„PESSIMIST“, die neue EP von Greta Isaac, ist nicht nur ohrwurmlastig, sondern auch Musik mit Tiefgang. Mit Anna hat sich die Künstlerin über Wut, interne Monologe und das Selbstbild aus Frau unterhalten.
The core message I get from your EP, and what I relate to a lot, is this feeling of „I’m done with that bullshit“.
Greta Isaac: Writing that whole EP was really therapeutic for me. For a while I was really, really angry at the world and would be quite resentful about the world. Then when I started writing this EP, I was thinking about my position in the world, and how there’s certain things that I don’t have to put my energy into if I don’t want to.
I think writing „Pessimist“ was like diary entries for me, writing about my experiences, and myself, I hadn’t done that in ages. But yeah,There is definitely an angry tone that kind of flows through each song, different sides of the anger spectrum, from really, really sad to really, really manic, it fluctuates.
We’re so used to oppress these feelings, especially anger, because it’s always told to us that being an angry woman is not a pleasant thing to be.
Greta: I think we’re discouraged from being from showing anger. Because to be angry is sticking up for yourself and causing discomfort. Obviously, when anger is used counter productively, it can be frightening and it can be useless. But I think channeled in the right way, anger can be a symbol of fighting thoughts, sticking up for yourself, and being honest with your feelings about what you need. And one. It should be celebrated more, feeling angry. Because if you don’t express it, you just try and keep it down and push it down. And then you’re really sad.
I hope it’s a feeling that gets more attention in the future, because being sad was on trend for a while now, especially in music. I think we have to now change to anger and celebrate that more in art.
Greta: Yeah, especially as women – there’s so much power in it. There’s so much power in being angry and getting riled up about something. I love it. Anger definitely got a bad rap for me until the last year. I thought being angry was bad. And if you were angry, then you’d lose control of yourself and that you weren’t level headed. But like I said, channeling anger in the right ways is really, really healthy.
Sometimes you just need 30 minutes to be really angry and then everything is fine again. It’s one of the best feelings I discovered.
Greta: Because you’re not doing yourself the disservice of trying to stiffen up and not let anything out, which is so tiring and exhausting on your body and mind. It’s a good outlet and you can do it in so many ways. I think it’s quite awkward, but you can, if you’re on your own, I channeling that feeling in a quite intentional way: Htting a pillow, breathing really heavily or just like being really physical with it.
My favorite thing is to go on a walk – from the outside, I look very peaceful and meditative. But in my headphones, I have loud post metal and screamo music on blast. That’s my kind of anger meditation.
Greta: I love that as an outlet, that’s really cool. And I think that’s what I wanted to try for my music to be for other people, especially songs like „How To Be A Woman“ and „Pessimist“. I’d love these songs to be that for some people, a release in some way.
You’re able to capture situations we are all in, in some way, and topics we talk about so much, but mostly not in the way you write about it. And I really like that, because it’s really honest what you do. I read that you took some time to figure things out?
Greta: I had like two years. To be able to write honest songs and authentic songs, you have to live a little bit and you have to do a lot of growth personally, to be able to put that into your songwriting. And figuring out exactly what it is that I wanted to write about. And which parts of myself I wanted to explore.
Because in every song that I write, there’s sort of an overriding part of my character, that kind of takes over the song, that maybe doesn’t really get to see the light of day that often. I feel like there are parts of my character that I just accentuate for each song. I kind of imagine them as parts of myself, that come out to play, and I get to play with them for that process of writing a song, and I get to hang out with them. Imagine what it would be like to embody that part of my personality all the time. And then say bye to them at the end of the session.
I think I needed to do a lot of growing up and figuring myself out, a lot of therapy too. I now know that these are all parts of my personality. And I just have different relationships with them now. I’m much more compassionate with myself than I used to be.
I have this feeling a lot at the moment, that I thought I knew what I wanted and what I thought about certain things or not — there’s a lot of growing inside of me, I can totally relate to what you say. So nice when you say that you visit certain parts of your personality and enjoy them, but then put them back into the box.
Greta: I’m more curious about those parts of me now, rather than judgmental. When you’re able to be curious and be gentle, and compassionate with those parts of yourself, especially if you know that they aren’t helpful, they almost don’t affect me as much if I accept them. And if I accept those parts of me, I’m not scared of them. They almost lose their power in a way.
