The Fame Riot. Photo Credit: Paris Corrick (P.Rex Photography).

The Fame Riot. Photo Credit: Paris Corrick (P.Rex Photography).

Meet The Fame Riot — a band whose electro-rock sound can only be described as unmatched. There’s no denying that if the ’80s and ’90s had a love child, it would be this posse of so-called “freeks,” who sport women’s clothing just as well, if not better, than the legendary frontman of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler (sorry Tyler, looks like you’ve got yourself competition in the fashion department!).

Full of glam and flair and adorned with plenty of quirkiness and charm, Liz Scarlett (lead vocals and guitar) and Shazam Watkins (lead keys and percussion) have mastered what makes them unique by fusing an explosion of tunes heard in the last four decades with a sprinkle of verity and innovation. The end result of this technique? It’s a sound that is completely their own. Shifting culture and musical styles faster than a kaleidoscope dances with lights and colors, one might even go so far as to say that what they create, it’s not purely music; it’s a religion.

We caught up with Liz and Shazam, the two brothers behind the Fame Riot, and talked about things like living life on the “freek” side, their latest EP, and how they deal with their differences (and, of course, their love of video games!).

Editorial Note: Portions of this interview have been edited for style and grammar.

GALO: You two are noticeable right off the bat. Your style is so unique. It reminds me of what a child would look like if it were conceived by the ’80s and ’90s decades. Simply put, it’s fantastic! I’m curious, though, how would you describe it? And how did you two find the style that best represents your individuality and the band’s?

Liz Scarlett: Thank you, dearie! Our style is basically just a culmination of everything that has ever interested us or piqued our imagination since childhood. Once you grow up enough to learn that everyone is creating their own experiential existence, you learn to let certain barriers go. Usually, the women’s clearance sections work best for us and the band.

Shazam “Tea Time” Watkins: We took all the bottled genomes from one side of our childhood tree, and another from the belly button lint of this one guy we know, and then we grew clothing! It was a miracle! The fabrics cannot be found anywhere else in the universe — truly!

GALO: From what I’ve read, it seems as if you and I grew up in the same kind of strict, non-secular environment. How did you two finally break out of that and did it influence your music? Do your parents support your decision in pursuing this craft?

Liz: It definitely limited us to music with a certain musical standard of depth and vulgarity. Took quite some time to break the mold, but I think it truly reserved us and perfectly set us up to be mind-blown by the rest of [the world’s] musical existence when the time was right — optimum impact.

Shazam: Oh really, darling? Well, good show! Eh, jolly good, jolly good… Well, they “abso-bally-lutely” love the tunes, don’t ya know? Spiritual audio influences were essential to the divine shaping of what we are in the present. I also believe that it could affect who we are eventually to become. I crawled out of the proverbial mines and discovered that all around me was a range of mountains… Jolly good, “wot wot.” Brilliant! 

GALO: I too used my mother’s old cassette tapes to record music when she wasn’t around. Do you still have any of the tapes? Do you find yourself ever listening to them to see how your music tastes have evolved — have they evolved?

Liz: I don’t believe we even have a tape player anymore [laughs]! Shazzy may have the old tapes in his treasure boxes somewhere… It was pretty much just the same stuff we still love to listen to today, just the original conception of that stuff to the mainstream, like System Of A Down, Maroon 5, Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and Black Keys circa ’06. Yeah, we youngins… If we’ve evolved, we’re really only evolving backwards through time. History repeats, so ya know…

Shazam: We have uncovered the truth!  We had “freek” taste then, and we got the “freek” taste now. The only difference is that the freek taste is actually sprouting from our wellspring of life! I really loved this band Rock Kills Kid, at least some of the tunes — but they disappeared!

GALO: Who or what has been the biggest inspiration for The Fame Riot?

Liz: Love — because it seems to be the only thing that everyone can consciously and/or subconsciously acknowledge or relate to. It gives life to everything and its absence is darkness. We’re constantly inspired by the love humans can share and/or generate, just by dancing or singing together. Now if it could only come through on every other level of functionality… Our goal is to open people’s eyes to this.

Shazam: Liz hath spoken, alright.

