Sløtface tell us about their two news sci-fi, HAIM and Caroline Polachek inspired singles
Sløtface have returned with two new singles ‘Beta’ and ‘Come Hell Or Whatever’. Check them out below, along with our interview with frontwoman Haley Shea.
After announcing earlier this week that the Norwegian punk band would now just be the project of Shea after the amicable departure of guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad and bassist Lasse Lokoy, the first fruits from the new iteration of Sløtface can be heard today.
“It’s more like a family or a collective, but it’s definitely my responsibility and my project,” Shea told NME of the current incarnation of Sløtface. “It was a rough 2021 with COVID and then all of these new changes. I didn’t think I could take in any more blows at that point – but there we are.
“It feels so good to have so many amazing and talented friends involved, who I was already friends with before. The few live shows we’ve done recently have been so fun – not just because we’re back to proper rock shows after COVID but also because there’s a really good energy amongst our entire group.”
New songs ‘Beta’ and ‘Come Hell Or Whatever’ were co-written between Shea and songwriter and producer Mikhael Paskalev. The tracks marked a breakthrough in “shifting the way” the pair “thought about music”.
“We started working together in his studio at the beginning of last year, and thought ‘Beta’ could have been for a solo project, for something new and not for Sløtface,” said Shea. “As time went on, I did enough soul-searching to realise that I wanted to continue with Sløtface and I still wanted to be in a rock band.
“I realised, ‘Of course this could be a Sløtface song’. It’s different, but it’s not impossible to think of it in the same universe.”
With ‘Beta’, Shea explained how she explored a more “slowed down, moody and sexy” sound than Sløtface fans might be used to in comparison to the spiky feminist punk sounds of their two albums ‘Try Not To Freak Out‘ and ‘Sorry For The Late Reply‘.
“It’s very much inspired by Caroline Polacheck, HAIM and stuff like that,” said Shea. “We never had a Sløtface song with 808s before, so that was a big change to get used to! After ‘Sorry For The Late Reply’ and before we knew anything about the changes in the band, I was already thinking I wanted to make songs that were a little bit more light-hearted and fun. I was feeling a little bit angsty after the whole process of the songs being so personal. I knew that I wanted there to be story-telling songs that weren’t necessarily my whole and honest true self.”
She continued: “This is much more inspired by Taylor Swift’s songwriting and the way she tells stories. ‘Beta’ exists in that same fictional world, and that creates an alter-ego that’s nice to lean on when I needed a self-confidence boost.”
As for the story she wanted to tell, Shea explained how she turned to the world of dystopian sci-fi.
“Mikhael had written a bunch of lines about gladiators the night before we started in the studio,” said Shea. “That immediately started me off on this track in my imagination about a dystopian gladiator, bodybuilder, bullfighter world where everybody is competing to get the most attention. That’s a dystopian twist on what social media is, and that set my brain off about thinking of this alternate reality where someone’s fed up with all this shit and wants to rise above it all.
“‘Beta’ was originally written as considering this world they’re living in to be the beta version of reality, with beta males instead of alpha males and this woman as the master. We were such movie buffs that we both dived deep into all of our science fiction influences.”
Meanwhile, the other song from the double A-side, ‘Come Hell Or Whatever’, also exists “within the same Matrix, Bladerunner, Mad Max kind of world that we created”, as Shea revealed.
“We were playing around with this drum loop that sounded really industrial and cool and I realised that this needed to be our ‘action movie track’,” she said. “I wanted it to be an ode to the best female action movie characters.”
As for other material in the bag, Shea said that fans should expect a much more experimental approach to sound and crossing genres.
“It’s important for me to let everything be open and experiment with different things,” she said. “I knew going into a new version of Sløtface could be scary and that not having a super-defined sound would be harder for people to wrap their heads around, but it also feels really important to include lots of different musical genres and approaches to music.
“The most honest thing would be to establish that right from the start. The next songs we’ve got coming out are pretty different. They sound more organic and one of them is more Americana and [Bruce] Springsteen influenced. There are common threads and the way we worked on them is similar, but I wanted to keep it open and dare to not define everything so clearly. I’m sure not everyone will like it and not everyone will like everything, but I’m OK with that.”
Right now, Sløtface are working towards an EP to be released around the start of next year, and currently writing as much as possible with the hope of dropping a slew of singles.
“It’s fun to release one or two tracks at a time and not delve so deep into an album,” said Shea. “I want to keep things light, fun and energetic.”
After Sløtface’s second album was picking up steam with a lot of critical acclaim, their extensive UK tour was then wiped out due to the first wave of the COVID pandemic. As a result, Shea said she has a much more pragmatic approach to what she wants from music.
“Over the last few years, we’ve all changed – I know I have,” she said. “My ambitions at this point are more realistic and feasible, compared to when I was 22. My ambitions now are just to feel good, have fun, and work with people who have good creative input. To release good music and play live are the only goals now!”
She continued: “There’s probably a part of me that’s worried about being disappointed. I’m not too concerned with ‘blowing up’. That was probably more of a thing with the last album because it did feel like it was getting good traction before the world shut down. Now I have smaller goals. It would be amazing if people liked the music and it went really well, but now I’m putting less of myself into the idea of success than I used to. It feels less like life and death. Music is meant to be fun, and it’s harder to make it fun if you’re always worried about it.”
With a number of live shows approaching in Norway before wider tour dates are planned for the rest of the world, Shea described the current live set-up as a real “feel-good” experience.
“Getting out and playing in packed-out rooms with a bunch of natural musicians feels amazing,” she said. “The energy is so good and so fun. We have two guitar players now which makes everything sound so huge. The ‘Telepathetic’ guitar solos are now dual harmony, which is really fun.
“I was really nervous before the first show with this line-up and was so worried that people wouldn’t like it and it wouldn’t get as much moshing or stage-diving, but it was the same chaos that there’s always been.”
During lockdown in 2020, Sløtface released the live and acoustic album ‘Slumber Tapes’ – featuring the new song ‘Doctor’ and a cover of Sophie Ellis Bextor‘s ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’.
Former Sløtface bassist Lasse Lokoy is currently pursuing life as a solo artist and producer in LA after releasing his debut solo album ‘Badminton’ in 2021.
In a four-star review, NME said: ‘Badminton’ is a bold statement from an artist with a very sophisticated pop palette and streetwise worldview; it seems he can do what he likes and get away with it.”