Scene Queen Calls Out Abuse In Music Industry in Scathing New Single “18+” [Q&A] | The Noise
Bold and bombastic alt-songstress Scene Queen is back with yet another banger in her latest release, "18+." In the rowdy single, she boldly calls out sexual abuse and grooming in the music industry using her unique blend of metal-infused instrumentation and feminist-forward lyricism.
Since her viral hit “Pink Rover” and her breakout EP Bimbocore, Scene Queen, aka Hannah Collins, continues to prove that she refuses to remain silent and will unapologetically disrupt the status quo stomping on the throat of gatekeepers and misogynists everywhere – all while wearing pink platform boots.
Scene Queen’s new single serves as a scathing condemnation of abusers and groomers in the emo, post-hardcore, and metalcore scenes opening with intensifying sinister synths and beats. The 25-year-old musician rails against artists accused of grooming, sexual misconduct, and more while examining the general lack of consequences that have followed in many cases.
Thrashing, chugging guitar riffs and crashing percussion serve as the backdrop to the song's climatic choruses and ego-melting breakdowns as the artist calls out the shameful behavior with her entire being.
The Noise recently had the opportunity to chat with the fearless vocalist all about the creation of “18+,” collaborating with FEVER 333’s Jason Butler, her partnership with RAINN, and the changes she hopes to see within the alt-music scene.
Your music typically touches on very complex subjects like sexuality, feminism, and misogyny with this recent single “18+” examining specifically abuse in the alt scene. Can you walk me through the beginning stages of "18+" and what ultimately inspired you to release it?
SCENE QUEEN: I had already touched on the subject in the song "The Rapture (but it's Pink)" with Mothica. It was supposed to be on my first EP, but I scrapped it because Mothica wasn't on it initially. So I knew I wanted to talk about it, but I didn't feel like the song had that oomph yet. So I was like, if I want to put out “The Rapture,” I want to make sure that it's something that I'm really proud of. And then Mothica ended up popping on that song and giving it a second life, so I did get to put that song out. However, I didn't say everything I wanted on it, so I knew I wanted to touch on [misogyny] again on this album that I'm working on right now, but I didn't know when I would do that. So then I got in the studio with my producers, Zach Jones, who I work on all of my Scene Queen stuff, my best friend Kanner, who wrote a lot on the last album and Jason [Butler] from FEVER 333.
That sounds like a solid team!
Yeah, it was my first time working with Jason. He was coming in as a producer on that song and he had the track — like in the verses, there's this nu-metal-y section production-wise. It goes perfectly with FEVER 333 stuff, so I don't know why I was surprised at that, but I heard it and was like, "Oh, this is the energy that I need."
In my brain, I had this vision of a 90s nu-metal music video shot on a camcorder looking down and just that sort of raw anger in it. So yeah, that was the kind of energy I wanted to bring to the song. And then I was talking one-on-one with Jason and we were just talking about how the music industry is today – and you know Jason and FEVER 333, his music touches a lot on racism, not just in the music scene specifically, but in a global sense as well.
Anyway, he was saying that he was dealing with all this stuff in the sense that he would get booked for festivals and then there would be people on the lineup that had said some extremely racist things in the past. And then, because we had also been talking about our experiences, he just said to me off-handedly (because we watched each other play at Reading and Leeds Fest in the UK) he was like, "You don't understand the way that girls look at you when you perform." He said something like, "It's a very different way than I've seen girls look at artists before. They're looking at you in a way that's like, ‘Wow, I finally feel like I'm seeing someone that looks like me on stage for the first time.’"
And he was like, "I get that but in a different sense. But like how I see girls interact with you, it's really cool to see." And then I was like, "Oh my God, I feel the same way." So we were kind of geeking out about that. And then I talked about how frustrating it is to have the same sort of thing where I'm trying to push this message of feminism and I go play at big festivals where there are fans that don't listen to my music that are entirely on the opposite end of the spectrum beliefs-wise and [they] say some insanely misogynistic things about women or there are bands just off-handedly saying things behind the scenes even still today.
It feels like there's been so much growth but also none at the same time.
The scene is not like it was when we were 16 years old and actively getting creeped on by people at these shows, but now that I'm almost 26, I'm still seeing that same toxic masculinity. It's just a lot more hidden because now we have social media and people get called out a lot faster and it's harder to be like that but it still happens.
So I was in that [recording] room and I just felt like it was such an understanding and comfortable space to be in that. I was like, "If there were people that I was going to be able to write this song with, as controversial as it is, it'd be Jason." He loves pushing the envelope and saying things people don't want to hear because he's like, "Well, fuck it, it needs to be said.”
