Peach Kelli Pop's latest single, "Halloween Mask," seems cheerful enough; the garage-pop quintet, which started in Ottawa as the solo project of guitarist Allie Hanlon but is now based in sunny Los Angeles, is known for its smart take on bubblegum, lo-fi rock and roll. And yet, there's something dark lurking beneath the surface.
"Halloween mask, I wear it everyday," Hanlon croons atop a haunting, almost unfathomably catchy beat. "Halloween mask, beneath my skin is grey."
PKP's Halloween Mask 7" -- which also features the driving, slightly sinister "Hundred Dollar Bill" and dewy pop ballad "Stuck In A Dream" -- is out today via Lauren Records. Hanlon spoke to MTV News about societal pressures, how the Internet can affect women's self esteem, and some of the badass bands she's been inspired by lately.
Stream below and read on for Hanlon's interview.
MTV News: Peach Kelli Pop began as a solo project in Ottawa but is now based in Los Angeles with a five-piece band. How did that change of scenery affect PKP?
Hanlon: There is a real music industry in Los Angeles -- people that live here work as musicians and are able to make an income doing that. In Ottawa, it's more of a hobby. There aren't really the same creative opportunities. Since moving to Los Angeles, I've been able to do things like score a silent movie and write music for a show on Cartoon Network. That being said, Ottawa's scene is less competitive and more organic in terms of bands and music, which I miss sometimes. People are doing it for the love of the game, not money or fame. I think it's easier to write music in that environment.
MTV News: “Halloween Mask” is about the pressure women feel to look a certain way. It’s relatable for everyone, but specifically, how does that affect you as a musician -- as someone who's always having her photo taken and performing in front of an audience?
Hanlon: What's difficult for me is knowing that some of the success of my band has to do with how we look, not how good our songwriting or performances are. It is knowing that people wouldn't give us a chance if we didn't look a certain way. That sucks, and I don't think it's totally the same for men. Most of the negative pressure I feel doesn't come from the visibility involved in being in a band, but by living in a culture that only celebrates and represents women with a specific look. We are constantly compared and comparing ourselves to what society tells us over and over is beautiful. Those things have affected my subconscious since I was in middle school and continue to do so now.
MTV News: The issue of body image/body shaming is discussed a lot right now -- do you think it's getting better or worse for women? I’m thinking of the Internet, specifically, whether good or bad.
Hanlon: I think the Internet allows people to find kindred spirits or others who are similar, and in turn feel less alone, weird or different from others. It has also given exposure and a voice to groups of women who are underrepresented in the media - this could include plus-size women or people of color, for example. I think the ability to find a community through the Internet allows people to gain confidence and support, which is really great. There is of course, the flip side where anonymous men still feel entitled to criticize and harass women based on their appearance. I don't think anything has changed on that frontier. Hopefully it does soon.
MTV News: Who are the bands inspiring you right now?
Hanlon: I love bands with girls who perform amazingly, work well as a team, and write great songs. To me, that is really inspiring. I really love a band called Feels, from Los Angeles, because they are fucking amazing musicians and put on an incredibly hypnotic live show. I also love The Courtneys from Vancouver, BC and Upset from Los Angeles.