Posts Tagged ‘Pom Pom Squad’

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When Mia Berrin started her band Pom Pom Club in high school at age fifteen, the band name and social media handles preceded the music. “It’s like the people who buy web domains with the hopes that they’ll be worth a million dollars in a couple of years,” she jokes of grabbing the Instagram and Twitter handles before recording a single song. “That was me.”

Make no mistake: Despite the order of operations, Berrin valued music above all else. The Orlando-raised singer-songwriter had been learning guitar while messing around in GarageBand, and inspired by riot grrl — specifically, the idea of “being in a non-men band” — she asked around at her Orlando school to see if any other classmates were interested. Unfortunately, the “one girl who played bass in the entire school” turned her down. “I didn’t know off the top of my head that I would turn it into something,” Berrin, now 23, remembers. But with her claim to the name in her back pocket, she graduated from high school and moved to New York to study production engineering. She also progressed from playing and singing alone in her room to performing live, first solo, then with a full line-up female bassist and all.

Within a few years, Pom Pom Squad was officially “something” indeed.

Berrin who is soft-spoken but quick with sarcasm, oscillating easily between humour and sincerity — cut her performing teeth first by singing with other bands around Manhattan and Brooklyn prior to forming her own group. (Bassist Maria Alé Figeman, drummer Shelby Keller, and guitarist Alex Mercuri round out the current Pom Pom Squad line up.) “I felt like I hopped into this stage persona. I had no idea who I was, but I was very extra and that was great,” Berrin says. “It was a lot of self-discovery and picking up a skill that I had no idea I could do.”

Berrin released singles and EPs through Bandcamp, gathering momentum with 2017’s “Hate It Here” and 2019’s “Ow“. Drawing upon indie rock, alternative, pop and grunge influences (at any given moment, Berrin’s sonic mood board might contain musicals, Ariana Grande, Weezer, or Kathleen Hanna), Pom Pom Squad quietly established itself as one of the most riveting rock acts to emerge over the year.

The way Mia Berrin can nod to her influences—be they of the iconic 60’s girl group, characters from a John Waters film, or cutting edge fashion from today, while simultaneously spinning a beautiful and original story in her songs—is absolutely thrilling. This is the kind of record that makes you not only excited to see what you can do with an artist in a post-pandemic future, but also how you can build their career in the present circumstances.

It’s a razor-sharp bite of cathartic punk that the Brooklyn four-piece’s powerhouse frontperson Mia Berrin wrote in the traumatic throes of her adolescent feminine awakening while realizing the ever-present gaze of the male patriarchy.

“Crying” sounds like a sentimental breakup ballad but Mia Berrin doesn’t seem hung up on anyone but herself in the lyrics. It’s all self-flagellation for failing in attempts at relationships, castigating herself for making “a game of breaking promises,” feeling nothing, losing arguments, and obsessing on people who she thinks hate her. Berrin sings it all with convincing feeling, but it’s also clear she’s playing up the melodrama and winking at the audience a bit. The song effectively has it both ways – it indulges your self-pity, but also gently nudges you to notice that maybe the reason connecting with other people has been so hard is that even aside from all the ways you self-sabotage, you’re just too caught up in yourself to really notice or care about how anyone else feels.

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Music and lyrics by Mia Berrin

Except for:
“Cake,” music by Henson Popa (ASCAP) and lyrics by Mia Berrin and Henson Popa

“Crimson + Clover,” music and lyrics by Tommy James and Peter Lucia Jr. (Originally performed by Tommy James and the Shondells)

“Forever,” music by Mia Berrin and Garret Chabot (ASCAP) and lyrics by Mia Berrin
Violin arrangement for “Forever” by Camellia Hartman

“Shame Reactions,” music by Shelby Keller (ASCAP) and lyrics by Mia Berrin

“This Couldn’t Happen,” music by Lionel Newman and lyrics by Dorcas Cochran (Originally performed by Ida Lupino) based on the version by Doris Day

Bass: Mari Alé Figeman
Drums and Percussion: Shelby Keller
Lead Guitar: Alex Mercuri

The band’s first release via Germany-based indie label City Slang, “Death of a Cheerleader” (out June 25th) is the impressive culmination of Berrin’s musicianship to date.

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Brooklyn band Pom Pom Squad signed to City Slang records with their new single, which is inspired, in part, by The Virgin Suicides, as is the accompanying video, which was co-directed by lead singer and guitarist Mia Berrin and Julia Sub. If the song sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been around in demo form for at least four years. 

“It’s about the fear of intimacy I felt as a teen that stemmed from negative early experiences of male attention,” Mia says. “The Virgin Suicides, one of my very favourite movies, captured that fear in a way that deeply resonated—the scene where Trip leaves Lux alone on the football field. He had gone through the effort of making her love him and then, when he got what he wanted, he left. I released the demo for this song on Bandcamp when I was in college and it ended up being played on BrooklynVegan’s blog radio on Sirius XMU. It was the first lightbulb that maybe I had a calling in music. The release has been a long time coming, but ultimately, I’m glad I waited so that I could really do right by this thing and simultaneously, by my teenage self.”

‘LUX‘ is out now via City Slang.

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The Brooklyn foursome Pom Pom Squad are fine purveyors of rough-edged indie rock. On their 2019 sophomore EP, “Ow”, lead singer Mia Berrin takes listeners along on a journey to find her best self, and that means untangling past hardships. Her often painfully vulnerable songwriting meets gnarled guitars, and this collision is demonstrated most powerfully by the EP’s slow-building climax “Again” and anthemic indie-punk highlight “Heavy Heavy.”. The Brooklyn-based four-piece — made up of frontwoman Mia Berrin, bassist Mari Alé Figeman, drummer Shelby Keller, and guitarist Alex Mercuri — has been a fixture of the city’s DIY scene since 2017.

Pom Pom Squad’s 2019 debut EP Ow also incorporated the rebel cheerleader aesthetic, with a grungy, inextricably punk sound. At the core of Pom Pom Squad is inverting the normalized conventions of what it means to be a woman, to be queer, to grapple with identity.

“Red With Love” is reminiscent of Soccer Mommy and Patience-era Mannequin Pussy, but it also holds its own. Pom Pom Squad frontwoman Mia Berrin’s wry, breathy vocals add an extra layer of charm and grit to the song, which perfectly contrasts the haute designer dresses Berrin wears in the video and the gleam of pom poms strewn around the crowd.

“A funny thing happened—after performing, writing and recording songs that are mostly about my depression for the last few years, I started to feel really really good,” Berrin says. “Which isn’t to say that I don’t still deal with the darker parts of my brain, but it posed an interesting writing challenge. ‘Red With Love’ is my first proper love song and a pretty unguarded look into my heart, my relationship anxiety, and my acceptance of my own queerness.”

POM POM SQUAD IS Mia Berrin, Mari Alé Figeman, Shelby Keller Ethan Sass