• Naomi Sanders

"Just because we’re girls doesn’t mean you get to compare us to other women" – Doll Skin Interview

Credit: Meghan Thompson

Doll Skin are certainly taking the world by storm, and all the better by remaining themselves all the way. Now with three albums out, and an upcoming run in the US at the end of this year, we managed to catch up with the band at their Birmingham show to discuss music, breaking out of their hometown scene, and even rats!

How is tour in the UK going so far?

Meghan: It’s our first dates in the UK.

Sydney: We’ve been in Europe for the last couple of weeks though. They’ve been so freakin’ awesome, there’ve been a couple of sold out shows, had so much fun, went to Germany, we love Germany! 

Nicole: Had a very good reception overall. 

S: It’s just been a lot of fun over here, and all the guys are super cool. Two of the nicest bands in the world – I’m stanning Trash Boat, I love them! 

Alex: That is an understatement, easily the nicest people we’ve traveled with. 

M: Very helpful. 

Tell me about the creation of Love Is Dead And We Killed Her; did you do lyrics first then music, or other way around?

S: It’s the other way around, both, and neither! 

N: Yeah, I would say it’s this kind of crazy mix!

S: We used to have more of a formula on the last records, but this time we were just like “meh, anything, we’ll take it”! This is the first time that we’ve worked with another person. It was just the four of us on the first two albums, other than a couple of finishing touches done on Manic Pixie Dream Girl. This one is done with a whole other person, and also a sixth one sometimes!

A: There’s two other outside parties involved. It’s a very different writing process to what we’ve ever done. We wrote in a cabin, literally secluded ourselves from the world for a good two weeks.

S: We couldn’t leave! 

A: We got snowed in and we were writing music, so it was a lot of jam on stuff, then Sydney comes in with the melody. We had a lot of ideas of what we wanted the songs to be about, the hard part was actually writing the songs. Getting the vibes to match - it was a crazy process! 

How does LIDAWKH differ from your previous records?

M: I’d say drastically! For Manic Pixie, we were at a stage where we had just come off our first album, we had a bunch of stuff already written, so we were like “ok, we can throw this song and this song and this one” and all we had to do was tweak a few things and then write some more songs, and then record the whole album in three days, which was so fast, so easy, like “oh writing albums is easy and fun!”. But this one was really tough one for us to write as we were writing in the studio with another person. I think we were all also accepting that we hit this creative wall and we were like “oh my god, there’s so much pressure!”, but we had a bunch of ideas and they just needed to come out naturally with this other person to help them come out as well. 

S: In terms of how they’re different, though, we really tried to focus on different topics, they differ quite a bit. Manic Pixie was where we were at the time we were writing it, an album about love, and that worked for where we were. Now with Love Is Dead And We Killed Her, which kind of ties into the title, we didn’t want to write about love on this album! Anything except for love, because we have so much more to say, there’s so many things we should talk about. The themes are very different musically, I feel like we elevated ourselves a bit.

M: I feel like we were all challenged in a good way by this record. I feel like I came out of it a better musician, and I feel like all of us did. 

Do you think it is important to give attention to those much smaller bands and why?

S: Oh definitely! We wouldn’t be where we are today if someone didn’t give us a chance when we were small, especially other women in the industry. Otep took us out on two fucking tours, and if it weren’t for her giving us a chance, who knows?! People give chances to guy bands all the time. Whether it’s on purpose or by accident, they just don’t give girl bands or bands with minorities in them as much of a chance as other bands, and it’s definitely our responsibility as an all girl band to uplift others similar to us. We gotta use our platform to give others like us a platform. Or even bands not like us! 

N: The music industry right now, performance wise, is not very diverse, it’s very like “white man”, so anybody who is not “white man”, it’s harder to break into ‘cause it’s not the “norm”. It’s like a glass ceiling, people say it’s not there, but it’s there! 

S: But also, bands like Reason Define are awesome! 

A: They’re so killer!

S: If we can be the ones to give them that leg up, or if we can be the ones to lead them to that person and just tell people about them and it can lead to somebody taking a chance on them, then that would be awesome. It’s not hard to promote your friends and promote those who deserve to be promoted! 

A: There’s different ways to support bands. If you’re at that level, recognising people below you, that’s huge! Everybody started out small, everyone had to be given a chance and show they could prove themselves, and once you get to a level where you can take people out, you should take that responsibility on their own to uplift others. You shouldn’t turn a blind eye and completely forget where you came from. You have the opportunity to improve the lives of these other musicians, that’s huge! Especially when you see them and are like “yeah, they deserve it!”. 

Explain the backstory to the rats “aesthetic” to the band.

S: I LOVE telling this story! I tell it at the merch table all the time because people will come up to the table like “what the fuck is up with these rats?!” We recorded this album in a cabin in Big Bear Lake, California, where we got snowed in and we were going crazy! There was a rat in the walls that pooped everywhere at night, and we would wake up in the morning, clean it up, and then the next morning there’d be more poop! We never saw him, but we joked about rats falling from the ceiling. It’s just something that’s stuck with us. It’s really cool though, ‘cause our fans call themselves the “Rat Pack” now – thank God we have a name for our fans! 

Do you think social media, for example with TikTok, is important in promotion of your music?

S: I feel it is because it’s a way to reach out to your fans and reach out to people that might have a hard time connecting other ways because there’s a lot of countries that we haven’t been to yet that I feel would have never found out about us if it weren’t for social media.

What is it like to break out of that small scene you had in Arizona to be able to perform around the world?

S: What’s crazy about Arizona is that you don’t get big in Arizona until you get big everywhere else! It was a really great community when we were in it, and then we start breaking out of it, and then it got weird and now I think it’s coming back a little bit.

M: A lot of people came out to see us at our last Arizona shows, so we’re really thankful for that. 

N: It’s nice to play a hometown show and have it actually feel like a show, rather than just playing for friends and families! 

S: Yes, we love our Arizona fans! But if I say something that’s not entirely positive, it’s more about the scene, not the people. 

What would your take be on those who see any female band and claim them to be the new Paramore?

A: It’s not very creative to compare every girl band to Paramore because there’s so many bands with girls in them. Paramore has a very broad sound to them, so I understand that, it’s easy to sound like Paramore, but also it’s like a copout. I don’t think we even sound like them. 

S: There’s some songs that could, but it’s definitely lazy as well to compare.

A: The thing is, people try to really pin other female influences on us, and I’m not a Paramore fan at all, but to claim we’re like them is just ignorant and false because we take no inspiration. We’ve heard like “oh, you sound like PVRIS” and all these other bands but really, they’re taking something that has nothing to do with musical style and sticking it together.

N: Because it’s girls. And just because we’re girls doesn’t mean you get to compare us to other women. We sound like plenty of other bands out there. On the other hand, we have a hard time figuring it out because people ask us “who do you sound like?” and it’s really difficult to answer that! 

S: Even on this album, there was inspiration from bands that didn’t have women in them. It’s just weird. 

N: Anyone is so quick to compare a band that’s fronted by a girl with “they sound like Paramore”, then you listen to the music and are like “err, no they don’t!” It’s easy, but not accurate at all!

So, what’s next for the band?

N: We’re doing a full US run in the winter.

S: ALMOST full US run – we’re not doing Pacific North West, which I’m sad about!

N: We’re doing that with With Confidence, Seaway, and Between You And Me, and we’re so freakin’ stoked about it!

S: There’s a couple of things in the works for next year too! Can’t talk about them yet though.

Love Is Dead And We Killed Her is OUT NOW!