GALO: Where is the furthest the band has traveled? Are there any particular festivals or events in other countries that you would like to pursue? How about any mainstream festivals here in the U.S.?

Liz: San Diego is the farthest we’ve traveled as a band, as of yet. [Our] hopes include playing Coachella, Sasquatch, Lollapalooza, T in the Park, Reading and Leeds, Rock in Rio, Big Day Out and Glastonbury.

Shazam: I want to play everywhere. I think that [I’d like to play] Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, anywhere in Sweden, Amsterdam, Iceland, Japan — the world! I just have not gotten there yet. We will, [though] — soon baby freeks!

The Fame Riot. Photo Credit: Paris Corrick (P.Rex Photography).

The Fame Riot. Photo Credit: Paris Corrick (P.Rex Photography).

GALO: You’ve shared the stage with Zedd and Ellie Goulding. How does it feel to know that you’ve done that? Were you fans of theirs before you performed alongside them? And would you ever want to do any collaboration with them, or anyone else for that matter?

Liz: Doesn’t feel much different than how it felt sharing the stage with Chromeo, DJ Shadow, Grouplove, The Joy Formidable and Chk Chk Chk back in 2012. We really treat every show as “just another freek out.” There is something wild about doing it in your own city also, but in general, we’re quite comfortable performing beside other stars in the industry. Feels more like where this thing is indefinitely headed. I can be honest and say that I don’t listen to Zedd or Ellie, but I have been forced to many a time. I can appreciate the success of artists as such, but these particular collaborations would not be an aesthetically driven decision, by any means, if ya catch the drift. But who knows what can come of collaborations on that high of a level? I’m “downzy.”

Shazam: Collaboration is something I’d do with anyone if I knew that they could communicate something better than Shazam. I feel honored indeed to be put on a bill of this magnitude, caliber, range, capacity, etc. I honestly feel so thrilled to have played at the same festival as Lee “Scratch” Perry, Brandon Flowers, and, of course, so many others! Then again, we belong here. We work for this; slave for this; bleed for this; and love for this. I believe in this and I’m in love with this. I simply cannot wait for the future, darling!

GALO: I often find it difficult to be in the same room as my sister when we have a disagreement. How do you guys handle the differences in opinion? Have you split up the duties in the band between yourselves to avoid possible arguments or creative differences? 

Liz: We definitely split up duties, but not at all because of strife, disagreement, or the incapability of cohesive productivity. We got most of that sh-t out of our system when we were young — fists and head-butts and whatnot. But we are all grown up and past that premature state of life, hopefully. When we have a disagreement, we compromise by multiplication. Instead of taking away an aspect, we add that aspect to its own creational purpose. It’s truly a balance that you can’t choose. It’s made up of who we are and what we’ve spent our entire lives absorbing.

Shazam: Some peeps can never resolve conflict because some peeps can never admit that they were wrong. It comes down to humbling yourself and listening to one another. We love each other so, so, so, so deeply, and love hurts sometimes. But not anymore, the bond is stronger than ever. Instinctually attack and defend. The perfect tower, the strong current, the unmoving river — God stands alone, unhindered. Back never bending, doing, being, and gaining power and profundity.

GALO: I love the almost video game-esque logo and vibe that The Fame Riot has. The mixture of electronic and disco with the pop sound is completely unique to your band, and definitely fuels the lyrics further. How would you say you found your sound? And what are some other unique things that The Fame Riot does musically that you believe help in making you guys stand out more?

Liz: We love video games — always inspired by Super Nintendo and Nintendo 8 eras. Funny enough, I truly believe it had a valid influence on our perception of art, style and culture — them Japs. We found our sound by taking all the things that inspire us, fuel us and energize us, infusing them into our musical assets, instruments and songwriting.

Shazam: AHH, WE LOVE DONKEY KONG! Super Nintendo, ya know? It is very interesting. I have begun to realize how much the sounds, samples and tones really shaped how I think about music quite a bit more than I had previously realized. We write amazing songs. They make me cry sometimes. Also, we give ya the truth and nothing else… [winks].

GALO: What is your favorite part of performing on stage? Have you ever done anything embarrassing during a performance? If so, how’d you deal with it?

