Photo Credit: Ulloa Photo & Video Center
A band chalked full of dinosaur puns. One wouldn’t expect T-Rextasy to get that deep, but they’re as deep as fossils on their latest release Prehysteria. Touching on everything from anxiety felt to womanhood, they really captured the essence of the typical adult in today’s society.
They even tossed isolation into the mix. While one (me) may assume it was about feeling lost in a city like their home of New York City, it was not. Annie said the album was penned while none were in the Big Apple. Each of them away at college, she said that’s where her “sense of isolation cultivated.” While Lyris noted, “It’s more an isolation that one can feel anywhere, particularly one who is growing up in a time where screens are so omnipresent. Social media purportedly brings us closer together- I think it often makes us feel even more lonely.”
Ironically enough we’re going to ask you to stay with your screens a few minutes longer to check out what the talents that make up T-Rextasy had to say in this interview that covers everything and then some.
Kendra: Your style is all over the place. Do you each just throw out a genre and run with it when you’re writing and constructing new music?
Vera: My approach to songwriting uses genre as a template. I think about what my favorite genres are, and try to capture what tropes get me dancing.
Ebun: I feel like genre never really crosses my mind when practicing/playing with T-Rextasy. I think more and more though, I have started to embrace the children music genre that we are cultivating.
Kendra: One look and I knew you all had to be based in NYC. What about that city drives your creativity and do you think you’d have the same passion for what you do if you lived in Small Town, USA?
Vera: Living in New York, I always had access to incredible arts programming with plenty of scholarship money. One of the great things about New York is that if an organization is truly committed to economic diversity, it can be really effective in assisting lower-income individuals at the expense of wealthier ones.
For example, I was in a choir for most of my childhood, where many of the singers were not paying for anything, including travel overseas. The fact that there were wealthy kids whose parents were willing to support the choir allowed me and other kids to learn and sing together. I don’t know if I would have had so many opportunities to learn music and art in a city with less wealth.
Ebun: I would be completely different if I hadn’t grown up in NYC. The cultural environment of New York has informed my personal style, music taste, and beliefs. Growing up in NYC I was able to attend Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls which allowed me to learn how to play drums and gave me an amazing outlet for my burgeoning creativity. There are other girl rock camps in the U.S. but I bet you won’t find one as diverse as Willie Mae in NYC because they are so committed to socioeconomic and racial diversity.
Lyris: Being around so much art here has very much informed my creativity and who I am as a person. There’s always a new idea to encounter.
Kendra: Prehysteria is paying homage to owning and loving your madness as a woman. Was that idea based on that saying that well-behaved women seldom make history? And with that, who are some of your favorite history-making heroes?
Ebun: That saying is super popular, it’s actually my mom’s sign off on all of her emails! Originally I personally was not thinking about that specific quote, but it totally is in alignment with that. To a certain extent, you have to be “crazy” to get anything done in this world. Especially if you are female-identifying.
There are a plethora of women and people who I would deem a history maker. For me, I parallel “history-maker” and someone who is “hysterical” as people who are on the margins, looking in and deciding to create and make something new, unthinkable, and maybe even scary to the dominant culture.
One person that I am thinking about is Ms. Vaginal Davis who is a gender-queer intersex Afro-Mexicana punk rocker/performance artist/designer from Los Angeles. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, she used to be in a band with Alice Bagg called ¡Cholita!. I see Ms. Davis as a visionary who decided to create music and art outside the norm of what most people at the time deemed art and music. Everyone should check her out!
Kendra: You also deal with growing up on the record by way of songs like “The Zit Song,” as well as adult angst. How does the angst you felt as a teen compare to the type you feel now and would you say one outweighs the other?
Annie: I don’t know if I can discern between my teenage and adult angst. When I wrote “The Zit Song”, I was writing about something I remembered from high school, but from the emotions, I was feeling as a 21-year-old. If there’s any difference, it’s that we tend to undervalue and delegitimize teen pain. If anything, I’m more dramatic now then I was then.
Lyris: I’ve certainly still got angst. It’s a different kind. Perhaps more philosophical- but I don’t think my teen angst was any less significant. These days, every time I look in the mirror I get very confused and wonder if I actually exist, or why we are here/if we are here, etc. When I looked in the mirror as a teen I usually just thought “dang I am cute.”
Kendra: We’ve talked a lot about what’s to come on Prehysteria because well, the record has a lot going on but how would you compare this to Jurassic Punk in terms of conception and execution?
Vera: Jurassic Punk was millions of years of geologic pressure culminating in an inevitable, yet entrancing fossil record. Whereas with Prehysteria, we, using the sheer force of our passion, willed a volcano to erupt with rock’n’roll, love, and a horn section.
Kendra: You dive deep on the dino puns, but have you ever encountered the world of dino erotica? I’m linking just in case you haven’t. You’re the first and possibly the only band I’ll ever mention this to.
Ebun: I’m honestly a little scared to dive into the world of dino erotica. Perhaps it is something that we as a band can start incorporating into our repertoire!
Lyris: IDK what s-e-x is.
Kendra: One more on the dinosaur front. If you each were to compare yourself to a famous dino from pop culture, who would you be and why?
Vera: I am Wheezie from Dragon Tales. She’s obnoxious and fun and not actually a dino, just like me.
Ebun: Might be a stretch, but maybe Godzilla? You don’t want to fuck with me when I get hangry.
Lyris: The red Californian dino in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
Kendra: Back to the music. You’ll be playing the east coast after the album drops and then SXSW in March. Any plans to extend further west after those Austin dates?
Kendra: Other than the new album out in January and those dates, what’s 2019 have in store for you all?
Vera: We’re going to be working on our new album. Hopefully, the time machine will be up and running, so we can get some field notes out of the Cretaceous era.
Ebun: I will be the last T-Rextasy that will be graduating from college! So I guess moving back to New York, causing a ruckus, and making more music.
Lyris: Getting a tattoo of a dancing banana.