Lollapalooza 2023 Recap – Artist Interviews

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Lollapalooza 2023 Recap – Artist Interviews
Lollapalooza 2023 Recap – Artist Interviews

Lollapalooza Music Festival celebrated its 32nd edition this past weekend in Chicago’s historic Grant Park, and we were there to capture the festivities – see our 2023 recap here.

Photo by Ismael Quintanilla lll

We were lucky enough to speak with many of the talented performers about playing Lollapalooza, their musical process, new music, and much more. View all interviews below:


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Your second album Blame My Ex will be released in September. Can you tell me more about the process of putting the album together and the main themes behind it?
Jordan Miller: Blame My Ex kind of came at a very strange time for us as a band. It was just after Covid, we’d been dropped from our label, and we had fired our managers and changed management teams. We really wanted to take the opportunity to explore a new sort of sound for us and be really creative and throw away all the labels and all the preconceptions about our music. As we were exploring this I was dumped and the records kind of about dealing with those compounded losses as a band but also as a single woman, and learning to rediscover yourself and feel empowered being a single woman and being an independent person.
Eliza Enman-McDaniel: Yeah it’s not 100% about the break-up itself, it’s about what happens afterwards. It’s about rediscovering your love for yourself, your friendships, and new possible romantic relationships. It’s not about just the break-up, it’s about the whole process.

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Eliza: Every song was different. Either Jordan would come in with a kind of a theme about the lyrics that she wanted to write about, or one of us would have a guitar line or start with a drumbeat. And honestly every song started differently, but we wanted to make sure that each song was saying something different.
Kylie Miller: We had two collaborators: a co-writer and producer Lowell, and our other co-writer and producer Gus Van Go. We hadn’t done that in a couple of years. We used to go on writing trips to LA a lot and then we kind of just became the four of us writing together so it was really great to come back and collaborate and it was just a very open honest discussion about everything we were going through and everything we were listening to.
Jordan: Sort of half musical discussion half therapy session.

You’ve played a lot of festivals this year already – but how did it feel to play Lollapalooza?
Jordan: I can’t believe it’s over frankly, I kind of want to go back and do it again it was so fun.
Leandra Earl: We get really nervous leading up to huge moments like this and then it’s over so quick so we try to stop and appreciate it and really just enjoy the moment.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Kylie: I have been obsessed with Boygenius of course – just like the whole world.
Eliza: I’ve been listening to the Barbie soundtrack just a little bit too much. I love “Speed Drive” by Charli XCX it’s so good.
Jordan: Yeah I love I’m Just Ken – that’s all i’ve been listening to.
Leandra: The new Aces album is their best work and they’ve been crushing it.

What’s next for you?
Eliza: We’re going on the Blame My Ex Tour which we’re really excited about and going through basically the whole east coast of the United States and then through Canada and then we’ll be back again next year.

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On playing Lollapalooza: 

“It felt really, really amazing. I feel like that was my favorite U.S. festival. it was lovely.”

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You’ve have a busy few days coming up playing multiple Lollapalooza stages. How does that feel?
Cole Hutzler: Exhilarating, wild fun, all the feelings.
Brent Burdett: Surreal.
Bardo: It feels sexy.
Cole: It feels super slay.
Bardo: It feels super slay. Yeah that’s what it is. Too long, didn’t read, super slay.

You’ve also had a whirlwind of a year – first on tour with Jxdn, then on tour with blink-182. I saw your set at Madison Square Garden when you opened for blink-182. How were those experiences?
Bardo: That was a wild one for us. It was a surreal one because there were so many of our friends there. And I think that was the moment it hit me and I’m like whoa, our friends from LA and like industry people are out here watching us play Madison Square Garden like we need to deliver. It was great and crazy and felt weird it was so cool. It was also crazy because we had an MTV performance earlier that day, so we literally got to the venue and had 20 minutes to put all our stuff on stage before we played. Like none of our stuff was on stage and we had 20 minutes. So we’re up there running. It was awesome. But you know high risk, high reward.
Brent: Controlled chaos. 

Any fun tour stories?
Cole: It’s been pretty exciting. I think it’s like – it’s life you know, constant ebb and flow, constant ups and downs. I think we’re always learning and always trying to rediscover ourselves and figure out how we can optimize our growth as a band, as individuals. So that’s really the exciting part. And then sometimes we get the little freak moments in between where your super icon childhood heroes are acknowledging what you’re doing.
Bardo: A lot of ups and downs but net positive. We’re on our way up and it’s great. It’s a good reminder that our lives are crazy and it seems crazy, but we deal with the same ups and down that every single person deals with, and we still have to wake up every morning and figure out how we’re going to have fun today. So there’s a lot of figuring out how to have fun. We’re grateful. Very, very, grateful.

