By: Shayla Lee
Nashville-based musician Bantug made an explosive splash in the music scene last year with her debut EP ‘Blue’ and she is once again gracing us with her killer voice in her newly released follow-up EP ‘Red.’ Dreamy, pop-infused, and belonging in an 80’s film, ‘Red’ is an honest telling of Bantug’s experiences as a young woman and addresses topics like social anxiety and relationships. We had the chance to chat with Bantug about her new EP and she shared her creative process, how she takes care of her mental health, and the challenges she has faced being a woman in the industry.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
Hmmmm, I mean whatever is going on in my life. I usually let conflicts and struggles process for a long time before I know how to fully put them to words, but that’s not all the time. Right now, I wish I could just be Jenn Wasner to name a favorite.
Congratulations on your EP ‘Red’! I’m really loving how dreamy it sounds – the entire EP belongs in an 80s film! Can you tell us more about this EP and your creative process? What was it like working with Grayson Proctor?
Aww, I’m glad you get those vibes! To be quite honest, I don’t remember much. I just sat in my room and started building tracks and writing songs. I fought with them a lot to get it to where I thought it was ready to pass it on to Grayson. I love working with him! He’s one of my best pals and it was just so easy. We’re for the most part on the same page most of the time and he just knows my vision.
I love ‘Want Out’ and the lyrics “Is our humanity damned / How did it get this way? / The fact of being a woman makes me feel unsafe and I want out” really struck me. Can you tell us more about this track?
Ooof. Yeah, I was watching a couple of films and TV shows that were about assault and rape, and it just got me down in a spiral. For a while, I could not stop thinking that was going to happen to me at any point, so I was just living in constant fear. It was completely paralyzing and I could barely sleep. “Want Out” paints the picture of what I was going through at the time, and yeah, I want out of all of the above, ya know?
‘Do You See Me’ is the perfect finale to your EP. It’s very dancey and Stranger Things-esque. What was the inspiration behind this track?
This song was kind of a continuation from “Wine Beeline.” It’s a song about social anxiety and how I don’t do well around parties and gatherings a lot of the time. “Do U See Me” is digging deeper into that. I feel like I always have the same conversation with the same people 6 times a year and it makes me feel worthless. I think we all do a good job at asking very surface level questions and I’m just not interested in that anymore. It barely has anything to do with who I am, so I just want to cut out the bullshit.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman in the music industry? If so, how did you overcome the adversity and do you have any advice for other women facing challenges?
Absolutely. I haven’t come across anything hateful and whatnot, but I think some men just automatically start scoffing at me like I have no clue what I’m doing. Most of the time I just put my head down and do my thing. If they can’t see that I know what I’m doing, then they’re going to need a lot more help than I could imagine. But honestly, just speak up. It’s not easy, but it feels good to stand up for yourself. And add a little humor sometimes… it just hits them a little harder.
May is Mental Health Month which is something very important to us at FEMME RIOT. Being a busy musician, what practices do you implement to ensure your health and well-being are taken care of?
Rest is my mother freaking jam. I really know my limits and I’ve tried to push through at times, but I just work so much better when I’ve taken time to myself. I also used to do yoga a lot, and during that time, I felt that my mental and physical state was in such a good place.
Aside from your album release, do you have anything else in the works for this year? A tour perhaps?
I’m playing a few shows, but I hope to hop on a couple more tours this year!
What songs are you currently listening to?
The cover photo was shot by Kelsey Cherry.