Hey! “Presents: A Simple Solution for Toxic Masculinity” weaves a bold narrative around gender themes and horror. Can you share what specifically inspired you to explore the concept of feeding toxically masculine figures to a vampire lover?

A: I met someone once that was so abhorrent to me that I wrote “Really Cute” and “Eyeliner” about them based on the question “what would it be like to date you?” This person was the image of toxic masculine to me; they talked over people, they belittled others, and had this unnecessary and unwarranted alpha attitude. I remember having these two songs and this rage and immediately knowing where the story I was about to tell needed to go, and it needed to go to the vampires. Writing Presents… was a cathartic way to release a lot of the built up rage I have about toxic masculinity, and I love a good horror story.

Your music has been described as a seamless fusion of punk, folk, pop, and art rock. How do you navigate blending such diverse genres, and what challenges do you face in ensuring your sound remains cohesive?

A: I remember hearing somewhere that you need to make what you want to see, and I really took that to heart. I love listening to music, and I listen to a really wide variety of genres, but I wanted to make something that I wanted to see in the world of music. I go with my gut on all of the styles and sounds I blend into each song, and it’s all based on the visuals I have in my head. I develop the pictures as I’m playing with just my ukulele, and sometimes the biggest challenge I have is creating the sonic landscape that accurately brings the story in my head to life. 

Your love for horror is a profound element of your music. Can you discuss how horror influences your songwriting process and whether any particular films, books, or artists have been significant influences?

A: I’ve always had a penchant for horror. I remember as a kid getting caught up in the campy horror marathons they’d have running during Halloween. The Misfits are definitely one of the most notorious horror punk acts out there, and I’m obsessed with their sound: the doo-wop chord progressions, the horror theme, the melodic lines. I read a lot of novels that span the horror genre. I definitely think my love of reading influences my work. Sometimes an author will use a word or a particular phrase that jumpstarts my brain.

The album title and theme are both audacious and unique. Is there a personal story or experience that led you to tackle the theme of toxic masculinity in such an unconventional way?

A: I myself am both audacious and unique! I tend to avoid thinking inside the box, and I get a real thrill out of shocking people. My voice as a writer is heavily infused in each song, and I don’t think people expect a blonde girl with a ukulele to be so angry and dark. I do remember being catcalled by grown men when I was hardly thirteen; every year since there’s always something to remind me that toxic masculinity is very real. It’s definitely been a build up of stories and experiences that pushed me to write this album.

Could you walk us through your creative process for writing and recording the album? How did the collaboration with Shannon McArthur contribute to the album’s production?

A: I wrote all of the songs over the course of the Summer of 2022! I recorded rough demos of everything in my walk in closet using absolutely terrible equipment. Most of the album has been recorded in my closet, but since I first started I’ve gotten better equipment. The songs have been with me for a very long time. I became acquainted with Shannon toward the end of the summer when he reached out and offered to produce a five song EP with me. I picked five to record out in Nashville, and it was incredible to hear the story I was creating start to come to life. Over the months after releasing the EP, I worked with Shannon to finish it. Shannon is a great friend, and we work really nicely together. He totally gets that I have a very clear vision of what the music needs to sound like, and he is so helpful in finding the sounds I need to bring the story to life. 

Given the provocative nature of the album’s theme, what kind of reactions are you anticipating from your audience? Are there any particular messages or feelings you hope listeners will take away from the album?

A: I’ve already had men tell me they want to wash my mouth out with soap; that my partner must be terrified of me; I should do comedy; and that I must be a delight to date so I’m prepared for anything.  I know some in the universe will be upset that anyone could ever say mean things about toxic masculinity. 

I am looking forward to this album finding the people who need it. The people who have been told to “man up,” and deny their emotional side; the people who don’t want to be confined to traditional gender norms; the people who have been talked down to or overlooked because of how they present in a world dominated by toxic masculinity. The people that need a wing-woman on their side as they stand defiantly in the face of the patriarchy. I hope listeners hear this album and know that together we can be the change we want to see in the world, just without the vampires and stuff.

Your signature ukulele plays a pivotal role in your music. Can you explain how this instrument influences your sound and why you chose it as your musical companion?

A: I dabbled with the ukulele in high school, but I really took to it in college. It’s been with me since! I don’t see a lot of ukulele in mainstream music, and I feel like ukulele doesn’t get taken seriously in the mainstream world of music. The ukulele is a really great instrument, and I hope by continuing to feature it in my music I get other people interested in it. From a logistical standpoint, load in and travel as a musician are a breeze with a ukulele; I can typically claim it as my personal item on a flight and it’s super easy to put in my car when I hit the road.

How has your classical training influenced your approach to music, especially in genres that are traditionally less associated with classical music, like punk and pop?

A: My classical training has definitely impacted my voice, but in a good way.  I’ve embraced that my voice will probably never sound traditionally punk or pop, but thanks to my vocal training and production my voice will last me an incredibly long time. I was, and still am, a theory nerd. I love following standard progressions and harmonic structures, but I get a thrill out of flipping them every once in a while. A lot of punk and pop stick to very standard chord progressions; there’s that joke that you can learn four chords and play every pop song ever, and they’re not entirely wrong. I think my training helps throw a little spice into pop and punk, I’m pretty sure it’s what earned me the genre label of “art rock.”

Now that “Presents: A Simple Solution for Toxic Masculinity” is set to release, do you have any plans for future projects? Can we expect a continuation of the themes explored in this album or something entirely different?

A: I am actually working on new music right now! It’s nice to be telling a new story. Without giving too much away my next project still touches on some themes from this album, but it’s very much about something else entirely. Still audacious, but audacious in the face of something else.

As someone who has carved a unique niche in the music industry, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians looking to develop their own unique sound and thematic exploration?

A: There is such a push to create content online while conforming to a certain sound and style that it seems every top 40 artist has. Finding your genuine voice and style in a world that wants you to be a content machine is critical. I think listeners crave music and artists they can connect with on a deeper level: music is one of the oldest forms of communication. Be yourself and write about things that matter to you, be the art you want to see.