VIDEO PREMIERE: Eli Prier "Shooting Stars"

Eli Prier’s debut single, “Shooting Stars” is a fantastic voyage into a dazzling, synth-y galaxy, perfect for fans of avant-garde pop acts like Aurora or Florence + the Machine. The track starts with a gentle swell of strings as Prier sings, “Swimming through andromeda / I kissed a turtle dove,” the juxtaposition of natural and intergalactic imagery recalling elements of the fantastic that were integral to ‘70s glam-rock. In the video, Prier’s face is bathed in electric blue light. The camera pans out revealing Prier, dressed in a  blush pink matching skirt and crop top set adorned in pearls, now forcing the viewer to visually reconcile the alien and ethereal. 

They sing of nebulas as a twinkle of keys weaves around their vocals, but then the beat starts to pick up pace -- building until finally, the chorus hits in a triumphant rush of synths and EDM-inspired beats. Throughout the chorus, Prier exclaims “We’re shooting stars, and you can’t catch those” which soon transforms into a rallying cry. Throughout the video, Prier explores a garden, sifting dirt through their hands, crushing flower petals. Shots cut to them dancing ecstatically -- twirling so that their skirt flares out as the beat of the song pulses around them. In the second verse, the beat finds a home for itself among the synths, settling like a heartbeat as Prier sings “resilient / I carry her name” recalling the idea of strength echoed in the chorus. Now, when the chorus hits, there’s a newfound sense of understanding, an acknowledgment of the elastic nature of strength that stretches across generations and relationships. 

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During the bridge, Prier stretches their arms out, beckoning towards the camera enticing the audience to come along with them. But when the final chorus plays, they dance freely and wildly, twirling off into an unknown distance as the camera fades to black. We know what they said is true, we can’t catch them.

Eli Prier’s sound is the inexplicable yet perfect union of the electro-pop beats of a bonafide dance party with the lyricism and longing of Kate Bush. I can’t wait to watch their star rise.

INTERVIEW: Maddie Ross has Reinterpreted the '00s Romcom

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For me, there is no cultural artifact more delicious than an ‘00s rom-com. I live for butterfly clips, crunchy guitar licks, and declarations of love under bleachers. I’m still waiting for Hooligan to figure out how they can send me on a “Never Been Kissed” assignment. But I’ve always felt a pang of disappointment whenever I realize how heteronormative these movies are. Fortunately, Maddie Ross has arrived and she’s fully prepared to soundtrack all of our ‘00s queer romcom dreams, one track at a time. Ross’ debut album, Never Have I Ever is a concept album built to soundtrack a hypothetical queer romcom from start to finish.  Ross explained in a press release, “'Never Have I Ever' is inspired by a variety of movies, but the story it tells follows a plot of its own. In our wildest fantasies, someone would write an adorable girl-meets-girl rom-com, and use the entire album as a score.” 

I sat down with Maddie to talk about our favorite rom-coms, what it took to get that crunchy ‘00s guitar sound, and her song-writing process. You can check out our conversation below.



What steps did you take to make this concept album a reality?

It was really wild how it came about, actually. So, my girlfriend and I went to music school together and we were really close friends before we started dating. We had been making music together for a while, and then she produced my first E.P. and we started dating. We’ve been musical partners and dating for six years.

We released an E.P. in October of 2018, and then we went on tour with KT Tunstall which was super crazy, she found me on Twitter. It was one of those things where I could never have planned for it or tried to make it happen, it was just this weird interaction where I retweeted something of hers and then she clicked on my profile and saw that I was a musician, and listened to my songs and liked them. She DM’d me like, ‘hey, do you want to come on tour?’

So, we released an EP for the KT Tunstall tour and then she got sick midway through the tour so we had to cancel the last eight shows. Basically, we had this E.P. out and we toured in support of it and it was my first tour ever.

My girlfriend Wolfy is like the hardest worker ever, very prolific. When the last shows got rescheduled KT Tunstall said, ‘We’ll have you come back out in May [to finish the tour]’. We got back in November and Wolfy suggested that we release a full-length for when [I] go out in May. She was like, ‘We can do this we’ll just have to work harder than we ever have before, but if you’re willing to do it, I am.’ She had this concept of a teen movie for a long time because my music has been compared to that a lot. 

A lot of male writers have said that this music sounds like Avril Lavigne or Michelle Branch, trying to be condescending, but like yeah … that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. Hell yeah, Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch!

We’d had this idea for a long time, so we planned for a single in February, March, and April, so we needed to have the album done by January 31. We both work full-time jobs, so we made a big chart for when we needed to write and record everything. It was a very structured and methodical way of writing an album, which is very different than my normal process, but it ended up being super fun. We had a chart with fake titles like ‘Highschool morning’ and ‘makeover montage.’ We knew sonically what we wanted them to sound like, and we envisioned the scene in the movie that [each song] would score. We were so immersed in it, it was all we did or thought about for two months.

Did you encounter any unexpected creative challenges with that structure?

It had never occurred to me to write an album that way, it ended up being as creatively fulfilling, if not more, than when I’m just in my room slowly writing songs from the heart that are gut-wrenching, personal stories. That’s really fulfilling in its own right, so I’m just going to be writing this summer and going back to my other process. But I had a blast, and I think that it’s so important as a creative person to just put stuff out -- the more you self-edit I don’t think it makes that much difference in the end. I have songs that I’ve spent very little time on that people love, and I have songs that I poured my heart into and spent months recording that have the same exact response from people. 

How did you get the sound for the record down -- like that, crunchy guitar, record scratch? The first time I listened to it I was like, ‘This literally sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to Freaky Friday.’

