SXSW Music Spotlight: Sloppy Jane
An avant-garde record that journeys from the center of the earth
For their last album, 2021’s Madison, Sloppy Jane dragged a piano and a string section deep below the Earth’s crust to record in a drafty West Virginia cave. The L.A. band’s obvious next step: a cushy residency on the Vegas Strip.
“The legacy circuit – that’s the dream. I could have the highest production value, stay in the same place, but have a different audience every day,” gushes creative ringleader Haley Dahl. “And then after that maybe I can do my old school Broadway musical.”
Dahl’s aspirations toward the glitziest rungs of the showbiz ladder might come as a surprise for those who witnessed Sloppy Jane’s fruity-loop, goof-punk floor show at SXSW 2018. Though her latest work arrives newly garbed in an outwardly presentable baroque-pop aesthetic – switching up the reference points from Riot Grrrl, Oingo Boingo, to Harry Nilsson on three hours of sleep – Dahl’s character-based studies of lovelorn isolation have only inched closer to the howling precipice of madness.
But if Sloppy Jane is angling for broader, more respectable stages, Dahl insists it’s not in pursuit of a maximal quantity of normies to freak out.
“When something is just beautiful, it’s hard to interface with,” she explains. “Making something beautiful with access points in dissonance or anger, that’s something that everyone can watch and be like, ‘Okay, this person is being honest with me.’ That way, you can walk the most people to a place of greater understanding.”
“So yeah, I see more kind of curious watching than I see dancing, and that was true even when the music was heavier,” Dahl continues. “But I’m not too concerned. I like having control over the audience, maintaining a tension. Y’know, we never let people clap until the very end.”
File Under: Character Driven