Punching their way out of Dublin with a riotous come-and-join-our-gang enthusiasm, Pillow Queens are cheering up a miserable year with their fight against social injustice in the form of debut album ‘In Waiting’. Sure to be a low-key favourite come the end of 2020 (is it time for lists yet?), their spirited take on grungy, heart-on-sleeve punk is both of-our-time and timeless all at once – and has already seen recent single ‘Holy Show’ land in the Top 20 of the Official Irish Singles Chart. Beats Justin Bieber, doesn’t it?
Hi Pamela, what’s your songwriting generally process like?
PQ songs usually start their journey as a little seedling that consists of lyrics and a melody. Once we’re all in a room together is when cogs start working. Sometimes this process is quick, but a lot of our favourite songs have been scrapped, redone again, and made sound completely different over time. If we think there’s something to be made of a song, we’ll hammer away at it until we’re happy.
What or who are your main influences?
I think all of us have quite different influences, though I think we benefit from the fact that we also share a lot of similar ones. We all really love the Pixies, and I think you can hear that in some of our earlier music. For this album, we were quite influenced by the likes of Manchester Orchestra and a lot of the different folk artists we listened to growing up.
‘Handsome Wife’ has been getting a lot of plays on the radio, which is great – how does it feel to hear your tracks on the airwaves?
It’s such a good feeling hearing our songs get radio play. It makes such difference, and it’s also just a huge morale boost that these songs we’ve put so much work into are getting heard.
You create a real sense of community in your work – like a girl gang everyone wants to be a part of. How do you evoke this palpable positivity?
It’s not something we have to try to do really, we’re just really enjoying ourselves and love making music together.
Who do you hope finds your music?
We hope that people from all walks of life can enjoy and relate to our music. It’s easy to box us off into an all-girl queer band, but in reality, our songs are about human experiences like love, loss, sadness, which everyone experiences.
It’s a very strange time at the moment in music, and we’re seeing a lot of artists trying to adapt to this new normal by sharing music with audiences worldwide across an array of digital platforms. How did you spend lockdown? Did you find it sparked creativity?
We all had very interesting experiences with lockdown. Some of us had the time to explore new hobbies and endeavours, and some of us were working harder than ever. I think our experiences with being creative were different. I think some of us thrived with the time, but it’s also hard to make work when you put too much pressure on yourself. We had the chance to do some cool creative stuff together remotely, and we were sorting out our album mixes and masters, so it was great to have the space to listen to them to death. I spent a lot of lockdown cycling and exploring the hidden treasures around where I live.
How do you think the pandemic will affect the music industry going forward?
It’s really hard to know, and I talk about the potential outcomes a lot. I don’t think a tangible way of having a lively show in a 200 capacity venue has been figured out yet. A lot of work around a have been focused on large capacity outdoor gigs and intimate sit down gigs. The online gigs have been amazing, but I don’t think it’s financially viable for touring bands and it’ll never beat the feeling of seeing music live. Some positives that may come out of it for Ireland, in particular, are that people might move out of Dublin and it’ll have the music not be so capital city-centric. It’s already something that was becoming exciting before the lockdown, and it’s a positive for artists and punters alike I think.
Which records have you reached for most during quarantine?
It wasn’t particular records, but I was really deep-diving into country music to deal with my yearning for social interaction. A lot of Gillian Welsch and luckily she released two albums this year.
What do you miss most about performing live?
I miss belting my vocals. It’s a loudness I can only do when we’re playing a proper gig with an audience. It’s probably the freedom of performance that gets you a little looser. I do miss the social activities after a gig something terrible as well.
Which subject matters inspire you the most?
It’s hard to say cos we can’t really control the feelings that lead to a song. I guess it’s just the most intense emotion you have at the time that spills over and becomes a song. The majority of it is love in all its different forms.
What can we expect from your debut album, ‘In Waiting’?
I think you can expect some powerful songs that are the embodiment of the work we’ve done to get to this point. There are songs that’ll melt your face, and there are songs that’ll melt your heart. So we expect you to be melted.
What’s next for Pillow Queens?
After the album is released, we delve into more of an unknown as before. What we expected to do was tour the album extensively as far and wide as we could. We still hope to do that when it’s safe to do so, but until then we’re gonna have to think on our feet and make a new path for the time’s we’re living in.
Taken from the October issue of Upset. Pillow Queens’ debut album ‘In Waiting’ is out now.