“I want it to be clear that this is a queer project and make it about being a queer artist. I really want coming out to be the main theme of the album.”
Muncie Girls’ Lande Hekt has never been one to shy away from sharing personal experiences via her songwriting. Known for her candid and relatable lyrics, her debut solo album and first release as an outwardly gay person, ‘Going to Hell’ is her most honest offering to date.
“Basically, I couldn’t help it, even if I’d tried to make a record that wasn’t about coming to terms with being gay, it would have been about that,” explains Lande. “Even if it’s not the main topic, a lot of the songs are about either coming out or looking back to times when I was trying to pretend to be straight.”
“Though I’m not coming out late in life (I’m still in my 20s), I’ve been in a band publicly and not known I was gay, so I wanted to do this in the best way I can - by writing songs so I can be totally open about it and hoping that some people will be able to relate. I’ve always written super personal things, there’s a song on the last Muncie Girls record, ‘Jeremy’, that was a big fuck you to my dad who I hadn’t spoken to in ten years! That was slightly terrifying, but this was more exciting than scary.”
True to her confessional style, the first single from her debut and also the album opener ‘Whiskey’ sees Lande immediately address the realisation that pretending you’re not gay can’t go on forever. Starting intimately with a simply strummed guitar, the track builds into a delicate euphoria, ending with the repetition of the line “the feeling of not having to pretend.” It’s a celebratory introduction to the record’s theme of self-acceptance and all the vulnerabilities that are laid bare along the path to finding freedom.
“I knew I was gay when I was a lot younger, but I did some serious work to try and bury that when I was a teenager. It was very easy to do it because I wanted to be straight so badly. I had this sort of internalised homophobia, I thought being gay was a bad thing. It took nearly ten years of being in the punk scene and hanging out with queer people to realise that this is the coolest thing ever, that I do want to accept this part of myself!”
“It feels like the alternative music scene is on more of the right track now, there’s been a massive uprising of queer artists and support for queer artists, so I didn’t doubt that there would be support. I’ve always wanted to be part of the queer punk scene as I admire it so much, but I’ve never been brave enough to deal with my own shit to be able to warrant being a part of it.”
“Of course, it’s easy for people who are involved in the alternative music scene to romanticise it all and assume that everyone is forward-thinking and there’s so much unity, but there are obviously still a lot of problems when it comes to homophobia. That just makes it more important that there are more queer musicians and that we’re more visible and louder.”
If it wasn’t for the support of other awesome humans in the punk scene, we might not be experiencing Lande’s stunning solo work. When she released her first solo EP, ‘Gigantic Disappointment’, in November 2019, there was simply an online release with no expectations and no label. Lande had planned to release ‘Going to Hell’ in the same way, until chats with the Philadelphia-based, queer-run Get Better Records led to plans for a physical release. In fact, if it wasn’t for Muncie Girls’ friendship with Australian band The Hard Aches, we may not have been blessed with ‘Gigantic Disappointment’ to begin with.
“I was staying in Australia a little bit longer after one of the Muncie Girls tours, and I decided to record some of the solo songs I’d written with Ben from The Hard Aches in his home studio in the Adelaide Hills. We’d made great friends with the band through touring and tour swaps. I had the opportunity to record with him again in February 2020, so we thought, let’s just make an album because, why not?!”
While Lande admits that there’s something gloomy about recording in the cold of England which works well with her music, recording in Australia with koala bears in the trees next to the studio is certainly a much more exciting prospect. Though COVID-19 restrictions almost scuppered plans, the lack of time constraints due to working in Ben’s home studio suited Lande as a solo musician, allowing her to play pretty much every part of every track.
“With Muncie Girls, we plan things because we have to: there are three of us, four when playing live, plus a manager and booking agent. Everyone needs to fit to a schedule, or it doesn’t work, whereas there’s no pressure to plan anything when it’s just me. I definitely don’t enjoy restrictions of time, it gets in the way of creativity.”
In taking a step back from Muncie Girls’ anthemic blend of power-pop and punk in favour of a gentler sound, ‘Going to Hell’ allows Lande more room for introspection. “The main difference is the themes of the songs. With Muncie Girls, I’m aware that more people are listening and we’re a group of people pushing a message, so I feel I’m in more of a position to be saying more political stuff in general, whereas this is much more personal.”
One thing that both projects have in common, is a sense of hope and positivity that shines through even in darker moments, and with ‘Going to Hell’, Lande wants the listener to know she is so much happier.
“I’m definitely a happier person being more open. One of the things about my experience was the fact that I actually got sober over three years ago, and it wasn’t until I’d been sober for a while that I started to accept that I was gay. I feel way happier, and I don’t know what part of that is being gay and what part of that is being sober! For me, they’re both the same thing - I’m not able to just drink and ignore things about myself anymore.”
“This is exactly what I want to be doing right now: playing music as a queer artist with other queer artists, being more open and supporting something I actually believe in.”
Taken from the February 2021 edition of Upset. Order a copy below. Lande Hekt’s debut solo album ‘Going to Hell’ is out 22nd January.
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