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As a debt to our usual fevered pitch to do things up right, we did some online sleuthing to proof both Misters Schueppert and Jerkovich. Both checked out as legitimate persons, one being some sort of "music/film/writing snob" occupied at one time or another by a rural Minnesota college radio station and/or several large cans of Pabst "Blue Ribbon" beer. The latter, one would presume, are simply props dictated necessary, for comedic play, by a Raggedy Andy yarn wig. David Jerkovich on the other hand, while not setting out any markers for potential fairytale fetishes, can himself be found in a series of publicity photos for Novi Split's latest, HUSH-released album, Pink in the Sink, with a pair of white tube socks, a crude human likeness made with his glasses and the remnants of some cafeteria menu dish, and a revolver. The latter photo - although Jerkovich is wearing ear protection - appears to have been taken in a basement.
After all that, plus a little cross-Googling for strict journalistic integrity assurances, it was determined that Schueppert and Jerkovich were likely not corroborating and in fact might not even be associates. And, if they are tangled up, there is quite possibly a file somewhere dictating the details in a clean, NSA-friendly format. They were clean, as far as we were concerned, so we'd run the piece.
Novi Split is the brainchild of twenty-something David Jerkovich. It is a more-or-less solo project that Jerkovich has dabbled in with enough success that, for his latest album, a jump from the smaller label Sunset Alliance to Hush records, Chad Crouch's powerhouse based out of Portland, was warranted.
The new Novi Split album, Pink in the Sink, blends tender bedroom pop with a comfy folk feel, its warm vibe cozying up right at home on the same label that puts out the cute melodies of Blanket Music and Toothfairy. Jerkovich paints a pained portrait of youth and love in songs like "You Got Served," and "Doctor," the latter of which has a sweet lulling voice over quiet laptop beats that are a little reminiscent of Her Space Holiday, another California bedroom pop project, and at a stretch, Moby during his Go period.
One of the surprises on the album is a quiet rendition of "Crazy in Love," a song that ratcheted out yet another hit for Beyoncé and Jay-Z when it was issued on the Destiny's Child alum's first solo album, Dangerously in love in 2003. Jerkovich stumbled into the song as a means to give a gift for Mike Kevich, the operator of Cloak and Dagger radio, who wanted Jerkovich to perform it for his birthday.
"I never really got a chance to pick it apart until our hero Kevich made me learn it for his birthday party," said Jerkovich of the unlikely cover. "There are a lot of songs where the verses are so great but you never seem to hear them because the hook is shitting all over it. Putting the hook at the end made me happy so I had to record it."
When it comes to covering or sampling artists of Beyoncé's magnitude, the legal hurdles are notoriously stacked against underground hit makers. As far as getting the go-ahead from Beyoncé and her people to actually record and release the track, it turned out to be a lot easier than one would think. "Her people are like Sony, and there's a set percentage you pay Sony per copy you sell," Jerkovich says of the strictly business deal. It wasn't through badgering Beyoncé into letting him cover it, or her undying love for his music that snagged him the rights; it was a matter of cash money. "I wish it was more like Beyoncé giving me the thumbs up in the name of high art."
Keep Moving, the first Novi Split album, was issued back in 2004 by the Sunset Alliance label, an Arizona stable headed by Dave Jensen. Afterward, in the time it took Jerkovich to crank out the follower to Keep Moving, another group he dabbled in, Kind of Like Spitting, broke up after a few years on the fringes of large-scale popularity. Working on an album and hoping to move to a larger label, Jerkovich signed a deal with Hush Records to replace Kind of Like Spitting in the roster. As for how the new label situation is working out, "I love it," Jerkovich says. "I trust them with my life. They shit gold records," he added, showing some of his sharp humor that tends to show up in his music. "Both Dave Jensen and Chad Crouch love what they do. They have a lot in common. It would be nice to see them meet one day. I'd like to take a picture of that moment and get it transferred onto a mug and then start every morning right by drinking tea out of it and meditating on its significance."
The creation of Pink in the Sink was of a different experience than it was for Keep Moving, and the difference was not only due to the fact that it would see wider distribution.
"I didn't know that the first record was going to come out. I felt more aware this time around because I knew someone wanted to release it. Most of the time spent on this record was trying to get over that. Being unsatisfied and unconfident led me into some really great deconstructive editing that shaped the sound of the record," said Jerkovich. "I went into the bedroom knowing what I didn't want. I didn't want it to sound like a collection of demos again. I tinkered so much with this last record I don't even remember recording any of it."
No doubt a question he hears a lot, people expecting some profound story behind it usually ask the subject of the album's name. As it turns out, it's actually a pretty simple story; it's named after a goofy line from some commercial Jerkovich stumbled upon.
"I was watching a toothpaste commercial and this woman came on the screen and said that - pink in the sink - and milk started to pour down my nose."
Jerkovich's explanation leaves little room for hidden metaphors or suggestions in the title, at least intentionally. Jerkovich is more of the mind that strong, meaningful titles belong behind concept albums or rock operas, not his brand of indie rock. As for his recording moniker?
"Novi means 'new' and Split is a city on the Adriatic Coast. In America, when you have a large concentration of a certain people in one place you name the city after them. Little Italy, China town, Korea town, et cetera. There is a huge Croatian population in San Pedro [California]. One night my friend Mike B. wanted to lead an angry group of Croats down to City Hall to declare San Pedro [be renamed] Novi Split. End of story. It always stuck in my head."
Jerkovich ventured out of his usual California surroundings earlier this year, making a scattered tour across the Southern US en route to New York. Due to the time he spent traveling with Kind of Like Spitting as their road drummer (and occasional contributor to the albums), Jerkovich is not entirely unfamiliar with touring. In fact he loves it, and like most adventurous artists has met some of the most important people in his life while doing it. Touring also takes its toll financially, and in lieu of raking in money left and right from the music business, Jerkovich makes his cash as a longshoreman for the port of Long Beach. His occupation is, if not surprising, at least unexpected from someone involved in so many music projects over the years - in addition to his time with Kind of Like Spitting, he's also worked with The Real Diego and the similarly folky, Los Angeles-based group Ill Lit.
As it is now for David Jerkovich, Novi Split causes the bills instead of paying them off, and his plans for the future are proportionately modest. Rather than latch on to fantasies of cocaine, super models and his own island, Jerkovich is taking things on as they come to him, and diversifying to reduce risk. One of his quirks is brewing wine in the garage and, once the salt of the spring's road trip is shaken off, he's pretty excited to give it a whirl. In the meantime Jerkovich will be popping up on the bedroom pop circuit of irregularity, playing everywhere that will have him, hoping to open more people up to his particular brand of concept albums and rock operas. SEE ALSO: www.novisplit.com
SEE ALSO: www.hushrecords.com
A music/film/writing snob, a voracious reader, an occasional contributor to the University Chronicle, wrestler of bears, and someone possibly interested in politics, Jason Schueppert sent in an article one summer day. A few weeks later it was published.
See other articles by Jason Schueppert.
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