June 19 2018

Weslee, the Mysterious Indie Band, Steps Into the Spotlight

New York-Standard Sounds
Weslee had no intention of ever taking the stage and revealing their identities…until BBC Radio 1's venerable Annie Mac asked them to perform at one of her renowned showcases before Jessie Ware in London a few weeks ago. Within the past year, their first single ever as a band, “Gassed,” became a BBC’s Hottest Record in the World, and Shonda Rhimes announced on Twitter that she’s a big fan.

The duo met while writing songs for other artists, hit it off, and named their band after one of their childhood pet turtles. They don’t live in the same city (Emma, English, lives in Brooklyn, and Josh, American, lives in London) and email ideas for songs back and forth. 
 
We met up with Weslee right before their second show ever, their first in NYC, which just so happened to be the day their EP titled 9F dropped, to get to know the talented up-and-comers.
The Standard
The Standard
THE STANDARD: You were anonymous this past year, your first year as a band. Who are you?
EMMA: He's Josh Grant.
JOSH: I never knew your name.
EMMA: I'm Emma DD.
 
Was being anonymous a giant "fuck you" to social media?
JOSH: I think it's just because that's our personalities.
EMMA: I'm very behind the scenes. I like taking pictures, and I don't like being in pictures.
JOSH: We've always done stuff for other people, not for ourselves, for that same reason. I think that was just sort of a safety blanket. It's fun that we're doing it now.
EMMA: I used to be like, "I'm never doing live shows." Fast forward to now. [Laughs.]
 
What changed?
JOSH: We had to get a live show together because Annie Mac asked us to do a show in London [with Jessie Ware.] We needed something to happen to be like, "OK, we guess we do that now." Had she not asked, we might not be here now.
 
You're about to take the stage for the second time, your first in NYC. Are you nervous?
JOSH: Yes. One-hundred percent yes.
EMMA: I wasn't thinking about it till you said it!
JOSH: We all have been faking it. I've been thinking about it all day. No one is ever not nervous. That's a fuckin' lie! But yeah, it's new territory, so it's weird, but it's good.
 
Are you guys going to be sober?
JOSH: I'm sober all the time, sooo… She won't be.
EMMA: I mean, I'm not going to be drunk! I'm going to be getting drunk one minute after the show.
JOSH: And yelling.


The Standard
The Standard
The Standard
Do you drink on stage?
JOSH: [To Emma.] You should! You should have a chalice on stage!
EMMA: I'm not going to do that!
JOSH: Find Emma at like, 10, and she'll be picking fights.
EMMA: Stop right now! I don't pick fights!
JOSH: She'll have your back if someone else comes at you. You're a good teammate!
EMMA: This is why I don't like you. [Laughs.]
 
Do you like the current music industry that you're setting out into?
JOSH: Ooo, loaded question!
EMMA: You can take that one.
JOSH: These are the moments when I shouldn't say anything.
EMMA: I'm not saying shit!
JOSH: To be fair, it's exciting because of stuff like this—unsigned bands that are just doing their own thing and it's not as much about chasing hits. It's exciting because anything can come out of nowhere and people are like, "What the fuck is this?" And something just blows up, which is exciting.

Do you guys have any groupies yet?
JOSH: [Our manager] Arthur is our groupie, but he's paid to be, so...that makes it even creepier.
EMMA: [Laughs.] Someone sent us a DM yesterday.
 
What's the weirdest DM so far?
JOSH: There was a good one from today. "I don't know what's going on here. Ya'll a band or what? But I like it."
 
Do you want to be famous?
JOSH: I think it's just to make songs with friends and have fun.
EMMA: Just to put music out. I think somebody who doesn't like to be in the center of attention wants to be famous. [Laughs.] And I'm the opposite of that, thank you!
 
Do you have any regrets about anything yet?
EMMA: My biggest regret is being in a duo with him.
JOSH: Best regret.
EMMA: Biggest.
JOSH: No, no regrets.
EMMA: Yet.
JOSH: There will be one at some point.
 
What are you guys doing right after the show?
EMMA: Getting drunk!
JOSH: Watching Emma get drunk!
 
The Standard
Writer
Elena Feldman
Photographer
Hollyanne Faber