Discussing Female Representation, Authenticity, Healing, and Anger, With Pop Angel Mouse
Mouse | Bristol
Bristol’s DIY pop darling Mouse has just released her debut EP Angels Never Die, an explosive collection of tracks exploring a range of experiences, from self-love and embracing sexual pleasure to redundancy.
Mouse is something of an anomaly in the music industry. Overall, womxn make up only 20% of musical artists, and only 5% of music producers. “I think it's really special to be a girl who can produce,” says Mouse, “I think that is a gift. I first bought Logic when I was 17 but I was much more interested in recording than actually producing. I was interested in [recording] because I was a massive - an embarrassing level of massive - Elliot Minor fan. I literally was obsessed. They did this studio diaries vlog series on youtube and I'd never seen anything like it before. They actually talked about Pro Tools and how they recorded this drum sound and it was the first I’d ever seen of it and I was just absolutely amazed.”
"I opened Logic when I got home and I made my first beat. It was atrocious!"
As a multi-instrumentalist with a foundation in classical music, being a producer should have been the logical choice when it came to making music for Mouse. However, she is the first to admit that gender norms had influenced what roles she’d viewed as ‘suitable’ when she was younger. “I was such a nihilist in the way I was, like ‘well what's the point? I’m a girl, I'm just gonna sing. That's it. I can just stand there and play the keyboard and look nice’. When it hit me that I could actually [produce music], I’d just moved to Bristol. I was so lonely, didn't have many friends, didn't have a job, so I had a lot of time on my hands. [I thought] why have I never tried that before? Why have I never really given it a go?’ This was 2017 so not really that long ago to be honest, but I opened Logic when I got home and I made my first beat. It was atrocious!”
Despite all the odds, in the short span of 2 years Mouse went from awful “doodles” of beats to releasing a track that could hold its own against some of Bristol’s best up and coming underground artists, giving the track Touch initially to Bristol club night Illegal Data’s 2019 compilation Illegal Data Compilation #1. Her latest EP, Angels Never Die, has been a labour of love, created in one of the hardest years many of us have gone through.
Opening like the lost chapter of a long-forgotten Disney classic, the overture offers a glimpse at Mouse’s true composing talents. Interspersed with motifs from the title track Angels Never Die and the ever-so-catchy Love Me Like You’re Gonna Lose Me, the release is foreboding yet hopeful, with reverberating brass sections and expressive strings creating a sense of electric anticipation like you’re on the eve of a battle. You know you’re in for a show. “It was almost going to be army themed at some point,” Mouse explains with a laugh, “It all stemmed from writing A.N.D.. I wrote A.N.D. because it was what I needed to hear at the time. I was in such a messy place within myself and I didn't know what the hell I was doing with my life, [I] had no confidence - a real super dip. So I just free-wrote A.N.D. pretty much as it is on the record then that ‘angels never die’ line in the chorus was where the ideas came from for the rest of the imagery. Without that song I don't know honestly what I would have done.”
Authenticity and healing are at the heart of Mouse’s creative output, and this has never been clearer than in her latest body of work. Having experienced trauma in her formative years, for Mouse to cover both sexual pleasure and self-proclaimed “shit shags” on tracks Skin and Pity Sex is an exemplary feat. “For me to get to a point where I can sing about sex is like growth beyond,” explains Mouse. “Skin, ultimately, is about sex and enjoying sex and being OK with that, which is a feminist concept in itself, but the chorus is about how you want to feel somebody else’s skin on yours. I think that is never more true than in a fucking lockdown! Regardless of whether it's a sexual approach or not, I just wanna have some sort of intimacy. [Whereas Pity Sex is] about having a shit shag. Put it this way hun, I had to ask him twice “have you done this before?” but I went back there for more so... I was very depressed. I can laugh about it now but yeah, I think a lot of girls have [done the same thing] because we don’t realise how high our standard needs to be.”
"Music will always be that escape for me."
Now, never satisfied by men who do the bare minimum, Mouse relishes in the anger she feels towards narcissists in Unladylike and Heavy Crown. “Unladylike is a look at feminism. It’s about how we’re not expected to have a relationship with anger seemingly at all, we’re just not supposed to be seen as angry in any way. It's a commentary on feminism and in the verses I’m saying ‘I follow all these rules and yet I'm still angry at you, at this person, this must be because I’m just unladylike’. I did write it about an old boss who sacked me out of the blue who I also wrote Heavy Crown about. Heavy Crown is about being made redundant. My boss had a superiority complex. He adored himself and thought he was giving me a huge help by employing me and he was giving me a huge opportunity, but in actual fact he really did not. He absolutely loved himself.” Both tracks are incredibly and intricately well produced, and ambiguously worded enough that the emotion conveyed through both tone and lyrics could be applied to a range of situations, hopefully letting listeners of a feminine disposition feel justified in their anger towards those in a position of power that do them harm.
Ascent captures both a sense of closure and consideration, intermingling the main refrain of Pity Sex with the hook from Escape, which makes an appearance as the last motif of the entire EP. “That's the only time where I've gone back and reflected on music I've released prior to this EP,” explains Mouse, contemplating the trauma she’s overcome in order to produce Angels Never Die, “Ending the track with that refrain from Escape is reminding me that even if things like that happen music will always be that escape for me.”
Angels Never Die is an impressive collection of modern pop songs that sound anything but DIY, and an inspiration for anyone on their own personal journey of growth and liberation. Angels Never Die shows that even if we are fed harmful narratives entrenched in outdated gender norms and expectations, we are still capable of achieving great things once we embrace our own abilities. Even if we are mistreated and overlooked, we can change our personal narrative to one of healing - and hold accountable any bastard that may harm us along the way.
Listen to Angels Never Die here