Original photo: Pierre Baroni / Handmade mixed-media collage by B.
Naarm/Melbourne-based band Imperial Leather deliver punk heat with big emotions, sharp edges, and new wave sass on their self-titled 7” that’s out today on Rack Off Records! Gimmie got an insight into the EP and the creatives behind it – Annaliese Redlich, Emma Peel, Ginger Light and Alice Edgeley.
We understand that Imperial Leather started after a dream and wanting an excuse to spend more time together; what was the dream? What brought you together and what did you initially bond over?
ANNALIESE (guitar, vox): I literally had a dream about Emma when I first met her properly playing footy that we were going to do some cool shit together!
GINGER (bass): To have fun & laugh.
I first met Emma at a Soul A Go Go in 2010. We bonded over her 60s style, music & her incredible thigh high Italian boots. I met Annaliese as a client of mine in 2013. We bonded over music also & got to know each other after dancing at a Slow Grind a fever night. She started dating my boyfriend’s friend. We all went to many gigs together. I met Alice in 2016 when I opened up my salon Ginger Hair in Collingwood. She made an appointment and said she wanted red hair like a Scottish person. I thought that was cool. I’d seen Alice around town with her husband William & their gorgeous dog Rupert. We bonded over small dogs & fashion. Alice has a clothing boutique Edgeley & makes the most beautiful outfits I’ve ever worn. Thanks Alice!
ALICE (drums): Annaliese was putting on a night and asked me if I wanted to come dressed as Poison Ivy. So a mutual love of The Cramps!
How did you first discover music?
GINGER: I discovered music on the radio. Mum use to listen to Gold 104.3 in the car. We use to do lots of long drives. They played 60’s & 70’s music.
EMMA (keys): The classic mum and dad’s record collection. Dad, in particular, had cool stuff like Electric Prunes and other garage artists from the 60s.
ANNALIESE: I’ve never had a time in my life where music wasn’t everything. My Dad really into classical, Mum really into 60s girl groups and The Stones. As a teenager that classical pressure got me into the immediacy of punk.
ALICE: the first record I remember wanting to put on was Bob Marley and the Wailers.That was when I was reeeeally young. I’ve aways been quite obsessed with music. I had a yellow Sony portable tape player and I used to take it around with me and play cassettes over and over until they shredded.
Who or what inspired you to start playing music yourself?
EMMA: Ok, this is really ridiculous, but when I was a tween I was really into…Glenn Miller (LOL – i know) and used to imagine myself playing trombone in a big band. Instead my mother enrolled me in piano lessons….
ANNALIESE: I could never imagine not playing, but for so long it was in my bedroom and just trying to get out stuff that was eating away at me. I grew up with the whole “10,000 hours of practice” mantra and so I kept it to myself. That’s definitely why I found punk so liberating when I discovered it, cause the idea you had to be a musical “genius” to play in front of others just always felt so wrong to me. Plus there’s as much beauty in mistakes, as there is cold and boring clinicism in “perfection”.
GINGER: The Leathers inspired me to start.
When did you start?
ALICE: 2019 at the age of 39 I started learning the drums so that I could be in the band. I had to message them all then to say “Hi I’ve started lessons. Are we going to get together and jam?”
EMMA: 1986, baby!
ANNALIESE: At age 10 with an acoustic guitar in my bedroom, first tunes were Nirvana and Deep Purple lol!
Is there an album or band that has had a big impact on you and what do you appreciate about it/them?
GINGER: So many bands & genres. The Beatles are probably my fave. I love the diversity over their 10 years together. The Beatles always make me happy when I listen to them.
Emma: I have musical epiphanies on the regular, so I can’t narrow it down.
ANNALIESE: Quite literally impossible to answer but Tina Turner, Ronnie Spector and other 60s girl group vibes was my earliest obsession at 6 years old. Discovering Bad Brains and Bikini Kill when I was 12 made me wanna play music. Dean Blunt’s Black Metal and Mike Rep and Tommy Jay marked a landscape of music I’d been previously unable to articulate and it felt so liberating to hear it actualised. Bona Dish, Carambolage, Delta 5 were part of the stomach bacteria that formed my vibes for Imperial Leather. Just to name a few out of the 1000s of key moments for me!
ALICE: I love the Cure, Three Imaginary Boys. Also Kate Bush blew my mind when i heard her on the radio late one night.
We’d love to know more about each of the tracks on your new self-titled EP we’re premiering. What sparked the writing of ‘Heavy Breathing’?
GINGER: We jammed Heavy Breathing at Bakehouse one day. I really like it it ‘cause it was simple & fun. Annaliese always makes it fun, she changes the lyrics & makes me laugh. It’s a hot song.
How did ‘Lewis Lee’ come together?
ANNALIESE: I record demos on my phone and for a period of time everything was getting auto labeled as “Lewis Lee Associates”. At the time I was going through a particularly bad break up and at that point where you wonder if you ever really knew that person you were so intimate with at all. The lyrics of that song are all about the physical and digital objects in our lives that are evidence of our existence and relationships; the pixels that form a message on a phone, sheets of paper etc. And so it’s a break up song to a person I never knew and it felt apt to call him Lewis Lee.