And I’m able to live with them like roommates. Whenever I listen back to my songs, I always think about the character that I was writing that song, and I kind of fondly look back and thank them.
Because without them existing, no matter how you feel about them, you wouldn’t be where you were in the past and where you are today. That feeling, this gratitude and being grateful for this, should be more important.
Greta: Also the parts of ourselves that we think we might be ashamed of, or we feel like are hard to live with. I think ultimately, they’re there to keep us safe in a way and defending us, protecting us from the world. Ultimately, it’s about just having a conversation with them being like „you don’t need to protect me as much as you are, I’m okay.“ They’re almost like overprotective parents or friends who kind of cocoon you away from the scary world.
I had one of these inner conversations the other night. Sometimes when I’m really stressed, I wake up at night, my heart is racing and all that. And there wasn’t anything to stress about, but still, my body woke me up and was like „PANIC! We are stressed“ and I had to talk to myself saying „no we are not, we can handle it, let’s get back to sleep, okay?“
Greta: That’s exactly it. Our bodies think there’s like a lion in a bush somewhere. And we have to run away from the lion. When actually it’s about telling your body you don’t need to, you don’t need to run away from anything. There’s nothing there. It’s okay. And again, that’s just getting to know that part of yourself and being compassionate. And being like: „It’s okay, there’s nothing to run away from. We don’t need to pump our body with adrenaline right now…“
We can save that for later when we need this.
Greta: Maybe if we’re running a marathon, I’ll call you back.
I believe a marathon full of anxious people would be a very successful event.
Greta: Someone dressed up as a tax form running after us.
Someone dressed as „You have to call your doctor“.
Greta: Just a landline or a TV licence letter.
There would be a lot of characters to keep us running.
Greta: Yeah. Horrible.
Being a woman and figuring out what it means to have a female body and to define femininity is so difficult and I think it’s something I personally ignored a very long time…and now there’s nothing else I can think of. In terms of music, I exclusively listened to white indie boys telling me how a woman should behave and be adored for way too long.I’m so glad having female voices, someone like you, who escape this male gaze, turning things around and seeing how things really are.
Greta: Thank you. I’m the same as you. As women especially where we’re told that our worth is so defined by the way that we look. And our capacity for love is dependent on the way that we look, and the way that we smile, and the way that we dress. Anyone wants to be heard and loved and needed. For women in particular, throughout history, our gateway to feel loved is acts of service. Across all spectrums, dressing in a certain way, just having sort of male attention – that’s what we’re told.
And I think that for me in particular it was very easy. It was like I was given a to do list, I was given a list of things that I needed to tick off as a woman to be able to feel validation from men in particular. And there was a comfort in that even though I knew ultimately, I’ve never felt free from those constructs.
I never felt that I could fully be myself because I was always checking: Are my legs shaved? Am I wearing enough makeup? Too much make up? Is my hair okay? Am I sexy enough? Or am I too sexy? What’s the middle ground? Am I being too suggestive? Or am I being prudish?
I was always checking myself, I knew that I wasn’t free, but there was a comfort in knowing that that’s what I needed to think about all the time. And coming out the other end of that., that’s where the freedom was, accepting that I wasn’t going to be this ideal woman because that woman doesn’t exist for anyone. So accepting that and leaning into the things about myself that make me unique or myself. Was that because the constructs were all gone? I was just free to do whatever I wanted, regardless of if I have hairy legs or no hairy legs. I had to pull that out myself. I had that like internalized male gaze in myself.
When you reach that point as a woman, and I’m still figuring out, it feels like there’s no ceiling anymore.
We are trained to do this from the beginning and think it’s really hard and a lot of work to come out the other end. And I see this on the internet all the time in this feminist internet bubble, they’ll say „just stop dressing for the male gaze“. And I was like „…but how do I do it? I don’t know how to“, because I’d never learned to do anything else.
Greta: When you reach that point as a woman, and I’m still figuring out, it feels like there’s no ceiling anymore. I feel like before there was a ceiling for my life, and it was like „cool, I can do this, this and this, but I can’t go over this“, this is my ceiling and that’s safe, it’s fine, it’s easy here.
When you come out the other end, and there’s no ceiling anymore, you feel like „oh god, I could float away at any point“. What grounds me in particular, is just checking in with myself and asking myself whether or not is this something that I feel comfortable with? Is it something I really want? Is it something that I feel is good for me? Just kind of always asking myself things along the way, checking in with myself, you know?
