Photos: David Studarus
There’s a kind of otherworldly, harmonised magic in the way that Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker’s vocals blend, creating a particular, unique space with their music as they express relatable feelings of hope, fear and frustration, and a sense of ennui, all with a reassuring honesty. “I feel like it’s just me and Harmony’s climate in the moment,” Tucker says, musing on the visual environment that Girlpool encompasses for them, adding that “it’s always changing, you know.”
This constant sensation of transience is something very much at the forefront of Girlpool’s music. The duo released Powerplant, the follow up to their acclaimed debut Before the World Was Big, earlier this year and common to both records are considerations of the perpetual progressions and transformations that growing up and existing entail.
Discussing their songwriting process Tucker explains, “I guess we approached writing Before the World Was Big without approaching at all. Our intention was to not really approach what it meant, we were just writing songs together without being self aware of how it was going to be; we just wanted that process to take place so it did,” going on to mention “we wrote Powerplant in a similar way. That’s just how we do it I guess, it’s kind of like whatever happens happens”.
“It’s really nice to be in the same place again.”
This unpretentious attitude comes as no surprise as Girlpool’s songs contain a characteristic clarity, yet their sincerity and the fact that everything they do is entirely original, is still wholly refreshing. Hand in hand with this authenticity is a candid vulnerability evident as much in the vocal delivery as in the lyrics themselves. Touching on this openness Tividad explains that “all the songs [on Powerplant] were a product of us driving back and forth to where each other were respectively living at the time, and just exploring and sitting around playing them over and over, and how we wanted to touch on what we were feeling and how we wanted to talk about it”.
Whilst listening to their music often feels like being let into an intimate space permeated by the pair’s friendship, they both affirm they’re entirely comfortable with projecting and sharing this world of theirs: “I think it’s like, it just kind of feels natural to do it,” Tividad contemplates, pausing before adding “right, Cle?”, to which Tucker responds “yeah, it’s exciting to sing them and to create different spaces of feeling”.
Although the band initially approached creating Powerplant in a similar way to their debut, sonically, the record presents a distinctively amplified sound, heightened particularly with the addition of drums. “Harmony and I both use percussion and drums in the music we each make, that we hadn’t put out with Girlpool,” Tucker says. “We both work with that sound and when we were making the songs for Powerplant I was recording drums on all of the demos, and Harmony and I discussed, arranged and wrote all those parts,” which resulted in them getting their friend Miles Wintner to play drums when they set about recording the tracks back home in LA.
“I think that we both really rely on each other.”
Speaking of LA, the pair enthuse that “it’s really nice to be in the same place again.” Living in different cities while writing for Powerplant was a challenge, as Tividad mentions “we were having to travel and kind of live sort of parallel but distant experiences, only tapping in when we were able to, you know, it’s so much easier now we can share our lives with each other in a more accessible way” which, given their incredibly tight-knit friendship, makes a lot of sense. Tucker adds, “I feel like we’re about to be touring so much and we feel really nourished and comfortable here,” emphasising that, for them, being back home is “just so grounding and helpful when we’re touring so much and, yeah, it just feels right right now.”
With an extensive set of tour dates around America and Europe now imminent, Tucker explains that they sometimes feel more sane on tour rather than at home even, “just because it’s what I need. I like to not be in the same place for a long time.” Yet this isn’t always the case. “Other times it’s really hard to feel grounded ‘cause you’re travelling constantly.”
Given that the intimate world of the pair’s friendship is intrinsic to their music and vice versa, it’s unsurprising that Tucker highlights that, amidst the various pressures of being on the road for such long periods of time, “the biggest part of being on tour for Harmony and I is just communicating the whole time, constantly being really connected and in touch, and I think if that relationship or dynamic is disturbed then it’s really easy for us to feel like our footing is more volatile. I think that we both really rely on each other.”
With such a cohesive foundation at its core, Girlpool will indisputably continue to confront the world with their earnest, formidable rock ‘n’ roll.
Girlpool play Thekla on 6th September. Powerplant is out now. Check out ‘123’ below.