P.E. (Pill + Eaters) discuss the influences behind new album ‘The Leather Lemon’
Brooklyn's groups Pill and Eaters teamed up for a one-off live performance to open for Bodega's Endless Scroll release party back in 2018. They liked working together so much, both of their respective bands basically ceased to exist and they became a more highly evolved combined organism know as P.E. Pill's Jonny Campolo, Benjamin Jaffe, and Veronica Torres bring skronk and attitude, while Eaters' Jonathan Schenke and Bob Jones bring beats and inventive production. Their excellent debut album came out just days before lockdown in March 2020 but they've thrived creatively through the pandemic, releasing the killer The Reason for My Love EP last year and are now back with their best record yet, the awesomely titled The Leather Lemon. You can stream the whole thing below.
We asked P.E. to tell us about some of the influences behind The Leather Lemon and the whole band contributed to the list which includes music and art. Read that below.
P.E. - Influences behind The Leather Lemon
Edan — Echo Party
Bob Jones: As I understand it "the humble magnificent" himself was granted access to a vault of early hip hop recordings from which he flipped, whipped, and wood-chipped a truly ecstatic 30 minute kaleidoscopic fever dream romp. The elements pretty much check all of my favorite boxes: elastic breaks, dusty synths, and Benihana level knifeplay. What really stands out to me is just how off the cuff and effortless it all sounds. In an era where music seems to be so digitally scrubbed of any imperfections (aka humanity) Edan's looseness and sense of play elevate his mastery of collage, editing, turntablism to a 21st century masterwork. Forget Beethoven, this is the shit we should be launching into space.
Yaeji — "What We Drew"
Jonny Campolo: Unrelenting fun in a time that desperately needed it. This record came at exactly the right moment in 2020, reinventing the dancefloor in my head. For me this record is so raw and risky; sitting on the line between bedroom and club. I have played this record in its entirety during a DJ set and no one in the crowd noticed. I think that speaks to its playability and ease. As soon as it's over, you keep flipping. I remember as soon as I heard it I was instantly inspired and a little jealous. This is new music!
Tirzah — Devotion
Jonny Campolo: There is something so impossibly lush happening with this record. Divine minimalism dropped into a genre that typically shys away from these kinds of decisions. The ability to find a "song" within a seemingly disparate sound is Tirzah's superpower. This is something that is so inspiring it feels like magic. Or logic defied. Our music definitely tries at this, although I'm happy to say we haven't "found it" yet. Ideally I never want to find it. During a session in the studio, if we can dredge the lake of live recordings long enough, we can find a hook. The trick is finding it without looking too hard. I pray to Tirzah at the beginning of every session: "Let me accept the things I cannot change....." haha!
Ciccone Youth — "Macbeth"
Jonathan Schenke: A perennial fave of mine & Bob's. This album is an irresistible blend of killer grooves, abstract noise, sample mangling, and goofball fun! "Macbeth" is the standout to me—certain to slay in any DJ set—but there's plenty to love here, especially for those of us who can't wait for the follow-up to Kim's 'No Home Record.'
Sophie — "BIPP" (Autechre Remix)
Jonathan Schenke: We worked on more remixes over the past 2 years than the rest of our collective careers combined... Every remix was different, but my favorite part of the process is taking one seed of inspiration and growing it into a whole new song. Autechre's mastery is on full display here: the remix is just as catchy and groovy as the original, and honors the strengths of both the remixer and remixee. Ugh, I just wish there was an entire album like this—more please!
Yusef Lateef's Detroit
Ben Jaffe: I had to redesign a saxophone sound for 'The Leather Lemon,' and yes, I was thinking about Blade Runner (1982). Guilty as charged. If you are a record reviewer, that might be where you stop reading, but let’s get into some moods that aren’t in a film. Let’s get some images live streamed into your brain. Hard wired. I listened to Yusef Lateef’s 'Detroit' and Drexciya’s 'Neptune’s Lair' back to back a few times. 'Detroit' is a great portrait of his place and time in the modern city. His tone and story telling on his instruments are nearly unmatched at the time of the record’s 1969 release except maybe by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Yusef grooves like no one else and always has a message. The 8 songs feel like you’re moving through a grid while maintaining sanity. Lateef’s dark, expressive tone that is at once rooted yet far away was something I wanted to translate on the songs within. Sonic futurism can be felt.
Drexciya — Neptune’s Lair
Ben Jaffe: Combine this with the use of minor scales and “underwater” pulse of 'Neptune’s Lair,' and you’ve got what I was going for. I’ve been a fan of Drexciya for a long time, but didn’t have the place to bring it in... until now. If you’ve never listened to that record, check it out. Can you see grey concrete contrasted with the waters of Lake St. Clair? Everything sounds like a transmission from a separate aquatic existence. There’s other stuff in there, music that crept in during the takes. I don’t want to give it all away, because what fun would that be?
Jonny Campolo: King Karl is known famously for his Exquisite Corpse production of the figure. Relying on a lexicon of parts—an alphabet of pieces—he combines and resets like a mofo. 100 hands, feet, heads, all interchangeable. I'm inspired by these ideas, and heavily rely on this sort of consistent repetition in the studio. The artwork of 'The Leather Lemon' is composed of a ton of little pieces, rearranged like one of my sketchbooks. Depicting a flashy figure front and center, walking wobbly, is our fucked up protagonist (the Lemon). People are so fucked up! We are crazy combinations of everything in between. Shine on you crazy lemon.
Jonny Campolo: Color color color. Color can drive the subject, it can be the subject matter in and of itself. I am color centric. Maybe a color eccentric is better. I chose PINK and YELLOW for our new record 'The Leather Lemon' because there is no way around its fun. Fluorescent lemonade with no ice. I love the idea of seeing a record from afar in a store and magnetically walking towards it. Like: what is this? What I wanted to achieve with the design is bring my drawings right out of the studio onto the jacket – for there to be no difference between the page and the record jacket. Like I drew right on top of it. There are a LOT of drawing giveaways happening with this new record – Wharf Cat, Rough Trade and Secretly UK included – it's been very fun to share so much of the color story of this record with people. Color can talk, and loud!
Kiki Smith, Lying with the Wolf
2001, ink and pencil on paper, 72 x 88
Veronica Torres: Animalistic, raw, and brutal. Woof! Kiki Smith juxtaposes stereotyped gender norms by displaying strong, bold, and nurturing women. The subject's nudity is mundane and unashamed, if slightly erotic. The sketch quality and its bold lines always seems to gut me with its earnestness. Caught somewhere between a parable, fairy-tale, or a reverse romulus and remus, the woman is able to tame and calm the wild animal. Or perhaps she too is feral? Early in the pandemic, as a transplant to a new city, I would stroll in the Walker Museums sculpture garden (MN) and pause in awe of Smith's 2001 bronze sculpture, Rapture. Here, Smith's familiar feminine prototype emerges from the split belly of a dead wolf. As she steps out from the carcass, a tender arm is outstretched to the animal. Like Athena, she emerges whole from the body of another.