Lil Nas X Wonders About Old Fans’ Intentions On Nirvana-Interpolating ‘Panini’

Lil Nas X‘s ‘”Old Town Road” made him a superstar, but it wasn’t overnight. He worked the record for a while and now it’s become one of the biggest songs in Billboard history, in its 11th straight week of Billboard Hot 100 dominance. He’s gained a lot of new fans and, if his new song “Panini” is to be believed, he’s lost a lot as well. “Panini” asks an important question: for older fans who have forsaken him, what exactly do they want from him?

“Panini” isn’t a country record, not even close. It’s more contemporary hip-hop, with some R & B flavoring courtesy of some milky melodies and it interpolates Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” It references Panini, an obsessive feline friend from the cartoon Chowder. The song looks at older fans who were initially happy of his success who have grown resentful. He asks playfully, and slightly seriously, what more do they want from him? It’s clear that he doesn’t necessarily care though because, at the end of the day, it’s all about progression which brings new fans. “I need a big Benz, not another fan/But I still want you as a fan,” he sings.

“Panini” will appear on Lil Nas X’s forthcoming EP 7It’ll be one of eight songs, in case you were only expecting seven. It’ll feature a song produced by Travis Barker and should have animated videos for each song.

Watch the creepy CGI animation for “Panini” up above.

Louis Tomlinson Could Quite Possibly Be Heading Out On Tour Next Year

Louis Tomlinson could be heading out on tour next year. He could also be working on new music for his long-awaited debut studio album. He was a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden where he engaged in a friendly conversation with the host and unveiled some interesting new musical tidbits for fans to latch onto with a smile on his face. But, most importantly, he seems to be in a good mental space after dealing with the death of his sister in March. It looks like the next chapter for Tomlinson will begin to unfold shortly.

Tomlinson’s plethora of good news came in the course of his conversation with Corden that covered everything from new music to pretending to be a cat. Tomlinson revealed that he’s been working on new music for his debut solo album, simply saying that he has “for a while now.” Additionally, some prodding by Corden let loose another nugget of hopeful info: he could be going on tour next year at smaller venues. It wasn’t a definite answer but, of touring, he revealed that it was something that he’s really excited about.

In March, Tomlinson released a somber tribute to his mother, “Two Of Us” that pays tribute to her memory after her death in 2016. With his debut studio album in the works, it looks like we’ll be hearing more from him soon.

Watch Tomlinson talk about touring up above.

Mac Miller Comes To Peace In New Posthumous Song

Mac Miller‘s verses always contain a hint of knowing, especially in the wake of his death, like he’s speaking from beyond the grave. Producer 88 Keys has released a new collaboration with Miller and SIA called “This Life” that’s about the ups and downs that we go through. Miller’s personal, two-verse anecdote looks at his own life and smiles lovingly at it, shrugging off the negative. It lets us know that everything’s going to be okay.

Miller’s debut studio album Blue Slide Park came out in 2011 and he was catapulted to mainstream fame almost instantaneously. Over the next seven years, he dealt with its trials and tribulations. In “This Life,” Miller reflects on these years, from buying emergency contraceptive pills for random hook-ups to spending $350 dollars on an expensive entree. He’s brutally honest, at one point rapping “I drown my sorrow in that bottle/Today is full of regret, find forever in tomorrow.” But on the chorus, he reckons with his past and shrugs his shoulders. “That’s life, what are you going to do?” he sings. Sia comes in at the end, a response to the hardships she’s heard of, with a wish to take Miller’s pain. Her part is brief, but beautiful. A necessary riposte with a sharp statement: “Everybody lives and everybody dies.”

Miller’s first official posthumous verse was released earlier this month in the Free Nationals’ “Time” that also features Kali Uchis. In it, he made peace with past relationships, saying that “in the end, everything will be fine, that’s by design.” He continues to make the world feel better from the sky.

Listen to Mac Miller and Sia open up about life’s trials and tribulations in “That’s Life” up above.

