ABOVE: LAUREN FLAX (LEFT) AND LAUREN DILLARD.
Brooklyn-based synth-masterminds CREEP are a production duo free from time and space. They met on Friendster, a social media platform we barely knew existed. Their music is difficult to describe, though many a music writer has attempted, typically by throwing around terms and genres we don’t really understand, like goth-pop and witch house. They collaborate with modern music heroes like their pal Romy XX, as well as old-school legends like Lamb frontwoman Lou Rhodes, who lends her vocals to their track “Vertigo,” the video for which we are proud to premiere here.
The music concocted by the two Laurens, Lauren Dillard and Lauren Flax, of CREEP is better left uncategorized. Sufficient to say throngs of well-respected electronic artists and killer vocalists are clamoring to work with them, such as the 14 on their upcoming album echoes. It’s the sort of music your cooler than thou, in-the-know friends knew about ages before you did, but you can enjoy without feeling alienated. Call it what you will, it’s just goddamn good. We caught up with Flax and Dillard to chat about the archaic way in which they met, esoteric music descriptions and having the same name.
ALLYSON SHIFFMAN: Did you guys really meet on Friendster? I don’t even know what that is.
LAUREN DILLARD: Friendster is an archaic social networking site that existed in the mid-2000s. It’s worth Googling… and yes, we did meet on it.
LAUREN FLAX: Ahh, the Internet.
SHIFFMAN: Why is CREEP in caps anyway?
FLAX: It’s aesthetically pleasing.
SHIFFMAN: You two seem quite hands-on when it comes to your imagery—Dillard, I know you designed the CREEP logo. Who conceptualized the video for “Vertigo?”
FLAX: Dillard is very hands-on with all our imagery.
DILLARD: Yes, I do all the graphics for the band a lot of the show visuals. The video for “Vertigo” was conceptualized and executed by our friend Ellen Frances. It was her brainchild… but I will take credit for the single cover art!
SHIFFMAN: How did Lou Rhodes come to be featured on the single?
FLAX: We literally reached out to her on Facebook—she’s one of the few people we didn’t know personally who sang on the record. I’ve been a fan of hers since the ’90s, so it’s very humbling to have her on our record. She agreed to work with us because she was a fan of the song we did with Romy [XX]. “Vertigo” is one of my favorite songs on the record. Her voice is unmatched.
DILLARD: Lou is such a legend. Her son actually really liked CREEP, so she had heard of us through him!
SHIFFMAN: Tell me about how your collaborations come about.
DILLARD: Most of our collaborations have happened extremely organically. Either we will already be friends with the artists or they will be friends of friends. I feel pretty blessed to have such an inspiring group of creative people around me.
FLAX: That’s the best thing about making this record. We don’t want to stress anyone out or put pressure on anyone to create. Sure, we ran into some hiccups along the way, but that’s to be expected—14 singers is no joke!
SHIFFMAN: What’s a dream collaboration you have yet to realize?
DILLARD: I would love to work with Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti. Total synth nerd dreams come true.
FLAX: … The ones willing to take risks. The ones that don’t give a fuck.
SHIFFMAN: I’m curious about your production process. What is your dynamic like when you’re in the studio?
DILLARD: We like to bounce tracks back and forth. Flax usually starts with a skeleton of a song, and I will add onto it and pass it back. That way we can consistently listen to something we are working on with fresh ears.
FLAX: We also work in the studio together when we can.
SHIFFMAN: Before you joined forces via Friendster, did you grow up in musical households?
DILLARD: My parents always encouraged me to play music. I took piano, violin and guitar lessons over the years. They weren’t too terribly involved in music themselves but I remember my dad took piano lessons for a hot second and the only song he knew how to play was “Amazing Grace.” It took him about 15 minutes to play it [laughs].
FLAX: I mean… my pops listened to Foreigner and Journey.
SHIFFMAN: So much of your music has a certain darkness to it. I’m curious if you consider yourselves optimists or pessimists.
FLAX: I am a ridiculous optimist, it’s kind of weird. I trust fate and the universe that I won’t be given more than I can handle. It’s done me well this far in life, so why change?
DILLARD: I wouldn’t say I’m fully either, but I’m definitely leaning towards optimism.
SHIFFMAN: Your music is a challenge to describe. What is the most irritating esoteric music description you’ve ever read about yourselves?
FLAX: Everything has to be categorized, we get it. So it’s pointless to let people upset you with how they describe or categorize your sound.
DILLARD: I never found this annoying, but I do find it hilarious that Karley Sciortino quoted our first single, “Days,” as sounding like a soundtrack to an unearthly porno [laughs].
SHIFFMAN: What advice would you give to yourselves back when you were first starting out?
FLAX: Party less and work harder. It’s my work ethos now and has been for a long time, but it would have come in handy in my teenage years and early 20s. Although I had an excellent time [laughs].
DILLARD: I would have wanted to be more self-confident and enjoyed more of what we were experiencing, especially having to do with touring. I was pretty nervous a lot of the time!
SHIFFMAN: What’s a typical response to the fact that you’re both named Lauren?
DILLARD: Most people just say, “Well, that’s easy to remember!”