Yes! Oh my God, it’s one of my favorite movies! So, guitar-wise, all of the credit goes to Wolfy, she’s the mastermind behind the entire sound of this album. She obsessively makes playlists all the time, she listens to music constantly. So, we watched a bunch of movies and rom-coms and made note of our favorite scenes and music syncs that we really love. She made a playlist for each song on the album and picked 3-5 inspiration tracks for each track. It was a lot of soaking up inspiration and fearlessly going for it, not trying to be the 2019 version of it. 

On the song ‘Miracle’ I do this spoken bridge that was so embarrassing to record. While we were recording, I jokingly spoke into the microphone and she was like ‘that’s so era-appropriate, that’s so Spice Girls’

I’m glad you used the actual effects for the tones and everything.

We used a lot of live instruments. Wolfy works for Keith Armstrong, who spent decades working as a rock mixer. He was in the room recording with like Paramore and Green Day. He knew firsthand how to plug which pedals into which amp and to put which pre-amp on it. He taught her everything he knows, he’s been such a great resource for us.

That’s so cool. I was wondering, so there’s not like, a layer called ‘2004 guitar tone’?

It always sounds worse when you do that instead of just [making] the sound authentically. And I think that happens a lot when producers are at home with their laptops and they have access to amazing plug-ins and amazing samples, but a lot of people haven’t really had the chance to learn how to record something live. Even if an average listener might not be able to hear the difference, it’s like this indescribable little extra touch that makes it feel more authentic.

Was the zine a sort of natural extension of that process? ‘Zines are such a cool intersection of ‘00s and current technologies/ print media practices. How did you come up with the idea to make a ‘zine to go along with the record? 

Yeah, so that was another great Wolfy idea. She was like ‘we should make a fake magazine’ we were just living in this ‘2000s teen world. And then I started thinking that [if] we release a press kit, we could do all the stuff that we would do in a press kit to introduce the album and explain the songs but in a more creative way.

Once [the album] was done recording it was just this really fun thing for me to build. I used to do that for fun when I was a kid, playing imaginary games, I’d be a pretend magazine editor and make collages and try to sell these magazines to my family members. I loved creating quizzes. 

When I was making the magazine I felt like I was a little kid, playing the games that I loved. I just had a blast. I kind of taught myself photoshop, and I have a couple of friends who know how to use it and gave me tips. I basically just opened up Photoshop and looked at some different magazines and started imitating it. When you’re imitating something it almost makes you more creative because you have this box that you’re being put into so you naturally try to break outside of it.

It did have such a J-14 feel.

Totally, J-14 and Tigerbeat. I think it was a Tigerbeat cover that was one of my main influences, it was all bright, neon colors that clashed like bright pink, bright orange, lime green, all on the same cover. So once I realized that I could just take all of these bright colors and not worry about the palette, that was really fun. I started putting stuff on top of each other, I used the generic Photoshop shape tools like the star.  I was like, ‘this is so cheesy but that’s the tools that they had back then.’ That’s how magazines did it.


What’s your favorite rom-com trope? Were there any tropes that you wish you could have utilized on this record, or that didn’t make the cut?

One concept that we ended up throwing out was ‘Indie boy gives someone a mixtape and says ‘here, listen to this.’ So, we tried to make a song that would have been on the Indie boy’s mixtape. 

I love the entire makeover genre, like She’s the Man, anything with changing costumes, switching bodies, switching places, those are just my absolute favorite. It probably does stem from growing up queer and being like, which version of yourself do you present. But it’s also just the most fun. Even 13 going on 30 where she wakes up in an adult version of her body, that’s my all-time favorite.

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When I talk to a lot of queer people in their twenties, something that comes up repeatedly is this craving for representation when we were younger, like tween to teenage is that something you experienced? 

Yeah, definitely. I look at like, the movies that I was drawn to and my favorite, favorite, movies were Love and Basketball and A League of Their Own which are movies about female athletes who are still feminine and vibrant, but also challenging gender norms and becoming athletes, but there’s still focus on their female friendships. I was just really drawn to movies that played with the boundaries of what a female protagonist should look like. I wasn’t really consciously aware of my sexuality until I started dating my girlfriend and then I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to confront this.’ Up until then in my brain, I was like, I know I probably don’t like boys, but that’s just ‘cause I’m broken and I’ll just have to pretend to fall in love at some point. And then, once I fell in love, it was so wonderful and exciting, but lesbian didn’t seem like the right label. So I had to kind of process it and be like, ‘Yes I am. I’m dating a woman. I’ve realized I don’t like men, and that I would only want to be with women, so lesbian is what I am.’ But that word had so many different connotations growing up that didn’t seem to define me, and I never thought like ‘oh that girl’s a lesbian and she’s like me.’ 

So as I started to create my own music, it feels so good to express yourself obviously. When you’re writing, or recording, or performing, it’s an exaggerated version of things, so I could really just lean into writing about girls and falling in love with them. You can express the more extreme parts of yourself that you don’t get to express in your day-to-day life, so it just felt really good to start making women-loving-women music.


And then it became important to me to just talk about it because I’d been in the closet for so long, you don’t want to go backwards once you’re out. The more I did it, the better it felt. It felt good and natural and then I realized that there was a need for it and that it was really appreciated by other queer people.

For me, one of the coolest things about this album is that so much of queer representation in 2008/ 2009, so much of it was centered around shame, but rom-coms are focused on this idea of joy, and that you deserve to make out in the rain and fall in love. So, to have an album that’s centered around queer joy, and fun is so important.

That’s exactly what I wanted to do with this album. We don’t need queer tragedy porn. I have talked about the struggles of coming out, and the anxiety and fear, and that’s something I’ll make work about in the future, but that’s not this was.

This was, how fucking cute is it when two girls fall in love or anyone? It’s really cute when anyone has that young, teenage, raw, amazing, exciting life with heartbreak and ups and downs … it’s just loveWho are some of your favorite queer artists making work today?