Your sophomore album READY TO EAT will release this fall. Can you tell me more about the process of putting it together?
Bardo: I don’t even remember it. We just blacked out and did it.
Brent: This one was exciting just because I think we are ready to go onto our next era, because we don’t want to do the same thing twice. We were battling where we wanted to take that. So we were writing a bunch of different styles and stuff, and then we finally landed on something that feels like an elevation from everything else that we’ve put out. And we’re just trying to forever change and grow and be a new artist every time we drop stuff.
Bardo: This is the first step into our next chapter of sound. 

What are the main themes of the album?
Cole: It’s really just about our lives and our personal histories and the crazy shit that we’ve endured and been through to get to this point.
Brent: Every song is a different story.
Bardo: Yeah it’s not like one thing. We really try to write about real life experiences. I don’t think we’ve ever written a song about – at least one that’s out that wasn’t real. Like real shit happens.
Brent: I would say this one touches on low points, but also like a lot of love interactions.
Cole: For sure. I don’t know, it’s funny because we have one song that talks a little bit about mental health. But aside from that – like most of our stuff in the past has been about mental health, but I think this time has been a little bit more about struggles with like relationships and drugs and you know family and certain things that just happen in life that you have to swallow and deal with and turn you into an adult. 

You just dropped the track “beautiful waste.” When writing a song, what is your process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Bardo: Simultaneous combustion. We take all our clothes off and just scream as loud as we can until something comes out of that – and that’s how we got “beautiful waste.” It pretty much was that. But in all seriousness, that one specifically and like many others kind of comes from one little idea spark. With that one we went to our good friend Andrew Goldstein’s house. Andrew Goldstein is a phenomenal producer and we had this little idea that I had started on the Jxdn tour and I just played the beat for it. It was just like this fast drum beat. And then we ended up scraping all the music on top of it and Cole would start playing some chords and we had some hook ideas. And then it’s just like everyone throws ideas and we’re beating each other’s ideas until we get the best mega idea.
Cole: It’s like when you’re making your parents breakfast as a kid and you think like this will be good in the eggs.
Bardo: Like throwing in vinegar – sometimes it tastes terrible.
Cole: This time around it tastes really good.
Bardo: Music is literally cooking. That’s, that’s all it is. We’re just cooking with sounds. We’re sonic chefs. We’re like the Gordon Ramsay of chronic flavors and cool beats.
Cole: How to make the perfect beat in 2 minutes.
Bardo: That would be a crazy show. A cooking show set up but for making beats, like making music. It’s called The Cookbook and we go all “No! What snare is that?”
Cole: We have Gordon Ramsey in our studio saying “Terrible, absolutely terrible.”
Bardo: This is how our ideas are formed, we just throw things out there. This is literally us making music.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Cole: A band called Speed. They are an Australian hardcore band that is just absolutely obliterating the scene right now. Also Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile.
Brent: I’ve been listening to Knox and Stray from the Path, and a lot of Bring Me The Horizon.
Bardo: I’ve been listening to a lot of Noah Kahan. Bon Iver as always, and Del Water Gap.

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You’ve had a whirlwind of a festival year, bringing your immersive show to multiple festivals including Coachella, The Governors Ball, and Electric Forest. How does it feel to be bringing that experience to Lollapalooza?
Sophie: It feels amazing. We played Lollapalooza a long time ago right at the beginning of our career so its very cool to be back.
Tucker: Yeah I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to play at one of these big stages at this festival because it always looks like so huge so I’m excited to play it. 

Your live show is intricate with lots of moving parts – from backup dancers to interacting with a playground setup. How did the idea for your stage show come about?
Sophie: We talked about it many, many years ago, and we just kept hitting logistical issues because of safety, cost, et cetera.
Tucker: Honestly, it was a logistical thing. We are finally at the size shows where we can pull it off and have a large enough crew to help and take heavy set pieces on the road.
Sophie: We wanted it to be a combination of playground, architecture, and the tropics. So we kind of mix all of it together. 

