We caught up with Wallice, who is serving up sugar-sweet nostalgia with the recognisably bitter taste of youth-fuelled acrimony on her debut EP, ‘Off the Rails’.
There’s been no year of nostalgia quite like the last, cueing us to look back and look inwards, to trawl through old photos and untangle what it really means to be who we are. It’s this introspection that has accumulated in Wallice’s upcoming EP ‘Off the Rails’, a nostalgia-drenched, wit-heavy tracklist pinning down a shift so familiar to our early twenties at a time unfamiliar to us all.
This is the shift that feeds into the EP dropping this summer, capturing an assured beat of uncertainty following the 23-year-old’s dropout from music school in New York to head back to her home in California to focus on her sound. Crafting this identity alongside her close friend from middle school, Marinelli, this sound became everything it needed to be; a wistful taste of youth, coated in every ounce of rugged antagonism that comes with it. The result? Bedroom-pop beats with an indie-rock ethos.
On the EP is “23”, an indie-pop track that dropped earlier this year, exploring the purgatory of young adulthood; “too old to a runaway”, but old enough to already feel you’re “expiring at [your] mama’s house”. With kitsch visuals of Kate-Nash-meets-Best-Coast, this aesthetic delight celebrates and navigates the duality in growth amidst the slow down we’ve all gotten to know.
Following “23” came “Michael” in April, a blunt biography on the nightmares found in modern dating and socialising – a manifesto for modern youth. With sonic youth flavoured vocals and bone-dry wit, this track tells the story of ‘Michael’, an un-palatable, self-obsessed energy drain we’ve all found ourselves enduring at some point.
Alongside the track dropped the video, an all too familiar party scene flooded with Michaels, all captured in a dream-state. The song and video also feature Marinelli, pinning Michael down to a tee: “My band’s about to hit it big, and pretty soon I won’t have time”. But amidst all the Michael hate, this track also traces Wallice’s own downfall; when we’re too busy obsessing over how shit the people around us are, it can be hard to remember to take a look at ourselves.
With praise across the EP flooding in from the likes of Zane Lowe, BBC Radio 1, 6Music, and music magazines, there’s no doubt that the world is ready to enter summer alongside a fresh dose of Wallice: crisp introspection blended with woozy feel-good beats.
How would you describe “Hey Michael” in three words?
Witty, rowdy, sarcastic.
It covers the universal nightmare that is modern dating. So naturally, I have to ask – what’s your best worst date story?
I actually don’t have any worst date stories because I’ve been with my boyfriend for over six years – since I was 16.
So, what has that kind of dating taught you?
Being in the same relationship since I was a teenager has required so much self-reflection and personal growth. We also made it through a year of long-distance when I moved to New York for college. I think it’s important to be independent and be able to have a day to yourself – to not need to be together at all times. Also being able to hang out with your friends without your significant other is really important. Having both a life of your own and a life together with a lot of overlap.
Tell us about your upcoming EP, ‘Off the Rails’. What can we expect from the record?
More jokes within songs, self-reflection, and sounds to sing along to in the car, I hope.
Can you tell us a bit about the writing process?
I wrote this entire EP with Marinelli. Half of the songs were created and recorded in Utah on two-week-long writing trips. We never even worked on them at home in LA. I’ve known Marinelli since middle school, and he’s one of my best friends. I love writing and creating with him because we are so comfortable together.
What about your influences? What goes into your dreamy nostalgic sound?
I grew up listening to Radiohead, Weezer, and No Doubt/Gwen Stefani. I have always loved 90s and 2000s alternative rock. I hope to merge that sound and aesthetic with more of a modern indie pop/bedroom pop sound. Maybe in the future, you’ll hear some more jazz influences too.
Your previous track “23”, also covers a lot of what it means to grow up, alluding to your decision to leave jazz school and develop your own sound. When it came to building your own sound, where did you start?
I think I blend a lot of influences together. In my lyrical writing, I think you can tell I love early Weezer, but as for my voice, I have jazz singing training and take inspiration from Astrud Gilberto. More recently, Adrienne Lenker of Big Thief and Phoebe Bridgers have been huge influences and pioneers in the rock world – not to mention lots of guitar influence from The Drums and The Strokes.
The feeling of being lost in your early twenties is a feeling many of us can relate to, and the pandemic has only intensified that for a lot of people. Is there anything that’s helped you to stay grounded over the past year since moving back to California?
For the first few months I was super lazy, and just watched a lot of TV and movies. But after like three or four months of that, I realised it was time to get back into writing and creating. I was able to still work with my friend Marinelli because he lived 5 minutes from me. I also got back into making ceramics, which I grew up making but hadn’t done for over ten years. I found a pottery studio pretty close to me that opened up again in June for production, and for a while I went there like seven hours a day, five days a week, just making ceramics and re-teaching myself the wheel. This last year that’s definitely kept me sane and was the main thing I spent my free time on.
Where do you see yourself and your sound in the next five years?
I hope to be touring and making full-length albums that I am proud of with collaborators that I’m fans of. I want to have a super clean and polished band because I grew up very classically and technically trained. Whenever I would go to a concert and the band sounded just as good live as recorded, if not better, that would make me love them even more. It can be disappointing seeing a band or artist you love perform over backing tracks– and that’s the whole show. It can definitely be done well, but that’s not always the case. I just never want to get lazy in the execution of any aspects of my project, and I want to keep pushing boundaries.
How do you hope to make people feel when they listen to your music?
I want people to feel related to and not alone. “23” and “Hey Michael” both tell specific stories, but so many people are able to relate to them. I want that to continue with the rest of the EP. I also hope people want to dance or at least bob their head in the back of a crowded room listening to the songs live.
What do you wish people knew about you?
I hope people know that I am very involved in all parts of my project, in creative directing photos and music videos and obviously writing and recording the music. I’m also super proud of my ceramics which you can find @walliceceramics on Instagram.