TABLE OF CONTENTS INTERVIEWS A Chat with Sarah Deegan of Dublin’s Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra - 14 Nation of Language: Finding A Way Forward - 22 A Chat with Lala Lala About Her Ambitious Forthcoming Record - 26 Recording Philadelphia: An Interview with Brian McTear of Miner Street Recordings - 34 Radical Tenderness and Communal Sorrow: A Conversation with Indigo De Souza - 50 Trophy Wife Leaves A Mark with Her Debut, Bruiser - 58
EDITORIAL Faye Webster’s I Know I’m Funny haha Captures Mental Anguish with Poetic Ease - 6 Traversing Cultural Decay And Making A Whole Lot of Noise with Tropical Fuck Storm - 32 Being A Woman in Music: The Harsh Reality - 40 Penny’s Current AOTY Masterlist - 57
PHOTO Jordana - 20 Catcher - 44 3
WHO IS PENNY? Founder & Editor-in-Chief Erin Christie Assistant Editors Isabel Corp Morgan Hooks Contributing Writers Meg McCarney (6) Erin Christie (58) Isabel Corp (26, 32) Hannah Forsyth (14) Mina Johnson (40) Giliann Karon (50) Alexandra Santos (22) Sarah Zimmer (34) Contributing Photographers Erin Christie (44) Aleaigh Hynds (20) Contributing Graphic Designers Benita Blue (32) Aubrey Calapp (50, 56, 58) Hannah Forsyth (14,12, 22, 44) Eddy Lopez (Cover, 19, 34) Maanasa Manikandan (20) Emma Niggley (6, 13, 26, 40) Special Thanks to Mak Frasier Cover Design by Eddy Lopez
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Welcome back! With the arrival of fall, it always feels right to turn over a new leaf (get it?) and for most of the Penny team, that rings true — many of us are in the process of beginning a new school year, setting up house in new environmnets, and even starting new jobs (and I can check off two of those boxes, myself). Even still, it’s amazing to see what we were able to come up with regard to this long-awaited fourth issue, and I’m so grateful for everyone who had a hand in putting it together, in spite of how busy and chaotic the last few months have been. Of course, since it’s been a second since we last put out an issue (it’s so weird to think that the last one came out in May???), I’ve definitely been itching to get this one out the door, especially considering all of the special features we’ve included. To start, we’ve mocked up a few tour posters in the spirit of welcoming live music back, and we’ve even drafted the very firsy version of Penny Mad Libs (I tried, I really did).! As we’re approaching one year of Penny Magazine, too, I’m really pumped to see what the future holds, and I’m so humbled to see the support we’ve received thus far — we were even able to cover our first festival last month! Thanks for sticking around, and hopfully, we’ll talk again soon :) Cheers,
WRITTEN BY: MEG McCARNEY PHOTOS BY: POONEH GHANA
as a bit dull and underwhelming (like “Overslept”). Additionally, due to so much of the subject matter overlapping and referencing itself, and the abject, constant despair in Webster’s voice, many of the tracks on this album sound quite alike. On any other project, this would be noted as a criticism, but thematically, it makes sense here.
It’s a lackadaisical LP that revels in its sorrow, with little variation in feeling, making Webster’s consistent tone of mourningappropriate for this album’s barrage of emotional low points. Above all, the record is a striking depiction of a Gen Z-er’s desensitization regarding not only their own downfall, but also the decay of the world around them. Webster’s flippant observations deal with mundanities and tragedies alike in a way that makes them seem like minor inconveniences: inevitable bumps in the road that, however traumatic, must be endured, processed, and ultimately muddled through to stay alive. I Know I’m Funny haha speaks to tireless mental battles within the self, addressing the dissociation between our intentions and our actions, what we feel and what we allow to be revealed. It’s an album that’s entirely in its own head, dissecting the psyche intimately in what is often a maddeningly accurate (and heartbreaking) portrayal of anxiety, depression, and downward spirals.
Listen to “I Know I’m Funny haha” on all streaming services and catch Faye Webster on tour this Spring
pixie cut rhythm orchestra
interviewed by Hannah Forsyth
photos by Greg Purcell
A Chat with Sarah Deegan of Dublin’s Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra By Hannah Forsyth with photos by Hollie Gilson
Rising Dublin, Ireland indie outfit Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra create songs weighted with honesty and emotion, tackling issues from relationships to female bodily autonomy. Their new music video for “I Didn’t Love When I Said I Did and I Don’t Now” depicts a dreamlike escape from a stuck relationship, a cheekily vengeful vignette for a song of cathartic release. Throughout, vocalist Sarah Deegan’s haunting vocals echo over shimmering guitars and a driving rhythm section. I recently had a chat with Sarah over email ahead of the release of their new single “Empty Envelope,” to discuss her new video, her creative community, and upcoming performances.
For our readers that have yet to discover your music, how would you describe your perspective as a songwriter? My songs are a reflection of my life and the people that are in it. I find inspiration from dreams and things that happen in real life. How did you meet your bandmates? We met through jamming with mutual friends, I was looking for a bass player for PCRO when I met Alice. We had another drummer at the time, Naoise, and when they left to pursue their solo project, Danni joined us. Danni and Alice already played together in other projects. Congrats on the new music video for “I Didn’t Love You When I Said I Did and I Don’t Now!” It’s beautifully done and really captures both the complacency and catharsis of the song. Was it fun to express yourself in a different medium? Thanks so much, it was really fun! We shot it on a low budget, calling in favours from the people around us. It came from an idea of me just being an asshole and wrecking everything, robbing food from someone’s fridge and heading off on their stolen bike with the stolen basket. Hollie Gilson did a great job on the video, and she made a fun behind the scenes thing too, which is up on the Anon Records YouTube Channel.
You’re involved with the Anon Records collective. Can you share a bit about the mission and how you met your fellow members?
Something you said on Instagram stories one time stuck with me because I had just started writing for Penny at the time. You said it really grinds your gears when people ask musicians how they “found” their sound and pretended to look for it under furniture. Do you care to elaborate on this take again so it can be banished from music journalism?
The mission of Anon Records is basically authenticity over the music industry. We feel that when labels get involved, they sometimes change the artist into what they think they should be. At Anon our ethos is the freedom to say and do whatever you want as an artist, and to be supported in doing so with full creative freedom. We keep everything in house as much as possible. From music production, to visuals, to PR and management. The collective formed in an infamous vintage emporium in Dublin’s art and antique quarter called Anon, which has been described as both a goth cafe and a foster home for the mentally ill.
Finding a sound is usually trial and error, or people becoming obsessed with a style of music and then copying it. I think the focus should be on finding your voice, as in, what you want to express or talk about — it’s figuring that out and saying it in your own way. Finding a sound could be as simple as buying a guitar pedal or using electronic elements. My songs don’t follow a pattern or trend and I don’t follow a style while I’m writing, hence the differences from song to song. It’s very free. It got me thinking because I feel like for many people who write about music, although they love it to death, writing music itself doesn’t come naturally to them and so they seek to understand it through comparisons (I’m quite guilty of this myself). Do you find comparisons to be reductive or are influences something you’re proud to wear on your sleeve? I’m honoured to have been compared to some really cool artists! I would say that I am influenced by no artist in particular, but rather everything that I've ever listened to or watched or read or experienced.