The Lonely Island’s Incredibad Remains An Accidental, Perfect Ode To Middle-School Grossness

By Lia Johansen-Villanueva

When I lost my virginity, I sent the group chat a link to “I Just Had Sex,” The Lonely Island’s anthem to, well, just having had sex. We all did it, this group of young women announcing our own sexual encounters to each other via the group’s (and Akon’s) increasingly ridiculous ones (“But I cried the whole time?! / Doesn’t matter, had sex!”). The song appeared on The Lonely Island’s sophomore album, 2011’s Turtleneck & Chain, but by then, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone had thoroughly embedded themselves in our lexicon.

The three had been comedy shorthand between us since their first album, Incredibad, which turned 10 earlier this year. The internet has ensured that someone is always keeping track of such milestones. But to a specific corner of people — the ones that got to be in middle school and high school in 2009 — Incredibad’s tenth birthday means a great deal. I know, because I’m one of them.

During the last few years, we’ve been asking ourselves (or, older, maler, whiter comedians have been asking themselves) what it means to be funny right now, what we can and can’t say, and who exactly gets to be in on the joke. People keep gesturing, vaguely, at a fundamental shift in what’s funny now, as if comedy opened its doors to any kind of diversity and then we all cunningly locked the door behind us. But a decade later (or longer: the group’s game-changing “Lazy Sunday” digital short first aired on Saturday Night Live in in 2005), The Lonely Island’s first album still holds up. It’s why the group’s somehow first-ever tour, kicking off this week, is such a big deal.

Something about Incredibad lodged itself into our shared consciousness. It peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Rap Albums chart and was the No. 1 comedy album of the year. As their first single, “Lazy Sunday” transformed Samberg’s SNL career; the Lonely Island digital shorts became a mainstay of the weekly lineup. Soon, “Dick in a Box” won an Emmy, and “I’m on a Boat” was even nominated for a Grammy, though it lost to Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna.

The Lonely Island had YouTube to thank, as they’d uploaded their videos to the platform since the beginning, but it was also because for whatever reason, they understood exactly what the internet would think was funny, way before being funny on the internet was the marketable skill it is now. Today’s comedians-to-watch lists are mostly made up of people who started out being funny on Vine, or funny on Twitter, or funny on YouTube (or, for the savvy, funny on all three). But in 2009, there was just Incredibad, and the fact that it made 12-year-olds laugh — 12-year-olds like me.

Being a 12-year-old girl in 2009 was different, I suspect, to being a 12-year-old girl today. But if the success of films like Eighth Grade and TV shows like Big Mouth has taught us anything, it’s that being 12 at any point in time has always been kind of the same: very gross, mortifyingly embarrassing, and definitely a catalogue of regrettable sartorial choices. Incredibad was an accidental ode to all of those things: Samberg’s hair used to look like the hair on all the boys I had a crush on in middle school, “Lazy Sunday” captured the heightened drama of a preteen trip to the cinema, and “Jizz in My Pants” just made us laugh. It was gross, and immature, and there was a luxury in being invited to laugh at something without being laughed at.

Girls and women are more often the target of gross-out humor than they are in on the joke, which is probably why Louis C.K. got to make jokes about wanting to masturbate in front of women for so long without anyone asking whether or not he actually did masturbate in front of women. To be funny in that kind of way was to lock women out, and to enjoy that kind of humor, as a girl and as a woman, is often a series of mental gymnastics, of adopting a not-like-other-girls mentality, the unfortunate result of wanting to be one of the boys. But on Incredibad, the joke was always resolutely on them, delivered in sincerely good hip-hop packaging.

What makes “Jizz in My Pants” and the rest of Incredibad still so good is that their ridiculous premises, always escalating into insanity, are never delivered at the expense of the music or its production. “Last week I saw a film / As I recall it was a horror film” makes me laugh just thinking about it, and the song’s pitch-perfect ‘90s synth-rock delivery system is why. Half the escalation on the Julian Casablancas feature, “Boombox,” relies on Samberg’s increasingly ridiculous pronunciation of “boiled goose.”

