GIRLPOOL: I DON’T NEED TO HIDE MYSELF
illustration by joe mcgarry
Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad are two young things making music as Girlpool. People are touched by the perceptive words of these 18 & 19 year olds. They remind us that wisdom is ageless and comes in all shapes of experience, and honesty isn’t about maturity or being legally able to drink whiskey woefully at the bar. You can get it all on their new album, Before The World Was Big, a heart-on-your-sleeve exposition about coming of age and wondering at the world. They’re out there having laughs as they drive around the country playing music, meeting weird people at gas stations who wear hats shaped like cheese or scream about candy. Their record release show is Mon., June 1, at the Center For The Arts Eagle Rock. This interview by Daiana Feuer.
Harmony Tividad (bass/vocals): We were in Canada getting gasoline and this guy was trying to get candy and kept screaming different candies at the counter person. ‘SMARTIES!’ He kept screaming it loudly with so much aggression. We keep re-enacting that as we go.
Where are you right now?
HT: We’re in Wisconsin on the freeway.
Cleo Tucker (guitar/vocals): There’s a ton of cheese. There were ridiculous hats that were cheese shaped in the gas station. They had all different sizes and textures of cheese.
Is your sightseeing restricted to gas stations?
CT: Pretty much. We try to explore as much as we can because we’re both super fascinated by new places. There’s not much time sometimes in one place. All these drives have been humblingly beautiful. Harmony and I have been in the car with our jaws dropped.
HT: We were driving through northwest Montana and that was really beautiful and cool. It was totally gorgeous until Montana plateaued out and was totally flat the rest of the way. And it’s a huge state, literally, so long. But the first half was really pretty.
CT: We have Harmony’s acoustic classical guitar that we picked up when we were in L.A. and we’ve been playing music, which has been fun. We recorded a song using our phones in the car when we were driving through Idaho. Also using this cool Casio that Harmony has.
You guys are very deep and philosophical when you speak. Do you ever just want to talk about farts and penises?
CT: The way that we sort of communicate is really the way we are feeling. It doesn’t wear us down because it’s the necessity of the way we communicate with each other and through our songs. We like to reflect and observe and that comes out a lot in interviews. The first few interviews we did were definitely a learning experience. It was like, oh, we’re not just on the phone with our friends talking about weird experiences that we’ve had? This actually gets written down and gets read by people we don’t know. We learned that we should probably watch what we say!
It’s one thing to be a genuine, and honest and vulnerable person, but another thing to get on a stage and expose that realness to others.
HT: I don’t know if I necessarily feel exposed. I feel like being that way is what feels best when we are creating things that are honest to the core. I don’t need to hide myself. This is who we are and how we choose to create.
CT: I feel like Harmony and I have entered this period of our lives where we’re given this platform to create and expose our creations together and that by no means changes the intention between the two of us and the intensity with which we write and share with each other. We aren’t going to compromise anything. We’re focused on doing what feels good.
How was the transition from the DIY scene to being ‘professional musicians’?
CT: I don’t know if the change has fully hit me. Even though the shows we’re playing are significantly different from DIY spaces, the environment we create is based on the DIY experience and the intention is the same. The difference is however many eyes are upon us. What we try to do is create an intimate space for us to share and relate and be heard and to keep the feeling present and the most real.
HT: The weight is the same because it’s the same between us. It’s what it is, and one kind of show experience isn’t necessarily greater or better than the other. Either one can be special.
One thing that’s cool about Girlpool is that you are a duo that in a way fuses into one voice. You are obviously two personalities but somehow blend into a singular force.
CT: It’s interesting the way that you phrase it because when we write together, Harmony and I, we sort of wrestle with each other’s thoughts or feelings and dissecting them and exploring them together and feel fulfillment within ourselves via this combination and partnership in exploration.
HT: We often talk about how our creations become their own entities that are separate from us and embody us in a way that’s very specific and particular and yet have distinct parts of our personalities projected into it.
CT: We sort of have the intention, when we’re writing, to stretch each other.
I feel like there’s got to be a lot of love in that. The dynamic between close friends, especially friends that create together, is a complex and magical partnership.
CT: I think it’s been special to exercise these practices of knowing when to move a certain way for each other. How do I explain this?
HT: You kind of adapt to each other’s space in a way that is very special and different when you create with people. There’s an element of understanding and knowing what resonates with the other person and yourself and what you contribute to the equation. And you’re so conscientious of each other’s space. We’re so hyper-aware of each other and care about each other deeply and feel very connected to each other’s personalities and the differences between us are what make the magic between us. We have such different ideas and can grapple with each of them in a way that’s special.
CT: Practicing being malleable with each other in the sense of being sensitive to each other and allowing yourself to be malleable and open to creating with another person in order to create that joint-ness.
Do you wish at all that you were in school or doing the normal thing?
CT: We’re both doing what we love which is making music and exploring. I’m enjoying this path.
HT: I’m glad I’m not in school. I’m not going to lie. I just feel like every experience feels in its right place right now.
CT: I think Harmony and I both feel we are on our purpose, which is a really powerful feeling. Imagining us doing something else isn’t right now, but could be in the future. We’re liking the ‘right now.’ And that’s the most you can ask from life. It’s not all peaches and cream of course. We’re living and feeling everything but we are excited about it all.
Can you discuss what the L.A. music scene was like for you?
HT: L.A. was extremely special to both of us. We both feel really grateful to have grown up in Los Angeles and gotten to experience and be inspired by so many people. It holds a special place in our heart and shaped our vision. We spent so much time going to shows. It was a huge part of our lives.
But you’ve officially moved away?
CT: For the time being we’re living in Philadelphia. We moved there four months ago to change things up and reveal a new chapter.
A more sweater- and jacket-oriented chapter of your life.
HT: Yeah, literally!
CT: It was just a cool change of pace. The East Coast has a really different vibe. Harmony and I both hold the concept of community close to our hearts and feel compelled to be part of a community. It’s an incredibly important and special part of being a person. We’ve done the best we can to explore Philadelphia so far. It is definitely a priority to get involved. We love it there and we’re excited about getting to experience the inspired people and creations coming out of there.
What’s integral to your existence? What do you want right now from the world?
HT: There isn’t really a formula but we both do value community. My ideal of achieving happiness is one of the most malleable things about me. I don’t know if I need anything more than I have. I feel blessed and grateful. I need whatever is in front of me and to be aware that it’s there.
CT: Change is always happening and just creating is what makes me happy.
HT: Creating is the base emotion that doesn’t change. For me and for Cleo, to create is the thing that keeps us most satisfied in the long term.
Do you set a standard for your creative output? Do you have to make ‘a certain type’ of song?
CT: No, we really do believe in creating in a pure, organic way that has no rubric. We try to create an open space between us that is all feeling.
GIRLPOOL’S RECORD RELEASE SHOW FOR BEFORE THE WORLD WAS BIG WITH STEPHEN STEINBRINK AND MICHAEL VIDAL ON MON., JUNE 1, AT THE CENTER FOR THE ARTS EAGLE ROCK, 2225 COLORADO BLVD., EAGLE ROCK. 8 PM / $12.50 / ALL AGES. GET TICKETS HERE! GIRLPOOL’S BEFORE THE WORLD WAS BIG IS AVAILABLE ON TUE., JUNE 2, FROM WICHITA RECORDINGS. VISIT GIRLPOOL AT GIRLPOOLMUSIC.COM.