whit3corset is a bit hard to pin down genre-wise, which is part of what makes her music so great. In 2022, she released three full-length albums: BEHINDTHEBLACKVEIL, swansongs, and GLASS ACCIDENT. Across those albums, you’ll hear straightforward screamo and metalcore along with dashes of EDM and dark ambient. Her sound will shift abruptly in calculatedly jarring ways – introducing piercing shrieks and grungy breakdowns, then immediately afterwards playing a delicate ambient piece, only to switch it up again and throw in some chopped n skrewed samples coupled with sharp hardcore vocals. She keeps you on your toes at all times, and that’s exactly where she wants you.
While the genres may change, one thing is consistent: whit3corset’s music is viscerally cathartic and hauntingly powerful. This week on Home Studio Stories, she sits with us to talk about the beauties of recording with cheap gear, confrontational performance styles, MIDI fuckery, and writing poetry in Panera bathrooms.
You put out a lot in 2022! Three albums! And one of the things that really stuck up out to me about it was that those releases kind of ran the gamut genre-wise. You had straightforward screamo in there, but then you also had GLASS ACCIDENT, which was mostly dark ambient stuff.
Oh yeah, I was on the grindset. Actually, that entire GLASS ACCIDENT album was improv.
That rules. I want to hear about that.
So the way I did that one, my friend Ada runs Static Ritual Recordings and she came to me like, “yo, would you like to drop something on the label?” And I was like, I’m good with doing a Halloween one-off release thing. But then, I was just very proud of the results that came out of it, so I was like, “OK this is going to be an album.”
I had this really shitty Yamaha keyboard, and I just ran that through a bunch of effect pedals. The start of the album is me just breaking a bunch of glass bottles. And then I used the glass from those bottles, put them in a noise box, and most of the noise that’s on the album is from the glass. It was really fun to record. I just set my phone on top of a monitor, so it’s very raw, very heavy, very muddy.
I actually was listening to that album in the car recently, and I was like, “wow, this is terrifying. This rules.” I was driving through this beautiful countryside scenery, but listening to your music made me feel like I was trudging through a rusty warehouse.
It was a very cathartic release. The track “restarting,” that one was improv, too. I’m really proud of that song. I feel like it’s a very good symbolic point as an ending to a trilogy of stuff. Kind of like vent art in a way.
When you went into the first 2022 album, BEHINDTHEBLACKVEIL, did you intend to make a trilogy release or did it just kind of happen that way?
It just kind of happened that way. I was actually originally intending for BEHINDTHEBLACKVEIL to be a one and done. I had dealt with a lot of trauma and stuff. And I was like, “I feel like this is a good way to get closure and some catharsis.” I performed one show and afterwards I figured, “OK, cool, now I’m never gonna do that again” But people liked it!
Then swansongs happen. And then I dropped GLASS ACCIDENT and people really liked that one, as well. So I was like, “OK, I guess I’m going to pursue this.”
So, you did a show after BEHINDTHEBLACKVEIL and then you did a little mini tour after swansongs?
Yeah. I mostly do a lot of local shows out in Memphis. Recently I played with The HIRS Collective, which was fucking nuts to me cuz like, that’s one of
the bands that pushed me to even start making this music in the first place.
Who are some of your other influences?
So I’m gonna start with something very out of left field. I have a song on this upcoming album that was influenced by Taylor Swift.
But then I primarily listen to a lot of Prurient, Orchid, Lingua Ignota… I saw her last year. That was a very touching performance to me. I’ve listened to her stuff before, but like, it was very different seeing it in person. And that really changed a lot of how I wanted my stuff to be perceived. It was so beautiful. And then I listen to stuff like New Order and Depeche Mode with the New Wave influence…and then Grouper as well. I love ambient stuff.
I’m interested to hear the new album and see if I can figure out which one the Taylor Swift influenced one is. I can’t even imagine that right now.
It’s like if Taylor Swift and Xiu Xiu collaborated. Honestly, people should listen to more pop music and take influence from it, cuz there’s a lot of forward thinking shit being done. But people write it off as “too soft.”
Yeah, people get very reactionary about pop music. And it’s like…I mean, softness isn’t inherently bad.
That’s very true. I played a lot of hardcore shows, and sometimes I feel like I have to strip out the slower moments and just play the fast stuff. Because every time I play the slower stuff, I have these kids in battle vests just like, death staring at me because they don’t know what to do with it, right?
What do your live performances look like, typically?
My performances are very physical. So during the slow songs…I don’t look at the audience sometimes because I feel like it helps me, especially with the vulnerability of the music. It helps to hone in on what’s going on in my mind and let that out.
Most of the time, though, I’m charging at people in the audience, just full-force, and it catches people off guard. This is one thing I love to do. I hand people microphones. Nobody knows what I’m saying, so they can’t sing the rest of the words. I love to let people mic grab, and then they don’t know what to say. They just sit stand there for a second.
Would you describe your performance style as confrontational, then?
Oh, it’s very confrontational. My shows are very aggressive.
Do you do that sort of thing consistently through shows, or do you specifically amp it up for the quieter parts? Like to create an ultra dissonance?
Yeah, a little bit that. Usually during the slow parts, I’m mostly just stumbling around, walking around looking sad. Usually to start my sets, I like to drop a really slow song and then go into like…just the most batshit stuff I have in my catalog. And then put more slow stuff in the middle and have one of the tracks ends with a harder song. To catch people off guard with that a bit.
When you’re doing these shows, is it only you on stage?
Yeah, it’s only me. I just use an SP404 and my vocal processor and it works out really well. I like not having to do too much, so I can mostly focus on the vocals.