Tegan and Sara are my all-time favorites. I have a lot of good queer friends making music: Elison, Rosie Tucker -- my girlfriend produced the album. My friend Liz Slingerland. I have a lot of friends who make amazing music, we’re all trying to get our voices out there.


What would your ‘00s movie makeover look like?

Wow that’s a good question. I was the youngest child, I was just messy and sloppy, my sister was a year and a half older than me and was very girly. Compared to her, I was such a Tomboy, I wore my soccer socks and soccer shorts to school. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to embrace my femininity more now that I know I’m queer. I was almost embarrassed to show my sexuality, I didn’t want male attention, so I’d try to cover it up.

So, I’d be like a stereotypical goofy, tomboy, messy. Sort of like Amanda Bynes in She’s the Man and then maybe there’d be a prom makeover where I’d get to go to prom with a girl that I’ve had a crush on and I get to put on this elegant dress and we can ride to prom together.

You can stream Maddie Ross’s debut album Never Have I Ever. and visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Inside Issue #19: Astrology of Disability ft. Johanna Hedva

Photo credit:  Pamila Payne    Nails by  The Nail Witch

Photo credit: Pamila Payne 

Nails by The Nail Witch


Johanna Hedva is a Taurus, performance artist, practicing witch, and writer. Their piece, “Sick Woman Theory,” details the daily frustrations of living with chronic illness and living alongside a non-normative body. In the essay, Hedva recounts being unable to attend a Black Lives Matter protest due to being bed-ridden writing, “I listened to the sounds of the marches as they drifted up to my window. Attached to the bed, I rose up my sick woman fist, in solidarity.” It is images like this that present the reader with an immersive account of existing with chronic illness or disability.

Last summer, I stumbled across a video of Johanna giving a talk concerning sick woman theory, with their cane resting beside their chair. I was struck by visual presence of the cane, a visual signifier of disability, coexisting beside Johanna, the person giving the talk and thus, the authority in the room. It is a rarity in the mainstream media to see people with disabilities existing in positions of power, rather than those of scrutiny, especially within Westernized medicine which emphasizes cures and linear paths to healing. When we are given mainstream representations of disability they are predominantly white (or they serve as inspiration porn.) Oftentimes mainstream narratives concerning disability pivot on an axis of triumph, wherein disabled characters learn to triumph over their disability rather than live with it. My favorite phrase in “Sick Woman Theory,” is, “My body is a prison of pain so I want to leave it like a mystic, but I also want to love it and want it to matter politically.”

I think about how one’s experience of reality is often grounded in the experience of the body. In my case, my body is grounded in experiences of pain, muscle tightness, soreness, and other instances of discomfort coincide with other everyday experiences like buying falafel or writing this piece. I think of how often I’ve longed to leave my body like a mystic, even just for a minute, and how strange yet validating it is to allow someone else to articulate these feelings.

As a narrative tool, Hedva gave our resident astrologer, Jillann Morlan, a copy of their natal chart, in hopes that it would better explain aspects of themself and their work. Hedva explained their relationship to astrology and storytelling over email writing, “Astrology was a family practice for me; both my mother and aunt taught me as a child. i drifted away from it and rebelled in my early 20s, but found it again when i became sick and bed/house-bound during the first year of my saturn return. i started giving readings during this time, and now do it for a living. my relationship to it is always changing, but i can say that right now, i'm getting into the whole-sign house system (i was trained in placidus), and thinking a lot about fate and how the "malefics" work, or have been seen throughout history.”

Jillann explained further, noting that Astrology is not a question of fate, rather it is one of understanding. Stating, “No matter how difficult this astrology may be, it is not good or bad. Rather, these planets and aspects serve as a road map to Johanna’s personal mastery. This astrology tells a tale of deep and much needed healing across generations. People with such aspects may seem to have a somewhat fated astrology to work with, but they are also gifted with an incredible amount of resilience, passion, drive and intuition. In the midst of despair, this astrology can actually help attune a person to the gifts that reside within a catastrophe, health crisis or debilitating heartbreak or loss. Such pain and despair can often show us our truth, and this astrology will certainly lead one to truth, albeit through initiations by fire.”

Experiences of chronic pain or disability can be physically, or emotionally isolating. You start thinking about the strange and specific nature of pain itself. You try to translate it for well-meaning doctors or friends, and a look of confusion streaks across their face, and you are hit with a sense of profound loneliness, but also doubt. When pain is shared, reality is formed. When it’s just you and your pain, you start to wonder if it is real. Pieces like “Sick Woman Theory,” help cement your reality, but they also work as a source of resilience and strength.

Hedva posses a stelium in their twelfth house of Scorpio, Mars, Saturn, Pluto, all lie within the house creating three oppositional forces. As Jillann explained over email, “The 12th house signifies the subconscious, the hidden and the unseen.  It can relate to the past, suffering, spirituality, sexuality, the metaphysical and the occult, all of which play an integral role in Johanna's work.” Similarly, Hedva’s moon is in Cancer.

Said Jillann, “Cancer is the sign most known for its sensitivity, intuition, and complex emotional life, so the expression of feelings and emotions will be incredibly important to a person with this astrology.  We see the theme of transformation showing up again in the 8th House, which is the house of other people’s possessions, taboos, sex, death and rebirth.”

As a whole, Jillann relays that “The need to deconstruct, recreate, renew, and rebirth is all inherent in Johanna’s natal chart.  They appear to be a prime example of a person who knows how to work within and around the confines of pain and trauma. But, more importantly they are a beautiful example of a person who is committed to rising above. This fight isn’t about winning; it is about evolving.”

Ultimately, Hedva’s work is indicative of the non-linear path to healing. “Better” is not a concrete destination, rather it’s a shifting state, it weaves out of our lives like a mystic or a moon in Cancer. When one’s sense of wellness constantly shifts, from week to week, or even, day to day, seeing a similar narrative reflected in the media is a rarity. This is why “Sick Woman Theory” matters, it is both a manifesto and a mirror, a sweeping declaration that this pain is real, it is palpable, someone else can see.