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey? What is your process?
Sophie: It really depends on the song – literally everyone is different. I think it depends on what is the most inspiring in the moment.
Tucker: Sometimes Sophie will have a poem she wrote or I’ll have a beat that I made or a guitar riff or say a reference idea that gives us an idea.
Sophie: Like a visual that we want it to sound like.
Tucker: A lot of times we’ll come in from a night out or from a show and be really inspired and something will just come up.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Tucker: A lot of unreleased Sofi Tukker.
Sophie: I just did a nice gym workout yesterday with Burna Boy radio. And it was so good. I couldn’t stop dancing in the gym, drawing a lot of attention to myself.

What is next for Sofi Tukker?
Tucker: We have been working on an awful lot of music, and that’s the most exciting stuff and we can’t really tell you about it because honestly we’re not even fully sure what the plans are – but we have a lot of touring to do and we can definitely promise that there’s more music than ever and it’s really fun.

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How does it feel to be playing multiple stages at Lollapalooza?
Isabel: I’m just so happy to be here and am just grateful that i’m able to do all of this stuff. I feel like when we stop all the chaos my body is just going to shut down; but it really is such an honor to be playing at all these things and I’m so grateful. 

You make all of your music with your brother Thomas. When you are creating a song – what comes first? Do you write the lyrics, or do you have an overall idea of what you want to convey?
Isabel: It’s usually melody – a main melody and a main lyric first. I feel like the hook of the song is the most important part of the song so it usually starts with main lyric and a main melody. When that’s right, we’ll decide whether the chorus needs other lyrics and then add pre-melody and pre-lyrics and then decide what the production feel should be from there. So that’s usually how it starts, but it kind of can be whatever. Honestly, we write so much stuff on just acoustic guitar. So it really depends, but that’s generally the timeline for things.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Isabel: NewJeans – i’ve been listening to a lot of NewJeans. I wish I could have seen them because I was playing at the same time. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Cigarettes After Sex and “Dumbest girl alive” by a 100 gecs is a really good running song. I just feel like everybody’s been dropping music recently. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Ari Abdul.

What’s next for you – any new music coming out?
Isabel: I definitely have some tour stuff coming up but nothings been revealed yet. I have some tours coming up that I’m really really excited about. There’s one specific tour that I’m very, very excited for. We’re working on new music right now. Thomas literally just sent me a bunch of mixes for things, and we wanna get a new song out very soon. So a lot of new things that I’m very excited about.

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This is your first music festival. How did it feel for your first festival performance to be at Lollapalooza?
Christian: It felt great. I was so ecstatic – there were a lot more people that came than I was expecting. I tried to crowd surf and it didn’t work out very well – but everything else was great. It was a blast. 

Your EP Why Do I Hear Breathing was released earlier this year. Can you tell me more about the process of putting it together?
Christian: Each song in the EP is just kind of a grieving process for an emotion in a relationship. Starting off with when you first like somebody and then ending with acceptance of it not being the right fit after a long emotional journey.

Did you work with anyone when putting the EP together?
Christian: I just grabbed a bunch of my producer friends and told them to do individual things for it, and then we just threw this giant creative pile of love together to make an EP.

You released a new track “Take Me Back” yesterday. When writing a song, what is your process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Christian: It’s usually a mix of lyric, melody, and idea. After we come up with what the general vibe is, then we come up with the idea of the song and flush it out – kind of like a story and then write to that idea.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Christian: Friday Pilots Club, Noah Kahan, Billie Eilish. 

What’s next for you? Any new projects you’re working on?
Christian: “Take Me Back” is part of an EP. So I have another EP coming out that’s going to have “I Won’t Beg For You” on it and three or four other songs; and then a song coming out with Natalie Jane which is going to be dope – i’m excited for that.

Can you tell me more about the theme of the upcoming EP?
Christian: It’s really just like a mix of naturistic sounding folk music and it’s a whole different vibe than I usually go for. But it’s cool and I’m really excited for it.


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You just finished your Lolla set – how did it feel?
Loviet: It was great – it was super fun. It was a good way to start the day.

