The Ditty Bops have been warbling, posing and bicycling their way into hearts all across America for the past few years. Billboard says they “a breath of fresh air. Combining styles as diverse as jazz, blues, folk and ragtime with honest (and often humorous) lyrics, the Los Angeles-based female duo is accessibly eccentric.” Alrighty. There are a few things in life these girls take seriously: Great Music? Yes. Conscious living? Check. Creative pursuits? Yep. Themselves? No way. Whether it’s with their shows, CDs or calendars, Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett are definitely in a league of their own.
Watchers of The L Word know you from your David Lynch/Mulholland Drive-esque scene last season, when Jenny meets the director that wants to do Lez Girls as a musical. How was that experience?
That was so much fun. It was Halloween night when we shot the scene in L.A. At first I was bummed it was on Halloween because we had to shoot until after midnight and we didn’t get to do our Muppets bike ride we’d planned with our friends. I was going to be Miss Piggy and Abby was going to be Kermit. But the shoot was so fun and the set was so rad that it was a great Halloween after all. The director, Bronwen Hughes, was so sweet and there were all these great dancers choreographed by Ryan Huffington dancing all around us doing the splits and dressed in latex undies and thigh-highs. It was quite a scene. Also, recording the song with Elizabeth Ziff from BETTY was totally fun. She’s such an enthusiastic person and we had a blast.
It seems that every detail of your packaging, shows, merch, website, etc. is done all the way or not at all. Are the two of you just creative live wires? Where do the sparks of inspiration come from?
That’s so sweet. We do have a lot of creative ideas going on and we are constantly rattling them off on each other. We believe in supporting quirky creative ideas and seeing them through. I think most people have a creative spark and the more we practice following that inspiration, the more it will appear to us.
How is it working with Mitchell Froom, one of my all-time favorite producers and an all-around nice guy?
Mitchell is so generous and wonderful and fun. We love working with him. He has recorded every album we’ve done. He always has interesting ideas and he plays every kind of keyboard and so many other instruments too. I also like how he listens to our opinions and will try anything. He’s the best!
Living and working in an environmentally sensitive way is hugely important to both of you. How easy or difficult has it been to combine those two pursuits of having a career in music and living a conscious lifestyle?
When we went on the bicycle tour in 2006, we were trying to incorporate our bike lifestyle at home with our life on the road. It was the best tour we ever did. The next year we toured in our bio-diesel van in farming communities and played on small farms raising money for Farm Aid and other family farm
organizations. That was also a fun trip – the best part for me was playing for the goats in Sebastopol, CA.
Our new record Summer Rains is printed on 100% recycled paper and it’s a pop-up CD. That was so fun to make. We worked with our graphic designer Rick Whitmore and paper engineer Renee Jablow to make it happen. We have also released three years of calendars to bring attention to issues important to us – 2006 Bicycle Bikini calendar, 2007 Vegetable Bikini calendar, 2008 Save the World Bikini calendar. We also started a petition to encourage people to bring their own bags to the store and to put pressure on our government to start charging people for single-use plastic bags. We’re still collecting signatures.
The Bops are totally indie these days, right? How’s that going after having a few major label releases?
Yes, we left Warner Brothers last year and proceeded to record our new album Summer Rains on our own label, The Green Witch Society. I’m very much enjoying being independent! There are things I miss about a big label; there are many people working on your behalf so you don’t have to take care of everything yourself, but we have always had a big creative hand in everything we did anyway. Now if we have an idea we want to pursue we can, since it’s entirely up to us. We could never have done the pop-up art we did for Summer Rains if we had been on a big label because it would have been too expensive and unconventional to make. Being independent, we can create freely and it’s a great feeling.
Will you be hitting the road for a Summer Rains tour?
We just finished a tour of California supporting the record’s release. We’ll be doing some more shows here in L.A. soon, but we are not going on a cross-country tour for a while. We are already working on a bunch of new projects that require us to be here in L.A. that we’re really excited about!