There’s an uncommon honesty that runs through everything Chicago indie darlings, Beach Bunny, do. Whether it’s their joyously visceral live performance or their intensely vulnerable songs, Beach Bunny are an open book from start to finish. Their debut record Honeymoon is just the first of many good reads.
Following that release, we were thrilled to catch up with singer and creative force behind the band, Lili Trifilio, to talk about pop music, that viral hit and the delicate interplay of light and dark that colours everything Beach Bunny do.
Though the debut album is currently making its way through swathes of bedroom speakers, the band first experienced a taste of success with the release of their viral hit ‘Prom Queen’ in 2018, which has seen 41 million streams on Spotify come through in an absurdly quick time.
It was a whirring moment of stardom but not one Trifilio could really enjoy, “When ‘Prom Queen’ was blowing up it was near finals week of my last semester at DePaul University and I went through a horrible breakup and we were also beginning to record Honeymoon so it was a very chaotic time period in my life.” But it was still a WTF moment that the band will share forever.
Though stacking numbers on the band’s Spotify page were important for PR teams and management, it was at gigs that it became clear word was spreading about the band, “we noticed more new people coming out to shows which was amazing to see. I think we were all surprised but at the same time proud to see our hard work pay off in some way.” The push of streams saw the band set out to write a debut LP.
Released on Mom + Pop records on Valentine’s Day this year, the album is a crashing tour de force of integrous indie pop gems. On one hand, the LP is full of thrill-a-minute punk charm, while on the other, it displays more intrinsically personal moments of melancholy. But the album’s real character shines from the moments of humanity where they mix together.
It’s an intoxicating mix of light and dark, so much so that it conjures moments of sheer pop bliss without ever feeling flippant or overly-candied. Songs on the album like ‘Ms. California‘, ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Colorblind’ are bona fide dancefloor fillers and it’s a note of pride for lead singer and creative drive behind the band, Lili Trifilio, “I really love pop music so most of the songs off the album have a pop structure to them. I like to write melancholic lyrics and contrast them with a super upbeat sound.” While not sounding particularly similar on the ever-growing spectrum of rock and roll, this ability to smelt together dark lyrics and airy sonics is something akin to The Cure in their goth-pop heyday.
Much like Robert Smith, Trifilio too is a savvy songsmith. She’s technically efficient with her words and resoundingly robust with her riffs. When you add the band’s caramel tone alongside the singer’s girl-next-door vocal you have a recipe for chart-topping success. While that may play into every artist’s mind at some point during their career, for Trifilio things are a little purer.
Across the LP the singer opens up, “I try to be as vulnerable and genuine as possible in my writing and usually write directly from my own experiences. So when I’m going through something sad I tend to talk about it in the song, regardless of how the melody sounds. Music is like therapy to me in a lot of ways so writing out my feelings really helps me to release any negative emotions I’m holding onto.” It an uncompromising attitude to musical wellbeing that has led to the album’s poignancy.
While always channeling her own experience the singer admits inspiration can come from a variety of sources, “whether it be colours, other media forms, snippets of conversation on the train. I pull everything from personal experience and try to write about it from my direct perspective.”
With such a personal connection with almost every note on the album was there a song she treasured most? “My favorite track on the record is ‘Promises’ because to me it means the most. I was writing it during a time where I was undergoing a lot of pain and through writing ‘Promises’ I was able to get through that period in my life.”
It’s an ethos that runs through the entire album. Every song is a reflection or a connection, every lyric is felt and then sung loud and proud, without deliberate intention or planned marketing and all delivered with complete authenticity. With an album filled with cathartic moments for the singer, the album could offer the potential to wallow in its emotional weight.
Instead, Trifilio is always looking forward, “Now that it’s out I’m definitely ready to move onto the next album and have been diligently writing in the background. Those experiences, at this point, were so far in the past that I don’t connect with them as much anymore although it was a huge emotional release to write each track when I did.” Thoughts now move to the promotion of the album and the live shows that go with it, Trilifio shared that she’s excited to play “‘Colorblind’ because it’s so fun to dance to and I love riffing on guitar.”
And therein lies the charm of Beach Bunny. The album. and the live show may be lyrically one of the most open and honest personal accounts you’re likely to hear, flecked with the sullen moments of isolation—it is all parceled together in a joyous moment of pop-punk power that demands that minds and bodies clatter together in unison.
4th – 7th June – Barcelona, ES – Primavera
7th June – Glasgow, UK – Stereo
8th June – Manchester, UK – YES
10th June – London, UK – The Dome
11th June – Paris, FR – Le Pop Up Du Label
13th June – Hilvarenbeek, NL – Best Kept Secret
15th June – Berlin, DE – Badehaus Szimpla