20 Questions With Beach Bunny: ‘Hannah Montana’ Memories, Karaoke Must-Haves & Searing New EP

Beach Bunny, the indie-pop quartet led by Lili Trifilio, returned last week with Blame Game, a four-song EP that sharpens the perspective of the group’s 2020 full-length debut, Honeymoon. Whereas the band’s first album was focused on relationship complexities, Blame Game takes on social norms that deserve to be upended: lead single “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used)” dismisses emotionally unavailable partners, while “Blame Game” combats sexism in both general and specific terms (“Guess it’s my fault my body’s fun to stare at / Sorry my clothes can’t keep your hands from grabbing,” Trifilio seethes on the chorus).

With Trifilio becoming one of the indie sphere’s most promising young songwriters and Beach Bunny beginning to reach a wider audience — the band made its late-night debut last week on Jimmy Kimmel Live! — Trifilio answered 20 questions about the band’s new EP, her early musical experiences, the movie that always makes her cry and how the pandemic has changed her approach to creating new tunes.

1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?

The first piece of music I bought for myself was a CD of Aly & AJ’s Insomniatic in 2007, after hearing “Potential Breakup Song” at a summer camp talent show.

2. What was the first concert you saw?

The first official concert I saw was Mitchell Muso, one of Miley Cyrus’ co-stars in Hannah Montana, at a friend’s birthday party. Her mom had bought tickets for all of us, and being the Hannah Montana fan I was, despite not knowing any of the songs, it was a magical time as a 10-year-old.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid?

My father worked as a pharmacist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago, and my mother was a lunch mom for some time at my grade school.

4. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?

I think I partially realized I could be a full-time artist once I graduated college and had no desire to use my journalism degree and I knew I would do whatever it took to make that dream a reality. Yet, at the same time, being an artist was always something I had viewed myself as, regardless of financial stability, and there had been a part of me that always knew I was going to do this. I think signing with a label really aided in the process of transitioning music from a passion project into something that could also pay the bills.

5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?

I want to create something that will impact future generations to come. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like, but I would love to leave a positive mark on this planet before I leave.

6. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?

Growing up in Chicago shaped me greatly in terms of being exposed to the local music scene at an early age, which greatly inspired me to embark on my own musical journey. I love the diversity of genres, the variety of people, and the passion for art and creation that’s prevalent within Chicago local music. Many local bands and booking agents not only helped me to get gigs at an early stage in my career, assisted me with recording advice, and helped promote my work to their own outer circles, but were amazing friends and supporters at a time where I was very insecure in my art. I owe a lot to local music and the people that helped me along the way.

7. What’s the last song you listened to?

The last song I listened to was “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn – I’ve been in a very romantic mood lately, haha.

8. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would love to see the Beatles at the peak of their career and be fully immersed in the energy of Beatlemania. I imagine that has to be some of the greatest concert moments in music history. A modern artist I would really love to see live would be Charli XCX.

9.  What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?

Bob Odenkirk showed up to a gig in New Mexico! That was amazing, and very surprising – we’re all big fans. He is such a sweetheart.

10. How has the pandemic affected your creative process?

The pandemic has affected my creative process in the sense that it hasn’t made me more or less creative, but rather creative in different ways. Instead of writing, I’ve been more drawn towards producing; instead of lyrics, I’ve been more drawn toward instrumentals; instead of playing guitar, I’ve been learning piano. Throughout the pandemic I’ve listened to more music and more genres than any other, so perhaps the boredom created a need for change in the way I write. I’ve mostly been writing in solitude in my bedroom with the door shut and locked.

11. We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of your debut, Honeymoon. How do you look back on it now?

It feels really strange how time has passed since its initial release – and throughout the pandemic. It feels like everything has happened very quickly and very slowly at the same time. I never anticipated such an amazing release response, but I am extremely grateful for all the love and support over the last several months. Honeymoon is a breakup album, in many ways, the emotions I was experiencing while writing the tracks I can no longer relate to, although I am grateful others can that are going through similar experiences.

I will always remember the experience of releasing my first album. Honeymoon was so necessary and therapeutic for me to make during that stage in my life. I am excited to work on the second album and hope to learn and grow from the first LP. I feel very blessed to continually receive so much praise and love for the tracks on Honeymoon, and I’m very happy they give people closure in their own lives.

12. When did you start conceptualizing the songs for the new EP?

I started conceptualizing the songs for Blame Game in December 2019, nearly at the beginning of 2020. However, the songs became more fleshed out through the springtime and were modified several times in the studio.

13. What made you decide to release the deeply personal “Good Girls” as its lead single?

I really love the energy of “Good Girls.” I’ve been pretty obsessed with bass-driven, punkier music and it just felt like an obvious choice since the first time we jammed it. I think all the tracks on the EP are relatively personal and aggressive, but “Good Girls” has a melody that I couldn’t get out of my head and that ultimately helped make the decision.

14. “Blame Game” focuses on sexism, misogyny and society’s entrenched gender norms. How difficult was it to reflect on these issues within one track?

I think as a woman a lot of the topics I covered were things I deal with on a regular basis and are deeply interwoven with my life and my human experience. Not to say that I’m numb to it, but it wasn’t a painful song to write – I was simply explaining the facts.

15. What does success look like when it comes to this EP and the messages of its songs?

I think ultimately I created these tracks in hopes that it would resonate with younger people who have had similar life experiences to me and through the songs feel comfort, relatability, and closure on whatever it is they’re dealing with. I think that is the greatest form of success – knowing it helped someone.

16. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?

One thing that even my most devoted fans don’t know about me is I walk 4-6 miles a day, everyday. It really helps with creativity, is low-impact on the body, and keeps me sane.

17. If you were not a musician, what would you be?

I love astronomy and cosmology! I would probably do something in space sciences. I want to be a renaissance woman and do a million things while I get to be in this body.

18. What’s your karaoke go-to?

Probably “Dancing Queen” by ABBA, or “Bennie And The Jets.” But lately I’ve been obsessed with the song “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” [by] Belinda Carlisle, so that may end up being a new fav when the world opens back up.

19. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?

P.S. I Love You without fail makes me cry every time I watch it. It’s such a beautifully tragic movie and I usually cry from beginning to end. It’s my go-to when I feel like I need to get some emotions out and have a good crying sesh.

20. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

One piece of advice I would give to my younger self is to truly believe you are capable of anything. The world is constantly trying to put us in boxes and make choices for us, but at the end of the day, living your authentic life for yourself is one of the most beautiful parts of the human experience. Don’t listen to other people’s projections and insecurities, you know what’s best for you. You have the potential inside you to be whoever you want to be. 🙂