Interview of Hana & JJ of Overcoats by Sophie Pellegrini // Photographs by Lex Voight
Overcoats is a female duo based in New York that was recently been nominated for NYC’s top emerging artist through The Deli Magazine! Get to know the band members, Hana and JJ, a bit better below, and be sure to vote for them on The Deli’s website to support emerging young female artists; polls close Jan 1!
Tell us a bit about yourselves!
Hana: We are Hana Elion –
JJ: And JJ Mitchell.
H: We met in college-
J: And have been hanging out ever since.
H: We enjoy Chet Faker, sunny weather…
J: Big coats, junk food…
H: And making music!
How did Overcoats come about?
H: It was a cold December night and two old friends got talking about life and love and the rest was history. We had been singing together for almost four years at college but we had never tried writing together.
J: The result felt like magic. We stayed up one night and just wrote Little Memory. The following week we wrote Walk On. The week after that we wrote The Fog. Then we decided we had to be a band.
And what about the name for the band?
H: We’re not totally sure how this came about. We waited for a while to name to project until something felt right.
J: There was something about the image of an Overcoat that we really liked. It’s heavy, dark, mysterious, warm…all kinds of things that fit our style.
H: Yeah. We also really liked the idea of a name that doesn’t give away what the music is really going to sound like. We love that when people see a band called “Overcoats,” they don’t know what they’re going to hear when they press play.
What do you love about creating music/being in a band? What’s one of the more difficult things?
J: Being in a band and being able to create music every day is such a blessing. Sometimes in rehearsal we just stop and look at each other and think, HOW is this our job? We get to write music—something that we both find a healing and fulfilling experience…and we get to perform—which is terrifying and exhilarating and euphoric all at once. It can be hard to be a musician, especially somewhere like New York.
H: It’s difficult to sustain a music lifestyle in an expensive city—but we both think it’s really worth surviving on cheese puffs and Chinese take out.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
H: This is a tough one. We’ve seen a lot of amazing music together, but we’d probably have to go with seeing Hozier together in Dublin. Hearing 80,000 people sing together, that was amazing.
If you could see any musician/band perform live, who is currently at the top of your list?
J: I think I would have to say King Krule. His sound is so dark and honest and dissonant. I’m itching to see him live.
H: Probably have to agree on this one. We are becoming borderline obsessed with him.
Where do you hope to see things go with Overcoats?
H: We have to fight our own pessimism sometimes, but we really believe that sending positive energy out into the world brings positive things back to you. We can’t wait to release our first album, or open for some of our favorite musicians. We’re going to keep working hard and reach for the stars.
What inspires your music? Any particular other artists/people/places/things?
J: Different things at different times. We write mainly from experience and try to just say the most honest things about a certain feeling or situation—even if that truth is kind of ugly. There are a lot of artists we take inspiration from—these days we’ve been listening to a lot of Margaret Glaspy and First Aid Kit.
H: But also a lot of Jamie XX and George Fitzgerald.
J: Lately, we’ve both been writing a lot of melodies and lyric snippets while riding the subway. People usually start staring and are probably super weirded out because we end up awkwardly recording little voice memos into our phones while sitting next to randos on the 1 train.
If you had to listen to only one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
H: Chet Faker’s ‘Thinking in Textures.’
J: The Staves’s ‘Dead & Born & Grown.’
What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?
J: We’d love to become bona- fide rockstars.
H: Precisely. We want to keep writing music, release some of our new stuff, and keep meeting amazing people in NY.
Is there anything about being female musicians that is particularly hard or particularly awesome?
H: Oh, yes. Stereotypes about female musicians are a blessing and a curse. It sucks that they’re there, but it gives us a chance to try to break them in a really progressive way. We’re still singing about love, but we get the chance to shock people with the way we write about it.
If you could give your 13-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
J: This is probably advice i should give myself right now too but anyway… A lot of people around you are really insecure about who they are, how they look, and what they are doing… and that’s why they sometimes act the way they do. Be kind and show them compassion.
H: Keep dreaming. You can really make it happen.
Where can we follow Overcoats?
For general news, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thisisovercoats
For selfies and random thoughts, follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @thisisovercoats
For MUSIC, follow us on Soundcloud and Spotify!
For all of the above, join our mailing list at http://www.overcoatsmusic.com/mailinglist/