Your EP The Nighttime Is All In The Timing came out earlier this year. What was the process like with creating it?
Loviet: It’s my favorite record that I’ve made so far, just because I got to really do whatever I wanted. I worked with two artists, their band name is Now, Now and they’re based in Minnesota, that’s where we tracked the record. I was a big fan of theirs and it was kind of this cool meant to be moment because I was inspired by their music when I was sort of branching out into a more pop/indie sort of space from more of a rock space originally. So it was really cool because they were really inspiring to me, and that was years before we had met or really worked together. And then fast forward to that record, I was writing it and I was recording the demos and preparing to make this record and didn’t really know where I’d record it or who I’d be working with and we just sort of reached out and got to meet Brad and Casey who are the band members and we basically formed a cool connection with them and got to have them produce the record with me so it was really special. It was definitely my favorite work, like the whole EP’s kind of a concept record and it just feels like a really special and personal body of work – and sounds the most like me to date.

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Loviet: I feel like everyone is different. Each song is kind of different, but I do this thing where I have a lot of boxes that I want to check when I’m making records because it’s a different experience every time. So if I do one record, then with the next one I know what I wanna do for the next one and vice versa. So the EP had a lot of boxes that I got to check which was like I wanted a lot more guitars and I wanted to play more myself and do a lot more vocally. I wanted to sing more like myself which is louder than what I would do live so that was a big box that I wanted to check. I also wrote it between the span of November and March. So it was just a couple months and it’s kind of a darker album because of the winter in Canada and things like that. So it was kind of a darker period, and just a lot of things that felt more personal to me and more like about me specifically and just my experience as an artist. It was kind of cool. But I feel like each time it’s different. A lot of the time I like to focus on the guitar more and the words will come after. 

You’re currently on tour – what has been your favorite city so far? Any fun tour stories?
Loviet: I loved playing the Danfourth in Toronto, that was very cool. It’s one of my favorite venues. I feel like that was a venue we were the most excited to play coming into Toronto; having moved there and then seeing that venue and going to shows there ourselves so it’s very cool.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Loviet: I am back on an old kick like I’m into the nineties stuff so deep right now. I’ve been listening to Third Eye Blind for two years straight. Then also Cheryl Crow like her self-titled record and then her first record. I’ve also just been keeping a pulse on what’s going on and what’s hip and trending, but I’ve always been a Lana fan and I’m a huge Ethel Cain fan so those are my two biggest right now.

What’s next for you? Any new projects?
Loviet: Speaking of Ethel Cain, one of the producers for her actually is in Toronto and we got to meet with him and we started working with him a little bit. So we did an EP that’s coming out September 29th and it’s a three-song EP and it’s kind of like my sad summer sampler. I also got to co-produce it with him which is a very big move for me and is exciting. It’s got a bit of that sort of down tempo but is still very kind of moody and cool and full of guitars and things more raw than my other EPs I think. The next plan is to work on another album in September so the fall we’ll release the EP and then we’ll head straight back into the studio.

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How does it feel to be here and to play Lollapalooza?
Fred Rabe: It’s an honor, honestly. It’s just a huge honor to be on this bill, on the line up. It’s incredible. I can remember that when we were super young, because we are cousins we’ve known each other for quite a while, and I can remember that we saw all the livestream videos from Lollapalooza Chicago when we were super young. So this is definitely a dream come true for us. I mean especially as a German band to play at Lollapalooza Chicago is just crazy. We are from a small town in the western part of Germany, and it just feels very, very special to be here. We are very grateful.

How was the band created?
Finn Schwieters: Fred and I have been doing music together for, I don’t know, I think we started out when we were like six years old, six or seven. We had our first band and we met the other guys in high school. We were searching for the right people. It wasn’t easy because you know as Fred said, we are from a small town in the western part of Germany. It wasn’t easy to find the right people for the project and the idea that we had and for the kind of music. But we got really, really lucky, and we met Jonathan and Finn, they went to the same high school, and then we met Luca our bass player through a mutual friend. And it’s just, it’s crazy to think that five people made the decision to do this for a living now and to really go all in. We had this idea when we were 16 years old and now we are 20 and we still do it and it works and that’s very special
Fred: I think so too. it’s definitely an honor to be able to do this. A huge privilege for us. 

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Finn: It’s always music first.
Fred: It’s always music first all the time. But I thought about it and maybe we should change it, try something else.
Finn: Yeah that could be fun.
Fred: I just thought about it a few days ago to start with lyrics. When we come back home you know it could be fun. So we try to find new ways all the time to be honest. So it’s always different. There’s no recipe for writing songs which is a good thing.
Finn: It’s really important to always change the system and not do it all the same. So I really like the idea of starting with lyrics next time.
Fred: Get out of our comfort zone. 

