A Casual Conversation with Mutual Benefit Before Playing Housing Works Benefit in Industry City
  • THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2016

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

Since Baeble Music is located in Brooklyn's Industry City, we get to see a lot of really cool events that go on. One that took place more recently was a Housing Works benefit, which was part of a larger four-day event called "Design on a Dime." The proceeds of ticket sales went to Housing Works' wraparound services and to New Yorkers suffering from HIV/AIDS. The event featured performances from Waxahatchee, Shamir, and Mutual Benefit and readings by Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis, Dorothea Lasky, Mychal Denzel Smith, and Doreen St. Felix. When we found out about the event, we had to talk to one of the artists while they were here, so we met up with NYC-based band Mutual Benefit before their soundcheck.

It was refreshing to casually walk around with the band and show them the building as well as our office and staff and talk about the wonderful benefit that they were set to play that evening. We talked to several members of the band including frontman Jordan Lee, guitarist Mike Clifford, and bassist Noah Klein. Check out the conversation below.

Hanging out with @mutebenny in the office before their show at @industrycity tonight! 7pm don't miss it!

A photo posted by Baeblemusic (@baeblemusic) on



KIRSTEN SPRUCH: Are you guys excited? Have you ever played an environment like this before? It's kind of different.

JORDAN LEE: Noah and I separately played Rooftop Films. I don't remember if mine was here or not, it was a lot of years ago. But it reminds me of doing that, where it's fancy but also a little desolate. A really strange mix of those two things.

KS: What does your show set up look like tonight? I've seen that you guys do stuff with full strings and banjos sometimes.

JL: Yeah, we really brought it down to its core today. It's the skeleton crew.

MIKE CLIFFORD: We didn't even bring the banjo.

NOAH KLEIN: Yeah, we thought about bringing it just to leave it on the side of the stage, as an ornament.

JL: Did you bring your rocks?

NK: Yeah, they're in the van.

JL: Okay, we did bring our rocks.

KS: What are your rocks?

NK: We've collected rocks from most of the cities we've been to in the last year. So at this point, we've toured a lot of the countries in Europe and all over the U.S. in the last 12 months alone. So we've collected rocks from London, Berlin parks, like the red rocks in the desert. Along the PCH.

KS: So you actually bring them to each show with you? Are they good luck?

NK: Yeah, it's kind of like setting the environment. A lot of them are skipping stones, too. So it feels appropriate with the theme.

KS: Can you tell us a little bit about this benefit you're playing tonight?

JL: It's for Brooklyn Housing Works. I think this is my third year of living in New York City and it feels really nice to be involved with this. I'm a little sketched out by some charities, like some of the bigger ones, but this is one that seems like it's doing a lot of direct good. And a lot of great people are involved with it, so I think we were all really stoked when they asked us to participate. And Brandon [Stosuy]'s new project, The Creative Independent, is like the other people putting on the show. I'm really excited to see what that becomes. Supposedly, it's like artists talking about their process, but outside of hype cycles. So I think they're specifically not letting anyone who's trying to hype their own project talk. As someone who sometimes gets thrusted into that world, it's really nice to think of a resource where you can be inspired by other people's processes that's not them trying to be a salesperson for their own thing.

KS: How'd you guys get involved in this?

JL: The Creative Independent, one of my old friends from Boston works there, and I think she just threw our name in the hat.

KS: And you won. Have you met Waxahatchee or Shamir yet?

JL: Funny story, Noah and I used to live with Shamir.

KS: What? Is he crazy in real life?

NK: Pretty chill.

JL: He's as crazy as anyone else. I feel like when you live with someone, no one seems sane at that point.

NK: I think this is the first time that Shamir's doing a stripped-down, more acoustic solo performance. But it's funny because when we lived together, they would just play acoustic guitar while we laid on the couch and do like an hour of Taylor Swift covers.

JL: Yeah, it was this really funny moment. Where we used to live is loosely artist residencies, so some people would be there for a couple months, some people would be able to live there for the whole year. So it's like this rotating cast of people, and Shamir I think was only there for 3 months. And I just thought he was this cool person. And then I remember seeing his face on the internet, listening to the music, like 'whoa, this is amazing.'

NK: I think while we were living together they were recording that album, too.

JL: And then, we played with Katie [Waxahatchee]. I think Pitchfork was celebrating one of their quarterly magazines coming out.

MC: Katie was great.

JL: Katie was great, and the publication itself is great.

KS: So are you excited to rekindle those flames tonight?

MC: I think it's a really, really great show. That's one of the things that was really exciting when we started hearing about it. Housing Works is great, and everybody who's playing in it is really great. So it's going to be really fun.

NK: I stumbled on Doreen St. Felix's writing while we were on the last tour, and then just read everything that they've written for MTV. And they're like my favorite music writer at the moment, so I'm also really excited to see what the reading is going to be.

MC: Sadie is reading something to, from Speedy Ortiz.

JL: Yeah, that's probably the best part about it. Anytime that more mediums are there than just people with guitars, I get a lot more excited about that event.

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