When I received an email from Tangerine, I didn’t know what kind of music to expect from the trio. But Sugar Teeth is a great EP and one that I highly recommend. I thought that it would great for the band to introduce themselves, partially so I could learn more about the band and so more people could understand their history.
Can you introduce Tangerine?
Tangerine is a trio:
Marika – lead vocals and rhythm guitar
Toby – lead guitar and backing vocals
Miro (Marika’s little sis) – drums and backing vocals
How did the band get started?
Miro: The three of us have been playing together since we were pre teens actually; Marika and Miro played a battle of bands and Toby joined immediately after. For a couple years we played around town until we took about a five year hiatus. We came back together and created Tangerine; a new sound created in the same basement
The band describes your sound as “fusing rock n roll with R&B, 90s slacker rock, and chart pop.” How did the band end up with this mixture of sound?
Miro: What has always been fun about writing music with Marika and Toby is that we never limit ourselves genre-wise. Over the course of the last three EPs our sound has become more cohesive on it’s own (R&B, rock, slacker rock, chart pop). But if you listen to our back log of EPs you will find a wider range of sounds. This new EP Sugar Teeth is a little more rockin a little more 80s which seems to be a new trend with us.
Marika: When I met Toby in high school, we bonded over bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes, and the Velvet Underground, so the musical blueprint for our band was based in garage rock. I’ve been singing since I was a little kid, though, and when it came to vocals I idolized pop stars like Mariah Carey, Brandy, Whitney Houston, and the Spice Girls. That’s had a strong effect on the way I write my vocal lines, resulting in our crazy mashup of indie and mainstream worlds.
Are there any other influences on the band that have helped arrange your sound?
Miro: Certain movies have influenced us visually and sonically. An example of that would be the title track of EP “Sugar Teeth” which literally was inspired by the over the top 80s vibes of Top Gun ha ha. Because we have been friends for so long we share a lot of the same influences.
Marika: All three of us were born and raised in Seattle. Miro’s and my parents raised us on Nirvana. Because of that, I feel like we’ve always been searching for a different aesthetic, something that you would never describe as “pacific northwest”, something atypical of the Seattle post-grunge punk scene. There’s an amazing punk scene here, but we’ve always been kind of outliers to that. It’s kind of fun that way though.
Is there a specific song you would suggest a new listener hear first? What’s the reason behind it?
Miro: I would say Sugar Teeth! Because it highlights our 80s nostalgic R&B sound.
Marika and Miro are half-Korean, has there been any Korean influence on your music or overall style? Have you ever had to define Tangerine as a Korean-American band?
Miro: I think that the fashion we see our favorite KPOP stars wearing like T.O.P. and G-Dragon from Big Bang has begun to influence us. Marika and I love watching their music videos, like the single “Zutter” blew us away. The coordinated dance moves in the bathroom scene and T.O.P.’s suits are so damn cool.
We played a gala for the Korean American Coalition (KAC) last year. It was the first time we had that many other Koreans or asians for that matter watching us perform, it was a good feeling.
There’s no significant Asian presence in the American music industry, and I’d love to see that change. Everytime we play a festival or release a video, there’s probably some people watching that and thinking, “I rarely see anyone who looks like that represented in this way.” It’s rewarding to break those boundaries.
With so many bands around the world, what do you think of bands having to describe themselves through their ethnicity? Instead of simply being described by their genre or style?
Miro: As long as it is your own choice to be defined by your ethnicity then that’s cool, but being lumped together by others by race does not do the music justice. I can understand though why talking about your roots might be helpful for an international audience to understand your background and to gain context for who you are but that still depends on what is important to the artist.
Being multi-racial, female musicians means that we’re pushing into territory that’s not commonly occupied by people who look the way that we do, and I’m always aware of that. How can you not be? At the end of the day, though, we’re here because we love music- crafting it, performing it, sharing it, discussing it endlessly. And that’s what we want to be recognized for.
Has the band ever thought about touring internationally, possibly South Korea?
Yes! It is absolutely a goal of ours to tour internationally including Asia and Seoul.
Living in Seattle, is there a big culture diversity and mixing of cultures?
Miro: Seattle in general is fairly diverse and there is a good range of different culture’s food available, but when it comes to the indie rock scene it is predominantly Caucasian. It’s interesting, when we play with hip hop groups we tend to see more asians and other minorities in the crowd.
Marika: The great thing about the Seattle rock scene is that it’s very progressive and tends to embrace feminist ideas. It’s not very diverse though.
What’s the band’s favorite Korean food or Asian food in general? Is there a place you recommend people to eat?
Marika: I always have to get Kimchi Soon Doo Boo no matter what when we eat out. In the city I would recommend “Tofu House” in the University District on Brooklyn, and in the suburbs “Maru-Maru” on Aurora. As a band I would say our collective favorite restaurant is called “Joule”, this French Korean restaurant, although it breaks the bank everytime 😉 . We also love vietnamese food. “Green Leaf” in the international district has my favorite vermicelli bowls. I love cooking Korean food at home, although sometimes there’s nothing better than going out and OD’ing on Chinese food.
Miro: Yes Seattle has amazing food!
Any bands Tangerine recommend people listen to?
Miro: Valerie June, Lush, Ivy, Coma Cinema, Fauna Shade
Marika: Right now i really like Hinds, Chaos Chaos, and Haim
Tangerine is playing at SXSW, any special plans for the performance there?
Marika: SXSW is unique in that most bands show up and just play as many showcases as possible. You show up, plug in as fast as you can, play as hard as you can, and then break down the set in time for the next act to start. It’s a lot of fun though!