Words: Ione Gamble
Photography: Jack Johnstone
Styling: Lucy Bonner
Top: Acne Studios
Shirt: Beyond Retro
Boots: Dr Martens
“We’re two friends having a nice time, and suffering and laughing hard and freaking out,” says Cleo Tucker – one half of LA outfit Girlpool – when asked to define the band's genre.
It may not be the traditional answer, but for this duo it fits. As evident from the first moments of their breakthrough album, 2015's Before the World Was Big, Girlpool is driven by the intensity of the bond between members Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker. That much is clear the moment they arrive on set after a long trek to London, piling out of the van and into the wardrobe. As the pair pull on clothes, thumb through dresses and fashion steamers and take selfies, it feels like we're getting ready for a night out, rather than preparing for a photo shoot.
Harmony and Cleo are inseparable, genuine best friends. It's a warmth that glows when seeing Girlpool live, listening to their latest 2017 LP Powerplant, speaking to them face to face, or watching them hold each other while getting their photo taken.
But Harmony and Cleo don't exist in an insular world, exactly. Girlpool’s unfiltered lyrics spill out of headphones in the same way you spill your guts to your BFF over too many drinks; their music conveys an intimacy that is hard to find in an era of personal brands and social media personas.
With a stripped back sound, telepathic harmonies and a blunt clarity to their lyrics, there's nowhere to hide in Girpool's music. Instead, they embrace tenderness as a subversive weapon. But what compels the duo to give so much of themselves to everything they do? “I feel like honesty – honouring the movements and your brain and the fluidity of your feelings – can save you a lot of inner discourse. It’s just easier. I’d feel confused if I just started rejecting things,” explains Harmony.
Top: Beyond Retro
Shoes: Axel Arigato
Top: Acne Studios, Baserange
Top: Can Pep Rey
Earrings: Harmony's Own
Top: Mimi Wade
Sweatshirt: Vtg Adidas
Earrings: Harmony's Own
Top: Mimi Wade
Sweatshirt: Vintage Adidas
Girlpool was born in the thriving DIY scene of Los Angeles, and the pair have recently moved back to the city after a stint on the East Coast. Surrounded by an inclusive environment of peers when starting out, it's unsurprising that Harmony and Cleo state that above all they hope their audiences feel “safe” and “comfortable” when experiencing one of their live shows.
Nothing Girlpool do is highly stylised, considered, or contrived – they find comfort in projecting a vision of their truest selves. “Because of how people socialise with the internet, peoples’ aesthetics are even more projected and intertwined with their identities,” Harmony explains. “As, quote, ‘millennials’, we feel that. If you can find a way to express yourself with an object of clothing or accessory, I think it can be liberating and fun.”
Pinning down the band's visual aesthetic to a list of buzzwords may not be anywhere close to the top of Harmony and Cleo's priority list, but the two understand the importance of personal identity. “It’s kind of shitty how it’s stigmatised and taboo to care about how you look,” says Harmony. “You should feel how you feel, and if you don’t care, then don’t care in that moment. But don’t stigmatise it for yourself, because you should just do what feels good and not feel ashamed to feel any type of way.”
It's no wonder Girlpool have struck a chord with millennials. They push themselves, and others, to express whatever they feel is right. It's something that scratches deeper than the clothes we put on our back. It's the way we treat those around us, the relationships we form and the importance of honesty and expressing our true feelings – even when the concept itself may seem scary.
Powerplant is available now via ANTI- Records