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Stacking The Deck with The New Tarot
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

Every once in a blue moon you find a band that has the ability to do basically anything. The New Tarot are one of those bands.

The NYC-based group, which is led by sisters Monika and Karen Walker, has a seemingly impossible ability to not just play every genre, but to seamlessly weave them all together, connecting them with a New Tarot backbone to make everything beautifully cohesive, rather than musically chaotic.

Monika notes, “When you’re writing music, and you’re doing stuff, you’re always gonna be a swirl, a mixed bag of all the influences in your life.”


I caught up with both Walker sister before one of their recent shows at The Bowery Electric to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about cone bras, drunken comparisons, and playing with food.



Madonna

The bra. We should probably talk about that first.

Monika: It’s perfect.

You know what it is, our mom really loved Madonna when we were growing up, (so) I always associated Madonna with my mom.

Karen: Actually, I did not like Madonna for my early high school years because I was oversaturated with Madonna.

We were kids in the ‘90s, and early 2000s.

I now realize I asked about a cone bra to somebody who’s wearing antennae.

Karen: Yes. Tonight I’m an alien.

Is there fashion inspiration going on here, as well?

Monika: I’d say for sure. Who’s not inspired by Madonna? Especially in pop culture now. Honestly, Madonna is what Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga, all of them …

Karen: Would they really be what they are today if there wasn’t a Madonna?

Monika: No, they would not. No way.

Karen: She was the original, “Look at me, I’m wearing this, and I’m singing this. No one else is doing this.”



Cher

Karen, what’s the story about someone saying you reminded them of a young Cher?

Karen: I missed my train at Grand Central, and I was at a piano bar, and this guy named Gus was sitting next to me and wouldn’t stop telling me that I was young Cher.

Monika: Maybe he knew young Cher. You don’t know.

Karen: Maybe.

I like that you remembered his name.

Karen: Yes. Gus.

Is Gus going to be here later?

K: Definitely not. {laughs}

He didn’t sign up for the email list?

Karen: No, he was a bit compromised at this bar. I doubt he remembers this encounter as much as I do, but we did talk about Cher.

Poor Gus.

Monika: Poor Gus.



Paula Abdul

Monika: She’s a cool lady. She’s like … like the pop sensibility of Madonna, but Madonna tended to be a little almost abrasive in how out of the box she presented herself. Paula Abdul didn’t really have that edge, she kind of was just like, I’m a lady, and that’s how it is. I thought that was kind of refreshing. She didn’t really put on airs, she just kind of did her thing.

In terms of your own music, there are some out of the box elements there, so would you consider yourselves closer to Madonna, on the Paula Abdul to Madonna scale?

Monika: I’d say we’re more Madonna in terms of fashion, in terms of a lot of the songwriting, but I think Paula Abdul has a certain kind of, like I said, straight-laced way of presenting her music.

Karen: Just from this picture, it looks sorta organic, like it just happened that way.

Monika: Yeah, and we don’t really like gimmicks. I like being inventive, and creative, but I don’t like gimmicky stuff, which I feel like takes away from the music. I think Paula Abdul was never really guilty of that.

You respect the straight up-ness of “Straight Up.”

Monika: Yes. Totally. No one could be a Paula Abdul (today). That’s not gonna happen ever again. You gotta respect that, because you have to have an angle these days, you have to have like a shtick, or a gimmick, otherwise you’re not famous.

I’d never thought about her like that. She’s the last of her kind.

Monika: Yeah. In a way. Just a singer. That’s not gonna happen anymore. A pop music singer, and that’s it. I don’t think we’re gonna see celebrities like that anymore.

Karen: So much brand is involved.



Primus

This one’s interesting, because I did not expect you to choose Primus.

Monika: Really, you didn’t? They’re great.

Karen: They are so fun. You listen to them, and you just hear them having fun.

Monika: I think the first time I heard a Primus song was on Guitar Hero. It was “John The Fisherman.”

You heard that before the theme from South Park?

Karen: I didn’t realize that was them for a while, actually.

Monika: A lot of people don’t know that, but that’s a genius song when you actually sit down and listen to it.

Karen: Their rhythms are so amazing.

Monika: They have incredible rhythm. They can do whatever they want, and that aspect of their music I totally dig, and appreciate. They’re not afraid to be a carnival, and that’s really cool.

A lot of acts take themselves really seriously. Like, your parents are always telling you not to play with your food, but you totally need to play with your creative substance.

Karen: And your food.

Did you ever get in trouble for playing with your food?

Monika: Oh yeah, Karen got in trouble, totally.

Was there sculpting of mashed potatoes?

Karen: Only when I went to school, when we had the trays. A bit of carrots, a bit of mashed potatoes, you could do so much with that. It was all separated there, right for you. The squishy bread you could take and mold into little blocks.

Monika: Ewww. You’re making me nauseous. You gotta stop.



The Who

Both: OH MY GOSH.

Moinika: Our brother’s name is Thomas Walker. Tommy Walker, and he’s named after Tommy.

I assume he’s not a deaf, dumb, and blind kid.

Monika: No, but he does play a lot of video games, so that’s some kinda metaphor, right? Something going on.

So your parents kinda liked The Who a little bit.

Monika: Well, yeah. Our father was an off Broadway actor at that time, right before my brother was born, and they were putting Tommy up on Broadway, and he was in the last round of auditions. He got tickets for the whole season, or something, because he almost got the part. He didn’t end up getting the part, but named his son after Tommy anyway.

I hope your parents didn’t name him midway through the audition process, and now they just resent him forever.

Both: {laughs}

Monika: No no no. They didn’t jump the gun. That’d be good, though.

Karen: Seriously, though, that album, Tommy, I think that’s the album I’ve listened to the most in my life.


For more of The New Tarot, check out TheNewTarot.com.

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