Peach Kelli Pop is the artistic project of L.A. via Ottawa, Ontario, Canada singer and multi-instrumentalist Allie Hanlon.
After compiling her first self-recorded set of jangly garage-pop in 2009, her debut full-length, Peach Kelli Pop I, was released in 2010 by Going Gaga, an Ottawa-based record label founded by Ian Manhire, Hanlon’s bandmate in the garage rock trio White Wires from 2007-2012. Demand for the album prompted Jamin and Jake Orrall of JEFF the Brotherhood to reissue it on their Infinity Cat label later that year. Two additional self-titled albums and a smattering of 7-inches and tapes have netted Peach Kelli Pop – armed with a live lineup that includes guitarist Alex Edgeworth, bassist Gina Negrini, keybaordist Sophie Negrini, and drummer Mindee Jorgensen – touring opportunities as far east as Japan. That makes total sense, considering Hanlon’s peppy pop music and kawaii aesthetic could’ve easily been concocted in Tokyo.
In anticipation of her forthcoming “Halloween Mask” 7-inch, out April 29 on Lauren Records, Hanlon opened up to She Shreds about her musical backstory and the socio-political meaning behind her newest record’s title.
Were you in any bands before The White Wires?
Yeah, I was in a couple of bands. I think my first band had kind of an embarrassing name, and I’m not exactly sure what it means. We were called Captain Foxy, and it was my first band ever. I was playing drums. We never left Ottawa. We opened lots of shows, but we never had aspirations for touring or putting anything out on vinyl. It was a pretty casual, fun thing. After that, I started a band with my friends who worked at an art store with me. So it was me and three other girls. We were called the Felines. It was a really fun band. It was kind of the same thing. We were really learning how to be in a band, book shows, and make merch. So the White Wires was the first band I was in that would put out records and tour and stuff like that.
The White Wires really honed in on the garage and power pop sounds that were popular at the time.
It was funny because we didn’t try very hard. I was still learning, so I didn’t know what was happening with picking different record labels that we were working with. I think I was blissfully unaware of all the work that went into it because I was so young.
Now I’m the one person who organizes everything, which has made me realize there’s so much that went into the White Wires that I didn’t even know was happening. I sort of appeared and played my parts, and it was really fun and really easy. Also, Ian, Luke [Martin], and I were pretty chill about everything. We weren’t trying to succeed or make anything happen. It was very natural, I guess, because none of us were investing too much into it. That maybe even affected our sound.
When you started Peach Kelli Pop in 2009, it was a bedroom recording project with you playing all the instruments…
Yeah, exactly. So, when I started it, I didn’t even know that I’d ever have other people learn the songs and play them live. It was really just me writing my own songs on all the different instruments and kind of having control over all the different components and songwriting.
Had you played guitar before?
No, I pretty much learned when I started writing for Peach Kelli Pop.
Did you go into that wanting to make a tape or record, or were you just writing songs for yourself that turned into something others wanted to hear?
That’s exactly it. I think I started with about three songs. I shared them over the internet with my friends and other people that were in Ottawa. People liked them, so I kept writing songs. It’s something I enjoyed, and I wanted to keep doing it.
Does knowing a touring band will be playing them affect how you write songs now?
Definitely. When I wrote the first album I didn’t really consider having to recreate the songs live with a four or five-piece band. I added so many different tracks and kind of made songs that would only be able to sound the same as the recording with a 10-piece band or an orchestra or something. That’s because there’s so many different tracks happening and the instrumentation is varied. After the first album I decided to consider whether I’d be able to recreate the songs live while writing or in the studio. That’s something I take pretty seriously because I think people want to hear the songs live and have them sound the same as the versions they’ve come to love and know.
Is it still just you on the recordings?
So, the first two albums [Peach Kelli Pop I and II] is just me. On the third album, Peach Kelli Pop III, I had people play drums and bass just so I could be faster in the studio… It used to be important for me to say I’ve done all the tracks, but I kind of realized it’s okay to ask for help when you are paying for studio time.
You’ve toured Japan at least once. I’d imagine your music and everything about you is custom-made for that country.
We were able to play Tokyo for the first time in 2014. Tokyo is one city, but it’s so huge and has so many areas that we were able to tour just that one city for 10 days and play in 10 totally different places. Actually, a couple of cities were just outside of Tokyo. But it’s so huge and there’s such a large number of people there that you can play a few subway stops to the north or west and have a completely different crowd. It was really cool to go there for that reason. We could stay in the same house every night, which is nice and different from how tour usually is. Also, it was great on lots of different levels. People there really enjoy our sound. Europe is great, and the U.S. and Canada are great. But Japan really enjoys Peach Kelli Pop’s sound and aesthetic and vibe the most of anywhere in the world that we’ve played.
The song “Halloween Mask” has a socio-political message about how women are expected to look a certain way.
Almost every day I feel the pressure that I talk about in this song. Even though logically I know I’m aware of these pressures and think they’re stupid, I’m still self-conscious and feel I should look a certain way. Like, if I was smaller and prettier, things would be better. The song is about those really obvious pressures that are not fair and they’re stupid, and they don’t make you a happier person. Even if I was a supermodel, it might not make me any happier or to feel like a more fulfilled person. Even knowing that, it’s still pressure that most women face.