Meet Menya – a brash, electroclash-meets-party rap group out of New York. Out of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, to be specific: the twentysomething trio of Good Goose, Coco Dame, and Angie Ripe (names changed to protect the not-so-innocent) are getting their musical education both in the classroom and in the club.
Angie Ripe and Coco Dame are Menya’s sugar and spice, with Angie’s sultry singing and Coco’s fearless rapping over beats and keys by Goose. The no-frills set-up allows the band to oscillate between grimey, sex-fueled bangers (“Ripe” and “D.T.F.”) and summery, synth-poppers (“Bushwick Baby” and “Sleepover”). They do each equally well, which makes the Menya experience fun and playful – but decidedly naughty.<
Check out this TGRIOnline exclusive remix of “Loose” by STAMPED DJ James Nasty. He gives a Bmore feel to a song that demands the listener “twist my arms / bend my legs / pull my hair / I like it that ooh I like it that.” James Nasty and Menya – a perfect fit.
And while the band covers Top 40 pop songs by Justin Bieber and 3Oh!3, they have a knack for flipping the lyrical message into something a little more Menya-like: Kelly Clarkson’s “I Do Not Hookup” becomes “(So what) I hook up,” for example:
I’ve seen Menya rock a capacity-crowd show at NYC’s Bowery Poetry Club and a cramped basement show at the 3rd Street Co-op here in DC; both were shows for the ages that left the crowd sweaty, breathless, and ready to party. Menya is returning to the DMV the weekend, playing two shows that promise more of the same. On Friday, Menya will be at the University of Maryland for The Get Down, with Bullfight Academy and Leftist. On Saturday, the band headlines the Faze Electro Dance Party at Jammin Java with DJs Ypset and Santi.
I had a chance to speak with Goose and Coco about the past, present, and future of Menya.
Where’d you guys grow up, and how long have you been performing as a group?
Goose: I grew up in northern Virginia and got out as soon as I could. As a group, we’ve been performing together about two years. Our first show was April of 2008. We were quite a sight then. I was dressed in really casual clothes- a hoodie and jeans. Angie and Coco were dressed almost entirely in sparkles and gold lame. There are pictures somewhere.
Coco: I was born in Manila, Philippines and grew up in Maryland, near DC.
What musical influences have resulted in the sound of Menya?
Goose: I’m obsessed with the production on late 90s and early 2000s hip-hop: Timbaland and the Neptunes, mainly. I’d like to think my contributions are a combination of that and my lifelong love of Stephen Merritt’s projects.
Coco: Spank Rock, M.I.A., The Cure, Lil Kim, T. Rex, Prince, KRS-One. Artists who are lyrically clever or thoughtful, and are not afraid to expose themselves and put themselves on the line to speak their mind.
Your re-fix/re-mixes have put a fun twist on hit songs. How’d you come up with that approach to covering songs?
Goose: We’re big youtube fans. We were seeing a lot of DIY parody-type videos and wanted to give it a shot with our own brand of silly potty humor. Plus it allows us to cover our favorite guilty pleasure pop songs. I love Justin Bieber’s music a lot, actually. How lame am I?
Coco: I barely listen to the top 40, mostly because I only really listen to the radio waiting in line in a store, or when I am in the car with the band. Covering popular songs, even ones I didn’t necessarily like at the beginning, has kept me interested in the mainstream for a new reason- to pull a song apart and create something fun!
You guys recently did a spring break tour which I believe is your most extensive touring yet. How did that go?
Goose: I loved the tour. I ate so many burgers and we got to have biscuits at a Cracker Barrel in South Carolina. Best moment that wasn’t music related was swimming in Miami. Worst moment was the rain. There was so much rain on that tour.
Coco: Worst moment by far was getting a stomach virus. Luckily it struck the only day we did not have a show. My friend’s mom was a sweetheart and helped me get better. I was upset because I couldn’t join the St. Patty’s festivities. Florida was my favorite state overall, and Charlotte has really wonderful drag queens! Met a lot of great people.
After seeing this video, I had to ask – how was meeting and playing with Andrew WK?
Goose: I’ve been a big AWK fan since I was in middle school when “Party Hard” came out. I gushed a little to him about how much I love his music at the show, which made me feel silly.
Coco: I really appreciate him opening up his venue Santo’s Party House for us to throw a big show. The rumor that he is awesome is true- W.K. is a nice dude.
Any hints to what’s next for Menya?
Goose: We’re writing new songs in May, then touring for most of the summer and fall, mostly to places we’ve never been before like the midwest and hopefully up to Canada. The plan is to do about 50 dates before mid-August, which I’m booking now. After that, we plan on making our own organic fruit smoothies and outselling Lady Gaga.
Coco: I will probably grow my hair out from my mohawk until I can’t stand it no more.