SWIM TEAM: A Q&A with Christelle Bofale


Photos by  John Bergin

Photos by John Bergin


by Anna White

Congolese-American artist Christelle Bofale’s EP Swim Team (Father/Daughter) was released in May, but it’s the perfect listen for a slow, hot summer day spent back-floating on any body of water. On the six-song debut, Bofale explores heartbreak and mental health over a bright sonic backdrop that wavers, shimmering like light patterns at the bottom of a pool. 

Swim Team is hard to pin to a single genre—artful guitar riffs in “Origami Dreams” call to mind indie contemporaries like Soccer Mommy and Alex G, while less-straightforward numbers such as seven-minute-long “U Ochea” rely more heavily on Bofale’s soft, melodic vocals, which flow and dip in a manner more familiar to an early 2000’s pop ballad. 

We spoke with Bofale about depression, skipping swim meets, and her experiences navigating expectations and preconceptions as a Black woman in indie.


Tell me about your new EP, Swim Team. 
Swim Team is a project that came together kind of half on purpose, half by accident. the name is inspired by all my wonderful friends who have been with me throughout the time when I thought I was drowning in my emotions, both happy and sad ones. It’s an ode to the people in your life that you consider to be your “swim team”, and vulnerability — being ok with feeling deeply for a minute.

 

Have you ever been on a swim team?
Yes, I have, and part of me calling the album “swim team” was kind of to redeem myself as far as my swim team experience! I was on the swim team for a while in the sixth grade, and I went to all the practices, but I never went to a single meet. My parents were really busy, and they knew when all the practices were, but it was up to me to let them know when my meets were so they could make sure I was there If I didn’t tell them they wouldn’t know where to take me, and so I would always “forget”. Looking back, I don’t actually think I forgot, I think I just chickened out or got scared. So now it’s full circle. I’ve released something called “swim team”, and I feel a little better about it.

 

I love that! Do you have a favorite song on the EP?
I really love them all, but I would say honestly my favorite [song] to play is “Where to Go”, which is the last one. I think most people’s favorite is probably “Origami Dreams”, which I love, but I like “Where to Go” a lot — It’s so spacey, and kind of seems to just pull you in different directions. I love to play that one, and I always play it live.

Photos by  John Bergin

Photos by John Bergin

What is “Where to Go” about?
“Where to Go” is about my experience with depression. At the time I was taking antidepressants and I was seeing both a therapist and a psychiatric nurse, and I felt like I was being told to just take these pills and things would be fine. That’s why I say, “swallow the pill and figure it out.” When I play that song people have asked me if I was talking about molly or something, but I’m talking about antidepressants! It’s about that feeling of being lost, and feeling like I’m doing all these things — I’m going to therapy, I’m taking my pills, what else is it that I need to do to feel better? Feeling a little helpless. That definitely inspired “Where to Go.”

  

You’re based in Austin — what was it like coming up in that scene?
At first, I didn’t have a band yet, I was just playing my songs solo. I was new to the scene and people knew who I was, but they didn’t know me as a musician, they just knew me as Christelle. At that point, it felt really daunting to try to enter the music scene, or at least the indie-rock one. There are a bunch of music scenes in Austin, but like that indie rock scene seemed really hard to crack because it’s such a white, boys club. I was like, “How can I break into this, how can I fit in?”

 

I started playing shows and it feels like my fears kind of ended up being, not pointless, but people slowly and surely started to accept me and my music. I’ve heard from people in town, “It’s cool to hear something different coming out of Austin,” and while it was kind of a hard nut to crack, I think people are welcoming it with open arms because I think this is a sound Austin really hasn’t seen and adding the fact that it’s from a woman of color, a Black woman, is great. 

 

What genre would you place yourself in?
It’s weird because I feel like my music fits into so many. It has elements of R&B, it has elements of indie rock, it has elements of jazz, folk, and so it’s hard to say what genre it really is. I’ve just been saying indie, indie-rock, alternative. I don’t mind R&B at all, just sometimes there’s this predetermined idea of what kind of music a black woman is going to make, like, oh, she’s either making jazz or R&B or maybe hip hop. I’ve been trying to break out of that.

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“Be persistent. Work with a community.”

