We caught up with Zigtebra (Emily Rose and Joe Zeph) for their homecoming show at SCHUBAS, wrapping up their 4-month summer tour. They told us about puppetry shows, full moons, and what it takes to release new videos when you're on the road.
Emulsion: So, let's start at the beginning... how did you get started with Zigtebra?
Emily: We've been doing creative projects together as Zigtebra for 5 years. We used to do musicals and plays and weird puppetry things. And we started doing the pop music like a year ago.
Joe: Yeah, this year, we started coming out with these pop songs and these videos... because we felt like it. We met in a dance group called Pure Magical Love, a long time ago. We were both really involved in the underground scene in Pilsen. We both lived there.
Emily: Now I don't live anywhere, actually.
Joe: Emily is now officially a touring musician, just floating. I went back to a studio in Pilsen that a bunch of my friends live in.
Emulsion: Do you both write the music together?
Joe: Yeah, this year we really turned the corner on 50/50 writing. We talk about drums, we talk about hooks, and we talk about what we want the song to be about it.
We do everything electronically except for her voice. Even on the road, we'll find some place to take 3 hours and record a vocal part.
Emulsion: You've been on tour for a while, right? How long have you been on the road?
Joe: Yeah, we just got back from tour. We were gone for 4 months and we played like 80 shows. It was awesome. Once we started putting out the videos, it was so clear that what we needed to do was go on tour for longer than we'd ever thought possible...
Emily: To see what was gonna happen with Zigtebra. Because we'd been doing creative weird stuff, and we were like, why don't we actually start writing the music we want. Because, you know, secretly Joe likes Britney Spears.
Joe: That's not a secret, ask anybody.
Emily: OK... not anymore.... But we just thought, if we go on tour 4 months, and we make a song and a music video... we'll either love it and get way better, or we'll be like, "fuck this forever."
Joe: I'm really excited to play the new incarnation of our music in Chicago. Tonight we're playing all new stuff. The new Zigtebra... The Sparkle Tip. That's our new record.
Emulsion: You've been putting out a new song and a new video each month. How did you come up with that idea?
Emily: Towards the end of last year, I blurted out an idea, to put out one song and one video per month. And I think we're going to keep doing it. Because it's a fantastic thing to show up to your creative process and have a deadline.
Joe: Yeah, and put in work. I think a lot of underground musicians - especially me - wait for inspiration to strike them. They're like sitting there with a guitar...
Emily: And they're like, "I just need more whiskey. If it was a full moon, and I had a shot of whiskey, and she texted me back... I'd be in the right zone."
Joe: So, it's really cool for us to take it a more professional level where it's more like, "it's the 20th, we need to write that bass part."
And I've always thought it was true, that if you put in a ton of work, then you can still find moments of divine inspiration, which are more like... "this is what I've been looking for, for the last 6 months."
Emulsion: How do you make the videos?
Emily: We make them ourselves in iMovie, and we shoot most of the videos with our iPhones. We've been on tour the past 4 months, and we just got home a couple days ago.
Sometimes on the road we don't have time to shoot a whole thing plus drive 5 hours to the next show, so we'll work with found footage.
Joe: Yeah, there's a pretty big archive of creative commons and old videos that we've always been a fan of. They have all this really cool old stuff to work with.
Emulsion: Do you have any shows coming up?
Joe: Well, we're taking a little break from tour, but we want that break to be as short as possible. We do have a few shows coming up.
We're playing in St. Louis on Wednesday at a big Amnesty International Fundraiser... it's like, a secret show.
Then we're playing at DADS, which is a really cool digital arts space in Bridgeport. They have these really strict requirements of their performers. You have to have a video component, so we're gonna perform along to some of the music videos we've made.
Where can we find your music online?
You can find our music, videos, and all our other links at www.zigtebra.com