And on “I’m on a Boat,” we’re not laughing at T-Pain — we’re laughing at the absurdity of applying the braggadocios logic of early-aughts rap to three dudes on a boat that isn’t theirs. We’re laughing at the utter perfection of a sentence like “I’m on a boat and / It’s going fast and / I’ve got a nautical-themed pashmina afghan.” Comedian and wizard of the silly song Demi Adejuyigbe, perhaps best-known for his fake end-credits raps, has said, on multiple occasions, that Hot Rod is one of his favorite movies (and honestly? Same.). You can hear it sometimes, as much in his ability to take a premise and drive it to its least-logical conclusion as in the clear and real fondness for the pop culture and musical stylings he targets.

At the same time, though, the jokes on Incredibad are knife-sharp satire. You’re laughing at “me toil part time at ja Cold Stone Creamery” before you’re hit by the deadly accurate takedown of white college boys who become faux Rastafarians the first time they smoke weed. I talked to Val, who was 12 with me when I discovered The Lonely Island, and she described them as “outlandish and outrageous” while approaching a “truth about life and the self.” The dick jokes are one thing, and they’re unsubtle, but like Val told me, “The comedy often comes from the bits that are obscured by the ridiculous.” She’s right: “Jizz in My Pants” is stupid and absurd, but hidden inside it is the line “I won’t apologize, that’s just absurd / Mainly your fault for the way that you dance,” a distillation of the way men can turn against the women they’re interested in when their advances go awry. But more than that, the thing that came up again and again when I talked to girls who have loved Incredibad for a decade, was how it was something that they shared with their friends.

Sometimes the comedic sensibilities of The Lonely Island are compared to a group of teenage boys building on an absurd premise to make themselves laugh harder and harder. But we would sing these songs to each other in school cafeterias and make each other laugh, too, giggling at how rude we were finally allowed to be. It was something for us, something I can still text my friends out of context, guaranteed to make them laugh a city or country or even continent away.

When I showed my 13-year-old brother the group’s criminally underwatched 2016 film, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, we were both reduced to a laughing heap on the floor (my dad was also laughing, but he’s too dignified to become a heap). This summer, on The Lonely Island’s first tour ever, their audience will almost certainly be full of people who felt the same way we did in 2009. I wonder if they’ll know how much they mean to us.

Migos Pay Homage To The Competitive Nature Of Exotic Dancing On ‘Stripper Bowl’

Pole-dancing is an art, and also a sport. Exotic dancers and strippers are its athletes with the ability to do gravity-defying stunts on the pole that come from working out and practice — no different than what basketball and football players do. And although there are stripping competitions around the world, an enormous event like the Super Bowl doesn’t exist for pole-dancing just yet.

Migos have come together to release a song that calls for a  massive celebration of exotic dancing. It’s called “Stripper Bowl,” and it’s a song for champions of a sport that proponents have argued should become an official Olympic event.

After this year’s Super Bowl, Migos’s label Quality Control Music threw a Stripper Bowl party, a new kind of celebration that commemorated the work of exotic dancers while also offering a glimpse at a competitive sport of sorts that could be made into a league. “Stripper Bowl” is an energetic recap of the event in terms of sights and sounds but also is a call to action in general. It demands the shaking of limbs, for money to be thrown on the ground, and for dancing to begin.

The Migos trio take turns with sporty verses that invite the competition that they hope to see. Could the Stripper Bowl become a real thing? We don’t know. But this song could be a glimpse at that reality.

Migos dropped a collaboration with Mustard, “Pure Water,” earlier this year. Their last album as a group was 2018’s Culture II. Listen to “Stripper Bowl” above.

Billie Eilish Thinks It’s ‘Weird’ That She’s Called ‘The New Face Of Pop’

Billie Eilish‘s star power can’t be overstated. Her debut album — the chart-topping When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? — is one of the biggest of the year, she’s selling out bigger and bigger venues around the world, and “bad guy” is a bonafide hit. And yet, for all the talk of Eilish “redefining” pop and becoming the genre’s “new conscience,” she’s really not interested in being positioned as such.

“It’s annoying,” she admitted in a new interview with Vogue Australia, when asked about being called “the new face of pop.”

