INTERVIEW: i will be pretty when i die’s debut – the boygenius of the DIY emo folk underground

Gustavo Nome (Gingerbee and MATPM) and Clementine Teare (Goth Lipstick) join forces to create the boygenius of the DIY emo folk underground. The project highlights trans identity within elaborately painted sounds that range from gorgeous violins, whispers and screams from near and far, and acoustic guitars recorded outside of a 7/11. Released 2/2, the duo starts the year with one of the most intimate and beautiful EPs of the decade. My favorite song from the project is the lead single, “leaves” – genuinely, my most streamed song ever according to Spotify. Another song I’ll draw attention to is the delicate “cicadas,” which meanders between soft-intimate songwriting and muted screams from the background. It’s a choice many would stray away from but it pays off in spades here to create a tumultuous sense of emotion. It’s an impressive range of feelings and sounds to display in just under 16 minutes. The outro “flowers” is an epic cascade of all the concepts laid out in the EP; it peaks in an avalanche of instrumentation that lets everything the duo’s got loose.

All in all, this is a beautiful EP that speaks volumes within its humble runtime. Easily one of my favorite pieces of music to come out this year from a band with two of the brightest artists in the indie sphere right now.


super secret fun fact: the ghost girl character on the cover art is named Kite.

Listen on bandcamp!

And now…

An Interview with Pretty When Forever

NCC: Good evening, Pretty When Forever! First off, I just wanted to start by saying thank you so much for doing this interview tonight. Congrats on the release of such an awesome debut album. I’m a huge fan of all of the music you two have a hand in creating- it’s really magical.

My first question was simply: What inspired your sonic explorations on this EP? I hear traces from each of y’all’s previous projects but there’s definitely something new brewing within the duo. I’m curious to hear from y’all what or who maybe inspired that.

Gustavo Nome: I’d consider my sonic contributions to the album being the acoustic chamber pop instrumental bits. A big part of the chamber pop elements I brought to the EP were inspired by Sam Ray, lobsterfight, and Black Country, New Road.

Clementine Teare: Silly answer but lots of influence from Gustavo’s projects MATPV and Gingerbee. I made a pretty focused effort to make my sound match with theirs. So for example, the guitars of the opening track were essentially me trying to write a MATPV song.

NCC: That’s so cool- I feel like the EP treads a line of maximalist and minimalist.

That also makes so much sense – it’s really interesting to see you try your style in another artist’s shoes. That leads me into question two which was- if Pretty When Forever was to cover a song by any artist and make it their own- what would y’all choose?

Clementine Teare: Gustavo, are we still gonna cover Hey Ya?

Gustavo Nome: Ooooh great question, “Hey Ya” by Outkast. Yep.

Clementine Teare: LOLLLLL

NCC: LFG. Generational classic incoming.

Gustavo Nome: We both telepathically knew it was Hey Ya.

Clementine Teare: That was actually so freaking funny.

NCC: Locked in like that. If y’all are good with it, we can move into Q3?

Gustavo Nome: Yes indeed.

Clementine Teare: Let’s.

NCC: At what point in the process of writing “River” did y’all strike up the emblematic lyrics “I will be pretty when I die” and when did it become the project name? Or was it maybe the other way around?

Clementine Teare: That’s a good story. I made a long-scrapped demo for the project called “long hair moving in water” that had that lyric, and Gus ended up coming back to it and including it in the song maybe like 6 or 7 months after we scrapped that demo. You wanna tell the rest of it?

Gustavo Nome: Oh yes indeed. I was having a long talk with someone about figuring out trans identities. The idea of wanting to die as your most realized self came up. I immediately remembered Clementine’s lyric. I had written “River” months prior. That night I recorded a new demo with that lyric snuck in there. Eventually, we felt it was the lyric that stood out the most and we made it our band name.

Clementine Teare: Yeah, that lyric feels really spiritual in that way.

NCC: That is so beautiful. Lyrics can take a long time to fit into place sometimes but I feel like y’all made the right decision – it feels like a flagship lyric.

Clementine Teare: For me it’s also really connected to my experience of body dysmorphia as a trans femme. Like it’s hard to tell exactly how patriarchy and transphobia and dysphoria and etc all play into this feeling like I should always be prettier. Really f*cked but really real experience.

NCC: I feel like that is really the beauty of the EP- your ability to convey that in the serenity and scaries of the project.

A bit off track but Dawning’s “Pony Boy” has a similar story about their opening lyrics (the idea of it being recycled and passed from one band member to another). I bring up Dawning for that story but also because they’re my favorite band ever. I wanted to ask if y’all had any pointers and shoutouts for the NYC, Bay Area, or even the online indie skramz scenes?

Clementine Teare: Honestly I’m so disconnected LOL I would obviously say your arms are my cocoon and godf*ck after playing some shows with them in Gingerbee. We love them forever ever ever ever. OLTH too omg NYC skramz forever love OLTH.

Gustavo Nome: OHHH sick yeah. Some somewhat local bands that are awesome are Crochet (math-skramz post-punk from Las Vegas), Onewaymirror (SoCal screamo? Emotional hardcore?), Máu – Bay Area screamo. Those are the most exciting bands in the area right now for me.

