Independent Record Label | Est. 2009
Wilmington, North Carolina



Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Female Gaze | Interview | New Album, ‘Tender Futures’

[Repost from It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine; Klemen Breznikar, June 24, 2024]

Female Gaze releases sweet and swirling indie-rock with ‘Tender Futures.’

Finding patience in agony is like trying to dig a tunnel in the desert sand by hand. While it is almost certainly an unfathomable task, what else can you do to bide your time and preoccupy your mind? When life puts you in impossible situations, make possible decisions; keep going until you get to where you need to go. Nelene DeGuzman was forced into one such impossible situation, so she made a possible decision: Make music about it.

‘Tender Futures,’ the newest album from seasoned songwriters Female Gaze, comes from a place of increased and constant suffering, the dreadful sort that distorts the temporal and obfuscates your reality, so the soundscapes reflect this loss of space. Nelene DeGuzman (vox, guitars, piano), Kevin Conklin (bass, backing vox on ‘Severance’), and Nicky David Cobham-Morgese (percussion) combine their strengths to present just over a half hour of psychedelic shoegaze desert rock. DeGuzman has persevered through chronic health issues for most of her life thus far, but it was the most recent year where things turned overwhelming while awaiting a crucial surgery. During this prolonged difficulty, DeGuzman put pen to paper and came away with five new songs encapsulating this trying time. Thus, it’s a bit of a loose concept record, one in which you can start it from any point and loop through it just as effectively as if you started at track one and listened through. As the days and nights blurred together in real life, so too do the tracks on this record.

Starting from track one, ‘ghosts,’ we get a little taste of the meditative energy to come – whispery, willowy vocals and patient guitar passages with field recordings gently placed in the mix, effectively incorporating that sense of lost time as sunshine and moonlight coalesce. The following and longest track, ‘broadcast,’ ebbs and flows with Cobham-Morgese’s pounding percussion, driving the band wherever they want to wander. Conklin’s steady bass is a stalwart foundation for the ideas to incorporate, introducing budding branches on which DeGuzman’s effects-drenched guitars can roost. The title track embodies the idea well – futures that are tender, at mercy of the tides of life, as dissonance and harmony cascade throughout the extended jam. Track four ‘in the mezzanine’ serves as another pensive exercise for the weary of heart and soul before we reach the gentle closer ‘severance,’ my personal favorite, which feels almost triumphant before the chaotic end loops us right back around to the intro birdsong – another languid day gone by.

The journey you will take listening to this new Female Gaze release comes just in time for the approach of summer in the northern hemisphere. Its sun-battered melodies and murky rhythmic depths compliment one another like a classic summer cycle, hoping to provide relief from the heat and a compassionate blanket in the cold. Enjoy the art during these trying times, and embrace those impossible situations with possible decisions.

How did the name “Female Gaze” come about? What does it mean in relation to your art?

Nelene: The name first popped into my mind during a transitional period in my life. I was on a solo tour in 2019 which turned out to be a really transformative and meditative experience for me. In its literal sense, it is the inversion of the film concept of the male gaze. Donning the moniker felt like I was giving myself permission to be unapologetic in my identity as an artist. I was giving myself the liberty to just exist in these artistic spaces and not have to explain or justify my perspective or presence.

How long have you folks been together as a band now? What do you feel your strengths are when you work as a unit?

Nelene; Kevin (our bassist and also my husband) and I have been playing music together for over a decade, initially in our previous project, The Rifle. Nicky joined in 2020 just before we released our last LP as The Rifle. As Female Gaze, the three of us have been together since 2021. I feel like we have a natural rhythm together as a three piece and can groove in our own little language which allows us to be really improvisational live which I find really freeing. I love being surprised by things that arise naturally in the moment when we’re playing together.

For DeGuzman, what has helped you press on in defiance of your personal health struggles? How do you find the motivation to create and continue when faced with such difficulties?

Nelene: When I’m not feeling well, the only thing that seems to get me through is to put blinders on and just focus on translating pain or whatever is going on into art. Creating is how I understand myself and my experiences and sometimes when things have been bad, I won’t really understand how bad they were until I’ve expressed those experiences back to myself via something I’ve created if that makes sense.

If you could collaborate and/or perform with any current musician/group, who would it be?

Nicky: Witch!

Kevin: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard!

Nelene: Mitski!

If you had to start over from scratch without any of your instruments or gear (minus a computer), what would you buy first?

Nicky: a synthesizer!

Kevin: a Hofner Beatle Bass!

Nelene: hmmmm maybe a sweet petite lil parlor guitar.