What has your experience been like as a Black woman playing indie music?
It’s been really cool! I know people that have been interested in making indie rock music, but it’s this thing that’s not really seen as Black enough or as kind of a white thing, because we’re taught, oh, rock is for white boys. Which is interesting, I feel like, because rock and folk and country were kind of started by Black people, so it’s kind of a reclaiming of guitar playing.

 

There are so many black woman guitarists that I can draw inspiration from, because I’m definitely not the first or the last, but as far as my generation, it’s me, Vagabon … It’s cool to be a part of that. I don’t know if it’s a movement, but I guess I’ll call it a movement for the time being. And it’s been cool meeting other people locally. I’ve been meeting some black local artists who make indie rock or alternative music, and we’ve been slowly building our own community as well. 

 

What advice do you have for musicians starting out who would like to follow in your footsteps?   
Be persistent. Work with a community — a lot of the time people get stuck trying to reach really high and trying to connect with big people, but just start connecting with your local musicians and start building that community. That’s what helped me — I didn’t have anything online, but I was just making friends. Be kind. There’s no formula unless you have really crazy connections with lots of money, the only thing you can do is be persistent, and don’t try to be anyone else. Create your own lane, and stick to your weird sound, whatever it is.

Photos by  John Bergin

Photos by John Bergin

Click here to buy Christelle Bofale’s Swim Team on Father/Daughter.


Stream Swim Team below on Spotify


INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Cherry Glazerr's Clementine Creevy

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Cherry Glazerr frontwoman Clementine Creevy dives into a dense wall of guitar, her hand contorted into a complex augmented position she refers to as the “Psychic Temple Chord.” Thus beings “That’s Not My Real Life,” the fourth track of the band’s third full-length album, Stuffed & Ready. 

Though Stuffed & Ready sonically occupies the same universe as the band’s sophomore record, Apocalipstick, there’s a new sense of maturity. With song titles like “Stupid Fish” and “Wasted Nun” it’s clear the band hasn’t lost its playful sense of humor, but Creevy’s lyrics betray an introspective vulnerability that indicates she might be taking things a little more seriously than she’s previously let on. Instrumentally the album is futuristic but not sterile, maintaining a hold on Creevy’s guitar-rock sensibilities but revealing newfound depth.

The Creevy of Haxel Princess pining for her DIY crush is long gone; on Stuffed & Ready Creevy exudes defiant power. “Don’t hold my hand / don’t be my man,” she cries over a doomsday backdrop on “Daddi,” her delivery more apt to incite battle than reject an unwanted advance.

On the London leg of her most recent tour, Creevy shared her thoughts with Hooligan on dealing with isolation through creation. 


You recently released your third album, Stuffed & Ready—tell me a little about the record.

The record is a lot about power structures and my internal struggle with power. A lot of it is sort of honest self-reflection; in a lot of ways it’s probably my most lyrically raw and honest material.

 Why did you shift more towards introspective writing?

I think it was more sub-perceptual than anything—it wasn’t really a decision that I made more so that it was just a natural shift, a progression in my making of things. I think in our current social-political climate, I sort of felt the need to speak rationally and be around a lot of rational types of thinking, and so I wanted to sort of move away from obfuscation, which I used to hide behind in a lot of ways.

On the album, you talk a lot about spending time alone. You’ve been playing music and touring since you were 19—is that the cause of the isolation you’re referring to?  

No, I wouldn’t say its related to touring, because touring is actually quite a shared experience—you’re constantly with people. I think it’s more of something internal, sort of a state of being that I carry with me all the time, when I’m on tour and when I’m not on tour. I don’t know, it’s just something that I have, I struggle with loneliness even when I have a lot of people around me who love me.  

That’s interesting. Did this contribute to the changes between your previous record, Apocalipstick, and Stuffed & Ready? 

I don’t know, I think it’s just more of a natural evolution of the music more than anything. I’m always ingesting so much music, that I feel like stylistically I’m inspired by different things at different points in time. When I wrote the first album, I was listening to a lot of garage rock, and that’s why I was writing the types of melodic tendencies that I had for that record, and on Apocalipstick I was listening to a lot of more prog; I wanted to maximalize things a bit more. I started to listen to more contemporary music for this record, and for some reason it came out the way it did. Nobody writes anything else, it’s only me

You released Apocalipstick the day after Trump’s inauguration—were the songs on Stuffed & Ready written directly after, in the wake of the change in presidency?

