Girl and Girl Are Rolling With It

Girl and Girl interview with Northern Transmissions by Ethan Rebalkin. The Australian band are releasing their new LP Call a doctor on 5/24
Girl and Girl photo by James Caswell

Girl and Girl’s Sub Pop debut, Call A Doctor, is an honest look at a lifetime’s worth of woes, anxieties, and expectations. But don’t get it confused, Call A Doctor doesn’t sound like an artist collapsing under the pressure. Instead, James and co. step up to the challenges of everyday life on this cursed rock, and deliver a record that is courageous and boldly earnest. Prior to his band’s tour of North America, I took a zoom call with Kai James to talk about his process, overcoming mental health struggles and the magic of the recording studio.

Northern Transmission: This is Girl and Girl’s first release on Sub Pop. I’m wondering how the experience has been so far being on a major label?

KJ: It’s been totally surreal. It’s like something you dream about but not something that you ever expect. Your rational mind says that won’t ever happen but your irrational mind says “Oh that would be amazing.” So we’re just slowly coming to terms with it.

NT: You’ve said that you felt a lot of external pressure once the band started attracting some attention. What kind of influence did that have on your writing process for the album?

Kai James: Still tried to let things come naturally. I can’t write what I want to write, I just have to let it come. It gets more difficult the more people are asking and expecting of you. This record was focused around mental health and stress so maybe that pressure was kind of conducive to the themes of the record. I think you can hear it in the record of how twisted I was at the time.

NT: What was it like recording the songs in such a short period of time? Only 2 weeks right?

KJ: The studio space was definitely conducive to that sort of panic and stress. We spent two weeks living there, sleeping and eating there. It was super intense, but two weeks is the longest time we’ve had in a studio so it felt like we had heaps of time. It was intense, we used up every possible second we had in there. It definitely came down to the wire at the end.

NT: Do those “magic” moments happen when you’re down to the wire like that?

KJ: Definitely. I feel like a lot of decisions happen at the end. A song can be totally different depending on what day you record it, or what kind of headspace you’re in.

NT: The record is about someone who is too far in their own head. Do you find that sort of headspace helps your process or does it end up getting in the way?

KJ: Maybe it gets in the way. The song usually comes out once I’ve come out of that particular moment or feeling. The song tends to me looking introspectively at a moment in the past. I find it hard to fully understand the feelings I have in the moment, and need that space to be able to get a better understanding of it.

NT: What do you do to help yourself get out of that sort of headspace?

KJ: A lot of meditation, mindfulness, journaling and more recently running. Running has been a major lifesaver for me. We played Texas recently, and it was the first time we were on tour where I was actively taking care of myself. It’s amazing what going for a run in the morning would do for my mood.

NT: This upcoming tour with Royel Otis is the first time you’ve toured North America! How excited are you?

KJ: Excited and overwhelmed and intimidated! It’s a big tour but it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

NT: When you first started out was playing outside of Brisbane something you thought about a lot or did that come later?

KJ: No before we were managed we just did local stuff in Brisbane and the gold and sunny coast. We weren’t totally adventurous. But as soon as we were managed the focus
became getting overseas and hitting the other major cities in Australia.

NT: Any essential items that you can’t live without on tour?

Kai James: Headphones are a must. Definitely gonna download some rain sounds because Fraser and Aunty Liss snore like motherfuckers.

Pre-order Call a Doctor by Girl and Girl HERE


Looking for something new to listen to?

Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.