Once two artists release a split, they're bound to know eachother pretty well. We figured: what better way to get to know two collaborators than to hand them the mic and let them talk shit? Be a fly on the wall with Algae Dust and Hennen interviewing eachother, covering their latest split, out now via It Takes Time.
Alison Setili (Algae Dust): Hello!
Hannah Rainey (Hennen): I’m eating a bagel.
Alison: Do you have a most-hated pet peeve?
Hannah: Do you?
Alison: I feel like… no?
Hannah: Maybe like, people that talk about the Office? [Laughs] Or like, other shows like that. I just don’t watch a lot of shows.
Alison: I mean honestly, something about talking about the Office is pretty annoying… maybe when people make eye contact with men only, in conversation?
Hannah: Oh, like they can’t look at the female-presenting person?
Alison: Yeah. That’s a little too deep though, haha.
Hannah: What do you think our favorite qualities in each other are?
Alison: That’s a hard question. I don’t know, maybe humbleness or chillness?
Hannah: I was gonna say, something I like about you is that sometimes you just pull things out of your bag and I didn’t realize that you could do that. You’ll be like “I made these overnight oats and you can eat them!” Or you’ll be really talented at playing the guitar out of nowhere, or something like that. You’re secretive about stuff and then you’ll suddenly be like “I made this paint by numbers!” I don’t know if that makes any sense.
Alison: No, that does make a lot of sense! That’s so funny, at first I thought you meant literally — like whoa, I must have so many things in my bag.
Hannah: [Laughs] You do have a very small bag.
Alison: I do have a lot of things in this bag. It has lots of little nooks and crannies in there.
“...something I like about you is that sometimes you just pull things out of your bag and I didn’t realize that you could do that. You’ll be like “I made these overnight oats and you can eat them!” Or you’ll be really talented at playing the guitar out of nowhere.”
Alison: What’s the physical setting for listening to the split, do you think? Like a dock?
Hannah: I would say a roadtrip, and maybe you would listen to your side while the sun is setting, and my side at night.
Alison: Yeah, but if you’re still pretty awake at night. Not a sleepy night.
Hannah: Maybe you’re drinking a soda.
Alison: You’re on the way somewhere you’re excited about going to… When we were on tour once with Frankie Valet, it was really weird — I think I was driving and also playing music at the same time, and we were listening to a Florist song and then a Bones song came on right after. I don’t know if you know what that is, but it’s very like… dark, goth rap. It was the weirdest transition and right when it was happening, the sky got really grey. It was crazy.
Hannah: Isn’t that cool when that happens? Like, the music matches the vibe?
Alison: It lined up perfectly. It’s like when you arrive somewhere right when the song ends.
Hannah: That is weird when that happens.
Alison: But I also feel like the vibe of your side of the split matches really well with the tape insert. Kind of a beachy tsunami.
Hannah: Your side is like finding pebbles, laying out by the beach, and my side is kind of the start of the storm and you’re running around.
Alison: But it’s a fun storm! You’re excited and playing around in the pouring rain.
Hannah: Maybe alone! It’s like a self-reflection album.
Alison: I feel like your lyrics are a lot more thought out than mine.
Hannah: But whenever you write lyrics, do you ever look back at them and realize what you were saying was actually so true and even if you weren’t trying, it was actually how you were feeling deep down? Do you know what I mean?
Alison: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Hannah: Because in “bothered,” I was more like, I wanna write a pop song, I’m just gonna write these lyrics out, they don’t mean anything. But it literally was how I was feeling.
Alison: You realized after the fact?
Hannah: Yeah. I wasn’t trying to do anything. I just wanted the lyrics and I wanted them now.
Alison: That’s how I feel a lot of the time! I feel like I care more about fitting them into the structure and the melody, or the timing, I guess.
Hannah: Sometimes it doesn’t even have to make any sense.
Alison: I feel like it often doesn’t, for me.
Hannah: As long as it sounds musical and kind of poetic, with the music.
Alison: Yeah I wonder how many people, when they’re writing songs, are making it up? And how much of the time it’s actually exactly what’s going on for them?
