Co-written by Becca Chairin

It’s unlikely for a scientist from France and a speech therapist from Rhode Island to cross paths, even more unlikely for them to start a band. But that’s just what happened with Abby Heredia and Paz (just Paz) of Miss Geo. They met at an Apple store in Boston, became friends, and evolved into an electro-pop duo with catchy and meaningful songs. We sat down with Abby and Paz at the Andala Cafe in Cambridge, ate croissants even the French native Paz loved, and talked about Miss Geo’s songwriting process, influences, and friendship.

“Well I was playing this set at the Apple store,” says Abby, the guitarist and lead vocalist, “it was one of those things where I used Garageband to create my demo, and [Paz] was in the audience.” Paz, still new to our wonderful city, didn’t know many people. After Abby’s performance, she talked to her as they bonded over music, particularly The National. And then, after the short, sweet leap from personal connection to musical connection, they became Miss Geo. “It’s something I’ve always wanted, to be in a band,” says Paz.

Of course, close friendships can also lead to fights. “It was kind of contentious when we started writing together,” says Abby, “because we didn’t have a pattern or system.” This makes sense, because the two might just be musical opposites. With a concert pianist mom and chamber choir director aunt, Abby comes from a family of musicians, but she has never had any formal music training. “I guess that was my way of rebelling against the norm,” she explains. On the other side, Paz grew up without music but swears by music theory. The songs we hear are the ones the two could find common ground on. “Sometimes it would be whoever cried the hardest,” said Abby with a smile.

While still perhaps musical opposites, they did manage to develop a simple songwriting process. “My favorite way to write is just a bass line and [sing] vocals over it,” explains Abby, “I feel like you can make any sort of song from that.” “And I will play synth on top of it,” adds Paz. Paz has taken a few classes on how to use the software Reason, which she uses to put together Miss Geo’s tracks. And Abby, perhaps a little tired of all the fights, sacrificed a precious part of her musical rebellion; she started learning music theory. “It would be easier for us to understand each other and have a common language,” she admits.

Despite already having their own distinct sound, Abby and Paz have full time jobs and live in different cities. Their EP emerged from just a few weekend sessions–and when the sweet burst of artistic inspiration awakens in one of them–the occasional 3AM phone call. “Not anymore!” Paz insisted, when Abby mentioned the 3AM calls. But it worked for them. One of those 3AM calls laid the foundation for their soon-to-be-released song, “Archetype.”

When we asked the duo how they described their music, Abby kept coming back to the word “visual.” “When I write something, or when [Paz] comes up with her part, I’ll come up with a scene or a color that will show up in my mind,” she says. “I feel like my calling in life is…to put [those scenes or colors] into musical form as closely as possible,” she later added. Her descriptions sounded like synaesthesia–a somewhat rare condition where sounds form colors–one that many musicians, including Billy Joel and Lady Gaga, have. And when we looked up the term for a more accurate description, Abby confirmed those descriptions fit her experience.

Miss Geo has managed to develop a sound that is uniquely theirs, incorporating the influences and backgrounds of both Abby and Paz. Being from Newport, Rhode Island, Abby grew up surrounded by folk because of the Newport Folk Festival that takes place every summer. Then she moved on to rock music, being especially drawn to various ‘90s bands. “That’s when I got introduced to Ladytron, Le Tigre,” she says.

This feminist girl band influence seems to be what shines through the most in Miss Geo’s music. But Abby doesn’t stop listing influences there, “after that I got into an experimental music phase. Deerhoof, Animal Collective….” the list goes on. Paz, on the other hand, mainly stuck to electronic and indie rock. Growing up without much music in the household, music became her rebellion. “When I went to college, I could just have some kind of freedom,” says Paz, “so I listened to any kind of music to just realize that I really like electronic music.” And we see that in her ambient synth melodies.

Even with only two members, the music of the duo often feels rich, vibrant, and deep. They tell us powerful stories in their songs with a unique, interesting sound. These two have talent that could take their music through so many different styles and genres, but in the end, as Abby says, “I’m always gonna be that girl in the bedroom with her four track tape decks writing on a casio keyboard, singing over it.”

Bonus: Abby explained to us the story behind Broken Wrists; we wanted to share it with you.

Abby: The song “Broken Wrists”  is actually about my basketball team that I played with. I had moved back to Rhode Island and was looking for a women’s basketball team to play with. There was one in Providence but they were all Hispanic. I kept going and going until they accepted me. Eventually it was cool. We became friends and I had tortillas and beer with them. The team that I was on were so hardcore that they would play through anything, broken wrists or broken ankles. So that’s what the song is about. It’s also about non-verbal communication because we couldn’t really speak to each other.

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