UC Berkeley alumna, Oakland indie scene staple Angelica Tavella discusses new projects

Bay bands

Dominique Ellermier/Courtesy

Angelica Tavella describes her sound as “synthfolk fuckrock,” and no phrase can really describe it more perfectly. The UC Berkeley alumna, singer and multi-instrumentalist croons folksy vocals over fuzzed-out guitars and eerie synth effects, all with rock ‘n’ roll at its core. It’s an unexpected mixture, but on Showdown, the debut EP for her solo project, Nyx, said mixture meshes together perfectly.

On “Parade,” the closing track of Showdown, Tavella showcases this winning formula perfectly, with distorted guitars and ambient, synth-laden production propelling her melancholy melodies to epic proportions. It’s a fitting accompaniment to a late-night drive along the highway, with nothing but Tavella’s contemplative lyrics to occupy your thoughts.

While her solo project holds lots of promise, Tavella isn’t one to limit herself to just one musical endeavor. Currently, she’s on the road with a new project called TV Heads, a collaboration with boyfriend Sean Galloway.

“We had toured together a lot while both doing solo records,” Tavella explained. “And then we just decided to start this band together down in LA.” In the band, Tavella plays drums, Galloway plays guitar, and they both sing. Tavella describes their sound as a definite departure from Nyx’s sound.

“It’s a lot heavier, and we’re also trying to mix in more ambient elements with an up-and-down dynamic,” Tavella said.

TV Heads is currently in the process of recording an EP with OIM Records, the Oakland-based record label that Tavella herself helped found. Along with Showdown producer Jeff Saltzman (who has recorded the likes of Blondie and the Killers), and Sarah Sexton, founder of booking company Oaktown Indie Mayhem, Tavella created OIM Records with the intention of filling a gap in the Oakland music scene.

“There’s so much good music in Oakland, but there’s really not that much support propelling it to the next level in terms of getting your stuff heard beyond the Bay Area scene,” Tavella explained.

The co-founders started off by recording a compilation of Oakland bands (OIM: Vol. 1), releasing it earlier this year. After that, they decided to make the leap to becoming a full-fledged label. Currently, OIM Records is working on some full-length albums and EPs with a few different Bay Area-based bands, including Foxtails Brigade and Whiskerman. With the combined power of Tavella and these other musical badasses, the new label’s support for indie music is sure to be felt by the growing Oakland scene.

From being a student at UC Berkeley to spending a large part of her older life in Oakland, Tavella is glad to give back to the area she loves.

“There’s just this excitement of creativity that’s not necessarily one vein of people or type of thing going on in Oakland,” she mused. “And I think that’s pretty extraordinary.”

Contact Madeline Wells at [email protected].