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Drook's Liza Grishaeva on keeping pop music fun

Drook 2
Christa Richards
Members of Drook pose from the backseat of a car.

The Richmond pop band's EP, Mr. Fisher’s Dirty Club Mix, is out Friday.

Drook describe themselves as “a pop band from Richmond.” That simple framework leaves room for a wide range of styles: their 2022 release “Life in Estates” is an emotional indie journey through heartbreak and self-destruction, but lately they’ve been taking a more lighthearted approach, incorporating danceable beats and electronic influences. Ahead of a new EP release, and between the band’s North and South tour dates, VPM Music caught up with vocalist Liza Grishaeva to learn more.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Annie Parnell: The new EP that you're going to release on the 14th is called Mr. Fisher's Dirty Club Mix. Who's Mr. Fisher?

Liza Grishaeva: It's a record producer named Mark Fisher. He's really known in the electronic community and Matt, our producer and guitarist, was reading a book by him [at the time]. We put [the EP] in our iTunes library, and it makes you put the name for it, and I think we were just feeling really goofy.

Everything we've done up until now, because we're so locked into our own world, is so brooding and serious. It just felt nice to do something and market something in a way that feels a lot lighter.

In addition to a shift in outlook, there's also a different sound than your last EP, which was 2022’s Life in Estates. Tell me a little more about that style shift.

It's such a natural thing for us to make dance music, and then to make ambient music, and then to make a rock song and then to make a capital-P Pop song. We just happen to write that way. We would get so bored making one kind of thing.

It came really naturally — like we didn't even think about it, in a way. We knew that it was super different than Life. But the thing is, we released Life way after it was done. We sat on it for so long that by the time it came out, we had albums' worth of material that felt so far from what it was.

Mr. Fisher's was definitely the most left field, though — that's as electronic and dance-y as we have, for now. But making different styles of music is really fun and challenging, and I don't know how we would proceed with making music any other way.

You touched a little bit on the collaborative process in the band. What's your songwriting process like?

Every song is a little different. I don't know if we have a certain formula, at least early on. Some songs I start on a guitar — a lot of the songs that feel more band-y start, for me, on a guitar. Matt, a lot of the time, will have an idea and me and Tyler will come in.

With Mr. Fisher's, it was actually me and Matt. We had COVID! We played a festival and then we got back, and a couple days later, we both found out that we had COVID. We weren't dying, but it was pretty bad. And yeah, we just worked on it and recorded a demo to both of the songs [on the EP] while we had COVID.

It was really funny: Tyler didn't have COVID, so he was just kind of hearing all of this happen [through the wall]. It's really, really collaborative, though. Matt will sometimes write Tyler's drums, we'll all produce. We just really love to work together.

You all just wrapped up your first tour, which started with a show in town at The Camel and included an appearance at South by Southwest. How was it?

One thing that I think that it did is it confirmed to us that that's what we should be doing. It felt really natural, like we could just see ourselves doing this 365 days of the year. I think that's the goal, ultimately.

It was so cool to meet so many new people. The hospitality that we received was insane. We saw a lot of kindness toward us on the road, and it was really moving. I think we're just ready to go again.

Playing in cities that you've never played before literally feels like you're starting over as a band, because no one knows you. That was a really weird thing to experience on tour. We’ve played so much in Richmond that, at this point, we’ve built a lot in Richmond.

Playing in Dallas felt like playing shows in Richmond in 2019. No one knew us, and you have to really convince an audience in a way that when everyone knows you in the room, you don't. I definitely left this tour having a better understanding of who I am as a performer and what my goal is, and you don't really get to do that when you're not playing as often.

You’ve mentioned coming into live performance after having started the project during lockdown — and the shift to it feeling a little more natural. Do you want to touch on that at all?

When you only play one show every couple of months, how are you not supposed to put all your eggs in one basket? Of course, it's going to mean so much to you. It wasn't sustainable, that amount of pressure to put on yourself for a little show. It's just not sustainable, and it makes the process not as fun. We're the best when we don't care.

How much can you reveal about any more new music on the horizon?

We used to be so careful with putting out music — kind of the same thing as our live shows. With our recordings, we're just trying to not care too much and put stuff out more often.

Mr. Fisher's is out Friday, April 14, and you mentioned a tour. What's next?

In June, we're going to have another song out, and a tour with that, and then July, we're going to have another song out, tour with that. So on and so forth. Right now, we're planning on October to put out the last song of the year and then go on a monthlong tour.

Drook’s new EP "Mr. Fisher’s Dirty Club Mix" is out Friday, April 14. On Saturday, April 15, they’ll be performing at LAVA MiniFest in Norfolk.