I hear you have a new single out this month. Can you spare any details about what we can look forward to? The song was inspired by a dream I had where I received an empty letter in the post (I think that’s mail in American). It’s called “Empty Envelope” and it’s coming soon. You have a couple shows coming up, headlining at the Workman’s Club and supporting Silverbacks in Mike the Pies. What do you miss most about performing? Sweating profusely.
Keep up to date with Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra via their socials — Twitter + Instagram: @p_c_r_o 17
Penny Mad Libs Fill in the blanks on page 51! Adjective: _____________________________________________________________ Noun (a Penny-featured artist): _________________________________________ Noun (a celebrity): _____________________________________________________ Adjective: _____________________________________________________________ Verb: _________________________________________________________________ Adverb: _______________________________________________________________ Noun (a place): ________________________________________________________ A number: ____________________________________________________________ Noun (a fictional character): ____________________________________________ Adjective: ____________________________________________________________ Noun (animal, plural): __________________________________________________ Noun (item of clothing, plural): _________________________________________ Noun (plural): ________________________________________________________ Verb (past tense): _____________________________________________________ Noun: _________________________________________________________ Adjective (color): ______________________________________________________ Noun (plural): _________________________________________________________ Adjective: _____________________________________________________________ Noun (plural): __________________________________________________________ City: __________________________________________________________________ Noun (a celebrity): _____________________________________________________ Feeling: ______________________________________________________________ 18
Photos by Aleiagh Hynds
nation of language
finding a way forward by Alexandra Santos photos by Kevin Condon
For the last six years, Brooklyn-based synth-pop trio, Nation of Language — made
up of frontman Ian Devaney, Aiden Devaney on keys, and Michael Sui-Poi on bass — have been putting out heavy, ‘80s nostalgia hits such as “I've Thought About Chicago” and “Indignites,” inspired by music from Ian’s childhood. Now, the band is gearing up for their first headlining tour of North America this fall, and are expected to release their sophomore album, A Way Forward, in November, a little over a year after the release of their debut LP, Introduction, Presence, last May. After years of touring with acts such as The Wombats and playing local New York City venues, their last tour with Adam Green back in March of 2020 was cut short when the world shut down due to the pandemic. During that time, they released their first record as a band and are now ready to bring the album to the stage this fall with their newfound audience who discovered them during their off time (myself included). I was fortunate enough to have a chat with husband and wife Ian and Aidan on the last Thursday of the summer through Zoom, ahead of their upcoming comeback tour with Public Practice. During our conversation, we covered their debut, their upcoming sophomore record, their experiences in a live setting, and more.
You guys have been putting singles and touring since 2016 but your debut record Introduction, Presence came out in 2020. To begin, how did you guys come together as a band? Ian Devaney: [Nation of Language] started as a recording project where I had been previously writing mostly guitar music, but then it’s just one of those stories where a person who’s been using a lot of guitar suddenly rediscovers the synth. So, yeah, it started by trying to record a song that felt a certain way and then my friends were like, “Oh, why don't we just go play this somewhere!” That's when it started to become more of a pursuit rather than just a causal interest. Who was playing [with me] changed over the years until it settled in on Aiden and Mike. Aiden was a nanny and I was working in restaurants and cafes. We would just save up until we had enough to go into the studio to record a single and put that out, just like putting one foot in front of the other through the years. We did some touring and Aiden self-booked us for a European tour. We just kinda tried to put ourselves in the position to get lucky as often as possible. We would play basically anything we were asked to play and tried to write all the time. When we decided we wanted to put an album together, it was around that time that we got married and we basically asked everyone, “Hey, instead of like a physical wedding gift, will you just give us money” [laughs] and then we took that money and finished the record with it.
During the pandemic, we had a bunch of songs, and a lot of them had been written in the period after the first album and a couple were written during the pandemic, so we put that together into a second record and started working on releasing that, and that’s what we're releasing now. With releasing your debut record during a pandemic and being nervous about if it was going to get that traction or not, now that it is out, how do you feel about how your audience has taken to it? What is the fan reaction you’re getting for record during this time? ID: Well, I mean, it’s strange but most of our fanbase, it seems, has come since the pandemic! What’s very exciting is we've played one show so far but one of the things that’s most exciting about having a tour coming up is we actually get to meet these people for the first time. The people who had been with us before [the album's release] were excited and there was a lot of excitement from the both of us. We were so excited to release the album and they could feel that and were rooting for us. There are so many messages we have gotten on how important the record was for people as a thing that came out during that time and that people had through those first confusing and scary months. It’s really amazing to be able to kinda be there for people in some way, even though you don't really know them. 23
It’s nice in that it feels like another way to spend your time that is creatively productive, that gives you a break from the creatively productive work of putting out the record you’ve already released. Also, there was a bit of knowing how long it can be from when you're done with a record to when it comes out, thinking to ourselves like, “Well, we gotta do this now because who knows when it’ll actually get released!” We’re excited for these songs now, and the time, and the ability to go do it and jump on that.
A theme that plays throughout Introduction, Presence is looking inward at your situation to be able to move forward. Do you think you were able to convey the messages you wanted to in your music, especially when you hear your audience's reaction? ID: I think a lot of the record is written from the position of being stuck in your own head and I think that’s just something that people were really feeling a lot of. It does feel very special to have given people something they felt they really wanted or needed and was appropriate to the circumstance that we were all going through in some way. For this new album coming out do you see it more of a continuation of the themes from your debut ? ID: In my mind, I do see it more as a companion record….it’s very much a broadening of what Nation of Language could be and sound like. The way this record compliments this first record, and the first record compliments this new record, provides a view of how we see ourselves as a band. What was it like balancing the release of your first ever record while also having your second album in the works? ID: It’s interesting. You do feel there's a balance of needing to pay attention to what you are releasing at the moment and feeling like you are giving those songs their due and the work that's required for them, but I feel like we always have an eye on what might be coming next. 24
Aidan Davaney: The only downside of it is that we had never really played those first album songs and now we're releasing a second album, so figuring out how to incorporate both into the live shows is becoming increasingly difficult because you can’t play for two hours and you have to skip over songs that you love that never got their due. Like you mentioned before, you guys have played only one show since live music has come back. What has it been like, now that you guys are playing in bigger spaces for more people? AD: It's been really wild. There was a moment during our first show back where I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling in the middle of a song we were playing because I can hear all these people singing along, people I've never met before in a whole room. I mean, we’ve always had a couple friends singing along but this was different and absolutely surreal. I couldn't stop laughing. I was overjoyed but yeah, it's bananas, first of all, seeing a room full of people gathered together — that’s out of this world for us, at this point — but they were all so happy to be there celebrating that moment with us. I don't know, it's hard to explain. ID: Yeah, it definitely feels like you have more people on your team all of a sudden, like, you feel a definite oneness with people when they’re singing these things back to you and you’re all doing it together. There's a special feeling when you have a room full of people who are on the same page about something creative and celebratory. It's very moving. AD: In terms of the fact that it was thirty to forty minutes that we used to play, now it’s seventy minutes, and I couldn't tell the difference because the adrenaline was higher than ever before. It was like a moment for me and it lasted. There was never a moment where I was like, “Whooo it's been awhile.”
