Hyperbubble Mixes Boots And Beats On Sixth Album, Western Ware
Hyperbubble, San Antonio’s husband-and-wife tandem of Jeff DeCuir and Jess Barnett DeCuir, has garnered an international following over the years with glossy sophistication and bold, colorful beats fused with jangly melodies. “Western Ware” is their sixth album of sugarcoated electropop drenched in a hybrid of rayguns and rainbows, featuring a hoedown of bouncy and bombastic country-western covers like “Jolene” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Their latest ups the ante on the duo’s two decades of making pop music splashed with magical Moogs and stylish visuals.
While equally at home gigging in both art galleries and music halls, singer Jess Barnett DeCuir is a native of North St. Louis County who graduated from Webster University before she moved to Texas for graduate school. We chatted with the duo about their new album, St. Louis and the symmetry between music and art.
Have your experiences in St. Louis affected you as an artist and musician?
Jess: My best memories of the St. Louis music scene are going to all-ages shows from the age of 15 and record shopping at Vintage Vinyl, Euclid and West End Wax. Weekends at the teen club, Animal House, were especially influential on me, where friends from different neighborhoods and schools came together to dance and share a like-minded interest in new music. In high school, I was invited to be in an all-girl band and then a basement band, which were also confidence-building. All-ages shows around town had a positive, supportive vibe.
Are you surprised by the international success of the band?
Jeff: I did not see that coming. It’s especially nice to know that people are still listening to stuff we recorded up to 20 years ago.
How did the new album come about?
Jeff: For me, it started at age 15 when I found a copy of Gil Trythall’s album “Switched on Nashville” in the dollar bin at a used record store. All country! All Moog! It was silly and stupid and smart and mind blowing. So about three years ago we decided to do a cover album. Jess mentioned covering a Willie Nelson song, which led us to think, “Well, why not make it all country, make it official, and record it in Nashville?”
Was it difficult to re-imagine these beloved songs?
Jeff: We really didn’t consciously try to make the arrangements sound Hyperbubble-ish. It all comes out that way, so that part was really easy. Technically, it was a challenge to get our synths and Theremins sounding like banjos, steel guitar and, especially, harmonica.
How does visual art fit in as a concept for the band?
Jess: We are a “band-as-art” concept, and always have been. Many of our shows are multimedia events where we combine video, visual art and music. It makes sense because we both have degrees in visual art. There’s no barrier between art and music for us. Our package design, website, merchandise and fashion are all based on visual concepts.
What is next for the band?
Jess: A CD release corresponding with an art gallery show called “Pretty Plastic: 20 Years of Hyperbubble.” We realized recently that we’ve been collaborating for 20 years now, so we’ve been working together longer than we’ve been married! To celebrate this, we’re releasing a 22-song, career-spanning retrospective of tracks only previously released on vinyl and compilation albums around the world.