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INTERVIEW BY: Eva Agabegi
PHOTO BY: Erika Cutaia
Following the release of their first music video for their song, “fireman,” I got the chance to chat with Margot, Beck, Pax, and Raven of Heatloaf to discuss new music and music videos, origins of the band, performing live, musical inspirations, and the group’s songwriting process.
Eva: So, starting off, what inspired you all to start the band and what role has music played for you throughout your lives?
Margot: Starting the band, all of us go to temple. Beck and I were in the same dorm freshman year and at the end of that year, 2019, we talked about wanting to start a band but we literally didn’t know how to do that at all— but thought it would be really cool. We came up with a name and we were like ideally we want to find a drummer that’s not a man and that’s our goal and if we can do that we can make this work. So we made flyers. We were really asking around, couldn’t really find anyone, and then Beck ended up finding Raven on Tinder and in Raven’s bio it said like “I’m a drummer.” So Beck super liked Raven and changed their bio to be like “Hey if you’re the drummer, I really need you to swipe right, right now” and we got her and we met her and it was like love at first sight, you know. That was the start of it.
Beck: Yeah, we just didn’t want any boys.
Margot: Yeah, we wanted to feel safe in this space. Not really understanding what we were getting into, we felt more comfortable not having boys involved because in my personal opinion boys just have a lot more inherent confidence that I didn’t feel like I had. I felt more comfortable being surrounded by not boys and not that kind of energy when starting something that I wasn’t comfortable with.
Beck: Because in reality they also have no idea what they are doing.
Margot: No, but they make it seem like they do. But I really didn’t feel confident in what I was doing so I just kind of wanted to find people who were in the same mindset as me and then we started practicing.
Pax: I feel like I can’t speak for you or Beck but me and Raven separately both did School of Rock growing up so from a very young age we’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ in band settings. My dad’s a musician. I don’t know, it’s something I’ve always been doing and playing in bands since I was a young teen. The role it plays is that I like it a lot.
Margot: What about you, Raven?
Raven: Yeah, I mean Pax just kind of said it. We did school rock but we did it in like separate schools we didn’t know each other. And yeah, my dad plays instruments and he kind of just signed me up and I’ve been playing ever since. Playing drums since I was little and listening to rock music a lot growing up, so fuck yeah.
Margot: My first band was church band. I played bass in my church’s band. My mom works for a church so I wasn’t really allowed to listen to non-Christian rock music until I was at the end of middle school. But I did get practice being in a band at church.
Beck: I had no band experience. I was in the orchestra.
Margot: Yeah, having Pax and Raven was definitely helpful because they had already done stuff like that.
Pax: Well, I was in the orchestra too guys.
Margot: What’d you play?
Pax: I was third chair violin.
Margot I was first chair viola.
Pax: Alright, Margot, alright.
Margot: (laughs) We could have almost been an orchestra. Raven could play cello.
Raven: I did play percussion in band.
Eva: I was in band as well.
Pax: Do you want to be in our next project?
Eva: If you’re in need of a flute feature I’m here.
Beck: We can do it.
Pax: Fuck yeah.
Eva: You all just released the music video for “fireman” on the two-year anniversary of its release. What was it like to create your first music video?
Beck: It was a ride. It was really fun once we actually got to it. The planning was a bit difficult—just coordinating with our friend Tony who did it and was also still in school.
Pax: And people kept getting covid when we tried to film it.
Margot: We filmed it last November so it was a very long process, yeah I’m just glad we got to put it out on a date that was relevant. It was definitely a lot of work. I think next time going into it I would want to have a more set schedule of when everything is going to happen. But yeah, really thankful to see all the super nice responses to it too. I felt like it was really well received. I wasn’t expecting people to really care that much about it. Once it was done it was really fun to have it out but the process of getting there was pretty stressful.
Beck: And the space was cute.
Margot: Yeah, the space we got to film in was cute. It was so cold, though.
Beck: Yeah, it was freezing.
Pax: We were all in those little outfits.
Beck: In between takes we were bundled up in coats.
Pax: Yeah, it was in a warehouse so there was like no heating.
Margot: Anyway, we’re glad it’s out and it’s really nice and the coloring is so good. Our friend Katie did that and she killed it.
Eva: You all have been performing live for some time now. What’s it like being a part of the Philly house show scene?
Beck: I think it’s fun. I like to meet new people.
Margot: We have fun. I feel like we kinda play half house shows and half regular venues.
Pax: It’s different now because we’re not all at Temple anymore. Part of it was proximity when we were all living on the same block in North Philly. It was much more convenient to be playing house shows. I’ve been going to shows around Temple since I was really young so it’s nice to be a part of something that’s pretty well received in the community. It’s a cute feeling.
