New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
NYC-based indie pop songwriter BEST EX (aka Mariel Loveland) is pleased to reveal her new EP, Good At Feeling
Bad, released today, Friday 22nd May 2020, via Alcopop! Records (UK) and No Sleep Records (US).
The follow-up to her debut 2017 EP, ICE CREAM ANTI-SOCIAL, Good At Feeling
Bad sees Loveland diving even deeper into indie pop territory, a move that may surprise some old fans of her former band Candy Hearts. "The departure really just reflects the kind of music I like to listen to now," she explains. "When I started Candy Hearts a decade ago, I was living in this little bubble of '90s nostalgia where all of my friends would slap on The Weakerthans or The Lemonheads and sit around on the couch showing each other our favourite songs."
Having graduated from sofas onto major stages including stints on The Fest and Warped Tour, Candy Hearts grew a sizable following, but the music that she was performing wasn't the music in her head. Assisted by producer Andy Tongren, what Loveland has gone on to create is music that has more in common with Jenny Lewis
and Carly Rae Jepson than Paramore.
"I think this EP is truly a door closed on my old life and a new one opened," she muses. "When I started writing some of the songs on it, I was just getting off the road from Candy Hearts, deciding if we should completely change our direction, healing from a lot of difficult things that I never got to deal with when I was constantly on the road. I definitely tested the waters a bit with Ice Cream
Anti-Social, but there was a lot of fear there—a lot of worry that it wouldn't live up to the releases I'd done with my long-standing team of punk veterans."
Could Loveland stand on her own without them? She questioned whether she would become a failure with no one to blame but herself. "Even though I always owned our creative direction, there was at least 5% of me that could say: 'well this person did that, and it wasn't me, and it wasn't my idea, and it wasn't successful'. That 5% is like falling out the window and landing on a couch cushion. It hurts, but you survive. This time, there's nothing there to catch me. Still, this EP felt like the leap forward I desperately needed to close that chapter on the girl who was too afraid to stand on her own, to take the credit, to take the criticism, to process the stuff I never had time to process when we toured so heavily, and to let it all go and be the kind of person I want to be."
Splitting her time between England and New Jersey during the writing sessions for the EP, Loveland had an experience that went some way to changing both her outlook on life and her music. "I'd written this line on my usual bus route in Kent that goes through these fields filled with sheep, and anyone who knows me knows that I love sheep," she enthuses. "I was on my way to get the most life-changing cheesy chips on the planet, and I had just bought a reusable bus pass for the first time because I was there constantly. I had all this change in mixed currency at the bottom of my bag, and when I tried to refill the bus pass, I realized I had mistaken some quarters for pence and I didn't have enough."
"Someone ended up giving me £10—just in case something happened on my way into town —even though I only needed about 50p, and I thought, 'Wow, this is so nice. I'm never going to forget this.' And I never did. Instead, I wrote a song about remembering that people can be good even if the world has been unkind, and that you don't need much to be decently happy. I try to remember that whenever New York City kicks me in the gut."
Hands down the hardest track to write was 'Feed The Sharks', says Loveland, who started writing the lyrics after she went public about being the victim of abuse. "It absolutely spiraled in the press in a way I didn't think was possible," she says. "I guess I didn't realize how many people liked my band at the time or cared about me at all. This is going to sound painfully millennial, but I remember standing on a street corner with an acai bowl, so happy that they included this beautiful edible flower in my takeout order, thinking that things were finally looking up, then refreshing my social media seeing that after days, someone finally published his public response. And almost none of it was true. But almost everybody believed him. And nothing would make it go away."
She remembers reading everything online: fans urging her to get help for mental illnesses she didn't have, calling her a vile woman trying to take down a great guy who gave them a poster once at a show, saying that she was the abuser; bands she thought were her friends blocked her online; her own boyfriend at the time dumped her because he didn't want to be involved.
"His mom warned him that he didn't know me well enough yet to know if I was telling the truth, which was devastating to me," says Loveland. "My old manager told me I had just gotten myself blacklisted from the music industry by opening my mouth. I remember the threats of violence and watching my follower count shrink by literal thousands and staring at my melting acai bowl feeling like the world was over. I remember calling my mom to come get me and refusing to leave her couch. Eating there, sleeping there, afraid to move. Everything
felt like my fault, and all I did was say what happened to me out loud, without naming names, thinking I was helping these parents who brought their children to shows to keep their kids safe."
That feeling lasted for months for Loveland, if not years. "It felt like I had ruined my life," she says. "I'm still not sure it didn't ruin my career, and I still think of it every time I see a beautiful acai bowl. I started writing 'Feed The Sharks' a year or so after that whole thing blew up, when I still couldn't escape it, when I still had to keep reading people's comments about it, because it's insidious the way you start to believe what other people say about you. You start to think maybe you are terrible and maybe you should disappear."
"For two years, I kept getting sucked in awful, horrible press—whether it was related to me or not—and honestly, I can't imagine what it's like for someone legitimately famous. It's like, if that many people want you gone, what do you do? Just die? It's really hard to remind yourself that the online bandwagon is a horrible beast that preys on the most vulnerable. It wants to brutally devour someone it doesn't even know for some perceived belief about how they are. It doesn't allow for humanity. To me, it felt like I was feeding pieces of myself to sharks every time I opened my phone."
It's a mantra that Loveland often uses regarding her releases, but with Good At Feeling
Bad she hopes that the release can help people in a way that she wasn't helped herself. "When I was crying and hiding in my room from bad press, or a loss I never thought I'd lose, I remember feeling like I had no one," she says. "Instead, I turned to music and I wrote what's basically a greatest hits of some of the worst stuff that's ever happened to me. If maybe someone feels like they don't have the strength they need to get through, I hope my music can inspire them to find it in themselves—because it's definitely there, it just sometimes takes some manoeuvring to find."
"Alternatively," she quips, playfully, ever the defiant optimist, "I made the songs sound pretty happy, so I hope it makes for an excellent road trip soundtrack..."