Must-Have Independent Artist of the Month for May – Billboard
Modern performance versionsreleased June 3 on Matador Records.
Penelope Lowenstein, Nora Cheng and Gigi Reece grew up in Chicago, separately learning to play music in youth art programs like School of Rock and Old Town before logging on to a DIY warehouse show in late 2018 “Nora and I had started playing guitar together at that time, but it was the first time we had really played with another person, and we clicked really well,” says Lowenstein, who shares the guitar and vocal duties with Cheng while Reece is on drums.
Reece – a freshman, like Cheng, while Lowenstein is finishing high school – says playing songs together in a basement has become “our favorite weekend activity…obviously it has become much more than that now, but that’s still how we bond and enjoy spending time together.
During releases and sessions, the trio were also interested in and inspired by the different sonic aspects of their favorite indie bands of yesteryear: the crushing repetition of Gang Of Four’s Entertainment! era, the single-chord filth of The Clean’s guitars, the vocal arrangements of Stereolab, pretty much everything about Sonic Youth.
These influences inform Modern performance versions, which was recorded at Chicago’s Electrical Audio with producer John Angelo (The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr.), but Horsegirl synthesizes post-punk, indie rock and pop characteristics into a current and vital product. The recent release “Dirtbag Transformation (Still Dirty)” revels in the scuzzy charm and “oooo-wooo-OOH!harmonies, while groundbreaking tracks “Anti-glory” and “Homage to Birdnoculars” resonate and then glide, discovering tender moments amid the ample noise.
The construction of Horsegirl’s songs is a democratic process, by necessity: “We write together in a room, the three of us, and it’s not really like a certain song is a certain person’s,” Cheng explains. Lowenstein adds that “because [the vocal melodies] working together is really important for every song – and since we’re a trio and every element seems so important – [everything] somehow has to happen together, in the same room.
Members of Horsegirl started sending demos after polishing a sound, and one of them landed at The ChicagoTribunewhich presented the group in a extended profile end of 2020. “I feel like it’s kind of an old-fashioned story – a newspaper article from my hometown! – but we were surprised how far this article took us” , says Lowenstein.
Management and label reps began to reach out, but as the pandemic was at its peak, all discussions had to take place over Zoom. “Our parents were like, ‘Is this a scam?'” Lowenstein laughs. The band’s deal with Matador Records was announced in April 2021, giving Horsegirl a year to transition to South By Southwest 2022 – where they played four sold-out shows in 2022 – and promoting Modern performance versions.
On June 5, the same day Lowenstein graduates from high school, Horsegirl will play a record release show in her hometown at Thalia Hall in Chicago, having already played a major festival, Boston Calling, the week before. . Then it’s off to Europe for a month-long tour before performing across North America this summer.
“South By Southwest was kind of a milestone” for a band that still finds sea legs on tour, says Reece. “We just played so many back-to-back shows to people who really love, knew who we are! And it’s not just our friends! And I think after doing that, I feel like we we have come together stronger.
The advice every new independent artist needs to hear
Lowenstein: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. We like to mess around with things like naming songs, and our Instagram captions aren’t super robotic. It’s also okay not to have a sampler on stage because you want the sound to sound exactly like the record. Sometimes those mistakes are humanizing, and it’s nice to feel that the band is playing for real. We’ll make mistakes live, because we don’t do karaoke.
The Most Surprising Thing About the Music Industry So Far
Reece: “How nice everyone is. Those people at Matador Records? They have my heart.
The artist they believe deserves more attention
Lowenstein: “Charlie Megira [an Israeli singer-songwriter with a cult following who passed away in 2016]. The songs are completely accessible and I have the impression that this particularly appeals to young people.
Reece: “I just feel like everyone would like Charlie Megira. Why isn’t anyone there?”
The takeaways fans should have when they hear the album
Lowenstein: “Mainly that it was made by three friends together in a basement. We hope this will materialize.