“I think a lot of the record is written from the position of being stuck in your own head and I think that’s just something that people were really feeling a lot of. It does feel very special to have given people something they felt they really wanted or needed and was appropriate to the circumstance that we were all going through in some way.”
Lastly, what were some of the interactions like after the show? Did people come up to you, and what was it like after playing a show like that ? AD: The people were just generally happy, excited, and chatty and very kind. They did come up to us afterward, or if anyone saw me on their way in they would be like, “We're so excited; we’ve been waiting for this for years!” Ian talked to a lot of people after the show. There were total strangers who had a lot of questions like, “What do these songs mean?”
[They were] ready to have an opportunity to ask these questions in person, which was unique in the fact that we haven’t seen fans in real life like that. ID: It felt like there were a lot of people who stored up things they had wanted to ask for a very long time, some of which I couldn't even answer. There were people asking, like, music theory questions and I’m like I don't know- I don't really know music theory very well [laughs], but it was very cool to see their raw excitement of trying to get to the bottom of things they have been wondering for such a long time.
Keep up to date with Nation of Language via their socials and find them on tour with Public Practice this fall! 25
A CHAT WITH
ABOUT HER AMBITIOUS FORTHCOMING RECORD WRITTEN BY: ISABEL CORP
PHOTOS BY: MIWAH LEE
the song “DIVER,” you say that “It’s palpable to want it all,” which has a very religious and spiritual undertone to it. Would you say that is accurate, and what was composing that song like? “DIVER” is essentially me showing how desperate I am. I sing that “It’s palpable to want it all” because I consider myself to be very greedy. I was reading Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus, where he claims that the three things necessary for obtaining happiness are friendship, the ability to think, and freedom. And I agree with him, but that’s something that’s become almost impossible for people to grasp in this capitalist society that we’re living in. I think that the concept of wanting is the most human concept out there. It’s hard to figure out not to want things (objects, accolades, etc.). And even though wanting too much can make you unhappy, I also think it’s really beautiful. I’m obsessed with extreme feelings, and really longing for something can be very painful, but it also has the ability to connect people, because we all feel it. I wanted to be free from myself, and I wanted that song to be very extreme, like a full-on Kate Bush ballad. Usually I will strip away a lot of the production with my songs, but I wanted this song to be an exaggerated inverse of that. I just threw everything in there. That’s why it sounds like all the instruments are battling with each other in the mix.
part where she talks about feeling like an alien just fit the record super well. The universe told me that she had to end the record. Was there any point in the recording process where you felt like you surprised yourself? There was one point on “Bliss Now!” where I was playing every instrument. That was the first time I had ever written a bassline. I wasn’t aware I was capable of taking a song from start to finish all on my own. Same thing with “Utopia Planet” and “Lava,” where I pretty much handled all of the sampling and production. On “Lava,” I manipulated my voice and made this crazy loop where I cut it up, layered it, and pitched it all over the place. That was something I was really happy with, because I didn’t know I could make songs like that myself. Obviously, my collaborators had a hand in the final product, but I was just excited to compose and produce those songs. Those two songs opened up another world for me and I view them as sister songs. Is there anything else that you wanted to touch on or plug? I would like to plug the Illinois Prison Project, which is a great organization that helps incarcerated victims of the Three Strike Law get their sentences reduced or get their records expunged for free.
Tell me a little about the lighthearted spoken word section at the end of the album. That was my grandmother! I just felt that it fit. I always say that I try to remain open to information and inspiration whether it be something I randomly see on the street or not. The title “Bliss Now!” was actually a slogan I came across in a tabloid magazine in a supermarket. I’ve wanted to put my grandma in a song for a while and the
Keep up to date with Lala Lala via socials and listen to I Want the Door to Open when it comes out on October 8th.
Traversing Cultural Whole Lot of Noise with wave, and ‘90s blues, Tom Waits, new lta De the m fro es cu have never been Taking tet Tropical Fuck Storm ar qu ie ind e ssi Au p, hip ho ; and they’re not here to a singular formula ck sti to nd ba of e the typ an Gareth Liddiard table, either. As frontm or mf co el fe u yo ke to ma s that don’t deny we’re “We make pop record d: se es of pr sly ou fam here.” all in a bit of trouble Tackling nuclear war, the rise of new fascisms, and the malaise of early-lockdown existentialism — something the band calls “give-a-fuck fatigue” — Tropical Fuck Storm plumbs the annals of contemporary social ills, disease, and bloodlust on their third album, Deep States (related August 20).
Deep Sta te of the m s delves into th e uglies odern w t recess orld wit the Janu es h n ary Capit ods to Q Anon, ol insur Octavia rection, Butler a and eve lien fan R&B cuts n fiction o like “Ne n jagge w Rome cal Fuck d o Agent. Storm m ” Tropiines the foisted on the p existen ti ublic by pandem the coro al panic ic navirus ing “G.A with songs like .F.F.” an the thun d derthe grim “Bumm aS ly be a sum anger” (“This w doom-ridden as supp mer ban osed to g bumma sanger.” er/Now it’s just another ) Method Man, and of Mark E. Smith, s on si es hanical pr im st s be edback and mec fe up d Liddiard does hi pe op ch oning ainst walls of ovide creepy beck pr nn Du Leonard Cohen ag a ic Er d e woman ona Kitschin an t Ashli Babbit — th ou ab sonic assaults. Fi ng so a ,” taking lue Beam Baby ts — with Liddiard rio l to pi harmonies on “B Ca e th at tenot and killed g to make the lis who was fatally sh ver and managin lo s st in it’ ie bb pr Ba gh of hi e a She’s like (“ ed on the perspectiv as ce de e deliciously mpathy for th derworld.”) The un e th er actually feel sy in er at w ith a sound he walks on ic instrumental w hm yt the driver’s seat/S rh its is ng ne of the so unsettling backbo ren. an ambulance si s or effect that mirr 32
Decay And Making a h Tropical Fuck Storm By Isabel Corp
oughout the Liddiard embodies thr ter ac ar ch ly on the t ry Ever Told,” he And that’s no ck, “The Greatest Sto tra ing en op the th to air his conalbum. Wi ng back from the dead mi co s su Je of le ro bust backing adopts the and Dunn provide a ro hin sc Kit . ind nk ma hu tempt for What you see’s ain’t no end of days/ re he (“T us or ch the choir on anyway.”) nobody listens to me what you get/But hey, On the downtrodden single “Suburbiopia,” Dunn and Kitschin play devil’s advocate for serial murderers, junkies, and suicide cults. “Take my hand, and see…don’t knock nothin ‘til you tried it,” they devilishly howl against shuffling drum machines and synths that sound like malfunctioning androids. “I thought ‘What if all those nutty cults with their fucked up suicide escape plans weren’t wrong and everybody else accusing them of being insane was wrong?’” Liddiard told NME last year, going on to say, “It’s timely not ’cause of the cult thing but because it’s probably a good time to leave the planet.”
