Penny 3.3 ft. Slow Hollows

Page 1




King Isis Bares All (4)

Live in New York with Ultra Q (12)

“Why is it so Awful to Pretend?” - Slow Hollows’ Austin Feinstein Turns a New Leaf (22)

Brothers Nick and Shane Sullivan of Joyer Push their Abilities and Each Other on Night Songs (28)

Viji - A SXSW Conversation (34)


The Beaches Make Waves in Boston (8)

Spring 2024 Release Radar (32)

photo galleries

The Beaches (8)

Palehound (10)

Ultra Q (16)

The Last Dinner Party (20)


Founder & Editor-in-Chief + Layout/graphics

Erin Christie

Contributing Writers

Erin Christie (4, 12, 22)

Giliann Karon (28, 34)

Greg Wong (8)

Contributing Photographers

Erin Christie (16)

Camryn Montebruno (10)

Emma Valles (Cover, 3, 22)

Grace Watts (20)

Greg Wong (8)

Also Featuring Photos by

Gianni Galant (4)

Nicole Ngai (34)



Hi everyone and welcome back!

Thrilled to present the Penny’s 2024 Spring print issue, featuring a very heartwarming cover story with comeback kid Austin Feinstein of Slow Hollows such an honor to catch up with this musician whose music has truly shaped a lot of my early adulthood Also pleased to showcase some additional conversations with King Isis, Ultra Q, Vij, and Joyer (some of which were orchestrated down at SXSW this year, which is a first for Penny)!

Thanks, as always, for reading along and continuing to support Penny after all th never be able to express how much I sincerely appreciate it <3

Talk again soon!



On March 21, Oakland’s genre-bending superstar in the making, King Isis, returned with a brand new EP entitled shed, their debut release with Dirty Hit and follow-up to their 2023 EP, alt-pop standout scales.

Akin to Willow’s impactfully driven, upfront lyricism and genre-smashing capabilities, King Isis is a project that’s similarly commandeering this era’s resurgence of gritty, generation-bridging punk rock. As established with their previous releases and further cemented with this new collection of tracks, King Isis is the kingpin of this wave of moody, genre-fluid alternative music that bridges the gap between fans of bands such as Paramore and R&B icons like Kelis. With a sound that’s carved out with shredding guitars, moments of slinky melodic bliss, gutteral expressions of innermost

rage, and cathartic releases of pent-up turmoil, their discography truly has something for everyone to enjoy and connect with, if not to marvel at.

King Isis’ official bio also states that they create music “for those outside the margins,” and they’re hoping to utilize their platform to encourage other young BIPOC artists to push forth, despite how harsh the industry can be

Specifically, the aforementioned shed serves as a means of breaking free for the musician, wherein they fully own their vulnerabilities and ‘shed’ the insecuritydriven, iron-clad, and scaly walls that they instilled to protect them previously. Today, they present themselves as a phoenix, arisen from the ashes, unafraid to embrace earnesty in a way that’s truly unique to them

Shortly before their EP’s arrival, Penny caught up with King Isis to chat all-things shed, and to catch up on their creative c process, growth as a songwriter, and current media obsessions.


Last year’s scales EP served as an ample introduction to your sound and style. Moving forward into the future of King Isis, what hallmarks of that introduction have remained true, in your eyes? And what has been updated to reflect your mentality as a creative currently?

scales dealt a lot with introspection and shadow work It was the beginning of my journey into those worlds. It also showed me how music can allow me to be more full and okay with myself. In these ways I think scales will always remain true in my music Most of my songwriting is almost like writing in my journal to me, and I think that’s an integral part of my creative process. Specifically with the project shed, I’m working through a lot of heavier, darker themes that I danced around on scales I think in that way, my mentality as a creative has shifted a bit in how open I am with my process. For example, I recently finished up a song reflecting on sexual assault and misogynoir within the music industry

Where do you find that your newest material, including the latest single “MONKI”, draws inspiration from on a sonic/thematic level? What music, movies/TV, books, etc have gotten the gears in your head turning recently?

