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August 2018
Feature

Pixx: "It's a fucking hard time to be a young person"

Life getting you down? Don’t worry, Pixx has your back.
Published: 1:28 pm, June 02, 2017
Pixx: "It's a fucking hard time to be a young person"
"Maybe people don't want to hear the brutal truth of what's going on," reasons Pixx. "They want to listen to music as an escape, rather than something to learn from." It's going to take more than that to stop her from speaking up though.

Pixx's debut album ‘The Age Of Anxiety' captures just that. Eclectic would be selling it short. Bold would be dimming its brightness. Across its twelve tracks, electronic dreamscapes and abrasive changes soundtrack direct admissions and shrouded poetry as Hannah tries to make sense of the world around her. "There was a time where I was like ‘shit, should I have done this in a more ordered way?' but no. I'm just leaving it open for myself. I can go in any direction I want now."

It's quite the leap forward from her folk-grounded debut EP ‘Fall In' which was a lot more personal. "I wrote it about a breakup, and it was very internal. It was me writing about how I felt about being heartbroken and with this album, I wanted to step away from making it all about love because that's pretty much what the only music that comes out is that. I just wanted to make sure I was writing about things that I felt were important. Music is a great opportunity to talk about things that are important and affect everybody."

The songs are still crafted on acoustic guitar but rather than leaving them there, "they're dissected, pulled apart and moulded into whatever the hell they are now." In the studio "we just got more experimental. Let's just do whatever the fuck we want rather than trying to follow a structure." There's an awareness throughout that's come from growing older and bearing witness to what's going on in the world. "‘Telescreen' is a song written about the wars that are going on, how fucking shit everything is, and the fact that humans are numb to it now. We're used to seeing these awful videos and breaking news of awful stuff going on and reacting with an ‘Oh no, that's so awful and bad', and then just getting on with our lives. Music for me is a good way to try and send out a message."

Sure, ‘The Age Of Anxiety' may come from a W.H. Auden poem about a man trying to find meaning in an ever-changing world but Pixx chose it because her brother wrote it down in a notebook for her. It's personal, relatable and it just felt right. "It was a good way of bunching together where all of the lyrics come from. A lot of the songs were written about weird nightmarish dreams I'd have and general anxieties, from when I was a kid. ‘A Big Cloud to Float Upon' was written about when I used to get really bad anxiety towards the end of the school day, I'd start to get panicked about going home because I knew I was going to have really bad dreams when I fell asleep. For me, it is an age of anxiety because for however many years of my life, I've struggled with that. I know there are a lot of other people who feel the same way. There are a lot of people who feel like they're on the outside looking in, and that's something I felt as a child and as I got older, that idea of trying to fit in." Calling it ‘The Age Of Anxiety' meant Pixx had to remain open and couldn't dismiss those feelings. "It's quite bare and honest to call it that and not just say ‘I'm fine'."

There's an intensity to the record. For every moment of space, there's one of claustrophobia. "I wanted to make sure I was being honest, actually writing from the depths of how it can be in modern life because there's a lot of stuff going on and there's not a place to get away from anything. No matter where you are, you're never really alone. You never really have alone time because our alone time is spent on our phones, which isn't being alone. That's something that can throw off humans, because when you think about how fucked that is, we're sorta controlled by these little robot phones that we can't live without now. It's a terrifying prospect."



It's never just seven shades of doom though. Yes, her EP was dark, brooding and slow, but "with the album, it'll be nice to see people having a bit of a dance. I don't want this record to be a negative portrayal of everything. There is some hope underlying there, and that is very much represented in the music."

Just when you think you've got Pixx's debut pegged, it up sticks and changes shape. That's a deliberate move and one inspired by the ever-shifting world it was written about. "I want people to know that there's a lot of complicated feelings I try and portray in the record, I have very varied feelings about lots of different things, and as the album evolved, I was growing and changing opinions and trying to write from other people's perspectives rather than my own. I wanted to show the two sides of the story." One thing remains constant though, and that's Pixx' belief in speaking her mind. "I'm a very opinionated and outspoken person if I want to be, and I wanted the album to portray that."

If it sounds like Hannah knows exactly what she wants from Pixx, it's 'cause she does. There's already a desire to get in the studio with other artists and see what happens (Let's Eat Grandma are top of the wishlist) and she knows album two will probably see her heading down a heavier, punk route but these grand plans haven't always been present. "There was a long time where I thought I just wanted to write songs. It wasn't really until I got a record deal that I realised ‘Oh, they want me to sing the songs as well?' That might make me sound like a bit of a prick but it was a self-belief thing. I'm great at writing songs but I'm not a great performer or singer so maybe I shouldn't do it." As soon as she got the opportunity though, she loved it. "Now I'm about to put an album out into the world and it feels like a dream come true, even though I didn't know I had that dream in the first place."

With a platform beneath her, Pixx has been quick to make sure it's used properly. That feeling of not being good enough is something she doesn't want to hold others back. "A lot of time the music would inspire me to write about a particular thing," but not always. ‘Everything Is Weird In America' started off as tongue-in-cheek observation before growing into something real and there's a reluctant b-side ("I wanted the album to have 14 tracks but everyone was like, ‘No Hannah, that's not cool. Do a 10 track record." They settled on 12.) that was written about when I was in New York for the first time on my own. I kept getting annoyed because I kept getting cat called. It's something that I'm used to, but I remember being there and thinking, ‘Right, I need to write a song that's talking about this because it's something girls have to deal with every day'. It's not a good thing at all. I think young girls are conditioned to allow that behaviour from men and there's that expectation that women aren't as strong or don't deserve the same respect. Popular music has such a good opportunity to mould that idea, change it and get away from it." ‘Girls', the record's most direct track, ties into that idea. "There are a lot of girls out there who feel super insecure because of the way women are expected to be and portray themselves to be this sexy whatever, and there are girls like me who are like, ‘No, that isn't what I feel like I naturally want to do'. It's a shout out to all the girls who don't feel like they have to dance in a certain way. "

Across ‘The Age Of Anxiety' "there is a spin on everything" and conflict reigns, but at its heart, it tries to find peace. "I wanted to draw a line with my anxieties and for people who do have similar worries, to feel like they're not on their own. It's a fucking hard time to be a young person trying to get on with life at the moment." The album opens discussions about fear and encourages engagement. "A lot of the songs are at your throat. I wanted to portray myself as who I am, and I wanted to express the opinions and views that I've picked up from people over the past year and not be flippant about it. The last track ‘Mood Ring Eyes' is a send-off, in a light way. It's saying everything is going to be fine. It's going to be ok. Being afraid of your feelings is the worst thing. I've been in places where I've been totally in denial about how I feel and you should never be ashamed of it. People should feel like they can always be open. You've got to speak out sometimes."

Taken from the June issue of Dork, out now. Pixx' album 'The Age Of Anxiety' is out now.



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