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Article: Redefining Retro with Heebie & the Jeebies

Redefining Retro with Heebie & the Jeebies

Buy tickets to Heebie & The Jeebies, Frantic Romantic, Desert Radio in Los  Angeles on July 15, 2023

Nestled amidst the palm-lined streets of Los Angeles, Heebie & the Jeebies emerge as more than just a musical force—they're purveyors of West Coast cool.

In the city where dreams are made, Kalie and Subro Pontes, the duo behind melodies and rhythms, combine LA's rich cultural heritage into every chord and every stitch of their style. You may have come across them before, and that's because they're good friends of ours. 

We decided to head across the pond to the West Coast for a chat and catch up with them both.

Could you both introduce yourselves to our readers and share a bit about who you are and what you do?
K: I'm Kalie Pontes, bassist for Heebie & the Jeebies. I picked up playing bass during the lockdown in the pandemic. I've always loved music and wanted to pick up an instrument and it just happened to work out perfectly at the right time, I'm hooked. I'm also a photographer and am always chasing the colours and textures from photographs and films of the past. Mostly I'm inspired by the grainy high contrast BW photos of the 30s, and the otherworldly colours of the '60s. This has also influenced my fashion style as well.
S: I'm Subro. I got into music when I was very young, taught myself how to play guitar by listening to records, and got completely addicted. Music, football, and vintage guitars are all I care about really. I started playing in bands when I was about 12, I was really into Oasis, Blur, Libertines, and all of that, and really into 60s bands like Beatles, Kinks, and Who. Thanks to the bands I was playing with and the venues we were playing at I got into the mod scene that shaped my style.

It's impossible not to wonder what lured you both into the realm of '60s fashion. I imagine living in LA there's a wealth of history at your fingertips waiting to be explored. What initially drew you both in?

K: I think I can speak for both of us by saying that watching films and seeing photos of bands from the 60s really sparked something in us.

For us it's more about the timeless side of the 60s fashion, some of it can get a bit too gimmicky and we lean more towards the subtle side.

LA in the 60s was a melting pot of styles and influences. On one hand, the city's association with the entertainment industry saw a rise of sleek and sophisticated looks inspired by the silver screen, with women donning chic cocktail dresses and men sporting tailored suits reminiscent of Hollywood icons. Yet, amidst the glitz and glamour, the emergence of the hippie movement brought forth a more relaxed and bohemian aesthetic, characterized by flowing fabrics, psychedelic prints, and fringe accents. Additionally, the influence of surf culture permeated the fashion scene, with beach-inspired attire such as board shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and casual California.

How does living in LA influence your interpretation of this iconic era's style?

K: I was born and raised in Southern California just 30 minutes (without traffic) from the heart of LA. That being said I think the only influence it's had on me is for the old Hollywood fashion, I love the glamour of the Hollywood starlets of the 40's and 50's. Nowadays I can't stand much of the modern LA fashion. Subro only just moved here a few years ago and already had his style set.

As musicians in Heebie and the Jeebies, how does your sense of style intersect with your stage presence and performance style?

K: Luckily we just wear outfits we would wear any other day. The decision is mostly how much we are dressing our everyday style up or not. We usually stick with darker colours, maybe some pops of colour (red beret for me or a soho scarf for Subro). My set "uniform" consists of some type of black mock neck or turtleneck and a black skirt.

S: Basically what Kalie said. We usually wear our normal clothes but depending on the gig or the idea for a photo we choose how casual or dressy we should get, going from a Fred Perry, jeans and Adidas trainers to a 3 button suit.

Could you share some favourite 60s fashion icons or influences that resonate with you both?

K: I know without a doubt that Subro's biggest fashion icon is Michael Caine. I'd say we both lean a little more toward the fashion you'd find in a '60s spy film. Or outside of the 60s, our biggest influences would be some sort of crook from a Guy Ritchie film. As for particular fashion icons for me I'd say the two biggest are Audrey Hepburn and Anna Karina.

Kalie, what elements of 60s fashion do you find particularly inspiring?

K: A lot of the shapes and silhouettes such as the A line dresses and sleek turtlenecks. Also it was a time period that everyone wore odd hats, I'm a sucker for hats. Everything was shot on film back then so the fashion always looked more appealing.

Subro, how does your perception of 60s fashion differ from Kalie's, and how does that dynamic influence your band's aesthetic?

I was always more into the smart but understated look. People like George Harrison and Michael Caine are the reason I got interested in clothing and I love the sort of casual but dressy look with the turtle necks, blazer and boots and that sort of thing. 

As a couple with shared interests in fashion and music, how do you blend your individual styles while maintaining a cohesive image?
K: Luckily we dress the same, there has been more than one occasion that we get ready and end up wearing the same outfit. Which is usually a black turtleneck, a black denim jacket and a Greek fisherman cap. 
How do you incorporate scarves into your signature 60s-inspired outfits, both on and offstage?
K: For me, I love wearing neck scarves and I'm always adding one of my Soho neckerchiefs with my outfits, especially if I'm wearing a top that shows my neck, perfect opportunity for a scarf. I'm almost always wearing black so the scarves add a bit of colour to my outfit. 
S: I'm quite uncomfortable with colours and 95% of my wardrobe is black and grey so scarves are great to add pops of colour and patterns making simple outfits look a lot more interesting. 
How do you incorporate elements of 60s fashion into your everyday lives beyond just clothing and accessories?
K: I'd say with my photography style. Especially with the band photos, I'm always trying to capture that timeless look.
S: I'm always looking for vintage stuff. Partly out of romanticism and to sort of feel connected with the past but also because things were less "disposable" then and were built to last. I recently got into vintage razors and got a couple of 50s and 60s ones, they are extremely well built and proved it by still performing better than any modern ones I tried even though they are over 60 years old there's something special about shaving using something with history from when people took pride in clean shaving.
I also have an unhealthy obsession with vintage guitars and all of my guitars and amps are from the 60s.
What advice would you both give to someone wanting to explore 60s fashion but unsure where to start?
K: I would say to dive into the pop culture of the time, watch the films, listen to the music, find the top models of the time, see what parts of the fashion really stick out to you. Developing a distinct style is usually easiest when you pick out a few statement pieces that can shape multiple outfits.
S: I'd say watch lots of films, videos, and photos from the 60s, figure out what interests you about the style and try to find things that feel authentic and that are well made. There are a lot of "retro" brands that offer clothes that feel like caricatures of specific decades and those always feel a bit odd to me. 
Looking ahead, what exciting projects can we expect from Heebie and the Jeebies?
K: As for now we are focusing on playing as often as we can, we have loads of songs in the making and would love to just get out and play them. I'm always harassing the band to do more photoshoots so I'm sure there will be plenty of photos to come.

it's clear that Kalie and Subro's journey through the realm of 60s fashion is deeply rooted in a rich tapestry of influences and personal experiences.

From their profound admiration for vintage aesthetics to their adept fusion of individual styles, their commitment to this iconic era resonates throughout their artistic endeavours.

As they navigate music and fashion, we eagerly anticipate the forthcoming projects from Heebie and the Jeebies. Whether it involves the creation of new musical compositions or curating captivating visuals, one thing remains certain—this dynamic duo is poised to make a lasting impact on the world of retro revival. So, as we bid farewell, let us continue to be inspired by the beats and threads of Heebie and the Jeebies, eagerly awaiting the next chapter in their illustrious journey.

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