Katie Underwood Joins Bardot Bandmate Belinda Chapple to Debut Duo Ka’Bel

Bardot bandmates Belinda Chapple (left) and Katie Underwood (right) have reunited to release their first single as Ka’Bel.

Katie Underwood and Belinda Chapple battled through a pandemic, an ocean between them, and their own doubts to form a duo and release new single “Broken Hearted” under the moniker Ka’Bel – 20 years after they experienced massive national success in Bardot.

They met for the first time in the hothouse of reality TV. Both had taken part in Australian reality TV show Popstars back in 2000, which took the winning contestants and formed them into pop band Bardot. Together with Tiffani Wood, Chantelle Barry, Sophie Monk and Sally Polihronas, they were picked from over 2,500 wannabe entertainers who auditioned for the show. Having made it through multiple elimination rounds, the band were moved into a shared house and flown to Sydney to record a debut single. The program was hugely popular in Australia and each of the girls was followed by paparazzi, their every word and outfit analysed – and criticised. The relentless attention resulted in chart-topping hits (debut single “Poison” ranked number 1 on the ARIA singles chart after selling over 60,000 copies in its debut week) and major album sales, but it also proved an exhausting and damaging experience of the music and TV industry. 

“What didn’t we learn?” reflects Underwood from her Melbourne home. “One of the really amazing things about Popstars and the Bardot experience was that it wasn’t like being in a normal band… we did everything all at once, to the max. Almost immediately upon forming the band, we started recording. We also started preparing for tours, doing dance routines, doing fitness programs, doing media training, constantly being interviewed, doing fashion shoots, makeup shoots, product endorsements… everything you could possibly do with and around a band we did in the first year, even in the first six months…it was like an industry apprenticeship. We did everything, [and though we] didn’t get paid very well, we learned a lot. ”

A year after they stormed the Australian charts, the band was flown to the UK to promote their singles and begin work on a second album. It was there that Underwood informed the band she was quitting. Soon after, the band made changes to management, released the album Play It Like That, and toured, but ultimately broke up officially in April 2002. While their second album didn’t blow up in the charts like their first, it was strong. It featured co-writing credits from all the members of the group, and their live performances at the time proved that there was no production trickery: they were all genuinely talented singers in their own right.

Bardot-era Underwood and Chapple

It seemed inevitable that some, if not all, of them would continue to make music. And so it’s proven. Last year, in celebration of their 20 year anniversary, Underwood, Chapple and Wood performed “Poison” online from their respective remote locations. It preceded a greatest hits album on vinyl in January this year, in addition to a remix compilation album.

“All through 2020 we were in communication with two of the other Bardot members, Tiffany and Sally, and tossing around ideas about what an online reunion would look like and whether we want to revisit the Bardot stuff,” Underwood explains.

Ultimately, Wood and Polihronas stepped back from any commitment due to other commitments, and it was touch-and-go as to whether Chapple and Underwood would continue.

“We floated the idea of what it would look like if it was the two of us – would people think that we’re desperate?” remembers Underwood. “I think that was Belinda’s concern initially. She was concerned what people would think, but only for a hot minute, and then it was more the logistics, because she was still living in Singapore.”

With Chapple overseas, she and Underwood hadn’t been in contact until the end of 2019 when they reconnected to discuss the anniversary, apart from a brief reunion in 2010. But that didn’t mean their connection was lost. “It doesn’t matter if it’s two years or two decades that have passed, we picked up as if it was yesterday,” says Underwood. “[Our relationship has] probably matured a little bit because we’ve had our trials and tribulations over the years. She seems always to be comfortable sharing her truth with me, and me with her.”

Ultimately, they went ahead with Ka’Bel once Chapple and her husband decided to move back to Sydney, though she recorded the vocals for “Broken Hearted” in Singapore. She emailed the result to Underwood, who added her vocals, with production by LA producer Dylan Bowes. The song was sourced by their talent agent Joe Dadic; with both Underwood and Chapple determined that they’ve proven themselves as songwriters decades before, they were selective about a ready-made song.

