There’s so much more to St. Pete Pride than the promenade and street festival. And this year the organization is introducing its 27-82 fundraising concert — the name is taken from the latitude and longitude coordinates of St. Pete — to benefit the St. Pete Pride Community Grants Program and LGBT groups in our area.
Indie electro-pop outfit Uh Huh Her (Leisha Hailey, best known as Alice from The L Word, and Camila Grey) headlines the concert at St. Petersburg’s State Theatre on Fri., June 28. Chicago-born singer-songwriter Daphne Willis, St. Pete’s Geri X and the local group Butchlesque, which explores female masculinity through music and fashion, are also on the lineup presented by Girl2Girl Productions in conjunction with St. Pete Pride.
Inspired by the PJ Harvey album of the same name, Hailey and Grey formed Uh Huh Her in 2007. Hailey, at the time at the height of her L Word popularity and formerly a member of the group The Murmurs, was looking to get back to her musician roots. Meanwhile, Grey, after building a successful career as a session musician for the likes of Dr. Dre, Melissa Auf der Maur, Adam Lambert and Kelly Osbourne, wished to re-focus on her own music.
“We both came from such different musical backgrounds,” Hailey said. “It took a while to understand each other musically and meet in the middle.”
What they settled on was “a constantly evolving” sound, Hailey said, each album and EP taking on a whole new feel, ranging from ethereal pop to darker rock to new wave-influenced danceable synths.
“It’s important that we try to grow from each album to the next,” Hailey said. “It feels better to do it that way; so we don’t get stuck in a rut.”
Now the duo is in the studio writing and recording the material for their third full-length album, to be released sometime next year, which Hailey promises to be the band’s “true dance record.”
“It’s a more beat-driven album and doesn’t rely as much on the guitar,” she said. It harkens back to the band’s debut album Common Reaction (2008), “because it’s more up tempo,” she added. “It throws back to when we first started.”
The group brings in a number of collaborators — including members of Big Black Delta and Ladyhawke.
“They help bring a new feel to the music,” Hailey said. “It’s refreshing for us.”
Uh Huh Her’s previous and second album, Nocturnes, took on a darker tone following a split with their label and management issues. While the sound on that record “was a little heavier for us,” Hailey said, the album they’re currently working on shows the group is “in a much happier place.”
And though they’ve self-released their material after Common Reactions, once they were dropped by their label, Hailey said they might be ready to shop their records around when this current one is completed. The duo has “learned how to run their own business,” she said, but labels have deep coffers and enviable marketing resources.
“Right now, we rely on social media, but that only reaches our core audience,” Hailey said. “So we really need to do more marketing. But we can only do so much on our own.”
But the wounds are still fresh and she’s aware that there’s a downside to joining forces with a label. “When you’re on a label, they can get a lot done for you,” she said. “But you’re also the last to know a lot of things.”
When Uh Huh Her first got its start, the group banked on Hailey’s fan base from The L Word. Her character, the quirky, witty and neurotic Alice Pieszecki — creator of the show’s infamous “The Chart,” which tracked the intricate relationships of the show’s characters — was a fan favorite.
But five years later, since the show ended, the band’s fan base has evolved with the music. “The L Word [draw] still plays a small part in it,” Hailey said, “but for the most part people show up because they’re fans of the band.”