See the entire spread in issue #19 here.

INTERVIEW: Kamikaze Girls' "Seafoam" and The Healing Power of Punk


COURTESY OF KAMIKAZE GIRLS

COURTESY OF KAMIKAZE GIRLS


By Rosie Accola

Kamikaze Girls’ first full-length record, Seafoam, is aptly named it crashes into the listener, a direct confrontation of feedback and lead singer/ guitarist Lucinda Livingstone’s powerfully raw vocals. This is a record that demands to be heard, Livingstone’s lyrics address societal and personal perceptions of mental health, without so much as a flinch.

Hooligan was lucky enough to catch up with Lucinda over email to talk about the new record, her zine “Ladyfuzz,” the healing power of punk, and pedal-boards.
 

I hear a lot of riot grrrl in your new record, and you reference Robert Smith at one point in “Seafoam”, who are some musicians that inspire you? What were some of your main inspirations for this record?
A couple of big ones for us are The Cure and Sonic Youth. We both really enjoy both bands, as their discography is so varied and they reinvent themselves each album. Both bands are very experimental, yet remain melodic and catchy in their own ways and that's what we take from each. Early Riot Grrrl like Bikini Kill, Sleeper, and L7 is also a big influence, as well as a lot of grunge and Brit pop. I think for me personally, this time around I was hammering the new Touche Amore record, plus revisiting Dirty by Sonic Youth.

How do you think you grew as musicians between the release of “Sad” and your full-length record?
I think the main thing we did was tour and play a bunch. We didn't practice once in 2016 I don't think, we just toured. Everything became muscle memory, and I don't regard myself as a great guitarist or a good vocalist by any stretch. So, from touring I got a whole lot better at playing guitar and singing. I can't really say I've become great, but I have definitely improved in those areas. I think Conor got super tight as a drummer as well. I suppose we'd like to think that when we both got back in the studio and into writing we were both more accomplished musicians. I know one of the things I felt is that I wanted to get out my own head a little more with lyrics. Everything I write is super personal, and although I don't see that changing as it's my writing style, I feel more socially aware and a little braver talking about things that are affecting our generation and our music scene.

Since your zine is called “Lady Fuzz,” would you do me the honor of walking me through your pedalboard set up?
Honour? More like misfortune! I won't go into it too in depth as it'll take up the whole page, but here's my current chain:  Fulltone Drive 2, Blues Driver, EHX Pog 2, Boss Super Chorus, Boss DD7 Delay, Strymon Blue Sky Reverb, Boss RE20, EHX Freeze, EHX Switch Blade (A/B Splitter). This is pretty much identical give or take to what was used on Seafoam. My set up for SAD was a little more modest, haha.

Tell me about “Lady Fuzz.” What’s your favorite thing about making zines?
I like showcasing all my friends work, and that's what “Ladyfuzz" is. I round up creative friends for each issue and ask them to contribute, be it art, illustration, photography, music. I also interview a lot of my friends in bands, which has made for some really great features in previous issues and I see a different side of them. The next best thing is going to pick it up from the printers and praying that I've not made a million mistakes — and that even if I have, it still looks great aha.

How did you discover zines?  Do you have a favorite zine?
I can't really remember how I discovered them to be honest. I remember all the old Riot Grrrl zines from the ‘80s but I never actually owned any of them, I just enjoyed reading about them. I think as I started to get more into Riot Grrrl music and look deeper into feminism and the culture of non-males in punk, I discovered more and more people making zines. As an illustrator and musician, I think a zine fuses these two things together perfectly, so it was a chance for me to have a project based on the two things I love.

One of the tracks on the record is called “Teenage Feelings,” how do you think ideas of teen angst and just being saturated with emotion translate into your twenties and life beyond being a teen?
The song itself is about struggling with sexuality and being confused, and that confusion taking you back to square one — like when you had your first crush. I was in a situation last year when this happened, and caught myself thinking, “My god, how is this happening to me again?” I think, in a way, when you get new feelings about something or someone you almost revert back to the first time that happened and act in the same way. So, for me at the time I had a lot of angst, and confusion and shyness that I didn't expect. I don't think that's a bad thing though.

I love that you wrote a song about cat-calling and feeling unsafe at bars, because that’s such a common experience and people are reluctant to talk about it. Do you find that music helps you process instances of misogyny and sexism?  
“KG Go To The Pub” is a big “fuck you” to every predator out there that's caused a survivor harm or discomfort in any way. The song is to get that anger out. For every time you've wanted to shout something back, to call someone out, or just express that you're hurt by someone’s actions. I think music can help. I think going to a show and getting out your anger and sadness can heal you. We feel things, often very deeply, and sometimes we need an outlet for closure.

You write a lot about your own mental health, and in “Deathcap” you refer to yourself as, “one of those nervous millennials,” how do you think attitudes towards mental health have changed over time?
I think it's becoming less taboo, but I also feel that it's often glamourized in the media. I don't think there's a right answer for how increase awareness for a younger generation without making it either sound stigmatic or beautiful. The truth is that a lot of people suffer with mental health and they deserve the help people that suffer with physical health receive. I think people need to see the reasons why someone might suffer with depression, anxiety, or PTSD so they can understand if they are suffering themselves. I was diagnosed with depression when I was a teenager, and I didn't understand the symptoms or why the Doctor told me that. I just took the pills they gave me and did what I was told. There was no educational piece around it, and my school was just more worried about me passing my exams and not getting pregnant than how my brain was behaving at the time. I really hope they start to bring more mental health education into schools. It's important.

