Meanlife is a one-man band but it’s not like the talent behind this meanpop outlet hadn’t tried. It was just that bands often felt more like a group project in high school, “Inevitably the band falls apart and the album comes out and I’m left trying to promote it like an orphan child no one wanted. It’s time-consuming, energy-draining, and ends up burning good songs,” adding, “There are a lot of advantages to being part of a band and a lot of disadvantages to being solo but here we are.”
So after realizing it was just easier to do it all on his own, Meanlife came to be. Now we’re heading towards the release of ‘Dark Arts,’ and we talked about not only the new album but also the aesthetic influence of old films, the allure of payphones, and more in this back and forth.
Kendra: With ‘Dark Arts’ dropping in May, I’d love to know how the songs on there compare to some of your earlier releases like “Picture Shy” and “Bad Vibes in the Womb” from a songwriter’s perspective?
Meanlife: These new songs are less quarter-life crisis psychosexual diary entries and more universal kinda classic songwriting zen tweets. They took longer to form, some verses I came up with 10 years ago and then slid them into new songs like Jenga.
Kendra: Before we talk about “Selfish Loop” and the video, the clips you made before this one leaned a little more towards the black and white in terms of aesthetic. Are you someone who lives for the days of black and white television and movies? Do you find that era of entertainment inspiring at all?
Meanlife: I was a film student so that aesthetic of old film stuff bleeds into my music video style. I think there’s something out of time about Meanlife’s songs and the old film clips like for “Hard 2 Read” are a way to show that. Maybe there’s also something black and white about the songs.
Kendra: For “Selfish Loop,” more color and the sound reminded me of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. With that, if you could go back in time and live and breathe the music of the past, which decade would you pick, and why?
Meanlife: The ‘90s and ‘60s are the two periods I draw from the most. I don’t really fantasize about time travel. I might like to go forward and see how genres have changed in 50 years though.
Kendra: You also were in a phone booth in “Selfish Loop.” Was that something you had to really search for?
Meanlife: The phone booth is down the street from my place and no one’s ever in it. It fits the conversational tone of the song. Phone booths themselves are kind of a ‘90s signifier. Also, it was just a free easy dramatic-looking location. Since the video went up I’ve seen a bunch of indie artists doing phone booth press pics/vids, so it seems like the secret’s out.
Kendra: Okay, time for a side note – with this month being Easter…my favorite holiday only because the candy game is on point. I want to ask if you could have the perfect holiday basket filled with your favorite treat and an album that you cannot live without, what would be in your basket?
Meanlife: Gimme some of that white chocolate Lindt and ‘American Water’ by Silver Jews.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Dark Arts’ out soon, what’s next for you as spring continues to roll into summer?
Meanlife: I have zero plans. If the album comes out and flops you may never hear from me again. This might be my shocking last interview. I might play a show but I’m not sure why. I have a ton of videos for this album so they’ll be dropping periodically. I post whatever thought comes into my mind on my Twitter. If any more songs come to me I will write them down.