Love it or loathe it, HBO’s hit series The L-Word made waves in terms of queer representation on television. Of course there are justified criticisms — the lipstick lesbians of Los Angeles are a far cry from butch. But it’s not the characters, steamy sex scenes, or plot that really held viewers’ attention, it’s the show’s soundtrack. Over the course of The L-Word’s five seasons, the show has featured Canada’s finest, including Tegan and Sara, Kinnie Starr, Be Good Tanyas, Jason Collett, Rufus Wainwright, The Organ and Feist.
US actress Leisha Hailey, who portrayed Alice Pieszecki, will step out from the screen and onto the stage with her musical project Uh Huh Her, her new LA-based band with Camila Grey. Decked out in their rock ‘n’ roll finest — gowns, glitter and heels — the girls of Uh Huh Her are sure to dazzle folks at the Mod Club in Toronto on Fri, May 23 (the band returns Sat, Jun 28 for Pride).
Why the switch from acting to rock? “I’m just kind of going with it,” says Hailey, on the phone from LA. “I’m not making any giant decisions that my life will lean one way or another. It gives me a lot of relief to think that way.
“I’m putting my heart and soul into this band. And when I am on whatever acting job I’m on, I put my heart and soul into that. The last thing I ever want to be is one of those cheesy TV actor/musicians.”
Hailey was on the arm of kd lang for many years and gained a musical following with the since-defunct ’90s alternative pop band The Murmurs. Last year she teamed up with Grey (formerly of lo-fi rock band Mellowdrone) and the result is Uh Huh Her’s forthcoming debut Common Reaction set to hit stores on Aug 19 via Nettwerk. “This feels original for both of us,” says Hailey, an approach she tries to foster in all her musical ventures. “I don’t take anything of what I did before and bring it into this band,” she says. “In fact this band is so different for me — that’s kind of the high for me.”
Last summer Uh Huh Her released I See Red, a six-track digital EP. Grey — who’s done session work with Melissa Auf Der Maur, Kelly Osbourne, Busta Rhymes and Dr Dre — and Hailey revelled in their dream-like, atmospheric dance beats. “I’ve always been doing my own thing on the side when I’ve been doing session work,” says Grey. “I’d go home and be like a mad scientist and make these little things.”
The madness is seductive with synth sounds reminiscent of Luscious Jackson and hints of The Cure. Common Reaction was produced and mixed by Al Clay (Blur, Pink), who also worked on the EP. The full-length release dabbles in the artful underbelly of atmospheric pop. Songs like “Not a Love Song,” “Say So” and “Explode” are sure to spread throughout clubs like wildfire.