I’m currently reading Another Country by James Baldwin I’m a huge RuPaul’s Drag Race fan so have been keeping a very close eye on season 16 (Nymphia or Sapphira for the win pls!). Also on a huge Love is Blind and The Queer Ultimatum kick I also recently watched Thelma & Louise which has inspired a potential longform visual project encompassing scales, shed, and a third upcoming project. Music wise, I’m obsessed with Saya Grey’s new single and Beyonce’s new country tracks

Can you tell us anything about what’s waiting in the wings in terms of your new project, shed? What can listeners look forward to?

So the new project shed has 5 tracks, I’m really excited about 2 of the tracks that haven’t been released yet because I feel like they explore musical genres I haven’t really showcased yet We also worked on a music video for "NVR RLLY" that I’m really excited to share. It really brings to life the concepts of shadow work and duality that both shed and scales explore. I also love the cover art, so I’m excited to share that with people

On a songwriting level, where does your process typically begin? With your newest material, when did you start to look at everything you were working on as a forthcoming cohesive project?

My process typically begins in my room (usually on my bed or in the closet) with my guitar and my notebook I usually start out just messing around with chords until I find something I like and then record it in voice memos From there I think the hardest part is writing the words Sometimes I’m inspired by specific feelings/situations, but usually, words just come out and I find their meaning later, sometimes even after the song is completed Usually, things start becoming a cohesive project once the songs are fully fleshed out and produced, and I can hear which ideas mesh together.

scales showed me how music can allow me to be more full and okay with myself.

It’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone

How do you feel that your process as a songwriter has adapted and grown over the years? And what about this growth are you most proud of?

Something I was really scared of initially was writing with other people. I still prefer to write my own music alone, but I’m really proud of confronting that challenge and pushing myself as a songwriter to collaborate with other people. Even if that serves as just an exercise in writing, I think it’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone

Your sound has been described with adjectives such as “grunge,” “pop-rock,” “gothica,” etc from a personal perspective, how would you best categorize your music? Or do you prefer to leave it labelless?

I think overall, I prefer to leave it labelless, mostly because I can see parts of my sound in all of those descriptors. I also don’t like the idea of confining my music to any one sound or genre, because I feel like my inspirations are always changing and as a result, so will the music I make But that being said, I think I'll always relate to the fairy grunge aesthetic. Maybe also Black alternative, because I think that’s such an expansive, ground-breaking genre that I’m proud to be a part of and hopefully will inspire other queer/nonbinary/*woman artists to come be a part of it as well.

You’ve mentioned that while your classical training has absolutely had a positive impact on your artistry generally speaking, what about moving on from that and embracing musical freedom in different styles/genres has helped you emerge as the musician you are today?

I started playing classical piano when I was really young. My mom loved music and she wanted me and my sister to learn an instrument I did classical piano for a long time, and in retrospect, I’m really glad I had that opportunity, but it was in a really strict program that sometimes felt inhibiting. But since I was little, I always knew that I wanted to pursue music I always found solace in music and writing in general. When I really started branching out from my classical training, I taught myself guitar in high school, which was heavily inspired by the music that I was listening to at the time A lot of alternative rock! My fave bands were Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Paramore, and some screamo mixed into that, but also singersongwriters mainly for the lyrics I think developing a deep emotional connection with those artists in high school and middle school really inspired my shift into different styles/genres, that still shows its influence in the music that I make today.

I also grew up on a lot of different kinds of music, my mom loves Erykah Badu and Outkast, which I also love, and influences my music. Also, I think growing up in Oakland allowed me to be easily inspired by so many different kinds of music, the jazz community, Bay Area hip hop, there’s a lot of musical and cultural diversity that made it easier for me be more comfortable exploring different genres

Do you remember any distinct “eureka” moments that arose within this period?

I think moving to New York for college was


a big “eureka” moment for me in terms of emerging as the musician I am today I feel like the freedom and self-actualizationexperienced while living in New York, really opened up my ability to write the most vulnerable and authentic songs I had written up until that point, which was a huge turning point for me as an artist/musician. I was finally creating the kind of music I’d always wanted to make, and most importantly finding my own voice through music

How do you feel that your process as a songwriter has adapted and grown over the years? And what about this growth are you most proud of?

