We’re living in a weird time with the current events of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down. How are you currently holding up with everything that is going on in our world right now?
I’m doing about as well as one can be, that’s for sure. I saw a post going around recently (I believe by @candacereels on Instagram) that said “Racism didn’t go anywhere after your one week of performative allyship and coronavirus hasn’t disappeared now that it’s summer.” That’s so true, and it’s definitely what I’m feeling. It’s summer, and it’s nice, and I’m releasing music, but the world is still moving.
How did you get your start in the music industry?
I got my start really so recently. These past few releases (“All I Want For Christmas Is Emotional Stability,” “Doomsday,” and “Waves”) have been my first “official” releases, and they’re all leading up to my debut EP. I started out on this project because after meeting songwriter Donna Lewis, she decided to take me under her wing, and she introduced me to the lovely producer David Baron. They both really helped me get this project to where it is, but all that’s happened in the last year.
You’ve been songwriting for years and a lot of your material was first composed during your high school days. Your lyrics are very personal and poetic. What is your writing process like, and how do you draw inspiration for writing lyrics?
My writing process isn’t really one thing, I take a variety of approaches. A fair amount of the time though I like to start in silence and isolation, and just see what happens when I put pen to paper. Other times I like to be more musical about it, improvising tunes and lyrics to see what happens. Sometimes things will pop into my head in other settings though, hanging out with people or on public transport. Those times I’ll whisper-sing my ideas into voice memos to record them. I wrote “Doomsday” on a bus. I probably disconcerted some passengers whispering those lyrics into my phone.
I also let things sit a long time. I have a huge collection of lyric snippets spanning years. When I want to write but nothing’s coming, or when I’m at a dead end with a song, I will look through those for inspiration. I don’t know whether this “letting things sit” is a good thing or shows a lack of discipline, but a lot of my songs have been these half songs that I write over the course of years in bits and pieces– a chorus this month, and intro that month. A line this year, a single word change that year. And then sometimes I’ll come back to what I think are finished songs and completely revamp them. That’s what happened with “Waves”, I thought it was done when I was a junior in high school, but I came back to it years later and discovered it was not!
Anyway, that’s my writing process. Inspiration I can’t answer– it comes when it comes.
Who/what are some of your influences and inspiration for your sound?
I have a lot of wide-ranging influences and inspirations for various sounds I use, but one of the biggest overall is MARINA. She’s been one of my favorite artists since I was 14, and I connect with her songwriting style, especially on her earliest album “Family Jewels”, so much. I really aspire to be as emotional and eloquent a writer as she is. She finds a way to communicate some pretty niche stuff, and I love it.
You write your own material and direct your music videos. What is your process of creating videos like, and how has it changed?
I like to collaborate on music videos. All of my music videos have started with me going to artists I admire and respect, and asking them what they would think of co-creating with me, and what a song brings to mind for them. Hearing what other artists pull out of my music, or how they interpret it, is so fascinating for me. I love to merge my ideas and feelings towards a song with somebody else’s as we start to conceptualize the video.
From then on, it’s like a normal film production– a million excel spreadsheets, bizarre hours, and snacks. The biggest way working with my own material changes my approach to film is that I go into these projects with stronger preconceived notions than I would on somebody else’s piece. Also, I have to constantly remind myself that I should be on camera. I get so involved in being behind the camera and in telling a story that I forget I should probably show me on screen.
Who are some of your favorite artists? If you could have a dream collab with anyone, who would it be and why?
I have so many different ones. Guns N’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction” is my favorite album of all time. Brown Bird is my favorite band. I would love to collaborate with MARINA, though. Like I said above, I admire her songwriting so much. I think it would be a really incredible experience to see her process up close. Or Tash Sultana. Our styles aren’t so similar, but their attitude is rad and I admire their playing a lot. I feel like we could make something happen.
You recently released your new single “Waves.” What else can we expect coming up this year?
I’ll be coming out with my debut EP in September! I also have a music video for “Waves” due to be out in a couple weeks.
Do you have a release timeline for your debut EP anytime in the near future?
