What is your names?
My name is Maggie and I play as Party Fears.
What is your genre of music?
Hard question! It floats between art pop or punk or post punk to soft indie or even whimsy sometimes. All Is Good, the latest release, is pretty safely in the lo-fi indie pocket though.
Give us a little bio about you.
I’m from a biggish town in Northern Ireland and have been mooching around the world since I was 18. I’ve always been a massive music fan, but properly fell into making it after I moved to South Korea when I was 27 or so. There I played in a few bands (Garden Party, New Blue Death, Baekma), and picked up the electric guitar finally for Baekma in 2014. I got super into songwriting; I suppose as a way to venture into this brand new love I had, since I didn’t have a musical background. It meant I could be kind of lawless! Party Fears started as a way to play the many songs left over from other projects, then it grew for there. I moved to Berlin with the project in 2016.
What made you go into music?
I never thought I was good enough, so it took me ages to find my way to it. I auditioned to sing in a band in Korea called Garden Party and I’d later occasionally accompany myself on guitar. A friend from the Seoul scene started a project around this time called New Blue Death and, having seen Garden Party, asked me to sing backing at their album release show. I was so enamoured with how seriously they took the band and how good the music was, I tried to make myself indispensable so I’d be asked to be a permanent member. They asked me a few months later. Soon after this, another musical friend–the excellent songwriter Stephanie Bankston who now plays in the States–asked if I wanted to start a riot girl style band. I was so scared to do something where I’d be playing guitar and not just be backing, but she really petitioned me and we formed Baekma. Eilis Frawley, who’d later play with Party Fears, joined Baekma a few months later. From there it just became this huge part of my life that everything else hung off.
Are you a signed?
I’ve just started collaborating with Babywoman Records; the wonderful DIY and community-led label.
You released your new single ‘All Is Good’, tell us more about the single.
I recorded the single at the very beginning of 2020 with a friend, Dom, who works as lmtase studios. It was a new way of recording for me: super lo-fi and hands-on. I loved it. He really understood the song immediately and wanted to get super into it before we recorded–which is also very much my speed. I demoed heavily at home before we started. And there also used to be a horrible bridge I’m glad I was talked off (pun fully intended). The song is in the mode of a lot of bands I love but haven’t listened to in a while: Land of Talk, Wheat, Lemonheads, Elliot Smith. With the band changing so fundamentally at the end of 2019 with Eilis leaving, I also knew I didn’t want to do something too bouncy. There was another demo floating round that was way rockier, but I wanted to wallow a bit and explore feeling sad. So All Is Good came to be.
What is the meaning behind ‘All Is Good’?
Sadness. Being sad. And being numb to being sad or not recognising when I was sad. It’s about as honest as I’ve ever been in a song. There’s a line or two I would never have written at another time. It’s not something I’d like mum to look too closely at, for example. But I wanted it to be warm too. Like, I wanted it to have heart and compassion. I didn’t want it to be self-flagellation. There’s a bit of love in there somewhere. Sadness but a woolly, cosy sadness, not a caustic harsh one.
Describe the track in two words.
What was the writing process like?
I had writer’s block–horrible, excruciating writer’s block–for two years or so. So, just writing again was incredibly liberating. I loved it. Even the challenges of it; knowing something wasn’t quite working and revisiting it again and again or that horrible bridge, which later became the spoken word C-part. When it really started to come together it was so exciting. It felt like waking up; like a wee crocus poking its head out after a long winter.
What was the recording process like?
Good and validating and very cold! We recorded in our rehearsal studio; just Dom and I. He’d already put together the drums. We recorded the guitars and he let me use his really cool ‘60s Japanese Elk amp, then drove to his house in the north of Berlin to record the bass and vocals. I added the keys later and he added some more and worked his post-production magic. I then forced him to add backing vocals ‘cos I really like his voice, and I’m so happy he complied! From there it was mixed in a Postal Service style by sending the track back and forth.
