Kate Schellenbach on the return of Luscious Jackson, working on “The Ellen Show” and being out in the ’90s

AE: I’m curious — since so much has changed do feel like that has affected the sound of the new music you’re making?
KS:
As far as the new music we’re making, it’s still very typical Luscious Jackson. We’re still mixing genres and Jill and Gabby have been doing a lot of writing and have kind of been like, “What do we write about now? We have kids and we’re older.” [Laughs] We’re still trying to keep it positive and stay away from the midlife crisis kind of thing. [Laughs] But sound-wise I still think it’s a mixture of stuff and be open to influences of things we hear these days and keep things fresh. What’s great about us working together though is that me, Jill and Gabby all buy a lot of the same records and we have a lot of the same common ground as far as the language of our music together. So if Jill goes to me, “Can you do some drums that are a little more like ESG?” I know what she’s talking about. And ESG is this all-girl funk band from the Bronx, so I get that and that’s really nice.

AE: Yeah it’s got to be good to have that short code.
KS:
So that stuff kind of continues in our music. We’re all fanatical about our music and now it’s so easy with your iPhone or whatever to just pull stuff up. So Jill will be like, “Have you heard Stoosh?” And I’m like, “No,” but I pull it up on my iPhone and take a listen and am ready to go. It’s so much easier. I was actually thinking about how before we used to have to think about which CDs to bring with us and it was such a drag. Everyone would have to be like, “What can we all listen to? Ah, I guess let’s bring Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits.” It’s so much easier.

AE: In the new single you put out, “Are You Ready,” I can definitely hear similar sounds to I’d say, your Natural Ingredients album, which is really exciting for me. When Rolling Stone published the article about your return I just about peed my pants, I couldn’t believe it.
KS:
[Laughs]

AE: You all have always used a lot of samples in your music. With the technology changing and the ease of getting your hands on different equipment to make music, having access to making music without even having to touch an instrument, how do you feel about that these days and the music that’s coming out?
KS:
You know, we’ve always been really open to different ways of making music and it’s run the gamut of using samples to recording us live to doing both. So for us it’s not really all that different these days in a lot of ways. Like, we’re sending a lot of things back and forth. For “Are You Ready,” I actually programmed drums for that and did it on my iPad, actually. We just wanted to put something out pretty quickly and remind people who we were and see what the interest was. The goal was to record sort of a classic Luscious Jackson track, like really collaborative with Jill and Gabby. Like, Natural Ingredients. I think moving on, their writing has become a little more separate. So I agree, I think it does seem like Natural Ingredients. But we always were kind of doing whatever and we were so comfortable with the DIY approach. Jill is all hooked up with a studio in her home and she’s spent the last bunch of years kind of holed up and producing and recording and learning how to do all that and co-writing people and doing her own thing. So she’s really adept at that. So it’s really cool. I can just send her some drum tracks. It’s pretty awesome. [Laughs]

AE: It’s totally awesome! It makes reunions easier to do.
KS:
We’re still at the very beginning stages and our songs and I’m still waiting for some things for some of the new tracks we’re working on. And I think it’s going to go back and forth kind of piecemeal. You know we all have jobs and are parents now so it’s just kind of fitting it in. But we’re all motivated and it’s been fun. It’s kind of trippy because I haven’t even seen those guys in years.

AE: You haven’t even seen them in person?
KS:
Yeah! We’ve just kind of been texting or talking on the phone! [Laughs] It’s all very modern.

AE: I’ll say!
KS:
Also because of the way we’re doing this, it all happens super quickly. Back in the day it was all about release time. We’d be like, “Oh we’ll release it in August. No, we’ll wait ’til November because of whatever.” The record company business is so much about timing. But these days you can just be like, “Alright let’s do this thing.” And within three days we were funded and had a single out and the press was on it. It’s just a lot easier.Of course, on the other side of things, now we’re realizing there’s a lot of new things we have to worry about that we just never had to think about before. Like, oh now we have to file this at the copyright office. But it’s fine. [Laughs] It is what it is.

AE: It’s a necessary evil I guess.
KS:
Yeah, so we’re hoping to get tracks done within six months, which actually isn’t a lot of time with the way we’re working. And people can continue to pledge and we’ll see where it goes. We’d love to do some live shows, it’s just a matter of making that financially viable. It’s super expensive to play live.

AE: You all played Lollapalooza before. If you got asked to again, would you be up for it?
KS:
Yeah, I mean we’re definitely open to big festivals. Those are attractive because there’s obviously a big audience and a lot of publicity and you just fly in and out. Something like that definitely appeals to us. It depends on schedules and that kind of thing. We’d love to do some shows that we can get a lot of people out to.

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