Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos Talks Touring, Mental Health, And His Music's Surprising Influence

Photo by Matthew Eisman/ Getty Images

"You don't really know how this stuff plays out in other people's lives, you know?"

In May 2009, when Passion Pit's debut album, Manners, was released, I was a confused, unsteady 14-year old boy. My dad lost his job late in 2008, prefiguring the chaotic economic circumstances later captured on the band's hit song, "Take A Walk." In all regards, I was your typical emotionally clueless and hopelessly romantic teenage boy, aware of the budding sense of self-identity as experienced through albums like Manners, but still unable to articulate myself through the language the album gave me.

A decade later, and the announcement that band leader Michael Angelakos would take Manners on an anniversary tour found me in a moment not unlike my situation 10 years prior. Once more, I faced the dilemmas of puberty; this time, a voluntary decision, as I began transitioning on my 24th birthday in November. As the full weight of my messy emotional state came crashing down on me, I sensed that my experience could only be described as hormonal, a pure, uncertain sensation that showed me I was growing into something new.

Once more, Manners was there. But this time, I heard things I couldn't have the first time, especially on "To Kingdom Come," when Angelakos sang, "It feels the way you told me how it'd always feel." Growing into physical experiences I'd never had access to before, the songs resonated in a way that made me see my first chaotic encounter with puberty in a much kinder light. All it took was another decade of self-realization, and the chance to re-encounter my old self remade in the present through albums like Manners, to find myself where I needed to be.

When I told Angelakos all of this recently, he seemed amazed. As we talked about the way in which he's tried to understand the album and its impact, he said, "You don't really know how this stuff plays out in other people's lives, you know?"

In many ways, it seems that he's taken the whole last decade to catch up to the album as well, never able to articulate his intent for the album as he wanted to. Bringing the album on tour, he said, is his way of processing what's happened in that time, and where he is today.

While Angelakos's journey during that time hasn't been easy, he's reached a much-needed sense of acceptance and understanding of the record that made him an overnight worldwide sensation. It also seems that now is his chance to finally tell fans what the album meant in his own life. Although Angelakos suggested that many presume Gossamer to be the record that proved hardest to talk about, owing in part to the overwhelming attention (and backlash) he received to lead single "Take A Walk," he said that he "explained the hell out of Gossamer" when it came out.

But Manners was different: "I never really got the chance to explore [the album] openly," he said. "It was my first major record, and I wasn't really totally open and honest about what was going on with it." After taking some time to mentally prepare himself, it seems that Angelakos is finally ready to open up about the album that changed his life, letting listeners in as the group celebrates a decade of growth and change.

"You don't really know how this stuff plays out in other people's lives, you know?"

How have you prepared yourself for this tour?
I've been a little bit of a recluse. I thought when I'd announced the tour that I'd be way more active, getting out there a little bit, but when I announced the tour, I felt like I needed to sit alone for a while and process things, because a lot comes up.

At first, I was terrified about talking about the album. I almost wanted to leave it like a blank space for other people to say something. But friends convinced me to write something, and the first thing I wrote was like, "This record was one of the most difficult, scariest, craziest periods of my life, and yet also one of the most euphoric, and I suppose life-affirming," despite all of the things that were happening at the time.

When I'm catching up with friends or other artists I know, the album does come up, and they're always, like, telling me how they were making out with someone that they dated for six years to "Moths Wings," and all these little anecdotes with the record. Especially people who were younger when the record came out, those stories have been the most moving to me, because when I was in high school and listening to music, that was my entire life. The music that I listened to in high school ended up completely shaping the brain that ended up making Manners.

What kind of music was there in your teenage years that was there as you were making the album?
I became a huge music nerd when I turned 13. The bands that really turned me into a real music fan were Aloha and Mogwai and a bunch of bands on Polyvinyl Records, and then it went from there.

I remember specifically when Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem came out. It wasn't like I listened to them and said that I wanted to make electronic music, but when the band got together, we were informed by their live setup and the way they made electronic music a rock show. Passion Pit was just me and a laptop, but I couldn't possibly stomach that being the reality. I just did not want to be that kind of guy, and I played in bands my whole life. I never thought I'd be making electronic music for a living—I thought I'd be in bands. But if you look at the lineup for Just Like Heaven, that's who we were coming up around, and opening up for and playing alongside from 2007 to 2009. So as a band we were enamored with everyone around us. It was an insane time.