Hannah: Isn’t that a famous thing that the Beatles did? They would just sing in gibberish and then go back, like, “oh! That kind of sounds like we’re singing about a yellow submarine, let’s just make that the lyric.”
Alison: Whoa, really? That’s crazy.
Hannah: I don’t know, I’ve been thinking about this because someone I know recently said that they don’t like personal lyrics. They think that they’re overdone. And I felt like maybe they were jabbing at my whole vibe, because my lyrics are very personal? But also, I think you can make lyrics however you want them to be. I could be making up a whole scenario or story and no one would know.
Alison: It’s so funny to have people that you know analyze your lyrics. Because for most people, it’s like, who knows if that’s true? Only the people you actually know could look at your lyrics and think, I wonder if this line is about this particular situation.
Hannah: Did anyone do that for your songs?
Alison: For sure. But a lot of the time, people aren’t right. [laughs] So it’s more that I wonder what people are assuming. Because most of the time I really do feel like I’m just winging it, writing whatever works.
Hannah: I think Mickey does that a lot for me, like, “are you talking about when this happened to you?” And I’m like no? But maybe! …There’s that album that just came out… Olivia Rodrigo?
Alison: I was literally just thinking about that! Because those seem like the most personal lyrics ever.
Hannah: And everyone looooves it. It’s so relatable. It’s a bop, and you can just feel so good about your ex or whatever.
Alison: I wonder how much of that is true.
Hannah: It might not be real, but it’s still awesome.
Alison: I feel like she’s working off of something real but just expanding on it a bunch, to the point that it’s like, who knows how much of it is based off of reality. But as long as you get to that pop hit!
Hannah: I think personal lyrics are awesome. It makes you connect to the music even more.
Alison: I think so too. And it takes a lot of talent to put a lot of emotion in your lyrics. So I always respect when people do that.
Hannah: It’s really hard to put yourself out there.
Alison: And just record it in a way that represents the emotion behind the words.
Hannah: Like the Lomelda album…
“My lyrics are very personal... but also, I think you can make lyrics however you want them to be. I could be making up a whole scenario or story and no one would know.”
Hannah: What’s your favorite unlikely animal friendship? Animals that are friends… or you’re friends with an animal? [Laughs]
Alison: Like, the animal that you like but you’re surprised you like it, that’s your unlikely animal friend. [Laughs] No, I think it’s two animals.
Hannah: Well, you live with three cats. But are they all friends?
Alison: Yeah, my unlikely animal friendship is my cats with my roommate’s dog. That really is an unlikely animal friendship, I have to say. But in general species, what would be the cutest? Oh, I have a picture from when I was 12, my pet rabbit and my sister’s cat got in the rabbit’s cage together. That was very unlikely. And the rabbit was so mean, too. I don’t even know how the cat was able to get in there.
Hannah: If we were an unlikely animal friendship, what would we be? I always thought I was like, a llama.
Alison: Maybe an alpaca, cause they’re a little more cute and fluffy. Llamas are bigger and maybe meaner honestly.
Hannah: Maybe I’m not an alpaca, cause they’re kinda mean.
Alison: Alpacas are mean? Are they mean? I thought llamas were mean. I don’t know, we saw alpacas in Colorado and they were really nice.
Hannah: I guess a llama then. What are you?
Alison: Maybe a marmot [laughs]. A groundhog… or a beaver.
Hannah: Oh yeah, you’d be a beaver.
Alison: Or an otter. Otters are a little too silly and squirmy.
Hannah: I think you’re a beaver. Is that bad? You don’t have the buck teeth though. But imagine a beaver and a llama hanging out.
Alison: Yeah, the llama’s just by the water, chilling.
Hannah: The beaver comes up and brings him a little log.
Alison: She’s like: “help me with my house.”
Hannah: The llama gives him some fur for a blanket.
Alison: That would be a really cute unlikely animal friendship, like extremely unlikely.
Hannah: On different continents probably.
Alison: I think beavers are really nice. There’s one that swims around my parent’s dock, it lives there. You see it every few years.
