Maud Mostly: Hello and welcome to The Other Team’s Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series that discusses music and matters with queer artists you love. I'm your host Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and joining me this week is LA-based power pop band, COWBOY BOY. It is so exciting to have you here. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Olivia: Yeah, it's so wonderful to be here. My name is Olivia, my pronouns are she/her, and I write songs, I sing, play keys in COWBOY BOY.
M: That is amazing and I love your music, and I'm really excited just to dive straight into it, because your most recent album, GOOD GIRL was released last year in 2021, and many of the songs off of it center a sense of heartbreak, be it experienced through unrequited love, loss or struggling to let go. One sense of heartbreak that really stands out that you draw attention to in tracks like PET and DIFFERENT, is the desire to comport yourself or be someone else for y’know love, desire, attention. I'm sure most people have felt like that one time or another, but this feeling is certainly more common in marginalized communities who have been systemically told that they are not enough or that they should perform who they are differently. How does it feel to express that feeling and what impact do you think it has on listeners that can relate?
O: That's a great question. I think everybody's experience, every artist experience is a confluence of sort of all of their identities and how they fit into the world, and something that I find myself writing about a lot is my relationship to myself and my relationship to my own body and my desirability as a queer person who doesn't factor in gender to who I'm attracted to, that means that I've had traditionally sort of heterosexual experiences, and those take a very different form than queer relationships that I've had, and they also bring up a lot of different feelings in me as a queer person then maybe a relationship with someone or a non-heterosexual relationship might bring up and yeah, I think a lot of the themes on the record are centered around me really grappling with my, I don't know if this is a trigger warning, but it's a lot of body image stuff, it's a lot of eating disorder related stuff, so just trigger warning about that, but yeah, that's primarily what it's about. I've struggled on and off with disordered eating my entire life, struggled with body dysmorphia issues my entire life, and that's something that's really been at the forefront of my writing and my reflecting and my processing, because I feel like all of those things are really sort of interconnected for me. When I talk about the record, I often say that the songs kind of had to be written one way or another, it had to go somewhere and it had to come out, and a lot of that processing had to do with figuring out who I was in a variety of different relationships, how I felt about myself in a variety of different relationships, including my relationship with myself. So I hope that people who listen to the record can feel seen by that, because I think, like you said, I think that everybody has felt the pressure to contort themselves, whether that's emotionally, physically, however, to fit into a specific relationship or a specific situation or just be societally accepted, so I think it's relatable regardless of what the specific experience was that I was writing about, I hope it's relatable. I hope it make somebody feel like they're not the only person who's experienced something we've experienced.
M: Yeah, definitely, thank you for sharing that. And I know there definitely are those themes of body image coming up throughout the album, and I mean, just out of curiosity, I was just thinking about that and how it kind of relates to the album art, and I was wondering if that inspired it as the album art? For those who haven't seen it, hopefully you can check it out after, it ss inherently food-related.
O: Yeah, that's really astute observation on your part, and I think that that was, I don't know if that was a super conscious choice at the time when I made the decision that I was going to get that specific cake made by that specific artist, but when I started shooting the photos for the art, so much of it became about having this beautiful, aesthetically pleasing cake in its entirety, untouched on the cover of the record, and then as you flip through the rest of the rest of the liner notes and all of that stuff, the cake gets mashed up and removed and becomes this gigantic mess. So yeah, I feel like it was definitely something that I thought about later and I was like, Uh Yeah, makes sense, makes sense, I chose a beautifully, aesthetically pleasing cake for this.
M: Yeah, no, that's really interesting to hear, and I mean, I love when those kinds of visions become clear to us later, but we always know it's meaningful in the meantime, and you know, speaking of your other work, your EP PRINCESS was released prior to GOOD GIRL and both of these terms that take the album names are often used within a misogynistic context, but also are interestingly common in the queer community, particularly pertaining to sex, and so what inspired these album names for yourself, and do you feel like there was that sense of reclamation to it?
