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Five Questions for Mortar and Pestle

Annie Tittiger | June 25, 2013 | Story

With Paul Shinichi on Rhodes, synths and bass, Janaysa Lambert on percussion and vocals, and Sean Paul Duke on drums, Mortar and Pestle have a sound akin to Little Dragon but with a heaping serving of ‘80s pop influence. And with a newly minted self-titled EP, and a performance in front of 2,000 people at our Best of the Bay Party this Thursday, the Oakland-based band is stepping into the limelight. Annie Tittiger sits down with the trio to give you a bit of background.

How’d you guys get your start?
Paul Shinichi: Janaysa saw me perform for the first time at a mutual friend's party. She approached me right after my performance to collaborate and we were writing music together within the week. We knew we had something special. Sean joined about a year later.

How would you describe your sound?
Janaysa Lambert: A mixture of all sorts of styles that each of us bring to the band. Avante Synth-Pop, or Dream Pop seem to fit at the moment...but it's everchanging. I’m influenced by Michael Jackson, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and I think that shows through our sound.

Sean Paul Duke: Hybrid acoustic and electronic pop, with influences ranging from all genres and the time periods. Highlights are 80's post punk and electronic, classical and soul

You just released your new self-titled EP. What was the process like?
JL: The whole process took a year or so. We learned a lot about each other and the creative process. It was an awesome experience that we will continue to draw from the rest of our musical careers, always building from the first recording

SPD: The process was quite effortless with contributions from all members. We spent about a year writing, rehearsing and performing the material. We took about 2 months on the production, including a week in a live studio setting.

Top three songs on your playlist?
SP: Toro y moi - "So many details"

PS: Austra - "Beat and the Pulse"

JL: iamamiwhoami- "Kill"

Last but not least: What are your spirit animals?
JL: A white wolf , comes to me in dreams

SPD: A hawk. Staying grounded while also seeing the big picture, knowing when to strike and how to be efficient.

PS: A moth—what’s there not to like? It's entire youth is dedicated to nourishing itself all day. Then it becomes an introvert to work on itself in a cozy home it built from it's own sweat and spit, emerging later so stunning and major! It then has a bunch of sex all day and night. And it's attracted to shiny, fiery things. Kind of perfect, if you ask me.

For tickets to Best Of the Bay visit

For more information about Mortar and Pestle and a sample of their EP visit their website


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