Do you find music and writing to be healing forces?
Yes, completely. Music was my thing growing up and it stayed with me. I was the kid that walked around all day with my headphones in, or put my headphones up my sleeve in class so I could listen to my favourite C.D. instead of paying attention to science or something. If I didn't have headphones, I used to sing my way through albums in my head. That sounds weird now that I think of it, but everything I did revolved around music.  The second I got a guitar and started trying to write songs, I knew it had a healing power for me. I don't think it makes a difference what age I am, or if I'm in a band or not, the art of writing songs will always be therapeutic for me.

What part of this record are you the most proud of?
That’s a tough question— probably the vocals on “KG Pub” and “Sad Forever.” I did them both in one take in the middle of the night on the last day in the studio. Bob, Conor and myself were stressed. It didn't seem like we were going to finish the record, we'd run out of time, and Bob had people coming in to track another record straight after us. We were all at the end of our tethers, and I did them both in one take. I came back into the control room and they were both beaming at me. I think the emotion and anger in both those songs really affected me that night, and I don't know if it will come across on the record, but I was physically shaking after I'd done the vocals on those two.

You can stream Seafoam on Spotify today. You can snag a copy of “Ladyfuzz” here.


INTERVIEW: Kate Flynn of The Winter Passing On Growing, Creating, Mental Health Awareness, and "Double Exposure"


COURTESY OF BRIXTON AGENCY / SEAN CAHILL

COURTESY OF BRIXTON AGENCY / SEAN CAHILL

Following the release of Double Exposure, online editor Rosie Accola sat down with The Winter Passing's Kate Flynn to discuss the creative process and transition from the bands 2015 release A Different Space of Mind, collaborative writing, musical inspirations, and more. Check out the Q&A below and also read Rosie's review of Double Exposure here.


Hooligan Mag (H.M.): How has your sound grown between your first and second record? What did you learn while making your first record that has helped you the most as musicians?
Our sound has grown a lot since A Different Space of Mind. We did a lot of touring after we released ADSOM, so from that alone we became a tighter and more confident band live. That helped a lot when the time came to write and record Double Exposure. Also we are a couple of years older with different life experiences and different mindsets so I feel that comes into play in the music we wrote for Double Exposure.

Personally, what's changed for me since recording ADSOM is that I feel more confident about myself as a musician. When we recorded ADSOM, it was my first time in a real recording studio which was a big learning curve for me. I wasn't all that sure of myself as a musician and it all felt very new.  I was more involved during the writing period for our new record and that really helped when it came to recording it. I felt more sure of myself and a little more confident when we were recording Double Exposure. We all got a little bit more wondrous on what we could do with these songs—individually and collaboratively—so we are extremely proud of what we've created with this EP.
 

H.M.: What’s your favorite part of the music scene in Ireland? How does it differ from other music scenes throughout Europe and the U.S.?
Ireland's music scene has always been really transformative and truly inspiring to the music we write and the people we are. It's a very special scene to be apart of and one I'm very proud to be apart of. There's so many different music scenes active in all the capital cities around Ireland across so many different genres of music. I was introduced to the hardcore punk scene by my brother when I was about 15 years old. My first ever local show was a day show called Life & Death Fest in Dublin. There was about 20 hardcore bands from Ireland and the UK playing in a small and very warm room in a venue called The Tap. I had never been to a DIY/hardcore punk show before so I remember being completely inspired by it. It was the sort of feeling that left me counting down the days in school until my next trip to Dublin to a local show.

I guess how it differs from Europe and the US is that the Irish music scene is small, especially in the DIY spectrum. Everyone knows each other and supports each other. Chances are if you're in a band in the Dublin scene, you're probably in like ten other bands too! In comparison to Europe or American punk scenes, the shows and community in those areas are much bigger, more spread out and divided also into smaller sub genres within punk music. But for the most part, shows still feel like shows to me everywhere I've been so far!
 

H.M.: What made you want to start playing music? What drives you to create?
Music for me was inherited. I grew up in a musical house, my dad has always loved country music and always encouraged my brother and I to play from a young age. Our parents would send us to music lessons and we would perform music pretty much every day! My real love has been and always will be singing. I've been singing since I was extremely young. My dad brought me home a Britney Spears live in concert video tape and since the first watch of that I've been throwing my voice around.

My drive for creation is really a personal thing, I suppose. I find great satisfaction from performing music and writing music with TWP. It's a personal development sort of thing and that drives me to always surprise myself. I want to see how far I can go and what I can do next. To be honest, I'm laughing as I write this, but music has been the only thing I've ever put my hand to and stuck with. It sort of stuck with me too. We've been fortunate enough to experience some amazing opportunities over the past few years and I guess that also drives me to continue our musical journey! If you told 15 year old me that playing music was going to open doors such as traveling the East Coast of America in a van - that shy kid would have told you that you've probably got the wrong kid.
 

H.M.: Who are some of your favorite artists (musical or otherwise)?
Musically I've always been really inspired and in awe of artists like The Distillers, Jimmy Eat World, Björk, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bikini Kill, Patti Smith. Recently it's been artists such as Bleached, Julien Baker, Mitski and Frankie Cosmos and Cende. I also really loving reading. I'm slowly but surely getting through every Stephen King book there is. Reading "IT" is still one of my biggest achievements.
 

H.M.: The lyrical content of your latest E.P. deals with the daily struggles of living with anxiety, do you have any tips on how to deal with anxiety that you’ve found to be helpful?
Double Exposure is definitely a journey in the daily struggles of anxiety so thank you for getting that. Everyone is different and how I deal with my anxiety may be completely different to how another individual may deal with theirs and that's okay. The most important thing is to find the thing that you feel most comfortable with when dealing with feelings of anxiety.

First off, even though it's not the easiest thing or tip, talk to someone. Anyone! We live in a time where, thankfully, we talk about mental health. The more often we open dialogue about mental health, we break down the taboo and normalise mental health. Sometimes I write to my best friend and just explain this existential anxiety that I get and she just gets that and that's sick to have that communication.

