Philly-based “moderately gay post-ironic bummer pop” duo Coping Skills are such a breath of fresh air, particularly because they are ALSO a breath of existential sadness and millennial angst. Just listen. But, in the meantime, Rachel Dispenza and Lauren DeLucca have taken some time out of touring and homebody-ing to talk a bit about their music, hometowns, PATTI SMITH, and how Manifest makes it about the art.
Where are you from? Where are you now?
Rachel: I was born in Rochester, NY, but mostly grew up in smalltown Northeastern PA. I moved to Philly five years ago. At this moment, I’m typing from a green room in Boston. I’ve spent about 40% of the last year on the road playing music and tour managing, but Philly is still technically my home.
Lauren: I was born in the Philly suburbs and, barring a year and a half long jaunt in New York City, have lived in the area my entire life. I moved into the city proper four and a half years ago and have a hard time imagining my life anywhere else. I’ve known people who have never ventured very far from home and never thought I would be one of them but here I am.
Tell me about the music you make.
Feels like throwing stones in your own glass home // sounds like a customer asking “how are you?” and you replying “I’m good” when you’re really not good.
How did you hear about Manifest?
We played with Fruit Snack (another sick band on the festival) back in June at Ruby Deluxe, and I believe Kae from that band kindly showed Erika and/or Sarah our music sometime after the show. Erika reached out to us to play the festival a couple of months ago.
Why is this festival important?
There’s an interview on your website where the organizers, Erika and Sarah, state that they created the fest so people wouldn’t point out an act as “that one band with a chick in it.” Not being able to reduce bands to one person’s gender, the crowd instead focuses on the art happening around them. That’s how it should be.
What are your hopes for your music?
Rachel: Making music is one of my coping skills (facepalm). I use it to explore past and present grief and mental illness. I hope that anyone who relates to our music will find comfort in listening to it the way I find comfort in creating it. I would also really love to do this forever and not work a service job ever again (wealthy art patrons? are you out there? it’s me, college graduate with massive debt I can never repay. let’s talk soon).
Lauren: If you look up the word “homebody” in the dictionary there is probably a picture of me, sitting in my room, not doing much of anything. Playing and writing music has forced me out of my own head and out of my own comfort zone in a way that I never thought I would be and am immensely grateful for. I selfishly want to continue making music to make myself feel like a better, more worthwhile person, and hopefully, somewhere in the process, make other people feel better and worthwhile too.
Who inspires you? Why?
Rachel: I pull inspiration from many sources and am influenced by everything I consume. Almost to a fault. This week I finished reading Just Kids, and now I’m dreaming of the lives Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe shared in the 70s. Wondering how I can harness that magic for myself. One of the most important people who artistically inspires me is my friend Anna Ladd. Not only is she a talented photographer, but in the years I’ve known her, I’ve watched as she boldly endeavors in new mediums. Every time she works with something unfamiliar to her, she throws herself into it and creates something both clever and beautiful.
Lauren: I always have a hard time pinning down specific people or things I am inspired by. I end up just absorbing bits and pieces from whatever music I happen to be into at the time. However, I am inspired to continue making art in a general sense by all my friends (I second Anna Ladd!) and people I admire who continue to make art every single day in the face of constant and unyielding existential dread.
Any women or non-binary artists we should already be listening to?
Rachel: There are literally so many that only listing a few seems reductive. But I’m currently finishing up a full US tour working for Japanese Breakfast, Mannequin Pussy, and Spirit of the Beehive – all of those bands are incredible and currently at the forefront of my mind.
Lauren: Two of my favorite releases from the past year or so have been from Abi Reimold and Harmony Woods. Abi makes the kind of music that stays with you long after the songs have stopped playing, and Sofia Verbilla from Harmony Woods is one of the most incredible, promising young songwriters out there right now.