Last year, Rachel Gagliardi found herself in the midst of chaos. From personal loss to needing a change of scenery, the former Slutever member found herself looking to make a change. Instead of focusing on the shifting and moving of things, Gagliardi found herself focusing on, well, herself for what seemed like the first time. And instead of the punk-fueled sound of Slutever, she found herself inching toward a more ethereal, experimental direction. The result is Pouty’s latest EP, Saint Mary of the Moods.
Taking cues from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust before her, Pouty is an alter ego for the 27-year-old singer-songwriter. “I was really inspired by the new Solange record, so I wanted to experiment with doing more a capella, and my inspiration is just different,” explains Gagliardi. “Now I feel a lot more inspired by feminine things, and I feel like the music is a little softer.” With Pouty’s live show comes a costume, something that lets Gagliardi feel confident, mystical, and theatrical. “I always lay out a few crystals in front of me when I play, so it feels a lot different than just walking on stage in my regular clothes and being myself,” she adds.
Following the release of her new EP, Gagliardi fills us in on the tenderness of Pouty, the beauty of California that drove the project, and the importance of embracing self-care.
Why did you decide to do something different than Slutever? It was sort of based off of moving. I was living in Philly with Nicole [Snyder, of Slutever] and then we both moved to L.A. And then I ended up moving back to Philly for a little bit because my partner’s mom died, so I wanted to be there for him and be back in Philly with my friends, my family. So, I lived there all last year, and I found myself really wanting to focus on myself, taking care of myself, trying to do something that felt like a totally different vibe because I was in a totally different place.
That must have been really hard.It was really hard because I really liked L.A., and I wasn’t ready to leave, but at the same time, I was burnt out on the city thing. It was really hard to live there financially, so it’s kind of nice to go back to Philly for a second and breathe. It was half my rent, and all my friends are there. The East Coast is just a great relaxing spot, but I always thought I would live in California. So, I’m glad I made it back, and now I live out here with my partner, and it’s great.
Tell me about your vision for Pouty.I tried to release this as a visual EP because I’ve been trying to do things that feel a little different than what I used to do. I’ve really been inspired by doing photos and videos lately, so I wanted to make this whole release happen at once where all four songs have a continuous video that goes with it. But it’s kind of confusing to people, I guess people really like the regular way to go about doing things, so it’s interesting. What I’m saying is that just being in 2017 can affect how people want to make art, I feel like there’s a standard way you have to do it, and I was sort of trying to challenge that with this release.
How did you come up with the name ‘Pouty’?I remember writing it down in my journal before I started the band, circling it and really liking it. Then eventually, as I started thinking about trying to do a solo band, it was just a natural fit because the songs are really expressive, and it’s how I used it as a therapy for myself. Writing and releasing [music] is a whole cathartic process. I wanted it to be an emotional project, and Pouty worked. And so the EP is called Saint Mary of the Moods, which is this character that I’ve created. It’s the first time I’ve ever done electronic drums; I did every single instrument except for the drums, so I’ve played guitar, bass, and done the singing, so it was a lot more writing than I was used to in the past. I’m pretty proud of how it came out.
Tell me about how the visuals correspond to the music and the whole concept behind the project.When I moved out to California, I was living in L.A., but I really loved Palm Springs and the desert. I saw myself living there later in life and was very inspired by it. So we shot the video in the Mojave Desert, Palm Springs area at this place called Giant Rock, which is the largest freestanding boulder. It’s a spiritual center, and a lot of old Native American tribes thought it was the heart of Mother Earth. So, we filmed it around there, and it just became so inspiring to go out and film a video with my friend that I went back home afterward to Philly and wrote the songs. So, the visuals came before the music, which was a really cool way to challenge myself. I knew what kind of themes I was dealing with, like the desert, self-realization, finding yourself.
Tell me about the Saint Mary of the Moods character you built?I was really inspired by David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust, how he created an entire world and character and universe separate from himself even though it still was his solo project. Pouty is really emotional, therapeutic, healing for myself, which my past bands were not, so this is such a personal project. When I play live, I wear a costume, and it’s a little more comfortable for me to express myself as this character that I’m dressing up as. It’s a ritual, and I always lay out a few crystals in front of me when I play, so it feels a lot different than just walking on stage in my regular clothes and being myself. It embraces theatrics of music and art. There’s something iconic about it.
What’s going on with Slutever?Right now, we’re just on a hiatus. Nicole is doing a lot of TV and film stuff. I’m trying to focus on Pouty and my other passion, which is vintage and selling stuff. We’re both doing our own personal things right now.
One single that stood out to me was “The Pink Moment.” Can you talk about the significance of that particular song? I know it’s about that pink sunset in Ojai.Ojai is a place that people go to, to embrace that healing energy, so it felt really cool to bring that into the lyrics. I made this album for myself, so just be able to listen to a song that makes me think of being in Ojai, staring at a mountain, feeling better about everything, and getting lost in nature, is really important to me. The California landscape has definitely really inspired me both visually with my lyrics and the content. I wrote [this song] during a really difficult time. I moved back to Philly, and one of my friends passed away from California. The whole project is healing, [and it’s about] embracing your growing pains and losing yourself to find yourself.
Do you see this as your main project and something you’re going to continue with for a long time?I think that now I feel a lot more confident in it. This is only my second EP with Pouty, but I feel a lot more inspired to do a full-length more than I never did. It’s nice for me to have found confidence in myself through this project and to know that I can do music even if it is on my own.
Saint Mary of the Moods is available now