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Worriers on "Gay Divorce" and Self Expression - Tunes Tuesday Interview Transcript

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Maud: Hi folks, I'm 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. This week I am joined by L.A based punk band Worriers! Thank you so much for being here with me this week. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Lauren: Sure yeah! My name is Lauren Denitzio. My pronouns are they/them and yeah I play guitar and sing in the band and and it's kind of my songwriting project so

M: Amazing well as I said I'm so glad to have you here and firstly I'd love to bring up a really interesting side project of yours that you were part of during the pandemic which is “The Gay Divorcees”. I have really enjoyed checking out what this project has to offer and I could probably personally go on about it forever but I would much rather hear about it from you so can you tell us about the project and what it was like to collaborate on it?

L: Sure well it was really exciting for me because I hadn't collaborated with anyone in the group before and was invited by the project organizer Ethan Philbrick because he had heard our most recent record and it was a group of mostly like artists and performance-based folks but not necessarily people who were like actively in bands or anything.

You know Ethan's a musician, many of them had music backgrounds but like not necessarily in the same way that I do or like not the same type as mine and we were invited to collaborate on a performance based on us all having gone through "gay divorce" and you know it it was a really exciting thing to work on during COVID- it actually started before the pandemic and we had to shift a lot of things to be able to come up with something appropriate when we couldn't all be in the same place at the same time or like actually have a physical performance.

But we all collaborated on songs remotely and basically recorded an album together and had an online listening party and things and I feel like I made really really good friends but also got to collaborate and hang out with a group of people that all got you know quote unquote gay married and quote unquote gay divorced which is obviously like a really intense experience but also really funny. So we just had a really nice time like having a really cathartic songwriting experience while also yeah just having a really nice time

M: Yeah that sounds incredible and I guess you know when we still live in this very heteronormative world where there's still this big fixation on you know gay marriage and how that's super exciting but there's not always a lot of support and conversations about you know people who are getting as you say gay divorced, so you know how did that have an impact on people who participated and people who you know engaged with the project?

L: I mean I think it was really it was really helpful for everyone I mean like I have other friends who are you know also quote-unquote gay divorced and we're like wait a minute… I want to hang out with this group like I need people to talk to you know.

And yeah like you said there's not really a lot of support for it because so much of the focus is on this excitement around being able to get married which I personally don't always necessarily agree with you know or just like state sanctioned sponsorship of marriage is not necessarily something that I like jump up and down about but yeah it was just it was really complex for everybody and having the space to talk about that and then also get feedback from other people and folks who listened to it and found the project like we just got a lot of really interesting feedback and a lot of great conversations with people so that was really nice.

M: Yeah definitely and I know you used the word “cathartic” before and it definitely sounds like that's one of the best words to describe it. And then as far as projects go you also do a lot of writing outside of lyrics such as your weekly newsletter and subscription series “Get It Together” and the zines that you release as part of that. What do you feel like you can tap into- explore and express in those formats that you maybe can't in your music?

L: I think my music ends up really being from a personal narrative perspective a lot of the time, like not all of my songs are directly from my own point of view but it's really a personal outlet and with writing for the newsletter or in zines or like other things I’ve worked on it just gives me the opportunity to talk about maybe like wider narratives or like larger conversations that are happening or like things that I think are funny like I feel like I can be a little bit more irreverent or like put more humor into it than I necessarily do in songwriting.

So yeah I mean it can be more fun in certain ways to play around with writing or have writing as that outlet where I don't have to think about whether or not things are especially poetic or flow well or work with a rhythm or whatever you know.

So yeah it's been a really nice outlet to develop over the years and I feel like it also gives me a more direct dialogue with the folks who do listen to my music or who know about my artwork and just having that connection and involvement is really probably the most important thing to me even with the music so yeah anything to kind of interact with people and connect with folks is really exciting for me.

M: Yeah I love that and I guess during this time where there's been a lack of connection have you found that things like these newsletters kind of help you keep that sense of community?

L: Sure absolutely. I definitely feel like if I didn't have that outlet or the feedback from people and the interaction with people, even if it's nowhere near the same thing as going out there and playing a show and like talking to people but it's definitely helped and I can tell that people have been looking for that too you know, so the energy that was going into shows or going out and talking to people has definitely redirected for a while now maybe into more internet-based things or just you know writing and people have been like writing a lot more um like regular mail which is really nice. I got a P.O box so I get mail from people now so yeah it's definitely replaced a bunch of stuff for a little while now!

M: Yeah that's really awesome and about a year after you released your most recent LP which you mentioned earlier, You or Someone You Know, released an acoustic cover of your song “They/Them/Theirs”. That's the song that has personally connected with so many people across experiences. What does the song still mean to you or what does it mean to you now if things have changed?

L: Yeah I mean it's interesting because I feel like people have really connected with it which is really flattering for me and that I’m really happy about but also I feel like people have really interpreted it in their own way. And none of those interpretations I found to be wrong you know like it's entirely possible for someone to hear your song and to be like “oh that's not what that's about at all” but like I realized that a lot of what people have found in it may not have been literally what I was intending but it also makes so much sense to me. And they're not wrong so I hesitate to be like this is what this like I meant with this song.

But I do think that when that song originally came out it was much more about this pressure of defining yourself not just within the gender binary but as a queer person and queer identity in general like that. When I wrote it I feel like there was this- and there still is the big pressure to be hyper-specific about your identity and the way you express yourself and the way you form relationships. And I was just like I don't know I'm figuring it out, leave me alone. And the pressure of whether or not you're queer enough and I think that while and it's obviously really changed because honestly people definitely were picking up what I was putting down when the song originally came out but it's been in the past couple years that I've just seen a really big surge of folks finding that song specifically in really unexpected ways.

So I feel like it has become a lot I want to say more acceptable but like just more kind of out in the open about being nonbinary or just kind of elsewhere on the gender spectrum. Being gender expansive in ways that it just wasn't even like five years ago which is wild so yeah.

I think I’m just excited that the song has kept meaning something to other people it's kept meaning something to me and especially as the conversation gets to be more mainstream or just to be a more common conversation to have with the people you know that like people are still finding different things in it. Like I'm still finding different things in it so yeah we put out the like acoustic version which I almost feel kind of bad because it's like a somber-chill-sad version of it but I really like it and we had a really fun time putting that together and Ethan from Gay Divorcees plays cello on it so it brought the group back together I think.

M: Yeah I think it is an absolutely beautiful rendition and I think it's really special to hear the connection that you still have to it and also how you mention how much other people are still finding in it. And I think- I don't know if you've noticed this personally but I think what you speak of you know with that not feeling queer enough or feeling like you have to really limit yourself to specific labels that maybe don't quite fit you but you want to find a space in the world and you're being told that that's how you find a space in the world is really a narrative that's taking off right now as the conversation does come out more.

It's coming out more and all of a sudden you know the societal narrative of we still need you in boxes though so find your box comes out so I think that's such an important discussion and feeling to be putting out there right now and kind of reminding people that this is expansive; that you don't have to confine yourself if you don't want to and that there's so many different experiences there.

L: No exactly, exactly yeah.

M: I love that. Well, thank you so much for sitting down with me today to have these conversations. I really appreciated everything you had to share. If you would like to check out any of the things we mentioned today: the projects, the music, the album, you can find all those at the links below as well as social media to follow along on the Worriers journey so thank you for watching this week's Tunes Tuesday see you next week and Worriers will be playing us out!

*Big Feelings by Worriers begins playing*

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