Making Silverteeth / [A Bill & Gabriela Mixtape]

In 2010, Gabriela Rassi moved into Brooklyn’s McKibbin Lofts. She’d moved from Brazil to pursue a career in music. She soon met guitarist Bill Bartholomew, who lived in the same building and had come to New York for similar reasons from Rhode Island. Bill remembers Gabriela at that time as “an all around artist–making visual art, music, and very much a music nerd.” They began dating, and in late 2014 made good on their plans to start a band.

Bill didn’t feel his music was flourishing artistically in his former project, and discovered a good balance working with Rassi. “I was a curmudgeon and she was more excited. I’d already learned making a trip to play a basement in Cleveland wasn’t worth it.”

For their self-titled first EP, they were most concerned with their work’s artistic value. Bill said, “We thought about the bands that we listened to when we were growing up–her in Brazil and me in Rhode Island. The 90s alternative sound… not that we wanted to replicate it, but we liked the message, the way the music was unique and memorable, and how it spoke to you with an older voice.” I asked that they pick songs that influenced their first release. Talking about their biggest influences, Bill listed names like Neil Young for himself, and Lou Reed for Gabriela.

But it will always be Faith No More that blew his mind open as a kid, some summer morning when their music came on the radio. Bill picked “Anne’s song” for today’s playlist, saying, “I love the aesthetic, the musicality, there’s something there to study. We both love the attitude mixed with their mature musicianship, which isn’t necessarily ripping solos.”

One of Rassi’s picks was Elis Regina. Bill tells me, “She’s a powerhouse. What’s so cool about her, where it ties into Silverteeth, is how emotive it is, without hurting you, without whining or complaining. It’s very emotional music that’s still positive in a way.”

Bill and Gabriela returned to Gabriela’s hometown of Goiânia, which happens to be the same hometown of young psychedelic sensations, Boogarins. Turns out Bill got a chance to jam with them. He referred to Goiânia as the “Seattle of Brazil” and professed Boogarins are the “kings of that scene right now.”

Bill admits he got lost during his time there, walking around without a functional command of Portuguese. But many in Brazil speak English, and he found it thrilling to sing Silverteeth songs to an audience there, given “all the garbage that comes out of our country.”

Seeing Brooklyn’s DIY spaces close left and right, more friends move away, Bill sums up, “It started to suck to be there.” These days the band resides in Newport, Rhode Island, where they find a warm and welcoming artist’s community reminiscent of their mid ‘00s experience in Brooklyn lofts. Bill said,

When we were in Brooklyn we were really lucky because it was at a time, in terms of real estate, where we were living and performing it was a small village-like community. There were a lot more characters than there are in Newport, but they both have a similar feeling of tight-knit communities of performers, listeners, and bar owners who choose to gather around music as opposed to going out to watch football. I miss the intensity–hearing ten other bands do amazing things through the wall in our practice space, to be where so much recent history has been made.

But he also says there’s a benefit to putting roots in a smaller town. He suggests a less-saturated scene offers Silverteeth more opportunities. The Newport Art House recently picked them for their well-crafted NewPorch Live Sessions–you can watch that performance below. The Art House took care to premiere the video on a big screen with live bands playing, a humbling experience that supports Bill’s point. The more I listen to Jake’s Crashing Your Planet episodes, the truer it feels that there’s no promised formula for an independent-minded band to reach its audience. There’s only the broader truth that seeking community, and putting in the work, pays off.