TV Girl and the Jetts: An Interview
San Diego’s TV Girl (actually composed of two men Trung Ngo and Brad Petering) is new to the music scene, but have already released two EP’s (one self-titled and, more recently, Benny and the Jetts). While the band uses many samples, Ngo and Petering never rely on samples to carry their music, instead delving into their own personal genius.
ELM:How did you choose the name TV Girl?
TV Girl: It comes from a very special song by a very special band called Beat Happening. We were almost gonna be called teenage caveman.
ELM: How long have you been together as a band?
TV Girl: 8 months.
ELM: I read something about a lawsuit and an apology letter you wrote. Can you tell me more about that?
TV Girl:Somebody was very bored at WMG and decided to take one of our songs off the internet because of a sample. He doesn’t understand how the internet works exactly. The letter was basically to make them look like idiots. Most people in the music industry are not too bright.
ELM: You’ve put out two EPs within a relatively short span of time. Is there a reason you’ve put out two EPs rather than a full-length?
TV Girl: Some things work better in a shorter presentation. That’s a science-supported fact. I have the charts and graphs to prove it. I’m much more likely to listen to an EP by a band I haven’t listened to yet rather than investing in a full length right off the bat.
ELM: On the same note, do you see a full-length in your near future?
TV Girl:Our next big thing will be a mixtape. It’s sort of like an album that you give away for free. You call it a mixtape even though there’s no tape involved. It’s gonna be a massive sample-delic thing that would have no chance in hell of being released commercially. We want it to be in the grand tradition of the great sample master-pieces like “Paul’s Boutique” and “3 Feet High and Rising” It’s sort of a lost art due to unfortunate legal restrictions. It’ll be something so epic that we’ll have to abandon samples because there’s no way we could ever top it. That’s the plan.
ELM: What was your mindset going into recording “Benny and the Jetts?” Did you have a vision of the project?
TV Girl: Not quite. Although it does heavily reference other music, even beyond the samples. From the cover art, to the girl in “Benny and the Jetts” singing Bennie and the Jets, to the narrator of “Your Own Religion” singing Paul Simon.
ELM: Were there songs you recorded for the EP that didn’t make the final cut?
TV Girl: Yes there was. There was one that was a very detailed true story of a fizzled would-be relationship that used the girl’s actual name. Probably best that one got cut. It would be very embarrassing if she heard it. But if she didn’t want a song about her, than she shouldn’t have stopped returning the phone calls of a chronic song writer. Maybe it’ll make it to the b-sides and rarities collection.
ELM: What is your live show like?
TV Girl: It is in a state of disrepair right now as we are moving to LA and in the process of training a new backing band. It is a very rigorous training process.
ELM: Who would you like to see cover your songs? And which song(s)?
TV Girl: The obvious answer would be Todd Rundgren covering “If You Want It.” That would have all kinds of strange meta implications. But he’s busy doing Rock and Roll summer camps. For real.
ELM: What is the music scene like in San Diego, and how did it inform your aesthetic?
TV Girl: There’s a few good bands but most of the good bands move to LA because it’s so close and there’s so many more opportunities. And I want it to be known that we both don’t much care for the beach.
ELM: What part do lyrics play in your songwriting?
TV Girl: We put a lot of thought into them. We definitely try to undercut some of the popiness of the songs by including lyrics that are melancholy or slightly off. But no one really listens to lyrics much.
ELM: What is your writing process like?
TV Girl: We outsource all our song writing to India.
ELM: Who are your favorite authors/poets?
TV Girl: Raymond Carver, Mark Gonzales, Thomas Pynchon, Joseph Heller.