Something I was really scared of initially was writing with other people. I still prefer to write my own music alone, but I’m

really proud of confronting that challenge and pushing myself as a songwriter to collaborate with other people. Even if that serves as just an exercise in writing, I think it’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone

Regarding the rest of 2024, what are your goals on a personal level and with King Isis as a holistic entity, an offshoot of yourself?

Some of my goals for 2024 are definitely to go on tour again. Touring has been such an awesome experience and I love getting to see more of the world, maybe a UK/Europe tour? I’d also really love to go to Japan, on a personal level but also to connect with my fans out there! Some other goals are to do an NPR tiny desk, release an album, do some acting/filmrelated things (think Euphoria lol), be a guest judge on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and move the fuck out of LA.

Check out the full-length shed EP, out now on Dirty Hit via all DSPs.


The Beaches Make Waves In Boston

In early May of last year, The Beaches released the first single “Blame Brett” from their second album Blame My Ex Before long, the song went viral and the Canadian rockers have been riding the momentum of that success to a rapidly growing fanbase ever since On March 8, they returned to Massachusetts for the third time in a year to close out the most recent leg of their Blame My Ex tour at Boston’s Royale.

The night began with a performance by Boyish, who injected their shoegaze indie rock with a cathartic dose of screaming as they concluded the opening set with their popular song “FUCK YOU HEATHER ” It was the fans’ turn to scream when The Beaches took their places on stage and dove into their set with “T-Shirt. ” From the power of Jordan Miller’s vocals to the bounding antics of guitarist Leandra Earl, the set was defined by the band’s energy and charisma. They played nearly all of Blame My Ex plus setlist staples like “Fascination, ” “Desdemona, ” and “Kinkade ” The packed crowd at Royale sang along loudly to most songs, but was particularly enthusiastic to shout the catchy chorus lines “Don’t blame me, blame Brett; Blame my ex, blame my ex, blame my ex” back at The Beaches During a break between songs, Miller took the time to reflect on the journey from heartbreak to playing the biggest show of a sold-out tour. That journey is still very much ongoing, and it remains to be seen exactly where it will take The Beaches, but for now they show no signs of slowing down.



We all know the classic story, where childhood friends kick around the idea of becoming rockstars, and form a band in one of their respective basements or garages. As fate would have it, many of these cases result in dreams falling to the wayside as bandmate relationships evolve and sometimes dissolve, childhood homes-turned-practice spaces are moved out of, and interest is lost

Oakland, CA four-piece Ultra Q, thankfully, has withstood the test of time despite it all, with last year finding the arrival of their long-awaited and muchneeded debut LP, My Guardian Angel With that release, the group expanded on their former collection of EPs (including fan favorites tracks such as “Get Yourself A Friend” and “Gool”) and formally introduced listeners to an Ultra Q in peak formation

On Wednesday March 13, Ultra Q dropped a surprise follow-up to their debut, a brand new record entitled Empty Eddy (a need-to-know call-back to their former moniker, Mt. Eddy). Preceded with just one immediately earworm-inducing single (“Waiting”) and released with barely a month of lead time, the album was received with immediate and justified praise, with many of its tracks already becoming some of their most streamed material on Spotify to date.

For many bands, releasing a record with such a quick turnaround might not be a

first choice, but for Ultra Q, this decision makes sense it shows that they still have so much more left in the tank, and even more than they might know what to do with

With a tracklisting that shows them entering a more experimental, exploratory phase in their career, Empty Eddy serves as a testament to their quick-paced upward trajectory and truly underestimated potential.

Take tracks “Mobile Suit” (on which they exercise their early aughts guitar music chops) and “Peace Of Mind” (where frenzied, high-octane instrumentals are met half-way by snarling lyrics delivered


in truly refreshing screamo fashion) for example Most different from past material is “The Week, ” guitarist Enzo Malaspina’s debut as lead songwriter and lyricist The track, built around softspoken distortion and softly plucked strings was added onto the record with the encouragement of the rest of the band, who felt “moved” by it (understandably so!).