NCC: This is awesome- I’m sure readers will love to dive into these – thanks for sharing a spotlight on those scenes! The single of “Leaves” is my most listened to song ever according to I think there’s something so pretty about the simplicity of a sleepy song. It gets me in the same way that “Domestic Scene” by The Radio Dept. gets me. Would y’all care to share more about the writing of “Leaves”? Or maybe what the track means to y’all?

Clementine Teare: OMG cutest story ever.

Gustavo Nome: Yep. Clementine, do you wanna take this one?

Clementine Teare: I will. So, Gustavo and I had been internet acquaintances for maybe a year or so, and then we found out we’d both be in the Bay Area in August of 2022 and decided we should get together and hang out one day. We ended up meeting in Millbrae (halfway between us) and just walked around this little trail, got Slurpees, went to this mall food court. And around the end of it, Gustavo convinced me to write a song with them. We sat on this park bench and “Leaves” just kind of happened after 30 minutes. We recorded it in their car and that was that. Was the smoothest time I’ve ever had writing with someone else. It was so good we decided to write the full project together.

Gustavo Nome: The order was: Meet at the airport, got food in a mall, went to a trail by a lake, walked the trail for about 15 minutes until we found a bench, pulled out our guitars, wrote “Leaves”, back to the car, listened to “Come In” by Weatherday 2 full times and got Slurpees, recorded “Leaves” in like 2 takes in 7/11 parking lot, all within about 3-4 hours.

Clementine Teare: LOL yep that’s it.

NCC: That’s a wonderful memory to have tied to such a wonderful song. I’m glad they convinced you to write that song- also- shoutout car recordings!! I love it.

Gustavo Nome: Yep, fun fact you can hear my car’s air conditioning throughout the whole song lol.

Clementine Teare: Genuinely such a special moment. Our friendship is hilariously characterized by us writing this project together.

NCC: Prior to “Leaves,” my most listened to song was also recorded in a car and was the first song that started a band – shoutout “Slo It Down” – Yawner.

Clementine Teare: On character for you then lmao.

NCC: Cicadas is such a gorgeous song, the muted screaming, the ambient conversations, and the whispered poetry are all a beautiful assortment of sounds that makes the project feel tender. Would y’all care to share more about the writing of “Cicadas”?

Clementine Teare: I can take this one too. I wrote the guitars and lyrics for it like the week after we just finished that tour with Gingerbee, Godfuck, and Your Arms.

NCC: That’s awesome- I can kind of see the threads from those bands but also it feels distinctly unique as Pretty When Forever’s style. I just really like that y’all are so fearless with the sounds y’all use despite it being such a “soft” sounding song. It gives a lot of character to the track and project as a whole.

Clementine Teare: Right after the tour, I flew down to Birmingham Alabama to basically vacation and unwind with one of my best friends from college Denson Camp (who makes really good music btw), and we spent like two weeks writing music and “Cicadas” was the only thing to really come out of it for me. I spent like two weeks with one of his guitars just playing chords until something pretty happened, and that was it.

NCC: That’s an awesome story- I love how much of y’all’s songwriting comes out of these bonds and friendships. It’s wonderful to see y’all inspiring each other to make art.

Clementine Teare: I ended up sending Gustavo a demo a few weeks later and they were like I have to record for this, their reaction on first listen just sold me that it was something special.

Gustavo Nome: Yep, I desperately wanted to add some violin and piano to that. Beautiful song.

NCC: Flowers was such a blissful and intense finale for the EP. I thought it was a perfect catharsis of sounds from everything that y’all experimented with on the project. I also just loved the opening sequence with its wondrous instrumentation on “In Fog, At Night…” Love it all. Beautiful EP.

I would, however, love to know anything more about the character on the cover, Kite (there might not be much to it but I ponder on what their favorite flavor of ice cream would be)!

Gustavo Nome: Cookies and cream.

NCC: That is so real.

Clementine Teare: I agree.

Gustavo Nome: Kite started as this idea for a lil ghost character I wanted to have on an album cover at some point. There was a similar idea on an old scrapped album cover of a scrapped solo album, and the idea ended up carrying over.

NCC: I think it’s an incredible symbol for the album. Makes it feel eerily human but now that you mention the ghost aspect I see it.

Gustavo Nome: Clementine can speak more about the process of making the idea real.

Clementine Teare: Yeah, I texted my friend Amber (aka ambers.albums from Instagram) because she had offered to do art for us before, and like two nights after I asked her she just sends a drawing of Kite back and I was like in shock at how pretty it was. Immediately texted Gus, and they were on board. Amber is so freaking talented.

Gustavo Nome: Yeah, she is awesome.

NCC: Thank you so much for sharing about Kite!! Shoutout Amber!!! That’s all the questions we have prepared for y’all today. Thank you so much for joining me for this interview, it’s been an honor to talk to two of the most innovative artists in the scene right now. I’m so excited to listen to this a bajillion more times and for whatever lies in the future for the project.

Clementine Teare: Thank you so much for having us, yes!! Was such an honor and such a blast.

Gustavo Nome: Thanks for this opportunity- this is awesome.


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