Interview: Melbourne’s FACE FACE appeal to ‘Karens’ to use their power for good in new single
13.04.2022

Interview: Melbourne’s FACE FACE appeal to ‘Karens’ to use their power for good in new single

FACE FACE are asking the Karens of the world to use their power for good in the first new music from the Melbourne band in more than two years.

Making statements with their unique brand of infectious indie-rock for nostalgic 90s kids, Melbourne’s three-piece FACE FACE have been dropping top-shelf thrashy and empowering music for the past few years.

Since hitting the ground running in 2017 with their debut self-titled album and 2019 EP Cartoon Villain, the Melbourne outfit have gained a loyal following with their intricate bass lines, fuzzed-up guitar tones, candid lyrics and one of the fastest drummers in Melbourne.

Now, lockdown is over and FACE FACE has dropped their much-anticipated new single ‘The Karen Song’, delivering on all fronts with a gold standard snapshot of nostalgic indie rock.

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Their first single in more than two years, ‘The Karen Song’ retains everything we’ve come to love about the outspoken band, while their songwriting approaches lyrical themes from new vantages.

Combing the raw, punky, honest energy of their previous releases with refined guitar melodies, emotionally-charged vocals, deft percussion and incredibly tight musicianship, ‘The Karen Song’ serves as a righteous call to action, penned on the lounge room floor amid Melbourne’s first six-month lockdown as a reaction to the ubiquitous female archetype causing anxiety and frustration on the news.

“I wrote ‘The Karen Song’ in my living room during the 2020 lockdown in Melbourne. I’d been teaching remotely and watching the news daily, and the Karen archetype was popping up everywhere,” vocalist Lauren (Loz) Perkins says.

“It was frustrating me because I thought about how these women weren’t disempowered at all, they were just inconvenienced or angry, and it made me think about how we were all having to adjust our mindsets and lives at the time. I wrote the first verse almost immediately and then finished the rest over a week. When I sent a recording of it to Tino [Nguyen, drummer] and Luke [Byrnes, bassist], they were both really into the idea and we knew we had to do something important for the release. When we were finally able to leave our 5km radiuses, we went to Luke’s house to jam it out!”

Paying homage to the likes of the 90s Riot Grrrl movement and female artists like Sleater Kinney, The Slits and Bikini Kill, as well as Melbourne artists like Clowns, Pinch Points, Courtney Barnett and Camp Cope both sonically and lyrically, FACE FACE taps into the thrashy and empowering sounds of their earlier material yet show significant songwriting maturity and instrumental dexterity.

Further inspired by the likes of Idles and Run the Jewels using their music to directly address the Black Lives Matter movement, George Floyd Protests, Capitalism and other social inequalities in our communities, ‘The Karen Song’ is by no means a diss track.

Despite being a song dedicated to the not-so-nice nickname for a middle-aged woman who complains endlessly and exhibits entitled behaviour (like demanding to speak to the manager), it is instead about offering a hand to Karens everywhere to join the right side of history and fight against real injustices that affect the broader community: “use your power, turn it to praxis.”

Recorded and mixed by Jess Bennett and mastered by Aden Senycia at Love Shack Studios in Footscray in 2021, Loz reflects on the first verse of the song and the privilege Karens hold as white middle-class women that is uniquely dangerous.

“The event that I found really disappointing was the Central Park incident when a so-called Karen called the police on an African American man who was birdwatching. She knew exactly the socio-political power she wielded over him, and it was disturbing to see her be so entitled and racist.

“It reminded me of a few years ago when I’d taught Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to my Year 10 students and they’d been angry at Mayella Ewell for falsely accusing Tom Robinson. That’s why one of the opening lines of the song is “See the mockingbird was defenceless, and you’ve weaponised what you’re blessed with.”

With ‘The Karen Song’ Loz decided to flip the script by appealing to Karens and encouraging them to use their power for good.

“When Tino and I first spoke on the phone about it, we talked about the connection between songwriting and teaching. I hope this song teaches people something about the world or at least calls them to think.”

 

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Taking another nod to the lockdown period of our lives, the band also released an accompanying video for the track with a full reimagining of the Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing, a game that provided digital entertainment and social connection amidst isolated communities.

“In the 2020 lockdown, if I wasn’t watching the news, I was probably playing Animal Crossing! I think lots of people were at the time because New Horizons had just come out and people had nothing but time. Now my virtual island is a time capsule of my time in isolation, but it gave me a sense of routine, calm and escapism in a very unpredictable time in our lives.”

Created by Sean Kirkpatrick and Alison Erlanger at AE Creative Space, the video is reminiscent of the lockdown period of our lives, albeit with a bright and playful flair, and follows the journey of Karen and her introduction to the island neighbourhood. Alongside the short-haired, bright-eyed Karen, the video features a colourful cast, including the likes of ‘Dog Andrews’, a bunnings employee, a few more Karens, and each member of FACE FACE.

“There are no villains in the game, so I liked the idea of introducing Karen to the island neighbourhood and seeing how villagers react. Even though there are heaps of funny moments that come from this conflict, I didn’t want it to just feel like a diss track. I wanted to show how people need time to learn how their belief systems and actions impact the lives of others, and how communities need to operate with kindness and empathy to live harmoniously.

“We even recommend a couple of books in the video! I think Alison Erlanger and Sean Kirkpatrick do an excellent job of straddling that line between satire and social commentary.”

‘The Karen Song’ is an emotive slice of anthemic alternative rock and sees FACE FACE more artistically and energetically in sync than ever, revelling in their opportunities and impressive talents. Undeniably this is a track that holds onto that classic FACE FACE magic we’ve come to know and love but also hears them exploring deeply intelligent and politically-charged themes, offering a song more mature but no less magnificent.

You can stream ‘The Karen Song’ here. Keep up with the latest from Face Face here.

In partnership with FACE FACE