Liz: I really think that embarrassment is just a self-adopted stance you take as a human being. Yeah, sure, some things can be embarrassing if you’re not expecting [them] to be, but every time we hit the stage, we’ve already decided that we’re there to make fools of ourselves. So once you can acknowledge and adopt that form of living, you’ll find it very hard to be surprised when your pants come off on stage, and then you’ll just start rolling with it. My favorite part is making people think I’m going to be embarrassed by doing something that would clearly make them uncomfortable or embarrassed, and then exploiting that live, just to show them how much of a f–k I really don’t give.

Shazam: The energy is unlike anything else on this plane of consciousness. I think I have so much yet to learn about what it all means, ya know? Sometimes it is controllable, tangible. The next moment, it is like you do not even exist and just the frequencies take shape in whatever form you choose — falling off things, the keyboard stand breaking, or the keys on the keyboard breaking, [those] slippery, bloody keys… I hate losing jewelry and breaking my sunglasses.

A photo posted by THE FAME RIOT (@thefameriot) on

GALO: Now that Dust Funk is out, in what way do you hope the music speaks to the listeners? Are there any particular emotions or themes you have invested in the EP? And can you explain what “dust funk” really means and how you came up with the name?

Liz: Everything comes from dust and leaves as dust. Funk is just the basic particle description of “stuff” with style or edge or “taste” to it. This record title is a representation of the meaning: “the Alpha and Omega of real sh-t or funk.” And not limiting the meaning to a particular style or genre in particular.

Shazam: Liz hath spoken justly.

GALO: In one interview, you said that there were perks to being a “freek.” Could you explain that a little bit further? 

Liz: Imagine living your entire life within this box. It’s a measurement — a limitation — of what’s entirely “out there.” Now imagine that box being taken away — [you’re] no longer limited or bound by a measurement of standard or preconception. Now you’ve grasped the perk. But to be honest, NO ONE will truly understand this reality until they have EMBRACED it. We’re gonna burst your little spheres of fear.

Shazam: Freeks is serotonin all day. No tucks, [just] real talk and deep “shiz.”

GALO: All of us have fantasies when we’re young about who we will grow up to be. Did you guys always want to be musicians?

Liz: I either wanted to be a professional actor or performer. Musical production just happened to become tangible. So I reached out and grabbed it — destiny!

Shazam: I asked my friend Joshua in the line at the water fountain to start a band with me when I was five. I think I was lucky and found my calling at a young age. OG FREEK. I do hair, want a snip, snip?

GALO: What is next for The Fame Riot? Where do you guys see yourselves in 10 years?

Liz: The forward and upward climb. We’re here to freek it up with peeps. [There’s a] new record in the works — just the baby stages. We have to take time sifting through three records’ worth of content. We’ve already begun to really gain some headway.

Ten years? Wow, I may believe in prophecy, but I’m not super eager to spout my own. Um…financially better off? And living purely off musical endeavors, having a massive fan base worldwide…I don’t know. I’m open to anything. Won’t give up all my secrets…

Shazam: Always the creative. I adore what we do and I desire to expand, grow, do and be. I believe we can reach people with a hunger. This music will always be spiritual. I’d love to score video games or movies, do voiceover work, styling for film and designing clothing, and writing full-time.

GALO: Anything else you would like to share with the readers? Why should they listen to The Fame Riot? 

Liz: Check out our social networks! We love freek interactions. Freeks are our self-adopted fans. Listen to our music now because one day you won’t have the choice, and it’s always cooler to be hip with that sh-t and know what’s coming before it hits. Get ready, freeks — xoxo!

Shazam: The music and the songs speak for themselves. We got something for everyone and it’s all tastier than anything else you can find. Breathed into life, cherished, unabashed, and sweeter than the fragrance of spring… Deeper than the abyss, higher than the firmament! Piercing as the light of the eye of the dust funk! The music took being! We are pleased in the deed of this making, but also in the thing made. Come fly with us beyond the sea!

Video courtesy of The Fame Riot.

Like what you hear? Follow The Fame Riot on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about the band and their endeavors. You can also check out more of their music on Spotify or SoundCloud.