The ideal is mid-September, provided the world doesn’t fall apart even further before then. I’ll be posting updates to my instagram @abigailory to keep people in the loop.
What is one cause or organization that you are passionate about?
I’m passionate about most causes. I really want to try to make the world a better place. I think climate justice is a big part of that and ties into so many human rights efforts. In that vein, Black Lives Matter has been talked about a lot recently and I definitely support that. I saw that New York Times article titled “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History.” I thought that was very exciting. Hopefully with so many people fighting for change, the change will actually happen.
Who/what inspires your fashion style and where do you like to shop to pick up your staple pieces of clothing and makeup (thrift, department stores)?
My fashion inspirations change from day to day. Sometimes it’s an era, or a cartoon character, or an idea. I like things to be comfortable, but I’m not afraid to get crazy. I used to straight up just wear costumes on the day-to-day when I was in high school. My parents had an intervention this quarantine when I was wearing only sweatpants around. They said if I want to be a rock star I need to dress like a rock star, and I really try to take that to heart.
My favorite place to shop is my parents’ closet (seriously). My mom was a choreographer and has some of her dance costumes still, and plus she bought crazy vintage stuff when she was younger. What was crazy and vintage in the 80s is even crazier and more vintage now. We have a “costume closet” in our basement with all these absurd pieces we’ve collected. To give my dad some credit though, I do steal a lot of his t-shirts.
“Waves” was inspired by the book “The Invention of Morel.” What are some of your favorite books? Favorite films/TV shows? What are your hobbies?
A bit ago, I finished reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and I have to say I have not laughed that hard in forever. I love comedy TV shows– Grace and Frankie, Brooklyn 99, Letterkenny, Broad City. I got really into the Cartoon Network miniseries Over The Garden Wall, which taps into another one of my interests, fairy tales/fantasy. I loved Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro) which I saw for the first time in January. The movie I’ve been watching over and over again has been The Little Hours (Jeff Baena). I’ve made all my friends watch it, it cracks me up so much.
I like painting to relax. I also love going for walks and enjoying the outside. I cook with friends and enjoy that, though I’m no master chef. I went through a long embroidery phase in high school and still sew for fun. I’ve been so tied up in having “goals” recently that hobbies have been hard to spend time at, but I’m trying to get back into visual art as a way to unwind.
What is the main thing that you would really like for people to take away from your music?
I would love for people to take away from my music that there are so many different angles to approach life from. Sometimes trying to find positivity in the negative, such as tooth pain, can yield something funny and absurd. Reveling in the day-to-day bizarre is endlessly entertaining to me, and I hope other people feel that too.
Due to our current circumstances, live shows are placed on hold indefinitely and touring is at a standstill right now. However, many artists are finding new creative ways to interact with their fans amidst all of the chaos; utilizing their social media platforms to share content, check in with their audiences, participate in live streams, perform songs and put on “virtual concerts”, and provide insight into their new routines in quarantine. Do you have any plans that are similar in nature, to help pass the time until shows are back up and running again?
Absolutely! I’ll be doing a live session through SCENES Media shortly. I also taped myself playing live and hope to put that online soon too. I’ve been working on doing interviews and getting people to listen to “Waves” right now, but there’ll be more art and music sharing to come.
Do you have anything that you would like to tell our readers?
Give new artists a chance! Producer David Baron told me that most people stop finding new music by the time they’re 25 and I’d believe it. Whenever I come across a song advertised on social media or if an artist follows me, I always try to check out their work. It takes 30 seconds to decide if I do or don’t like the piece, but it’s worth it to give it a shot and see what’s out there. You learn more, you may find something new you love, and you give smaller artists a chance. Very worth it in my opinion.
Also follow me on social media (@abigailory), Spotify (https://sptfy.com/abigailory), and YouTube (https://lnk.to/abigailory). I would appreciate it a lot and you’d be giving ME a chance. Which would be, you know, pretty cool. Again, very worth it in my opinion.
Thank you so much for your time, Abigail! I look forward to the release of your debut EP and hearing more new material!
Stay safe and take care!
Interview By: Bri Rodriguez