January can be a lonesome month. For all the #fitspo and self-improvement, there’s also a far less palatable flip-side – the prospect of a long, looming winter, without even festivity to look forward to. It’s that nightmarish situation that inspired ‘Talk Talk’, the debut EP from New York-based Miss Grit.
Written and recorded through what singer, songwriter and Miss Grit figurehead Margaret Sohn called “a lonely January” spent mulling over the intricacies and complications of modern love, ‘Talk Talk’ deals in a tension and release in that’s gripping from the off. While we wouldn’t wish a grim start to the year on anyone, that emotionally fraught winter has produced a truly awe-inspiring first work.
Beginning with a delicate, exploratory melody which aligns her with fellow haunting newcomer Nilufer Yanya, before it eventually explodes into a defiant, St. Vincent-aping roar of noise, there’s a two-toned approach throughout ‘Talk Talk’ which presents Sohn – who spends her spare time tinkering away with her own, homemade guitar pedals – as an artist with a restless, anxious creative streak.
Below, alongside the first play of ‘Talk Talk’, we chat to Miss Grit’s Margaret Sohn about January, ‘Talk Talk’, and wanting to inspire a wave of diversity within the music industry.
You say ‘Talk Talk’ was written over “a lonely January”. It’s January again now – how does this one compare to the one that saw ‘Talk Talk’ come to be?
Margaret Sohn: “I have a friend this time! Me and my bandmate, Charles Mueller, are in the midst of recording Miss Grit’s next single. I think I’ve experienced a lot of growth this past year, as any sophomore in college would. This January I’ve reached the answer to a lot of questions I was asking last year at this time, and have moved onto new and different questions to obsess over.”
There’s a lot of tension and release in the EP, notably in the explosions of sound in tracks like ‘The Bride’. How important is that contrast to your writing process?
“Extremely important. I think that’s one of the main reasons I write music; to feel a sense of relief from things that have been building up tension in my life. I wrote these songs about the things I did in order to free myself and hope that other people feeling the same way can feel relief and empowerment by the explosion. ”
You’re something of a tech-head, too, and build your own guitar pedals in your spare time. How many of those made it onto the record?
“Unfortunately, none did. I have not been able to muster the time and energy to bring my pedals to consumer or performance level. However, I owe a lot of my songwriting and producing abilities to my program at school where I learned to build those pedals. I would not be where I am now if I did not study music technology and meet the people that I have met through that. My pedal collection is more of an obsession these days. There are so many brands I love, and I couldn’t wait to record with some of the pedals that haven’t been given as much love or use during my life playing.”
It feels like a very personal release – what do you want others to be able to take away from ‘Talk Talk’?
“The reason I wrote ‘Talk Talk’ was to share some of my personal experiences with people who may be feeling the same way. I also have been very inspired by women in music such as St. Vincent, Japanese Breakfast, Mitski, Karen O and Little Dragon. I hope that writing this EP, as a biracial woman, can inspire someone else and bring more diversity to this industry.”
What does the rest of 2019 hold for you?
“More music! I’m hoping to release a couple of more singles, possibly another EP, as well as play more live shows. I’m also planning on eating less meat (with the exception of Korean BBQ), and graduating from NYU.”
Want more new music? Check out the NME 100 playlist below