Piney: Okay girls, let’s discuss our ‘puppy loves’ – puppy love being your first teenage crush.
Emma: I’m gonna start because this is quite relevant to what we were just talking about. My first crush was probably my best friend Claire, because I loved her so much, I got obsessed with her, I think you do that when you’re a teenage girl.
Piney: You get possessive right?
Emma: Yeah and I loved her and I really wanted to be a part of her life and her family, so I transferred it all on to her brother who was like “err okay” so I became obsessed with him, which meant I got to hang out with her all the time but I transferred my love for her onto the male version of her, her brother.
Piney: And how did that go?
Emma: I mean, I lost my virginity to him thank you very much!
(Roxy cackles fill the room)
Emma: But for most of the time he shunned me until he realised I was up for, uh, things. I remember sitting on the stairs crying about him with my first dog, and I looked into her brown eyes and furry little face and said, “You’re the only one who understands.”
Piney: I know, the dog licks your salty tears away.
(Cue more Roxy laughter)
Piney: Amy tell us about your first puppy love.
Amy: I’m trying to remember, I think my crushes when I was younger were not at school, they were famous people. I really loved River Phoenix, I also really liked Tony Slattery that improviser…
Emma: I liked him too!
Amy: …but he was such a middle aged man, and I was really young and it would be a joke about me liking River Phoenix and Tony Slattery at the same time.
Piney: But were you crushing on them hard or was it more of a Dreamboat *sigh* crush from afar.
Amy: It was probably just dreamboat stuff. I had crushes at school with people who were my friends but I was always in the friend zone so nothing ever happened.
Piney & Emma: Awww unrequited?
Amy: Unrequited, yeah!
Piney: Well look at you now!
(More Roxy laughs)
Umm… mine was a boy at church called Matt Bonsingnore, he was from a big Italian family, Bonsingnore means ‘good man’ and he was the youngest of five brothers, and I crushed on him so hard and he never liked me back, but we once couple skated at the roller rink to Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’ from the movie Top Gun (he totally had that haircut too!) and we held hands for the duration of that one song and I was obsessing about it. Every week, I went to my friend Jai’s house on Saturday nights so we could go to church together on Sunday mornings and we’d stay up at night and fantasise, ‘cause she fancied a guy at our church as well, and we’d make up what date we were gonna go on, what were we gonna wear, how would we do our hair, how would we do our make up, for this big imaginary date and then we’d go to church and not even talk to those guys and just giggle if they walked past and then eventually I invited Matt to Sadie Hawkins, you know the dance where the girl invites the boy? And he said yes, but I guess it was a pity yes because he was not interested in me whatsoever, so that’s Matt Bonsignore. A wholesome crush that hurt so good.
Emma: I love that you went to church and held his hand and I was like ‘yeah I fucked this guy in a field’(Roxy laughs erupt again)
Piney: Umm… that comes later! So the other thing… let’s talk about first pets, in my case it was a dog named Gabriel and he was a springer spaniel and he was totally mad and mental and he had way too much energy for our tiny apartment and I came home from school one day and he was just gone.
Emma & Amy: Oh no!
Piney: Yeah my parents gave him away and they thought the other parent had told me and nobody told me, so I came home from school and my dog was just gone.
Amy: What was the reason they gave?
Piney: Well the dog was too unruly for our tiny flat that’s a fact, but it was just weird to come home from school and discover “Gabriel’s gone,” and I didn’t have siblings so he was like my fur brother, I was pretty upset. He’s probably not around anymore though… what about your first puppy?
Emma: My first dog was a dog called Tess and she was a border collie cross and I loved her and she sat with me when I was sad, she was pretty great and easy to look after because it turns out I never looked after her. Now that I have my own dog I realise how much my parents did to care for her. I used to think looking after a dog is easy, but now I’m responsible for our family dog I know it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
Piney: What about you Ames?
Amy: It’s the stuff of legends, I didn’t have a dog, but we had a cat called Marmalade, and to be honest he was very like a dog because he was such a lovely, loyal, friendly cat; he had a lot of the attributes that dogs have. And me and my friends still talk about him, because whenever we watch something on telly now that has terrible terrible writing, we always say it’s Marmalade writing it.
Piney: Umm… do you mean Marmalade is a scriptwriter?
Amy: Yes Marmalade The Scriptwriter, because he’s a cat and obviously he can’t write and he’s dead. I.e. This is so shit that a dead cat must have written it, and now it’s become our house catchphrase every time something is awful on TV we say, “Oh look Marmalade’s back.”
