You Women was conceived in short bursts via text message, with snippets of songs being sent back and forth by the two official members of the band, Ian Proper and Ian Egling, both from the Rochester band Sports. In You Women, the two share primary songwriting duties, each playing all instruments and singing on their own material, incorporating the other's input to make the songs complete.
But despite You Women being named after one of their other band's songs, Proper is quick to dismiss any comparisons between the two projects. "People come to see Sports because they want to dance and have fun," says Proper. "If we played a slow, noisy track everyone would leave the room." Conversely, with You Women, the pair is branching out from the sound it has become known for with Sports. "This allows us to be a little more schizophrenic. There's no certain style. There's no expectation."
That professed schizophrenia is demonstrated in the diverse cast of talent the pair has assembled to record the band's first album at Victrolaphone Studios, run by Amos Rose from Walri. Having enlisted the likes of Matt O'Brian from local reggae outfit Thunder Body, Travis Johansen from Joywave, and Sasami Ashworth, a classically trained student from the Eastman School of Music, it's clear that You Women wants its project to be more of a communal one, in contrast with the more conventional lineup of Sports. "We want those musicians to take (our songs) and put their own spin on them. There are no boundaries," says Proper.
You Women, as a project, works in an opposite way when compared with Sports' more developed, well-thought-out sound, and Proper wants to allow the other musicians to take part in that freedom. "The idea of us being able to do different stuff is the idea I want to extend to these other musicians. They're all in bands that are in straightforward genres. I want to get these people in weird circumstances and see what happens."
Before that recording can take place, however, Proper wanted to have a full-length album ready, to use as a starting point for the individuals that work with them on the recording. Gathered together on the You Women Bandcamp page, the 14 songs that are the most complete are freely available for download under the title of "Easy Love." Even though the songs are incomplete, it's important to both Egling and Proper that they are heard as they take shape, that fans be able to hear the songs' progress. The evolving nature of the project is part of the appeal to both members. "It's kind of cool that anyone can tune in," says Egling.
Proper agrees. "I like the idea that people can see the songwriting process. This isn't going to be the finished product; this is how people write songs. It's not always perfect."
But even though the duo is fond of putting its process on display, that doesn't mean the songs are slapped together haphazardly. Egling explains that, despite the songs' demo status, he still wants the songs to sound good. "I try to make them sound as produced as I can," he says.
As for now, there are no plans for the pair to play live. "The idea was a recording project, so now we have to get the other musicians in and see what works. Once the recordings are done we'll be able to figure out the live stuff," says Proper.
But despite the lack of concrete plans to perform, that doesn't mean that the pair isn't thinking about it. "I'm thinking how we could play this live, even just what we have now," says Egling. "It's a challenge. I'm always trying to figure out how to do what I do at home live, and make it sound comparable."
"I'm a big proponent of the James Murphy [of LCD Soundsystem] philosophy that if you play something electronically, you should be able to play it live — without electronics," says Proper. "When I see an Apple logo onstage, I'm turned off. I like the mistakes and the live aspect. So, if we're going to play, all those parts that we did electronically would have to be played live."
When asked about a time frame for the album release, Proper mentions August, but Egling contends that that ETA is as flexible as the songs the pair has made available. "But that doesn't mean it's not going to happen," Proper says. The two musicians are happy to let the project develop on its own schedule.
Even though there is a definite separation between You Women and Sports, the two projects are forever linked. The two are a study in contrasts, with the meticulous process of Sports on one hand, and the unrestricted development of You Women on the other. Not unlike the project's conception, You Women has an air of the ephemeral to it. It's not difficult to envision it as a constant work in progress, ever evolving, even after the pair releases its finished album later this summer.