Interview: Ilana Hope
Ilana Hope is a musician and graphic designer living in Brooklyn, New York. Although they recently moved to the city from Long Island, Ilana has been as a solid presence in our Brooklyn music scene for as long as I’ve known them. They frequently design show flyers (including a bunch of Wisteria flyers- a few of which you can see below), album art (like the cover of the new Awful Din EP), and we’re absolutely stoked on the t-shirt design they did for us (pre-order yours now). Their band, Foxy Dads, shares bills with local bands in Brooklyn venues on an almost monthly basis and we’ve been lucky to have had them on a number of Wisteria shows. When they were in school in New Paltz, they ran a show house, The Yacht Club, and often invited Brooklyn bands to play. If you don’t know Ilana, we think you should.
I asked Ilana about their own experiences with DIY including booking bands at The Yacht Club, writing for Foxy Dads, their design work and what’s up next for all of the above now that they’ve made their move to the big little city of Brooklyn.
Jane: Tell me about your first experiences with DIY? How did you first get involved?
Ilana: It started in high school… there were a few friends I was with who were starting bands and playing shows and they would invite me out and I would go. It was really that simple- some of these cool older kids I knew, “Hey, yea come check out my band” and, you know, my parents would drop me off and I’d go to the show and it all just kind of came from there.
Some of it was in DIY spaces booked by people I knew or other students. Some of it was definitely in clubs and bars- there were some all ages clubs back then- but some of my favorite spaces at that time we were the true DIY spaces… I remember kids I was in school with were booking shows at, you know, churches and stuff and I loved that.
Do you think that there’s something unique about DIY that makes kids that don’t feel welcome in other spaces welcome there?
I feel like that’s definitely changed a lot lately. I remember when I was going to shows at first there were times I felt very welcomed but there were also times I felt welcomed only as a spectator or as someone [thinking] I can only be a fan, I can’t be a part of this. And now I feel like the shift has become less about, you know, fan girls and groupies and more about how I can be involved in the scene in very different ways that I never felt I could have when I was growing up.
“..some of my favorite spaces at that time we were the true DIY spaces… I remember kids I was in school with were booking shows at, you know, churches and stuff and I loved that.”
Wisteria NYC Show Flyers by Ilana Hope
You have been doing flyers as a graphic artist for a while and I think that’s really cool that your art has given you opportunities to work with a whole bunch of bands and promoters. Do you have any favorites that come to mind?
One of my favorite flyers is the Prince Daddy bus flyer- it was for their tour to South by [South West]- That one was really hard because I decided to hand write all of the text. It was with Jouska and Kississippi and it was a very, very long tour. So, it involved me writing out every single date by hand, but I got so many compliments on that flyer that, you know, to me it was it was worth it. That’s one I’m proud of, for sure. because it took so long. I don’t usually work on tour flyers that have that many dates and hand write them all. I liked that one a lot.
When did you start Foxy dads? When did you start playing and writing music and how has that evolved over time?
Foxy that’s mostly started as just kind of… I wouldn’t have even called it a band, it was more of just a project. All my friends were in bands and I never thought I could be in a band because I didn’t play any instruments, but, you know, I would write stuff all the time. I would write melodies and lyrics. So I just tried to find friends who would want to do it with me and one of my friends (CJ from Cold Wrecks) was learning guitar… So it just made sense.
I wanted to start this band of my friends. I didn’t think I could do it but I got so much encouragement from everybody around me. I never would have thought people wanted to hear what I have to say or take the time to work with me but they did.
…it just made me really excited about the fact that this is a band that multiple people can get involved in… and it became, like, my vision but still very collaborative in that way.
“I wanted to start this band of my friends. I didn’t think I could do it but I got so much encouragement from everybody around me. I never would have thought people wanted to hear what I have to say or take the time to work with me but they did.”
You taught yourself a few things in order to write music for Foxy Dads, like how to use a drum machine, right?
Yeah, I don’t use a drum machine anymore actually. But you know, I’ve tried to learn guitar. I’ve tried to learn keyboard.
So, yea, I learned how to use a drum machine and I’m very happy that I was able to do that because now when I write beats on my iPad or something I’m thinking “how did the sequencer work” and “what sounded good here”. Even like the very minimal amount of keyboard that I’ve learned I still think helped me write and just get better at explaining what I want to the rest of the band. (Learning these different instruments) has helped me communicate better about what I want our sound to be
Does Foxy Dads have any new releases in the works?
We do. I’m working on our second album, It’s gonna be [titled] ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) and it’ll be our second release on Chatterbot Records. Our tentative release date is May 12- Mother’s day. It’s gonna be a lot about family and growth so i really wanted to pick a day that kind of exemplified that- especially with my family moving last year. That is a big influence on this record, for sure. It’s a lot about how to be alone and how to still love everyone around you.
We’re gonna be putting out singles and stuff before then. It’s going to be a very collaborative record. There’s a few new people working on it with me. But as of now, that’s the plan. I’m excited about it.
“I said, ‘Look, I don’t really know what I’m doing. So as long as, you know, you help me out and take care of everything. I’m more than happy to use my house.’”
You did a lot of booking (DIY shows) in college. Can you talk about that a little bit?
I used to run a house called the Yacht Club in New Paltz. I transferred there my sophomore year I knew I wanted to throw shows, but my housemates weren’t really interested in it. and I really have no idea what I was doing.
But I wanted to do it, I wanted to be involved. So when Alex from Diet Cig who i was classmates with at the time, told me that they really needed a homecoming show for tour and couldn’t find anybody to it, I agreed to help. I said, “Look, I don’t really know what I’m doing. So as long as, you know, you help me out and take care of everything. I’m more than happy to use my house.”
So we booked the show- it was the first ever Yacht Club show. I finally got my housemates to agree, I got a keg and, yeah, it was a free basement show. It ended up being super fun and I was really happy I did it.
“There’s nothing wrong with finding people that you look up to, doing things you want to do, and asking, ‘Hey, how do I do this'”
Do you have any advice for for someone that wants to get into DIY booking?
Ask your friends (for help). I don’t think I had any idea what I was doing until like the tenth show in. Just things like like running doors- running sound- like I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff..
But you figured it out. I think that anybody can figure it out over time.
Asking for help is so underrated. Nobody wants to ask for help or be needy. There’s nothing wrong with finding people that you look up to, doing things you want to do, and asking, “Hey, how do I do this?”.
Ilana Hope Art