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. 🙂

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. 🙂

Atlantic A&R Exec Dallas Martin Named President of Asylum Records

Dallas Martin will be leading the Asylum Records imprint going forward. Warner Music Group said on Thursday that Martin will over oversee the label as president alongside Gabrielle Peluso, while continuing on as executive vp of A&R at Atlantic, where he has worked with Roddy Ricch, Meek Mill, and the late Nipsey Hussle, among others.

Based in Los Angeles, the Flint native will report to both Eliah Seton, president of independent music & creator services, WMG and Craig Kallman, chairman & CEO, Atlantic Records.

Commenting on the appointment, Seton praised Martin’s “unflinching commitment” to his artists and described him as the “consummate A&R” who is “not only able to spot great talent but nurture that talent by spending endless hours in the studio crafting hit records. That’s exactly the sort of artist-first philosophy that we’re cultivating at the new Asylum.”

Not to be confused with the older Asylum, launched in 1971 by David Geffen and Elliot Roberts and home to artists including Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and Eagles, the label’s latest incarnation was relaunched in 2017 to focus on new and emerging artists in the streaming era. The current roster includes Sada Baby, Seddy Hendrinx, JoeVille, Dolo Tonight, and Martin’s first signing, Justin Laboy.

Martin began his career in 2008 as an intern at Def Jam before joining Warner Records in 2011. It was there that he secured a deal with Rick Ross and his Maybach Music Group, and began A&R’ing all of Ross’ releases. He also worked closely with Meek Mill on his debut, Dreams and Nightmares, and subsequent releases. In 2013, Martin shuffled over to Atlantic where he signed Hussle and cultivated artists like Ricch, Cordae and Symba.

“It’s always been my dream to head a label as iconic as Asylum,” Martin said. “I’m grateful to Craig Kallman, Julie Greenwald, and Mike Kyser for believing in me and giving me the space to grow at Atlantic, and I’m excited to work with Eliah and Gabby to continue to evolve Asylum.”

He added, “There’s no better feeling in our business than discovering and breaking a new artist, and I learned early on that it’s important to log as much time in the studio as you do in the office. There’s incredible untapped independent talent in the world, and I’m confident that we have everything it takes to be the best home for the stars of the future.”

Why the Term ‘Latinx’ Hasn’t Taken Off Among Latins — And Likely Never Will

At first blush, the word Latinx –the gender-neutral, non binary term used to describe the nation’s diverse Hispanic population– seems ubiquitous.

It pops up regularly in press releases, in news headlines, in social media posts, in campaign mailings. But scratch below the surface, and you find little substance under the semantics.

According to a by now widely cited study undertaken by the Pew Research Center and published in August, only one in four Latinos are even aware of the term Latinx, and just 3% say they use it to describe themselves. The results run across demographics: Even though use of the term Latinx is greater among younger Latinos, only 7% of those ages 18 to 29 say they use it; among those 30 and older, that percentage drops to an abysmal 2%.

“The population it’s meant to describe isn’t even aware of it,” says Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Global Migration and Demography research at the Pew Research Center, and one of the authors of the August 11 study. “It’s a striking finding.”

And it mirrors what we see in the Latin music universe. Although the term “Latinx” can be often found in English-language press releases, especially when pertaining to U.S. born or raised artists, it’s a rarity in Spanish language releases. Most telling, very few (if any in recent memory) Latin artists self-describe as Latinx, even when directly asked what term they prefer to use.

And a recent, informal survey of more than 30 Latin music executives found that only one preferred the term Latinx over Latin.

“The artists, especially those coming from Latin America, don’t identify as Latinx,” says Matthew Limones, SoundExchanges’ Miami-based manager of artists & label relations, who deals with on a daily basis with Latin acts of all stripes and levels of fame. “Those who are born here, who are raised here and understand the mentality of inclusion, they understand what it means. But I don’t find they use the word.”

Latinx is a term born from noble intentions. Like “Latin” and “Hispanic” it’s not only pan-ethnic, but gender neutral (in Spanish), and is meant to be a term of inclusivity — one that can be used by those who identify as Latin or of Latin American descent but prefer not to be identified by gender. The inclusiveness of the term seems particularly appropriate at a time of divisiveness and strife.

So why isn’t it used by the very people it’s meant to refer to?

It boils down to culture and language.

Difficult to pronounce in Spanish (words ending in X are preceded by a vocal), and in English (where speakers vacillate between pronouncing it “La-tinks” or “Latin-ex”), “Latinx” to many, feels alien and imposed, an invention of U.S. academics and marketers that isn’t grounded in the reality, culture or origins of the bulk of the people it’s meant to represent.

In the open-ended responses provided in the Pew study, for example, the biggest criticism expressed of the term Latinx was the fact that it doesn’t work in Spanish, a language that is gendered — and is an intrinsic element of the Latin cultural identity, whether people are actually fluent in it or not.

“Latinx sounds ugly,” one 22-year old, bilingual, bisexual singer told me. “It’s not like they/them, which is self-explanatory. How do you use the pronoun with the X? There would have to be a reform in the way the language is used around the world. It’s too much.”

Plus, in many countries, including Mexico and Colombia, “X” (pronounced e-kees in Spanish) is also akin to saying John Doe; a non entity, or someone so bland that he or she is not worth remarking about. “People constantly ask me, ‘Why should I be an X, a no one?’ They take it personally,” one journalist told me.

