Walk Around The Block With Teen Angst
Interview and photos by Pamela Boland
I headed to East Freo on an eerily picturesque Sunday afternoon, which had seen the sky finally clear after a week of rain, to meet self-proclaimed ‘antisocial pop’ band, Teen Angst.
Like all good indie pop, the project was started by Michelle Yeong in her bedroom during high school, after listening to LA dream duo Best Coast, “I first listened to ‘Boyfriend’ after someone linked me to it, and I thought it was such a relatable song. I hadn’t listened to anything like that before so I googled her and found other songs that were out there and started writing like that. She was by herself in the beginning as well so super relatable in that way.”
Since Teen Angst’s bedroom inception, Michelle recruited guitarist Connor, bassist Emily, and drummer Fraiser to form the four piece that can be found playing around Perth today.
As we sit in the front garden speckled in sunlight from the loose shade of the trees on the street, Emily gushes over how much she loves playing with the band, explaining how confident she feels on stage with them, “whether we are playing to empty rooms or full crowds it’s still good, still fun.”
After we finish our cups of tea (which Michelle manages to spill on her crisp white jeans - super fitting to begin as one of their songs is about just that), we headed for a walk around the block to chat everything from Perth’s music scene, to country queen and icon Dolly Parton.
On Perth's ever-growing music scene
Michelle: It’s such a nice tight knit community, different sounding bands, nothing sounds the same and it’s not super competitive.
Emily: I think it’s been really great too since the [Diversity] Database has come up, I think that’s made a really big difference to us. It’s so important, the scene is changing and has changed quite a bit and I think the database has a bit to do with that.
Connor: The real trend we’ve seen of late is more representation of women which is great. Even 5 years ago I think you would have been pressed to find not only a lineup with females on the bill, but a whole lineup of female musicians. No one had coordinated to consider representation as much as they are stopping to today. It’s definitely encouraging and good to see it happening, especially for younger musicians. It’s super lazy if you say 'oh we just couldn’t find any females playing music in the city of Perth' - you just didn’t look very hard! They are everywhere.
On their music loves
Michelle: I love DIY artists like Remember Sports, Alvvays, Jay Som, Soccer Mummy, all female artists doing themselves.
Connor: In the venn diagram of what I like and what I want Teen Angst to sound like there’s a lot of crossover, Alvvays is a big one for me a big touchstone.
Emily: Connor listens to a lot of country music so sometimes the guitar is a bit country atm, it’s fun. We all have quite a varied music taste so it’s quite fun to come together and try to create Michelle’s vision.
Michelle: I’m always pro country
Connor: I constantly wonder if a country lick would work on this grungy song about sadness, and then it does, it’s so good! But seriously, I do really lean into the country, the songwriting and lyrics and so relatable. And going way back to Dolly Parton and Lauretta Lin and June Carter Cash, the 50s the 60s the 70s, there was a lot of powerful voices and very strong women, in that time singing about how important it was to not get pushed to the margins. These women were getting up in a very boys club country music scene and singing songs about family and marriage and divorce and “ugly” things that women weren’t really encouraged to sing about.
On starting out in music
Emily: When I first started playing, I got heaps of confidence from my friends playing. I wanted to be a part of the Perth music scene but didn’t feel very comfortable. I was listening to Angel Olsen a lot, she is such a beautiful creature, a role model, she started solo and everything she does is gorgeous. She’s someone for me for sure.
Fraiser: When I joined a band, I just wanted to play, more projects more anything. I share a lot of inspiration with Michelle and she’s shown me a lot of stuff that I like, with Best Coast etc. In Perth, every lineup we play is full of so many incredible musicians.
Emily: At the Chats gig we played, this woman filmed us and told us she was going to show her 11 year old daughter at home, saying "I hope she does things like this". It makes me emotional to think that I could influence another person, like others have influenced me.
I joined a band that was starting with all girls (Low Maintenance, Emily's other project) and it was shortly after the stuff with Sticky Fingers happened last year. My friend Leah who is amazing, invited people from this feminist group online to join a band and have a band camp weekend and it’s so good for something good to come from it all.
All the women in Perth have been working so hard and it’s so good. There’s so many amazing women around me and I’m so grateful!