Music Spotlight: Pom Pom Squad
We can’t help but obsess over punk-grunge band Pom Pom Squad + their latest EP Ow, released earlier this month following pre-released singles Heavy Heavy, Honeysuckle, + Cherry Blossom. The 7-track EP is giving us all the best nostalgic vibes, creating the soundscape of our 90s grunge dreams with its lush guitar melodies + angsty vocals. Self-described as ‘Quiet Grrrl Punk’, the band, composed of vocalist + guitarist Mia Berrin, bassist Mari Alé Figeman, drummer Shelby Keller + guitarist Ethan Sass took the stage in New York for their EP release last night. We caught up with Mia all about the EP + their sound.
Asymmetric Magazine: Congrats on your recent EP Ow, including your pre-released single Honeysuckle! Can you tell us all about it?
Mia Berrin: Thank you! Honeysuckle is a song about anxiety and codependency. I used to push myself out of the way in relationships because it was ‘easier’ than admitting to my own fears and insecurities. At the time, becoming someone seemed easier than loving them. I wrote this song around the time I was starting to identify these behaviors. Noticing and naming the wound was the first step in healing it.
AM: How does Ow compare to your previous work and EP Hate It Here?
MB: I think on Ow, I’m allowing myself to be freer and more unhinged in a way I didn’t quite know how to be on Hate it Here. When I wrote Hate it Here, I was still pretty new to music. I didn’t know how to produce, and I had never played guitar intensively. It was a process I felt somewhat removed from because I didn’t have the language musically to ask for what I wanted yet. Ow, in a lot of ways, is an actualization of Hate It Here musically and emotionally. I really trusted myself and my bandmates in this process, and I can hear that in it.
AM: What’s a favorite memory from working on Ow with your bandmates?
MB: I have so many amazing memories of working on this EP. One that comes to mind is when we were trying to record the quietest part of the EP–the first verse of Cut My Hair. The space we recorded in was an extremely cramped room with paper-thin walls, and there was a band practicing down the hall, playing what I can only describe as ‘Transformers-esque alien-robot-synth-wave’ so loudly that it was bleeding into our mics. We did a few takes that were interrupted by bleed and waited to see if they would stop. The take that we ended using was recorded in a magical two-minute interval where the robots had stopped practicing for whatever reason. It was a very distinct moment in the process that felt, to me, like that third thing that enters the room when people are deeply focused or in love. We all felt it. When I opened my eyes our engineer and co-producer Tommy Ordway was curled up in a ball in the corner with his head between his knees. He told us he had been praying for quiet.
AM: We love your album art, too! How do you think it complements your sound?
MB: I’m very visually-minded. In the visuals for Ow specifically, I’ve gotten to exhaust a lot of ideas that I’ve been kicking around in my brain for a while. In the case of the Honeysuckle cover, the most literal interpretation seemed like the most fun. My favorite line in the song is, ‘sometimes I feel just like an insect crawling on your picnic table’, so of course, we had to do a picnic background. The following single Cherry Blossom is sort of a B-side to Honeysuckle in my head, so we made parallel covers for them that I’m very excited about.
AM: Are there any consistent themes you typically pursue through your music?
MB: I tend to write as a means of healing. I untie a lot of my emotional knots when I write.
AM: For first time listeners, how do you like to describe your sound?
MB: Quiet loud quiet music
AM: What other musicians are you currently listening to?
MB: I think the new Mannequin Pussy album Patience is brilliant—I’ve been listening to it a lot. I also recently revisited You Forget it in People by Broken Social Scene. I’m working on a very moody fall playlist here if you wanna check it out.
AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self and your music?
MB: When I’m practicing with my band. Or when I’m alone. I’m outgoing but actually really deeply introverted, so being alone feels like resurfacing after being underwater for too long.
being alone feels like resurfacing after being underwater for too long.
AM: You’ve been playing some shows recently; what can fans expect to see at a live Pom Pom Squad set?
MB: We’ve really switched up our show. Expect to see me looking like I’ve been possessed and/or staring at my bandmates like a big dumb puppy because I love them so much.
AM: What can we expect to hear from you next?
MB: Some more show announcements—we’re excited!
// listen to Ow:
// photos courtesy of Mia Berrin
// Listen to more Pom Pom Squad on Spotify.