Making music after the 2016 election, Clever Girls found it hard not to be influenced by the anger rampant in the moment.
“It’s a wild time to be writing,” frontperson Diane Jean (DJ) tells BTRtoday. “It’s like a muse. My writing is absolutely impacted by the political atmosphere.”
The indie quartet shares their Burlington, VT home base with Bernie Sanders and says they are big-time “feeling the Bern.” They canvass for Sanders and include his literature on their merch table. “We’re big into Bernie,” she says.
The group calls Bernie “A+ Company”—a term of endearment they invented for a “good and kind person who’s fun to hang around.” The motto started as a joke, but now the band lives by it—DJ and drummer Rob Slater even have it as a tattoo.
Despite the cheerful life motto, Clever Girls’ music is rooted in darkness, as the heartbreak at the core of their recent singles “Remember Pluto” and “Spark” show. Though they’re not outright political songs, their melodies express the ambient sense of doom our current government instills. With aching vocals and purposeful guitarwork, their songs are melancholic but forceful—forlorn, but there’s hope embedded in the layers of distorted guitar.
“Spark” came from a particularly introspective moment for DJ. The song blossomed when they had their house to themselves for a rare moment and their thoughts turned to their life and societal issues like the #metoo movement. After a long walk, “Spark” poured out of DJ in less than an hour.
“I allowed myself the space to process a lot of things,” they say. “Once we brought it to the recording studio, it was definitely the song that made us all go like, ‘we should start pushing boundaries with the sounds on this record and we should really be looking to build the overall sound of the record.’”
DJ says that the music Clever Girls is working on is even more influenced by the current state of the world and that more music will be released in the “foreseeable future.”
In the meantime, you can catch them at Brooklyn’s, Baby’s All Right March 6 with Pearla. Plus, listen to the entire interview with DJ from Clever Girls and select tracks on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.