No, I think again, my writing is kind of more subperceptual than I’d like to admit. I think we as art makers are more a product of our society than we are affecting our society. That being said, I’d like to think that the music that I make does create a type of sharing within the world.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what success means to me and why I do what I do, and I’ve started to realize my definition of success is making music, the act of making it. And I think the reason for that is because it’s a way to not be silenced. It’s a way to be able to share something beautiful in the world with people.

When you say you’re not being silenced, do you mean politically, or your personal voice?

I think it’s both, because it’s of course my personal voice mostly, but I’m a part of a system that is itself based on a power structure in which women are marginalized, so I think a lot of who I am is because of this power structure that I live within.

Where does the title Stuffed & Ready come from?

It’s this idea that came to me—what’s most important to me is having a name that is fun to say. There’s no grand meaning with it, but there is an idea behind “stuffed and ready,” the idea that when you’re stuffed you feel incapacitated to do anything except lie on the couch, and this idea of stuffed and ready is feeling ill equipped on how to proceed but getting up and doing it anyways, because if you’re sitting around waiting for perfection you’re never going to get it. It’s always a waste of time rather than just working and creating and living your life.

So now that the album is out in the world, what’s next? You played the singer in a band, Glitterish, on the show Transparent—is there any more acting in your future?

Actually, I just did a little thing that I’m very excited about. I can’t talk about it but it is going to be out in the world soon—it is another Jill Soloway production, and I’m very excited.

 

INTERVIEW: SIR BABYGIRL - ONLY A BOTTOM COULD PULL ALL OF THIS OFF



by Katie Burke

Sir Babygirl’s version of pop music feels like shedding a single tear while popping your pussy in a handstand and your ex is on speakerphone (not talking, just static) and all of this is going on inside your childhood best friend’s bedroom while she writes in her password encrypted diary and somewhere, a knife is being sharpened. Which is to say, it slaps. Kelsie’s voice reigns over DIY pop beats layered with Kelsie’s own distorted and beautiful yelps.

Sir Babygirl has seemingly burst onto the scene out of nowhere, as most artists do. When in reality, this has been in the making since she was a kindergartener. Recounting a childhood memory she tells me, “I was five years old having a conversation with my friend saying, ‘When we grow up and we’re movie stars,’ And she cut me off and was like, ‘I don’t want to be a movie star, I want to be a doctor.’ I was totally taken back, I thought everyone wanted to be a movie star. I was like, ‘NO YOU WANT TO BE A MOVIE STAR EVERYONE DOES.’ Absolutely born with delusion.”

Anyone who has listened to her music knows this is no delusion.

Something that I find even myself having to unlearn is that music, especially music made by women, is not just a diary -- you’re working really hard on this.

I think calculated is one of the funniest insults. Because it’s like, yeah, bitch. We’re smart. Calculated means that you did your fucking homework. I would have to pull these beats out of my own c*nt for people to give me credit.

I feel like when I first met you we were talking about Carly Rae Jepsen and you had such a good answer for why women and queer people love pop music so much...

In the time we’re in right now where everything is overtly political and overtly aware, I think pop music is the best thing to bring you to the immediate. It’s a worthwhile thing to just get to be dumb sometimes. The political can exist there -- or it doesn’t. Marginalized people deserve to have spaces to find catharsis. I can intellectualize pop music all day, but the most I’ll ever get out of it is going to a fucking show and dancing like an idiot.


How do you think that you are queering the music scene, other the obvious of being queer yourself?

This question trips me up more than anything. First off, queer has become monetized, which it never had been before. But the question is, are queer people profiting from that money? I want people to like my music because they like my music. The queerness is just there and it exists. It’s not a gimmick. We’re having this overflow where people are like, “Oh, there are so many queer artists now,” and it’s like no, we’re just allowed to exist more visibly now. I sit atop a heavy pile of privilege. I can be visible, so why not open some doors? I have no interest in being the only dyke in the room. People will ask me, “Oh, what does it feel like to be a queer artist?” and it’s like well what does it feel like to be a fucking straight artist?

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There was a large portion of my life where I denied that I loved pop music and only wanted to listen to like, Bright Eyes. Did you ever have that moment?

