When Mia Berrin was only 15, she saw a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “Pom Pom Squad” and the name stuck with her as she began to write songs during her senior year of high school in Orlando, Florida. Now a staple of the Brooklyn scene, Berrin’s band Pom Pom Squad is filled out by Mari Alé Figeman on bass, Shelby Keller on drums , and Alex Mercuri on lead guitar. Contrary to the classic image of a cheerleading squad, Berrin’s squad is a vehicle for emotionally charged grunge anthems that release inner demons and rush toward radical self-acceptance, as seen on their two EPs Hate It Here and Ow. They also explore the softer side of alternative in their 2020 Valentine’s Day single “Red with Love” and recently released cover of “Crimson + Clover.”
You can catch Berrin performing a stripped down set on LongNeckLass’ Twitch tonight at 7pm EST alongside 2nd Grade, Baseball Dad and Lisa Prank. They also have the best Bandcamp limited-edition merch items including a summer squad uniform and a long sleeve “Internet Tour” shirt (which we all seem to be on these days). We chatted with Berrin about the making of Pom Pom Squad’s recent music videos, the creative community’s role in BLM and her dream writing location.
AF: I love both music videos you’ve released in 2020- “Red with Love” and “Crimson + Clover.” How did they differ in terms of recording and filming? What do these tracks mean to you?
MB: Thank you! Red With Love was pre-quarantine – it was recorded as a full band and the music video was filmed at the (now defunct), The Dance with a big group of fans and friends. It’s weird that filming in a crowd seems like such a novelty now! “Crimson + Clover” was basically the opposite. I recorded it alone and filmed the video with my partner using only stuff we already had in the apartment. Both songs are about ~love~ but are stylistically really different. I think Crimson is a little bit of a sneak preview of where my brain has been lately.
AF: Now that it’s uncertain when we’ll be able to play shows in NYC again, has your relationship with the city changed and how do you imagine the creative community in Brooklyn evolving?
MB: My relationship with the city has changed in that I barely leave my house and have very little desire to. To be honest, I didn’t have much of a desire before, but my anxiety has gotten a lot worse. Brooklyn is so overwhelming to begin with that I didn’t really feel like I had the opportunity to finish thoughts! Having a lot of time on my hands has made it a lot easier to write though. I feel like maybe the creative community will evolve in that there isn’t much room for comparison anymore – playing the show circuit here makes you really aware of what everyone else is doing and what’s “trendy”. It feels good to be isolated in that I can hear my own instincts more clearly.
AF: Has the COVID lockdown and current social justice movement changed and/or fueled your creative process in any way?
MB: Absolutely. I think it’s really hard not to be angry and hurt right now, so I’ve been writing from that place recently. It also makes me feel a need to escape through my music, so I’ve been rebuilding my world sonically and giving myself a place to rest that’s separate from everything else. I think on the other side of the coin, this moment in time also makes it really, really hard to write, or get out of bed.
AF: What are your thoughts on the creative community’s role in the BLM movement and how do you think we can use our platforms in the most effective way?
MB: From my own experience, I’ve been using my platform to try to spread information and as a starting point for research. I think especially in this moment, it’s important to step back and try to learn about what’s happening in front of you. Art and artists can be huge catalysts for change and can encourage people to shift their perspectives.
AF: I saw in a previous interview that you write best when you’re as far away from NYC as possible. What would your dream writing/recording space be outside of the city?
MB: Basically the Jayne Mansfield Mansion, but with a meadow or a view of the mountains outside. Somewhere extremely kitschy and unnecessarily lavish.
AF: What can we expect from your livestream tonight?
MB: A pretty stripped down version of some of the songs from our last EP, Ow, and maybe some new stuff I’ve been working on ;-)
AF: What are your plans for the rest of 2020 + beyond?
MB: Staying safe and working on a big project I am very, very excited about!!
More great live streams this week…
8/17 2020 Ain’t Canceled: August Intersectionality Series via Zoom. 8pm EST, RSVP HERE