“Broken Hearted” is no holds-barred, disco-style pop that channels some Kylie Minogue diva vibes, unashamedly made for the dancefloor with its dramatic string arrangements, four-to-the-floor beat and catchy-as-all-get-out bridge and chorus (“Am I crazy? I just can’t get enough/When I’m fading, I’ll make you believe in love”). It is a lovesong that recognises the trials and tribulations of women in their 30s and 40s, who don’t want to sing about getting ghosted on Tinder or falling in love over TikTok.

These days, Underwood is a single mum to 10-year-old twin daughters. She is a qualified remedial masseuse, teaches meditation and makes mantra-based music for relaxation. Chapple has lived overseas for the past 15 or so years and runs her own interior design business, House of Chapple Interiors.

Underwood’s confidence in Ka’Bel is unswayed by armchair critics. She’s already experienced chart-topping success in the industry, so there’s no need to chase it now. “We’re both in the same situation where we have nothing to lose,” she says. “This project is not suddenly going to become a full-time project for us, but it’s a wonderful side project to have.”

“Over the  years from my early 30s – I’m 45 now – as every year passes, it’s not that I don’t care, but I don’t let other people’s opinions of me make a dent,” she adds. “The view from here is amazing. I thought my 30s was pretty good but my 40s has been even better. You get a little bit more confident, less stressed, more discerning about who you let in your life. I care a lot about a lot of things, but caring about other people’s opinions of me, I’ve let go.”

Follow Katie Underwood and Belinda Chapple on Instagram for ongoing updates on Ka’Bel.

Emily Blue Searches for Queer Utopia on Forthcoming Pop Project The Afterlove

Photo Credit: Greg Stephen Reigh

An oft-wigged and glittered, latex and leather-wrapped Midwestern daughter, Emily Blue is a pop star, period.

One of the first Chicago artists I’ve ever seen appear on stage flanked by dancers who not only made their choreography and transitions appear effortless, but seamlessly executed a tear-away costume change mid-song amid clouds of red and pink-hued smoke and pulsing lights—Blue seems born to become a household name, evident as the entire crowd shouted the lyrics to songs like “Cellophane” and “Falling in Love” back at her. The paltry $10 admission belied the show’s stellar production value, which included a stacked bill featuring Thair, SuperKnova, Carlile, and other artists who’ve been carving a larger space for pop music in Chicago over the past few years. 

Across her two previously released solo projects—2016’s Another Angry Woman and 2018’s *69— and two LPs as part of indie band Tara Terra, Emily Blue has pulled back layers of herself and her exaggerated character to explore pop music’s most enduring trends through her own modernist lens. In 2019, she was named the city’s favorite pop artist in the Chicago Reader’s “Best Of” poll. Due this summer, her upcoming album The Afterlove—preceded by single “7 Minutes,” which hit streaming platforms February 12—feels like the most distilled integration of her music and message yet.

While her work to this point has swung between seemingly polarizing extremes—Another Angry Woman rawly examined sexualized violence, rape culture and womanhood derived from her own experiences as a survivor of assault, while *69 was a breathy, steamy reclamation of sexual agency and liberated desire—The Afterlove finds itself in another world: a planet without binaries (gay/straight, boy/girl, body/spirit), without fear; one you can only travel to by rainbow.

It’s exciting yet bittersweet for the singer, as The Afterlove marks an ending as much as it does a beginning. On Thanksgiving Day in 2020, Blue’s friend and frequent collaborator, producer/musician Max Perenchio (founding member of Chicago bands The Gold Web, Bad City and Real Lunch) passed away due to injuries sustained in a car accident in Los Angeles. Ryan Brady, Atlantic Records VP of marketing, was with Perenchio and was also killed. With the myriad safety procedures put in place to combat the spread of the virus, there’ve been no funerals. No memorials to gather with loved ones and celebrate the lives of those lost or process the collective grief.

