NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS Are Serving Main Character Energy [Q&A]
Photo: Jared Ayotte
From demanding to be buried in glitter and filler and everything else LA-adjacent in "bev hills" to singing about online (and sometimes annoying) boyfriends in "club penguin," hyperpop-adjacent trio NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS continually prove themselves as the queens of satire and quick wit and - despite their namesake - main character energy.
Their latest single, "lava," is no exception. In just over two minutes, NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS explain the consequences of acquiring fame in the entertainment industry, using 'the floor is lava' as a metaphor for the need to monitor every microscopic action. One wrong text, and you're canceled. As much as the girl group refuses the glitz and the glam, I think fame is kind of inevitable at the rate they are going… but if it's not coated in a glossy layer of irony, is it even NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS?
I tapped into my inner protagonist and asked NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS a few questions, including the NTMC origin story as well as the creation of "lava."
Ones To Watch: Hello, NTMC! Introduce yourselves to Ones To Watch! What are your names, where are you based, any fun facts?
Perrin: Hi! Thank you so much for having us <3 My name is Perrin, and we're all based in Los Angeles. My fun fact is that I grew up on a goat farm lol.
Tammy: Hi, I'm Tammy. I'm from New York but now live in LA. My fun fact is I'm 5'2 but constantly wear platform boots to add an extra three inches.
Gabi: Hi, I'm Gabi!! I just moved to LA literally two months ago from Nashville. But my fun fact is I'm British and was raised in the UK until high school when my family moved to San Francisco. I've moved around a bunch lol:)
What's the NTMC origin story? Was there a certain moment where you realized you wanted to make music together?
Gabi: So we started writing together in the middle of the pandemic, when everything was on Zoom. Perrin and Tammy had taken some classes together in college and Perrin and I had been best friends since sophomore year; so Perrin initiated our first ever session. We felt like the songs we wrote together were different from anything we'd previously written with other people, and it just felt natural to us to want to write together as much as humanly possible haha.
You were actually my very first music write up ever - I did a piece on 'bev hills' a while back. I feel like over the years you've really grown into your sound and it's been awesome to watch. Since the inception of NTMC, has your creative process changed or adapted at all?
Perrin: Omg we loved that write up, thanks so much! Definitely. We started over Zoom in 2019 so everything was completely virtual. Then we had a year where Tammy and I moved to LA and Gabi did trips from Nashville to visit every month, so we were doing back to back sessions and content while she was here.
Gabi: Now I live here so the schedule is way more consistent, which is amazing. We get to have more regularly scheduled sessions and finding time for content such as photoshoots is wayyyy easier haha. The other fantastic thing about us all being in the same place finally is we're now prepping for live shows (wooo!!!).
Tammy: During the last year when I was taking trips we were never able to get in the rehearsal time we needed whilst also doing sessions, so it's VERY exciting for us to be able to really dig into that now :)
Perrin: I think, writing-wise, we definitely know ourselves better now and feel very confident in the music we're making. We've gone from viewing ourselves as songwriters who love concepts to artists with a vision.
How are you feeling now that "lava" is out for the world to hear?
Tammy: We're so excited for everyone to hear lava! It's just crazy because we fully wrote this song over a year ago on Zoom.
Gabi: "lava" is the most satirical song on our upcoming EP and I feel like it sets the tone really nicely for the project in general. The beat hits really hard but - in classic NTMC fashion - the lyrics are still very much at the forefront, which is super important to us.
Can you talk about how this track came to be? Who were your inspirations, musically and or non-musically?
Perrin: It's funny because I feel like we keep finding inspo even after writing the song. When we first wrote it we were just reflecting on what happened to our favorite pop stars growing up, especially Britney. I also just watched Pam and Tommy, and it made me think about it again how difficult it must be to navigate the world with that much fame.
Tammy: I don't remember having specific sonic inspos while writing but now that the song is done it’s surprisingly giving me Kesha energy for some reason haha.
Gabi: Man, this question is always so hard haha cause I never remember! I think for me it's "Tommy" by Tommy Genesis and "Cancel Me" by Dominic Fike for tone of voice!
I live for your energy. As someone who lived in LA for a few years too long, your lyrics are too relatable. Do you have a favorite lyric from "lava?" Can you give us a Genius-style annotation?
Tammy: "I swear the media broke britney, don't post my death on tmz, don't tweet my obituary if you're not there when I get buried," so basically the entire 2nd half of v1 haha. We wrote this song before all of the more recent Britney conservatorship news had arisen. I think for all three of us it was interesting writing from this perspective and analyzing how toxic celebrity culture can be while still being satirical.
Gabi: I think one of my favorites is "some things are never sacred, guess privacy is overrated," because of how invasive social media is these days. It feels like every moment needs to be shared for it to be meaningful or valuable, and I like the kind of sarcastic tone we took with this line. I think it represents our feelings towards social media pretty perfectly haha. It's a blessing and a curse, because it allows us to connect with people all over the world who like our music, which is the most amazing thing on planet earth haha. But it can also feel limiting, so it's good to remember to go outside every once in a while to break out of the matrix hehe.
So far, you've been killing it with your releases this year. Anything else we can expect from NTMC going forward in 2022?
Perrin: We have an EP coming out in May that is essentially the ultimate pre-game playlist sonically, with a dose of social commentary and personal introspection in the lyrics.
Gabi: It's super hard hitting on the production side, more so than anything we've done before, which is exciting for us.
Who are your Ones to Watch?
Perrin: I've been listening to a lot of renforshort, ELIO, and Sophie Cates.
Tammy: I've been loving the new buÌˆlow stuff and Rachel Chinouriri.
Gabi: I've been in a huge MUNA phase and have been loving Mallrat's new stuff.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions! It means a lot, love your music sm <3
NTMC: Thank you!!!!!