Updated: Apr 6
Maud: Hi folks, my name is Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and welcome back to Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series where I sit down with queer, 2SLGBTQ+ musicians and bands to talk to them about their music, their experiences and so much more. Today I am joined by New Jersey-based alternative artist Hit Like a Girl. Thank you so much for joining me here today, would you like to introduce yourself?
Nicolle: Yeah, thank you so much Maud thanks for having me. My name is Nicolle Maroulis, my pronouns are they and them. I play guitar and sing in a band called Hit Like a Girl, and I also run a 501c3 nonprofit organization called No More Dysphoria, where we help transgender and gender non-conforming people pay for different parts of their transitions.
M: It's a pleasure to have you here today, and I'm so glad you mentioned that because actually the first thing that I want to dive into is your advocacy work. So as you just mentioned you started a non-profit called No More Dysphoria, which has the goal of helping trans people pay for their transitions. As a side note, I want to mention that something you've said about this work is “if someone told me they needed a cheeseburger for the transition I'd buy them a damn cheeseburger.” Like I love how all-encompassing that is of like a transition experience, and I really appreciate that you know coming from you and your work. So can you speak more about what led you to starting this org, and what work you've been able to carry out through it?
N: Sure yeah, so I can't take 100% credit for the idea or the birth of the organization, a friend of mine came to me with the idea, or you know like the pipe dream of always wanting to start an organization like this, and so when they were telling me about it I was like “that sounds awesome, like I would love to help you out with that” so we were working on it for a little while, but as we were diving deeper and deeper and getting more into it they realized that maybe they're- they would out themselves accidentally, so just like for safety reasons they took a step back and gave me their full blessing to take it and run with it, so I did. So you know I always like to make sure they're- I know they can't be credited by name, but you know, I want them to know that I still think of them always. But you know, I that after that once I realized I was completely on my own, I kind of realized that my only true sincere way of like, knowing how to market or sell anything has always been tied to music, so in the beginning we would link up with other bands and hand- you know head to like their shows their events and stuff and table merch and things like that and other bands would shout us out and stuff. So this was all before Hit Like a Girl started, and then when I started Hit Like a Girl, that's when numerous fouriers came became more intertwined with solely just one band. It's still been you know, has been been a little bit of a part of other bands too, but you know now people know that No More Dysphoria and Hit Like a Girl go together, whereas before it was just kind of like this I don't know, anomaly of sorts. But yeah and I don't know, my experience just as a non-binary trans person like moving through life especially when I was younger like I you know live in a conservative town, and have a conservative family so resources were never available to me when I was even figuring out the term “non-binary.” You know like when I was younger I thought I was trans just because I knew I wasn't you know, female. So I was like “oh this means I must be male,” but you know figuring that out was also like you know, something I had to do on my own. So I don't know, I just don't want anyone to ever have to like kind of like feel like they have to go through this alone you know, especially if they don't have resources or I don't think money should have to be the one deciding factor that says like “you can't be who you are” you know? I think that like really sucks, so if there's anything I can do to like help people just be themselves, I want to be able to be there and do it.
M: Absolutely, and I love that you've connected this advocacy work with music so much, because even you released the song No More Dysphoria to kind of go along with the organization, which has all been very cool, and you make really rad merch for it so you can really tell that it has those music and band roots which is just so great. To dive a little more into your music then unless, sorry was there something you wanted to say there?
N: No yeah, you're good.
M: Awesome, so your most recent album is Heart Racer, and it was released this year. And in it you continue to explore major themes of love and loss, which are themes that can be found throughout your music. And what's really vulnerable is that you often explore them in ways that aren't considered favorable you know? You're honest about feelings of abandonment, self-pity, destructive cycles of grieving, and that idea of not wanting to let go. So what do you think is the impact of opening up about these feelings that so many people feel like a shame to express?
N: I guess, I don't know- well that's not true. I was gonna say I guess I don't really know the impact of people personally, but that's true I can recall a couple times at shows where people have come up to me and been like you know “I really wish I found your music when I was in high school” or something, which I thought that was like really cool to hear. I guess, I guess it's like hard to completely know what kind of impact it's made on people as a whole, I mean obviously I know like just like from whoever reaches out with kind words and stuff like that which you know I super appreciate, but you know as far as the masses go it's like hard to super say but you know I could say like the impact it's made on me to be so vulnerable, and open about a lot of the things I've gone through with music. It's just I don't know, made me even just better at communicating in general, like in my relationships with people (sorry yeah sorry just for anyone watching I'm at work) yeah so I don't know it just made me better at communicating with people in general in my personal relationships, just because I've always been such a closed off kind of person. I've journaled my whole life so I'm just really used to only expressing my feelings in my head so thankfully to music and people who even just like care enough to stick around and listen and be fans, it's given me the opportunity to talk out loud which I'm super grateful for.
M: I love that so much, and I like that you were able to see that impact of like on other people but also just how being able to express that you know publicly has impacted you that's really powerful. And I wanted to kind of zero in on something about Heart Racer which is that it's an incredibly collaborative album you know, it's featuring the work and talent of so many other queer musicians you know, such as having Jeremy Hunter who was actually on a previous episode of Tunes Tuesday was playing trumpet in the song Boomerang, so what was it like to include all these other artists on your album?
N: Oh so much fun, you know I can only think of so much, or create so much, so you know on your own there's always going to be a wall you're going to hit, but when you work with other people who come from all different walks of life, you're going to excel and just like soar beyond your horizons you know, like go way past what you ever thought was ever possible. Like hearing the songs birthed into the way that they've become, like I don't know I didn't hear them that way when I wrote them so it was just so much fun to see them come to life the way they did, and you know I guess I it wasn't purposely- I guess I don't know if I was like, you know I don't know I'd like like Jer Hunter is like a good friend and has helped us out before a couple times in the past, so like I don't know I just like thought it was really cool that they wanted to take the time out of their busy famous life to help us out with the record I don't know super cool them but they totally didn't have to like they're so big with their fans and stuff so I don't know it's cool.
M: Definitely, that's incredible and it really is you know, so meaningful what we can you know make when we come together, and I think Heart Racer is such an incredible example of that. So definitely make sure to check out that album at the links below as well as all their other work, you can also learn more about No More Dysphoria, and hopefully support that cause. I know a lot of people watching this are in Canada, so you know it's really important that we acknowledge that a lot of the procedures that we can get paid for here aren't supported elsewhere, and we support you know trans folks in other countries as well as our local trans community. So thank you so much for speaking about that and it was really such a pleasure having you here stay tuned for next week's Tunes Tuesday, and Hit Like a Girl will be playing us out!
*Don't Go Far by Hit Like a Girl begins playing*