You just finished a tour with Louis Tomlinson. Do you have any fun tour stories? A favorite city?
Fred: Oh favorite city is really hard because we spent so much time in so many beautiful cities. I love Chicago, honestly. I love Chicago. It’s so cool.
Finn: When we tried to get to America…
Fred: Oh my God that story.
Finn: It’s kind of fun.
Fred: Okay now it’s fun.
Finn: So I think during that time there were a lot of thunderstorms on the East Coast and many flights got cancelled and all that and I think all flights that we wanted to take in New York to Nashville where we were supposed to play the next day also got delayed. And then, I don’t know they put us on a wait list. And we were waiting on the standby list, already being awake for like 30 hours. And so the plane was boarding after waiting I don’t know at the gate for 4 hours or something like that. And then three of us got through and then they just closed the gate and we left behind Fred and John.
Fred: And I was so angry.
Finn: Fred was like “guys i’m going back home.”
Fred: It’s very embarrassing. Now looking back, it’s embarrassing how angry I was. But I was really angry. And you have to you know still have in mind that you have to play a show tomorrow. Yeah that was weird. But Louis and his crew were fun, probably one of the best tours we ever did. And there was a pool party after the show in Columbia (MD) and in the backstage they had this huge pool. And at some point people got drunk and Louis’s crew and security guys threw all the crew members in. And so at some point they threw me in the pool which was – well it was a really nice really good pool party. But that’s one fun story from tour.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Finn: I’m really in love with the new album from Suki Waterhouse. And then to be honest, like when on tour and when finalizing your own record like at the moment I find it really hard to listen to music. I usually listen to music when we’re not working on new stuff and when we’re not on tour.
Fred: I feel like that’s a good thing to be honest. You don’t have to spend all your time listening to music, because I feel like maybe it distracts you sometimes. But yeah there’s so much good music. I really love Olivia Dean.

What’s next for you? Any new projects you’re working on?
Fred: We’re just about to finalize our second record at the moment. We just released a song today, it’s called “Somebody Like You.” When we come back home in August and September, we’re going to play festivals of course but besides that we’re going to finalize the album which is very exciting for us because I personally think it’s our best work to date and I’m very proud of that. 


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How does it feel to be playing Lollapalooza – especially as a local band?
Caleb Hiltunen: It’s kind of wild to be playing somewhere that I used to just come hang out at during college. You know, it’s cool. And I’m not even talking about Lollapalooza but Grant Park in general.
Eric Doar: It is crazy, especially just being from here and coming as a kid and stuff. It is crazy coming to play and it’s nostalgic. It’s just humbling. It’s a very cool thing to be a part of.

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Drew Polovick: It’s totally different every time. It’s funny like you might pick up a guitar and there’s like for some reason there’s just chords you gravitate toward and you might write a full instrumental thing and then write lyrics. But then also there’s times you might be like watching a movie and there’s like a word that sticks out to you or you’re reading a book or you’re driving and you see a billboard and there’s something that sticks out. So it’s different every time and there’s no hard and fast rule for what comes first or how it happens.
Caleb: We’re all over the board. All five of us write and we run into people and it surprises people and inversely when I meet a band where it’s like one person writes I’m like oh that’s weird. We just got very tapped into the Friday Pilots Club sound and we realized all five elements have a very unique thing to offer to that sound in general. Like I know a Sean guitar riff. When I hear it within seconds I’m like that’s Sean.
Drew: And it’s cool too because I think we all have such a unique approach and thing we offer that it’s cool because it’s like we can offer up an idea for the other one that can then go and refine that idea further and like really bring it to the next level for the song. So it’s really cool. And I feel like we don’t really put out a song that the five of us don’t touch in some way like we all will have a hand in it.
Sean Burke: I feel like “Hot Mess” to me is the perfect culmination. There was a time where we tried it almost separately like you know me and Drew or Drew and James or whatever. And we would do a bunch of different random things but then “Hot Mess” came along. It’s kind of the perfect culmination of like pop and rock.
James Kourafas: You definitely hear everybody’s part.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Caleb: Colter Wall – I love that guy so much. He’s so cool, he’s my favorite Canadian.
Drew: Paris Texas. That new Paris Texas record is so cool. It just makes me feel excited about alternative music and rock music again. And it’s like guitars but it doesn’t feel like guitars. I don’t know, it’s just exciting. They’re an amazing group.
Sean: I’ve been listening to this band called Deerhoof. They take like really classic rock and kind of make it just a little left center. Sometimes they go really far, but the most recent record I’ve been listening to is called The Magic and I feel like it’s got really catchy melodies and the songs are really well executed. They’re a sick band.
James: I’ve been listening to a lot of Baxter Dury.
Eric: We just came off like, two weeks of just Friday Pilot stuff music so I’m like what was I listening to like three weeks ago.
Sean: Dude you’re just trying not to say Umphrey.
Eric: Yeah it was pretty much all Umphrey’s McGee. Also COIN, and I was listening to Uncanny Valley a lot recently.