We’ve all been living in a Tropical Fuck Storm of our own over the past few years, and this album brings that to light in many unsavory and catchy ways. The final track, “The Confinement of the Quarks,” opens with a vocoder-laden church choir and concludes with a fuzzy, EQ-heavy instrumental; a fitting note to end on for an album that trudges through the uncertain present and future.
In May of this past year, I spent three days recording with Brian McTear of Miner Street Recordings, located in the Fishtown of Philadelphia. Having met him as a child, when my father was trying to expose me to live music, I felt fortunate to have gotten to meet him again as an adult. Brian and his partner, Amy, own Miner Street, the studio that has recorded albums for Philadelphia greats such as The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, Modern Baseball, and Dr. Dog. Both do every job in the studio, from engineering to playing instruments, while also running the studio’s affiliated non-profit, Weathervane Music. Said organization has sought to lift the veil between audiences and the recording process, sharing the intricacies of the craft to have the city invest further in its new artists. Weathervane’s Shaking Through video series captured artists such as Sharon van Etten, Big Thief, and Waxhatchee at their earliest, and through those sedation, audiences got fly-on-the-wall access to their writing and recording processes. Since moving to the city over two decades ago, Brian has made a life for himself not only recording some of Philadelphia’s greats, but through acting as a facilitator in helping the local music industry thrive, and supporting burgeoning musicians and recording engineers. For example, Miner Street’s first intern, Jon Lowe, engineered Taylor’s Swift recent albums, Folklore and evermore. The people who have influenced Brian, and those that he has impacted, are at the heart of what has made him both successful and fulfilled, and he’s on a mission to continue sustaining and supporting Philadelphia’s musicians. We recently sat down to discuss the birth of Miner Street recordings; the people, places, and bands that impacted him; his work at Weathervane; and the future of recorded music.
How did you start Miner Street? I bought my first multitrack tape machine and my Rickenbacker guitar when I was 17. I went to boarding school, and I requested and got a single, so that was kinda my first studio. Then in college, I was always swapping gear in and out. It was really my roommate Jason – we were in a band called Mariner Nine in1994. When we first started doing stuff at a house on Miner Street (in Westchester, PA, the namesake of the studio), we had a cassette four track, one or two microphones, nothing fancy. In 1994, I bought my first “pro” tape machine, an eight track. It was funny because this was right in the heyday of lo-fi recording, which is a really good time to get started as an indie artist. My bandmates actually got to using it before I did. I remember walking in the door and my band looking at me
disappointed like, “I don’t know it just sounds too ‘major label,’” which is hilarious.
and Amy, my partner, are still business partners with that guy all of these years later.
One of my friends at the time was Jesse Jameson who was in a band called The Lucys. He asked me if I could record his demos, so that was the first recording I ever did. The next one would have been the Diane Linkletter experience. Most of them went on to be members of the band The Bigger Lovers, which is a really formative band for me. We just started our studio thinking we would record our own music and then our friends started asking us and wanted to pay us.
How did the studio end up in Fishtown?
In 1996, we moved to Philadelphia and found our first space there. It was an office of a warehouse in Manayunk. In the beginning of 1999, we moved to another warehouse where there just so happened to be another person running a studio. Me
Amy and I lived in Fishtown. In 2001, we started dating and working together in the studio and ended up buying a house in Fishtown. My friend Quinton was in a band called Mazarin and he rented a space below where our studio is now, where the kitchen is. He rented it with a guy from the band The Walkmen – also, the Walkmen are one of coolest bands in the last 20 years. He told us they were renovating the upstairs and we quickly moved out of Manayunk and our new landlords built us a space. We’ve been there for 16 years. Our landlord, who we so generously did all of that for us, just passed away last week. Really close friend. Someone who truly changed my life.
How did holding community as a core value in your work come about? For people my age, in particular, we were heavily influenced by music “scenes” in our teens and twenties. Like, we were heavily into the idea of Athens, GA where like REM and the B52s were. This was before they even used the term “indie rock.” Athens was quickly followed up by Seattle, which was quickly followed up by Chapel Hill, North Carolina. That’s so random to think about now, but that’s where many of my favorite and most influential bands came from, Chapel Hill. It was quickly intuited by that experience, seeing the way other bands interacted with each other, that there was some sort of community sensibility in people that was quickly appealing and something we wanted in on. When you grow up, you stop calling it a “scene” and start calling it community. You really got a ton of your self worth in your community. You really felt a kinship with the bands you wanted to open up for, or wanted to open up for you. As time went on, I started to do a lot of things aside from recording music or producing songs. I would like to read people’s record contracts for them. I wasn’t qualified to do that. I just decided to parcel that off into a separate non-profit
entity in 2009, as Weathervane Music. I used it to express all the things I wanted to do for people because I just wanted to do good to a member of our community. What has been the biggest success for Weathervane? We made a documentary video series that was the first of its kind. There was nothing like Shaking Through. Nothing like that existed. We did 72 episodes of that series and raised all the money just to put our money where our mouth was. We were one of the very first people to share multitracks from recording we did to people who wanted to learn how to record. Music productions used to be very secret. We just took the opposite approach. Like, “Do you want to look under the hood?” People really appreciated it. Certainly that series also captured a lot of people in their earlier years. The first official Shaking Through sessions were with Sharron van Etten. Later, we did one with Mister Twin Sister, and not even 6 months later, we recorded a song with Twin Sister, now Mister Twin Sister, called “Meet the Frownies” that was heavily sampled and ended up being used on Kendrik Lamar’s very first single. How have you seen Philadelphia’s recording landscape change?
When I moved to Philadelphia, it was easily one of the cheapest cities to live in. When I first moved here, everyone wanted to leave. From 1999 - 2010, Amy and I had one of the only studios in Philly, and we recorded everyone. All these big studios in Philly were built on the model of record labels paying them to record bands. When it all dried up, we just happened to have a studio designed to have bands themselves pay for it. It wasn’t on purpose. We were in the newspaper every week because a record we recorded was put out. It was kinda awesome. Recording used to be really exclusive. The democratization of all of this stuff is great, but on the flipside, there’s almost no chance a person can make money doing it. The reality now is supply-and-demand and record services are not physically worth what they were in the past. Music is not anywhere near what it was worth in the past. Eventually, people started home recording; home recording was how I got started. In those first two years of DIY in the early 90s, well, by 2010, it was fully there and everyday, people could record themselves. It was consumerized. It was 2011/12 – there were competing studios, and there’s a ton now. All that rampant sharing of ideas we did, and others turned into empowering competition,
home and one of my band mates being like, “I’d love to do what [the engineer] does,” and I was like, “No way, I would never ever want to do it.” But, I fell backwards into it because I It’s all become much more bought equipment to record professionalized. Even myself and my own band. bands who start brand The most influential thing new today kinda start at it wanting to be a professional. for me is coming at it from a community perspective, I bet they did a lot of things like, solving problems. I was wrong before doing things really excited and good at right. figuring out how to find out When we were in the studio, the unknowns. you had your own processes My friend Jon Lowe, who and experimental methods was our first intern, he just to get the sound you do. recorded both of Taylor What led to the way you Swift’s albums. He worked record, specifically? with me and Amy for 10 First of all, I never wanted to years before he moved be an engineer. I remember recording with my band in D.C. and I remember driving dramatically undercut ourselves. I don’t regret it; I’m proud of that. Society as a whole is better the more people are creative.
