Hangout: JC Graves



When Kyle Donahue met Mac DeMarco he’d recently scrapped 2 years of recorded material. He told Mac about his new experiment called JC Graves. And Mac told him to take his work to the label he’s on, Captured Tracks. Within a couple of weeks, Kyle visited Captured Tracks’s office in NYC and handed them Three Sub-Fidelity Demos. The demo, which Kyle self recorded in his Cary bedroom, is the 17 year old’s alternate reality, where the teen pop sensation JC Graves overlooks abandoned amusement parks through dark sunglasses in a waving, shimmering cape. And even though it’s a world that brims with all the energy and hopefulness of youth, the tracks are in no way immature. The demos shining pop moment, “Fault Line” is a fresh take on complicated courtship. Donahue’s catchy countdown chorus easily bounces over pretty layers of delayed chords and a summery guitar line. After a warm, bubbling intro, “Neon Pleasures” bursts into a breezy funk jam with twinkling keys. And “Girlhound” is built on cleverly used dub elements. The there’s a fearlessness and confidence in JC Graves that’s reminiscent of early Youth Lagoon but the overall candywave vibe that Donahue has created is all his own. Lately he’s been working on making ambient compositions into pop songs, using a gif of circling a BMW as inspiration, and he plans on releasing an LP later this summer. In “Fault Line” Donahue sings “I live my own life long dream,” and so far, the teen pop sensation JC Graves is living the dream. And it’s a cool and curious one, that according to Donahue is best enjoyed when drinking spiked slushies (to get in that sonic headspace) while cruising through highway towns in Midwestern America.


Last thing I ate: I had a pineapple and pepperoni frozen pizza, nothing too adventurous. But it was real cheap, $3.50 for a large pizza. Frozen pizza makes you full but its just not satisfying. There’s no love in a frozen pizza, where’s the substance?

First show in the triangle: Los Campesinos! at the Cat’s Cradle. I was about in 6th grade and I went with my older sister. But a band called Johnny Foreigner opened and at the time I thought they were great. So I got their t-shirt. And the t-shirt said something like, “I bought this shirt at Johnny Foreigners first ever US tour. I hope they spend this money on gas and not weed.” I got all their signatures on it. But my mom never let me wear it.

Favorite Music Video: My friend, Linnea Nugent, makes a lot of really cool video collages for a lot of Orchid Tapes artists. And I’m into those.  However I watched “Trapped in a box” by No Doubt earlier today and that was something else, it was an experience. I probably won’t like it tomorrow, but today I like it.


Last worst purchase: Well this might be my last worst and best purchase. Last Hopscotch I bought a giant high school marching band bass drum from a street vendor. At the time, I thought I’d have a lot of use for it. And so now I have this 36 inch bass drum hanging out in my room.

Dream date: Kate Moss before the heroin chic thing. I’d take her around Raleigh to a Mexican restaurant and give her some food. I really like Mexican food a lot. She probably doesn’t because she’s Kate Moss. So I’d also take her to Roast Grill too. And then I’d take her to the top of a parking garage downtown and I’d tell her all these made up stories like, “in this section of Raleigh I did this,” but really I didn’t do any of them. She has no way of knowing that though. Then I’d take her to an art museum and I’d make up accents and say French sounding things about the art and she’d say, “Oh my goodness, you know that?!” But I wouldn’t know it. So I guess that’s not the dream date for me because I’d just be frontin’. So I’d call her later that night and I’d say, “Listen Kate, that wasn’t me. Sorry that happened, but let’s go to the swimming pool tomorrow.” And she’d think that was cool. So really the dream date for me would be the swimming pool with Kate Moss.


Best birthday present I ever got: I got a microphone and recording equipment about 3 years ago. A basic Studio One deal, and that’s still what I use to record all my demos and albums. I use it on a daily basis.

If I could be on a game show: Back in like 2001 there was this game show called the Moment of Truth where they’d hook you up to a lie detector and ask you a bunch of questions and if you lied then you’d lose. I’d completely destroy my reputation for the sake of a million dollars. That sounds like a good game show for me to be on.

Favorite Animal Collective album: I’m a huge fan of Animal Collective.  Me and my friends started a baseball league called Danimals Collection. And if someone were to ask me what my favorite bands were Animal Collective would be in my top 3, maybe I’d go so far to say top 2. But as far as favorite Animal Collective album goes, it really depends on what I’m feeling because they have an album for everything. Even though I’m really into Fall Be Kind right now, I’m gonna say that in the history of my Animal Collective infatuation, Sung Tongs is gonna be my favorite.

Last book I read: I haven’t had a lot of time to read but I finished Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground about 2 weeks ago.

Favorite drink: Water. It’s the oldest drink.

Supergroup: Well it would suck to watch my supergroup and not be able to play with them. So I’ll be in my supergroup but I’m gonna play something really minor. I wouldn’t want to be the front man. Flying Lotus would definitely be in my supergroup and he’d say to me, “You play these synth parts.” But they’d be very minor, you’d barely be able to hear them. So it’d look like I’d just be hanging out on stage with everyone. Frank Ocean would be singing. He wouldn’t necessarily be the lead singer but he’d be rapping the same verse that he does on “Sunday” over and over again behind track. Lorde would be in my supergroup so we could have teen pop elements. She’d also be the costume designer. And the costume design would be all black and very feathery. So since we’re talking about all black and very feathery, Brian Eno would also be in the supergroup. Going back to Flying Lotus though, he’d be playing drum samples. Alec Simke from Teen Suicide would play bass. Experimental Lou Reed like from when Nico was very influential in his life, would be there too. And Nico wouldn’t be on stage but she’d be hanging in the tour bus. And every member of the Tom Tom Club would be in the supergroup too. We’d just play at Shae Stadium on the baseball field. We wouldn’t play to anyone because we’d only book some nights. So mostly we’d be playing to an empty stadium. But yeah, that’s my supergroup.

If I could be anyone from history: I’d be Renoir. I’d paint a picture of Claude Monet and I’d become famous. People would say, “He made a great painting and he knew Claude Monet.


JC Graves plays with fellow Swamp Church Collective project Illuminating Daydream and Raleigh’s Less Western in an underwater rainforest at Nice Price Books tomorrow night. The experience starts at 9, bring donations of candy or $. Click here for event info.

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