It’s an unfortunate reality that bands are often pigeonholed into genres—and if the music doesn’t fit one, the band may be overlooked.
Crumb is a band that is an exception to that rule.
The music by the four-piece band out of Brooklyn has been described as everything from “psychedelic rock” to “indie psych jazz” to “soft pop.” Crumb is bringing hints of these genres and more to Coachella, on Sunday, April 17 and 24. I recently spoke to Lila Ramani (guitar, vocals) and Bri Aronow (synthesizers, keyboard, saxophone) over Zoom about their upcoming performance, which was originally scheduled for the 2020 festival.
“We’ve been on many of the maybe-happening (festival lists), so we’re excited that hopefully, this one will happen,” Aronow said. “We got asked right after we put out our first album.”
Added Ramani: “We were sad when it was canceled, and then it was supposed to happen again, and we were excited, and then it moved again—but we’re happy we’re on the newest lineup.”
The year 2019 was particularly big for Crumb, as the group released debut album Jinx and toured the U.S. It’s safe to say that the band’s 2022 Coachella show will be vastly different than what would have been in 2020, seeing as Crumb followed up Jinx with the more-experimental, electronica-tinged LP Ice Melt in 2021.
“It’s exciting to be able to play those (new songs),” said Aronow. “A lot of the set is the new album.”
Added Ramani: “I feel like we’ve learned a lot, even in our most recent tour, so our live set is definitely different from what would’ve been in 2020. I’m more excited about all the songs that we are figuring out now.”
The band was able to sneak in a 2021 tour between COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We actually managed to get in one tour in this, like, in-between period between delta and omicron,” said Ramani. “We did a full U.S. tour, but prior to that, we hadn’t toured for all of 2020 and most of 2021. That was definitely a steep learning process—but we’ve toured so much that it’s all there, and it comes back pretty quick.”
While Crumb continues to experiment with recordings, translating that new sound into live performances has not always been easy.
“Obviously, you’re limited by the amount of production you can do in a live set, but I think that’s something that, especially since 2020, we’ve worked a lot on,” Aronow said. “We’re trying to capture those moments by learning how to do that live—working with our sound person, and honing in on the kind of gear and stuff we need to be able to do that. We take that into account a lot, on this album especially, because we can play all the songs live pretty much the same way that they were written and recorded.”
Added Ramani: “I feel like it’s a pretty natural transition for us, just because we’re a band, and we play pretty much live on the albums. We don’t use backing tracks or anything like that. Trying to capture every single thing sometimes—you have to have a lot of hands, but it’s a fun challenge.”
Nearly a year after the release of Ice Melt, Crumb is now working on improving elements of the band’s performances beyond the music.
“As the live set has felt more and more effortless, we can turn our attention toward those extra experimental or production elements, rather than practicing individual parts or practicing as a band,” said Aronow. “We know the songs very deep down, so now we can really focus on those extra little details.”
Added Ramani: “We also try to make the song live a different experience from the recording, just to make it feel more big and exciting. We’re not trying to capture exactly what’s going on in the recording.”
Songs like “Locket” and “BNR” show how the band favors creativity—with minimal limits.
“A lot of songs start with an idea, or chords, or melody, or lyrics that I write, and then it’s really just playing it together and expanding it in different directions—whatever people are hearing,” Ramani said. “I think that’s what we love about it: There’s no direction to seeing what the song needs and what it wants. I think that naturally just develops into different … I guess you could say genres, but just different feelings and grooves and stuff.”
Added Aronow: “All of us having curiosity, and wanting to explore—that’s what keeps it fun. That’s what keeps it challenging. I think that is something we all value, so then it comes out in our music.”