For me, I like to write it out. I always have. I've been writing a journal since I was a kid. When I write something out, I feel like that's part of the journey for me when dealing and processing feelings I may be having. It doesn't mean the feeling goes away or is magically fixed but it starts the process of me dealing with thoughts, worries, etc. I like to take my feelings and make art from them. I used to hate when people said "exercise" when I said I wasn't feeling too great. Sometimes, the motivation to leave the house or exercise is just not there for me but what I will say, from the times I did muster the motivation, it does help. Even if it's a walk with your dog for a couple of minutes, exercise to a YouTube video on your living room floor, dancing to your favourite record or just sitting in fresh air.
 

H.M.: I read that the writing process for this record was particularly collaborative, can you describe it? Have you tried writing songs with other people before, or is writing more of a solitary practice for you?
The writing process has always been pretty collaborative when it comes to the TWP. Rob and Col work together on guitar music all the time, that's how we get the skeleton of the songs together and then the band come in at rehearsals and we collaborate to make the music come to life!

Lyrically with this EP, Rob and I both brought a lot to the table. We sat down, put lyrics together from each notebook to each song and that's why we called it Double Exposure, in the end. Most of the songs, in some sense, are two stories. I found that a really interesting aspect and concept of this record. That all being said, I have to write my lyrics alone and Rob writes his lyrical content alone also. Writing lyrics is cathartic for me. So I like to write alone before I even think of putting melodies to the words.
 

H.M.: Do you have a record that has helped you deal with anxiety? What do you think about music and its ability to explain mental health struggles?
I'm not sure if I have a stand out record that has helped me through anxiety because to be honest, a lot of records have and continue to help. I guess I could say Futures (Jimmy Eat World). Now, that's a record I always revisit when I need a helping hand from an old pal. It never gets old and every time I listen to it, it brings me back to a place that I like to go. Or sometimes I need to dance the sadman away, so in those times I put on some Blondie (or Beyoncé when I feel I need to exercise too) and I go wild.

In other cases, I need to cry. I've always really liked sad songs. Sometimes, I need to let the sadness sit with me, long enough for me to make sense of it and there are particular records that I have to listen to when I'm sad. A few being being Manchester Orchestra's Like A Virgin Losing A Child or Owen's No Good for No One Now.

I've always felt a real connection with a song that can make me cry. If a song makes me feel something so much that I cry, it's done it's job.

Whether it's writing music or listening to it, there is no doubt in the fact that music serves us in struggling with mental health and also explaining it. Sometimes it's just listening to a song and being able to resonate with it better than you could explain the anxiety, yourself. That's the thing about mental health struggles. Sometimes it's too hard to actually explain the feelings. Sometimes a song just does it for you and that's amazing. That's how I feel about the new Paramore record, actually. Every lyric had me literally saying "heck, that's literally how I feel”.

I feel like writing and playing music has helped me so much in terms of understanding my own anxiety but also understanding other people's struggles and that's important. When writing a song, it's like putting all your insides out. Playing that song is letting others see that we all look and feel the same. It's the greatest gift that keeps on giving.

INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Singer-Songwriter Sarah Walk

Sarah Walk’s emotive, confessional song-writing has earned her comparisons to Indie greats like Cat Power and Sharon Van-Etten. She’s currently preparing to tour and releaseher debut full-length record in England, but she took time to sit down with Hooligan over Skype to discuss her writing process, and what it was like to make a video for her third single “Still Frames.

Your music has a cinematic quality to it, was it easy to come up with a concept for a music video for “Still Frames”? Did you have a narrative in mind before you started shooting?

No, I actually didn’t. I wrote that song a long time ago. That was kind of a really gloomy day and we were all thinking about the past, feeling nostalgic, that’s kind of where the song started. I think it’s interesting with videos, we got a lot of treatments from different directors with their take on the song. Sometimes that can lead you to an interesting place because it might be a different interpretation, which gives it a different meaning. That’s exciting, especially when it’s for a song that you’ve known for so long in a certain way.

I love that the video for “Still Frames” has a queer love story as a central narrative, how do you think we can improve queer representation within the media as artists and makers?

Yes, I was aware that it was a queer couple, but above anything it’s a love story, I wanted people to recognize that relationships are the same. I wanted the over-arching narrative to be a love story. But, I wanted a queer relationship to be a bit more accessible in the public eye, just to recognize that people love the same way, relationships fall apart in the same way.

Do you use songwriting as a mechanism to help you process difficult situations in your life?

I do, I think it definitely helps to write. I find it easier to navigate my feelings on certain things through music. I’m relatively guarded with my personal life, but for some reason with music, performing, and writing, it doesn’t really feel personal. It feels like something I’m giving away to people and inviting them into as opposed to an individualized experience. It definitely helps. Sometimes, when you get a song written it feels like a weight’s been lifted.

Do you write about something immediately after it happens, or do you let yourself mull it over first?

I don’t know, I’ve written songs years later and in the thick of things. Sometimes you need time to gain perspective, and sometimes you write something in the middle while not really knowing how you feel. There’s no formula for writing, at least for me there’s not … the whole process is pretty unpredictable.

Do you have specific things that you like to explore thematically when you write?

Not consciously, I try not to overthink it, usually I just want it to be honest and meaningful to me. If I find something to be moving, real, and personal, it usually draws me back enough to finish an entire song. If it moves me, I feel like it’s going to move other people.

Describe what it’s been like finishing up your record.

It’s been great it’s actually been finished for a while now, I’m just trying to gig as much as possible and get the music out there. I’m really excited to put the album out.

Do you tour often?

I’ve done a few support tours, I toured all of May last year and i toured a bit in December. In between, I’ve been doing headline gigs with my band in London.  We’re trying to get more support tours. I really like support tours, because it’s exposure to people who don’t know who you are. It’s less pressure and it’s exciting to get a new audience. I’m starting to hopefully get some stuff booked in Europe for the rest of the year which will be really cool.