This gesture of support Enzo received is a great demonstration of a key factor that helps Ultra Q stand out amongst their peers: the fact that they are truly great ride-or-die friends who continue to, and deeply want to, create and grow alongside each other.

In turn, part of what shapes their understated greatness is the undeniable chemistry between each member of the band Their joy for contributing to this project and dedication to their individual piece of the musical puzzle punches through each track like an anvil to the head, propelling them forward as an immovable, fortified collective This can be seen throughout the band’s discography via the following format: against Chris Malaspina’s forwardthinking and passionately-played drum patterns, lead vocalist/guitarist Jakob Armstrong builds lyrical worlds, resurrected from the ground up with the help of a final cornerstone, bassist Kevin Judd and guitarist Enzo Malaspina

Consistently, these four friends stand strong, especially when performing live If you’ve never been to or experienced the swelling underbelly of the Bay Area music scene, Ultra Q has you covered from the gate, with their charisma on a performance level existing not only in sweaty basement settings, but also permeating through to their recordings.

It’s often been said that “true” rock ‘n’ roll died long ago, replaced with “heartless,” “boring,” and “optics-driven” bands spewing drivel masquerading the classics (as per speculation by critics with their heads up their asses). At least from where

I’m sitting, bands like Ultra Q easily turn those notions on their head, proving without a doubt that rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t died, but has instead become the jumping-off point for bands such as Ultra Q to make an indelible mark on the current musical landscape With albums such as Empty Eddy, I’m reminded that it’s still possible to feel genuinely excited about new music, and I’m offered the chance to celebrate musicianship that’s curious, heartfelt, and genuine.

Following the arrival of Empty Eddy, we caught up with bassist Kevin Judd to learn more about the creative process behind the project, the history of Ultra Q, and much more. Listen to the new record, out now via all DSPs!

To begin, for anyone unaware of Ultra Q, how would you best introduce yourselves and your general vibe?

We are Ultra Q! A rock band from the East Bay who make fun and fast and pretty music, sometimes leaning punk and sometimes leaning alternative, who knows We're comprised of vocalist Jakob Armstrong, guitarist Enzo Malaspina, bassist Kevin Judd (me) and drummer Chris Malaspina We're a band of brothers (literally) and friends from elementary school and high school that have been playing in a band together for 8 years We came up in the East Bay punk scene back when we were in high school and have been going non-stop for a long while!

Take it back to the beginning: what would you say are the most integral parts of the general Ultra Q timeline, taking you from the earliest days with Mt Eddy to now releasing My Guardian Angel and Empty Eddy most recently?

Well, from the very jump in the "Danger" days (pre Mt. Eddy!), it's always been about the shows. Not much time passed before Jakob, Enzo, and Chris started playing shows after starting to jam


together The jamming followed Jakob releasing some songs he had written as the "Jakob Danger" EP That was in 2015; everyone was in high school back then

After about a year of Danger, I (Kevinbass) joined the band, and a few shows later, we became Mt Eddy That first record Chroma dropped that summer 2017 along with our first tour where we really covered some ground over the West Coast and Midwest. We were playing a lot of DIY venues and house shows in those days.

As time brought us to fall 2018, we were all almost out of high school, Jakob and Chris had given college a try and dropped out, and long story short, we ended up deciding to start a new project, Ultra Q. Our music taste had developed and changed over time and wanted to try out something new. In many ways, Ultra Q picked up where Mt. Eddy left off. We got right back on the horse and kept going as Enzo and I were graduating high school

We released a series of EP's beginning with We're Starting to Get Along in Spring 2019 We pretty quickly got the COVID blues just like everyone else but got back on the road starting in Spring 2022 Over COVID, we signed to Royal Mountain Records up in Canada who put out an EP and our debut album My Guardian Angel We've had some lovely touring

experiences in the last few years, and now our second album Empty Eddy just came out just a few weeks ago!!

What events within this timeline in the last year-ish have stood out to you, as well?

One of my favorite experiences we've had in the last year was getting to tour with Wavves and Cloud Nothings last summer They are legendary bands to us and they are so excellent live and so kind. Another stand out to me was the four of us getting together last fall to write Empty Eddy! Because of COVID and work and people moving around the west coast a little, the four of us all being in one place to write songs hadn't happened since before the pandemic. It was so fun and rewarding, we spent time everyday together working on our music.