Oh my god, yes. My mom got me hooked on pop music when I was a kid. We listened to Christina, Mariah, and Britney. She was like, ‘these are divas and we show them respect.” That’s where I started but I totally strayed from that. Postgrad, I ended up in the Boston DIY scene and just did not fit in. I really had to assimilate. I would be writing music and hearing it as bubble gum pop in my head, but I was in this punk hardcore scene and it just wasn’t acceptable. I tried punk music, but then I was like, “Um, that hurts.” I’m way too much of a diva to be angry all the time. I just want to be mildly upset always. Dictated “hip music” just did not sustain me. Pop music keeps me alive.

A theory I have for why men hate pop music is because it evokes joy. Because something makes you want to dance suddenly it's not artistic or taken seriously.

Flirting with her”. I just want a fucking head-on gay song that doesn’t end in tragedy. I just wanted something so blatant that you could not mistake it for anything other than girls liking girls. When that song came out every review was like, “It’s a song about flirting with someone,”  We can dig in and enjoy these labels and it’s not exclusionary. We can’t engage with queer women in pop culture.

Is it ridiculous to ask you what your favorite thing about yourself is?

No, I love that. The first thing that pops into my head is my resiliency and my intuition. They’re my favorite things because I lost them for a while. The whole process of writing this album was having the determination to find my intuition and ask myself “what do I like?” because even if no one likes this at least I would still have it to dance alone in my room to. In your twenties, you have to figure out how to actually listen to yourself. I had vocal nodes when I got out of college. When I was in Chicago, I was in my deepest depression. I completely gave up. I started to genuinely believe I was delusional like maybe I can’t make music. But then I wrote “Heels” and it sparked me to start rehabilitating my own voice.


You went home to your parent's house after Chicago, was that isolation helpful?

I felt so alone in Chicago and I thought well, I’m not going to feel any worse if I’m actually alone. My parents live in the woods. People would visit me and be like, “You live in the middle of nowhere, aren’t you going insane?” And like of course, I was going insane. It was me, my mom, and my dead dog RIP. She was the reason I didn’t go off the deep end. But there was something in me that wanted me to be isolated, so I listened to that.

Most powerful sign?

I truly in my core think that Aries is the most powerful sign. Vulnerability to them is like a weapon. Like they don’t care that they just told you they’re in love with you because they just moved on to someone else. Unlike me who is like, “I’ll never reveal that I’ve been in love with you for 25 years.”


Do you feel hot today?

I do. I went to the gym and rage sprinted. I do generally feel pretty hot, I just reached a point where I was like well, it's not going to benefit you to not think you’re hot so why don’t you just start thinking you’re hot? I forced myself into a positive thought spiral.


Do you have any questions for me?

Do you think Sir Babygirl is a top or a bottom - there’s no wrong answer.

I would say a lot of top energy but surprisingly, a bottom.

Yeah, I guess only a bottom could pull all of this off.

Okay, that’s the title of the article.



It’s 9 pm on a Friday night in Chicago and Kelsie Hogue of Sir Babygirl has food poisoning. Although you wouldn’t know it except before starting “Everyone is a Bad Friend” she shouts, “I’m on an anti-diarrheal!” The crowd is studded with Kelsie’s friends from when she lived here, who she spots and yells out to. There are fans holding signs of Kelsie’s dead dog (RIP), Baby Diva, which eventually gets gently crowd surfed up to them. Between each song, there are nostalgic interludes featuring early ‘2000s culture, like a sound bit of Hilary Duff saying, “I’m Lizzie McGuire and you’re watching Disney channel” and suddenly I'm in the basement of my parent's house, in my childhood bedroom or my cousins living room choreographing a dance to songs from NOW 15. I want to play the game where you spin until you fall down.

Before her last song,“Heels”, everyone is invited to the stage to dance. Obviously, I go up. Holding my purse in one hand, while using the other to point maniacally around (dancing?), I am reminded again of the sanctity of pop music. It spans beyond the bubble of a proposed safe space, which we all know is relative. But in my chest, I feel something unwind. The simplicity of it is this - I want to shake my ass on stage next to someone I see myself in. Maybe I don’t know how to write about music. But I do know this -- a man’s opinion on pop? You can’t dance to that.

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INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Helena Deland



by Mackenzie Werner

Helena Deland is an electrifying chanteuse from Montreal who released 4 EPs this year as four chapters of a series "Altogether Unaccompanied". 