She continued, “As grateful as I am for the appreciation and the love, honestly, I’ve become numb to it. I remember the first couple of times people called me the face of pop or pop’s new It girl or whatever the fuck… it kind of irked me. The weird thing about humans is we [think we] have to label everything, but we don’t.”

Instead of chasing those kinds of labels, the 17-year-old phenom would much rather use her fame to make the world a better place. She explained, “I really don’t want to waste my platform. I’m trying not to but I think all of us in the spotlight — or whatever you want to call it — can be more vocal about climate change and things that need to be talked about. I still think I can do more.

“There are so many things being determined by people who are going to die soon anyway because they’re old as fuck,” she went on. “It makes me so angry. There are so many things I wish I could snap my fingers and make better. There is so much that needs help and [there are] people who pretend they care and don’t, and [then] people who could do something, but don’t. I’m here and I can actually try. I suddenly have a platform and a spotlight that I can maybe, maybe, maybe make a difference to something.”

She’s certainly doing just that. Eilish recently preached the impact of being vegan on Instagram, and she’s even snuck some not-so-subtle references to climate change in her music (her brother, Finneas O’Connell, confirmed as such when speaking to MTV News about the song “all the good girls go to hell”). Bet on hearing more from her soon — she clearly has plenty to say about the issues that are important to her, and that’s a good thing for all of us.

Check out Eilish’s full Vogue Australia interview and photoshoot here.

Drake Has Switched To ‘Album Mode’

All’s good in Toronto, also known as the Six. The Canadian capital’s NBA team, the Toronto Raptors, won its first championship in league history. The team’s global ambassador and world-famous rapper, Drake released two new songs to commemorate the special occasion. Now, there’s a third occasion to celebrate in the city and for fans of Drake around the globe. He’s back in the studio working on a new album.

Drake announced his mode change on Instagram today (June 19) with a series of six pictures captioned with “Album Mode.” The thing about these pictures is that they look decidedly un-album mode. He’s golfing in one, drinking wine on a tennis court in another, then swimming with the wine glass in the last one. Maybe album mode is a code term for vacation. There’s one photo in particular that screams that work is getting done. Drake stands on the phone looking fierce, probably calling to get some samples cleared. We don’t know yet when the music’s coming but at least we know he’s in the lab cooking something up.

Drake’s two-pack of new songs, “Money In The Grave” with Rick Ross and “Omerta” are the first tastes of new Drizzy following last year’s Scorpion. One of that album’s cuts, “God’s Plan,” won Drake the award for Best Rap Song at the 61st Grammy Awards.

Gucci Mane Shows Off His Car Collection And Toned Tummy In ‘Proud Of You’ Video

As much as technology has improved, there sadly isn’t a way to drive more than one car yet. So after watching Gucci Mane‘s new video for “Proud Of You,” you’ll be perplexed at all of the Rolls Royce cars in it. Just how did they get there? Were they all driven by separate drivers? Or did Gucci Mane somehow cast a self-driving spell to get them to follow him to the video’s location on the streets? Whatever the answer to these questions, Gucci Mane has never looked better.

“Proud Of You” is a video about cars, performance footage, and abs. Gucci Mane’s glistening six-pack grimaces at you in each shot as he dirties the hoods of expensive cars with street shoes as he stands on top of them. The rapper’s clearly enjoying himself. About halfway through, we get to see why the song is, in fact, called “Proud Of You.” He rips a performing stage to shreds with his energy, equally matched by a crowd that threatens to implode. He’s come a long way and we’re definitely proud of him.

Gucci Mane is releasing a new project, Delusions of Grandeur, on June 21. Last week, he released a collaboration with Meek Mill “Backwards.” Recently, he dropped a song with Justin Bieber, “Love Thru The Computer.”

Watch Gucci Mane stand on top of cars with his toned tummy out in “Proud Of You” up above.

Meet Emotional Oranges, the Ascendent R&B Duo Hiding in Plain Sight

You don’t know who Emotional Oranges is — but for the emerging pop-R&B duo that’s steadily built buzz since releasing “Motion” in the summer of 2018, this is exactly as they planned. Formed in 2016, they dropped their debut EP, The Juice, Vol. 1, this past month, and embarked on a seven-date tour that saw them sell out shows in Brooklyn, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Toronto. But the pair’s identity has remained an undefined but conspicuous silhouette.