So what happened next? What was the songwriting process like for this track?
So with Jason and Kanner, my best friend Rachel Kanner..she's the most unhinged person, but in the best way possible. She's never been afraid to speak her mind in any capacity, and she's such a dominant writer in the alternative scene and working with so many bands right now. But the fact she's been in the writing game for a decade and still has to prove herself every single step of the way is so crazy.
She and I bounced ideas off each other, but I came in with half of the lyrics already written, and I already knew I wanted to do the "pink wristbands on the guestlist thing" and all of that. So then Kanner would throw in the line, and we'd go back and forth.
We wrapped up lyrics within the first 15 minutes of that session as the guys were messing with the beat and doing guitar parts. "18+" came together in three hours tops and it was just the most natural, like, I don't know. I'm one of those writers that I'm like if you can't say what you need to say in the first 20 minutes, you're trying too hard. And that song, like, the rage was just there and the energy was just there from everyone in the room that I knew I was gonna put the song on the record. But it was like the first single I had sent to my label for this new record, and they were like, "Yeah, this is the single. That has to be the next one." So I'm really excited it's coming out. I'm a little bit terrified, but it definitely pushed the envelope in all the right ways. I'm excited for people to hear it and for it to spark conversation.
In the past, you've received a lot of pushback from Internet trolls regarding your music and its subjects like self-autonomy, sexuality, and even reclaiming the term "bimbo." How do you ground yourself when the Internet spews hate when you're just trying to speak your mind and advocate for things that matter?
If I had dropped "18+" on my first record, I might have had an actual meltdown because I used to take things so personally. I wrote it to be vague enough that people feel like it's a personal attack against 45 different bands. And that's not why I'm doing it, to call out 45 different bands. I'm doing it so everyone has this "Aha!" moment where they're like, "Wow, this isn't just a one-band thing. This is an epidemic." Because it sounds so personal, I've gotten so many personal attacks from various fan bases and things. Every day I wake up and don't read the comments because it's a lot.
I saw the comments when you first shared a snippet of the song on Tiktok and the comment section looked like a battlefield. It seemed like everyone was fighting over who the song was about or being rude.
So with "Pink Rover," which to me is still kind of crazy how much hate I got for it. It's obviously a weird style — and I'm not naive to the fact that I make a genre of music that I call “bimbocore” for a reason because there's no actual way to describe the sound I'm doing because I don't really think it exists in the exact way that I do it. So like, I knew the style itself was weird and I understood that not everyone's gonna be down for the style. Still, subject matter-wise, people were getting so angry about that song and sending so much hate and starting these weird industry plant comments. Which, if you go back on my page, you can see where I begin on TikTok as an independent artist.
I've documented my entire journey into the Scene Queen world. I think I realized at least by the second EP that I had dropped that anything worth doing is going to come with a ton of criticism. If I had been doing things exactly the way that the scene wanted me to be doing them, then I genuinely don't think my project would grow at the rate that it has.
The hate was the fuel to the fire in a sense.
Controversy has not only pushed my career but also pushed my message so much farther than I feel like it would have gotten because I think in a different day and age if we hadn't had the Internet, I think I would have been slapped on metal tours and that sort of thing.
But my music, again, is a weird combination of 50 different genres. If I was put in this one genre touring on whatever circuit, I would have had a lot slower growth and I would have had to grab five fans from here and five from there. But because I'm on the internet, and the algorithm pushes things to people with stuff in common with you, I'm now getting pushed to all sides of the queer community.
I've had tons of people at my shows come up to me and say, "I don't even listen to rock music outside of this thing, but I found you just because of your message or because people were so critical of it."
And I've also had people at my shows, when I was opening for Wargasm in the UK, I had a group of younger kids come up to me and they're like, "I shouldn't have listened to the internet hate because I just assumed that I was going to despise you. Then I watched it live and it was a lot heavier than I thought it would be and I was really into it."
I just had to remind myself that the controversy is the most important thing in this project, so that keeps me grounded. I also make sure to keep my personal life entirely off the internet. There's a reason I chose to go by the name Scene Queen versus just being my name on the internet because it would be tough. It's easier for me to step away when I say, "They're criticizing Scene Queen but they're not criticizing Hannah as a person." If they don't like my artistic project, that's whatever, that's fine. But you will never catch my boyfriend or girlfriend on the internet. It's just not gonna happen because that's what's best for me. It stinks when people's negative opinions ruin your view on things and I'd rather keep my personal life just always happy for me.