upstate New York to work at Aaron Dessner’s studio. Since he left Miner Street, he said to me that he missed that wide-eyed sense of discovery. I think that’s a really good assessment of what’s influential to me. I derived all my best friends in life from recording with them; all my best friends in life ever, 9/10 I recorded an album with. For me, it’s coming from a perspective of not trying to be the “hip influencer,” but more genuinely trying to figure out what they do well and nobody else does and focusing on that and genuinely trying to figure out a solution on how to
complete something. I really don’t think of the way things sound; I definitely created all my own sounds, but it wasn’t necessarily that I set out to do that initially. They were all just sort of solutions to problems. I don’t like plugins – just because they are consumer grade products everybody has access too. I’m much more interested in processing my sounds in methods no one has ever used before. I’d be much happier if I used all new processes no one has ever used, versus if it sounded good or not. One time, instead of using a reverb plugin, we went up into the mountains in the Delaware water gap and bought a set of speakers and microphones with us and blasted [the vocalist’s] voice off the side of a mountain and recorded the echo back. Despite your analog sensibilities, you’ve spoken a lot about your excitement
over NFTs...could you speak more on that? I would start by saying the genesis of record music is at this point 100 years ago. You record a song with a single audio track and you sit back and you listen to it. If you look back to
1930, think of what’s changed since then. Everyday people in 1930 were very unlikely to ever step foot within a mile of a recording studio. The passive user experience of just listening to someone is like, insanely overdue for an update. I believe we are
more creative. It’s astounding how not creative we’ve been in actually updating those mediums. Music has been an almost worthless commodity for like 20 years now. It’s been 100 percent a digitally piratable thing for a long time. There is tons of supply that demand can’t even keep up with supply, and as a result the only way a person can make money with music is to have it pressed to vinyl. Vinyl is made in one place in Thailand or China. In Thailand its well known the by product of polyvinyl chloride are insanely carcinogenic. And they dump it in the river. That’s how a musician can make money - is to have that awful shit happen. I know its like deeply nostalgic but it’s kind of a bummer. It’s the same shit that poisoned rivers in california for 40 years and made it so the Boston harbor caught on fire in the 1970s.
It’s just not in our backyard anymore. So, when you’re talking about NFTs and Blockchain, in general, it’s highly inefficient when it comes to electricity as of this moment. But, even in the last three months, the environmental impact of it has diminished. In a year from now, it’ll very likely be that creating an NFT has about the same footprint as a tweet. Nobody knows what they are gonna be. Nobody knows what art form is going to emerge. Nobody is even thinking or envisioning anything. I’m really surprised. I’m not that creative, but the promise of NFT is an entirely new artform. Because of the times we are in right now, it’s just being written, and if you do it, you’re a pioneer. Nobody we knew was a pioneer in music, nobody. Maybe in some aspect, but to pioneer a new art form…that’s crazy. You can take any tiny skill people have and turn it into a new artform. It could be non-piratable. The artists who make these things could continue to earn revenue for their entire lives. This new art form when people get into it is just wide open. You can’t do anything wrong yet. There are no rules. The thing with NFTs is most people don’t know what the frame of reference is, in terms of what is valuable. Somebody like me should have been scared of the internet because it led to being someone like myself, earning a quarter of what I would’ve earned if that Internet thing never happened. The promise of NFT is you can make a living if everything goes right – the sad part is that artists are the first people to sell themselves out – but if everyone resists that,
there’s an opportunity to hit the reset button, to realize a world again where art and making art is a life-sustaining career. weathervanemusic.org minerstreet.com Photos by Brian McTear
WRITTEN BY: MINA JOHNSON
For years, women have faced being disrespected, overworked, and underpaid in many different facets of the working world. Working in male-dominated industries is a harsh reality for most women, whether in STEM, business, or creative fields; being told you’re not smart enough, not experienced enough, and not tough enough are just a few of the comments women deal with everyday. I’ve worked in the music industry for four years now and have worn many hats, from student, to journalist, to intern, to co-founder. Safe to say, I’ve seen a lot of unfair treatment as a woman in the music industry, particularly from men who oftentimes share the same (or less) experience than myself and my non-male peers. Whether it's snide remarks about a class project, or the lack of concern for a woman’s input on a release rollout, women in the music industry are still regarded with a lacking sense of respect, which, in 2021, is unacceptable. It’s hard to be a woman in any industry, but particularly, in one where men are revered for being loud, sexual, and open about experiences good and bad, while women are shamed, shut down, and questioned for doing the same. Take Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez for example: following a situation in 2020 when Lanez shot Megan in the foot following a party, Megan was shut down by the media for speaking out against Lanez (which, at first, she did without using his name), while he put out a full length studio album regarding the situation and faced
little consequence. Or, think about Lorde, who recently called critics out for giving producer Jack Antonoff (of Bleachers, who has production credits with Taylor Swift, St. Vincent, Clairo) too much credit for her own music, telling New York Times reporter Joe Coscarelli, “I haven't made a ‘Jack Antonoff record,’ I've made a Lorde record, and he's helped me make it and very much deferred to me on production and arrangement.”
In what world is it okay for a woman to be assaulted and be constantly ridiculed for speaking out against her aggressor? And in what world is it okay to give a man so much credit for music that isn’t his? On the other hand, it’s not just women in the spotlight who have fallen victim to the male domination of the music industry. Behind the scenes, the problems are the same. Whether it’s a male manager telling a female publicist the best way for a press campaign to roll out, or a male artist asking a (female-run) record label for more money to fund projects that have yet to be conceptualized, there definitely isn’t a lack of male entitlement on the business side of the industry, too. This has to change. Mina Johnson is a junior Music Industry student at Drexel University and the Co-Founder and Head of Publicity & Marketing at Dime + Dog Records.
photos by Erin Christie 44
Photos captured on July 20th 2021 at the Jungle in Somerville, Massachusetts, on their North American tour with Been Stellar.
Wait! Follow the prompts on page 18!
