Hey Violet Goes 80s With a Brand New EP
I’ve just watched the band “Hey Violet” perform for forty-five minutes at the Los Angeles Echoplex theatre, at a special headlining performance. Their new EP, Brand New Moves, had just dropped a few hours earlier, and the full house of passionate fans, sporting HV T-shirts & hats, cry-screamed (sang?) along with every song — and danced to the ones they didn’t yet know.
If you don’t know who Hey Violet is, you probably soon will — as they seem to be quickly taking over the music world with their punk rock-inspired tunes and catchy lyrics. After winning “Next Big Thing” at the 2016 Teen Choice Awards, this almost all-girl band has just released a selection of tracks bound to capture you in repeat mode.
Their pink-haired lead singer, Rena Lovelis, is wearing glitter on her eyes and shiny black pants. She emits an unheard of level of rock-stardom for such a small girl without even singing a single note. But when she does sing, it’s as if Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani and Hayley Williams crashed into each other and made a whole new generation of rockstar. Her sister, Nia Lovelis, plays a heavy hip hop beat under Rena’s vocals and looks like a mini Joan Jett, darkly lit behind her drumset. Miranda Miller, on keyboards, plays 80’s-inspired growling synths which are new this time around on this EP. And Casey Moreta on lead guitar is the only dude in the band, and is subjected to having to deal with screaming girls asking for guitar picks mid-set — though he doesn’t seem bothered by it.
The new tracks are different — more 80’s inspired, more melodic, with more of a hip hop beat under them. The previous EP had more of a straight pop-punk sound, and while the ones are still punk-influenced, they are a step up. The new EP offers three versions of the song, Brand New Moves, which can go nicely with several moods depending on what you’re into – a straight pop version, an EDM remix version (Nomekop Remix), and an absolutely stellar acoustic version (Stripped Version) which shows off more of a sultry side of Rena’s voice. Perhaps the crowd favorite on the EP, is the ever-so-on-point track, “Fuqboi” in which Rena sings about the loser with the dumb selfie faces that’s out to destroy your rep that is sadly, relatable on multiple levels. Lastly, perhaps the standout track on the EP, is Pure – a pop-synth masterpiece that could be the title track for any John Hughes film taking place in any high school hallway. Pure has the fantastic combo of chill vibes, singable and melodic hook, and lyrics that describe how you perhaps might feel about your first time — “Take my pure,” Rena sings, “I’m forever tied to you.”
After the show, the band is giddy with excitement backstage, telling me that some of the songs they played, they had learned just a few days prior. Rena is leaning on a wall, as rock stars do, until she notices my lipstick color – she then grabs my arm to drag me to her dressing room to show me that she also collects Limecrime lipgloss, just like me. We discuss our favorite shades, Saint, True Love…until her band mates call for her to take some photos. It’s in this moment that I realize these girls (and guy) don’t know what’s about to hit them – the wave of popularity that’s only just starting.
Check out our Q&A with lead singer of Hey Violet, Rena Lovelis, below, and click here for their tour dates.
Where did the name “Hey Violet” come from and how did you guys become a band?We have all be playing music since were little. Miranda, Nia, and I have been playing together for about 9 years, about 3 or 4 years ago we started playing with Casey at home in LA and then he joined the band. Now that I’m saying it, it feels like yesterday…We were tossing around a bunch of band name ideas and “Hey Violet” just fit when we said it. We had a long list of ideas that involved ‘hey’ and ‘violet’ in different forms and we put them together and it just sounded right.
What were some of your influences with this new EP? And how would you describe the sound compared to some of your earlier singles and EPs?We listen to so many types of music but a few influences we all like are Blondie, Melanie Martinez, & the Weeknd. The new EP is definitely more pop than our earlier music but it has a lot of layers to it. The production has some 80’s influence, too, we used more synths and drums to create a bigger sound.
Do you think this new EP represents any growth as musicians and with your songwriting?
Yes, I think we have all matured. We spent the first 6 months of the year focusing on our writing and working in the studio, developing ourselves while we defined our sound.
Do you think your fans will like the new tunes? In what way do you hope that they connect with the music? We’ve already seen incredible feedback and we are really grateful that they have embraced our new music with open arms. We have a ton of other new music in the works that fits in well with our EP and we hope people continue to love what comes next!
If “Brand New Moves” were on a movie soundtrack, set to a specific scene maybe, what would it be and why? What is it about? Is it an anthem or a party song?
Ooh good question! It’s more of a chill party song that makes you want to dance. I could see it as a love scene with two people who haven’t seen each other in a long time and they dance their way over to reunite at a party.
On the new EP, there are several versions of “Brand New Moves,” which is your favorite and why?
At the moment the stripped down version of “Brand New Moves” is my favorite because it gives a different perspective on the song and takes it to another place emotionally. It’s unexpected and makes you feel something.
Is the song “Fuqboi” about anyone in particular? What inspired the lyrics?
Yes, we all know that one guy… While we were writing it we kept those guys in mind but also looked up “traits of a fuqboi” to help us with specific lyrics [laughs].
Since you are almost an all-girl band, do you feel there is pressure for female musicians to wear less clothing and portray a very sexy image?
I think artists ultimately wear what they want to wear and it doesn’t matter if it’s considered “clothed” or “sexy.” People should be open to wearing what they are most comfortable in, female or male. That’s what’s in style now.
How do you feel about your fashion and what you wear on-stage? Does fashion influence your songwriting or performances in any way?
My stage style is actually what’s in my closet or suitcase at any moment. As a band we are inspired by a lot of things we see on Instagram, magazines, etc, but I don’t try to force my style to fit into any one thing. It just naturally fits together, I think.
If you could play an acoustic show like MTV Unplugged, what songs would you cover?
Well, right at the moment I have “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)” stuck in my head but I think I’d really like to cover “Death of A Bachelor” by Panic! At the Disco.
How do you feel about winning the “Next Big Thing” award at this year’s Teen Choice Awards?
Last year we went as audience members so it was a little mind blowing to be nominated to begin with this year, let alone win. The surfboard is taller than all of us! I need to learn how to surf.
Do you believe that every song is about something? Or do you think songwriters just write what sounds cool?
I think it can go both ways depending on the artist’s intention.A song can be open ended and let listeners interpret it for themselves, or it can be a very personal connection for the band and the listener can connect whichever way they choose. Both are important.
What is your favorite part about touring with 5 Seconds of Summer?
Catering! Just kidding. It’s nice to hang with some of our best friends backstageand the fact that we are constantly meeting so many new people is great. We also get to spend time with our fans in each city when we do our HV Unplugged sessions and [it’s] really fun for us to get to hang with them and see their personalities.
What’s Most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you while on tour or while performing?
I almost took a spill on my rollerskates backstage when a forklift was coming. I grabbed onto a trash can to catch my balance but people definitely saw me and laughed.
Live Performance Photos by Collect1ve Mind at the EchoPlex 8/15/16