I first became aware of Helena's music when seeing her perform as a solo singer-songwriter in Calgary, Alberta in the summer of 2017. I was struck by her elliptical narratives and bright, clear voice and brought her debut EP "Drawing Room" (2016) into my heavy rotation. 

In the time since she has added a full band, lush, new sounds, and high concepts to her work. Hooligan was thrilled to sit down with her before a recent show, where Gia Margaret opened. Here is our conversation: 


Helena: I had an interview the other day that I had forgotten about, a call, a phoner, and the guy …. I was in the bath, and he just called me up, I wasn’t sure who it was at first and he kind of was more of the “let’s have a conversation” style, so it took the longest time before I realized what was going on. He was like “Hey! Helena! Helena Boxing! Like that Lynch’s daughter’s movie…

Mack: (laughing) and you were like, “Okay, we’re doing this!)”

I wanna start with a question about you calling your music “sincere pop”, I know that a lot of people ask you about that, but I was just wondering because I really like that name that you gave it and I feel like there’s been this cultural shift away from apathy, where people are really craving sincerity and earnestness, and I was wondering how that shift has felt for you and informed your music (if it has), and how that’s felt for you as a creator.

Helena: I’m really afraid of it being misinterpreted. It is something that I liked the sound of; I guess it implies that pop isn’t always sincere, which isn’t what I want to do.

M: Especially because there’s a stigma against pop a lot of the time, and women who make pop especially.

H: Exactly, and I did feel like kind of disdain towards pop growing up, just because I grew up in the early ‘90s, and my mom was kind of like “you shouldn’t support Britney Spears’ message” and I feel like I was really impressed by that, like it’s not feminist to support…. Pop legends are probably not feminists, and that was a huge thing for me growing up, and I only really recently started enjoying pop in my twenties  probably and it’s been such a revelation.

I feel like your question was more about the shift in resenting apathy…

M: Yeah, I feel like maybe five to ten years ago the main cultural idea was to be apathetic

H: Yeah, and ironic.

M: Yeah, ironic, and there’s been a big push back against that recently.

H: Well, I’m happy to hear you say that, because I haven’t really noticed that honestly. But yeah, I guess it’s true.  It’s such a part of how you want to present yourself as not wanting to take yourself too seriously, but yeah, it’s a tough thing to deal with. It was such a thing in all of culture, to have that distance, which I’ve never been able to really have with my music. I was so scared at first, I’ve been validated since, and I’ve changed my perspective on it, being sincere, but I was so scared at first of making myself vulnerable. Because it’s raw. But, you know, now [I know] that’s actually what I want to do -- the thing that will be the most true, and be as sincere as possible. [I want to] embrace that.

M: Well, good job doing that, because that’s hard to do.

H: Yeah, it’s easier at first, but then for it to become public, that’s the scary part.

M: Totally. With you being from Montreal, and being bilingual, French and English, I was wondering if your music being in English, and your life in Montreal being more in French, if that gives you some sort of distance between your personal life and your performer life.

H: It did at first, for sure, it felt like such a venue to express stuff. There are so many reasons why I write in English, but that was I think one of them, at least thinking about playing those first shows in front of like 30 friends, and being like, “oh these can’t be in French…. They know.” I mean, they know anyway. There is something about, saying some things that aren’t easy to say in conversation, or face-to-face, in a language that’s not the one you use when you’re together. But I also wonder, because French is a language I’m more comfortable with, that I navigate a little bit better than English, I wonder what if English were my first language, if it would be different. Hard to tell what it would change but, I wonder if it would be easier to write in it. But maybe it also gives me a distance that’s playful, or freer in a way.

M: When you’re writing do you ever think of your lyrics first in French and then…

H: No, but sometimes I’ll hear a song.  Like, I’ve been listening to Adrianne Lenker’s album (we both make sounds of warm recognition and laugh), and oh my god, it just feels like she has nothing stopping her from writing such beautiful lyrics. It came to mind, is it kind of a detour to be French first and then writing in English?

M: And talk about someone who’s raw and vulnerable in their lyrics…

H: And seems to have no problem with that! It’s so impressive how close to her her lyrics seem, and apparently she’s so prolific and just has so many songs.

M: Yeah, I think she produces more than her record label can keep up with.

H: It’s really exciting.