What’s next for you? Any new projects?
James: We are making new songs.
Drew: We’re gonna make a lot of new songs. We’ve had a crazy year and I think it’s time for us to just settle down, do some new music, and be like all right it’s time for the new era.
James: Off the record – hella new songs.
Drew: On the record – some new songs.

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Your set is a little over an hour from now – how does it feel to soon play Lollapalooza?
Aidan: I’m still wrapping my head around it. Playing festivals has always been a dream of mine, and so I think my younger self would be freaking out right now. I’m going over it in my head, but I feel like once I get out there it will all hit me. 

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Aidan: I’m very sonically driven, so a lot of times it’ll come from guitar, piano, and then lyrics will follow but it kind of just depends on the situation. I definitely am a fan of  getting the music right first though. 

Do you have any collaborators you like to work with?
Aidan: That also depends. I have a set up in my house so sometimes I’ll start out there and bring it to friends. I have a close group of friends that we kind of just work together which is really nice being able to hit every friend and be like hey let’s have a little hang or something.

Are you working on any new music?
Aidan: Yeah we’re putting out a little EP in the fall which I’m really excited about, it’ll come out right before we go on our first headline tour. Also with the tour, being here is kind of a first step: longer set, cooler transitions and all that stuff so getting used to all that. And then kind of feel what worked, what didn’t work that sort of thing. 

Who have you been listening to lately?
Aidan: I always listen to Coldplay, The 1975, The Strokes, The Killers are always my top four. The girl that I’m bringing on tour with me – her name is Anna Shoemaker and she makes incredible music and is kind of indie/alt so I’m stoked to play with her. 

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How does it feel to play Lollapalooza?
Ari: Honestly I think it’s the most surreal thing ever. Two years ago I was not doing music at all. I come from being one of the biggest fan girls, so I would always go to Gov Ball in New York, go to Rolling Loud, all these festival and concerts and to actually be here and play on a stage is the most unreal thing to me ever. I still haven’t processed it but i’m super grateful to be here.

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Ari: I would say concept first. I loved making all my songs and projects based around a subject or a story and telling that story so for example my song “HUSH” – I wanted to write a song about intrusive thoughts and there was my concept. Then comes production – how is the song going to sound? Will it be dark or upbeat? And then from there we just hum melodies and write lyrics. In the start it was just me and my best friend, and now I have been able to work with others and learn other styles so it’s always a really fun process. 

What have you been working on lately? Any new songs?
Ari: I’ve been working on a new project i’m super super excited for and I love the concept of the new project which is coming out before the end of the year. The theme is chaotic – it’s a little scary and crazy, it’s emotional. I would best describe it as a rollercoaster of emotion and mania. 

Who have you been listening to lately?
Ari: Lana. I am such a Lana girl, I always have been. I think whoever forms your music taste when you’re first getting that sense of self influences you. Mine were Lana Del Rey, The Neighborhood, Arctic Monkeys.  


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Your set was earlier today – how did it feel to play Lollapalooza?
Sarah: It felt so good, it was really incredible. I was just really floored by the crowd that came out. I was really nervous playing so early in the day would be like, I don’t know, nerve racking or no one would come like of course I was just being a bit anxious about it, but it was an absolute dream and I couldn’t have asked for a better time it was so great.

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Sarah: I think a lot of the time it is some sort of feeling whether that’s expressed in text through lyrics, or sometimes I’ll have a melody. It’s really 50/50.

You come from a classical music background. How does that influence your work?
Sarah: It influences the way I think and the way I hear music which is a good and bad thing. I think because classical music is really, it’s not strict, but there’s a lot of form and there’s so much structure. And I think that my mind has been changed from that sort of education which I’m really grateful for, but it influences things that I do or think about or how I write music because there’s flow, there’s organization, there’s different sounds. I love string instruments, I love orchestras, I love piano. So I think that it’s really influenced  not only who I am as a person but how I think about music..