Speaking of MGA, when approaching your debut record, where did the process begin on a conceptual level?

Funnily, MGA feels like a compilation to us in many ways Songs on that record were written over a great period of time Jakob had accumulated an incredible amount of material over the course of the pandemic, and the ones that were picked for the record are like the greatest hits to us The common thread is the notion of the guardian angel Jakob was writing these songs during an incredibly tumultuous period of his life where escaping into his music was a saving grace When it feels like your world is falling apart being able to fall into your creativity can be a powerful tool to survive

Empty Eddy was by contrast released as a “surprise drop” not too long ago Was this amplified release schedule motivated by an eager excitement to get these songs out in the world after having sat on a lot of that material for a while? Or was it extremely calculated and planned that way all along (haha)?

The release of Empty Eddy could not be more different. MGA had almost a year


and a half between recording and releasing Empty Eddy was really written and constructed in the August/September of last year, and then recorded in November as a live album (except vocals) with a gentleman named Bill Sullivan, and then boom boom, a single and the album in the spring We moved quickly on this record for many reasons including eagerness We are so happy with and proud of this album and we wanted it released as soon as possible (the spring).

We have several great things lined up this spring including the New Colossus festival in NYC and Destroy Boy's Destroyfest which we just played recently. So, while it was not highly calculated to be all mysterious and spontaneous, we did work really had to get this album recorded as quickly as possible and release it as early in the spring as we could!

What events within this timeline in the last year-ish have stood out to you, as well?

One of my favorite experiences we've had in the last year was getting to tour with Wavves and Cloud Nothings last summer They are legendary bands to us and they are so excellent live and so kind Another stand out to me was the four of us getting together last fall to write Empty Eddy! Because of COVID and work and people moving around the west coast a little, the four of us all being in one place to write songs hadn't happened since before the pandemic It was so fun and rewarding, we spent time everyday together working on our music

It’s extremely cool how stylistically adventurous this new record is, too, exhibiting moments of somber semiromanticized reflection balanced against classic Ultra Q hallmarks such as fuzzy guitar solos and frenetic instrumental mania. How did you go about organizing everything into a cohesive project, with these varying extremes considered?

Thank you!! You know what’s funny? To me this album has felt quite cohesive

through the whole process. Thinking about this right now, I predict that may be because I think of our music as what each individual is playing, and it's almost always everyone doin their thing as usual... especially on this record as it was recorded live. I think that is the cohesion factor for me. The album was just the four of us in a room playing for 10 hours a day for a week straight! Now, the track “The Week” is an exception That was written and recorded by Mr Enzo, and that made its way on because we were all so moved by it and proud of that song It had to be on the record

Was determining the tracklisting challenging for this reason, or was there a determination to simply get everything you could on there, no matter the cohesion?

We are huge fans of albums, and between our experience as a band with a few albums under our belts and knowing what we enjoy about the albums that we love was super informative for the tracklisting One of the most important things for tracklisting for me is that every song feels in the right place in reference to the songs before and after (duh lol), but also keeping momentum pushing forward as well as allowing space to breathe or allowing for a different experience when it's the right time!

Would also love to hear if any particular tracks you’ve shared between these two albums hold a particularly special place in your heart (for whatever reason that


Ultra QUltra Q

Ultra Q

at New Colossus Festival NYC
at New Colossus Festival NYC
at New Colossus Festival NYC
Photos by Erin Christie

I'll rattle off a few One of the all-time band favorites is "Saturday," I think my bandmates would agree with me when I say I think it's our most epic song We are so proud of that one Another one from MGA for me is "I Wanna Lose," I think it's one of our best I love everything from the lyrics to the beat and groove to the dynamics; by the time you get to the last chorus and the strings are filling out the song it is just so gorgeous Also some of my favorite lyrics

Potentially my favorite on Empty Eddy is "Meet in the Middle" - that song to me is just very representative of the current era of Ultra Q and I think it rocks so hard, and was so fun to write and record A song that i think shows how far we've come as a band is "Gror " It's an explosive song that is kinda insane, but actually comes from a long lost demo!

