Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Dynamic Duo: Lesbians Swoon and the Music Industry Takes Notice as the L Word's Leisha Hailey and Bandmate Camilla Grey's Uh Huh Her Releases Its Debut Album, Common Reaction

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Dynamic Duo: Lesbians Swoon and the Music Industry Takes Notice as the L Word's Leisha Hailey and Bandmate Camilla Grey's Uh Huh Her Releases Its Debut Album, Common Reaction

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IT'S 10:30 P.M. on a humid Tuesday in New York City, and Uh Huh Her's Camilla Grey is experiencing an unusual--though quite rock-and-roll--wardrobe malfunction. "My unitard's really giving me trouble tonight," the singer and multi-instrumentalist grimaces from the stage at the West Village's Highline Ballroom as she adjusts her bass. Bandmate Leisha Hailey (a.k.a. plucky Alice Pieszecki on Showtime's The L Word) regards her empathetically, and the sold-out crowd hollers with delight. "Yeah, I know what you mean," Hailey deadpans for a big laugh before the band kicks into its single "Not a Love Song," a lush electro-pop tune with a propulsive disco beat and gripping bass line. The two bend over their instruments in concentration, and the audience--a solid pack of ladies speckled with a handful of guys--swoons. Not a bad reaction for a duo that's only about to release its first full-length album.

The night before, unitard-free at a midtown Manhattan restaurant that's just an hour away from being crammed with Les Miserables--attending tourists, the pair recount how they went from being acquaintances who'd met at a picnic to fiber-close bandmates in one of 2008's celebrated new acts (the Los Angeles group's full-length debut, Common Reaction, is due in August). Hailey had seen Grey perform with Mellowdrone, the California psych-rock band she'd been gigging with for a year. "I basically called her out of the blue one day," says Hailey, 36, who had a music career with 1990s duo the Murmurs before she'd made her name in Hollywood. "I was like, do you want to meet and maybe start a band?" The pair made mix tapes so they could check out each other's taste--Hailey's included Liz Phair, Sleater-Kinney, and David Bowie while Grey's featured Ladytron, Depeche Mode, and New Order--and they immediately starting writing together, holing up with synthesizers and guitars in Grey's bedroom whenever Hailey was free from L Word duty.

Their sound came fast--a mysterious blend of throbbing and glittering synths, driving beats, darting guitar lines, and the pair's ethereal vocals (both handle singing duties). Industry attention arrived just as quickly. Grey was already affiliated with Nettwerk Records, which got wind of her new hobby and wanted to spring into action. The untitled Halley-Grey project, however, lacked a live show, not to mention a name. After losing their original drummer, touring musician Alicia Warrington, the pair packed their backing tracks on an iPod and tested out a primitive live set. They also grabbed the title of a 2004 PJ Harvey B-side and album for their moniker ("We didn't think that one through," laments Hailey), and the songs they'd primitively laid down over several candlelit weeks became the I See Red EP. The harmony-laden "Say So" hit the iTunes chart, peaking at number 28 of the top 100 downloads in late July 2007. Uh Huh Her was officially on the radar.

It's easy to see why the pair clicked so quickly and how their synth rock-on-steroids sound represents the meeting of their disparate creative impulses and personalities. Hailey--sunny, gregarious, and accustomed to the spotlight--is a quick-witted, peppy motivator, an out lesbian whose past relationship with k.d. lang and current one with fashion designer Nina Garduno have been well documented. The more reserved but just as sharp Grey, 29, is happier sinking into the background or losing herself in work on a broody beat for days on end; she strives to keep her personal life to herself. Who's she dating? "I'll never tell" is the response (the Internet is afire with rumors that she's attached to actress Clea DuVall, who has taken photographs of the band). Hailey's a vegetarian, while Grey chows down on meat. Together, though, they trade jokes and glances more like lifelong pals than gals who first linked up in the fall of 2006. …

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