Who did you work with on the Single?
lmtase studios; everyone should totally work with him.
Will we see a music video for the track?
Yes! It was shot here in Berlin and stars a beautiful and gentle Australian shepherd called Logan who has horrid anxiety and is so sweet. It was a really beautiful day and we got everything together in an hour. I edited it that same day. Lo-fi af! I love videos like This Is Just Modern Rock Song by Belle & Sebastian. I like early Glasgow school stuff cos it gives license to bands without budgets!
Will we see an EP or Album this year?
I hope so! Writing is underway and I’ll start recording again late spring. Compared to before, I’m trying to approach things much more… playfully…? All bets are off for what’s coming. And I’m trying to find the freedom in that.
Do you have any shows coming up?
Nope! But will keep people posted!
Do you have any collaborations coming up with any up coming artists?
Yes! I sing backing on a White Hand Gibbon (the musical solo project of lmtase studios) track, which will be coming out soon.
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
Absolutely, always. It was how I began, after all, so I feel really at home filling in and supporting other artists. Best way is through social media @igotpartyfears.
Do you play any instruments?
I dabble in keyboard but it’s mostly guitar and singing. I can also belt out a few trad songs on the tin whistle.
Who are your influences?
Pixies, Life Without Buildings, Tune-yards, Wheat, PJ Harvey, Elliot Smith, Gang of Four, Kate Bush, Ash, Felt, Land of Talk, Pavement, Rilo Kiley, Best Coast, I’m definitely forgetting some major ones, but that’s some of them anyway!
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Usually like wee lightning bolts in my head and then I have to run and grab my phone to record a voice note of the melody or guitar line. And usually, most inconveniently, this is when I’m about to fall asleep, I’m in the shower, walking home in public, or at work.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I’d like to still be making tunes. Making nice things that connect with people. That’s where I’m happiest and where things make the most sense.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I read, I run, I walk, I climb, I draw pictures of birds and watch birds and feed birds, and do a fair about of hobby-surfing too. Most recently I got into 90s DC comics? I also like writing but that’s harder now since it’s also the job that pays my rent.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
The only thing that pops to mind is The Leanover by Life Without Buildings. They were on tour and stayed with my brother when I was a teenager. And I remember getting their CD and holding it in my hands and then looking at them, physically opposite me in my brother’s living room in Belfast, and thinking, ‘Huh, they’re real people.’ But my slide into the music scene was delayed by a decade or so!
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
It was Stephanie who I formed Baekma with who, when I said I wasn’t ready to play live yet, slammed shut her notebook and said, ‘Well, tell me when you’ll be ready then. Give me a date when you’ll feel ready. You can’t, cos you’ll never feel ready. You just have to do it.’ Something like that anyway. It worked.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Exactly what Steph said above. I feel sad when I think about the time I wasted just looking in from the side lines. I remember spending years thinking I was in love with Tim Wheeler from Ash, but now I know I just wanted to be him. I wish someone had kicked my arse into gear when I was younger, or recognised that music was something that filled me. So that’s my advice; just fucking do it and make mistakes and keep moving.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
This too shall pass. My mum completely aces pragmatism while still being endlessly compassionate. That’s her mantra. If I can master that, I’ll feel pretty class!
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
Hmmm… My favourite bar at home is The Cartwheel. There’s also a great community centre called The Hub that has music lessons, mental health awareness programmes, open dinners for vulnerable people and is generally a force for good in the town. All totally cross-community, which is still pretty important in the North.
Your coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first? Späti to buy a big bottle of fizzy water.
2/ Who do you see first? Probably a pal who lives nearby.
3/What do you eat first? Toast! Always! With butter!
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
A friendly welcome, other DIY bands being superheroes, usually a stray creepy dude, a woman in the front row looking at the show in a way that feels magic, and –if it’s the UK or Ireland–crisps.
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?
Everything is @igotpartyfears.
Would love to hear from folk, especially people playing outside the demographic (older, younger, out-of-genre). Thanks x