At the start of 2016, Philly pop band Queen of Jeans released their charming self-titled EP. The project boasted a handful of hazy songs full of beach-rock twang, swirling vocal harmonies and the occasional Roy Orbison-inspired pop melody. From their poppy garage track "Dance (Get Off Your Ass)," to the moshable "Rollerdyke" and the beautifully structured "Pup," Queen of Jeans' self-titled debut EP not only introduced three talented women – Miri (lead vocalist/guitarist), Mattie (lead guitarist) and Nina (bassist) – with a knack for writing catchy tunes onto the scene. It also showed off a band who can flesh out an incredible dynamic of range and song ideas.
Back then, Queen of Jeans was just a trio. Today the group exists as a quintet, thanks to the addition of Patrick (drummer), and they've been crafting an even tighter sound together since their initial EP. Their flawless cover of "Are You That Somebody," per example, is one of the most sonically interesting covers of Aaliyah ever recorded. Their infectious first single off their upcoming LP, Dig Yourself, "More to Love," is full of gentle, dream pop melodies that urges multiple listens. And the band's debut studio album itself? Well, you can be the judge of that.
Dig Yourself is set to release this Friday on 03/30 via Topshelf Records, but today, EARMILK has been blessed with an advance stream of the record. The album collects ideas from garage rock, 60's and dream pop, beach rock, and indie rock into a concise package.
EARMILK had a chance to speak with lead singer and guitarist Miriam Devora about the album and ask five simple questions.
Queen of Jeans' music is defined as crockpot pop. What is crockpot pop?
Early on, we'd joked around trying to identify our sound and that was just a weird one that stuck out. Honestly though we sorta realized whenever asked what our "genre" is that this phrase describes it pretty well – as a group we all have very different inspirations that overtime blended together.
How has Philly influenced Queen of Jeans? Does it continue to inspire?
There's a lot of lead based paint around which makes us all a little angsty… But in all seriousness, it is inspiring for a ton of reasons, but in particular the large presence of female identifying musicians making really special music is our favorite part. I'm not sure if that is true of most other cities but I hope it is!
What is the angle of Dig Yourself?
The album is the story arc of a relationship. It starts out a little unsure but optimistic, leading to the almost grandiose confidence of early love, and then makes its way towards hardships and ultimately a break up at the end. Naming our album "Dig Yourself" was kind of intentional in its double meaning – to love yourself but also to examine your behaviors to better yourself.
There's a certain beach/surf rock twang in a bulk of Queen of Jeans' songs. The ocean and the sounds of water are incorporated into this album a bit as well. How do those sounds fit into the sound of Dig Yourself?
We recorded half of the album in a warehouse in North Philly, and half of it at the beach in Sea Isle NJ during the winter when it was a ghost town. I think the feel of both places made its way onto the record a little bit.
What's with the album cover?
It is a series of photos taken by Bob Sweeney, and Perry Shall put them together and made the artwork. We're really happy with it. We liked this image of this decaying and abandoned storefront housing one lonely mannequin that is just completely glitzed up and nonplussed by its surroundings. It felt like an appropriate tie in to the themes of the album.
"You're Never Alone" is sonically the most different track on the album. What was the idea behind having the song be purely acapella?
The song is special to me because though it was written years ago, it felt very appropriate to share with the group and have on this album. I wrote it during a time in my life when I'd been dealing with a large amount of anxiety and loneliness while living in a new city with very little connection to other people. I think I had been messaging a friend back home and I'd opened up to her about what was going on, and I remember her saying something like, "don't worry, you'll never be alone with me" which struck me and momentarily sort of lifted this heaviness I'd been feeling. So, lyrically, the song just came together. The lyrics really play with this idea of separation and its relativity to the ocean and the vastness of the water, so it made sense and felt sonically appropriate to keep the song acapella, and adding the waves when we recorded it as a band presented another layer of imagery that I think ultimately fit perfectly.
What is the strongest emotional songwriting effort on the record?
Because most of the songs are fairly fresh, it's hard to answer that question as the writer — if you're me, anyway — but Mattie always mentions "Space", which is the last song on the album. It's definitely one of the songs that focuses the most on digging into your own behaviors. I tried to express that process in the story through experiences I've personally felt in a break up. It's the moment when you have to make that very difficult decision to take some time away from someone else that has influenced and entangled themselves within your life, because in a very unfortunate way, it has made you feel like you've lost yourself in the process. Co-dependency is a bitch, basically. It's important to remember and respect yourself and your needs to best benefit those around you, and sometimes it's very easy to get lost along the way. Sometimes just taking the steps necessary to walk away makes all the difference for everyone involved.
Pre-order Dig Yourself over at Topshelf Records' web store here. Catch Queen of Jeans on tour supporting Pianos Become the Teethsoon, or this summer supporting Citizen alongside Oso Oso and Teenage Wristthis July.