Winning a Juno Award is truly an accomplishment, so a very late congratulations to you all! Moving forward from that, unfortunately, has placed us all in the midst of a global pandemic where life itself appears to be buffering a bit. With all that is going on, what has kept you motivated to continue creating and sharing your truth with the world?
Well, we just started writing again. I think for a while we were just taking a second. We really just finished the new record at the top of March, and we had gone on tour the day after we finished the record. We were on tour in Europe, but that was the tour that had to get canceled obviously because of COVID-19. We were really in the mindset of touring, so we’re just getting into the writing world. But what’s keeping me motivated? Well…making money [Laughs]. We make a living, obviously, off of this so I’m hoping to get to our third record sooner—maybe—because of all of this. We’ve just got more time to write and I think that’s the silver lining I’m finding here.
That actually leads me into my next question: how being quarantined has impacted the band’s creative process. You said it has given you all more time to write?
Yeah, totally. I think that if we had a tour for another year, I might have made another record like The Sun and Her Scorch. So I think it is really interesting that I get to have this time off at home and I get to live almost like I did before I was in a band. So maybe I’ll start writing about different things again. We’ll see.
On your writing: Your ability to tap into genuine fears and emotions and give them life in such a delicate but impactful way is not only impressive, but it’s also an integral part of forming authentic connections with your listeners, or “the heartbreak club” as you call them. How did that name come about, by the way?
Oh, I don’t know. I feel like the general consensus for people who listen to our music is like “oh, I was so sad and your music really helped me through it” so I feel like that was what it was [Laughs].
I want to transition into the latest release, “Roman Candles”, from the album The Sun and Her Scorch. I know the song is a product of that fear of deciding to take your own path and pursue music at the expense of the traditional university-to-salaried-job path that many of your friends have taken. As someone actively undergoing the tumultuous emotions that accompany pursuing your dreams, what are some words of advice that you would offer to those fans and folk who have also taken nontraditional roads to their own paths of success?
Oh God, I am the wrong person to ask. My road for that is not linear and changes every day. Following your dreams is wonderful, but obviously very tough. I think the biggest thing for me…I have my bandmates who are wonderful and I think that’s a unique situation to be in, having three people in the exact same situation as you. They have been just so wonderful with the ups and downs of the feeling of fucking up your life [Laughter]. So maybe my advice would be to find people in your life that provide stability for you and that you trust, and those who will tell you when you need to figure your shit out or to keep trying. Just surround yourself with good people I think would be my advice.
Good advice! Earlier when you said that your road is not linear, I think even that is something great to acknowledge. People tend to have very narrow ideas of what success means, and you saying, “Hey, my road is nontraditional, your road might also be nontraditional, but it’s not linear and that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing” is great advice in and of itself.
I think even emotionally, it’s not linear. Somedays I feel fucking awful and then the next days I feel pretty good about it. Another piece of advice would be to sleep on bad feelings and if it sticks with you in your gut, then maybe you should reassess the situation if you’re still feeling bad about it. But don’t act on those bad feelings instantly, because sometimes they just go away.
Jumping back to “Roman Candles”. First and foremost, you look good in it. Period. Also, the video concept was absolutely beautiful and very symbolic. Can you tell me about its development?
Thank you! We had a couple of other treatments but unfortunately, because of lockdown, we couldn’t all get together. So it had to be a socially-distant video, that’s why it’s only me in the video. I think I knew that I wanted fireworks in it, I just thought it would look sick [Laughs]. Then I was like, “Well how am I going to keep people’s attention for three and a half minutes on my own?” So I just decided: you know what? I’m going to dance! I got a choreographer who was wonderful and worked with me in a field, socially distant, one day and yeah, out came the music video.
Shifting over to The Sun and Her Scorch, itself. Although Baby Teeth, your sophomore album, was a symbol for growing up during those golden teenage years and all the sadness that accompanies that, this album seems to symbolize a lot of growing pains post-adolescence. Can you expand on this “Self-heartbreak” record as you described it, and some of the themes and messages embedded throughout?
So when we went to write The Sun and Her Scorch, I was having a hard time because I think I was trying to write more romantic heartbreak songs. Those were the most successful from Baby Teeth. People loved “Joshua” and “Backstroke” [the] most, so I think I felt pressure to write more songs like that. I realized that I wasn’t going through a breakup and anything that I was writing was coming out sounding really in-genuine. We need to reassess and figure out all the other ways a heart can break that aren’t romantic. I realized that there were a ton, and that I did it to myself almost daily. That opens up a whole new world of things to talk about when you’re not just talking about love.
I think I touched upon a lot of different things that maybe I wasn’t thinking about in my teens but I definitely am now in my early twenties. It feels almost like a second puberty or something and like no one talks about this. It’s like a quarter-life crisis I’m going through where I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m going to fucking die one day!” [Laughs] I’m growing older and my body is actually changing like I was in my teens. I’m getting lines around my eyes, and that’s scary. There’s just all these other things I’m starting to think about as I’m getting older and it fucking breaks my heart all the time. So yeah, that’s what it’s about.
What would you say was the most difficult song to write or to relive when creating The Sun and Her Scorch?
I think one of the songs that tugs on my heartstrings still is a song called “Ten”. It’s about growing old with somebody that you love a lot and them dying—which is one of those fears I was just touching on. I really like that song because it’s just about so much love and all the really intimate things that go on in a relationship and how one day, all of those things don’t exist anymore. That was probably the hardest one to write and is really hard to listen to, still.
Thank you for sharing that with me and for bringing that perspective into life in that way. Since we talked about the most difficult song to write, what song from the record was the most fun to write?
The most fun was “Ten”. Absolutely.