Welcome, friends, to some millennials’ fifth installment of a weekly series we like to call Free Music Fridays Mondays (FMFM). FMFM will highlight artists who have decided to release large portions of their music for free and will run with an interview of the artist. For the fifth FMFM, Brian has interviewed the punk band Human People and the interview will be interspersed with music they have released for free.
Human People is Hayley and Marisa, both on guitar and vocals, Vicki on drums, and Abby on bass. The four told some millennials that the band got together after the four, who were already friends prior to playing music together, decided to start a band. The name Human People was decided upon before the band began playing together in New York City, and, in the ever-crowded Bandcamp expanse, is the only one of its kind. In the world of entertainment, however, they’re not alone – a Michael Cera-starring film titled Human People has begun filming, though they noted that their band was named prior to news about the film being released. They joked about releasing a Michael Cera diss track in response, but we collectively decided Cera was undissable. You win this round, Michael Cera.
While talking with them it became immediately apparent that they share a chemistry that could only come from a group of friends who make up a band, rather than a band that then becomes close. Though she was off-screen a lot of the time (thanks, technology!), Hayley spoke the most and it became an apt metaphor for her vocal style: one that exists all around you rather than being up-front. Unlike a lot of punk, which is quite direct, there is an ambience to Human People’s style that warrants their many genres they’ve created for themselves – “photoshop rock,” “powerpuff,” “sleepcore.” This isn’t to say that the punk ethos isn’t there in their work – take this verse from “Máquina”: “And I am sad, so I’ll get a job / I’ll be glad to be a cog / In the system that drinks all of my blood / In the machine that breaks all of my bones”; there’s a necessary balance that exists.
We traversed many topics during our conversation, from wild costumes at their shows to the Kanye 2020 hat hanging on the wall behind them, as well as the standard free music and favorite sandwich talking points. You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram (Abby’s child) @human_ppl, Facebook, and Bandcamp. The band has multiple shows coming up – catch them tonight at the Carl Sage Inn in the Bronx and at the Silent Barn on September 14– and another EP. Veronica, on the way, release date uncertain, but ostensibly in the beginning of September. One thing is for sure: some millennials will keep an eye out for anything Human People releases.
This conversation has been edited and condensed.
some millennials: Why free music?
Hayley: I feel like we didn’t spend any money making it, so it felt weird to ask people for money.
Marisa: It was also our first big release, so we wanted people to be able to hear it.
H: We didn’t want the[re to be a] money barrier.
Vicki: We just wanted everyone to hear it first.
Abby: Not everybody can afford it, and we should put it out there because it’s our art and art is meant to be shared.
H: Putting stuff up for streaming is cool, but most people don’t have Spotify premium or whatever and you can’t take that place.
sm: One thing I liked about your music is that every time I’ve gone on a different page of yours, I’ve seen a different genre.
All: “Photoshop rock” was the first thing. I still think that’s the most accurate – like, a bunch of things pieced together is why it was “Photoshop rock”. I thought it was because we had Photoshop pictures? For a while we just didn’t post any music things on our Facebook and just posted bad Photoshop pictures. I like to think of it deeper than that. There was a phase where our whole Facebook page was just memes we made of ourselves – no music, no shows. We devised them together; we have a vacation album which is just Photoshop pictures of us playing instruments in world landmarks, like, “Our new album’s coming! Our summer vacation album.”
sm: One of your interests on your Facebook page are goats and I’m a big fan of goats. I wonder, do you like the band Goat?
H: Yeah, the band from Sweden? Don’t they wear cool costumes and shit? I’m super into that whole theatrical, mystical thing. I like their whole deal – spooky, campy fun is a good time.
sm: Would you ever consider doing something like that with your band with the campiness and costumes?
All: Yeah, we already do that! (No, we don’t!) Well, like makeup.
H: One day we’re going to have crazy costumes and blow everybody away.
M: I think the issue is that whenever we dress up, we have to take the subway to the thing.
H: We could change when we get there, too, or just own it and wear it all day. I think it’s easier when you have a car and you can all emerge at once, like [in] your cool costumes. Maybe if we had more time or had a car and didn’t have to walk everywhere.
sm: One thing I noticed about your music that is very punk is how the lyrics mesh into the music. Is that an intentional thing?
H: For me, I just kinda slur my words a lot so they don’t cut through. There’s some parts of the song that I’m more confident singing so it’s easier to focus on them. But generally, my manner of saying is not that articulate.
V: I think it’s different with our newer stuff, [it’s more] articulate.
H: We have a new EP coming out soon. We’re pressing a cassette that’s our new EP and our old EP together in one cassette.
sm: What’s the name of your new EP?
All: Yeah, it’s Veronica.
sm: Any specific story behind that?
All: [Laughter]. Veronica’s our manager. [Laughter].
M: She’s really fierce – she has blonde hair and always wears this sparkly pink dress.
H: Yeah, and so, it’s kinda in her honor.
All: Yeah, we owe her a lot.
H: And it all just made for cool album art, we made a cool picture of Veronica’s face for the album cover.
[I tried to think of another band that named something after their manager and couldn’t think of something. If you know of one, vaunted some millennials readers, let me know!]
sm: If somebody were to come to your city and they had one thing to, what would that be?
H: I would tell them to go to the botanical gardens because I like botanical gardens; they’re really nice.
A: I was going to say something you guys would hate!
V: Don’t go to brunch; brunch is silly and has too big of a line.
H: I would say go to the Silent Barn, also.
M: They should just go into the subway and sit there.
H: Yeah, they should go to the subway system and do a thorough inspection.
sm: What is your favorite sandwich?
H [immediately]: Ham and cheese with lettuce.
sm: That was impressive.
All but H: Grilled cheese.
A: Wait, wait! What am I talking about? Peanut butter and jelly! I eat like four peanut butter and jellys a day.
H: Does an ice cream sandwich count as a sandwich?
[Ed. note: Nodody had ever posed that question to me before. Does an ice cream sandwich count as a sandwich? Readers, you decide.]