M: We’re all blessed.

H: Exactly.

M: You mention Adrianne, and I want to ask you what other releases have come out this year that you’ve been really excited about.

H: Mmm, okay, Tirzah! She’s got such an angle on music that’s so refreshing, I find. She was introduced to me by my booker, it’s his favorite album this year, and I was really excited.  It really moves me. I find it so alive that it grew really addictive. It’s a specific feeling that I can’t find, when I want to listen to Tirzah it’s just automatically, that’s the only thing that’s gonna do that. Apart from that … I found Yves Tumor’s album really interesting. They are this really multi-dimensional project that, this album, I’ve been enjoying getting really familiar with it. It doesn’t feel accessible to me, but it does feel magnetic in a way. I also liked Jenny Hval’s (we toss a few guesses at pronunciation back and forth and laugh) EP that she put out.

M: And she put out a novel this year too.

H: I know! I can’t wait, I’m very curious. Did you read it?

M: Not yet, but I can’t wait to. People that I know who’ve read it have devoured it.

H: Yeah, that shift is so interesting, I find. And it’s interesting that it doesn’t happen more, that singer-songwriters don’t write more fiction or prose, but it’s something that I’m really interested in for sure.

M: Yeah, I just heard that Japanese Breakfast is writing a memoir, and just gave a lecture.

H: Wow! That’s crazy, that’s amazing.

M: I feel like those boundaries are being crossed more.

H: Maybe since Bob Dylan won (laughing) the Nobel Prize for literature

M: Yeah, and I think there’s less of an idea of boxing yourself in to one discipline.

H: Totally.

M: Besides music do make any other types of art?

H: Not really, I write a lot. I write pretty continuously, but I don’t have a project. I hope I will someday. That is something that I’m really drawn to, but it seems like such a tedious practice, and you really have to have a lot of time to do it. I read as much as I can, because that’s what I most love doing. I’ve noticed that in phases when I forget about reading I just feel like crap, it’s my favorite hobby.

M: Was there anything you were reading while you were writing the songs for Altogether Unaccompanied that really informed that process?

H: Yes, there were a couple, there’s this French word that means, “to take a shape and move it from one area to another.’ I don’t know what it would be in English, but there were some that made their way like that into the songs. There’s Carson McCullers’ poems, she wrote a song about, the way I interpreted it, the way I used it.  She has a line that’s, “no longer is a stone a stone”, which is one of my song titles. Also I read this novel Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, it’s so beautiful! It hadn’t happened for me in a while that I’ve transcribed so much, it’s an amazing way of seeing things.

M: That’s a magical feeling.

H: It really is, when you’re like “finally, this makes so much sense!” and the, I guess, just her characters feel really familiar, which is a nice feeling as well. The sentence “Altogether Unaccompanied” was taken from that. She describes this old man, the protagonist’s grandfather, how every spring he becomes a man of his own and will be outside all the time collecting small bones, and rocks, and plants, and it’s not a negative thing, but how he was unreachable during that period of time, how he was “altogether unaccompanied” (she scrunches up her face), oh, it’s just so sweet. I guess it’s about the idea of being scared of that, but trying to embrace it as well. You can hope for proximity, but it’s often impossible. In choosing partners and friends you’re choosing who you’re going to be …. No I was going to say “alone with”, but that’s too tacky. Somebody’s actual core is always kept secret, we’re all kind of “altogether unaccompanied” in these beautiful relationships. Does that make sense?

M: It does, and it reminds me of your line from “There Are A Thousand”, when you’re saying…

H: “There are a thousand of each of us here, how will we recognize each other dear?”

M: Yeah, exactly.

H: Totally, there’s this really nice Rilke idea that every person has their own secret garden, and that you have to accept the fact that you’re never going to walk in past a certain point to someone else’s way of seeing the world and existing. Basically, how you choose the people who surround you, who are able to stand guard from where things only step out dressed in fancy outfits. It’s a really beautiful idea.

M: Definitely. I was really curious, the way this release is broken up into four different chapters, or volumes, what the thought behind the way you paired different songs was.

H: It was mostly instinctive. I usually say color-based. Thematically or sonically how they seemed to pair well, but it was really easy to do. It felt way more natural to do it that way than to release them all together. I’m glad I did that too, because it feels like a debut album is such a big thing to me. I’m really happy that it’s going to be all songs that were all written around the same time, rather than bunched together.

