By Mike Estabrook
New buzz record label Underwater Peoples should be familiar to music blog fiends. Family Portrait, a band on UP’s lineup, founded the unconventional endeavor.
Rochester-born bassist Sawyer Carter Jacobs and New Jersey native and leadsinger, Evan Brody took a break to chat with Jerk. Joined by drummer Mike Mimoun and samples specialist Ari Stern, they preparred for Underwater Peoples’ Late Summer Showcase on Aug. 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The show offered seven-plus hours of music, Capri Sun, and booze.
Jerk Magazine: How did Family Portrait and Underwater Peoples come to be? Sawyer Carter Jacobs: Brody, who is friends with a large number of our artists, brought to our attention that this group of kids [which became the UP band Real Estate] was playing some pretty incredible music. They played [Ari’s 21st birthday party] and so did our band. We said we should try and release some of this stuff and get it out there. So, we cut the seven-inch for Real Estate and, really, the rest is history. We were lucky enough to have Ryan Schreiber from Pitchfork Media come around and hear about us in some sort of way and come to a show, see it and love it. He was instrumental in getting us on Pitchfork, getting Real Estate on Pitchfork, and opening that door for the group.
How did you get your name Family Portrait and the name of the record label? Evan Brody: Ari and I were really into hip-hop, and it was just something that spurted out. We actually designed a conceptual hip-hop album based on the idea of the Underwater Peoples. It was the Underwater Peoples versus the Mud People. The Mud People were coming down like these Dirt McGirt kids to muck up the Underwater Peoples, which was this very bourgeois, kind-of-classy, we-eat-with-forks-and-knives type culture. We just really liked the name. We stuck with it. We ran with it and here we are today. Family Portrait, for us, is really about culture, community, bringing people together. It’s about family. We’re all in this together in a picture, a picture of life and love.
When I first heard “Mega Secrets,” “Babyskins,” and “On the Floor,” I noticed a lot of garage-rock-doused-in-beach-rays kind of vibe. Then, I listened to “Supercool” and it sounded like it could be the backing music for a Kabuki theater performance. How would you describe Family Portrait’s sound? Jacobs: I think a better way of describing of it, maybe, would be heavily focused on roots/classic rock formation. It’s so hard to say “classic rock” around anybody without them freaking out. I mean standards. You know what I mean? Like a Motown rock ’n’ roll song. A rock ’n’ roll song that’s taken the test of time. There’s something about a rock progression that really appeals to everyone. That’s really what we initially got into. We also have a serious love affair with dub music. We used to write on all our things that we were kind of “Elvis and Barry White covered in space sex-jelly.” I don’t know if that’s beachy [laughs]. But that’s kind of where it all comes from — a love affair with space, rock ’n’ roll, and gettin’ it on.