“If I didn’t do this, nobody would hear the last few songs Max and I made,” Blue says on a phone call from her hometown of Champaign-Urbana, where she’s been hunkering down since COVID-19’s initial threat in 2020. “That’s a huge motivating factor for me, to be honest, getting through the pandemic. Having him be part of this album, and even continuing it with songs he isn’t a part of but wanting to make something with that inspiration—that’s important.”

“I really view Emily Blue as having started with Max,” she continues. “He and I dug really deep into pop. That was always a dream of mine. I just never had the tools and the person to team up with, you know what I mean? We’d pull so many all nighters.”

The pair would pour over hyper-pop works by Charli XCX and the late revolutionary SOPHIE; Madonna and Prince; the big balladry of rock band Heart’s 1980s offerings. They shared an affinity for glitch and hair metal guitar, as well as the fantasy of the pre-(and possibly one day, post) social media world. It was Perenchio who came up with the name for the space they wanted to create: the afterlove.

Before the loss of Perenchio, Blue—born Emily Otnes—was finally gaining traction she’d been building upon for years: steady bookings for her See the Future Tour across the United States, placement on Spotify playlists expanding her audience, fan mail from Mexico, the U.K. and Israel. Referring to herself as a “productivity machine” at the beginning of 2020, she launched her Artists for Global Giving initiative at the start of the pandemic, which challenged musicians in lockdown to write, record and mix tracks in 24 hours. Proceeds from the mixtape, which includes the talents of NNAMDÏ, Troigo, and Flora to name a few, went to various COVID-19 relief funds.

Then in March, she was diagnosed with the virus. Forced to slow down, she found the required rest a blessing in disguise, in some ways. “I was running on a body I didn’t take care of. My mental health was bad,” she explains. “I really took some time to work on myself. The balance in shifting my priorities toward love and relationships that matter most to me—it put so much into perspective.”

The time for reflection included revisiting songs she’d been holding onto. Finding a sense of groundedness through her physical and mental healing, Blue—who admits to once viewing pop as the most explicitly “people-pleasing” genre, lacking in authenticity and point of view—focused on what resonated with her the most. “I was like, oh okay, I love the 1980s. I love classic rock. I want to sing about romance and bisexuality. That’s where I’m at right now,” she says.

Dropping singles “Aperture” and “Trump”—which dances toward death metal—and a bass-driven rendition of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s smash “Rain on Me” (featuring Thair) throughout the year, Blue inched closer to honing her sound and aesthetic, all the while teasing what she feels is her “best music to date.” On forthcoming singles from The Afterlove, Blue sounds like a musical lovechild of Paula Abdul and late ‘80s pop-rock outfit Roxette or even Vixen, experimenting with different facets of her vocal texture and inflection. In the grandeur—and kitsch—of the era, from fashion and décor to larger-than-life personalities and pumped-up production giving way to new musical frontiers, Blue found a palette for her re-emergence.

Now, on the heels of the music video for “7 Minutes”—an ode to the kissing game that subverts the idea of what it means to be “in the closet” (literally and figuratively)—and already mapping dates for future singles, Blue finds herself at the helm, and on the precipice of something special.

Though Tara Terra remains active, and the singer-songwriter recently dipped her toe into roots rock alongside pal Mariel Fechik in under-the-radar country duo Moon Mouth, Emily Blue is her career’s ambition fully in motion. From dance classes at a young age and bouncing between acts formed with friends as a teen, to Greyhound-bussing herself from Urbana to Chicago and back every weekend to make music, she’s now at a point that she’s prepared for her whole life. 

“A lot of pop music, but especially pop made by queer artists, is about providing that space where people can dance and celebrate life and find joy and togetherness rather than always focusing on the trauma of our lives,” she observes. “It’s a fine balance—it’s about love and loss and queerness and identity, but these songs have just poured out of me. I don’t even question it. It’s been empowering.”

