Five questions with Dresses

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With a band name like Dresses, you kind of need to bring it, style-wise. Although Timothy Heller (the female half of the duo) says she prefers to wear skirts onstage, the band does sell unusual pairs of Doc Marten boots on its website — red velvet last week, floral this week. And graphic shirts that pair Heller’s likeness with that of bandmate Jared Ryan Maldonado. The Portland, Oregon-based couple plays quirky, pretty, slightly off-kilter pop songs that appeal to a wide range of ages. And magazine people. Magazine people like Dresses. Teen Vogue called them “Your New Favorite Indie-Pop Duo.”

And, since they’re your new fave, you should probably be at their show at The LAB on Saturday, June 7, at 8 p.m. Melanie Martinez (the girl from NBC’s “The Voice” with two-toned hair) headlines the all-ages show, Ashley Heath also performs. $15/$35 for VIP meet and greet.

Mountain Xpress: With “Dresses” as a band name, does it affect your decisions about what to wear onstage? Do you have any go-to outfits for performing or recording?

Timothy Heller: Unfortunately I haven’t committed to wearing a dress at every show yet! I do wear a lot of dresses, though. I’d say I wear more skirts than dresses, those are most fun to perform in.

You’ve been interviewed by Teen Vogue and Greasy and probably other publications as well that are geared toward young people. Do you give any thought to writing songs that appeal to young people, or to an older crowd, or to bridging the two audiences?
I don’t really give any thought to it while writing, but it is something that I think is really cool about our music. My 12 year old sister’s friends listen to our music and so do my grandma’s friends.

On tour, you’ve been doing a mix of acoustic and electric shows. Beyond being plugged in, how do they differ? What can you do with an acoustic show that you can’t with electric?
With acoustic shows it’s a different vibe, so it’s kind of a nice change for me and Jared. It’s more personal and I feel like we can chat with the crowd more casually, so that’s fun.

Your videos are so artistic and cinematic — do the two of you come up with the concepts? What are your thoughts on setting songs to images?
We didn’t come up with the concepts for “Blew my Mind” or “Painting Roses,” but both of those videos were styled amazingly and I definitely feel like they fit the songs really well. For the “Sun Shy” video, we knew we wanted it to be a fun dance party video, so we got all of our friends together and literally just had a dance party and filmed it. It was a ton of fun.

Do the two of you write songs together, and is it ever hard to share song ideas in the early stages? Has your process for collaborating changed as the band has evolved?
Our songs writing processes are always changing. We write separately a lot but we’re definitely comfortable sharing our ideas together and giving input on each other’s songs that we start. We also write a lot together, too, though we don’t really have a set way of doing things.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts writer and editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs.

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