Maggie Devlin's solo project, Party Fears, is exactly as great as you expect it to be. She is a bad ass singer, guitarist, and activist. If you told me Maggie sprung from her mother's head fully grown and wearing armor- I wouldn't be surprised.
Party Fears is a solo project- tell us a little about who you will play with at Malaise.
I play with a gang of top-notch musicians and good people who were supporting me long before Party Fears. Premium imports, I like to think. Mike (bass) and Alberto (keys) from my previous bands, BaekMa and New Blue Death respectively; Brad (drums) engineered/produced both bands' albums; I know Tyler from when he dated Baekma's singer, Steph. He was always a big support to us, and he gives a lot of his time to Party Fears; he's on lead guitar. And Angela has been amazing at providing backing vocals/her former cheerleader's brand of energetic, warm support.
Do you actually have party fears? If so, have they changed over the years?
Yeah, completely. I get anxious about meeting big groups, especially new people. Then after I'm home I'll do the usual autopsy: did I use that big word I read last week correctly? Did I call Thomas 'Tom' and he hated it? Was my skirt riding up my backside? Did I vomit before or after So-and-So left? (that's an early years Party Fear). Am I normal? Am I liked? Am I passable? I think a lot of people share the same anxiety though, right? I don't think that's so unique. The name, Party Fears comes from a song by The Associates. Those lyrics are pretty spot on; so I know at least their singer Billy Mackenzie felt the same. 'My manners are failing me, I'm left feeling ugly'. I mean, that's just so perfect.
Have they changed over the years? Probably. I was always really conscious of not fitting in at university parties; a lot of posh parties. I always felt a bit of an impostor. Then at home too, when I went back to the council estate, or went out in town; I felt a bit of a traitor. Long time ago, of course, and largely gone now; but I think those kinds of confusions stick around somewhere inside ourselves.
Then there's the other kind of party fear. David Cameron! The Tories!
Your former project Baekma was involved in feminist activism. Do you identify as an activits?
I would like to, but I don’t. I’m too much a coward, I think. I’m like an entry-level seditionist intern; fetching the coffee for the person who fetches the coffee for the activist. I admire people who do speak up though. I would very much like to be more like them: your Billy Braggs and Mark Thomases. Your Audre Lordeses. I wonder if that kind of fearlessness can be learned? One hopes.
What comes first words or music?
Always music. In fact, a lot of BaekMa and New Blue Death songs never moved beyond the original scratch lyrics. Lyrics intimidate me. It's easier for me to be abstract or broad, than to sing about my own feelings or experiences. Also, I don’t know if I have very much to say, or am at all interesting. It's something I want to change with Party Fears; write from some inner me I haven't been able to articulate yet. It's all kind of been a charade until now. I'm not sure I'm even up to the task, to be honest.
Has your approach to song writing changed now that you are working on a solo project?
Yeah. It's had to change. It's a lonelier process, absolutely. I've had to experiment by myself a lot. I make maybe 4 or 5 versions of each song before sending my favourite demo to the band, then I add to band demos after we’ve all met. There are a lot of mistakes! It's mostly positive though, or at least it will be in the end. It's forcing me to learn a lot, very quickly. I do a lot of the groundwork in my undies; a prerequisite of going to a practice room in public is putting on clothes. You don't have to wear clothes in a solo endeavour; not at the writing stage. And there are endless cups of tea. Also farting with abandon.
What part of the song making process is the most fun?
I like the first burst of inspiration. It usually happens when I'm walking home, just before I wake up or fall asleep, or in the shower. That's exciting, because there's so much potential, you know? None of the pressure to be good has arrived yet. Then the moment, much later in the process, when everything comes together. It's like hearing the song anew for the first time. It's really exciting, because it's not just me anymore; it's the whole band making this thing that both is real and is nothing at the same time. 5/6 people in a room do their thing, and pop: a song leaps into existence. That's really fun.
You are more gifted with vulnerability than a lot of people- how did you get there- have you always been skilled at articulating your inner world (does your music articulate your inner world?)?
Really? I have no idea. I do have problems working out very simple equations of right or wrong, maybe that's why I broadcast those kinds of signals; the vulnerability? I mean, my inner compass is faulty. Even for small or inane things. I make bets with myself for rewards. An example: "Should I buy a sandwich?" "Okay, if a bus passes me before I reach the bakery, I'll buy a sandwich". I sound like a nutter! But it’s true. Choices are hard. My friends will know this; I'll often consult them on decisions I should really be able to make by myself. So I don't know if it's as much a skill as a disorder; this compulsion to mine for other people's thoughts or beliefs. I mean, I've always created; writing or acting or music, so it's probably all part of the same quest to find answers I can't provide by myself.
For more Party Fears, check out their website and read On Doubt at period.ink RIGHT NOW!