A few nights ago, I dreamt that I met up with my friend ________________ (Penny artist) and the situation got a little out of control. First, we ran into _______________ and they suggested that we (celebrity) _______________ ___________ to the ___________________. (verb) (adverb) (place) There, we found ____ copies of Penny Magazine with _______________ (#) (fictional character) ________________ on the cover, and a group of ________________ (cont.) (adj.) _______________ wearing _____________ made out of _____________. (noun, plural) (clothing, plural) (noun, plural) When we saw them, we _____________ away, and ended up in a (verb, past tense) ____________ field. The sky was __________, it was raining __________, (noun) (color) (noun, plural) and we could hear a song called “_______________ ________________ (adj.) (noun, plural) in ___________” performed by ____________, playing in the distance. (city) (celebrity) When I woke up, I was extremely ___________. (feeling) Share your story with us on socials! @pennythemag 49
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Photography by Charlie Boss and Britni West 50
Indigo De Souza
may be the next big thing, but she’s enjoying her quiet life in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. The daughter of a free-spirited visual artist (who painted both her album covers) and a Brazilian Bossa Nova guitarist, she always felt that music was the best catharsis for her shyness and vulnerability. She ﬁrmly cemented herself in the North Carolina DIY scene, traveling around the state to perform at house shows and independently released her ﬁrst album, I Love My Mom, in 2019. Immediately, her unadulterated vulnerability deeply resonated with her fellow sad, tattooed twenty-somethings, leading her to attract fans of the likes of Alex G, Beach Bunny, and Hippo Campus. Throughout, she chronicles electrifying moments of self-exploration, interspersed with haunting episodes of debilitating loneliness, and rather than shying away from the human experience, she overﬂows with tenderness. By embracing the full spectrum of emotion, she provides a space for her and her listeners to commiserate, process, and heal. On Any Shape You Take, De Souza uses her evolving sound as a vessel to grapple with personal struggles in an increasingly turbulent world. Throughout the entire album, wretched lows compliment dizzying, euphoric highs. She ventures away from the fuzzy garage rock inﬂuences on her ﬁrst album, instead ﬂirting with hyperpop and an Angel Olsen-like warble. Her voice crescendos and softens as she intimately connects the dots between periods of euphoria and despair, anchored by grungy bass lines and dotted with glittery synths. Her most experimental song, “Real Pain,” climaxes in a cacophony of crowdsourced screams, turning individual suﬀering into something communal. “Hold U,” on the other hand, supplies catchy hooks and danceable grooves, strung together by quiet percussion that embodies the familiarity and warmth of a house party. She embraces her insecurities, rather than trying to outrun them. Equal parts jubilation and angst, Any Shape You Take proves that despite our separate experiences, we’re all tied together through our own peaks and valleys. 51
I recently chatted with Indigo over Zoom to discuss the album and much more. In a press release, you discuss that “Any Shape You Take” is about seeing people through change and accepting them in all their forms. “Hold U” starts oﬀ with really beautiful synths, and “17” is an older song of yours, but this new recording has these warped, glitchy vocals. Each of these songs are major shifts from the garage punk and folk inﬂuences on I Love My Mom. How has your sound evolved and what inspired you to choose these speciﬁc techniques? I don’t know, that kind of question is hard for me to answer sometimes because it’s kind of a mystery to me. I deﬁnitely just listened to a lot of pop music — in the past couple of years, I’ve listened to more pop music than ever in my life. Especially during the pandemic, I was listening to pop music and dancing a lot. I wasn’t as focused on darker-toned music, so I think that comes through in this album.
That section felt really important when the pandemic was going on because there was this feeling of collective pain, confusion, sadness, and just a weight to everything. That’s something that I’ve felt all the time before the pandemic since I couldn’t make sense of anything, any kind of consciousness. It felt like the pandemic brought that feeling to the surface for everyone. For the ﬁrst time, it felt like everyone in the world had something in common. That was really powerful to me, especially because of how separate we are in our minds. We all have such diﬀerent brains, ways of thinking, and perspectives. The pandemic brought us all together in a strange way for a brief moment. I really wanted the song to reﬂect that.
Darkness and pain, especially felt collectively, are major themes of this album. Your song “Real Pain” features crowdsourced audio recordings of screams and yells. It reminds me a lot of that scene in Midsommar with all the women screaming alongside Dani. Can you talk a bit about the beneﬁt of feeling pain communally, especially as it relates to the pandemic?
In your press release for “Real Pain,” you talk about creating a space that allows others to fully feel their emotions. What kind of community are you hoping to create through your music? Mostly, I’m just hoping to create a safe space for people to feel the full spectrum of emotion and to process their lives in a way that’s actually grounded and accepting of their own extremities. I just want people to feel like it’s okay to take a moment to process their feelings instead of having to keep up with society at such a fast pace. The world we live in isn’t built for emotional humans; it’s built for robots. I think that’s what I want people to get out of my music. I just want to create a community where we’re all uplifting each other and celebrating each other’s energies and bodies. I love that, I think that’s so beautiful. I think the pandemic really forced us to slow down and take stock of our own emotions and it’s really special that you’ve cultivated an environment built around self-exploration and honesty. Do you think vulnerability plays a large role in your music? For sure! I think that I feel that if you’re vulnerable around other people, it oﬀers them the space to do the same. I really want to wear everything I’m feeling on my sleeve at all times because, hopefully, that will give others the courage to do the same. I Love My Mom was recorded in your friend’s basement, which really enhances the rawness of the songs. Since then, you’ve signed to Saddle Creek (Hop Along, Big Thief) and you worked with Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee) on your new album, which was recorded at Betty’s (Sylvan Esso’s studio in Chapel Hill, NC). How did these new resources better allow you to capture the full spectrum of human emotion, and how did you ensure that your signature tenderness wasn’t dampened by overproduction? Everyone was really sweet about the production. I felt very heard by everyone and like my ideas were really respected. I gained a lot of trust in myself throughout the recording process because of that safe space they created for me. 54
It was very diﬀerent from the DIY experience, but it was really nice to have the opportunity to work with as many tools and resources as I had. It kind of felt like any sound I wanted to make or any idea I wanted to explore was possible. That was a really nice feeling; it was kind of limitless. It was very diﬀerent, but it felt like there was still room for tenderness. Can you talk a bit about your creative process and how, if at all, it changed from one album to the next? If anything, when I recorded I Love My Mom, I wasn’t really used to recording yet. I also wasn’t used to playing with a band. We hadn’t even gone on our ﬁrst tour when we recorded the album. It was all just a very diﬀerent experience from this album, and with years in between. It’ll be interesting to compare what it felt like to record Any Shape You Take and this next one because I’ll be at a more level place. There was just so much evolution. Did you have trouble writing any of the tracks on the album? I don’t know, I can’t remember having trouble writing any of them. I think, whenever I write a whole song, it comes pretty easily. If it needs to come out, it’ll come out fully. What new song are you most excited to perform live? I’m really excited to perform “Pretty Pictures” and I really like performing “Real Pain.” Do you have any pre-show rituals? Not really, I just normally take a shot of whiskey right before I go on stage. I just try to relax as much as I can. I don’t like to be around a ton of people before I go on stage. On another note, who’s an artist that you want to collaborate with? I don’t really think about it that much, but I do really want to collaborate with pop producers eventually, because it seems like it would be so much fun. I’ve always wanted to collaborate with Mura Masa, too.
Last question! What have you been listening to lately?
And when did you realize that music was a career and not just a hobby? I realized that when I was around 11 or 12 because I was performing a lot when I was very young. I became very focused on it and wanted to pursue it as a career from that age. 2019 was when I realized that I could actually do it.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Tirzah lately. I’ve also really enjoyed the new song that NAO put out. I’m obsessed with the new Caroline Polachek song, “Bunny is a Rider.” Otherwise, I’ve been gooﬁng around to Fanny Pack. Other than that, I’m always listening to Arthur Russell, he’s one of my favorites. I also really like Happyness and Fontaines DC, they’re some of my favorite bands at the moment. Keep up to date with Indigo de Souza via her socials, and listen to Any Shape You Take, out now!
