Badass Babes: Power Pop Duo Heroine on Defying Stereotypes and Promoting Intersectional Feminism

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I first became aware of Heroine at my first SoFar Sounds concert. The secret concert was being held in the small headquarters of SoFar on the Lower East Side, where the duo captivated the crowd with their effortless harmonies and attention-demanding stage presence. The bond between the two, Ines and Bridget, is mesmerizing to watch. Their friendship off-stage is just as real; the two often completed each other’s sentences throughout our interview. This artistic chemistry has allowed them to create music that’s beautifully and poignantly honest. I sat down with the two at a Dunkin Donuts in Brooklyn to discuss the winding road to creating their soon-to-be-released debut EP and the mission of their band.

Where did you guys meet?

Bridget: We both went to Towson University in Maryland and we were in the same voice studio and then we had a class or two together. We did the opera together. We studied abroad in Germany together, and got really close there.

Ines: It was just like all of these events in sequence that got us to be really close and spend a lot of vulnerable time together, for a lack of better words.

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When was the point you decided you were going to start doing music together?

Ines: There was a point where we were both in music groups that were a lot of fun and we were happy we were able to sing and perform, and also conversing with this other girl at Towson who is in a really successful A Capella group, and we were all talking about songs we had written that didn’t necessarily really work for the bands we were in. And I think just through our education we learned a lot more about being educated and being a woman, and how much agency we do have, and also about being in male-centered, male-dominated groups, and professions. And even though they’re really good friends of ours, you start just learning about how you want to do your own projects.

Bridget: To present your idea to another woman felt empowering. There were certain topics we wanted to write about that maybe our male collaborators would have worked with us on, but we kind of understood where the other one was coming from and feeling a kind of way that they couldn’t understand.

Ines: Of course, of course. I think for men, presenting an idea is like, “I had this idea it must be great.” I’m not saying this is what every male collaborator did, but they’d present their ideas and you’d do them because you think they are good ideas, but maybe you haven’t practiced having your own ideas and manifesting that. And if you’re in a male-dominated field, you’ll work with a lot of men, and even though they may be more experienced in one section of that medium, you trust them and follow their lead. When you are surrounded with women, you are in a room where you finally start practicing voicing your ideas. I think we’re just raised to act a certain way and I don’t think our male collaborators meant any harm, but I felt a freedom just working with you and Katie and just voicing “I was always so afraid to write this song about this woman’s situation since I didn’t think they’d understand.” And also, just wanting to collaborate with a woman was nice.

Bridget: It also just happened that when we presented these ideas to each other, we could confirm to each other like “no this is a great idea, I feel this way all of the time. This is something people care about and that women feel all the time.” It was an opportunity for us to take our own ideas seriously and there was less room to immediately doubt them before we pitched them.

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How did you both end up here in NYC? Was it a joint decision for music?

Bridget: I came here for grad school three and a half years ago, and we were kind of working on it with her in Baltimore and me here. And we launched a Kickstarter campaign and we were both living in two states. And the program I was doing was individualized, and I was watching everyone for their final projects writing the novel they had always wanted to write and things like that, and I called her one day and was like, what if we made the Heroine debut EP the final project to accompany my thesis so we have to have this two-year academic timeline and it could help keep us focused. And it’s not finished yet, so we didn’t finish it, but it kept us focused and motivated, and we did a lot of it in two different states and it kind of worked and was like, kind of fun.

To present your idea to another woman felt empowering. There were certain topics we wanted to write about that maybe our male collaborators would have worked with us on, but we kind of understood where the other one was coming from and feeling a kind of way that they couldn’t understand.”

How was that process of working in two different states?

Ines: We would schedule meetings, like every Tuesday, we would have a Skype meeting of a writing session and another day of the week we would figure out different logistics for promotion or Kickstarter or whatever. We wrote “Cry Mercy” that way, like texting, and kept fine tuning “Sundays” that way. A lot of the EP was written separately.