On a similar topic – your EP Ascension came out earlier this summer and it’s about creating an unknown ethereal place. How did that idea come about?
Sarah: It was just crazy to me because I’ve been writing a lot of these songs about revisiting memories. I write a lot about time and I have this inside joke with my partner about how – and a lot of people have actually spoken about this like directors who have spoken about this too but the idea that your relationship with memories with one person, it’s like a little island. It’s a place that you hold onto and only you two can access. I think it was a director who said this but the language that only two people speak, and that idea of a place where all of these things live was so compelling to me. It was just interesting as someone who had lost friends throughout the year, people who I knew that were no longer around, and that blessing and a curse of the thing that we hold onto this place that we return to was just really beautiful. So I wanted to write about that.

What is your favorite song that you’ve released?
Sarah: I think off of the recent album I love “Lovegod” and I love playing it because that’s the most quirky and silly I’ve been in my music. When i was younger and starting to write. I thought I had to be really serious with a lot of melancholy, a lot of drama, a lot of seriousness. And “Lovegod” was one of the first times that I really just said silly things. I say the word prick and that’s something so silly you know. I talk about being in a bar, being desperate for love. It was really the first time that I just let loose so I love that song.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Sarah: I’ve had this song by Tennis stuck in my head all day, it’s called “Never Work for Free.” It’s so good and sounds great. Also a Canadian named MorMor is an artist who’s indie-rock and who I think deserves a lot more hype, I love his music. I’m listening to a lot of Frou Frou and Imogen Heap – lots of old stuff. Also this new band The Last Dinner Party. They’re really great, I love their sound. 

What’s next for you? Any new projects?
Sarah: I’m going on tour for the rest of the year. My band and I are opening for Gus Dapperton in the fall, and I’m opening for Weyes Blood in a week which I’m really nervous about since I’m doing that solo which will be crazy but I’m very excited about that. I’m also just writing, trying to figure out my next body of work and trying to make it the best thing ever. 

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How does it feel to be playing Lollapalooza?
Upsahl: Insane, i’m so excited. It feels like a little full circle moment because I played in 2019 on the BMI stage and that was my first time ever playing a music festival. I was freaking out. And so now that I get to be back playing one of the bigger stages I’m really excited.

The concept of THE PHX TAPES with the Side A’s and Side B’s is really creative – where did the concept come from?
Upsahl: At the beginning of the year I just decided that in the studio I was going to not care about genre anymore and just make whatever I wanted to do. And that resulted in me having so many songs that I loved. I was like we have to figure out how to get all these out. And so I somehow convinced my team into letting me put out two songs at a time basically all year. Making the project felt like how I felt when I started music as a kid back in Phoenix, just very freeing, and so it had to be called THE PHX TAPES. I was like this is an ode to where I come from. It just feels very experimental. And volume three comes out in a couple weeks, and the Side A  that I called “0 or 100” is  i’m pretty sure my favorite song I’ve ever done.

What is your songwriting process – do you usually work on the lyrics first, find a melody, or have an idea that you want to convey?
Upsahl: Normally it’s just kind of an idea or like an emotion. Sometimes I’ll come in with a title or concept, but normally we just kind of get in the studio and I start treating it like therapy and I start talking about my life. And then we’ll all start talking (me and my co-writers) and then somewhere along the lines of conversation someone accidentally blurts out the title and then everyone’s like “oh we need to talk about that.” So that’s kind of how the lyrics come to me. Production wise, musically, I add songs to a playlist and so I’ll just pull from that playlist like a cool song that I love and be like we should do something that sounds like this drum pattern or this bass tone. Drawing inspiration from other music is really helpful.

Who have you been listening to lately?
Upsahl: I love Remi Wolf, I am forever obsessed with her. I’ve recently been listening to a lot of the old No Doubt albums like Rock Steady. I’m in my sad girl era listening to a lot of Bon Iver which has been great, and I feel like that has kind of been seeping its way into my songs as well, like the more ballad type of stuff so it’s been fun.

What’s next for you? Any new projects?
Upsahl: THE PHX TAPES will be done by the end of the year we’re doing five volumes. So at the end of the year I’ll put out volume five and that project will be done. I’m also in the meantime just working on hopefully a new album for next year which will be sick. Lots of touring – some festivals here, some festivals in Europe which will be cool. And then I get to open for Tove Lo on tour in September which I’m so excited for.

Photos by Ann Storlie (@ast_lie) and Website

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