Audio Visual is a series exploring the fashion choices of local musicians. The Bay Area music scene is nothing but diverse, and this nonconformity is as evident in clothing as it is in music. With this in mind, Audio Visual strives to analyze the connection between the sartorial choices of musicians and their work, beginning with Oakland ‘s Hottub.

Hottub blends DJ Sonic’s old-school and funk-inspired beats with the rough-and-tumble lyrical stylings of CoCo (Nic), Ambr33zy (Amber) and Loli Pop (Jen). The trio rap in unison in a humorous and frank way about love, sex and relationships. Their live shows include on-stage antics and audience participation, often in the form of mic-cable jump-rope and piggy back rides. Our first installment of Audio Visual explores Hottub’s colorful clothing choices — Hottub is opening this evening and the next for Little Dragon at The Independent (9pm, $30).

Q&A and photos after the jump:

Meghan Logue: So as a group, how would you describe your style?

Jen: I’ve always loved the Punk/Crunk/Funk. I feel like we’re really punk, we’re really crunk and we’re really funk.

Jason: It’s a bit of anarchy. Especially performance-wise.

Nic: I’m a psycho and I like to look at things as a big picture and in my minds eye, it’s literally a gang of chicks that live their life in a non-self-conscious way. I think that it’s very important for girls to band together and just be who we are. It’s literally just who we are. And finding dudes who get that. And beyond get that, are able to create the music to sort of let that out. And a safe, awesome place for us to be able to…

Amber: …to release our demons.

Nic: You know, we carry a lot of shit through our daily lives. As women, in this capitalist world, just trying to pay rent. It’s cool to be able to get together and just be. Jen and I grew up in shit-ass Orange County where we’re constantly told “You can’t be that. Shut up. You’re too loud.”
Jen: “You’re too quick on the draw, don’t be that way.”

Nic: Yeah. “That’s not sexy. Stop it.” So it’s cool to have an outlet where hopefully what we do translates to creating a safe place for people to just let it go.

Amber: Be themselves.

Nic: There’s ways to wild the fuck out and still come from a place of love. You can go nutty but still come from a place of positivity.

ML: Amber, you mentioned you have a fashion background? And you and Coco worked at Buffalo Exchange together for a while? How does that influence your look as a group?

Amber: It really gives you the freedom to hone the style you want to represent yourself. If you meet any of us outside of what we do, we’re not totally disconnected from what you see on stage but there is a difference.

Jen: I am. I’m in sweatpants and a t-shirt. And Hottub is an outlet for me to just be exactly who I want to be. I love lace. Every day I dress up to be in this band I think “Goddamn! I wish I could go to work just like this everyday.”

Amber: For me it’s a little bit different. I feel a connection where I need to dress like this because of my passion… for fashion…

[laughter] It does give me a platform to take it up a notch. I’m already an eye-sore and a walking bill-board and an obnoxious character in my community but to be on stage with my band gives me that avenue to take it up 20 times.

Nic: Just my two cents: limitations. We are not made of cash-money.

Amber: Thrift stores and flea markets!

Nic: Working within your means to still be able to represent yourself.

Amber: All the stuff we get, we dig for it. And it takes going to the Coliseum flea market or Alemany flea market. Or going to Goodwill or Salvation Army. I can’t say I can go to Urban Outfitters. I don’t have the money to go to Urban Outfitters to get a whole decked outfit. I don’t have the means.

Jen: You wouldn’t even want to have the means.

Nic: That’s the most fun. Working with what you have. And just rocking the shit out of it.

ML: Turning limitations into strengths.

Nic: Turning shit into gold!

ML: You guys did a one-off collaboration with Adidas a while ago, right?

Nic: Our really awesome friend, Bootsie, of the Harputs family. They have this store in the Fillmore. His family have been Adidas dealers since the early 80’s.

Amber: They have all this backstock and they’re re-releasing it.

Nic: They were re-releasing all this backstock that they’d been sitting on for 25 years. He was so tight, he was like “I gotta release all this backstock, I gotta do these catalogs for Japan and shit. Let me call my girls from Hottub.”

Nic: But the collaboration part was us helping him put out this shit he’s been sitting on. This amazing deadstock. It was such an honor to touch these things. Original Run-DMC. His family had actually collaborated with Run-DMC to create this whole Run-DMC line of Adidas sweaters and tennis shoes.

Amber: We all got to pick a couple of items. We all got shoes. My particular shoes, there are only four in the world. And I was reading a shoe-magazine for hard-core sneaker-heads and it mentioned these Harputs that are multi-colored crazy and there are only four in the world and I have one of the four!

ML: So you mentioned that you guys all have day jobs?

Jen: That’s more me. I’m going to school for dental hygeine. And I work in a place where I can’t always dress like I want to. So I have to conform sometimes to black pants and a black shirt.

Nic: Here’s a funny one, I work at a law firm, a non-profit law firm. And they’re so supportive of my art and the shit that I do. They let me show up at work and talk to clients looking like this.

Nic: Because I’m at an office filing court documents and typing all day.

Amber: I’m in school full-time and I don’t feel it’s necessary to conform to what everybody else thinks is appropriate for normal people and society. So I get fucked up at a show and wake up and go to school the next day.

Nic: It’s kind of a thing. This is who I’ve been for such a long time that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to find ways of surviving in my natural form. Luckily in the Bay there are a lot of outlets where people are open-minded enough to not take one glance at you and decide that you’re a little crazy or maybe not that smart. Because that’s not the case. That has nothing to do with your capability.

Jen: There’s a lot of people that have to wear certain things. That’s actually one of my favorite things about being an artist with Hottub and making music is that I have this outlet. I think it’s really important for everyone that has to wear the scrubs or the pantsuit to just let loose and have a good time. And be who they want to be. And be that person as often as they can.