That’s when my doubt about being able to support myself started to fade because I came into this team of people who were so supportive and encouraging, especially my booking agent, my lawyer, my manager, and my label. Once those things fell into place, I felt like I had a family that was going to help me get to where I wanted to be. I guess it’s kind of recent that I’ve actually felt that I could really do it, because it takes a long time to feel supported in the music industry.
Call Me If CREATOR YOU GET LOST YOU GET LOST YOU GET LOST YOU GET LOST
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Photography and Interview By Erin Christie 59
Ultimately, Trophy WifeWife is a isstrong Ultimately, Trophy a strong addition to the “angry lady” musiaddition to the “angry lady” musical cal canon, canon,and andaadeﬁnite definiteOne OneTo To Watch. Watch. Shortly following Bruiser’s Shortly following Bruiser’s release in release in August, I satwith down with August, I sat down McKenzie to McKenzie discuss thethe album, discusstothe album, local Allston the scene, local Allston scene, and more. and more. To start, forfor someone who To start, someone who doesn’t doesn't whoare you are andyou do, knowknow who you and what what you do, how would youthem in- to how would you introduce troduce them to Trophy Wife? Trophy Wife? McKenzie Iazzetta: I go Iby McKenzie Iazzetta: goTrophy by Trophy Wife. AndAnd I make indieindie rockrock music, Wife. I make music, andand it's kind of cool. It’s good, I I hope, it’s kind of cool. It’s good, hope, and Spotify! and it’sit's onon Spotify! So, So, going into compiling Bruisgoing into compiling Bruiser, er, did startwith withthe theintention inten- to did you you start tioncreate to create full album, a fullaalbum, or wasorit more waslike it more like a where situation a situation you had a lot where you hadstockpiled a lot of material of material and decided stockpiled and together? decided to put to put them them together?
MI: MI: Yeah, kindkind of the ladder; I didI not intend to. Ito. wrote Yeah, of the ladder; did not intend I wrote all the all the songs a very period — like the song on it, songs overover a very longlong timetime period — like the first ﬁrstI song it, I wrote when and Iback then, I under a wroteon when I was 18, andI was back18, then, had released haddifferent releasedname, under the a diﬀerent name, the“Guts.” song was song was named And then, two of named "Guts."I And then, two of the songs I wrote the songs wrote at the beginning of 2020. Andatthen one of the the beginning 2020.like, Andinthen of the songs they songs I of wrote, like, one November or something. wrote, like, in like, November, or gotcha or something. Though a lot of the songs were written separately, do you Though a lot ofthere’s the songs written separately, still feel like still were a thread that weaves throughout the do you stillconnecting feel like there's still a thread that record, everything? weaves throughout the record, connecting everything? MI: I feel like there’s a thread in that a lot of them are about avoidance, like trying to Cool Girl your way out of things. I feel MI: like, I feelhonestly, like there's thread in I’m thattalking a lot oftothem areabout [the theamore that people about avoidance, like trying to Cool Girl your wayI’m outrealizing record] and people are asking me questions, of things. I feelthere like honestly, more that At I'mfirst, talking more that is actuallythe is [a thread]. I was like, to people about not,” [the record] and people are asking meyeah, “No, there’s but, now, there definitely is. But questions, realizing more that thereyou is actually is you’re [a [they’reI'm about] all the gross things feel when thread]. I was like, "No, there's not," but, now, beingAta ﬁrst, person. there deﬁnitely is. But yeah, there are all the gross things youthere feel any when you're being a person. Were planned-out themes or ideas that you wanted to bury in the record, aside from themes that you Were there any planned-out might’ve noticed after the themes fact? or ideas that you wanted to bury in the record, aside from themes that you might've noticed after the fact? MI: I feel like a lot — especially the last ones — are about the people, and just everybody MI: way I feelthat likeIafeel lot like — especially theme lastincluded, ones — are at our uses relationships about the age, way kind that of I feel like people, andand me meeting included,people and like that a kind of game. I feel like all of them have a juststuff everybody atas our age kind of uses relationships andkind meeting people and stuﬀ like that as a kind of of underlying thing of like, “who wins at things?” game. I feel like all of them have a kind of underlying thing of like, "who wins at things?"
Like, people are rude to andcan then I tell Like transactional, or me "What I gain them that the IAlamo venfrom theI run people meet?"[an MI:Allston Yeah, like, ue],people and they’re like,to “Oh, are rude me my andgosh, then that’s I tell so cool!” Super uncomfortable. them that I run the Alamo [an Allston venue], and they're like, "Oh, my gosh, Speaking the Allston scene, in terms that's soof cool!" Super uncomfortable. of growing as an artist here, do you think thereSpeaking will be anyofspecific things that you the Allston scene, in willterms take away from Boston thishere, time of growing as an and artist specifically, eventhere whenwill you’re no longer do you think be any spehere? Is therethat anything thattake stands out ciﬁc things you will away about being in this scene to you? from Boston and this time speciﬁcally, even when you're no longer here? Is there anything that stands MI: I mean, I think out that about being in this you?in the scene music to scene
Allston is very Allston. MI: I mean, I think that thea music scene Definitely very specific in Allston iskind veryofAllston. peopleDeﬁnitely and kind aof very speciﬁc, music, kind offor people and kind the most part. of music, for the And I feel Andmost I feelpart. like everybody like everybody who's who’saamusician musicianoften often takes little things takes from each other. But, little things from mostly, everyone's cool with collaborateach other. But, mostly, ing and learning from each other beeveryone’s cool with cause we're all pretty young. collaborating and learning
from each other because I we’re all pretty young.
general, how you about InIngeneral, how dodo you feelfeel about the the fact the album outpeople and that thatfact the that album is out andisthat are people areAdditionally, taking it in?it’s Additionally, taking it in? kind of cool cool to likeadded your to stuﬀ gettoit's likekind yourof stuff getting playlists andadded you getting coverage, that ting to playlists and but youdoes getting feel daunting at all, or is it mostly just coverage, but does that feel daunting exciting? at all, or is it mostly just exciting? MI:Yeah, Yeah,it's it’scool. cool.I Ifeel feellike likeevery everytime timeI I MI: release music, though, I’m like, [reception] release music, though, I'm like, [reception] is the last thing I’ll ever consider. Every is the last thing ever consider. Every single time I’ve everI'llreleased anything, I’m single time I've so ever released like, “Awesome, that was theanything, last song like,capable "Awesome, so thatbecause was the Ilast I’mI'm ever of writing” feel songafterward I'm ever capable like is alwaysofawriting" period ofbecause writer’s I feel for likeaafterward always a period of block while. I’misjust like, “Yeah, I just writer's block music for a while. I'mBut, justhopelike, can’t ever make again.” "Yeah, I just can't ever Imake music again." fully, that’s not true! feel like, other than But, hopefully, that's not true! I feel like, that, it’s cool. other than that, it's cool. I like seeing when people add my songs to playlists. Sometimes, they hilariI like seeing when people add myhave songs to ous playlist names,they like,have I gothilarious added to playlists. Sometimes somebody’s apology it was called playlist names, like, I playlist; got added to somesomething like “I’m playlist; sorry, Julia” [laughs]. body's apology it was called I think it was song “Ask Me [laughs]. Anything.” something likemy "I'm sorry, Julia" I I was just my like,song that’s upsetting [laughs]. think it was "Ask Me Anything." I People realize youupsetting can see that stuff, was don’t just like, that's [laughs]. but it’s cool, though. People don't realize youkind canofsee that stuﬀ, but it's kind of cool, though. 61
It also must be kind of weird looking at streaming stats and keeping track of who’s listening, and where these people are coming from, etc, etc. — it quantifies the whole project.
that I could listen to more songs that were less about the pretty feelings or the clean feelings, and more about the ones that you don’t really like, that you’re not proud of.
