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MONSTROSA on Internalized Homophobia and Demonization - Tunes Tuesday Interview Transcript

Maud Mostly: Hi! I’m Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them and welcome back to Tunes Tuesday, where I am joined by Queer/2SLGBTQ+ bands and musicians to talk to them about their music, their experiences, and much, much more. Today, I am joined by Toronto-based alternative metal band MONSTROSA. Hello folks, would you like to introduce yourselves?

Lauren: Hello, thank you so much for having us. I'm Lauren, my pronouns are she/her, and I'm the lead singer, and I play guitar in the band.

Emma: I'm Emma. My pronouns are she/her, and I play guitar in the band.

Shannon: And I'm Shannon. My pronouns are she/her and I play base in the band.

Maud Mostly: Amazing, thank you so much for being here with me. And I wanna start by talking about your debut self-titled album was released recently in 2020. So as emerging artists, how did it feel to be releasing your first album during a time when you can't publicly celebrate, you couldn't play shows or tour?

Lauren: Yeah, I think it was funny because for all three of us, this was our first time ever releasing music, which was super exciting, and also obviously with the pandemic there comes a sense of isolation, I feel fortunate that, because we did in the spring time, so following that, we were able to distance safely outside and wear masks. So following it, for example, we did a performance of Axes outside and we were able to just be safe and do all that stuff. Because I think honestly, it was really hard not being able to celebrate with other people, there's definitely — as a lot of musicians will talk about this — missing live music and missing that connection with people, and even just missing community, going to gay bars and stuff. We can't do that right now. Sometimes living at home isn't the best for folks, so it came with a lot of challenges, but I feel like the online community definitely was there. I met so many musicians from around the world after releasing the album that I may not necessarily have spoken to if we weren't all quarantined and inside. But yeah, it definitely came with this challenges, and I know that we're itching to play live again, but I feel like there was a lot of community building online with other musicians. I don't know if Emma or Shannon want to add anything.

Emma: I would just add that one of the, it kind of sucked as a situation, but one of the positives was while we were preparing for launch, it was like a great thing for us to collaborate on, that we could do from home. So preparing our social media posts and stuff like that, we did a photo shoot from home, which was really fun. It was super awesome to get Lauren and Shannon’s photos and be able to do some editing and stuff, so that was a plus to stay connected in that way.

Maud Mostly: Absolutely, it's really nice to hear about the positive takes that you are putting on the situation.

Shannon: For sure. It definitely helped stay connected, because it was the early months of quarantining when we released our album, so it helped us sort of stay in touch and check in, and definitely the photo shoot was really fun. I'm used to having my girls with me hyping me up, so it was kind of interesting to try and do that on our own. I think as a band, we all collectively agreed recording was a lot of fun, but we are definitely — performing is where it's at for us. We love to perform, so that was hard, but being able to do little backyard performances and then do them online, that was really fun, and to do a few like Instagram Live shows was really fun.

Maud Mostly: Absolutely, and I really hope you get the chance to perform again soon, but I want to say I really love the fact that you brought up some of those photo shoots because it's a great leeway into the fact that not only your name, but also you're reoccurring social media aesthetic is very playfully spooky. Was there an inspiration for the aesthetic or did you find you landed on it naturally?

Emma: So I illustrated our album cover and I do a bunch of our visuals, and I would say that a huge inspiration for our visuals comes from the name of our band, MONSTROSA, and we love that it kind of has this feminine quality to it, but it also has this obviously, monstrous connotation and something that we really care about is kind of reclaiming the idea of monstrous because a lot of women are labeled as monsters due to mental health stigma. So we really love recognizing the power and toughness in being cute and feminine and just kind of reclaiming that we will love all things rainbow. We love to kind of have a fun and positive take on covering subjects that are kind of difficult to cover. So it's kind of like a celebration and love letter to the things that we love and care about.

Maud Mostly: I love that. And it's beautiful. Did anyone have anything they wanted to add?

Lauren: Yeah, I mean, I remember in the early days of the band Emma would send me just different drawings she had done kind of like us as monsters, and I was like, “That is so cool”, and it really, yeah, it just hits home. And I feel like a lot of people, like I talk a lot about having borderline personality disorder and a lot of my songs. And when you're a woman with something like BPD, you're so demonized, it's like you're manipulative and you're evil, and you're emotional and crazy, really horrible language like that around it. So, yeah, and again, just having the monster’s aesthetic, but having to be so playfu. Because it's true, I said, we want to bring people joy even if we're tackling heavy subjects, like we want them to feel heard, but we also want them to feel empowered and they're not alone, and you can live a fulfilling life if you have BPD. You can live a fulfilling life if you're part of a marginalized group. Emma does such a great job of all the graphics.

