In Conversation with Drobakid: Inside the Band's Bond and Inspirations
Jessica Pavia: Do you guys want to introduce yourselves and what instrument you play or what you do in the group?
Ryan Accardi: Sure. So, I’m Ryan. We’re all Sophomores, class of 2020. I play guitar and I’m one of the songwriters (me and Greg write the songs). I also record and produce us.
J: Wow, that’s a lot.
R: Yeah. Last year Greg and I knew we wanted to be in a band together and we had this whole thing about how we wanted to start this band, and the way it was conceived made for this kind of vibe. I take so much ownership over the band, even though it is everyone's. I personally just feel so attached to it.
Greg Litt: I’m Greg, I play guitar in the group. I started playing in ninth grade, but I did have a musical background before that -- I played violin for seven years.
Chloe Eisen: I would love to hear that.
G: After that, it’s just been guitar. I didn’t really take it seriously until I started being friends with Ryan and we started jamming. Honestly, over the summer we wrote some songs together and that’s when I really got into playing guitar everyday.
C: I’m Choe and I play bass. I definitely consider myself a bassist now, but when Drobakid became a thing I was not a bassist, I played guitar. I was actually really nervous about picking up the instrument. [Ryan] had texted me and said ‘hey, do you want to play bass in this band Greg and I are starting’ and I immediately said ‘yes’ even though I had never played bass in my life.
J: I do have a question about that. I wanted to know your perspective on being a female bassist, because it’s a historically male dominated instrument.
C: Yeah, that’s funny. I don’t feel it at this point but did when Drobakid first started. I have this memory of when I had first gotten my bass but I didn’t have a case for it, so I was just holding it walking around campus. I ran into someone who also plays bass and he was like ‘oh, Chloe, what are you doing with that?’ I responded saying that I was going to play it in a band, and he was like ‘you’re gonna have that really cool chick-bassist vibe.’ He didn’t have any mal intention, but that’s not normal.
J: Right, because you can’t just be a bassist, you have to be a ‘chick-bassist’.
C: Right. Which, yes, I am a woman and I play the bass, but why can’t I just be a bassist? I felt that more in the beginning when I was not that comfortable with the instrument. There was this expectation about who I had to be, some standard I had to reach. But I don’t really feel that anymore.
J: It’s really powerful to see. Not only are you the only female in the group, but you are also the bassist.
C: It’s definitely not that common.
R: She holds it down. Chloe is without a doubt the most consistent member of Drobakid. The biggest thing Greg and I talked about when forming the band was that we wanted the fourth member to be someone we enjoy being around. Chloe had been our friend for about a year, so we decided to ask her since she plays guitar and is super fun to be around. We're lucky she was down.
G: We also wanted Chloe to be in the band because Ryan and I had talked about how it was initially going to be four white dudes. It still is four white people, but at least not all of them are dudes.
C: I feel like at Skidmore there are a lot of ‘bands,’ and they’re all dudes. But then ‘female bands’ are separated. I appreciate how Drobakid doesn’t fall into either of those categories. I mean, we’re a band, but it’s nice to feel not constricted to some type of label.
J: Can you guys explain how you came to be?
A: Over the summer, Greg and I had this long road trip. It was during that week that I wrote “Eight” and started recording it. Then Greg wrote “Summer Fox,” so we had two songs kind of recorded. “Feeding Time” was during that road trip too. So that was the first time we wrote music together. I don’t think we necessarily thought it was part of the project, we were just doing it for fun. I knew I wanted to start a band with Jason, because he is an unbelievable drummer. He is so special. I'm really sad he is a senior.
C: Jason is a hard act to follow.
G: Jason wanted to say he has a glass eye.
J: Oh! I wish I got to meet him. You guys are great, but I wanted to meet Jason. I see him at the library all the time he seems like a nice guy.
R: The most fun fact about Jason is that he has not bought a laptop for all of college because he is a math major and just uses a library computer.
C: The same exact computer.
R: He is very devoted to that computer.
C: That’s why he’s always in the library.
G: And in the same seat.
R: One thing that’s really special about Jason as a drummer is that he is unbelievably musical for the way he drums. He went to Julliard, and was in the student orchestra -- he’s a classical percussionist.
C: He traveled every weekend to the city to play drums for hours. Dedication. He is so humble and low-key --
G: Just surface-level humble.
C: Well obviously he knows he’s good. But when he makes comments on a song or makes edits, he comes from a place of absolute truth and objectivity.
G: At first I was honestly intimidated by Jason because he is so good. There would be these practices where I would mess up on something and he would drill me on it. Practice would stop. He would come up to me, and be like ‘play this five times until you get it right.’
R: He just listens more than any other drummer I’ve worked with. I think that has a lot to do with how he plays music. Especially in the way he restrains himself. You could play with 50 drummers, and 48 of them will overplay and play too many fills. Jason is so careful about what he does on the drums. I knew I wanted to have him in the band no matter what.