How many instruments are you playing on recorded versions of the songs?
It really depends. I write all my stuff on physical instruments, but most of the time I’m just doing stuff in MIDI. I love MIDI fuckery. I only use stock plugins, I love the cheap sounds.
There is a song on swansongs, “excerpts of a monologue,” that is an improv track – the instrumental part is. So it’s just me playing drums with one hand and a keyboard with the other, and that was a one-take. It’s odd to do that one live because it has very weird timings because of how it was “written.”
You have two other people on [your recent single] “Pawn” – do you find yourself doing experimental collaborations like that often?
I am actually not a very collaborative person. I do work with people on occasion. I have a track with my friend Ada for one of her projects called M0Thr4, which is a cybergrind project. But “Pawn” was my first real collaboration track.
The first featured artist, faradayribcage, she’s from New York. She does a lot of like, really cool gabber/power electronics/techno stuff. And I really love her style. So I reached out to her, I was like,” do you want to hop on this track?”
And then I couldn’t mix it for shit! So I hit up DJ Roswell and he made it sound so beefy that I was like, “yeah, you’re not just gonna be credited for mixing, I’m gonna put you as a feature, you put this whole thing together.” I’m very happy with the results.
Do you usually mix your own stuff?
I usually do all my own production. Like I said, I’m not the most collaborative person, so it feels odd to me sometimes – handing things out to other people to work on. Because I have a very specific image of how I want it to sound in my head.
I don’t like mixing on monitors where it’s just flat. I like it to sound the way it’s going to sound live, because I don’t make my music for headphones. I make it for a live setting.
You use a lot of different vocal modulations on your tracks – how did you go about texturing your vocals in those ways?
So for the first album I was using a lot of plug-ins, just distortions and built-in choruses and whatever. But then I decided to go ahead and buy a Zoom V3 vocal processor. So now I just use this to record because it has effects on it. And I know it’s probably like, an engineer’s worst nightmare to have tracks that already have effects on them. But I am not an audio engineer, so I’m not too concerned about that. It sounds good, and that’s what matters.
That last part is something I hear a lot in these Home Studio Stories interviews. And I love that because, I mean, ultimately when I’m listening to music, I’m not picking up on that fact that the artists is using cheap equipment. One of my favorite things that anybody told me for this project was that they didn’t have a “real” microphone so they used a Rock Band mic…
Now when it comes to recording at home: do you live with other people?
I live with my girlfriend and her family right now, so I was just recording in a closet most of the time. I usually record in a kitchen out in the dining room area. As I said before, engineers would hate that, but it works for me. It gives me the room I need to be in a performance mindset.
Oh, I didn’t even really think about that. Is that difficult, trying to envision the live performance while recording in a little closet?
It can be. It definitely helps to be able to thrash around while I record, just get into it, turn up my headphones as loud as I can. The first album I recorded vocals at my parents house, so that is why I’m kind of quiet on that first album. I get very self-conscious recording vocals.
Would you ever do any kind of studio recording?
I would. I’m definitely considering it at some point down the line. One of my dream things would definitely be to record with GodCity Studios with Kurt Ballou. They have a studio out in Salem, MA, so that seems like it’d be really cool to do.
I’m not good at recording actual instruments at all. I’ve tried and I feel like having people who know how would definitely help. I really want to record more organ-focused pieces at some point down the line. Not under whit3corset, just under Emily White.
Do you play the organ now?
Yeah! I’m on my second organ right now. My first one is way too big and dirty and dusty. But recently at Goodwill, I found this 1978 Carnival Lowrey organ. It’s beautiful, has a bunch of gold accents on it. And it lights up too.
Circling back to what you were saying about a newer release – do you have a name for your new album? Do you have a slated release for that?
So the album is called Petrushka, it’s named after a ballet by Stravinsky. I’m going to be real, I did not know anything about the ballet. The way I got the name is, I found this shirt at a thrift store and it had this sad clown design on it and Cyrillic text on it and it really stuck out to me.
I’m trying to have it out by October of this year. It’s sitting at like 8 tracks now. “Pawn” is the last track of the first half of the album. That’s when it switches gears from being really fast-paced, aggressive electronic stuff to more slow, introspective songs. And I’m very interested to get those out because…I feel like a lot of people who come to my shows, they’re mostly there for the heavy stuff. And that’s not what I want to do in the long run, really.
What do you think is the most important part of creating whit3corset’s sound?
The minimal nature of my music. I try to keep my stuff 4 tracks at the most – just keep to the essentials. I don’t want to make it too busy. Simplicity is a main focus of mine with the music, because I want it to be effective but not overly drawn out.
So kind of like, instrumentally sparse but emotionally big.
Is it difficult to balance capitalist-hell-work-life with your music life?
It does get kind of difficult sometimes to come home and write. I do get very tired. But most of swansongs was written in the in the bathroom of a Panera. Part of me thinks that working at Panera is what led to the lyrics being so depressing. Hell has no wrath like an old person when we don’t have the right kind of lettuce for their salads.
My God, yeah, there is a very specific type of pain that comes from food service work. Honestly, if you told me that every hardcore band in the world was actually just channeling their customer service anger, I would believe it.
People are too much, they can be crazy sometimes. Which is why it’s so hard to go to work and then do other things. It gives inspiration for angry music, though!
Balancing music by writing lyrics in the Panera bathroom, though. That is such a vivid picture, it’s…
It’s like a Phoebe Bridgers lyric. “In the Panera bathroom / just writing my little scribbles / getting my little scrawlings out.”