“Music should be about music, man,” the male half of the group, who we’re calling A., explains to MTV News. “I remember in the ’90s, I’d be watching shit — whether it was Prince or Janet [Jackson] — like there would be fans genuinely fainting in the audience because there wasn’t the access of being able to see what the fuck the moves were on Instagram. You’d rock with the music; you’d rock with the creative.”

Indeed, aside from recent concert photography, the duo’s Instagram strategy has seemingly been one of concealment and misdirection; at times, the group has taken a pop art approach to pop-star marketing, grafting their merch and logo onto images of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Daft Punk, and Angelina Jolie. Their reticence is a familiar music industry trope, but no one can tell you it isn’t working: Their distinct visuals have eclipsed millions of views on YouTube; their sold-out stop at New York’s 650-cap Music Hall of Williamsburg has landed them a headlining gig at Brooklyn Steel in October; and Forever 21 has even been accused of, in so many words, rocking too hard with the duo’s creative.

Run through The Juice, and it’s easy to hear why so many listeners have been so charmed by the duo. They cite Sade, Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu as their influences, but the bass-driven disco on “Motion,” complemented by tightly pitched guitars, may remind you of other artists currently inhabiting the liminal space between pop and R&B: dvsn, The Weeknd, Drake. Produced by Azad Nacify and William Leong, the song finds you at the blissful end of a too-long night, or the beginning of a party, as it’s slowly heating up.

That chemistry is, in part, facilitated by the nuanced interplay between A. and B., the duo’s female vocalist. “Hold You Back,” for example, presents a love triangle we don’t often observe in pop music: a man, jealous of a woman who’s stolen his ex-girlfriend’s heart. A. says the song took its distinctive shape when B. re-worked the track he’d began writing.

“I started that song writing about my ex-girl, and then [B.] came over and she had heard the hook, and was like, ‘No, we should flip this,’” A. explains.

“We weren’t thinking about what anyone thought,” B. says of their songwriting process. “We weren’t like, ‘Oh, let’s not say that lyric because it won’t connect with this girl, or that kind of guy.’”

The desire and heartache that colors these moments isn’t unfamiliar to the two, who actually met through a mutual acquaintance: A.’s best friend, who was dating B. at the time. However, as that relationship began to dissolve last year, the two found themselves in a surprising state: inspiration.

“I had a pretty big breakup, and A. was kind of in the middle of it,” B. says. “But we used it. I think he got inspired off of it; he came with all these records of all the topics that covered our relationship.”

“It was tough,” A. says. “I mean, he’s really my best friend still, right? He knew as I was doing it. I would keep him updated.”

From there, they began recording the follow-ups to “Personal” and “Motion,” blocking out 10 days to lay down “Corners of My Mind,” “Someone Else,” “Built That Way,” “Good To Me,” and more.

In the lead-up to The Juice, the pair landed on a larger narrative to represent “Personal,” “Motion,” and “Hold You Back” on video, using the former two to set the stage for the latter’s aforementioned female love affair. But the “Good To Me” clip, which premiered on mtvU and MTV Live today, relies on their vocal dynamic to visually tell its story, shifting perspectives between the video’s male and female protagonists in sync with the song. (As well as one Ghost-like moment, where the woman finds herself daydreaming of a shared ceramics experience with her former lover.)

“This video deals with the haunting feeling of losing someone you’re truly connected to,” the group says. “When an intimate relationship between two people is very strong, they begin to solidify together. And when that type of tight bond is psychically separated, the spirit is still there and continues to be connected. Pottery and the idea of building something with your hands felt like the perfect visual representation of our message.”

Now, with the latest video out, and their brief tour wrapped, the duo can shift their focus toward The Juice’s anticipated Vol. 2, which they hope will be out by October, in time for their return to New York.

“A lot of influences on this one are ’80s-inspired, so far,” A. says of the forthcoming follow-up. “It’s like, plucky rhythmic guitars, you can hear a lot more of that. The auxiliary percussion elements you hear in our songs are going to be heightened, so more bounce, even. More 3/4 rhythms. I think we’re going to get better as writers, too.”

