Feature Stories

Ejecta's Leanne Macomber Returns to Dallas Amidst Legal Controversy

Leanne Macomber has always been a nomad. One-half of the New York-based synth-pop duo Ejecta, the one-time Dallas and Denton resident has long led a transient existence. Growing up an Air Force brat, Macomber lived all over the country before settling in Texas. She's shuffled through different cities, different states, even different musical projects and performance identities. For Ejecta, art is a way of life, and life itself is fluid. But even she couldn't have predicted the events of the past couple weeks.

On September 2, Ejecta received a cease and desist letter from a DJ and producer in the United Kingdom who goes by the name Ejeca. (Yes, without the "T.") Despite murky circumstances -- the names are not identical and both began performing around the same time, in 2012 -- Macomber and her collaborator, Joel Ford, have already concluded that they will have to change their name.

"Basically we'll be sued if we don't change it and we don't have the money to fight it," Macomber acknowledges via email from New York. "He has a really good lawyer and we really don't have the funds, sadly." So by the time they appear in Dallas for the fourth annual Gorilla vs. Bear Fest at Granada Theater Friday, Ejecta as we know it may already cease to be. "We'll have chosen a name in time for our Dallas gig," Macomber confirms.

Such a turn of events is more than unfortunate for Ejecta, who are wrapping production on a much-anticipated follow-up EP to their well-received 2013 debut full-length, Dominae. Their name, after all, is an integral part of their identity -- a fact that is not true of their overseas counterpart. Ejeca, whose real name is Garry McCartney, is from Northern Ireland and used to be known at different points as DJ Refresh and Kinetix. He even admitted in an interview with Marcus Barnes that the name was chosen at random: "I just wanted something simple that isn't an actual word," he said. "It took me a while pumping things into Google before I found something that brought up no results."

By contrast, for Macomber and Ford -- who first met in 2009 -- Ejecta was a name entwined with the conception of the band. Coming from the Latin for "things thrown," ejecta is the dust and debris ejected during a volcanic eruption. From the outset, Macomber has maintained that Ejecta embodies a kind of "geological rebirth." It's symbolic because to hear her tell it, the band was borne out of a quarter-life crisis -- a time that found the young singer-songwriter just returning from three years of touring with Neon Indian.

"It was a creative rebirth for me as well as one in terms of 'life' and approach," she explains. "I'd been perpetually displaced after years of touring. Before that I was an Air Force brat, so perhaps I'm just damned to be a nomad. This project signified a new phase and a clean go at something unexplored and more focused."

She claims she grew up a "goody two shoes," but she sees becoming a musician as her biggest act of rebellion. The Air Force brat was a "creative type" born into a family who wanted her to study business and computers and work for a big company and set up a 401K and live in the stability and predictability of the suburbs. They encouraged her to "try different things," but only as hobbies. When the time to talk college finally rolled around, Macomber has said she distinctly remembers "things getting scary for me." Her passions were music and photography. "Why would I study anything else ?" she asks.

Macomber started writing songs at an early age, but she didn't play an instrument until she was 13. Her parents didn't buy it for her. (In a recent interview, Leanne said when she was 7, her mother wouldn't let her play the violin; at 9 she was refused a drum set.) She bought her first bass guitar with baby-sitting money. "I was a jazz band nerd," she says.

By 14 the jazz nerd had crossed paths with another self-described "Air Force brat," Julie McKendrick of Vulgar Fashion. McKendrick and a friend saw Macomber at a video festival in San Antonio. "She looked cool," McKendrick recalls. That chance encounter and small talk led to practice sessions, and it wasn't long before they played their first show together as an all-female post-rock noise act called the World Went Home, debuting at the original Taco Land (the same legendary San Antonio dive bar from the Dead Milkmen's song "Tacoland").

A few years later, McKendrick and Macomber would work together again in Denton. The pair would go on to play together in houses, DIY spaces and traditional venues all over the Golden Triangle in White Girls, Christian! Teenage Runaways, Mantique, Dirty Diamond, Rival Gang and others.

"She's a huge part of my life," Macomber says. "She was my Kim Gordon growing up. She let me be brave." A learned braveness and confidence helped the shy "band nerd" move from hiding behind her bass at the edge of a stage to the performer we see today. "The whole time I've been in pop bands with men," Macomber, who also collaborates with Jeff Louis in Fight Bite, continues. "Just me and a dude. Fight Bite and Ejecta are the only bands I'm actively in these days, but I'm hoping to collaborate with Julie by mail."

If working with McKendrick in Denton was crucial for Macomber, then Denton itself still holds a special place for her. "I played in a riot grrl tribute band," Macomber recalls of her first performance in Denton. "We performed in our friends' living room with the Night Game (Cult). Apart from that, every band I've been in over the past decade -- with the exception of Ejecta -- from C!TR to Neon Indian, debuted at Rubber Gloves."

It would be Neon Indian that eventually drew her out of North Texas, about a year after she'd left Denton for Dallas. "Alan [Palomo] called me and asked if I could play a few shows, which miraculously turned into incessant touring for years," she explains. "It was so unexpected that I never even got my pots and pans or my bed out of my apartment. I wasn't leaving much behind in Dallas but I still miss Denton. That's 'home' to me."

And so returning to Dallas comes at an unusual time for Macomber and her life as an artist. It is, in a sense, a return home. The future, however, is unclear, with a new name for Ejecta yet to be revealed. Yet for Macomber, more than most, it is likely to become nother of many blank slates -- another chance to change, to shift, to be reborn.

EJECTA performa at Gorilla vs. Bear Fest IV with Panda Bear, Sophie, Doss and Blues Control, 7 p.m. Friday, September 12, at Granada Theater, 3524 Greeville Ave. Visit. granadatheater.com.

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Daniel Rodrigue
Contact: Daniel Rodrigue