O: That's a great question. Yeah, I think that there are, it's just like an onion of meaning you peel off the layers and there's more layers underneath, y’know? And yeah, I think what I specifically with GOOD GIRL, I think there's definitely a sense of reclamation there, and there is definitely a... It does kinda feel just automatically like a double entendre, it does feel kind of inherently like crass and misogynistic, but it's also kind of like queer and sexy, and so that in and of itself is really cool, but I think also something that I thought a lot about, in writing the record was like, What does it mean to be a good girl? What does that mean? What does it mean to be a “good girl?” What does it mean to be a “good” “girl?” All of that stuff was really sort of like... I don't know, was at the forefront of my mind, especially the album is literally the product of me choosing to instead of be quiet and make myself smaller and be the good cool girl who says yes to everything because that's what I'm supposed to be. It's me being like, no, I actually have a huge problem with the way that I've been treated for a long time, I was sold something that I didn't agree should be sold in entering into our relationship. It felt like I was actively rejecting the good girl narrative and in doing so, I felt like I was a better girl than I ever had been. I don't know if that makes sense. That might be corny, but that's kind of how I thought about it.
M: Yeah, I definitely see where you are coming from, and my brain's just like going through all the different lyrics that that relates to. Definitely, if you're checking out their discography after this, I feel like you're gonna be doing the same thing as me, seeing all of those excellent points come through and just how much they relate to everything going on and talking about those changes in yourself as you just were and making it through situations that you don't want to go through again, to celebrate the new year you shared on social media that past you particularly teenage you would be incredibly excited about where you are now, so in the realm of your music or outside of, what do you think teenage you would be most proud of?
O: Oh man. I think that I spent a lot of time as a young person feeling very, feeling very outside, I guess. I was one of very few queer folks in my growing up school life, I was one of the only out queer people that I knew, and that automatically put me, I think outside, both in my day-to-day life, but also in my mind too, I was like, Oh, I don't really know how to navigate the world with like... Obviously, too, is... I might be dating myself by saying this, but it was very much like pre-social media, pre-internet, not pre-internet, but you know what I mean? There was nowhere for me to really look for representation outside of the people in my immediate circle, and those people in my immediate circle couldn't relate to me in this particular way, so I spent a lot of time in my room listening to bands who were really unapologetic about their identity and willing to push boundaries and really…That was the first experience that I had was feeling like being queer was an okay thing to be, I guess, and I spent a lot of time being like, I wanna be in a band, this is what I wanna do. I wanna make other people feel the way that these bands and these artists made me feel as a little baby queer person who felt super alone, and I think that that little teen version of me looking at what I am doing now would be like...First of all, that's really cool, good for you, and also, it's really cool to have been reached out to personally, by people who are like, ‘Hey, I listen to this record in a really significant time in my life and I could really identify with this, and it made me feel something about my life,’ that's literally the only thing I've ever wanted to do in my whole entire life, that's why I started making music, that's why I love music, that's something that so, so intensely impacted my life as a young person and still does now, so I think that's, to me, that's the most important thing in the world, and it's really, really humbling and amazing to have done that for even one other person.
M: Yeah, I mean, searching for that sense of representation and community is such a common struggle for queer youth, even still today, luckily for some it's getting easier to find those things, but it definitely is still a struggle, and I think it's so amazing that so many queer adults like yourself, are then prioritizing that sense of community and that sense of representation and taking so much joy in being able to provide that to others and say, ‘You know, I struggle to find this, so I'm just gonna hand it to you. I hope you thrive.’
O: That's cool, that's really cool to hear. And yeah, I just think that the young, Gen-Z is the coolest generation to ever exist, truly just the level of action and acceptance and being able to be really proud of who they are, and you're so right, it's so hard no matter how much representation that you have, no matter how…being queer is difficult, especially as a young person figuring yourself out, it's so hard and it's so hard to find that community, but just like every time I am scrolling through TikTok and I see a bunch of kids walk out of their middle school in protest of the Florida ‘don't say gay’ bill, for example. It brings me to tears. I am just... I feel like the future of the LGBTQIA community is in such good hands with Gen Z. And I’m not gonna cry in this video.
M: My gosh, I understand though. I tear up over that stuff all the time, and I always think the kids are all right has almost never been truer. Absolutely power to you, Gen Z. And I think that is such a beautiful note to end on, so thank you so much for joining me for this week's Tunes Tuesday. If you would like to check out any of the songs, music that we've talked about today, if you'd like to follow up on social media to make sure you don't miss anything in the future, please check out the links below, and COWBOY BOY will be playing us out.
*PET by COWBOY BOY begins playing*