Interview: Huff This!

Photo by Nick Lee

For the next installment of the PUMP Sessions Interview Series, we are featuring NYC-based Huff This!, a dream-thrash group lead by the lovely and talented, Alison Clancy. She sat down to answer a few questions with me and I hope you enjoy her passion and excitement as much as I do. x

Huff This! Sessions

Hey, Alison. Welcome to the PUMP Sessions Interview Series. Please introduce yourselves to the readers.

Hello hello. I'm Alison. 

Where were you born and raised? 

Nevada City, CA. It's a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
I grew up in a cabin in the woods. It was early solar-power. So whenever it was cloudy I did my homework by candlelight...

What brought you to New York City? And in what part of the city do you live now?

I dreamed of being a dancer as a little girl, and NYC is the place to be for dance. There's a video of me at age 9, declaring I'm gonna move to NYC because "that's where all the good ballerina's live!" I moved here when I was 18 and feel blessed that I've been able to work mostly as a dancer. At first I lived on the L.E.S. Now I live in Grammercy.

Here is her amazing video for "Lovin You" - shot in Coney Island, New York.

How did Huff This! come to fruition? 

Hmmm... I think it started with giving Molly Allis a haircut in my bathroom. Afterwards we jammed in my bedroom...the rest was love. For a while Molly literally played pots and pans with chopsticks because we didn't have a drum kit. Chris Lancaster and I met when he started accompanying my ballet classes at NYU. I would pick out special outfits on the days I knew he was coming, and stand directly in front of him. We developed a strong connection through me dancing to his music. It was intense. At the time I was pretty insane, so we never had any cohesive conversations. But a few years later we reconnected and have been playing together since then. There are a lot of other collaborators involved, but these two have been the main players so far.

Where did your band name come from?

haha.... I don't really was a joke Molly made that just kind of stuck.  I tend to write sickly sincere music for this band, so I like that the name HUFF THIS! gives the whole thing some levity.

I see you’ve opened for TV on the Radio and the Kills at SXSW? Those are two incredible bands. What was that like? 

Awesome. Exciting. It's been cool to meet and be making friends with people I admire.

Your reviews seem to focus on your high energy live performances, even being compared to the amazing Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What gets you off onstage and where does that energy come from?  

Energy is always available. On good days I just sort of ride it: like a dandelion seed catching a breeze. On bad days it's like a beast crawling out of my liver and roaring. Every show is pretty different. I've been experimenting with different band members, set lists and vibes lately. Sometimes I'm super mellow and sweet and sometimes I'm kind of rabid. I guess the word for that might be moody.

What apps and sites do you use to promote your music?

Mostly I use Email and Facebook. 
And I have a website you can subscribe to:

I have music up on Myspace and Bandcamp, but it's mostly from back in 2008.
HUFF THIS! has a new EP called Tuff Love due out this fall.

What have you found that works and what does not? 

ummm...I don't know...I'm just trying to make cool and heartfelt stuff...and give it to anyone interested....

What social networking platforms do you use regularly – and where can our readers find you online?

or Email me:  I send out my music for free.
or find me on Facebook:

Do you follow any music or industry blogs regularly? If yes, which ones? Besides this one, of course… 

I'm old school. I like magazines. The paper versions that i can read on the subway and at rehearsals: SPIN, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Vogue, V, W, Village Voice, New York Times, etc. I'm super grateful to the blogs that have helped promote my music though!

What is your favorite method of recording music? What instruments do you play?

I definitely like recording in spaces with natural reverb: rooms with high ceilings or long hallways. And I love playing late at night. But as for method, I'm still experimenting with stuff. I do vocals, piano and guitar. I've played drums on a couple tracks. I'm mostly self taught, so I wouldn't say I'm fluent on anything...I just do my thing...I'm pretty stoked that I just started taking guitar lessons from Marnie Stern though! While I love learning, and am always trying to study theory and do scales and stuff, I do feel like my limited vocabulary forces me to be an honest songwriter. When I'm dancing I can cheat because I know how to do so many things....but with music I'm forced to get to the point.

Which bands and artists have influenced your music?

I mostly listen to my friend's music. Nevada City had a rad local music scene, and I found all my friends to be super inspiring. Although I was kind of intimidated by them and didn't start playing until after I moved to NYC. I used to sleepover at Joanna Newsom's house and listen to her play harp in her living room. Amazing. Other NC locals I listen to a lot are Hella, Alela Dianne, Jeffrey Thorsby, CHODE, Marie Siouxx, Aaron Ross, Luke Janella, Black Bear. I also love my new NYC friends Fifth Nation. Having a personal connection to the artists makes the music 10 times sweeter. 

I've also been exposed to a lot of classical, pop, and musical theater through my dancing. So I have extreme visceral connections to everything from Stravinsky to Madonna to Andrew Loyd Weber. The other day I heard Janet Jackson's "If" and couldn't help but bust out the moves. Cat Power is definitely one of my favorite vocalists, I just love how raw and expressive she is. And of course props to Beyonce. Also, this is extremely general to say, but I love "world music" Hearing new sounds and rhythms is always exciting: Celtic, Gamalon, Flamenco, Throat Singing, etc.

Desert Island Albums – Top 5. GO! 

Latent Structure is the Master of the Obvious- Chris Lancaster's first solo album
House of Balloons -The Weeknd
The Score -The Fugees
Grandpa Dodes Dentures –CHODE
My brother Erinn Clancy's mixtapes

Favorite books of all time, Fiction or Non-Fiction…

Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior -by Chogyam Trungpa

Favorite films… 

I love watching films, but once they're over, I have no recall.

What are your favorite fashion labels?

I recently got to wear some DEAR RAINDROP clothes as a guest singer with the band Electric Pussy. Those clothes were pretty damn sweet.

Do you have a favorite place to shop for stage clothes?

No....I never know what to wear....I would love for someone rad to take me on as an art project...when left to my own devices I'm usually in little running shorts and an old t-shirt....although I did bust out a gold spandex unitard for SXSW...that was fun.

Who, when, and where was your first concert? 

My mom sold merch at concerts when I was a kid, so I got to see a lot of great stuff. Most distinctly I remember looking up at Tina Turners legs emerging from a glittery tasseled  skirt as she sh-sh-shaked it! Ahhhmazing. I think it was at the Cal Expo Arena in Sacramento.

What are your hobbies outside of creating music?

Ballet class, sleeping, friends, making beeswax candles.

Any upcoming performances, events, releases, news you’d like to promote here?

Right now i'm just trying to finish up the Tuff Love EP. There will be a party when I get it done.
I'm playing some secret shows, but obviously I can't tell you about them.
I'm dancing in some new productions at The Metropolitan Opera right now. They should be rad.

Please let everyone know where they can find your music and stay updated on Huff This! 

Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing more and more from you. Best of luck and please feel free to contact me any time. Be well.