Members: Leisha Hailey, Camila Grey
Uh Huh Her
There's something irresistibly magical about COMMON REACTION, the debut album from electro-pop duo UH HUH HER. Simply put, the L.A.-based musical pair consisting of singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Camila Grey and musician/actress Leisha Hailey and have crafted an exciting and seamless modern rock disc. Perfected with the able hands of producer Al Clay (Pixies, Blur, Pink), the eleven song offering captivates the listener from the opening notes of its pulsing debut single 'Not A Love Song' and effortlessly charms its way through to the evocative piano-touched finale, 'Dreamer'.
Boasting sold out shows from L.A to New York and London on the strength of the 2007 self-released EP I SEE RED, UH HUH HER's knack for memorable song-craft is indisputable. If the duo's quick ascent is somehow tied to the interest in Showtime's 'The 'L' Word', UHH's ability to write great songs is what will ultimately uphold and build its ever-growing fanbase for years to come.
"We're definitely grateful for the fans we have in place," says Grey â a veteran of L.A. indie outfit Mellowdrone. "We'll never take it for granted. It's because of them that we've been able play huge venues like the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London to a sell out crowd. Ideally though we'd like to reach as many people as we can with our music by jumping on tour with a band that doesn't cater to a specific audience.
And it's an attainable goal. "We'd be lying if we said we didn't want to see it go as far as it can," says Hailey, who previously co-fronted Lilith Fair vets The Murmurs. "As we were making COMMON REACTION, we realized it went in a pop direction, but in a good way." As evidence check out the dreamy, lilting and provocative 'Explode' which pays faint tribute to The Cure and the exquisite, pulsing and passionate 'Wait Another Day'
Remarkably, the roots of their golden musical touch only date back to 2006, when Camila and Leisha met by chance at a party and then reconnected soon after Grey explains. Leisha cold-called me some time after and said, "Hi, do you want to start a band?" As I was phasing out of my previous group I was open to it. We met and instantly clicked."
After just two rehearsals, Grey and Hailey flew to New York to play their first UHH show to a packed crowd that included a number of industry execs. "Our first showcase was crazy," Camila remembers. "We were literally thrust from making demos in a bedroom studio to playing for a sold out crowd."
With no backing band yet in place, UH HUH HER were accompanied by a lone iPod. It was at that memorable gig that Camila embraced her new-found power. "You have to shed any kind of shell you have," Grey says of her first experience at the front of the stage. "The moment you're up there people are looking at you like you have to give something back. If you don't give anything, they can see it. I learned quickly that it's up to me to show up and pour my heart out."
Six months after their formation, the duo released a well-received debut EP through their own imprint, Plaid Records. It contained early renditions of 'Explode' and another COMMON REACTION inclusion, 'Say So'. That urgent, contagious holdover, and the first song Grey and Hailey ever wrote together, is a celebration of devotion ("You say that you're broken/I just want to fix you") that sounds even stronger in its new enhanced form.
According to Leisha, Clay's guidance on COMMON REACTION was instrumental in helping UH HUH HER achieve such sonic quality and clarity. "Because of my shooting schedule, the way we wrote the album was very fragmented," Hailey explains. "Cam would fly up to Canada where I was working and we'd write or I'd fly down, and in some cases we wrote while on tour. But the fact that it sounds cohesive is fascinating and definitely attributed to Al. He has this ability to enhance a song without changing its origins."
Be it the soothing soundscape of 'Everyone' (which brings to mind elements of The Cocteau Twins classic 1990 album Heaven or Las Vegas), or the aforementioned UHH favorite 'Wait Another Day', the consistency of the material is unwavering. "I really love that song," Leisha says of the latter. "I loved it from the second we wrote it. I always told Cam, "It just grows and grows on me." And I think when you're in a band and can say that about one of your songs, you're really lucky."
"I love the words and I love the melody," Camila agrees. "It's a classic love song and the instrumentation is analog-kind of old school." And for Grey, who has also worked as a professional musician with an array of performers including Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre and Kelly Osbourne, the need to be creative is in her bones. "If it were up to me, I'd write a song every day," Camila explains. "I actually did that as an exercise. Time doesn't always permit it these days, but I'm extremely prolific."
UH HUH HER is a fully collaborative entity. Additionally, the lyric writing duties are shared, which Grey admits, "it's kind of weird for me to have someone else bringing in ideas for me to sing". Leisha believes that approach adds to the mystique of the group. "When Camila first hears my lyrics, she doesn't necessarily know what they're about. And the same goes for me, which leaves room to kind of fantasize about what the other one intended. I guess if Cam's singing a line I wrote, she's interpreting it her way and having her own experience. Besides, I don't always think it's a good idea for bands to give up too much information about the writing process. That way the audience can form its own ideas".
Whatever the process the results speak for themselves. COMMON REACTION is a solid first album packed with great songs, which should see the two talented ladies of UH HUH HER around for the long haul.