Follow Emily Blue on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: Assemble Sound’s Alexander Lynch Returns With Moody Banger “Wine Drunk”

From the outside, Assemble Sound looks like just another one of Detroit’s beautiful historic churches. And, technically, it is – but this particular church’s religion is music. The 145-year-old church serves as an artist residency and recording studio, does licensing/supervision, and has garnered a lot of attention for the diverse music made by its artists. The collective’s most recent release comes from alternative R&B artist, Alexander Lynch. Although Lynch, a native of Norway, Michigan, has only been living in Detroit for a few months, he’s already made himself known in the Detroit music scene.

“Wine Drunk” is his first single since his 2016 EP release, Love Lives, and is the perfect soundtrack for winter heartbreak and reflection. Co-produced by Jon Zott, the track balances warm synths with Lynch’s magnetizing vocals, creating a feeling reminiscent of a boozy haze. Lynch told Impose magazine that the song is about “recalling past emotional experiences through the filter of intoxication and isolation. It touches on several moments of regret in my life in a sort of self-deprecating cocktail.” That’s surely something we can all relate to during the holiday season. Take a sip and savor the sounds of regret and new beginnings.

ONLY NOISE: Shiny Happy Pop Songs Holding Hands


One side effect of obsessing over music for a living is the ability to compartmentalize your own tastes into pre-measured doses of sonic mood modifiers. Saying “music is my drug” is irrevocably corny and should be left to the bumper sticker manufacturers of the world, but it’s not an erroneous statement. I’ve written about music and mood before, and it is a subject I find endlessly fascinating. There have been numerous studies analyzing music’s influence on brain chemistry – studies that will teach you far more than I can by relaying personal, uncontrolled experiences. I am no neuroscientist, but I’ll do my best to discuss the subject in my own, pop-culturally referential way.

But this is more a gander at the inverse; not how music dictates your mood, but how your mood dictates what you decide to listen to. Mood doesn’t always consciously affect my listening choices. Sometimes when I select a specific record to put on, it is purely because that’s the album I’ve been spinning relentlessly. Last Thursday I listened to Smog’s Red Apple Falls four times in a row, and that would have been five or six if I didn’t have to run errands.

Sometimes the decision to listen to Prefab Sprout is rooted in a logic no more complex than: I’m just in a Prefab Sprout phase right now. A phase can last weeks, sometimes months. I think I listened near exclusively to The Smiths for about a year. I binge eat artists, albums, and songs, but unlike food, the repetition of great pop music never makes me nauseous.

But there are of course moments when I Spotify playlist myself, trying like an algorithm to switch or indulge my mood. I typically indulge, which I do not suggest as a method of catharsis. Unless you like crying alone while watching Joanna Newsom artfully play harp.

If I am depressed, angry, despondent, vengeful…oh DO I have a playlist for those moments. I have entire records for those moments, box sets and anthologies. When it comes to finding the soundtrack to a bad day I’m practically Ariel from The Little fucking Mermaid showing off her endless archive of sad knickknacks. You want Joni Mitchell? I’ve got plenty. You want anguish in B Flat? I got whosits and whatists galore, ok?

So what does one listen to when suddenly inundated with…nice feelings? One might want perhaps, to not ruin it with the entirety of 69 Love Songs? What if your reference library is stocked with Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Roy Orbison, and artists of similar ilk? And furthermore, how do you write a column about it? I’ve run into countless occasions where I happen to be happy, and therefore want to maximize that feeling with some aural reinforcement – but I come up blank. Nick Drake, anyone?

“Happy songs, happy songs…” I mutter to myself, remembering only the bummed-out Aldous Harding track I’ve been listening to incessantly. A friend once asked me to make a playlist for her birthday party. I laughed and wondered how well this person knew me or my morose musical tastes. Everyone else in my circle has crowned me the worst party DJ ever, mocking my interest in listening to records in full and my affinity for seemingly anti-party music (what do you mean The Birthday Party isn’t a great thing to play at a birthday party?!). More than once have I spent hours carefully constructing playlists to my own birthday parties, only to have them intercepted by guests and supplanted with Top 40 jamz before the clock strikes 12. But I get where they’re coming from. No one shakes their ass to The Jesus and Mary Chain.

