Friday, May 13, 2022

An Interview with Tysk Tysk Task

Photo via Tysk Tysk Task

I've been a huge fan of Tysk Tysk Task ever since I stumbled on their music a little over two years ago. Their music has this amazing blend of completely raw emotion and noise mixed with an unexpected beauty that connects with me on a deep level. Last month the duo released "Colors," which has become one of my favorite songs of the year. They've also launched a Kickstarter to fund their next album (
). You can pre-order the album, get some original artwork from Samantha Hartsel, and even hang out with the band at their practice space. I took this as a chance to reach out to Samantha and Danni Gannon via email to ask some questions about their upcoming album!

Q: At one point, it looked like Tysk Tysk Task might be done as a band. Obviously, we're thrilled you're still around. What made you revisit making music as Tysk Tysk Task?

S: I wouldn’t say I revisited it - Tysk Tysk Task’s music never stopped. There were some personal issues that developed between myself and my co-songwriter Kyle Cuneo. He had taken over for our previous drummer after she opted for a more corporate path and wanted to focus on a new job. When he stopped coming to practices, myself and friends continued to practice the songs with the hope that, if there would ever come a time for a post-pandemic world, we’d be ready to play out again. We auditioned some new players but the band really picked up steam again last summer when a mutual friend connected me with Danni. 

D: For me, the last few years have been tough personally, but I always knew I would get back out to doing what I love. I actually sustained an injury to my thumb while skiing and I could not play for many months. I thought I would never play again. It healed though, and my partner at the time sent me a link to an Insta ad from Samantha seeking a percussionist. I took a listen to a couple of songs and then responded right back. The rest is history.

S: Thankful always to Penelope (Alizarin), fabulous frontwoman of the one-woman project Stems in Worcester, for connecting us. Danni was really the one who made me realize the songs could continue, and should continue, maybe with a shift in vibe. She brought new perspective and focus to the project, while still loving the spooky woodland slumber horrorshow vibe I cultivated in TTT previously, with members rocking antlers during shows and creating shrine-like merch box set ups. I’m forever grateful for Danni’s enthusiasm and feel like I found a true sister. 

Q: Your latest single, "Colors," has a much heavier/grungier sound than your previous releases. What inspired that change, and is that the direction of the upcoming album?

S: Absolutely, that’s the direction of the next album and of the band going forward. Clearly, there’s been a lot of personal upheaval in the band and that’s absolutely related to the times we’re living in. I don’t think you can make happy music in a worldwide pandemic, especially with a tyrant like Trump at the helm to kick it all off. It didn’t feel right to craft soft love ballads like Lovers’ Covers or even lighter songs like Men of the Century from the first record in this time period. Instead, we started working on songs like “Pounding Sand” and “Flies,” coming out soon, based on that thing that happens when flies fill your house because you’re too depressed amid a Covid lockdown to take your garbage out. You know, stuff we can all related to now, hahaha.

S (continued): I’ll also say that I’ve always loved grunge rock bands and adore especially early PJ Harvey, early Yeah Yeah Yeahs’, thrashing Steve Albini drums and soul-crushing growls into a microphone; Danni is an amazing force who helped bring that out with the power she brings to her drumming.

D: I've been getting more into the heavy side of punk, for sure. This is the direction of the next album, but we have some things in the works too that will bring even more of a slightly different sound. 

Q: You're playing a ton of shows this summer. I think the current total is seven? Who are you really looking forward to playing with, and who are you hoping to play with in the New England area?

D: We do have a bunch of shows booked but we are being mindful also of where we are at in this world - there's an airborne virus to be cognizant of, and at least Samantha and I test frequently, isolate to really only hang with each other and our family members, and put our masks back on as soon as we get off stage. So as long as we are healthy, unexposed, and these shows go on, I am looking forward to playing with Eye Witness (7/15 at Hotel Vernon in Worcester). That show is going to be intimate and fun - we love that storied space. 

S: It's historic, too. So glad it didn’t close amid Covid and I believe it’s still the only place in Mass where you can get beers for $1? Babe Ruth used to party there and if you know the right bartender, you can get down to the basement to see the old speakeasy, and spot even the same urinal Babe pissed in. 

D: I mean, I definitely want to see that. And, I really want to play with more of our friends' bands who help us continue to all grow. Ellis (Roundy) has been a big part of our development, too. 

S: We are absolutely thrilled to have connected with The PAs, the Lowell-based psych rock noise band band formed out of the brilliant brain inside Ellis. He just graduated UML and he also runs the indie label Cursa Records. Ellis will serve as our engineer and producer of this next album, “You’re Sorry More,” based on a lyric from “Colors” that relates to my divorce. We met Ellis last fall when he  invited us to join a bill at Thirsty’s with the PA’s and The Freqs. It was our first show since the pandemic and it was an amazing night, first time Danni played with us publicly, too.

S (continued): Stoked that Ellis is going to be featured on the album as our bassist. We’re also actively auditioning bassists to join our fall tour and maybe the band full-time if the person is willing to make that commitment (so people can def contact us directly at to discuss). 

Q: Your band has a very specific vibe, from your album/single artwork to your practice space to your stage set up. How would you describe it?

D: We do have a pretty specific vibe, haha. I would describe it as nature meets grunge-meets-jazz-meets-shoe gaze-meets-rock? Kind of a lot going on but, that is the vibe and honestly, what brought me to start playing with Samantha and Tysk Tysk Task in the first place. 

D (continued): I’ll add that I am really looking forward to recording this entire album. We have put the work in and I feel we are bringing a new sound to the stage, the dynamics, the ebbs and flows of intensity on the whole. I am proud of this.

Q: Aside from music, what art has been inspiring you lately?

S: I have a couple of projects personally - composing music for my first-indie film project based out of Miami right now (“The Strawberry Jam,” written and directed by my cousin, Laura Lionetta of Lioness Films). I’ll be recording that with engineer Hadden Stemp, who is a lovely musician from the North Shore. My compositions for that film are piano-based so this summer, Hadden and I are going to record an EP of my piano songs. I started out in folk music initially in college as a one-woman show in the way of Amanda Palmer and Regina Spektor. Danni definitely helped me regain a lot of my confidence musically and her support means the world. I tell her all the time, she’s my muse now! And beyond that, I keep decorating our practice spaces like crazy because during the pandemic, I shifted my full-time work into slinging boho chic vintage furniture, peacock chairs and house plants and the like. If anyone’s interested in checking out my interior design curation, you can check out Bloom & Book (@bloomandbookma and Our music inspires the artsy spaces and the spaces inspire the music. It’s sort of a symbiotic loop.

D: Samantha’s stuff is amazing and I love our studio because of the ambience she brings to it. From the lights to the rugs and the furniture, she makes our practice room a space you want to sit in for hours while writinfg some trippy tunes. Our new songs “Forest Down” and “I”m In Your Ocean Now” are more psychedelic definitely because of that. For me, I’m not only a drummer but also a photographer. I love to take pictures of nature and sunrise and sunsets. I am also a producer who likes to create hip hop beats, but that’s another story. 

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