M: I like that you did it half in spring and half in fall, because I don’t know if you do this but I think of media very seasonally. Like I’ll think “oh, I really want to read that but I’m going to wait until the winter.” Or, “I really love this song and it reminds me of summer.”

H: Totally.

M: Or like some things just feel warm, or feel cold. So, I really loved the way it was split into chapters and released so far apart. It was like returning to something familiar, but that felt more appropriate in the fall.

H: Totally, I wasn’t really thinking of it seasonally, but I agree that that’s totally a thing. But I was thinking times of day. The first two volumes for me were day and night, well they were midnight and noon. And volume three and four were dusk and dawn. You hear something and it’s like “this sounds like 4 p.m., or this sounds like April.”

M: It’s funny how those feelings can come through so distinctly.

H: It’s like slight synesthesia I guess.

M: With “Claudion” specifically, that song just sounded like October to me for some reason, I feel like it hit at the perfect moment.

H: I’m really happy to hear that!

M: Yeah, of course. I want to know if you have a particular song from this collection that you call your favorite, or one that particularly challenged you, that you’re proud of getting out there.

H: I guess the one that’s most mysterious to me in a way is “There Are a Thousand”, it’s one of the first songs I wrote, and it was so detached from any relationship I was going through.  It was much more about how I felt as a 21-year-old girl, at that time. I don’t know how to explain it, it feels like because it’s so vague, yet I find it does describe well what I was going through, I’m proud of it in a kind of puzzled way. I feel like it’s going to exist independently from me for a while somehow, because it’s just hard to describe how it happened, how I wrote it. It was a very impulsive song, it took no time which never happens to me. Songs always take much longer than that, but I sat down and by the time I stood up it was just done.

M: Do you write poetry as well?

H: No, I don’t really write poetry. I write more ideas and citations. When I write in a more continuous manner it’s more prose, diaries.

M: The last time I saw you it was just you and your guitar. You were playing more sparse, folk, singer-songwriter stuff, and now you’ve got a full band, you’re doing this lush, atmospheric, electronic stuff. I was wondering, in that transition, what were your expectations, or your hopes going into it? And now that you’ve done it, how have they been fulfilled? Or not fulfilled?

H: It’s a very, very exciting transition. I think the solo version of the project for me has always been a kind of compromise for financial, or time reasons. It’s been the easiest thing to bring forth, the solo project. It was easier to travel alone at that point, I was always aspiring to having a full band. I don’t see the solo act as less than the full band, I need to just see it as different. It’s still something that I want to do and explore, but I feel like our final form is full band.

M: Do you have full band arrangements for that first EP as well?

H: I do.

M: So you’ve brought those into this era.

H: Exactly.

M: I’ve got a couple of quick questions to end: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

H: Oh god I don’t know, I don’t have an answer to this question, and it’s a question that used to drive me crazy.

M: It doesn’t have to be practical, just anything that you’d like to be doing.

H: Hmmmm, just something that would have me reading and writing. So practically I was thinking of translation, music is so good for this, but something that would allow me to travel as well. Touring is such an odd little context to travel in, but it quells that need.

M: Can I ask you what your sign is and if you read into astrology at all?

H: That’s a fun question, my sign is Sagittarius.

M: Happy Sag season!

H: Thank you! I do, but I consider it as fun. The more I get into it the less I associate with it, but I guess it has to do with all of your planets, your chart. I guess the thing about Sag that I relate with in a bit of a masochistic way, is how fast you move from one thing to another, and get sick of things. That’s something I try not to do but definitely recognize in myself. There are other signs that pop up on the instagram accounts I follow that seem to be more accurate, but… My grandfather was a Sagittarius and he was always a party person until he was 95 and I always thought that was so cool.

(we talk about our grandpas for a while)

M: My last question is just a fun one, what’s on your rider?

H: If we can get anything we want…. I like tequila. But I’m trying to not drink at shows. Alexandre has beef jerky, that’s like his thing. There are two vegetarians and two heavy-duty meat eaters in the band, so it’s a funny mix. Nothing fun, we thought about asking the staff to bring their dogs, but we can’t hang out with it that much so it seemed irrational. But, that’s pretty much it.