But will they ever reveal their identities? For now, the group is content to hide in plain sight; at their recent shows, there were no gimmicks to conceal their faces. Instead, as they hoped, they’ve simply enjoyed the opportunity to play for crowds more interested in savoring the music than unmasking them.

“I love this group because it’s the songwriting that connects to the people, you know what I mean?” B. says. “It’s not about the artist — it’s about the perspective, it’s about the story, it’s about the music, it’s about the vocal, and then it’s the experience.”

Hatchie Is A Keeper

By Michael Tedder

Whether we’re an adult with a full-time career, a busy student, or a buzzed-about indie pop artist, we can all get in a rut. Read an advice columnist or listen to a life coach and they’ll suggest a variety of ways to get unstuck, from journaling to diet changes to simply going on a walk. But for Harriette Pilbeam, the songwriter behind ascendent dream machine Hatchie, the key to moving forward was, as for many of us, turning to Kylie Minogue.

Last year, Hatchie’s EP Sugar & Spice earned international attention for its five songs of waved-out and crushed-out pop, and the band embarked on a brief stateside tour afterwards. Pilbeam was working hard on the follow-up, and had made headway on what she knew was an anticipated debut. Her first session in Melbourne with producer John Castle, an Australian knob-twiddler who helmed Sugar & Spice and has also worked with songwriter Vance Joy, had gone great. Then she hit a wall.

“I was feeling a bit bummed out in October, because I really liked the first five songs I did on the album, but I was kind of stuck,” she tells MTV News. “I didn’t like anything that I’d since written since. I didn’t think that they matched those. I was feeling a bit lost, and the clock was ticking.”

Over a bowl of vegan ramen a few hours before she opens for Girlpool at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, Pilbeam remembers that things began to turn when she heard a snippet of music that her live-in boyfriend and collaborator Joe Agius was working on, a danceable track that didn’t really fit in with the music she’d made before but which captured her attention nonetheless. “I was like, I love that song, let’s try and finish it,” she remembers. “I couldn’t figure out what direction it should go in, because it didn’t sound like a Hatchie song. We were like, ‘Let’s just pretend we’re writing this like Kylie Minogue.’ That’s how it became what is.”

The end result of the Minogue cosplay was “Stay With Me,” a highlight of her upcoming debut album Keepsake, out June 21 via Double Double Whammy. “Stay With Me” is a shimmering, upbeat pop song that retains the essential head-in-the-clouds reverie Hatchie established with the Sugar & Spice EP, while adding a bounce that might get even the deepest introverts onto the dance floor. “We sent it to a couple of friends because we were so excited about it, and they were like, ‘This is going to be on the album, right?'” Pilbeam says. “I was like, no. I’m not doing dance music or something like that. But then I realized I can do whatever I want on my album. If I love the song, I’ll put it on.”

Hatchie has been labeled dream-pop since the beginning (Sugar & Spice’s “Try” eventually got a remix from Cocteau Twins’s guitarist Robin Guthrie). Many of the dream-pop and shoegaze bands she cites as main influences, including not just the Cocteau Twins, but The Sundays, Mazzy Star, and My Bloody Valentine, were in their heyday a few decades before she was born. She says she discovered them through playlists (she first heard the Cocteau’s immortal single “Lorelei” on a mix Agius made her) and the sort-of-best-of-decade lists your friends in the music journalism-industrial complex provide you with. (You’re welcome.) “I got into it a kind of late, because a lot of people get obsessed with that in their teen years,” she says. Shoegaze and dream-pop is music built for the listener to hide out in. But on Keepsake, Hatchie also pulls influence from contemporary favorites like quirky pop stars Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen; she’s now making music for people that like to get lost, but maybe wouldn’t mind being just a bit more outgoing. “I just want the melodies to really stand out. I think that’s the main difference.”

And once she got over the idea of making music that had to sound exactly like she was known for, her songwriting started to open up. “This is my opportunity to skewer a bit,” she realized. “Because I’ve always loved albums that cover a bunch of different sounds. There’s nothing wrong with an album that’s super-cohesive, but I really liked that first Wolf Alice album, where every song is different.”