Piney: Seems like Marmalade is pretty busy!
(More Roxy cackles in the dressing room).
Amy: He was a great cat, not a dog, but he was like a dog.
Piney: Aww sweet, RIP Marmalade.
Piney: Right, so this is a bit more serious because my new album You Are Here has recurring mental health themes – if you look at the lyrics they’re in there, if you look at the music it’s in there. So I guess it’s become a bit of a trend to talk about mental health, which I think is a good thing. The more people talk the better we’ll all be. But how do you girls feel about this subject? I know we each have our own relationship with mental health issues.
Emma: (laughs) ummmm…. I have a messy relationship with my chaotic soup of hormones that I have to deal with every single day but I’m very thankful for Sertraline helping me balance everything out.
Piney: Would you say having a dog is good for your mental health?
Emma: Yes I would say having a dog is very good for my mental health. I also think it’s nice that we can talk and share stuff and realise that everyone is on a spectrum, a sliding scale of STUFF, emotions, yeah….
Piney: I guess some people have an expectation to be perfect or try to appear flawless, which is maybe reinforced by Instagram or social media where everyone seems to be living their best life all the time. There is a worry that these platforms don’t show the cracks, but conversations about mental health make it more acceptable to admit you’re imperfect to others, but also to yourself. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a bit of escapism now and then, but to bear in mind that’s not reality and that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, and that you don’t have to be alone with that.
Amy: It’s probably necessary to keep a balance. It’s better to talk about it, I think it’s interesting for me as well because I grew up very much trying to do everything perfectly. I was a high achiever or whatever, but I think that hasn’t helped me with mental health because I haven’t talked about stuff as much because I’ve always been like must deal with it. And so I think with more discussions happening around me it’s useful for me to feel free to chat when I need to.
Piney: It’s true, now it seems more acceptable to say “I’m taking a mental health day,” and people are more open to “Okay you need to do that for yourself” it’s like self-care that didn’t used to be acknowledged as important is now more encouraged. That’s great!
Amy: It’s definitely good to have more focus about it. One more point from me about this is that singing is really good for my mental health!
Piney: Yeah! It’s almost like music therapy right?
Amy: Totally, because it’s something I really love doing, people should find anything they like doing whether it’s sport or music or whatever…
Piney: or sculpting a pot with a ghost or whatever…
Amy: And the relationship that I get with Roxys is that of a support group…
Piney: And that moves us on to Roxys nicely! So Joyzine are interested in our origin story, umm… so shall we tell the story together? Do you wanna start it?
Emma: We were playing on Later: Jools Holland, singing with Gaz Coombes
Piney: Gaz had a toothache
Amy: And we were singing two songs
Piney: One of which was ‘Deep Pockets’
Emma: Which has a lot of sleigh bells on it
Amy: And someone who was performing as well noticed our sleigh bells and his name was…
Emma: Nile Rodgers
Piney: Who pointed at each of us and said said “Roxy, Roxy and Roxy Music, who knew sleigh bells could be so sexy?”
Amy: And then we giggled.
Emma: We kissed his, uhhh… (pause) door, yeah!
Piney: We covered his dressing room nameplate with lipstick kisses. Because we were too shy to actually talk to him.
Amy: And we were so in the moment with him we didn’t get a photo and later it’s like “Shit we didn’t get a photo with Nile Rodgers.” So we’ll just have to remember it.
Piney: But not only did we meet him, he named us and it stuck didn’t it?
Emma: YES IT DID!
(lots of Roxy laughs bounce around the room)
Piney Gir’s new album You Are Here is available to buy on ltd. edition white vinyl and stream now. You can catch her live at the following venues in March:
13th March @ The Deaf & Hard Of Hearing Centre – Oxford: with full band, headlining the last of her ‘Trio’ tour with Fiona Bevan & Samantha Whates
14th March @ The Trades Club – Hebden Bridge (Solo Show) supporting Salad
15th March @ The Lexington – London (Full Band) supporting Salad
Piney will also be speaking as a mentor at the following events:
8th March – Rebalance: International Women’s Day
Piney is a panellist at The Union Chapel, hosted by Rebalance, imparting wisdom to up-and-coming female artists in honour of International Women’s Day
Piney gives a talk at Oxford University – it’s free, but pre-booking is required
Check out the video for Piney’s new single ‘Puppy Love’
Cover photo by Garry MacLennan styled by Carrie MacLennan
Live photographs from The Sebright Arms by Paul Maps