ABOVE: CLEMENTINE AND THE GALAXY’S JULIE HARDY (LEFT) AND MIKE MACALLISTER
As a session musician, Julie Hardy has backed Ellie Goulding on Saturday Night Live, sung the praises of Instagram for College Humor, and made television commercial watchers everywhere crave Hershey’s chocolate. But it wasn’t until she met producer Mike MacAllister at a gig that she struck musical gold.
Their powers combined, the two musicians are Clementine and the Galaxy—a pop duo with their hands on synthesizers and heads in the clouds. With only one EP to their names to date, the band’s sound already includes a broad slate of elements—from the “Tonight You Belong to Me”-style -ukulele of “How Can I Not Love You” to the St.-Vincent-in-space refrains of “Crying My Whole Heart.” Hardy jokingly refers to their style as an identify crisis. But even when mining the most unexpected influences (see: the band’s gritty cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box”), the pair never fails to carry it off with a sense of ethereal whimsy.
Interview joined the pair for a late morning coffee in Brooklyn. They told us about suffering for art, standing out from the Internet crowd, and what’s next (spoiler: a full-length). They also provided the magazine with the exclusive premiere of their new video “Lazer Gunz.”
HOMETOWN: New York, New York
SOME THINGS TAKE TIME: Mike MacAllister: We met through this mutual friend who had this gig where his job was to produce these hymns. It was for the World Day of Prayer, which is this big born-again church thing. He would record the music and he would make recordings and piano versions so that people could have something to listen to so they would know how the song went. For hymns, they would have the four-part harmonies that they could all hear. And then they’d have the piano version that they could all sing to. We did it every year for their new set of music. That’s how we got to know each other. Once a year for a couple of years I’d see Julie.
Julie Hardy: We weren’t really friends at all. And then one year I saw he was working in a music house. So I asked him what he did, and he told me he makes music for TV commercials. And I said, “Oh, I want to sing on those!” That was five years ago. It’s steamed from there. I had my own singer/songwriter project, and I asked him to produce it. It was called Clementine. That was more influenced by Feist or Ingrid Michelson. It was an indie pop, singer/songwriter vibe. There was a point in time when I was like, “I want to do something a little more adventurous.”
MacAllister: “Crying My Whole Heart Out” was the origin of the band. We were doing Julie’s music. I was recording parts for it and helping her produce and mix her singer/songwriter stuff. That song, that was more adventuresome. It couldn’t be classified so simply. It was our best song that we had. It didn’t sound like the other music. It also became more collaborative. We started writing stuff together.
GETTING SPACEY: Hardy: The Galaxy part of our name happened because the first Clementine release featured a collage of a woman cut out from a newspaper in the ’50s, and she’s reclining in outer space. It’s on our wall at home. Clementine and the Galaxy just made sense. The photos we have are based off of that as well.
MacAllister: We’re much easier to find on the Internet now.
Hardy: It was tough! Just a bunch of orange fruit. There was also a satellite called Clementine. And the song, “Oh My Darling, Clementine.”
VINTAGE SPACE CADETS: Hardy: Barbarella was the inspiration for the press photos.
MacAllister: We were looking at 2001 for inspiration. That has so many cool moments for visuals.
SUFFER FOR ART: MacAllister: For “Lazer Gunz,” our director Marvin Joseph was in Europe on some gig, and came back and a day later left again, right after we finished the video.
Hardy: We did a night shoot, and he caught a plane the next morning to go back to Europe. He didn’t know if he was going to make it or not. We were still shooting at four in the morning.
MacAllister: We went to DUMBO in the middle of the night when it’s pretty much empty, and just shot in the streets. We got a Zipcar to put some props and things in. We had two dancers, who were cast members. So it was me, Julie, and two girls. We did some running scenes where it was Marvin sitting in the back with the camera and me driving with someone running behind.
Hardy: I didn’t know I was going to be doing this much running! I wasn’t really in shape at the time, and didn’t do any stretching. There’s one scene where they told me “Julie, run as fast as you can and sprint!” I swear I think I pulled some muscles. I was running in boots. I wasn’t prepared. It was three in the morning. We had been shooting since nine. I kinda lost it. [laughs]
ON THEIR FORTHCOMING FULL-LENGTH (DUE OUT IN 2014): MacAllister: “Lazer Gunz” is our first single off the full-length. It’s very close to being done. It’s probably going to be called Midnight Machine… More of the same. Why even bother listening to it? [laughs]
Hardy: [rolls her eyes] We’ve been writing in different styles. Often we don’t expect it to fit Clementine and the Galaxy, but it does, so we include it in the record. I think, production wise the style is similar. We have a lot of different influences. Too many!
FOR MORE ON CLEMENTINE AND THE GALAXY, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.