With lush reverbs and breathy vocals, the indie pop band Tennis will transport any listener straight to the ’70s. And fittingly, the duo, consisting of husband-wife team Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, dresses the part. On stage, the musicians can most often be seen in distressed jeans, button-down T-shirts, and sheepskin coats, and the band’s Instagram is an amalgam of vintage-tinged photos that befit an old yearbook. Their latest release, Yours Conditionally, even lyrically tackles deep-seated political issues of the decade, like the feminist movement, which sadly remains pertinent today. Here, Moore and Riley talk about the new release, the joys of thrifting on eBay, and why it’s necessary to be a feminist in 2017.
What were your goals for Yours Conditionally?
Patrick Riley: One for me was to make a record that was fun for both of us. With the last few releases, there was a lot of filtering that went on before the final product came out—a lot of producers, a lot of A&R people.
Alaina Moore: We wanted to see what we could make if we involved no one, showed no one anything, and did everything alone. We really didn’t know what would happen. It could’ve been the worst thing we’ve ever done [laughs].
Riley: We just knew the process would be more enjoyable.
Moore: I wanted to write about the things I care about that would bring me catharsis and a feeling of exploration in my writing.
Speaking of exploring, you embarked on a sailing trip to write this album, which you also did for 2011’s Cape Dory. Why set sail?
Moore: It could’ve been anything, but we happened to be sailing. Patrick happened to really like sailing when he was 12, and he’s the type of person who commits fully and forever to something.
Riley: I grew up in landlocked places, so it was an idea that became a fantasy. We didn’t go on a sailing trip initially to write an album, it just naturally happened. There was this flippancy to our music, where we would not think about things and write it.
Moore: It was very spontaneous and stream of consciousness.
Riley: That’s what we were looking for again.
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The ’70s seem to be a huge influence for you musically and style-wise. What do you find so alluring about that decade?
Moore: I love ’70s production. It just so happens that I was listening to Carole King, Judee Sill, and Neil Young while we were recording too.
Riley: Those production techniques are something we’ve always strived for.
Moore: Patrick and I have very divergent musical tastes, but where it converges is in that period of time. We both listen to and really enjoy totally different genres and eras of music. We’re not married to this decade, but that’s where Tennis works. As far as style goes, I have this old-timey face and uncontrollable curls, so I try to dress in a way that suits me and my own natural features. High-rise pants look better on me and I like my hair in an afro, so I naturally ended up there.
You’re the living embodiment of couples that dress alike.
Moore: Every time I get dressed, I have to be like, “You can’t wear that too.” It’s always black, blue, white, denim. If he [Patrick] has over-shrunken shirts, I’ll take them.
Riley: But we don’t share a closet just yet.
Where do you like to shop?
Moore: I pretty much shop online exclusively.
Riley: We’re big on eBay.
Moore: And I buy all of Pat’s denim on Etsy.
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What was the inspiration behind “Modern Woman”?
Moore: It’s about female friendships and relationships and how impactful they are, and how you see yourself mirrored and reflected and also confronted. It’s something I haven’t thought a lot about but I’ve been remiss in writing about. There’s so much writing about male-female relationships—especially romantic ones—and it’s extremely influential and foundational to my life and my own concept of myself as a woman. I look to other women for style inspiration and concepts of womanhood and feminism.
Who do you look to for style inspiration?
Moore: Solange is amazing. Basically, any woman with natural hair, because their hair so much more sculptural. I spend a lot of time searching blogs. Hair is my starting point, then I try to dress in a way that makes sense with it.
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Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Moore: Honestly, I used to be one of the people who would say, “I feel equal to men, who cares?” But to people who reject feminism because they feel like they don’t need it: you’re standing on the shoulders of all the feminists who allowed you to feel powerful. I noticed that I needed feminism when I became an adult woman and started seeing the way gender was affecting not just me, but men in my life.
You filmed a cheeky infomercial with Zosia Mamet to promote the new album. How did you two meet?
Moore: She emailed me out of the blue and said she liked my music. I’m obsessed with Girls, so it was perfect. I’m a home-schooled girl from the suburbs in Aurora, Colo.—I don’t expect Shoshanna to e-mail me and say, “Let’s hang out when you’re in New York.” She’s been a big supporter of the band.
Watch the music video for “Modern Woman” above, and buy Yours Conditionally for $10 on iTunes.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.