Is Wallsocket a real town, or was it made up in underscores’ mind? Researching the town online, one is met with a number of mysterious websites detailing town hall meetings, messages from the mayor, and a ‘moms of Wallsocket’ webpage. However, no geographical location can be found. Perhaps this farse is all part of the album’s concept, which just adds to the mystery of underscores. A musician who refuses to be boxed in, and whose music is just as interesting and exciting as themselves. We discuss the town of Wallsocket, her life as a musician, and what we can expect next.
Hi underscores, nice to be speaking with you. You remain pretty anonymous in terms of your personal life and background, which I understand is intentional. What about anonymity is important to you as a person and artist?
I’m definitely not trying to be super anonymous on purpose! I guess I feel there’s a lot you can learn about me in the music itself, since the majority of it is super personal, but I’ve been trying to do more interviews. And I think some things are important for people to know, like my identity and my upbringing.
I have read that you began recording music during middle school. What was it that drew you to creating music at that time?
I always liked creating stuff on the computer when I was younger — making iMovie videos and Minecraft let’s plays, etc. —, so it felt like a natural progression I guess! I had messed around a ton with GarageBand before that as well. When I found Skrillex and EDM in general, it immediately kinda clicked for me.
Did you envision music as a career in your head when you were younger, or was it something you did as a form of expression, which evolved to where you are today?
I definitely knew I always wanted to make music throughout my life, but I wasn’t thinking too much about the career aspect of it when I started. That concept definitely formed over time, and I started to view things like marketing and branding as an extension of the art, or its own art even. I started to have a lot of fun with the idea of making a career out of music after that.
I often see your music categorised as hyperpop, but underscores really defies genre boundaries, and is hard to pin down. How would you categorize the underscores sound?
A good friend of mine recently came up with this genre called ‘new prog pop’ that I really like the idea of. Conceptual prog music formatted in albums, usually made by one person or a small group in their bedroom or something. So like Jane Remover, Quadeca, deadAir in general, brakence, etc. That’s definitely the type of music that I try to make, but I don’t mind hyperpop as a categorisation. People can call it whatever they want; I like seeing what people come up with.
On your new album, Wallsocket, each track seems to explore a different character or group within the real town of Wallsocket, in an ironic, observational way. Is this the first time you have used a specific location as a source of inspiration for your work?
My previous two projects, fishmonger and fearmonger, were very New Jersey. The water tower on the front cover is in Longport, NJ, and I tried to evoke the kinda seaside pseudo-nautical town vibe for that, for sure. But this era is definitely the first time I’ve honed in on a geographical location this directly. I definitely think I’ll do it more in the future.
What are some examples of the people you observed in Wallsocket? You’ve said that you spent a year there. You must have seen and met some real characters.
I saw a lot of yoga moms. Athleisure vibe. Also some interesting churches, like with tech branding and in corporate-park-looking buildings.
The town of Wallsocket influenced some of the ideas and characters in the new tracks, but did it also play a role in inspiring the instrumentals? The track You don’t even know who I am features a sort of Midwest emo guitar riff. Was this a conscious thought?
Midwest emo is definitely a huge inspiration for a lot of us in the scene. brakence definitely kicked that off, I think. I used to listen to a lot of midwest emo / math rock in high school, so it might’ve been inevitable for that influence to come in at some point! This era was definitely more inspired by country/Western sonics — pedal steel, slide, harmonica, etc.
There is a clear paradox between the quiet, small town of Wallsocket, and your eclectic, confident musical style. Was this contradiction something that attracted you to this town in particular?
For sure! I think I wanted to evoke sonder and microcosm with this album. Everyone’s life is just as intense and contradictory as your own, regardless of how quiet a life they may be living.
How do you think Wallsocket has developed from your previous LP, fishmonger? A lot has changed in your life, and the world more generally since then.
To me, Wallsocket is just a better attempt at what I was going for with fishmonger. Like with fishmonger I 40%’d it, but Wallsocket feels more like 60% to me if that makes sense. Hopefully whatever the next thing is will be like 75%. My resources changed a lot with this project though! I was able to up the immersion a ton with this era. Also, to have the disposable income to travel for music is something I’m super grateful for.
What can we expect from the Hometown Tour? Are you excited to perform the new album?
We’re bringing a screen with us! I’ve worked with a bunch of visual artists to come up with new material for it. We’ve also got an amazing lighting designer with us. The set’s also, like, 1hr+ now, so it’s been really cool to create the setlist, split it into acts, etc. We’ve all worked super hard on it; very, very excited for it. Because I’m playing a lot of the slow songs off the album too, the pacing has gotten much more dynamic. I don’t know, I’m super excited. Very stoked to see parts of North America I haven’t seen yet. I think we’re gonna pass through North Dakota at one point. Most anticipated state right there.