The second criticism is that many from the Latin world are wary of the term’s origins. “[It is seen] Essentially as a term coming from an English-speaking country that is insensitive to how Latin America sees itself,” says Pew’s Lopez. “A very important element about our identity research is people want to choose how they describe themselves. People have very detailed, sophisticated views of how they see their roots, their ancestry. But it varies from person to person.”

“Latinx” swept those distinctions away. As if by decree, the entire U.S. Latin population suddenly started to be described as Latinx by brands, by TV hosts, by writers — by a lot of organizations that aren’t Latino-focused, says López.

In Billboard, the preferred term used to describe the population of artists with Latin American roots has long been “Latin.” However, how artists (or anyone, for that matter) self-identify always takes precedence — which is why “Latinx” being imposed jars, especially when seen applied to those who don’t call themselves “Latinx.”

I personally self-describe as Colombian of Lebanese roots. My children identify as “half-Colombian.” Bilingual and bicultural, they’re both familiar with the term Latinx, yet “no one I know identifies as Latinx,” says my 21-year-old son of his bilingual, bicultural friends in Miami, where he was born, and in Los Angeles, where he went to school.

“I identify as Latina because I identify as a woman,” says Billboard senior writer Griselda Flores, who also has a master’s degree in social justice from Northwestern. “That said, I don’t think it’s my place to say whether or not I like the term Latinx. If someone who is gender noncomforming prefers I use this gender-neutral term when identifying them, then I will.”

How to inclusively describe the vast and nuanced population that hails from 16 Spanish-speaking countries has long been a source of intense debate here in the United States. In Latin America (América Latina in Spanish), the collective population is referred to as “hispanos” or “latinoamericanos” and its shortened term, “latinos.”

Here in the United States, depending on who you are and where you live, some people prefer “Latino” over “Hispanic,” with its allusion to Spain. Many Mexican Americans prefer the term Chicano, and still others self-identify by race (for example Afro Latino) or origin (Colombian, Cuban, Puerto Rican).

However, the difference between all those terms and Latinx, is that most people are familiar with them. Here in the U.S., use of the word Latinx and Google searches of its meaning are on the rise, and yet, it still hasn’t caught on with the bulk of the people it’s supposed to help self-identify.

“I think well-intentioned progressives simply use it to be politically correct, but in reality they’re misusing the word,” adds Flores. “‘Latinx’ and ‘Latina’ are not interchangeable. It’s a label that doesn’t fit all.”

Lil Wayne Drops New Track ‘Ain’t Got Time’ After His Last-Minute Pardon From Trump

Lil Wayne is feeling pretty invincible on the new song “Ain’t Got Time,” a R!o & Kamo-produced track in which he ponders the possibilities of what might have happened to his life and career in the wake of a December 2019 raid on his plane.

The rapper — who got a surprise full pardon from outgoing former president Donald Trump early in the morning of Jan. 20 that saved him from a possible decade-long prison sentence on a firearm possession charge tied to the incident — sounds a contemplative note in the dreamy song featuring an assist from Fousheé.

“Full of vanilla, flyin’ over chocolate mountains/ I stare at the Pacific while I’m smokin’ on a kilometer/ The feds, they hot on us, one hundred on the thermometer/ They raided my private plane, I went got one that’s more privater,” Wayne (born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) raps, seemingly referring to a 2019 incident at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport that resulted in him pleading guilty in December to possessing a loaded weapon on a private jet. Carter is a convicted felon, stemming from a 2007 gun charge.

On the track, in which he pays tribute to Juice WRLD, Wayne also talks about moving on and up, seemingly feeling invincible now. “Living like I can’t die, fumble with me FBI arrest me, why?/ They can’t nail mе so they just screwin’ me/ I just try, try to hidе/ Sometimes it’s hard to find time to be the good guy and still be someone/ Enjoyin’ my good times more than sometimes, and I just hope,” Weezy rhymes on the pre-chorus before seemingly gloating about dodging hard time as he fires up in celebration.

“I don’t get time ’cause I ain’t got time/ I was high as f–k yesterday, damn, time flies/ Where am I?/ I admit I can’t live when I think too much, too much on my mind,” he says on the track that doesn’t directly mention the pardon or now-former commander in chief.

The rapper did post a thank you tweet, though, on Thursday morning (Jan. 21), writing, “I want to thank President Trump for recognizing that I have so much more to give to my family, my art, and my community.”

As his presidency wound down this week, Trump issued a last-minute pardon to Wayne, and commuted the sentences of Kodak Black and Death Row Records’s Michael “Harry-O” Harris.” This came months after Weezy took a widely criticized picture with the former reality TV host as part of a surprising endorsement that some commenters said, in retrospect, looked like a ploy to get some presidential relief.

South Florida lawyer Bradford Cohen, who helped set up Trump’s October meeting with Lil Wayne, denied the speculation about the seeming quid pro quo in an interview with The New York Times, noting that the rapper’s support likely led the former president to favor him. “It never hurts that someone gets a full understanding of an individual when they’re just looking at a piece of paper,” Cohen told the paper. “In hindsight, I guess it worked out … I think they had a very strong connection.”

Listen to “Ain’t Got Time” and see Wayne’s tweet below.