“Feel-good music” has never been a tag that excites me. Songs shaped into balloon animals to distract you from good-old-fashioned suffering. Pop trickery that manipulates your mind with chimes and pitch correction. But in the event of spontaneous elation, if you or anyone you know is at risk of having a good, even lovely day, I want you to know: it is going to be all right.

Whether we want anyone to know or not, joy does occasionally break through, and we just have to deal with it. I could far more easily fashion a playlist of breakup songs, funeral anthems, and frightening German noise bands. But setting aside my eternally teenage heart for the purposes of letting myself be happy (for now) is a tall but necessary order.

I’m getting better at admitting to shortcomings such as this. I’ve even found a way to label it (a writer’s favorite thing to do). Since the band’s inception, critics have often described The Smiths as “miserablists,” and while I won’t stand behind that point entirely – they were far too self-aware and satirical to be reduced to such a limiting word – I kind of love the term. “Miserablist.” It’s an absurd word, as if misery were a political party, its spokesperson being the lugubrious Moz, of course.

Involuntarily or not, I may be a card-carrying miserablist myself. To the extent that when a desire for more beatific, up-tempo, major scale pop music bubbles through all of my petty brooding, I have a slight identity crisis. But I am working on it.

In the same way it is ok to let yourself be happy (I hear), it is also ok to let yourself listen to happy music. Shiny happy music. But who am I really telling this to? You probably already know that.

I have appointed myself with the task of making a playlist of songs I enjoy for their sheer mood-erecting abilities, which was harder than you might think.  They can’t just be any peppy pop songs. I have to love of course. I may be in a good mood, but I’m still a snob.

In situations like these, I first look to ABBA. They are perhaps the only group in my collection whose “sad,” or “grave” ballads hold no interest for me. I turn (or twirl) to them for disco bangers alone, songs written for the purposes of merriment and cutting fat checks, not enriching the poetic canon. I wouldn’t call theirs particularly substantive music – though it was made with a depth of technical talent – but it sure as shit makes you wanna dance.

“Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” is perhaps one of the most asinine and catchy cuts out there. Even Madonna couldn’t resist that ridiculous synth…pan flute? riff when she sampled it in 2005’s “Hung Up.” And neither can I.

The rest of my playlist follows a similar rule. As I construct it I realize that every song is void of guilty associations – those autobiographical kernels of nostalgia embedded into every song an ex showed you, or your mother used to sing in the kitchen. These songs have somehow become mine, no matter how they came into my life.

From what I can see of the end result, what makes me happy musically is pretty in step with real life. Absurdity (“Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”), idealism (“Tenderness”), love (“Funny Little Frog”), and funk.

I guess a little positivity won’t kill me. Yet.

INTERVIEW/EP REVIEW: Luna Aura “Madhouse”


Some of us spend our whole lives trying to appear normal and follow the crowd, but sometimes the key to success is living your own brand of insanity. Artist Luna Aura has fully embraced this concept, by appearing in a straight jacket on the cover of her EP Madhouse, boldly stating “Crazy looks good on me” on the opening track, and radiating a sense of total independence that’s just as prevalent as the catchy pop hooks on her five songs. She may admit to craziness, but she’s free from any restraints, whether they be real or perceived, self-imposed or attempted by outsiders.

Luna took the time to answer our questions about her EP’s concept, production, and the start of her career as well as its future. Read our interview, and listen to Madhouse, below.

AudioFemme: Sometimes, women who think out of the box are dismissed as “hysterical” or “crazy.” Is the title Madhouse, and the act of appearing in a straightjacket, an attempt to spin or dispute that concept?

Luna Aura: The word “crazy” gets tossed around so easily, especially when somebody is doing something that is outside of the social norm, or pushing boundaries. People love comfortability. They spend their whole lives stifling the parts of them that make them special or different because there’s this fear that people won’t like or understand them. The straight jacket I’m wearing on the cover of the EP symbolizes me embracing what makes me different from the rest of the world. I’m reclaiming what it means to be “crazy.” I want to show people that it’s something to be proud of, and something to run towards as opposed to running away from.

