February 8th, the Thursday was Emo night at the Milk Boy, Philadelphia, Put on by Best Ex and This is Emo. it was a poppy punky night with talent and emotions overflowing from the amazing acts on stage. Heavy on the Heart kicked things off with their Long Island brand of heartfelt pop punk. With songs that range from fast-paced racers to slowed-down songs about topics like "bad exes", Heavy on the Heart was light on their feet in Philly and put on a spectacular show. Best Ex hit the stage and charmed the crowd with her introspective and self-assessing lyrics that cover topics ranging from the patriarchy and how women are treated in music, to the isolation of quarantine, and of course heartbreak both new and old. It was an exciting set of emotional but energetic songs that show the talented voice behind the deeper lyrics, and it allows you to know more about who Best Ex are and what they stand for. Another exciting night in Philly with Best Ex and Heavy on the Heart putting in amazing sets. Thank you to everyone at the venue and everyone who helped make this possible.
We also got an opportunity to do a quick interview with Mariel of Best Ex -
What inspired you to start making music?
I started playing music when I was in high school. I got a guitar for Christmas when I was 15 years old. I started writing songs before I even knew how to play it. I would just press my fingers onto it to be like, does that sound good, like a chord haha. This is interesting because there’s a series on Amazon called Tegan and Sara that shows that same thing. And like me and my twin sister were doing that you know 10 years after they did. So I started then and then I went to college which is where I started my first band, Candy Hearts. We recorded some demos there and put them online and it caught the attention of someone in New Found Glory and they were like “I wanna produce you” and I was like "Cool thanks", I thought he was just being nice or something because I said something nice about his band online so he’s like responding to it. He’s like send me your demos and I’m like “ok sure” and then I didn’t haha. And then he saw that I was going on tour with a band that he was friends with and then he messaged me again like “I’m really hurt you wouldn’t tell me that you’re going on tour with my friends. I’m really trying to help you.” And I was like “Oh you’re serious! OK” then I sent him a bunch of demos and he’s like ok we’ll find you a label and we signed to imprint, and from there it just snowballed. And then I went solo in 2016-17, I wanted to try something that wasn’t pop punk anymore so let me start Best Ex, and now here I am!
The title track off of your debut LP With a Smile, what was the inspiration or story behind that song?
Yeah, so I wrote that song partially during the pandemic but like the beginning lines of “sometimes I feel like I have more in common with the flowers on the shelf I forgot to water” I wrote that when I was feeling really depressed and hopeless and I felt like I was living on this inside world of like misery and I had to go outside and be a person who was pleasant and successful and I didn’t feel like being anything of these things. So I wrote this song to kind of like hype myself up of like, here’s the wallow before you go out and get your shit done. So that’s why I ended with that line “So I’ll swallow my fears till my belly’s full and I’ll go outside with a smile” There’s also a double meaning because so much of the album is focused on pressures, there’s songs about like abuse in the music industry, you know patriarchal bullshit. And I feel like the thing people always tell women “oh you’d look prettier with a smile, why aren’t you smiling, give me a smile” so I thought that was a really good way to start the album in particular
What is your average live show experience like?
I would say that it’s really sort of introspective and cathartic in a way. We try to curate a set that’s very intimate. My old band was very much, very rehearsed, very like here are the fast loud songs boom boom boom. It was like a burst of energy a hype you up thing. And this I feel like I’m focusing more on trying to create a space where I can connect with people on a more individual level. I try to create the vibe of when you’re having a slumber party at your friend's house.
If you could collaborate with any artist throughout history who would it be?
Well, probably Taylor Swift cause it would make me a lot of money haha, I also love her. But like for real I think the thing that would artistically satisfy me the most, well Taylor Swift is one of my favorite writers, but I think I’m Connor Oberst from Bright Eyes has just been my favorite band since before Taylor started making music so I have to stick with my og. It would be Connor. I feel like if he could help me write, anything, to have his stamp on any of my stuff would be amazing. The reason I curate a set I do now and the reason I’m playing music now is really rooted in me learning how to play guitar, and playing his songs.
What are your future plans for best ex and just as a person?
For me as a person, I don’t know, do we ever know? I try not to think too hard about it. Not be poor and unhoused, so far we’re not unhoused so we’re doing great haha. I’d like to have a home, and money haha. But really I just want to make music, that’s really the thing I’m focusing on doing. Every time I release an album I feel really good about it but then I just feel like what’s next, I need to make another album with more music. So that’s where my head is at.
By Nick Tovo
IG - @nrtimagery
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
February 11, 2024
Heavy on the heart