Get To Know spill tab [Interview]

Freddie Fine

spill tab has been making a name for herself for the last two years. Between singles and her debut EP Bonnie, which was released on December 3rd, it’s difficult to not have her on your radar. Bonnie is a collection of singles that spill tab has released this year, along with a newcomer in “en quatre” and “Velcro” featuring Gus Dapperton which released the week prior. It is one of the most unique EPs you will find, as she takes genre-bending to another level. I had the chance to sit down with spill tab and talk about Bonnie, touring, and more below.

You’ve been busy this year, touring with Gus Dapperton and JAWNY, also headlining some shows of your own - I think you did one last week as well. What has that been like?

It’s been thoroughly sick, I really wanted to tour this year. Well actually my 2020 resolution was that I was going to tour that year, and then for obvious reasons I like didn’t. So to be able to do it this year was super sick, and also to be able to do it with friends is the added icing on the cake. So yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.

And what was it like going from being Gus Dapperton's merch manager to then being the opener on his tour?

I did his merch on his tour in 2019, and then was able to open for him. It was sick because essentially he has the same crew of people, he is also a very friends and family supported and based kind of guy, and so it’s like all of his good friends are in the band, and then the crew members also become part of the family. 

Because of this family effect, was Gus someone from day one when you were working on music while being the merch manager?

I actually didn’t tell anyone that I made music - I didn’t want to be that person that’s like “Oh my god could you guys listen…” I was like I have a job, I’m a person who’s gonna hang out with these people and so I didn’t tell anyone I made music. But the tour manager found my Instagram account and then subsequently found a link to my music through that, and he sent it in a blast group chat to everyone and was like, “Yo, check out Claire’s (spill tab’s) music!” Then through that Gus, like when “Calvarie” came out, he knew about that because he knew that I had made music before and he was so supportive of that song and would play it in his DJ sets and stuff. 

And then more recently, you’ve been headlining your own shows - you had one in LA recently as well, congratulations on that! How does that experience differ from being the opener on somebody else’s tour?

I think it’s also the nature of right now with my headline shows because it’s not based on a tour, it’s more of these sort of one-off shows. The stakes I feel like are still high, like I’m still performing for people but I’m still getting my 8 hours of sleep and I’m not waking up at 5 am to put shit in the sprinter van. I did one in London in July and then just the one in LA, I think either last week or two weeks ago, and they’ve all been really nice because to some extent those people that are there are there to see me play, which is not stressful but a little bit more intimidating compared to when I’m opening for Gus or when I was opening for JAWNY, everyone who was there for the most part was there to see them play so they’re more discovering my music. 

So you worked with Gus on “Velcro” most recently, did that come to be while working on tour? What was the making of that song like, especially him being someone you’re so close with?

It was actually during the pandemic, in March. I went to New York in March to shoot the Vevo thing in the little white box room. During that trip Gus and I slated more sessions and stuff - I think marinelli and I had two or three days with Gus and I think we made that song on day one because I feel like we also worked on it on day 2. It was awesome, it was so easy and Gus had written these chords that I thought just sounded so fucking nice and made the bass for a melody and lyrics to fit really nicely over. It fell out pretty organically and not quickly because I take a long time to write, but as quickly as it can come. It felt really good from the start – which I think is how my favorite songs are written, that they feel good from the start.

It’s clear that you and him have incredible chemistry, but how does that translate to other artists you’ve worked with like Tommy Genesis and JAWNY who were both on the EP? It seems like you have chemistry with them as well so how does that creative process differ with them?

I think that with Tommy and JAWNY, they became part of that journey later on whereas with Gus he was in the room when we started the song and then also ended up featuring on it. So it’s a different process but it’s still exciting in different ways because with the Tommy track we had this song, we started “Indecisive” and we didn’t know what the fuck we wanted to do with the second verse because I would hear it and it would be sick if someone could rap over this and it’s not gonna fucking be me, so who do we send it to? I think my manager sent it to Tommy’s camp and she was down to hop on it, and I had lived in New York and Tommy Genesis’s EP that came out like three years was all that we would listen to when we would go out so it was really really cool to have her hop on the song. She choke slammed that verse, she absolutely killed it. Same with JAWNY, we sent it to his camp and he really liked it and wanted to feature on it which is a huge compliment as well because I’m such a huge fan of JAWNY and have been listening to his music for quite a while. Both really cool features to have and I’m so grateful and lucky that they were down honestly.

That’s super cool you got to work with people you were fans of before! Delving into the EP a bit more, Bonnie is such a versatile group of songs and feels like you really expanded the boundaries that your sound can reach. Is this sound something you want to continue in the future and we can expect more of?

Yeah, definitely. I think in general I think I’m not ready to do an album because I don’t particularly have a final vision of how I want things to look and sound when I’m starting. My goal is to try to create music that I feel in my gut that says, “Yeah, this is good.” Part of keeping that exciting is collaborating, I think that makes every song a different seasoning which is really important to me because I want to keep things interesting and different and versatile. 

I feel especially on your solo tracks they’re also all very versatile and display something very different every time. Building off of that, it’s difficult to box you into a genre because of this versatility. If you had to, how would you define your sound?