Some may say that even trying to pursue a musical career is “crazy.” Did you ever encounter any criticisms in the early stages of your career? If so, how did it affect you?

I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in music, and of course, as a kid, I had adults that I respected telling me that I needed to focus on school or, at the very least, have a plan B to fall back on as an adult. I had this little voice inside of me telling me the exact same things. That voice still talks to me every once in a while. Usually when I’m making artistic decisions or big moves in my life. Everyone has that inside of them, and I want to be the person who never listened to all that negativity. I believe in myself and my dreams, and I’m sacrificing a lot to make them a reality. At least I know I’m not wasting a single moment of my 100 years on this planet.

What is your musical background? How did you become a singer, and who are your idols?

I started singing at the age of three. I fell in love with music early on, and I’ve never stopped making it a priority in my life. I began writing at the age of 10, performing at the age of 15, and here I am now! Some of my biggest influences were Janis Joplin, Bowie, Whitney, Toni Braxton, No Doubt, Norah Jones, and Katy Perry. None of these people were scared to be themselves, and I feel like that was always something that spoke to me as a kid.

How was the experience of writing and working with producer Evan Gartner?

Easy. Evan is brilliant, and so young, and so full of inspiration. Working with him was like doing a school project with your best friend. We knew what our end goal was and we just laughed, built off of each other’s insanity, and knew by the end of it that we made something very special.

Do you have any upcoming releases we should know about?

We are currently in the process of filming music videos for each song. Three of the videos are already pretty much finished which is exciting. I’m just so excited to show the people who love my music who I am as a person. I think these videos are great representation.



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West AM
Photo credit: Andrew Gill

Premiering today is Nashville-based West AM’s single “Honey.” Consisting of a crew of college kids, West AM creates intelligent pop music that will appeal to party goers and devout rock fans alike. True to form is their single “Honey,” set to be a staple on summer playlists.

“‘Honey’ is about the desire for something other than what we have. Hidden behind the behaviors discussed in the song is an inner search for peace, and I’m not sure if that’s a journey that ever ends. In my experience, nothing is quite as sweet as what you first imagined it to be,” said frontman Jordan Hamilton of the single.

Take a listen for yourself below.



Parlour Tricks photo

Missing a music festival due to travel delays caused by a snow storm is worse than the brown frozen crunchy puddles that fill Brooklyn. Rather than escape the cold concrete jungle for warm Savannah, where New York City-based “pretty/gritty” pop rockers Parlour Tricks were performing, I had to settle for an interview, which was a chance for a lovely conversation of intelligence and insight. Although, I continue to look forward to the day I can see Parlour Tricks, an AudioFemme favorite, live. Before they head out for this year’s SXSW,I chatted with band member Lily Cato about life on the road, their upcoming debut full-length album, and how cool it would be to perform with Chance the Rapper. .

Audiofemme: Your hometown is New York – how did you all end up in the city?
Lily Cato: I grew up in the city. Everyone else moved for college. I’m lucky they did.

AF: What is your favorite New York City venue?
LC: Mercury Lounge
AF: Best neighborhood?
LC: I love the East Village and Chinatown in Manhattan and Park Slope in Brooklyn. But then all the museums are uptown…
AF: How did you meet and form Parlour Tricks?
LC: We met in college. I started writing music in my third or fourth year, and asked these cool kids to play with me to see if the songs were any good. It was a crapshoot. 
AF: How do you enjoy life on the road?
LC: Genuinely love it.  
AF: Your set up of three vocalists is rather talked about, how did the band formation come about?
LC: First it was just me, Brian, Terry and Angelo, no other women. But I’d hear these thick three-part harmonies in my head in every song I wrote, and finally realized we needed to expand the family. Deedee and Morgane gave me everything I was looking for
AF: What do you miss most from home while traveling?
LC: Not having to load and unload gear every day is a simple pleasure. 

AF: Who were your musical icons?
LC: Elvis Presley and Tom Waits. Still are.

AF: If you could have anyone join you on stage – who would it be?
LC: Chance the Rapper.