When the band started, I was really into this record store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was living. There was a musicologist at Harvard who was making all of these amazing, rare rips of extraordinarily obscure music, and he put together compilations of early-'70s sub-Saharan guitar music, all these different things. It's how I could sample Mary O'Hara, this traditional Irish folk harpist, for "Sleepyhead." There was really nothing that I didn't completely devour. I never stopped searching for music until I started playing music for a living, and then I had to pull back for a little bit. But I'm still such a nerd that if we started talking about my influences we'd be on the phone all day.

I honestly also had an obsession of trying not to sound like anybody. I didn't ever want to be likened to any other band. I kind of thought about it as musical theater, trying to make this character in a whole different world of pop, with a distinct place on the shelf. That would make it divisive, so whether people liked it or not was gonna be the risk I'd take doing that, but I was always pretty hell-bent on that. There was never one artist that influenced me more than any other.

"My adult life has been nothing but weird... and it's taken me a really long time to let the awkward and kind of uncomfortable feelings go."

There was a lot of weirdness in the media about your life and your challenges with mental health during your breakout years. It seems like you were thrust into the limelight, in ways you didn't always appreciate. Now that you've had some time to reflect, how do you feel anticipating the tour?
All the press that I've done, at least in the year and a half, has kind of focused on how taxing touring is for me, and how it's been part of the more turbulent moments of my life. But this one is actually a completely different situation in terms of booking and getting it together, and the whole idea of the tour. I actually wanted to do this.

I felt like I was going through something the past few years after Tremendous Sea of Love, where I kind of recoiled. I needed to take time away to understand whatever I needed, but then I kind of forgot what it was that I did, which happens. I had this urge, out of nowhere, once we were asked to do the Just Like Heaven Festival, to book a tour around it. I realized that logistically, it worked, but also, the timing is perfect. It's right at the beginning of summer. I actually turn 32 on May 19, when we're playing in New York, and I just needed to remember what it was that I did.

I took time off and said that I didn't want to again for a long time. But it's a process, where I locked myself in for a while, and then got so antsy where I want to do something again. But I don't like doing it for any old reason—I want to have a specific vision for it. This is an overly self-regarding line of work, but it just felt like Manners never got a fair shot early on, because of the circumstances under which we were touring, and the place that I was mentally. So now felt like a perfect time in my life, and I've never felt clearer and more relieved of these tensions that have basically accompanied every tour up this point.

It was just a perfect of storm of good things, and for the first time, I'm actually really looking forward to touring, and getting back together with a bunch of positive people and having some fun. It's not been a very fun few years for anybody, so I felt like, Well, let's try to reprocess this. Can touring be fun? So far, it's felt really good. I want to have fun again, and I want to do it with a specific vision in mind, and that was to properly play Manners all the way through, which we've never done before. And 10-year anniversaries today are like what 20-year anniversaries were like five years ago—time has just sped up so much. It felt like it was perfect timing for me, and I needed the boost.

In the last decade, your music has reached millions of people and taken you all over the world. In all of your travels, what was the most surprising context in which you heard your music?
It freaks me out when I'm sitting in an airport terminal, and a bonus track on the Japanese version of Gossamer is playing right before a flight. It doesn't ever go away. It freaks me out, because it feels like I'm haunting people. [laughs]

It's weird, too, because the album came out at a totally different time, you know? People bought and owned the record, and the way they listened to it was way different than how they listen to it today. We toured for a really long time on Manners, we went everywhere, and it was wild to be received the way we were received without having done much. It was so fast and quick, and it wasn't like we were on the radio, at least for very long. "The Reeling" was on the radio for a little bit, but it was too soon for synthesizers, and dancier alternative stuff. A year later, that would change.

It seemed like that's kind of been the case since "Take A Walk," which was as strange of a phenomenon as anything I've ever come across. When that hit radio, it seemed to reach much younger fans, which was new for us.

But I can't pinpoint just one thing. My adult life has been nothing but weird. It's literally been nothing but totally bizarre and strange, and it's taken me a really long time to let the awkward and kind of uncomfortable feelings go. To realize that we played these festivals in the U.K. where 50,000 people were jumping up and down to songs that were deep cuts on this record, and the record had only been out a month, you know? There's no way to describe the feeling of people kind of knowing what you do. You wouldn't just go out there and expect them to know it. I don't sit down and imagine the kinds of connections that people have. Honestly, I've just been in shock for the past 11 years, that's the best way to put it.

Passion Pit's tour kicks off April 30; find out all the forthcoming dates, here.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.