“ I think you’re a beaver. Is that bad? You don’t have the buck teeth though.”
Alison: Are you working on anything right now?
Hannah: I feel like I’m always kind of writing music. I’m always playing around with stuff. But I’m trying to decide what to focus on right now. Like, if I should be writing for Shady Bug or if I should do another Hennen EP. Also, my twin sister’s going to be back in town so I could start writing for Dubb Nubb again if I wanted to.
Alison: That would be so cool!
Hannah: I’m playing a house show in June, playing a solo set. So I’ll be performing Hennen live. I don’t exactly know how I’ll do that yet.
Alison: It’d be hard to prepare for that, for me at least. I’m so far removed.
Hannah: Well, you wrote your songs in layers.
Alison: I don’t know which parts I would play.
Hannah: Also, these songs are really simple. I’m not trying to add any crazy parts to it. With Shady Bug, I’m always thinking about, “I want to take out two beats of one measure,” do crazy stuff, make it really unexpected. This project is more straightforward.
Alison: Yeah, bringing songs to Frankie Valet, I never knew what songs would sound like at all.
Hannah: Because everyone has a say.
“These songs are really simple. I’m not trying to add any crazy parts to it. With Shady Bug, I’m always thinking about, “I want to take out two beats of one measure,” do crazy stuff, make it really unexpected. This project is more straightforward.”
Hannah: What are two words we’d use to describe our split to someone that’s never heard it before, for each side of the split?
Alison: Maybe like floating?
Hannah: Yeah, your side would be floating.
Alison: For yours, like jumping?
Hannah: Yeah, jumping. I like the swimming pool imagery. Like, on a raft for yours, for mine jumping off of a diving board.
Alison: What’s your element?
Hannah: I was just thinking if our signs match our sides. Like, is my side Gemini vibes?
Alison: Yeah I think it is, yeah. I think mine is actually quite Cancer. Do you think so? It’s like, more Cancer than I am. [laughs].
Hannah: Yeah, you’re really not a Cancer to me.
Alison: I don’t know why I’m a double Cancer. I don’t feel like I’m exploding with emotions… but that’s what the stars say!
Hannah: Maybe they’re wrong! I don’t feel like I’m a two-faced Gemini person, either.
Alison: Geminis are really hard to understand, in terms of what the main characteristics are. Maybe because there are two sides.
Hannah: I think I have a more subdued side and a crazy side. Then I also have a twin, so it’s really weird.
Alison: I think it’s really cool that you have a twin and you’re a Gemini. Maybe that is, in itself, the Gemini in you.
Hannah: How do you think our songwriting processes compare to one another? For the split, you kind of did layers of stuff, adding on to one idea?
Alison: Yeah, a lot of the time I’d record one part of the song and work from there. A guitar or sometimes a synth. Other times I wrote more of it beforehand.
Hannah: I usually write on guitar, then write lyrics in my Notes app or on a Word doc on my computer.
Alison: Do you write lyrics while playing? Or record it and listen back?
Hannah: The first track, “root for,” I think I was literally just singing it out loud. The melody came first, before guitar. I really wanted to write a song about how I was feeling, and I was single, and I always want to have like another person that I can root for, I guess. But it doesn’t always happen the same way. The single “auto-pilot,” I wrote the guitar first, lyrics later. In “bothered,” I wrote the synth part first.
Alison: I thought it was so fun writing a synth part first! I never had. I still have to get an actual keyboard.
Hannah: Yeah, you did it on a computer?
Alison: Yeah, I’ve still been doing that. I’m trying to write synth parts on Frankie Valet songs too.
Hannah: You can borrow that synth I left at your house.
Alison: That would be cool… right now I have a plug-in and you can drag it around and it makes different sounds.
Hannah: I want to record a different way next time.
Alison: It is cool that both sides are lo-fi. Using whatever we had at the time.
Hannah: I paid zero money to make my side of the split. That’s why it sounds like that. [laughs] … Whoever’s reading, you can listen to the album on all streaming services!
Alison: Three tapes left. No t-shirts. [laughs]
Hannah: Buy it on Bandcamp!