Raleigh-based Fruit Snack is SJ, Morgan, and Kae, and they are the “super gay” musical answer to life’s everyday questions, i.e. “Can I have a puppy right now?” or “How do I dismantle Capitalism?” SJ graciously gave us a few moments of her time to talk about their music, their activism, and the importance of crafting spaces like Manifest.
Where are you from? Where are you now?
SJ (she/her) & Morgan Christopher (they/them) are both from Huntsville, AL, and live in Durham, now. Kae (she/her or they/them) is from Barstow, California, and currently lives in Raleigh, in a house with a buncha sweet weirdos. We have all of our practices there.
Tell me about the music you make.
We’re a 3-piece: electric ukulele (usually w/distortion) + bass + drums. We write songs that have fun basslines and harmonies, mostly about things we encounter in regular life, like having a bad day & just wishing you could be with a puppy or how capitalism is a constant source of anxiety. Also all of our songs are super gay. Which is just a funny way to say that we’re queers who make music.
How did you hear about Manifest?
Kae and Erika Libero and I all met as volunteers for Girls Rock NC a few years ago. We learned about the first iteration of Manifest as it was coming together this time last year, when Fruit Snack was still in the “so are we a band yet?” phase. Even that early on, we talked about wanting to play for the next Manifest. And now we are! Dreams!
Also, Kae co-founded To The Front Music Alliance (TTFMA) 2 years ago–a Facebook group that meets in real life, seeking to “provide a welcoming and safer space for musicians and artists of every age, skill level, gender, and race.” TTFMA and Manifest team up to put on Seize the Stage, a regularly occurring series of shows, booking the same types of bands who’d qualify for Manifest — ones with at least one member who’s a woman or gender-nonconforming person.
Why is this festival important?
Because people who aren’t cis-het-white men are important! Visibility is certainly a part of it– for women and non-binary folx who want to make music but aren’t yet. I think it’s meaningful to see relatable humans doing the thing you want to do *and* to know that this community supports a whole festival featuring these bands. I think people who come to Manifest II will do so expecting to feel safer than they might in some other spaces. Not necessarily because there are fewer white dudes on the stage, but because this is an intentionally crafted thing, you know? This festival is a way of holding the local music scene accountable. Like, “oh hey we noticed that implicit biases have resulted in the exclusion of a lot of folx. so here we are, stop it.” I think acknowledging the performers in a way that values their/our identities creates an environment that encourages people to see each other and look out for each other.
What are your hopes for your music?
One time we all agreed that our goal was to do a tiny desk concert. I want some of the people who hear our music to like it. I want to keep liking it. I have hopes of playing shows in different places. I have a secret dream that Pie Face Girls will ask us to go on tour with them.
Who inspires you? Why?
SJ: for me, I think there are two levels of inspiration. one that comes from close connection with people – learning another person’s thought processes and worldviews lights up my brain in ways that are sometimes creative. and like, Big Feelings for/conversations with partners & friends & family often literally inspire song lyrics.
The other level I’m thinking of is one that’s less focused on particular individuals. I’m generally inspired by the work that’s being done in our community, locally, and by the persistence & resilience of political movements in the broader community of folks working for collective liberation. We played a Defend DACA benefit show last weekend, and it was powerful to see people show up for a thing they believe in, you know? There are several local efforts specifically organized around underrepresentation in the Triangle music scene: in addition to Manifest and TTFMA’s Seize the Stage, there’s a monthly series called Saving Space Showcase – the proceeds for each show go to an NC-based non-profit. and then there’s Girls Rock NC, which has been around for 13 years now—each of us has been involved with GRNC in some capacity over the last few years. Which brings me to the last thing i’ll include in this v long response… I am 11/10 inspired by the teenagers I know right now. My 17-year old cousin Lily is so much more informed and outspoken than I was at her age, and the teen organizers of GRNC’s Teen Axn League.. geez, i am constantly impressed by those sweet angels – how supportive they are of one another; how enthusiastically they engage with hard stuff that they could probably otherwise be shielded from; and dang, seeing them create, from such a raw, uninhibited place —one that’s difficult for me to access as a pseudo-adult— it really is inspiring to hold space for young people to do their thing. ok the end.
Any Southern women or non-binary artists we should already be listening to?
Yeah! Waxahatchee (in Philly now, but front people Katie and Allison Crutchfield are originally from Birmingham), Loamlands (Durham), Zensofly (Raleigh), Bad Friends (Durham), Bully (Nashville), The Tender Fruit (Durham), Julien Baker (Memphis), Big Freedia (New Orleans)
*all photos by Caroline Malouse