Bouncing off what is perhaps song of the year (in my opinion), what is your ideal Saturday?

brunch after. Then I would love to have a relaxed afternoon, maybe go rock climbing, maybe play some video games. and then I'd love to attend or play a show I'm really excited about in the evening!

Between these two records and your previous material too, what aspects of your releases seem to take the longest to perfect in the grand scheme of things? Is it typically case-by-case or do you notice a pattern?

Knowing how and when to release a record is really tricky A lot of being in a band is quite inward, such as practicing, the act of performing, writing and recording, but the act of releasing feels endless in potential opportunity and ways to go about it I know so many bands (including Ultra Q) who have gone months or maybe years sitting on a completed project in an attempt to have the best release possiblesible

What’s funny is this is a losing and winning game There's no right answers, and I think that's why it is hard I think that we better understand what's best for Ultra Q over time, but that's not what would be best for everyone!

Outside of artists that have helped shape the Ultra Q sound over the years, what have you all been listening to personally this year and how has your current rotation influenced your creative process?

Holy cow, honored to hear you say that, it means a lot. My ideal Saturday starts by waking up early and going on a sweet hike with friends and or family, maybe with a swim halfway, and then getting a big

I've been into a bunch of classic emo, hardcore and punk rock like Cap'n Jazz, Have Heart, Jawbreaker, Tsunami, Mineral, etc. oh and all the Caulfield Records, Kolya and Luck of Aleia are so good. Also super into some more alternative and pop-ier bands like the American Analog Set, Elf Power, Camera Obscura, and the Aislers Set. A specific band that comes to mind that's a huge influence on Ultra Q is Superdrag They gotta be one of the best bands ever, as well as their more recent project the Lees of Memory Good ole power pop, a genre that is, has and will be the backbone of Ultra Q's music The may be)!


Replacements are another of the great influences on us, and is constantly in the rotation for life

Closing things out, what’s next for Ultra Q, if you can divulge any details?

Heehee, we got a couple sweet one-offs coming up! We doing Mt Eddy/Ultra Q shows in Berkeley at 924 Gilman, where we got our start in high school, and Los Angeles at the Echo in May! We are really looking forward to those, it's gonna be fun to bring some Mt. Eddy back to 924 Gilman. In July, we're touring with Spiritual Cramp who are and have been one of the sickest punk bands out of the Bay Area. Then later this year we got some sweet stuff lined up that I can't spoil yet!

Finally, what relationship do you guys have with the Japanese “Twilight Zone”esque series Ultra Q? Are you fans, or is the name-sharing coincidental?

Our singer Mr Jakob has long been into film making, videos and photography I've spent hours with him just playing with camcorders and video synths when we were starting ultra q he was super into the TV show Ultra Q and how it was made and all the VFX and stop motion stuff I think it's so cool, its a very interesting TV show that Ultra Q is inspired by despite it being visual art!

Ultra Q’s newest album Empty Eddy is out now on all DSPs.

Stay tuned for more from them, coming soon!



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Interviewby GiliannKaron LeadPhotoby MariaGelsomini
BrothersNickand ShaneSullivanofJOYER JOYER JOYER
1.NightSong 2.SilverMoon 3.DriveAllNight 4.777 5.FallApart 6.WakeUp 7.Star 8.SofterSkin 9.Try 10.RingsABell 11.MasonDixon TheNewLPbyJoyer isoutonApril26 on HittheNorthRecords/Julia'sWarRecords
NIGHT SONGS NIGHT SONGS Listentothenewsingle Listentothenewsingle ““SofterSkin” SofterSkin” ooutnowviaallDSPs! utnowviaallDSPs!