Yes, our own internal communication is so important and keeps getting more important the older we get.
Greta: I think as you go get older, the more control you have over your life, the more the more you make decisions for yourself. You begin being intentional and figuring out exactly what you need and how you’re going to get there. I feel like there’s a moment in someone’s life where you’re like „Oh, yeah, I don’t have to do that“. Or „I don’t have to be sexy all the time“.
When you have done it all your life and then suddenly it’s like The Truman Show and the horizon isn’t real. Nobody will come to you and say: „no, it’s forbidden to act like that“. It’s really sad that we have to discover that there are more freedoms than we think they are.
Greta: Oh my God, yes. It’s hard, though, and I don’t blame anyone for any decisions they decide to make because it’s easier. Sometimes it’s easier to conform. I sometimes put makeup on because I know it’s a quick fix. I’ll just pop it on and I’ll feel hot, and then I feel good for the day. And some days, I don’t and that’s okay. There’s no pressure to you. We shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves to be a certain way forever. Because we’re always evolving and changing as people.
You said about the EP that these songs are about you responding to your intuition, rather than reacting to it. Can you explain that further? Is this the inner communication we talked about?
Greta: Yeah, absolutely. I think that comes with not being scared of myself, and trusting my intuition a lot more. I’m the youngest in the family of seven, including my parents. And through my life, I would be kind of looking for guidance from other people, a constant „am I doing this right? Is this how you doing?“. When all the people around you have done what you’re going to do already, it’s so natural to check all the time. I got so caught up in that cyclical way of thinking that I lost touch with myself, basically.
Especially in my early 20s, I didn’t trust my thinking, my decision making, my friends, my relationships, my position, and my relationships with people. And so my way of coping with uncertainty, was reacting – physically reacting, being quite impulsive with my decisions. Without actually properly thinking, and letting those thoughts marinade, because I was scared of my thoughts. I didn’t want them to be there. So I just was like: „Yeah, fine. I’ll do that, no worries“ . Saying yes to everything, just crossing fingers and hoping for the best. Whereas now, because I trust myself a lot more on my intuition and Iam a bit older and lived a little bit more, I feel like I am able to process things a lot clearer and respond without quickly reacting.
I think I’m pretty much the same. When I was younger, it was always fight or flight, „ Isay yes, because I think it’s easier“ — But it’s not, you always find that out afterwards. It’s so important to sit back, take a few breaths, and then go „let’s see how we handle that“.
Greta: Because you’re ultimately processing your answer for longer, actually considering every different thing.
Thinking about yourself and about your own needs and not just what the other person wants to hear.
Greta: Exactly. And you’re ultimately doing everyone else a favor as well by giving an honest answer about what it is you can do.
It’s so cool what you do with your music and creativity, doing a lot of things and getting out there working with other grade women together. I just love it when women do their thing andtaking the space they deserve.
Greta: It definitely feels like that. It’s great working with women who so know what they need creatively. And I’m just there to help them bring that to life. I know so many great women, artists who are making amazing things. So excited to be a part of that.
So good to see and so inspiring. It’s not like this petty thing of saying or thinking „Oh, why is she doing that? I can do that better“ or „Oh, I bet I can’t do this“. We have to be a community and not fighting against each other.
But learning that in male dominated industries is really hard because we always thought there’s just one place for one woman.
Greta: Yes. We’re not one dimensional beings, we are very unique.
And I think that’s what they’re afraid of. And I like that.
Greta: The work that I love by women in particular is not intimidating. As a viewer, I find it very unintimidating and very sensitive. There’s a lot of films and music videos and photography that I love by women, that invite me in. They just all happen to be women. All the work that I I tend to gravitate towards most are asensitive and gentle and huge storytellers who encourage you to try your own version. I encourage you to watch and take inspiration and learn.
I’m a huge fan of documentary photographers, and people who maybe started off as documentary photographers, but now have gone into like more editorial spaces. It’s just so fascinating how that translates into high fashion campaigns and stuff, this sort of sensitive, gentle storytelling is beautiful.
I’m really happy we’re in a time now where there’s more room to evolve.
Greta: That’s true for men and women and non binary people and trans people as well. There’s such fluidity there. More and more people are encouraged to do more and to be more authentically themselves. I think that’s amazing.
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