EXCLUSIVE: TROI IRONS OPENS UP ON THE RAW “THORNS”
By Nathan Leigh
October 16, 2020
Troi Irons has never been one to hold back. From her early singles, the alt rock singer and producer has summoned a sound that’s heavy hitting and devastatingly emotional. On her latest single, Troi Irons peels back the layers even further, showcasing a raw look at album highlight “Thorns.” With a self-produced video on V-H-fucking-S (indisputably the greatest of obsolete media formats), the new single basks in analog warmth and painful honesty. In an exclusive interview about the new single, Troi Irons opens up about bringing femininity back to rock and finding strength in her darkest moments.
Your music has always played with the balance between the beautiful and the aggressive. Not that you’ve mellowed out, but it seems like flowers, the album tilts the balance more towards beauty. Was that an active choice?
That was definitely a conscious decision. The impetus of the album is driven by femininity in all its glory. I wanted a rough, sexual, meditative beauty that might begin to scratch the surface of what womanhood feels like. In rock today, there’s a lot of rough and a lot of sex, but they’ve taken the beauty out. They’ve stripped the femininity. It’s a sunflower with no petals. Boring. One-dimensional. So here’s me adding my balance to the mix.
If you’re into gardening, what flowers are you currently growing? If not, what would you grow?
As a kid, I had a venus flytrap that I would sneak Hamburger Helper to when my mom wasn’t looking. If you guessed that the venus flytrap died on this diet, you guessed correctly. The loss was traumatic for me, I haven’t tried to nurture anything green since.
It seems like this is your most introspective release to date, the spoken part of “R.E.M” makes it really clear that you were discovering a lot about yourself while you were creating this record. What drove your process of self-discovery?
I went through a rough situation in December where the symptoms of my life got ahead of me and they ran off with another person. By the time I caught up to the two, I was out of breath and ill-equipped to deal with their rendez-vous. This event was not the sole catalyst, but certainly one of the wake-up calls that alerted me to the sense of having more work to do than I previously thought. This is my life, I refuse to let it get ahead of me.
So much of this record feels like you’re discovering your own power throughout it. What do you wish you could go back and tell yourself at the beginning of this journey?
Relax, you’re gay. I mean, I knew this but I somehow thought I could change it.
What do you hope listeners will take away from where you are now?
I hope people feel less fear and lean into themselves. I think the world is currently a dull place – but not by necessity. I think people walk around numbed by entertainment: entertainment disguised as news, entertainment disguised as art, entertainment disguised as relationships. I do hope people are entertained by my new album but my overall intent was to make art. I think that art wakes people up…and if you’re awake, the possibilities are limitless.
How much did being in control of the production yourself influence that?
Being single-handed in the production allowed me to make choices that no one else would. I am the most me anyone could ever be. It’s the whole point of being fearfully and wonderfully made.
What surprised you most while you were working on flowers?
The most surprising part of this album is how deep these songs cut for me. I’ve heard someone say – and I will recycle: “I don’t write songs, I write DOWN songs.” I don’t schedule sessions or anything, I can’t call the genius into the room. The music just comes to me and I don’t know what it means until it’s out of me. The surprising thing was that a song would be so true that it applied to multiple existential issues for me. For instance, I realized Am I Happening was a song about my toxic tendency to thrill seek but also very much dealt with the autistic emotion of being so foreign that you’re not sure you exist – the feeling of, “I can see you, but you can’t see me.” This feeling confounded so much of my life before I had a name for it.
What do you think will most surprise your fans?
I don’t know if I can surprise them! I have a really diverse and special group of fans. They’re so attentive to the messages in my songs and so vocal about what it means to them. I love keeping up with them and keeping my thumb on the pulse of what they care about. Sometimes, they surprise me!
What do you have planned for the future?
In addition to the music video for “Thorns” that I shot entirely on VHS – there’s a second music video coming. It’s for a new song, “4 Loving You” off the deluxe album (Oct 23). This second video is a 3D visual inspired by Wings of Desire (1987) and Bjork’s All Is Full of Love. I can’t wait to drop this visual. Past that, I just received (from my unseen creative force) the title for album 3. More stories, more growth, more opportunities to diversify the faces of art – that’s the plan.
Keep up with Troi Irons on Instagram @troimusic.