Bright Future

"This album is a small miracle [...] She’s operating on another level right now. " – Stereogum

"There’s no artist whose music feels as inherently magical as Lenker’s does.” – Paste

"Recorded straight to tape with a small group of close confidants, the Big Thief singer’s latest solo album is free-flowing and intuitive, reveling in the space between spontaneity and impermanence." – Pitchfork

The New LP from Adrianne Lenker Out Now on 4AD



OTHER notable releases since our last issue

Shygirl Club Shy MGMT Loss of Life Tierra Whack WORLD WIDE WHACK Erika de Casier Still Talk Show Effigy Mannequin Pussy I Got Heaven Friko Where We’ve Been, Where We Go From Here Lime Garden One More Thing serptentwithfeet GRIP
Faye Webster at the Symphony Kim Gordon The Collective The Jesus and Mary Chain Glasgow Eyes

VIJI A SXSW Conversation

Interview by Giliann Karon
Lead Photo by Nicole Ngai

Austrian-born, London-based Viji brings a sleek and innovative sound to a booming and eclectic South London alternative scene Heavily influenced by glamorous nightlife and the next day’s fate, her debut album So Vanilla came out last year on taste-making label Speedy Wunderground. I caught up with her at SXSW before she played her first show in the States, where we discussed her worldly upbringing, partnership made in heaven with Dan Carey, and decision to let vulnerability peek through an album that was made for grungy club nights and blurry Ubers home

Dan Carey, who produced Black Midi’s Schlagenheim and Fontaines D.C.’s Dogrel, founded the label Speedy Wunderground, which has become synonymous with the next generation of post-punk and indie rock. Thus, Viji has a legendary producer and dedicated fanbase at her disposal. Born and raised in Vienna w craved a music co speaking London wonderf other,” s

Her close from a w “Ambien was tired slow,” sh describin of analo she liste buzzing now ca material on the al from bed Speedy was a na fit.

So Vanilla channels the “indie sleaze” moniker, which she laughs and calls a “trigger,” because “no one uses that term properly!” What once alluded to LCD Soundsystem’s breakthrough self-titled album and James Murphy’s legendary DFA parties has become a catch-all for NYC rich kids who nurture a feedback loop of milquetoast art and nose drugs The next day’s photo dumps are never anyone’s entire lives, nor should they be Viji is one of the cool kids, but doesn’t pretend like she’s devoid of empathy or experiences outside nightlife In fact, she embraces her softness Her “misery makes her holy,” she belts on “Down ” By speckling in slow and vulnerable tracks about romantic betrayal and self-sabotage, she documents what happens outside a cryptic 3 am Instagram story

“When we got to around nine tracks, I asked myself ‘what’s missing? What am I craving?’ I really wanted to add variety.”


She prefers to listen to albums all the way through, so she ensured each track on So Vanilla flows into the next, starting with soft 90s indie pop before cruising into futuristic city pop, all with a guitar-driven underbelly of wistfulness and rage She continues stuffing her toolkit with slick pop and hints of fuzzy shoegaze, all while remaining impressively cohesive. The 40minute album oscillates from hook-laden party anthems to hungover reckonings and back again No matter what, “guitar is my roots and I wanted to stay authentic to that.”

Like the never-ending party nights she sings about, she similarly maintains the impossibly high energy on tour “I asked my bandmates, ‘can we do this for half a year now?’ I’m surrounded with people I genuinely really like and that keeps me from burning out ” She craves the ambitious work and travel schedule but admits she sometimes wishes she could “record an album, promote the shit out of it, tour, and then disappear for a year.”

She’s too busy living the life she sings about to catalog it on social media, apart from some light-hearted Instagram stories and fit pics here and there. Her TikTok and Instagram profiles are a mall goth jumble of dancing videos, fit pics, and snippets from tour “I try not to take TikTok too seriously I won’t look at what’s trending, I’ll just post videos to promote my music or just anything I find funny.” We briefly discuss the merits and pitfalls of social media as an artist before embarking on a tangent about when she skinny-dipped with her band after playing a festival in France. When far too many musicians chase fleeting internet trends, authenticity is a gift

Energetic dance tracks and soulful soliloquies steer Viji far away from monotony. Instead of riding anyone’s coattails, her genre-defying hits carve out a new space in an energetic scene She’s already made waves in UK alternative spaces and it’s only a matter of time before she does the same stateside.

Listen to ‘So Vanilla,’ out now on Speedy Wunderground, and keep up with viji on Instagram (@vijiwater). 36

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