Helmed by Tuesday Denekas (guitar/vocals), Milla Merlini (drums), Sasha A’Hearn (bass), and Charlee Berlin (guitar/vocals) San Diego indie pop quartet The Inflorescence are bringing an inimitable blend of pop punk-infused riot grrrl anthems to angsty Gen Z-ers around the world with their debut LP Remember What I Look Like, out today on the legendary pacific northwest indie label Kill Rock Stars (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Bratmobile, Fitz of Depression). Combining the emotionally-tangled ballads of modern indie powerhouses like Mitski with the irresistibly saccharine melodies of pop punk virtuosos like Saves the Day, Remember What I Look Like weaves punchy guitar riffs with candid lyrics about navigating the harrowing psychological turbulence of being a teenager.
While most of these songs could be classified in the realm of teenage angst, they still have the ability to strike a chord with every listener, regardless of age. Being a teenager might be temporary, but what adults almost never tell you is that those feelings never actually go away; you just get better at concealing them. That’s why older millennials of the TRL generation never really stopped listening to their favorite emo deep cuts from the early-to-mid 2000s. In fact, older millennials have actually been the biggest champions of newer iterations of that sound popping up on Olivia Rodrigo records.
My personal favorite song on Remember What I Look Like is “Tomorrow Night,” because of how well Denekas’ lyrics illustrate the process of overthinking. Their brain is perpetually trapped on the hamster wheel of self-doubt and co-dependence, with lyrics like “Why can’t my brain just stop spinning/Stop pretending it’ll ever work and try to make it right/I guess I’ll find a way to fight it off tonight/But I guess I’ll try again tomorrow night.”
A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents spoke with bandleader Tuesday Denekas over email to discuss the writing process for Remember What I Look Like, how supporting your local music scene can help uplift women and queer people, and much more!
I understand that three of you, minus Charlee, were in a previous band together before you formed the Inflorescence. How has your music evolved since reforming?
It’s almost evolved in every single way. I’m really grateful for the band I was in before because Milla and I would have never have met otherwise, and without Milla this band literally wouldn’t exist. Songwriting wise, I think it’s still evolving for us, being so young it’s nice to switch up the writing process and start thinking more deeply about what we want to express through the sound and lyrics.
You recently signed to Kill Rock Stars. How did that initially come about?
My mom had known Slim for a long time and after we finished up recording the album we thought it would be a waste to not try and send it to people. My mom sent to to Kill Rock Stars first because she said it was by far the coolest label and a label she thought would really fit us. Slim emailed back saying he loved it and the ball just kept rolling from there (aka talking about this and trying to get the paper signed for almost half a year).
As a follow up to the previous question, who are some of your favorite legendary bands affiliated with Kill Rock Stars?
Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill personally have a special place in my heart from my childhood. I always grew up around music and my mom always told me about riot grrrl bands growing up, so going from listening to them on the car ride to school in 5th grade to now, being on the same label as they were? It’s pretty insane and something I can’t think too hard about before I start crying, hahaha.
What would you say is the main thematic through-line on a song like “So Much of Nothing”?
“So Much Of Nothing” is about me and my relationship with depression. For me, my depression just feels like absolute emptiness and an overwhelming feeling of no emotions. There would be days of laying in my bed staring at my phone and feel absolutely nothing. Not a single feeling. It was really scary sometimes to feel so empty and that song is mostly about that. The overwhelming feeling of nothing. This was the first song I wrote after a very long time of writer’s block. I had nothing to write about because I literally felt nothing. One day I was like, “Okay, well I’ll just write a song about that!” and it finally got me out of my writer’s block.
What has songwriting taught you about yourself?
Songwriting has always been one of the most difficult but also rewarding things I do. Songwriting has been a great way for me to get out my emotions in a way that felt productive. A lot of the time I sit and do nothing about how I’m feeling because the thought of changing your situation is so overwhelming but songwriting always helped me heal whether the situation was resolved or ongoing.
What gravitated you to the melodic and guitar-heavy sound of pop punk?
I grew up on Pop Punk and throughout the years I’ve definitely stepped back from listening to the genre but bits and pieces always continue to be put in my songwriting. I’m a sucker for pop melody’s and Smashing Pumpkins guitar so I kinda just smashed it together.
What’s one record in your collection that is guaranteed to give you comfort every time you listen to it?
Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge literally means everything to me. My Chemical Romance was my whole childhood and listening to it now brings me heavy good nostalgia.
Was there any point in the process of putting this album together where you surprised yourself with how far you took something?
OMG! I love this question. Writing “Tomorrow Night” was the most difficult songwriting challenge I’ve ever had and it literally took me months to finish the lyrics for it. The first verse sat in my notes app for months before I did anything with it. When I finally sat down to finish up the chorus, the part which took the longest to write, I started just randomly singing and suddenly “Just try your hardest and stare right at me, and break my heart like you have already” came out and I had never written a line down so fast in my life. I just sat there and was like, “damn thats literally so sad, WTF??” I guess in that moment I finally realized how much “Tomorrow Night” would mean to me as a song.
I really related to the final track “Board Game.” (And I have to admit, you guys really got me with those iPhone messaging sound effects, my eyes kept darting to my phone, haha). Did it feel cathartic to write about?
“Board Game” was super fun to write! I had the idea of using the metaphor of a Board Game to describe how it felt to be used and manipulated and the entire song came out in like 10 minutes. I took a lot of inspiration from “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski, especially with the climax of the song. Board Game wasn’t originally the last song on the album but after seeing everything put together it made sense for it to be the final conclusion to “Remember What I Look Like”. Something I realized after we put it at the end of the album was that the last line is “I don’t know why, but I can’t recognize you anymore” and with the album name I think it just wraps it up very melancholy which I really like.
What advice do you have for young girls and non-binary AFAB folks looking for music by likeminded people?
GO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SCENE AND NOT JUST THE STUPID WHITE BOY BANDS!!!!! There’s enby and woman artists everywhere, look in your local scene for it, support them, buy their shit, stream their music. There’s so many bands who are underground that deserve so much recognition for their art and it’s so easy to discover the ones near you.
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