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Pop Hysteria: "I Just Wish We Had More Hours in a Day So That We Could Play Together All the Time"

No one can get you writhing and wriggling to the beat like Pop Hysteria, Long Beach's latest dance-punk outfit and Lizzy Mercier Descloux aficionados. The four-piece's debut EP Papa Stereo (Popular Affliction Records) traverses gender roles, jaw pain, and slasher movies with raw commentary and a tight sense of groove. Led by Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp with Niko Dangond on guitar, Droozie Lane on drums, and Todd Yeaton on bass, the band gave us some insight on the new release and their momentous first year as a band thus far.

All Photos by James Duran

Paperface Zine: How'd Pop Hysteria get started? Sophie, I know you've been a major fixture in the scene taking photos/video but what's it like to now hop on stage and lead?


Droozie Lane: I wanted to start a new band. Niko and I had already been playing in another band together and I had just recently met Sophie. I dug their energy and sensibility with music and had an inkling they would be cool to play in a band with so I hit them up and they were stoked at the idea. We both have ADHD and are the neurotic ones in the group. Todd and Niko are generally even-keeled and easygoing by comparison, we all balance each other out. I had known Todd for a long time, having seen him around at so many shows spanning from Long Beach to LA to OC. We've also played together more times than I can remember over the last handful of years. His bass playing speaks for itself so it was a no-brainer to hit him up. I had actually hit him up earlier that year and he couldn't do it because he was too busy, but months later I thought I would try again and he actually ended up being down. Thank god.


Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp: I met Droozie and Niko through friends in the scene last summer at different shows, and we kept seeing each other around and started becoming pals. I felt heard and seen by them early on, and had a feeling we could become close--they're like the kind of people I would've been friends with as a kid. One day, Droozie texted me and told me about a project he wanted to start with him, Niko, and Todd, proposing the name Pop Hysteria. He sent me tunes ranging from William Onyeabor to post-punk like The Slits, Lizzie Mercier Descloux... I already knew and loved these artists, and wanted to make music that combined all these elements for so long but couldn't imagine on my own what that'd sound like, so it was kismet. The first time we all practiced together, I met Todd for the first time (I'd seen him shred in his Primus cover band and dancing freely at every show in town) and instantly became fond of him, and it all came together very organically. Being a first-time frontperson, it was initially a little daunting to put myself out there, and because of how talented and experienced the guys are as musicians. I knew I really had to bring it. But they're always sweet and supportive, and give me the space to do my thing and figure it out as I go.I still take photos and will always be writing, but I wanted to give somebody else something to write about for a change. There were friendships and relationships in my teen years/early adulthood that ingrained in me that I wasn't meant to be up front and center, singing, but I always knew deep down that I needed to do it, and that I might even be kind of good at it. I'd wanted it since I was a kid, like I wrote my first, structured song when I was eight. I feel the most fulfilled and happy I've ever felt before in my life. I want to do this forever.


PZ: You've had an incredibly busy six months from playing your first show, to going on tour and releasing an EP. How does it feel? Is the momentum invigorating?


SPB: For me, this is a dream come true. I just wish we had more hours in a day so that we could play together all the time.


DL: It's been really fun! The way I see it, we're just getting started. This band has moved along quicker than any other I've been in, and a major reason why is how invested everyone is in it. It's really cool to see because it's rare to have that. 


Niko Dangond: Everything about making music with Droozie, Soph, and Todd feels natural to me. Our musical sensibilities line up pretty seamlessly, so honestly, I often forget that we haven't been doing this that long; that in itself is very invigorating. 


Todd Yeaton: Being in a band this proactive is refreshing, and something I've needed for a long time. Everyone's putting in the effort because traveling, making music, inspiring and being inspired is what fills our hearts. I'm just glad I have such great friends to share this experience with.

PZ: Tell me about the vision for your EP Papa Stereo. What were your major goals and inspirations when achieving your first statement as a band?


ND: The five tunes on Papa Stereo are the first five songs we wrote together. It felt like the songs came together quickly and easily, and the obvious next step was to record them. To me, this EP is documentation of the four of us getting to know each other by making music together.


