24 February 2023

5 Minutes with Overcoats: The experimental pop duo on embracing authenticity and reclaiming independence

HUNGER sits down with the group to get all the details on their upcoming independently released album, ‘Winner.’

JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion, better known as the experimental pop duo Overcoats, are proof that everything is better with friends. Both Mitchell and Elion met while attending Wesleyan University, and slowly built up a catalogue of music throughout the mid-2010s. Their debut album, YOUNG, dropped in 2017, and garnered praise for its genre-bending sparsity. Not resting on their laurels, Overcoats continued to delve further into unexplored territory with their next project – 2020’s The Flight – matching pulsating soundscapes along with their buttery smooth vocals.

It’s been three years since their last album, but their next project, Winner, will be released on April 7th. Overcoats have already released three singles for the album: ‘Horsegirl,’ ‘Never Let You Go,’ and title track ‘Winner.’ Whether it’s tear-jerking ballads, a catchy, poppy breakup track or a dreamy guitar-led tune, these three singles all encompass a southern twang and give us the perfect taster of what’s to come from the duo. Leaning into more of a country-led direction, Overcoats describe the sound of Winner as “ranch pop” – a fitting description. Here, HUNGER catches up with Overcoats to discuss what we can expect from Winner, their personal progression and going independent.

Congratulations on your new single, ‘Never Let You Go,’ can you tell us a bit about how that track came about and the inspiration behind it?

Thank you! We wrote this song in Nashville, where we recorded most of the record. One of us (maybe we won’t say which) was going through a very on-again, off-again situation, and that feeling of wanting what you can’t have kept popping up whenever they would break up. We wanted to write about that particular feeling!

The visual for the track certainly adds an extra element to the song; how important are visuals for your creative vision?

We often talk about music video ideas while in the studio recording. We think about colours for each song and keep Pinterest boards. The visual element is always an inspiration.

Do you often have the idea for a music video already in your mind while creating a track?

Sometimes! We wrestled with a few different ideas for this song. We’ve been really inspired by Thelma & Louise on this record, so one of the ideas we had was us sort of escaping. We may or may not use that concept in a different upcoming video! This one lent itself to something more intimate – a conversation between two people.

What differences can we expect from your next project, Winner,  compared to your previous efforts?

Making this in Nashville, we leaned more into Americana influences. Daniel Tashian, who has done all the recent Kacey Musgraves stuff, produced the record and was integral to helping us keep things raw and real. This record has a little bit less of an electronic influence and a bit more country twang. We like to call it “ranch pop.”

You’re both not afraid to experiment with and combine different genres. Are there any particular sounds you’d like to explore in the future?

Oh yes. I wouldn’t put it past us to go deeper into the country sphere. We’re also super inspired by punkier stuff – PJ Harvey, Clinic, Sleater-Kinney. It would be super fun to make that kind of record.

How has life changed for you both since the release of your debut album, YOUNG,  in 2017 compared to now?

Gosh, so much. We’ve been through such a journey that we are immensely grateful for. Living and working as musicians is scary, but we’ve tried to take each challenge as it comes and allow it to make us stronger. This is our first time releasing on our own label and really calling the shots in a long time. We’re excited to move forward in the most authentic way yet.

Who are the artists in your rotation at the moment?

So many good ones on rotation right now! Holly Humberstone, Katy Kirby, Plains, Julia Jacklin, and a few lesser-known folks like Georgia Harmer and Renata Zeiguer.

If you could pick one album to soundtrack your life, what would it be?

I Kind of hate myself for saying this, but Graceland by Paul Simon.

Now that you’ve been in the industry for a few years, what advice would you give to an aspiring artist just starting to make music?

After talent, perseverance is the most important thing. Mic drop!

What song do you wish you had written?

‘Blood Bank’ by Bon Iver.

Who would be your dream collaboration right now?

Renee Rapp.

What’s the goal for Overcoats?

To keep making music that is harmony-driven, truth-inspired, and fun to play live.

  • Writer Chris Saunders Image Credit

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