(I tell her a story about a venue dog barking during a Daughter show)

M: Venue dogs are a bad idea but a green room dog is brilliant

H: As long as they get to run around!


Listen to Claudion by Helena Deland on Spotify below


INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Argentinian Pop Musician Tani

Interview + translations from Spanish to English by Anna White

photos by Maira Pinetta

photos by Maira Pinetta

Tani Wolff, aka Tani, writes pop songs condensed to their core—sweet and simple, like the sonic equivalent of a blush.

The first time I spoke with Tani about her music was in 2017—as we sat in the kitchen of the Buenos Aires apartment she shares with her parents, she spoke softly and with slight hesitation, eloquent but a little shy.

When I video chatted with Tani last week, there was a noticeable difference—it feels like she’s really come into her own.  This shift is tangible in her newest release, Mew (Discobaby Discos, Yolanda Discos)—the album still carries the “naïve and honest” pop sensibilities of Uturnis, but with an element of newfound confidence. Mew is Tani at her best—her repetitive lyrics and upbeat piano are playful, but there’s also an air of maturity in the album’s sleek production.

I spoke with Tani about the inspirations behind Mew and the difference between writing songs in Spanish and English.



You just released a new album, Mew, on November 16th—tell me about the new songs!

They’re songs that I wrote years ago, when I was in middle school. I never recorded them well, and I had the opportunity to, in a studio with a producer.


Why did you choose to record these songs in particular?

The record I released before is all songs I wrote in 2015, and I don’t have many other songs! I like these songs that I wrote a few years ago, and I thought that they were special to me, and it would be good to record them. And like I told you, I don’t write a lot of songs.

Why are these songs special to you?

Because they were the first songs I made, and they’re pretty songs; they were the first that I liked and thought other people might like. Before these I had songs that were more playful and a little ugly, but these I truly like. I played them for years alone in my room, and now I want them to leave my room a little.

Ah, truly bedroom pop! What were your inspirations for these songs?

The songs were inspired more or less by things that happened to me during middle school—conversations I had with people and romances, but because [they’re from so long ago] I think it’s a bit of an ironic point of view, taking myself out of the situation a little. For example, one of the songs says, “you’re not the love of my life, but you’re close,” and this is like a pop song, I’m not taking the things seriously. I think that’s what I’m trying to do in the record—I’m not thinking and thinking about everything.

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What was it like recording songs that you wrote so long ago—do you feel like the emotions are different now?

They changed a little, because before they were closer to me, what I was feeling in the moment, and now not as much. Though they’re not what I would write about right now, they’re still a part of me, and so I like to sing them. It’s different to sing them in public than in my room, like before.

Mew sounds very different from your first album, Uturnis—how do you feel like you’ve evolved as an artist on this album?

Now I’m working with other people, playing with a band, and I recorded the album with a lot of people, which didn’t happen with the other album. I grew musically by incorporating other people and being able to listen to and perform with other people, not doing it all myself like I used to feel like I had to. The other album, I didn’t ask anyone anything, and nobody helped me out. For me it was growing to let other people help.

Now that you’ve released Mew, what’s next?

I’m thinking of a third album; I’ve been making loops in my house and thinking of songs in Spanish.

Oh, wow! Do you prefer writing in English or Spanish?

I haven’t tried to write a lot in Spanish, so it’s easier for me in English. I still haven’t found my own voice in Spanish.

That’s interesting. It’s easier for you to write in English?

It’s more fluid in English. It’s because always, when I was little we watched the music channels on TV, and the music that was from here was a lot of rock nacional, which isn’t my style, so I started thinking that if I wanted to write music in Spanish it had to be like that, like how they sang. It’s a type of singing I don’t really like, so I listened to a lot of music in English, and started playing around, singing songs without language, in a made up language, or translating things to English, and through playing around like this I got used to it. I feel like I can be less playful in Spanish.

Do you think it’s getting easier to be playful with your writing in Spanish now that the music scene is growing and you can hear more music you like?

Yes, I think now there’s a lot of variety in Spanish music, and before there was just rock nacional. Now there’s more pop, like the Laptra Discos scene, Las Ligas Menores, Louta. They’re very different.

What do you think about the music scene in Argentina right now? It’s very separate from the U.S.

Yes—I think we listen to more music in English than people in the U.S. listen to music from Latin America. It would be good if it would start to mix more.