SPB: The name came from people mishearing our name when we would tell them about our band. Our friends Yan Smith and Eden Vincent did such a great job recording and mixing it, and their pal Luis graciously mastered it.


DL: The initial creative vision was quasi afro beat, no wave, post-punk and dance music amalgamation. A splash of some kind of quasi Latin beat (I say quasi because I'm not playing a lot of these beats how they're traditionally played) and some dub influence. Kind of like Solid Gold by Gang of Four: post-punk with some dub flavor. Lizzy Mercier Descloux encapsulates all of the aforementioned elements that I wanted to go for as a band. We deviated from that initial vision in what, to me, was a serendipitous way, becoming more punk than I had envisioned, which happens in all of the bands I'm in one way or another–and I'm totally okay with that.


PZ: "Affirmations (Straight)" is a really funny track, very "Life During Wartime," can you tell us more about this one?


SPB: It's about being nonbinary and queer, but not necessarily visibly so — my quandary and my privilege. I've jokingly dedicated the song live "to bisexual girls with boyfriends." "Affirmations'' is kind of me poking fun at biphobia as well as my insecurities and frustrations that I will probably always be viewed as a cis, straight woman no matter how I make myself look or whom I date... while also knowing that even if I pass on the surface, I'll never fit into or be able to perform any of the binary roles well. It also mocks positive self-affirmations (something I'd like to get better at), fear of aging/dying, and my neurotic tendencies. You could also look at being "straight" in the context of this song as in societally acceptable, or whatever else it means to you. It's an attempt towards radical acceptance. Existential dread, but make it a party.


PZ: Who is "Michael Jason Frederick" and why is he the boogeyman?


SPB: This was the first song we actually completed on the spot all together. Usually the guys will jam something together, or Niko or Todd will bring us a riff they like and we build around that. I just started yelling nonsense to figure out my cadence and started screaming about the boogeyman because I enjoy slasher movies: body horror, stuff like Toxic Avenger, etc. The title references Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger. The song, in my mind, is a slasher rampage a la Friday the 13th — or like that movie In a Violent Nature if it was a cartoonish punk romp. MJF is the boogeyman because I said so!

PZ: What's the scene like in Long Beach (we're a New York-based blog so we have no idea)? What other cool bands/happenings should we keep an eye out for in your area?


DL: The Long Beach music scene is a stylistically eclectic group of bands who play together fairly often at a handful of bars that are within 5 miles or less of each other. The bar Vine is the nexus for these bands to congregate and play. In contrast to LA, Long Beach has a very townie vibe which I like and appreciate because there is this sense of interpersonal cohesion amongst bands. Happy Sundays is a really cool annual block party/ bar hop kind of festival in Long Beach curated by Julia Kugel of The Coathangers and her husband that happens in August.


SPB: There's a sense of community here that is separate from the LA scene, even though Long Beach is technically LA county. Lots of various configurations of the same friends in different projects. It's pretty tight-knit. Droozie and Niko are in a sick band called Ologist, Todd fronts a band called 100x Gravity, and Niko's also in an experimental noise-pop project called Chorus Pedal. Some of my other favorite local bands are Self Improvement, Baus, 3371, Esoteria, Soundfrom, Glue Shoe, and Softjaw. It's a big city and while we run in mostly punk and indie-adjacent circles, there is representation of so many genres and subgenres throughout. It feels like we all know each other and go to each other's shows, and folks genuinely value all kinds of music and connecting with one another.


PZ: What's next for Pop Hysteria? Perhaps an LP? More touring?


SPB: We just wanna keep making song after song! We have several shows coming up locally and in LA, but we want to tour with some of our new Bay area friends as well as play different parts of the country. And then someday out of the country we wanna play everywhere! Droozie and I dream of playing in Japan. For now, we will focus on writing songs for a full-length, and then record that and play locally until next summer, and tour again. I have some music video ideas I'd like to direct, too. We've all got so many different jobs and projects going on, and various scheduling commitments, but we are staying consistent with making time to create together.


Papa Stereo is out now on Popular Affliction Records.



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