GINGER: ‘Lewis Lee’ came together from Annaliese’s wifi connection at her home. Cool song.
EP artwork courtesy of Rack Off Records.
What inspired ‘Smile Now, Cry Later’? Can you share with us a time where you’ve experienced this?
ANNALIESE: Again with the break ups! I kinda mostly feel motivated to write in these headspaces, or about sex or anger, all strong experiences. I’m trying to work on love songs but I find these tricky.
‘Smile Now, Cry Later’ is wondering if what you went through with someone close ever really meant anything at all when it’s all said and done. Asking what the point of all the good times are when they’re only gonna end in tears. Also doing the dirty on yourself by grinning and bearing it, when you really should just get the hell outta there!
GINGER: This one’s Annaliese. It’s fun to play i really like it.
What’s the story behind ‘Creep Stain’?
EMMA: Band practice is always a very cathartic time whereby we all bring our gripes and grievances and have a big old whinge just to get it out of our systems. Quite often we talk about creeps that lurk around our lives. Mostly ex lovers and insincere people. I was so cross one night that I channelled my rage into the riff and then i took it to the band and we worked it up into a song together.
ANNALIESE: A definite catharsis! A rack off rant dedicated to all the vampires!
GINGER: Hahaha, Emma came up with the riff on this number. Annaliese threw in the words, most of what we all use in our daily vocabulary.
What aspect did you enjoy most creating your EP?
GINGER: I actually really enjoyed the recording. I was nervous of course. But Billy Gardener was a dream, so kind and cool.
EMMA: The last few years of lockdowns stopped us from rehearsing and recording, so to finally be in the same room together doing this thing was incredibly joyful.
ANNALIESE: Recording with Billy Gardner and the process of mixing with Dave Forcier was so great! But just having it out feels really satisfying after the past few years of fuckery tbh. Also working with the Rack Off Records women has been amazing, their enthusiasm and support of what we do is unreal!
We understand that members of the IL are DJs; what’s your go to song for instant happiness?
GINGER: At our first gig supporting Davey Lane at The Espy in December 2020. We were all a little nervous I think. Well I certainly was. I can’t remember if it was Emma or Annaliese but they played Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer.’ It was hilarious, we all danced around & shook the nerves loose.
EMMA: Anything by Jorge Ben.
ANNALIESE: Such a hard question to answer. Everything from Adolescents – ‘Kids Of The Blackhole’, Satan’s Rats – ‘Louise’, GG King – ‘Remain Intact’, Thin Lizzy – ‘Wild One’, Rockin Ramrods – ‘Bright Lit Blue Skies’. BUT If I were a pro wrestler, my entry song would be Triplett Twins – ‘Pretty Please’. It’s such an amp up!
ALICE: Kid Creole and the Coconuts- ‘Lifeboat Party’ or ‘Marcia Baile’ by Les Rita Mitsouko.
Earlier in the year you supported Shannon & The Clams; what do you remember most from that show?
ANNALIESE: That was such a rad night. I’d met Shannon several times before interviewing her on my radio show, she is a gorgeous person, so it was amazing to be asked to support them. I was also DJing that night so was mostly running around all night. Shannon is one of the great voices of the last decade imo, and the whole band are extraordinary musicians and people. It was such an honour to be on a line up with them!
GINGER: I remember the sound check thinking…. Wow Shannon’s voice is phenomenal. I love her bass, singing & big hair.
What would be your dream collaboration?
GINGER: I would love if The Leathers could do a video with Nick McKinlay or Izzie Austin.
EMMA: I’d love to collab with Our Carlson.
ANNALIESE: We do a cover of Bona Dish’s track 8am. When we put it up online Steven Chandler of the band wrote to us to say how much he dug it, so that would be pretty amazing! Or I know I’m speaking for Alice our drummer too when I say a clothing collab with Seth Bogart Wacky Wacko, or the incredible Wha-Wha and Kaylene would be a DREAM.
ALICE: A collab with Koffee would be ace.
What do you get up to when not making music?
GINGER: Cutting hair, making people look beautiful & hopefully getting some rest in.
EMMA: Doing a weekly radio show, DJing, running a music festival, parenting and wondering why I’m bloody tired all the time.
ANNALIESE: I’m a full time podcast producer and also do a weekly Saturday music show on 3RRR Fm called Neon Sunset. I’m also always DJing and noodling around with music stuff, and like Emma wondering why I have over committed to everything!
ALICE: I’m a fashion and costume designer and I have a shop so I’m either chained to the sewing machine or computer or doing some shop stuff. We use the shop to rehearse in which is useful.
What’s next for Imperial Leather?
GINGER: Our EP launch at The Old Bar March 25th.
Imperial Leather’s self-titled EP is available digitally and on 7” vinyl via Rack Off Records HERE. Follow @imperial.leather