If you had to pick something to do other than music, what would it be?

I always could have seen myself teaching or doing something in social work, just helping people. I like to be around people and give back. There’s still a lot I want to do, I always want to be doing music, but also be able to create some sort of platform to give back other than music.

Do you have a record that changed your life?

I’ve always been writing ever since I was really young, I’ve always been drawn to it. The first record I ever bought was third eye blind’s self titled album and I fucking loved it. There are definite a-ha moments, like Ok Computer by Radiohead or Thirty Roses by Joni Mitchell. I really love hip hop too.

Do you think that music has the power to enact social change?

I do, there’s a sense of responsibility alongside the being in the public eye. I hope that my music will continue to grow and build and impact people in different ways. I don’t think there’s only one way to do that, so that’s one thing about music that does excite me — whether that be in the music or around it, there’s different ways to reach people.

Did you ever have moments when you were first starting to write songs like, ‘why should I try this if there’s already thousands of records?

Yeah, but I do think that every experience is different and I feel like I don’t want to put out music unless it says something that hasn’t been said before, or has a different approach musically. There’s so many different genres that I like, I think I just pick and choose different things I’m drawn to in order to try and make something a bit different Every story is never going to be told, there’s always going to be a new way to say something, that excites me and makes me want to continue writing.

Lucy Dacus: An Interview

By Rosie Accola

Hooligan was pleased to get to know Richmond, Virgina singer-songwriter, Lucy Dacus, as she talks vulnerability, her songwriting process, and accessibility in the music community. Having just signed to Matador Records, she will release a reissue of her debut album, No Burden, on September 9th, 2016. Catch her on tour across the country this summer, making stops at Chicago’s Lollapalooza, as well as landmark venue Thalia Hall with Daughter.

Photo by  Baohien Ngo

Photo by Baohien Ngo

What is your earliest memory of creating music?

Lucy Dacus: When I was a little kid, I would sing instead of talk—probably to the annoyance of everyone around me. If somebody asked me a question, I’d respond in sing-song and this would go on for a full day at a time. My first memory of writing a song was for a contest at my elementary school to honor firefighters. I came in second and got a five-dollar bill which rocked my world at the time.

Tell us about your style of songwriting. Do you start with a riff or chord progression and write around it or do you write the lyrics first?

LD: Always lyrics first. Lyrics and melody at the same time. Sometimes I’ll write an entire song without even picking up the guitar. I actually have very little control over songwriting because I can’t just sit down and decide to write a song. Whenever I’ve tried that, it comes out too saccharine or lacks subtlety. I kinda have to wait around and not have expectations.  When words start coming, I just listen to them and see them as valuable instead of just humming some gibberish on the streets, which is probably what it looks like to everyone else.

You reference being from the South multiple times on No Burden—has the region shaped your relationship to music in any way?

LD: I wasn’t exposed to specifically southern music much growing up. I’ve been more affected culturally than musically. Richmond is right on the edge of being southern, but it was also the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Some people hold on to this history with pride, and some people want [to be] through with it—want the monuments of rebel soldiers taken down. Because of that, race, racism, classism, historical fact and fiction, and political activism are readily talked about.

Despite the tension, there’s a strong feeling of togetherness and familiarity. Creatively, people are supportive and share in each other’s successes.

What track on the album did you find the heaviest for you to create?  

LD: “Dream State…” and “… Familiar Place” were originally the same song: “Dream State, Familiar Place.” It’s the least hopeful song on the album—just a plain statement of fear, anticipation of loss and the associated loneliness. It’s perhaps the hardest feeling I’ve ever felt, even harder than the loss in question.

Where does the name No Burden come from?

 LD: I found some notes from a filmmaking class I took in high school where I had written all the reasons I would ever make a movie, what I would want to communicate, and all I wish people understood about themselves. It’s pretty cheesy, but one phrase popped out at me: “You are no burden.” As a sentence, it sounds like something a crafty mom would paint on driftwood and hang in a bathroom, but I hope No Burden communicates that idea.

Photo by  Baohien Ngo

Photo by Baohien Ngo

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had from touring thus far?

LD: It’s so nice to tour with a record! We went on three tours without any records and it was like one long apology. “Sorry, maybe next time!” We would make hardly enough money to pay for gas. Now, people have the chance to listen to the record before coming to the show and I can tell from onstage who knows the words and who really cares. That’s the best feeling in the world. The best compliment is to know you’ve been worth somebody’s time.

The absolute most memorable tour experience so far was in Carrboro, NC. This chick came up to us after the show and pointed at her thigh. It was a tattoo of an owl and next to it was the lyric, “Without you I am surely the last of our kind” from “Dream State…”. It took a second to realize what was going on, but I was shocked. I laid down on the concrete ground making guttural noises for second, then got up and thanked her for caring so much. I never imagined something like that would happen.

Photo by  Baohien Ngo

Photo by Baohien Ngo

In your music there’s this wonderful tension between the brazenness of rock and roll and vulnerability. Has music helped you be more honest about these feelings?

LD: Being vulnerable takes a lot of strength at first, but then it becomes really easy when you realize everyone wants to get to that point, but is waiting for anyone else to jump first. Ideally, being vulnerable in front of a crowd gives everyone else permission to do the same.

Who or what are some of your biggest influences in the art world?

LD: Oh man, good question. Recently, I’ve taken a very conscious exit from the art world because I’m disappointed in it’s inaccessible and wealth-oriented infrastructure. However, I will always love Miranda July and Agnes Varda—two ladies who value vulnerability and blunt honesty. I would describe them as fearless, but what’s actually so good about their work is that it contains fear, but looks it straight in the eye. It takes strength to admit fear.