Margot: Yeah, we definitely have fun playing houses and like just meeting other people. People are so excited to be there.
Pax: It makes me really really happy.
Margot: It’s nice to see younger non-boy people that are like into our stuff or inspired by our stuff too. Because they don’t tend to come to our bigger venue shows. So seeing that type of audience is really special. I just want to get over there and be like, “You guys got to start your bands! We need more non-boys on scene,” ‘cause we did it and we did not know what we were doing when we started. We also had a house clap us out when we were unloading our gear.
Pax: It was a Machine show.
Margot: Everyone clapped and all these people were like, “Yeah! Yeah!”
Pax: Yeah, everyone has a very fun attitude at house shows in a way that you don’t get when you play somewhere like Ortliebs. I’ve always really liked that about Temple’s scene.
Raven: Yeah, it’s very intimate and you meet a lot of people, especially in other bands too which is nice. You can go to their shows and yeah.
Beck: I feel like at venues everyone is very aloof waiting for soundcheck and stuff but at house shows you’ll end up talking to someone and they’ll be like, “I’ve got to play this set now” and you’ll be like, “Oh I didn’t even realize you were in a band” (laughs). And like what Raven said, it’s just a more intimate and relaxed vibe.
Margot: I also like not having to soundcheck and just going for it.
Beck: Yeah, whatever happens, happens.
Eva: What is your creative process like? Are there certain artists you tend to pull inspiration from?
Margot: Yeah, so, I write all of the music. I like to work by myself mainly. I think it’s very much a comfort thing. I’m not super confident in myself so I’d rather not have someone watch me do things. As for inspiration, definitely Dear Nora, Emily Yacina, Frankie Cosmos. Maybe more recent ones like I really like are Hovvdy and Slow Pulp. I would like to say Big Thief but that’s a big one. Just very softy nice rock music that isn’t too scary.
Beck: Yeah, Margot sends us little demos that are almost fully realized songs when she’s sending it to us but then we all come up with our own thing and then once we come together we can fine tune stuff. Margot usually writes everything but Raven has been coming up with her own drum parts. Pax is a really talented guitarist, obviously. I’ve recently started understanding how to make up my own basslines and stuff so we were talking about having a writing session all together when Raven comes back.
Pax: Yeah, Margot will usually send me a voice memo of her singing what she wants a guitar melody to sound like and then I flesh it out and write my own solos around it. It’s a really sweet collaborative process. It feels like a friendship band. It’s cute.
Margot: It’s very cutie vibes.
Eva: Is there a certain song of yours that’s your favorite to perform live or you feel like you can be the most creative with?
Beck: My favorite to perform live is definitely “Meadow.”
Margot: Which is a new song that’s unreleased. We’ve been playing it though for a really long time. I would say that’s my favorite one too.
Pax: That and our other unreleased song “Cherry” has a lot of fun harmonies (laughs). Sorry you don’t know about these yet.
Margot: Also, we played “Chicken Fried” last week and that was really fun. Playing country music, something comes out of you that’s just not the same. Do you know what I mean? I didn’t feel like myself. I was like this is a different person. Maybe we’ll be a country band soon.
Pax: I would do it.
Eva: I was at a house show, and I forget what band was playing, but they started playing “Thinking Out Loud” which was an odd vibe but I loved it.
Pax: That’s like, really great.
Margot: (laughs) It’s definitely fun. I would say adding new things into our set has been really fun recently. Like doing covers. We played “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” the other day. Adding new things into the mix that aren’t necessarily ours is a fun thing to do in our set and it kind of draws the audience in more by playing songs that they for sure know. We’ve been a little more focused on that and also being more human to the audience in a way. Not just playing our songs but trying to connect with them more.
Raven: Also, “shoulder to die on” is awesome to play live.
Pax: The people go crazy.
Raven: The people go at it.
Margot: (laughs) Seeing them go at it and also be really confused, as well.
Eva: Raven, I know you’re studying abroad currently, but is there any new music in the works right now?
Margot: Well, we have the new ones that we play and the ones that are half-finished, but we want to release an EP soon. I have been working with a lot of friends to make some new merch to go with a new release. I think having people to help me has been really great because when it’s just me writing all our music and designing all our merch and an album cover it can be pretty overwhelming.
Pax: Should we plug John’s fan club that he’s starting?
Margot: Oh my god, plug it please.
Pax: Our friend John who comes to every single one of our shows just started a heatloaf fan club that’s gonna be membership based and I think he’s gonna be making his own bootleg heatloaf merch to send out. So look out for that.
Margot: It was intense. There were probably about ten pages of detailed notes. Yeah, that’s happening soon so people wanna get on that.
Eva: I’ll keep my eye out.
Margot: Yeah, it’s gonna be crazy. I’m excited.