Coping and managing mental illness is a skill that is extremely difficult to master. And each day can be an internal struggle and never ending battle. Clover the Girl explains that perfectly with her music. Not only do we get sucked in with her infectious sound, but her lyrics highlight what we go through on a daily basis. It's impassioned, honest, and real.
We spent some time with Bri Conrado and talked about her music, venturing into her lyrics, mental illness, and the dish she would cook up to beat any Iron Chef out there.
NON: Who are your influences?
Bri: Well, as far as music goes, I grew up in a home where I wasn't really allowed to listen to secular music. So, my first real experience with non-secular music was when I stole my brother's MP3 player and hid under my bed to listen to a Paramore record that he had. I was blown away, I was like "what the fuck is this?" It was like escaping the village, it was insane(laughs.) My brother always played in pop punk and rock bands. He always encouraged me to write songs, but I just really didn't want to, which is really silly looking back at that now. I was inspired by a lot of rock and blues music like Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, lots of Warped Tour stuff from my brother, so it was a lot of variety. I was influenced by a lot of badass women who were very unafraid to break norms like Joan Jett and Janis Joplin. Even women today like Pink and Halsey, they're big to me.
NON: Tell us what you are listening to now. What is on your playlist now?
Bri: Actually, I am listening to a lot of Nirvana, Hole, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam, lots of 90s grunge-y stuff with honest lyrics. I'm at a point where I can't listen to anything that's not honest. I used to be at a point where I could listen to stuff where I could pull from or influence me, but I was kinda miserable and I just wasn't enjoying it as a musician, but more as a consumer. I'm in a different space now where I can't listen to stuff that people don't mean. It doesn't mean that I can't listen to music that a person didn't write because collaboration is so important, I just can only listen to honest stuff. I'm really into Courtney Love and Hole. I love that "venture into the shit that people don't want to talk about" and making it pop, that's kinda my goal.
NON: We really love "O.K. Fine." It's crazy catchy. Tell us about the inspiration for the song and video.
Bri: Thank you! It's repetitive in the way that living with a brain that is at war with itself every day. Everything in the song and video is so symbolic because I'm super extra like that(laughs.) The suit and tie in the video reflect someone waking up and wearing a suit and tie every day. Putting in their hours for the boss that they hate. They hate their lives the same way I hate mine. The first feedback I got from this song was "it's so repetitive, it's kinda destroying the message" but that's what living with anxiety, depression, or alcoholism(that's my story) is very repetitive...feeling the same way. That's where that song came from. My producer showed me the instrumental, you can't really hear it now, but the first sound I heard was like a beer can popping...so everything just came from there. We tried to take some dark shit and disguise it as much as possible.
NON: Yes! We've watched the video more that a few times and every time we see something new that we didn't notice before. We had a lot of "what the..." moments(laughs.)
Bri: Yeah! The beginning of the video where it shows an iris of an eye...that's like the viewer starting to venture into my soul and seeing what I see. You see different personalities. My biggest problem is my internal dialogue with myself. Having compassion for myself, I have a real big problem with that. There are like three different people in the video, they are different personalities but really just people having a dialogue in my brain. One wants to live in the past, one wants to live here, one wants to live there...and one of them literally kills the other one. It's deep it's catchy but someone could say "whoa, I really relate to that" or they could just listen to the song and watch the video and think, "that's cool!" I'm into both reactions.
NON: More about your music, tell us about your song "Writing's on the Wall."
Bri: I sat with my producer and we were listening to this angry pencil sound. A pencil writing a letter to an ex or something like that. It was supposed to be about that but we changed it. I'm really good about writing about past experiences so that was actually about an experience in high school, a betrayal. I lived a long time blaming others for what I went through, this song was my moment saying "this was my part in this." I didn't want to be alone so much that I didn't want to see what was happening right in front of me.
NON: Just for fun, if you weren't doing music, what would you be doing?
Bri: I went to Texas A&M. For a semester I was studying biomedical science, I wanted to be a doctor or a pharmacist. I wanted to help people. But I dropped out because I wanted to do music, I feel like it's one of the things I'm good at. If I wasn't doing this, I would be a doctor. I feel what I do right now helps people too.
NON: Besides music, are there other things you do to help escape mental illness?
Bri: Therapy is really important to me. I do a lot of meditation. I do a lot of cooking, it's really easy when you have a crazy schedule. I really do love meditation, it's like I can escape into a different world whether I'm at home or work. I also like to write poetry and draw.
NON: So you like to cook? Tell us your one dish you would make in an Iron Chef battle or cooking competition on The Food Network. We will give you three ingredients...beef, oranges, and rosemary.
Bri: Ooh, ok. I am going to make grilled oranges on medium beef tenderloin with a citrus/rosemary glaze.
NON: That's awesome! You can even say creating something cohesive like that is like putting something together to make music.
Bri: Totally! I'm really good at pulling things out of my ass and presenting it to people(laughs.)
NON: Let's go back to meditation. It's interesting because meditation is a common thing we hear about when we talk to others who suffer.
Bri: Yes, living with mental illness is difficult. I'm a poster child for ADHD. I could stay inside my brain for one breath. I'm really good at being inconsistent. Meditation teaches me consistency.
NON: Do you have any advice for others who suffer from mental illness?
Bri: You are exactly who you are supposed to be. There's never going to be a quick fix. I wouldn't have what I have in music if it wasn't for specific aspects of my mental illness. It's about managing and coping.
For more Clover the Girl, check out her FB page!