I’ve also had life changing experiences with pieces of art [where] I haven’t known who the artist is. For the longest time, I was obsessed with what I would later find out was the painting Half Caste Child by Arthur Boyd. For years, it didn’t matter who made it or what the context was, I just couldn’t stop looking at that painting. 

Read the rest of the interview on pg. 19 here. 

#ReadBeforeYou: Thoughts on Disability and Representation in Cinema

By Rosie Accola 

Credit to Warner Brothers

Credit to Warner Brothers

~Spoiler Alert~

The film adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ novel, “Me Before You,” is already being hailed as a summer box office Blockbuster, with a star-studded cast including Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Sam Caflin (The Hunger Games). Based on trailers, soundtracked by the quintessential indie woes of The X Ambassadors and Ed Sheeran, the film seems like an opportunity for air-conditioned cinematic escapism at its’ best … and a purveyor of bullshit stereotypes surrounding disabled people’s quality of life at its worst.

The film follows Lou (Emilia Clarke) as she starts her job as a caregiver for a quadriplegic billionaire, Will Traynor, (Sam Caflin). Will and Lou fall in love as she attempts to help him see the good in life. She is infectiously bright and quirky, like any good manic pixie dream girl, she rocks snail buns, brings him flowers— yet to no avail. Eventually Will decides to kill himself via assisted suicide in Switzerland so he won’t hold his friends and family back.

The idea that disabled people are burdens, that there is no possibility of a quality life if that life happens to include a disability, is incredibly toxic and disappointing. One would think that having a disabled person as a main character in a film, especially as a character that is desired rather than desexualized, something that mainstream cinema rarely does, would be a positive thing. Even the saccharine nature of Will falling for his caregiver and vice versa seems almost forgivable, because for once a disabled character exists in the spotlight as someone with romantic interests. Yet, the fact that Will actively decides to end his life for fear of “holding [his partner] back” makes the film's execution a disservice to any sort of mainstream disability representation.

The notion that this experience, of caring for and loving will, somehow makes Lou a better person also perpetuates the narrative of inspiration porn— i.e that the existence of disabled people is noble just because they managed to exist and get out of bed despite being disabled. It’s best exemplified by experience rather than critical terminology, it’s when people tell you they “can’t even imagine” living with chronic pain/having to think through walking down stairs/being they shouldn’t drive etc.  Also by saying Will changed Lou, the film furthers the idea that in narrative art, disability is best used as a plot device or a prop rather than a real, nuanced experience.

This film serves as yet another opportunity for able-bodied actors to profit off of disability narratives. Rather than seek out an actor who was actually quadriplegic, Warner Bros decided to cast Sam Clafin— perhaps this decision was made due to the chemistry between Clafin and Clarke, or Clafin’s Hunger Games allure. Yet it speaks to Hollywood’s overwhelming tendency to utilize experiences of disability without consulting disabled writers, actors, or directors themselves.

Take for example, 2014’s Margarita with a Straw, the Bollywood film follows a young Indian girl named Laila with cerebral palsy as she attends college to study writing in New York. Laila deals with various bullshit aspects of existing while disabled in a university setting, she gets assigned a writing assistant even though she never requested one, but demurs because her writing assistant happens to be hot.  She wins the Battle of the Bands competition at her high school because “a disabled musician wrote the lyrics.” Laila responds to the announcers request for a few words by flipping her off, and it’s triumphant, the middle finger that inspiration porn always needed.

The film is also one of, maybe the only, film that honestly depicts sexuality and disability as coexisting entities. Laila masturbates. She makes out feverishly with another boy in a wheelchair, wheeling up close so she can better loop her arms around him. Once she’s in America, she falls in love with a feminist activist named Khanum, who happens to be a blind woman.  Their relationship gets all the trappings of a hetero box office smash, complete with a loved-up montage featuring two disabled women of color and it’s wonderful

Yet, the woman who plays Laila, Kalki Koechlin, is able bodied. Her movements, her attempts to move her arms in a stiff, titled manner, her head tilt, read as a parody there’s a hollowness. Koechlin has never actually dealt with the immense amounts of frustration that can be felt towards ones own body and knowing this almost feels like a betrayal. On one hand, I know it’s called acting for a reason, but I also know that disabled actors exist. At least, with Margarita,the disability rights group ADAPT was listed as a coproducer in the credits, which insinuates that the film got some input from people who are actually disabled. According to The Guardian, “The film, she says, took its cues from her cousin, Malini Chib, who was born with cerebral palsy and wrote about it in her autobiography, “One Little Finger”. The cousins are just a year apart in age, so they grew up together.” Throughout the film Leila’s mom also makes a point to explain to her college caregiver that, “Cerebral palsy only affects her fine motor skills, it has nothing to do with her intelligence” this is a display of empathy that Me Before You clearly lacks. It implies that disability is a facet of identity, a piece of a complicated whole rather than the defining factor. At the end of the film, Leila takes herself out for a drink, in a classic “treat yourself” fashion. She grabs a margarita, complete with a bendy straw she brought for herself. She asks the waitstaff to pour it into the cup she brought as well, one with a handle and a top, thus making it easier for her to hold. They oblige, and she sips her margarita contentedly, admiring herself in the mirror. Oftentimes in mainstream narratives, we rarely get to see disabled characters content by themselves— any modicum of personhood is always held in relationship to a caregiver or a partner. So to see Laila, out drinking by herself…reveling in her independence and her new haircut is downright affirming.

The tagline of Me Before You is #LiveBoldly, and Margarita with a Straw serves as a necessary reminder that disabled people can do just that, while ironically, Me Before You does not. Margarita With a Straw is the sort of representation that we need; we don’t need to see any more smarmy Forrest Gump bullshit, or any disabled people that exist merely as plot devices or life lessons. We need to remind people that disabled people can and do live boldly, margaritas in hand.