THIS IS OVERCOATS
WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGES: ALLIE CHERNICK
The lovely Nicole Stanton first interviewed Overcoats for our online magazine two years ago when the soulful electronic folk duo Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell were packing their bags for a summer in Dublin. Since then, Overcoats has released a gorgeous album (the haunting, heavenly Young), shared their story through channels such as NPR and Nylon, and toured across the country. It's been such a joy to see the student band that lit the stage during Spring Fling of my senior year headline a national tour. I haven't yet had the opportunity to watch these songbirds live but I've loved listening to their album as I stretch out on the verdant park by my house after work, watching the sun set electric pink as "23" plays on repeat.
As an environmental activist and educator, music is my medicine. It heals me when the days are heavy and helps me create the space to connect with others when I feel suddenly isolated in my work. "Young" has been such an important album to me this spring as I work my way through love and nourish my creative voice and commit myself to carving out a plot for my passions to take root. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!
Herewith, I talk to Hana and JJ about heart healing music and cultivating creative practices on the road.
Listening to "Young", I experience such a powerful sense of place. It's a really atmospheric album and for me, sitting with it makes me feel like I'm in a lush, rainy field. What kinds of spaces do you like to write in? And what kind of experiences do you try to create with your music?
We love that image. That's so amazing that the music makes you connect to nature. We usually write in very intimate, trusting spaces— like home, our beds, our rooms with the doors closed. But oftentimes, songs or ideas for songs come in really public places. A lot of our songs have come to us while riding the subway in New York. I think we try to create a healing and invigorating experience with our music. Something that makes you want to dance but also heals your heart.
You're on tour right now for your debut album. What have been some of your favorite places to pass through?
We've been to some amazing places. We loved Minneapolis, Portland, Montreal, Berlin...it's also really amazing to play in places that you'd never thought you'd visit! None of us had ever been to Louisville, Kentucky and we all fell in love with it.
What creative practices do you cultivate on the road?
We mainly try to survive! That requires getting as much sleep as we can and making sure we eat 3 meals per day. I also think that part of surviving, for both of us, is staying creatively engaged. For a lot of our touring throughout this past winter we were knitting scarves and nowadays we have switched to watercoloring. We try to also keep writing music, if we're feeling like it. We wrote a new song while in Paris on this last stretch of tour!
One of the things I deeply believe at Loam is that music can be a powerful act of environmentalism because it inspires a sense of community and connection. How do you strive to build creative community thru your work?
Hopefully, our music helps people come together, whether it's in the space that we create together at the venue or one that people create together just listening to the record. We hope that we inspire folks to be creative, musically, and in other fields and to be vulnerable and honest with themselves and with others.
What's on the horizon for Overcoats?
We've got some more touring coming down the pipeline and we're always writing new music, so it's looking like we'll have a busy year ahead of us.