Dude I don’t know, and it’s not even to sound like, “Oh, I don’t know what my sound is because it’s everything.” Even for other artists, I don’t really know what to call their music. I think just because as of late the word indie is encapsulating of so many different sounds that when someone asks me that isn’t in the music industry, “What kind of music do you make?” I just say I make indie-pop because that’s the bigger umbrella that I can find for that. Sometimes I say french-pop but I only have two or three songs in French. What would you say? What genre would you explain it as?

I wouldn’t fit it into a genre, I feel like that would be disrespectful to put it into one genre. It’s just music, it’s just really good music.

I saw on your Spotify page that you had a playlist for your inspiration for “Indecisive” including Dijon, Audrey Nuna, and PinkPantheress. Were these types of influences apparent in your EP and if not what other artists do you view as major influences in your music?

I feel like in general I will do this thing where I’ll go through rotations, so I’ll have three or four songs on rotation for a couple days or weeks then it shifts. I think during the whole process of this year I’ve just moved through so many songs and artists that I really enjoy listening to. I think during the “Indecisive" mode it was when PinkPantheress had just started popping off on TikTok so I was hearing that a lot, and Audrey Nuna I hadn’t listened to a lot, Dijon as well. I think it varies and changes quite a bit. The new Dijon album is awesome so I’ve been listening to that a lot. Gus is a huge Corbin fan so since the tour I’ve been listening to Corbin’s new album. The usuals too, Charlotte Day Wilson and I’ve been listening to a lot of LCD Soundsystem recently.

So you’ve worked with other artists that weren’t on your EP this year - you worked with Junior Varsity on their song “Weather” which is one of my favorite songs of the year - it’s so amazing. What was it like collaborating with Junior Varsity?

It was sick! I went to school with one of the members of Junior Varsity and he’s four year older. I think my freshman year he was the one who got me my first internship in college so I’ve known him for a really long time. It was super sick and the nature of that feature was that the song was already done, I hopped in just to do the outro at the end so it was really easy. I literally did it in my room - tracked it and wrote it in my room. Those melodies as well I think were written by Deb Never so I think she is also part of that. It was really sick and very COVID-vibes because it was all sent to my house, didn’t really see anyone while I was making it, then sent it all in, got the mix back, gave notes and that was that. It was super fun and it’s really cool to have a song with them because they’re really cool people.

You definitely added a different element to the track that they don’t really have in any of their other songs so that was really cool. Definitely need to see you on one of the “A Fucking Weekend” shows some time!

Do you have a personal favorite track off of Bonnie? That could be for any reason: your enjoyment, the process, anything.

To be honest probably this is similar with a lot of artists, but I can’t listen to my own music once it’s out because during the making of a song I’ll listen to that song like 10 times a day for at least 10 days as we’re finishing up. So for my own enjoyment I don’t really listen to a lot of my music. 

You’ve made a few French songs in the past, how does that process differ when you’re making French music? Where does your French influence come from?

I think when I was 12 or 13 I ended up spending a year in France with my Aunt and my cousin. I was going to school in Paris which was the thing that cemented a lot of the colloquialism, and the accent, and the mannerisms of speaking French. I think that gave me a lot of confidence later down the road to be able to actually sing songs in French because I don't want it to come across as something that’s a gimmicky thing. It’s made me more comfortable putting things out in French when I knew that I was grammatically correct and delivering it without an American accent. I think in general because marinelli doesn’t speak French, the nature of “Calvarie” and “Santé” are that they bump in a different way because for him he doesn’t know what I’m saying. I think just by that language barrier that's created a different kind of sound for marinelli and I. That sort of started the idea of wanting to make that music sound like it was made in France, even though marinelli and I had never been to France together. However when we did, we made the song off the EP with Myd, who is French as fuck so he added a little bit of that flair. When we brought it back to LA, my homie Oscar Scheller added some basslines and flushed out that production as well. I think in general it’s just fun, a bit like roleplaying.

I don’t speak French and I don’t understand it, but it still adds something that very few artists do in terms of singing in another language and do it so seamlessly. Omar Apollo comes to mind, he has a few Spanish songs. It makes it really interesting to hear even if I don’t understand it.

I’m a huge fan of people that sing in different languages. Three of my top five songs were not in English. I love that shit, I think it makes it so interesting.

Despite much of the EP being singles, it still feels like there’s a cohesive theme on it – a varying feeling of being afraid of commitment and feeling overcommitted. Was this intentional, or just part of the pieces fell into place?

This year I have found myself in the longest relationship I have ever been in, so this concept of commitment has come up quite a bit. Like in “PISTOLWHIP” my partner did not cheat on me but it was born from the slight pings of jealousy that you feel when you’re starting to fall for someone. It could be literally something completely stupid and not true, and then just fueling that fire to create a song that is a full blown song about cheating. I think they all stem from the notion of commitment even though they’re not always about a real thing that happened. 

Do you have a favorite story that you do tell in one of the songs?

I really liked the “PISTOLWHIP” song. It came together so nicely, it basically is a story about a little bit of vengeance. It’s like this movie Carrie where she just takes on all this bullshit in school and then gets so angry that she goes crazy and redacts her revenge on people. That song was fun because it really had that vibe. The beginning is about this person finding out they’re being betrayed and getting really angry, and the drop is all this more violent vibe. The second verse is this idea that behind all that shit is someone that’s just deeply hurt. It feels really manic. The instrumentals as well follow that mania and I really really like that song.

Thank you so much for doing this, I really appreciate it. I’m super excited for what’s to come from you!

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