Aimée Nash, one half of Australian duo The Black Ryder, is seated at a cafe in Hollywood, dressed in her characteristic black from head to toe, sipping tea and looking relaxed. In just a few days, she'll head out on tour in support of her group's latest record, The Door Behind the Door, the atmospheric and dreamy follow-up to their 2010 debut, Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride.
However, despite her calm exterior, Nash has a million things on her mind as she prepares to leave for the tour, which includes support dates with The Jesus and Mary Chain and several headlining shows on the West Coast. “There's a lot on us because we started our own label,” says Nash, referring to herself and bandmate Scott Von Ryper. “We feel a lot of pressure, having released the record ourselves. We want to do everything we can because we've invested so much into it personally, emotionally, financially and mentally. We've put everything into it.”
Nash herself has difficulty describing the duo's latest record, an ethereal and spacey musical soundscape that defies an easy tag. “It's an ambitious album. They are long songs. They are not going to be on the radio. I have a hard time describing our music … it's the soundtrack to our lives, it's cinematic, it's emotive, it's vivid and not compromised.”
A self professed “perfectionist” (“I don't mean everything I do is perfect; I mean that I scrutinize everything that I do”), Nash cites control as the main reason for the self-released record. But she also stresses the importance of detaching from outcome. “I ultimately always felt like I didn't want anyone to try and change what I'm doing, because what I'm doing is my personal experience and Scott's and it's our personal vision. I kind of want to retain that control. But at the end of the day, I don't really think we have control over anything, so it's also about the art of learning to let go, which is something I'm still learning. I don't think you have control being a musician anyway. It is what it is. It's out in the world and we can only look forward to what's ahead.”
She and Von Ryper first arrived in Los Angeles from their native Sydney, Australia five years ago. The pair were members of Australian neo-psychedelic rockers The Morning After Girls before branching off to form The Black Ryder and touring Australia with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
“Five years have gone really quickly,” says Nash. “L.A. feels like home. When I moved here, for a long time I missed what I thought was home, but having gone back to Australia, that doesn't feel like home anymore. I still miss my family and my friends, but I do love it here.”
Known as much for their intense live shows as for their expansive, swirling sound, The Black Ryder has been steadily building a following while receiving public accolades from high-profile fans including legendary shoegaze band Slowdive, The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus and, naturally, Nash's husband, Ian Astbury (The Cult).
Touring for the second time this year with The Jesus and Mary Chain is a dream come true for Nash, who first heard the seminal Scottish band when she was just 11 years old. Nash had been listening to The Beatles and Janis Joplin, but her musical vision was forever changed once she heard JAMC. “It was like nothing I had ever heard,” she says. “This was a completely different sound and I realized there are no rules, which was an amazing revelation, that you can create your own sound.”
Reflecting upon the previous tour with The Jesus and Mary Chain, earlier this year, Nash says, “It was honestly one the best experiences of my life. Also it kind of was daunting. I was nervous. They are one of my favorite bands in the world and probably one of the reasons I wanted to play in a band. Going on tour with one of your favorite bands, you hope it's going to go well and it was great. It went better than I could have hoped.”
The Black Ryder plays the Roxy with The Vacant Lots and Tennis System tonight, Friday, Aug. 28.