Before she was working on her debut album, the 26-year-old Pilbeam grew up in sleepy Brisbane, Australia. “The city is tiny. There’s one or two zones where people play live music, and there is one area with clubs, and there’s a couple areas with bars, but other than that it’s pretty much just suburbia,” she says. “It’s really vast and quiet. International acts didn’t come to Brisbane, they just go to Sydney and Melbourne. It makes us even more isolated than even a normal small town.”

After graduating high school and auditioning for a music conservatory, she joined some of her friends in the “slacker rock” group Babaganouj. They did pretty well for themselves in their home continent, even as she notes that “an Australian tour can be two cities,” but the band eventually ran its course and broke up. The group stopped playing about two years ago, freeing Pilbeam up to pursue her own creative vision.

“I remember I got an electric guitar and I’d just been feeling really, really down about wanting to be a musician and feeling like I wasn’t really doing anything,” she says. “I felt like with Babaganouj… I had a say in everything, it was very much an equal footing band, but I felt like I wasn’t making the music that I really wanted to make.”

The first song she wrote on her own, with help from Agius, was “Try,” a slice of lovelorn, daydream pop about urging your crush to make a move already. She uploaded the single to Unearthed, the music discovery portal of Triple J, Australia’s national radio. “It’s guaranteed that someone there listens to it. That’s the rule, which is awesome. If they listen to it and they like it, they will play it on the radio,” she says. “They played it immediately. Within a few weeks, I had a manager, and I had label interest and was booking shows. I had only written three songs. It was very full on, exciting and surreal.”

The sudden success has even been a little dizzying, Pilbeam admits.

“I still have moments where I’m like, this is so weird,” she says. “Even yesterday, I was doing a photoshoot in New York and I thought it was just over a year ago when I quit my job. I was a barista and I was like, it’s probably time I quit my job, because I have to go on tour. A couple years ago I didn’t think this would be happening.”

“Try,” like every song on Sugar & Spice, was inspired by falling in love with Agius, her first real adult relationship. She first met Agius when he directed a video for Babaganouj. Today, they live and work together, as he makes her videos, sometimes helps with co-writing and production, and plays guitar in her live band. “It can be weird spending every minute of every day together. Most couples don’t do that,” she says.

But just as she wanted to open up her sound a bit on her Keepsake, she also wanted to broaden her subject matter. “Kiss the Stars,” for example, still brings the swoon, while “Secret” is a song inspired by her friend confiding in her about their mental-health struggles. “It’s something that we all deal with, and I have a lot of close friends who deal with dark, deep-seated issues.” Current single “Obsessed” is also about her friends, and her not-always-healthy relationships with some of them.

“When I was younger, I had a tendency to always have a best friend, and that best friend was always smarter than me, prettier than me, did everything better than me. It got to a point where I would just constantly compare myself to them, to the point where I would ruin their friendship. I would use it as a reflection of myself, I would end up hating myself,” she says. “It’s a habit I’m really trying to break as an adult.”

Ultimately, by moving past her own ideas of what a Hatchie song could sound like or talk about, Pilbeam was able to tap into her deeper artistic vision, crafting an album full of the sweet melodies and heady atmosphere that won her attention, but also finds new ways to be herself. She’s boldly assertive and perhaps ready to dance on synth-soaked opener “Not That Kind of Girl,” and “Unwanted Guest” is glistening industrial rock for people too polite to enter a mosh pit. Hatchie still sounds lost in the clouds throughout Keepsake, but now she’s got both her feet firmly on the ground.

But while she’s glad she opened up enough to allow “Stay With Me” on Keepsake, there’s times she’ll work on a song that doesn’t feel right for her. Though her debut album still hasn’t yet hit shelves, Pilbeam’s already starting to think about penning songs for other people.

“I don’t really feel good about writing a heartbroken ballad, that’s not me. But I can write it for someone else,” she says. “Its early days, but a genuine dream of mine would be to write a song for Kylie Minogue.”