“A girl I like recently told me she showed her mom my band, and her mom said ‘I like it, but he sings about girls too much’,” laughs Holden Jaffe, frontman of New York City-based folk rock outfit Del Water Gap, who recently released a new single, “Vanessa.” The band has been diligently crafting a new EP they plan to release in February, and Jaffe admits, he does sing about girls a lot. “There’s definitely a theme, friendship and romance and everything in between,” he says, as I virtually feel him blush on the the other end of the line. “And a twinge of post-apocalyptic nostalgia with a dash of quarter-life struggle.” Good save.
The young Jaffe began making songs in a converted storage closet at his high school, an endeavor which eventually turned into a record he put out his senior year. “It got some love in the City,” he recalls. “I went to Clive Davis at NYU and met some guys in my dorm while we were waiting out Hurricane Sandy. I said ‘I have this record, and I don’t really know what to do with it, would you guys want to play with me at a show?’ That went well and led to other shows, and here I am, five years later.”
“We got along from the beginning because we have a similar value set, musically speaking,” he continues. “We like songs where the composition and the lyrics are a stand-alone strong entity regardless of the instrumentation behind it. We try to put the songs first.” Over the last couple of years, Del Water Gap has spent a significant amount of time on the road, which gave them ample time to road-test lots of new material, but left little time to actually record it. Finally, the band carved out a week to focus on just that. “We went to stay at my parents’ house in upstate Connecticut for a week while we recorded. My parents weren’t there, but my mom had left us all this food she’d made us,” he says. “It was amazing.”
As for “Vanessa,”, Jaffe’s friend-girl’s mom doesn’t need to worry—“She’s not a real person,” he laughs. “I was in Iceland when I wrote it, working at a recording studio there. There was a band in at the time, and there was girl in the band that I was very interested in, not in a romantic way, but I thought it would be fun to write a love song about someone you’re not interested in romantically. As for the title, I just really like the name Vanessa. I went through a period of time where I was just naming songs after people,” he adds. “This one just stuck.”
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