Maud Mostly: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that is so incredibly powerful. I almost feel like I'm stopping myself from tearing up just because I'm like, wow, that's so nice to hear. And I know a lot of people need to hear that, so thank you for putting that out there. And as you talk about really addressing these deep and harder and more vulnerable topics, your debut album does feature the song Hollow, which incredibly bravely addresses the topic of internalized homophobia, so how did it feel to put a song out on an issue that is so nuanced?

Lauren: Yeah, I think Hollow, it's so interesting because I wasn't sure how people were going to perceive it when we released it. And songs like Hollow and Diagnosis, which are a lot heavier, it helps so much having Emma and Shannon when I rehearse it because it can be really emotional and stuff, and again, they just kind of give me the power to say those things. And I think, yeah, because originally, when we wrote the riff for Hollow, it gave me this kind of feeling of nostalgia, which kinda reminded me a bit of being a teenager. And this feeling of self-hatred and especially hence the flag, but bi-phobia in particular, just this feeling of like, no matter who you date, you're kind of under attack and even from people within the community. And I was like, and it's so funny because you know, you're not alone in those things, but you often do feel alone. And I think connecting with both Emma and Shannon, especially Shannon, because she knows about these issues and I could talk to her about internalized homophobia and stuff like that, so I think, actually, I'll pass it on the Shannon, because we're working on a song that also has to do with tackling that issue in the next album. So, I don't know if you want to talk about that a bit?

Shannon: Yeah, I just want to say about Hollow, when Lauren sent me the demo, it was like, it instantly became one of my favorites of our songs. I found that Lauren captured a lot of feelings that I've had as a queer person about internalized homophobia as well as homophobia from other people, and just how much it hurts and just how you feel so vulnerable and alone because of it. So I knew instantly if I felt this way, I knew it was gonna mean a lot to other LGBTQ2S+ individuals. So I was so excited that we were releasing music like that and, yeah, we're working on a song right now where — Lauren, I have often talked because I identify as a lesbian, she identifies as bisexual — about how in the lesbian community in particular, there is a lot of bi-phobia, it's really gross and it's really upsetting that people within your own community can target you when you should try and stick together to fight hate against actual homophobes and biphobes. So yeah, we're writing a song right now. How much are we allowed to talk about that, Lauren?

Lauren: Yeah, essentially what the song is about is about lesbian and bisexual as solidarity, and it's super exciting because I don't know, I feel like me, and Shannon have that going on really strong, and I just think it's a message that we're really excited to talk about and. Yeah, it's called I Like Girls Like You Do. So that's a fun little…I was so excited when I heard that title. Shannon came up with that title and I was like, “Oh my god”, and I just like, I remember when she told me about it, I went home when I started writing riffs. I was like, This is going to be so good. And again, balancing in the dark with the light, I was like, this is gonna be like, it's like a happy punk song, like we have at each other's backs.

Shannon: Yeah, I know, yeah, Lauren sent me it because I like to think of myself as a songwriter. But Lauren, definitely — I need someone to be like, “Hey, can you work on this, please?” I definitely need a push. So I think Lauren being like “Here, I've done all this, so can you come up with some lyrics?” We shared ideas of how we both want to do a collaboration of singing different parts from different perspectives, and it just came together so well, and I'm so excited for it.

Maud Mostly: I am already so excited to listen to it, and I know other people watching this will be too .So if you want to pay attention to what a song will be coming out, make sure to check out their social media links below and also listen to some of the other songs that we have mentioned, because all of this has been incredibly powerful and that definitely translates into their music. So thank you so much for joining me here today. Is there anything you want say before we go?

Shannon: Thank you soo much for having us on. This was so much fun. We are so honored.

Lauren: Yeah, I was saying to Shannon before we came on, I was like, “Oh, we haven't done something like this as a band in a while” it’s so nice. And thank you for letting us talk about our music, I think it was like we got to release it and it was, again, we were in the pandemic and stuff. So yeah, thank you so much for sitting down with us and anyone watching, don't be afraid to write music, don't be afraid to be bad at it, good at it, it doesn't matter. Like Emma said, we do this because we have fun and because we love it, not because we're music snobs and we think we're better than other people, or we are shit on people who are just beginning. Like if you want do music, don't be afraid to do music and to write, because if I didn't have these two, I would have never finished a song because I wouldn't have had that faith in myself. And you're better than you think you are, so go ahead to say what you want to say, express yourself in whatever way you want,. You got this.

Maud Mostly: Amazing. What a perfect note to end on. I do not want to add anything to that. So bye, folks!

*Hollow by MONSTROSA plays*

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