J: What’s the songwriting process like?
G: Personally, I am way more musical than I am lyrical. Music always comes for me first. It always has, even from ninth grade. I always make some sort of song structure on the guitar then bring my guitar into Ryan’s room.
R: First semester, either Greg or I would fully write a song and then bring it to the other one. But we’ve started to move towards being more collaborative. For my personal songwriting process, I do love the lyrical side of music.
J: You are the English major
R: Exactly. Folk music is my biggest inspiration for how I think of music. I grew up loving Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell -- these people who write crazily well. Often I’ll write a song and a melody will come to mind, so I'll play with that until I can think of lyrics. Then take the song wherever it goes naturally.
J: Do you guys have any of these songs out?
R: Yes! We have a bandcamp with two songs. Our first EP is called ‘Feeding Time,’ and the four songs that will be on it are the ones Greg and I made over the summer. Then one is just a voice memo of a song I wrote one morning. The music that we have uploaded is not very similar to the way we sound live. Right now we’re working on a project that will sound more professional, and trying to be more serious about how we sound. Hopefully by the summer there will be an EP of live-sounding Droba Kid stuff.
J: Cool! What was your first gig and how has it transformed since then?
C: I was just thinking about this the other day! I was remembering how for our first show I was so scared. Last night we played a show and I was zero percent nervous.
G: Yeah, same.
C: The whole time I was thinking about how it was such a difference between this show -- which was upwards of our fifth gig -- and the first one. It used to be for me that the nerves of being on stage and having people watching me took over playing the music. Even though that was supposed to be primary, it felt secondary because I was so preoccupied by performing in front of people. But now I go up there and playing the music feels like practice. Which is nice because I always feel like our practice shows are the best.
G: Last night’s a really good example because the last time we had played together was Wesleyan -- so I hadn’t touched my guitar in five days. This was the first show I had done sober, and it was amazing, there were no nerves.
R: Without a doubt, I have not been sober for our shows. But not last night. That was also my first.
J: I guess I’m just surprised that you guys get nervous on stage.
R: I mean Jason and I are definitely the two who have played the most shows. But to say I’m not nervous for every show would be such a lie. I am definitely still nervous regardless. Greg and I talked about it in the bathroom before the show last night and he asked me if I was nervous for the show. I said yeah, and he was like ‘oh no, now I’m more nervous because you’re nervous.’ But I’m like that for every show.
J: What was Beatlemore like? That was my first taste of you guys.
C: That was our first taste of us too.
R: It was super fun. I love Beatlemore; the Beatles are definitely my favorite band ever. To play any song off of Sergeant Pepper is a dream. It was probably our third week of being a band when we got together and decided we would do “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”. Greg and I had kind of figured out an arrangement together at our house, and it just worked out. It was a really fun experience, especially because Beatlemore is the closest thing at Skidmore for bands to feel like a substantial part of the music department.
C: Adults, not just your friends, watch you perform. People from the town come.
R: We got the whole experience of being in the backroom, of loading in to wait for the act before ours. It was a really good thing for us as a band because it was our second time playing in front of people, and we learned a lot.
J: You’ve cited the Beatles multiple times since we’ve started this interview. Would you say they’re an influence for your music and sound?
G: When we made those songs over the summer, my siblings who have similar taste in music to me said they heard influences of Grizzly Bear, kind of Beach Boys and Beatles but with a more modern vibe. We aren’t 60s Beatles, but Beatles now...which is, I guess, Grizzly Bear. For new stuff it’s definitely Palm.
C: Yeah, we like Palm. You can definitely include that.
J: Just “We like Palm"? Okay.
R: I just remember when Greg and I were recording those three songs over the summer, we wanted one song to sound like a demo-y Grizzly Bear song. Also, Big Thief is a huge inspiration.
C: Oh yeah, band goals.
R: Just fascinating as human beings. Their albums are really big for not only sound, but lyrical inspiration.
J: You guys have a gig tomorrow, correct?
R: We actually have two. Greg and I are doing a very fun acoustic set on the WSPN Tang Waves thing. So tune in. Then at nine is when the bands start at the Tang party. I’m not sure where we are in the lineup, but we will be playing a set. It’s been a while since we’ve played at Skidmore. The last time we played was at The Laundromat in February.
J: Is Friday your last shows with Jason? Or do you have anything planned for the summer?
R: So Chloe is in a band with a few other people called Fume Fume, and one of the guitar players in Fume Fume is a freshman who is in another band from before Skidmore called Melt. We have all lined up a bit of a small tour.
G: Starting early June, I believe. It’s pretty much written in stone. We are playing one in Brooklyn, but Columbus and Philly and a few other places are still a bit up in the air.
J: That’s so cool! You guys should go to Rochester...we have Kodak?
J: Do you guys have anything you'd like to say before we end?
R: If there is anything else we should add, it’s that we love boybands.