Miesha And The Spanks jumped out at me as I delved through my weekly editor submissions – plucking the most interesting tracks/albums/artists from the depths of my inbox and adding them onto Joyzine’s bulging reviews list, in a bid to pique the interest of our writers. I hit play on the private stream of the Canadian duo’s Unconditional Love In Hi-Fi album and seemingly forgot where the stop button was located. On first listen, there’s the punchy riot grrrl influence, high energy waves of garage rock and a searing upbeat momentum, but digging down into the lyrical themes reveals outrage, anger and darkness.
Miesha Louie is a mixed-Secwépemc artist living in Treaty 7 Territory and The Spanks are the many drummers who have stood beside her on stage – currently the long serving Sean Hamilton. To open an album with an intro track and song referencing the horrific discovery of the graves of indigenous children at residential school sites in 2021 makes for a heavy start. However, Miesha delivers deeply personal songs with an energised and visceral tone that persists throughout. The album may well cover relatable, yet daunting, subject matter – the loss of body autonomy, cyberbullying, body image and grief – but Miesha And The Spanks inject an upbeat and often angry spin, never losing site of the fact that amongst the despair of modern times, there is always excitement and joy to be found.
It’s a great album which is deserving of your time and attention, so we asked Miesha to give us a track by track rundown of Unconditional Love In Hi-Fi, which is released today.
Dig Me Out – “Just before “Dig Me Out” gets moving, we intro it with “necwiéwt” which means sorry in Secwepémctsin. The recording is taken from the Pope’s recent apology to Indigenous communities for the horrors of residential schools. I wrote “Dig Me Out” before that apology, to process my own grief and anger after the initial 215 children were found on the grounds of the T’kemlups residential school site – which my grandmother attended – and what sparked a search of many more school sites and discovering many more children. I wrote it in the form of a rock song because I was shocked at how many people didn’t know these schools existed once the news broke about the children, and I wanted people to realize they were much closer to this reality than they thought.”
So Mad – “This song is about the day to day of what women deal with – from losing autonomy of our bodies as the US slowly revokes laws surrounding abortion and birth control, to being able to safely walk home at night – and the expectation that we can’t be too angry about it, and to just… smile more.”
Bully – “When I released the music video to our song “Mixed Blood Girls” in 2021 I was met with overwhelming support from mixed Indigenous women and gender expansive people, who shared their experiences with me, as the song is my story of my life growing up mixed-Indigenous. But I was harassed and trolled online by one Indigenous man, who wouldn’t respond to my private messages, and seemed to just want to cause shit at 4am and delete it later in the afternoon. Despite the overwhelming support and connection tied to that video and sharing my personal experience, that one man brought back all of the self doubt I struggled with in my youth, and I wrote this song to help move pass it.”
I Can’t Wait – “This is our garage-pop ode to summer, and a motivational reminder to go for what you want and not let it get away. It’s super catchy and simple, and easier said than done.”
It’s My Year
GRLSROK – “This song is revamped from our back catalogue, an idea that wasn’t as fully expressed as its vision. Inspired by the girls I mentor at Girls Rock Camp Calgary year after year – some of whom guested on the gang vocals – this song is the faith I have in girls and gender expansive youth. I’m constantly impressed by their strength of identity and acceptance of each other and willingness to experience. The interlude to this song “qwemins”, meaning to want to try or achieve in Secwepemctsin, is taken from a Girls Rock Camp Calgary interview on local radio station CJSW. It jumped out at me right away, like YES, the grrls are OK.”
Heart On Fire – “You’re always young when you’re doing what you love, when you’re nervous and excited and bubbling over, and you feel like your heart is on fire. That burning feeling inside that tells you you’re in the best moment of your life. Sometimes that feeling is love, sometimes it’s getting on stage, and sometimes it’s something else. For me it was in the early stages of writing this album when pieces starting coming together, my boys started day care, and I had time to just play guitar in the garage and write music again.”
Bear Kids – “Our song “Bear Kids” explores the connection between the loss of my father to a Grizzly Sow and her two large cubs while working near Prince George, and the birth of my twins. During my pregnancy I experienced ‘bear dreams’ which I attributed to the loss of my father, except they weren’t terrifying like what I experienced closer to when I lost him. They were calmer, and Grizzly was trying to tell me something. It’s an old Secwépemc belief that twins are ‘bear children’ and a gift from Grizzly Spirit, and I harnessed this to reconcile my grief with my gift. Written as a healing song, I invited a Siksika dancer, Sherry Woods, to the studio to record their jingle dance, a healing dance, along to the music, which turned the whole experience into a healing ritual that I’ll never forget.”
Enough Is Enough – “The introduction to “Enough Is Enough” is “s7elkst” or work. The primary drum is an old oil barrel with a skin stretched across it that just sounds so industrial, and the beat our producers Danny and Paul came up with sounds like something right off an assembly line. This was perfect to bookend this track, which is based on over-working, and when life starts to feel like a giant assembly line of responsibilities and expectations: “Be a good mama / Keep a career / Make time for your love / Make time for yourself”. Be a parent, be a worker, be a partner, and oh yeah don’t forget self-care.”
Mom Jeans // Mom Genes – “The screaming babies you hear before entering “Mom Jeans // Mom Genes” are my twins, “teksel7ílt” in Secwépemctsin, a fitting sound to intro the joys and struggles of the new mom experience. In “Mom Jeans” I try to make light of the post-birth body conflicts, where now-trendy ‘mom jeans’ actually fit our new mom bods perfectly. Like most of my music, what I’m writing is me processing something that’s pretty real. It’s more than just about the new mom-fit jeans that I’m wearing, that’s just the metaphor. It’s also the super tough mom genes that get us through the day to day of ups and downs and emotional manipulations and breakthroughs and pure joy that come with our role as Matriarch.”
I Was Gonna – “Our fun punk rock song to wrap the album – everything we were gonna do, but then… This song was recorded in the middle of the night live off the floor when we had OCL studios to ourselves and wanted to play some punk rock. It’s one of those in the moment songs that you really shouldn’t mess with too much, because that raw and honest idea that was created is all you really need.”
Miesha And The Spanks’ album Unconditional Love In Hi-Fi is released on 14th April via Mint Records.
The band are touring North America throughout April and will be playing the following shows in the UK this summer…
7th June: Manchester – The Peer Hat
8th June: Newport – Le Pub
10th June: London – Hope And Anchor
For more music and info, follow Miesha And The Spanks on Bandcamp / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube
Introduction by Mandy Bang @mandybang
Track by track article by Miesha Louie @mandthespanks
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