Q&A: Britt A.M. talks new album, oppression and protest songs

Feminist alternative rocker Britt A.M. released another glaringly honest rock record, this time titled Psychic Knots, on Friday, September 20. It’s an album that spans a fair range of genres, but each track centers Britt’s strong vocals and straightforward (and sometimes dark) lyrics. Just before the album’s release, Britt Meierhofer, the musician behind the project, told Indientry about the recording history and the political background of the record – check out the interview below.

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Indientry: Hey, Britt! How are you? 

Britt: Hi, Abby! I’m doing great, thanks. Excited to be chatting with ya!

How did you get involved with making music?

I was in my second year of college with the intent of landing a career as a pharmacist but realized I hated everything about the idea (which was definitely pushed on me by well-meaning older folks in my life) and quit to go take a music program at Selkirk College in Nelson, BC. I’d always enjoyed composing (at that time, pretty rudimentary) songs and writing lyrics, and figured it’d be a good move to go explore music as a career. 

What music have you been listening to lately?

Big Thief’s latest album, U.F.O.F., has been on repeat for me lately, as well as the latest releases from a couple of Vancouver bands I love, Alien Boys and Alimony. I’ve also been digging into vintage TLC and psych hip hop (Nick Hakim rules) as well as ethio-jazz legends (Mulatu Astatke, mostly). 

Tell me about your upcoming album, Psychic Knots. What did the production process look like for you?

Psychic Knots is my first release with a full band.  Up to this point, I’ve written and released music as a one-person band using a loop pedal, which has its own appeal, but it was really great to realize some of these songs with the dynamic of a full band behind them. A lot of the songs on Psychic Knots were written on the loop pedal, so it was kind of like a re-write to engage the players to their full potential, and to rebuild songs that had a minimal chord structure in a way that keeps the interest of the listener. This came together really easily, as I was careful to choose musicians that I had good chemistry with, both personally and musically. Justin Gendreau (drums) and Brin Porter (bass) are good friends and stellar musicians, and Nathan Kelly (second guitar) is my partner and a great guitarist, so walking into the studio with folks I trust in all the ways made for a seamless recording experience. We recorded live off the floor at Pulp City Music in Prince George, BC and six hours after setting up, we were done. 

The record covers kind of a wide range of genres. Are there any artists you try to emulate? Who are your musical inspirations?

The range of genre on this album was an interesting thing to witness unfold. Basically, the thread that ties the tunes together is my voice. I was able to take songs I’d written on the loop pedal and recast them in genres that felt more serving to each song, knowing that my intention for the album was to convey the emotional process of digesting trauma and systemic damage and that stitching together songs with varied feels would be conducive to accomplishing that. I wanted to evoke the experience of dealing with depression and anxiety and the waves of high, low and optimistic-stable that can accompany that. I don’t consciously try to emulate other artists, but I can definitely say that Kathleen Hanna, Esperanza Spalding, Tune Yards, Stevie Nicks, Blind Melon and I’m sure others that are hovering in my brain space have influenced my writing and performance on Psychic Knots.

You told me in an email that the album covered themes of empowerment, gendered oppression, and the exhaustion of living under late-stage capitalism. Elaborate on those themes. How does the current political climate contribute to those concepts and the album?

The current political climate is SO. MUCH. It’s like walking into an overwhelmingly messy house that you don’t own but have to live in, and it’s full of floods and fires and garbage everywhere, and you’re being told to live comfortably or fix it. So what can you do, where do you begin? Fix or work on what you can within your arm’s reach. Which totally changes from day to day and person to person.

For me, this means identifying systems that hold me down, and systems that I engage with that press a boot to the necks of others, and trying to figure out what I can do to dismantle those systems, both outside and within myself. Working in an industry that is still made by and for cis white men, coupled with just existing-as-womxn in a society made to sell me my insecurity and subordinance to patriarchial, capitalist structures is a set of specs I have not been able to remove. The lens is there forever and the songs on Psychic Knots come from a really raw space of processing the giant feelings that come with realizing the damage done and how it’s affected me in my everyday life. As personal as these songs are, I am confident that many will relate the sentiments relayed on this album. 

You’ve described your songs as “protest songs.” Tell me about that – what’s the intention for the songs on this album?

I find that honesty, in general, can be a protest or form of resistance, and the honesty of the stories and perspective on Psychic Knots is my way of breaking out of the conditioned behavior of pretending things are good when they’re not, both on a super personal level as well on a broader level. There’s a strength that comes with knowing that you are not alone in your not-so-pleasant experiences, and I hope to engage listeners in a way that empowers them with that sense of being seen. Despite the sometimes dark content of the album, it is coming from a place of optimism, as I believe that the first step to fixing a problem is being able to name it and then find a community to work with (online, on the ground, whatever) in that capacity. 

What’s next for you, musically?

Another album! The process of putting Psychic Knots together and fully realizing songs that have been haunting me for years has not only been super cathartic but has cleared a lot of space. A lot of weight has lifted with the launch of this album, and I plan on using the newfound internal space and inspiration to write another collection of tunes. I also run a record label called GOOD EGG RECORDS, so in the meantime, I get to sing the praise of new releases coming down the pipe from my pals/labelmates. 

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you or your music?

Just that Psychic Knots dropped on September 20, 2019, on GOOD EGG RECORDS. Also, I’ll be touring this album in Spring 2020, and I am open to invites so if you think this would play well in your town, let me know! Lastly, I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received for this album so far, and I deeply appreciate everyone who engages with my content in any capacity. xo!


Stream Psychic Knots below.

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