factory on King St. in Northampton, MA. It’s incredible. You’ll see. We all went swimming at Big Rock out in the creek—so dreamy. Other amazing stuff: Colby’s Dimples set in Portland, ME, Georgia peach (yum), Whirlpooling in Helter Shelter’s pool with Dylan—splash! [laughs] Seeing gators chilling in the Bayou! They were just floating around! Under the highways! Wow! Always wanted to see them!

The glamorous world of Banny Grove—featuring Peter Nichols behind the yellow parasol; photographed by Nicky Giraffe.

The glamorous world of Banny Grove—featuring Peter Nichols behind the yellow parasol; photographed by Nicky Giraffe.

Tell us all about the ultra-PMA inception & creation of the super-happy & intuitive jam, “Friends 4 a Long Time”.

Peter was feeling so happy and playing with those vocal samples as rhythmic garnishes. It was like rugrats and Timberland. The words to the bridge came together first and reminded me of traditional Japanese tea service. That reminded me of my job at Silverlake Ramen. I was imagining Banny in my position as cashier, answering the phones, counter helper…and I was inspired by my angelic co-worker Yuneri, always full of grace. She’s endlessly patient. Banny would be like that. She would treat everyone as her friend. No doubt. Every one you meet is just as great as you! So that with the customary dose of joy and fun together brought Peter and I to this posi jam.

What were some of the behind the scenes processes of making Who is She?

It happened all over the USA. Starting in the super safe zone of Peter’s Brattleboro studio, winding through my notebook pages all across the country, bumping from my Mom’s attic, getting soggy in our tent instead of coming out crispy by the campfire as intended [laughter]. The whole process was transient—so brave, but really just fun, like deep honest fun. The joy of acceptance and gratitude.

Banny Grove album art for Who is She?, painted by Albert Gray.

Banny Grove album art for Who is She?, painted by Albert Gray.

You & Peter gravitate toward these rapturous & bright sounds. How do you transfer that in recorded audio form?

Peter usually aims for a nice, clear ringing bell from his recordings. Just a pure clean recording without it being polished or sterile. When all the sounds are there in clarity and solidarity with each other you have a wave that really appeals to you on a cellular level. Same from my words and tones. If you start with clarity then it’s possible to build up to these emotionally moving spires.

Other awesome things happening with Banny Grove & the Nicey universe?

Banny’s big dream now is a tour down to Mexico. We’re hoping to do that before the end of this year. There’s a hot new Banny vid in the works that’s bound to be real cheesy. Nicey is like a dozen balloons set free. We have several more albums to be released before the end of the year and big plans for the beginning of 2017. There is word that a Nicey News program might be in the works…STAY TUNED!

Banny Grove’s debut album Who is She? will be available October 21 from the exquisite & illustrious imprint on the rise—Nicey Music.

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