AF: Could you tell me a little bit about the band’s visual style, and fashion sense as noted on stage?
LC: We put a lot of work and care into how we sound. How we look is just an extension of that. We’re putting on a show, you know?

AF: Where did your band name come from?
LC: I always loved the idea of “parlour tricks.” People used to get together in someone’s living room and entertain each other. The intimacy of it. Make your own fun.
AF: Your music has been described as much retro and built for the future, if you could see yourself thriving in any time but the present what would it be?
LC: Any time that will have us, I guess. I think we’d do OK amongst the dinosaurs. Really get back to basics.
AF: What’s next for Parlour Tricks?
LC: We are so, so psyched to be releasing our debut full-length album with Bar/None Records this June
For a taste of what they’re like live, watch Parlour Tricks’ recent Audiotree session below:


HerHabits 1 by Mikaela GauerWhen discussing artists, a phenomenon frequently comes up among those who work in the industry. You may adore someone, yet not be so into their music, or discover your favorite artist is kind of an ass. Her Habits (singer/songwriter Joanie Wolkoff) passes both the human and art test with flying “tropi-pop” colors (a term meaning tropical pop she used to describe her earlier work, before finding her rock and electro sides in part with Her Habits collaborator/producer Sanford Livingston).

Originally from Toronto, Joanie grew up in a musical household “Mom played folk guitar and dug (Canadian legend) Gordon Lightfoot and dad sings and writes his own blues songs to this day,” says Joanie. She lived with her father and stepmother (her mother passed when she was nine) as an only child. “I explored a lot of imaginative avenues because I spent a lot of time alone when I was a little kid,” she says. After attending a conservative all-girls school, Joanie fell into an artistic community of “elective kin” during her time spent at an alternative high school, a sharp (and assumed appreciated) change from her early education. “I sort of found myself at age 14 or 15 surrounded by a much broader spectrum of demographics,” says Joanie. “I left home early and found myself in a really creative community of folks who were a few years older than me, and who really wanted to empower me and help me find my footing. They helped remind me that I had jurisdiction over my life even though I was 17 and super young and super intimidated. I think I still had these ideas around what I as meant to do or entitled to do instead of just following all my passions.”

After a successful enough modeling career to support herself and save up for college, Joanie moved to Paris to study. What was meant to be a brief stint turned into four years. Eventually, Joanie found herself in New York in 2006. As noted in the interview, we’re skipping over the internship in rural China, the chandelier making, and other glimmering gems of experience that fall out of Joanie’s lips with a humbling nod. “I do carry an expired state issued barbering license,” she adds.

HerHabits by David Gillespie 6 high res

While music had always been a part of her experience, the energy of New York sailed Joanie through the progression that emerged to become Her Habits. “I think there’s a professional blood lust in America that gives its art a really powerful reach,” she says.

Her Habits is a recent initiative after four years of Joanie and Sanford working together. The two met a while back working on a pitch for Hershey’s chocolate. They didn’t get the gig, but it lead to a creative partnership of filtering Joanie’s songwriting through Sanford’s production skills, who along with honing in on that unique style (like being able to tell who made the vegetables at a potluck, she describes) also pushes her musical boundaries. “Make no mistake, Her Habits is a collaboration,” Joanie says. “We had to join forces to create the particular energy and texture and production value that you get when you listen.” When asked of her creative process, she says “It’s kind of insular, like I’ll try to construct really interesting really stimulating melodies.” Stimulating melodies indeed. From someone who has dabbled in everything from stoner rock to commercial pop and lived a life encompassing the grit of a farmer and the glamour of a world model, Her Habits is a clean and sparkly well-though out collection of driving beats and sugary melodies. The grit and the glamour is all there in the music, I like to imagine twirling under the lights of a disco ball spinning from a log cabin as I listen, but check the forthcoming EP out for yourself. It also comes with an illustrated booklet created by Joanie after asking around what habits people found to be unique to women.

Her Habits debut Northerner EP will be out Jan 27th. I

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