MI: I mean, I stalk everybody who adds me to a playlist — their name is just right there.
Speaking of the process behind producing everything, what did the collaborative process regarding bringing the album together look like?
Speaking of curated playlists, though, if you had to put yourself in a listener’s shoes and try to curate a playlist including songs from Bruiser, what would that look like to you, and what artists might make it on there? MI: I feel like, most of the time, when I see playlists that people have added me to, it’s usually with Mitski and Snail Mail...just like, angry ladies, usually. I’m usually just right in there. Do you think that’s sort of accurate concerning your sound/style of music? How would you ideally like to see your sound described, and how would you categorize it? MI: It’s so weird, I feel like it should be so much easier to be able to figure this out, like, that’s just an easy question. I also feel like whenever I answer that question, I’m like, “What if I’m wrong?” Because I feel like there’s the kind of music people think they make, and then there’s the music they make [laughs]. Sometimes I sit down and I’m like, “I’m gonna write this kind of song” and then, it’s just absolutely not like that at all. Genre-wise, I feel like I make angry indie rock, lazy, grungy music. In addition to sonic interpretation, your lyrics and the stories you tell can, of course, be interpreted many different ways depending on the context, and listeners can also add their own meaning to what you’ve written. In general, do you feel like a lot of the songs on this record do have a “true meaning,” or is it more up to the imagination? MI: I think, honestly, I have a page in my Notes app where I write down anything I think of, all the time. So, it’s actually a horrifying place [laughs]. Nobody should ever venture there; it’s awful. So many things that I want no one to ever look at, and I just don’t want to see them either. But, usually, I slowly end up writing chunks of lyrics [there], and then I’m like, “Oh, I should probably turn that into an actual song.” I remember when I was working on mixing and producing the last track, “I’m Getting Better,” the adjective we tried to make it sound like was like ‘through gritted teeth;’ I feel like the feeling that I wanted to evoke was discomfort [laughs]. All the things I ended up writing about were very much things that felt very icky. I always wish 62
MI: Well, I wrote all the songs in my room and shared them with no one for a very long time, because that is how I function, I guess. And then, one day, I was like, “Okay, I should probably not write music alone in my room,” so I showed my roommates, Mario, and Micah. And I was like, “Hey, do any of these songs sound like real songs that would be listened to?” And they kind of helped me narrow them down. Later, Micah was like, “Do you want to record these?” And I was like, “Yeah, yeah, I could do that.” And so, I so we figured we should probably rehearse for it, so I just went in the basement with Mario and Micah and [our friend] Christian, and I was like, “Okay, here are the songs, here’s what they sound like and what I would like them to sound like,” and everyone kind of assisted. I mean, I don’t play bass, so Christian wrote his own bass part, and I don’t know how to play drums, so Micah wrote his own drum part, and I kind of worked with Mario for the second guitar part, just because I feel like that’s like such a melodic line. And then we did rehearse a few times and went to the studio, and it was like, a weekend; it was really fast! And what was the timeline, roughly, between writing, recording, and having it ready? MI: I think Micah said, “You should record these at the studio,” in, like, end of March, maybe? And he kind of pushed me to do it because I was like, “Oh, no, no.” But then we recorded them at the end of May, or somewhere in May. And then we just got all the stems, and we mixed them, and got them mastered right after. It was very speedy. When looking back, whether regarding its thematic material, the process of making it, or whatever else, are there any particular tracks off Bruiser that you feel especially connected to and proud of? MI: I think my favorite one is “I’m Getting Better,” partly because It has so many words in it; it is very long [laughs]. And I wrote [it] the most recently, and I feel like it ended up bringing all the ideas in the other songs together into one song, in a weird way. Because I kind of wrote it in chunks — like, each verse was about a different chunk in mit. So, that’s definitely my favorite one. It’s also my
favorite one to perform, too; it’s fun because it’s ridiculous and long. Regarding the future, do you have any other plans to perthe future, you have any other plans to formRegarding and get these songsdo out there? perform and get these songs out there? MI: Yeah, I mean, I was supposed to play another couple of MI:this Yeah, I mean, I was supposed to play couple I shows summer, but because of COVID it'sanother just like...yeah. of shows this about summer, butday, because of COVID it’s like, just eh, was on the fence it one actually, cos I was like...yeah. I was the fence about it one day, actually, maybe I shouldn't do on shows, but I am vaccinated. But, then I cos on I was like, eh, I shouldn’t doshe shows, but up I the like was a Zoom callmaybe with someone and opened Zoomam call like, "Oh, yeah, just letting youonknow I've call been inside vaccinated. But, then I like was a Zoom with for seven days;and I have vaccinated." And I someone sheCOVID, openedbut up I'm thefully Zoom call like, “Oh, was like, there ityou is!"know I’ve been inside for seven yeah,"Oop, just letting days; I have COVID, but I’m fully vaccinated.” And I was Also,like, a lot“Oop, of [house are areally spaces. Likeare my therevenues] it is!” Also, lot ofsmall [house venues] house, I feel like spaces. it's kindLike of bigger, and has a little more really small my house, I feel like it’s kindroom. of But, sometimes, I goatolittle themore otherroom. houseBut, shows and it's like, bigger, and has sometimes, I go "Oh, to no!" I've seen all my play before, so like, if theLuckily, other house shows andfriends it’s like, “Oh, no!” Luckily, they're bemy playing a show, I've already seen them, and I’vegonna seen all friends play before, so like, if they’re I'll see thembeagain. I'maokay with taking a break, gonna playing show, I’vejust already seen them,but andI'm trying stay positive. I’llto see them again. I’m okay with just taking a break, but I’m trying to stay positive.
Keep up to date with Trophy Wife on socials and listen to Bruiser, out now!I remember when I was working on mixing and producing the last track, "I'm Getting Better," the adjective we tried to make it sound like was like 'through gritted teeth;' I feel like the feeling that I wanted to evoke was discomfort [laughs]. All the things I ended up writing about were very much things that felt very icky. I always wish that I could listen to more songs that were less about the pretty feelings or the clean feelings, and more about the ones that you don't really like, that you're not proud of.
Keep up to date with Trophy Wife on socials and listen to Bruiser, out now!
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