Bridget: Yeah, a lot of the songs were collaborated on but written in two different states.

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The SoFar show I saw was fantastic. It seemed like you two totally love being on stage. Have you always loved performing?

Bridget: I’ve always loved it.

Ines: Me too.

Bridget: Yeah, I have always loved performing. I was always ready to go from the youngest age. And I love performing with other people; collaborating that way is so much fun. And it’s awesome to be able to perform things we’ve written. It’s exhilarating in that way, not just performing other people’s work.

Do you have a favorite show you’ve done?

Ines: My first instinct is our first New York show at Pianos. It was packed! People showed up for that show.
Briget: It was our first New York show, I was like whaaaat, we’re stars!

Ines: Like for everyone to show up on the same night—like a lot of our friends are performers so they have their own shows—so for everyone to be free on the same night was crazy.

Bridget: I really liked our first SoFar show. We didn’t have a rehearsal and I was like ah! and we drove from maybe Maryland to New York that day, and we sounded awesome and vibed really well and it was a good crowd, it was a good show.

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I heard getting gigs in New York is notoriously hard, but you guys have performed a lot!

Ines: We just sent a bunch of emails and booked a bunch of gigs, it was really easy.

Bridget: The only places we didn’t were maybe like you have to be in the city longer to get those.

Ines: And certain rooms—like, we played the small rooms at places since they want to make sure you can bring a crowd before they give you a bigger space.

Bridget: And I think our sound helped us get it since our sound is so big and it sounds like a band who can get a crowd, and we sent good emails—like we sent demos, and we just kept getting gigs after we sent those emails. That was actually the easy part.

Ines: And then we were like crap, we have ten shows!

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What does feminism mean to you?

Ines: I believe feminism is intersectional, and that goes for gender, race, sexuality, religion, any of that. I think it’s the unity of all of us to live the way we want and do the things we want and all feel empowered. I think feminism means one, unity.

Bridget: Equal opportunities.

Ines: And respect. The ability to bring light to everyone. It is not just a male-female thing or a female thing. And that’s what I want to urge people to be reminded of; it’s all of us.

Bridget: It’s not about women are better, it’s about believing all of us should be equal and should respect each other that way and our differences and intersectional feminism is the image of Heroine. That’s who we are as a band, as friends, as women in this world, and it’s a strong message we’re trying to talk about a lot.

Ines: Yeah, I mean, the mission statement for our band was to be the voice for people who feel silenced and have an image that shows intersectionality and diversity. I mean, there’s not a lot of bands who look like us and telling the stories we’re saying in addition, and I think that’s a powerful thing, and it can be really scary to be a band like that since you’ll be confronted with a lot of questions and stereotypes and a lot of just things that come to mind because of how we’re socially constructed. But I think to be able to feel like, to know that we do have a voice that deserves to be heard, and we know there are people who feel silenced and we want to encourage them to speak for themselves and we can lend our voice to aid them too, and that’s a huge part of the band. And also looking so different from each other, and being so different from each other, but also being able to be the puzzle piece that makes one thing. Which we can all do! Like we’re all part of one unit, part of one puzzle that makes the world, as cheesy as that sounds. And to be able to have a band that looks like this, I want to inspire others to be like “oh we can do that too,” since I didn’t have that growing up.

Ines: Like going back to what keeps us motivated through this long process, well this is a huge one. We really believe this is important and this matters and we’re supposed to do this, and even our image matters, even if it’s just for one person who hasn’t felt like they’re represented or heard—if this can be any kind of light for any one person, that makes it all worth it.

The mission statement for our band was to be the voice for people who feel silenced and have an image that shows intersectionality and diversity. I mean, there’s not a lot of bands who look like us and telling the stories we’re saying in addition, and I think that’s a powerful thing, and it can be really scary to be a band like that since you’ll be confronted with a lot of questions and stereotypes and a lot of just things that come to mind because of how we’re socially constructed.”