The Ditty Bops are a painfully talented duo residing in Los Angeles, CA. Their harmonies are stunning and they are amazing at folding and molding the English language. The pair, Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett, have recently self-released their newest recording: "Summer Rains".
Amanda Barrett was sweet enough to answer some questions for us:
Sepiachord: You've self-released your newest CD, "Summer Rains". What
prompted your move from a major label to putting out your music yourselves?
Did you consider moving to a smaller "independent" label?
Amanda: We were very lucky to be on Warner Brothers records for our first
two releases "The Ditty Bops" and "Moon Over the Freeway." It helped us
build our following tremendously to have tour support and radio promotion,
publicity, and so on. When we were ready to record Summer Rains, we were at
a place in our contract where we could leave or stay and we thought it was
best to go off on our own at that point. All along throughout our history
with the label we were very involved with our project from marketing and
publicity ideas to visual and musical content, so starting our own little
label seemed like a fun idea.
SC: Any suggestions to other artists who might be considering going it with
out a label?
Amanda: Do it! Nowadays there is so much available to artists as far as
recording equipment and internet promotional tools, there is not as much of
a need for labels as there used to be.
SC: Was the recording process for this album different then your previous
outings? How was it working with Mitchell Froom?
Amanda: This time we didn't have to worry about what our label thought of
the recordings. On past albums we had to make concessions about which songs
we could put on the record. This time we could do whatever songs we wanted
that Mitchell liked. We recorded with our band and Mitchell Froom and David
Boucher again. What fun!
SC: Did the two of you work together to design the packaging of "Summer Rains"?
Amanda: We had the idea of doing a pop-up cd packaging. We wanted it to be
simple, yet exciting. We searched for a paper engineer and found Renee
Jablow here in LA. She worked with us and with Rick Whitmore who did our
photos and graphics for the record. It was a great team effort and we had
so much fun making it. We printed it with recycled paper and soy inks and
were able to make it all here in LA. The pop-up cd is available for sale on
our website www.TheDittyBops.com and the digital downloads are on itunes and
other major digital stores.
SC: So far you haven't announced a big tour to support the album, is their one in the offing?
Amanda: Right now we're in LA working on some upcoming projects, so we've
been staying pretty local. We'll have some California shows and hopefully
some in Hawaii soon. We'd love to tour in Europe because we've never toured
there and always wanted to. Hopefully next year.
SC: What place are you eager to play again?
Amanda: I look forward to coming back to Chicago and Madison again. Those
are two of my favorite places to play. There are many cities that I love
playing across the country, though. Too many to mention.
SC: You seem to love interactive shows, do you have any secret methods to
win over an indifferent crowd?
Amanda: That can be tough. It's a balance between feeling out an audience
and playing the material you want to play that you're excited about.
Because if you only cater to an audience and are bored by what you're
playing, your lackluster attitude will come through. Some of my other
performing friends play only what they want and don't give into audience
requests. Others only play the favorites and never branch out into new
artistic territory. So everyone has their own approach.
SC: How do you describe the sound of the Ditty Bops to folks who haven't
heard you before?
Amanda: I say we play acoustic instruments and sing in harmony. We play
early jazz and write original music. I'm not sure that clarifies much, but
that's what I say.
SC: Do people frequently ask if you're a "political" band?
Amanda: Not so far.
SC: Who's your favorite composer?
Amanda: My mom Ruth Barrett is one of my favorite song writers. I recently
sang with her on her new album called "Garden of Mysteries" and it was so
fun. Here's her site: http://www.dancingtreemusic.com
SC: What's your favorite kind of bike?
Amanda: We love our Surly Cross Check bikes that we rode across the country
on. When we got back from our bicycle tour two years ago, we gave up our
car and have been riding on them ever since. They're great bikes!
SC: What's up with "You and I Save the World"? Do you have any fund raisers
or projects planned?
Amanda: We are still trying to reach our goal of collecting 5,000
signatures from people who are willing to bring their own bag to the store
and who would like to see the government pass a national plastic bag tax. I
think taxing plastic bags will be one of the most effective ways to
encourage people to bring their own canvas bag to the store.
SC: Any final thoughts or words of wisdom for the world?
Amanda: We're working on a new musical show about how our trash effects our
environment. We see trash and litter and pollution everywhere we go and we
need to clean it up. One of the simplest and easiest things we can do is to
stop taking paper and plastic bags at the store. Bring your own reusable
canvas bag to the store. It makes a huge difference.