Following the release of "GO PHUCK YOURSELF" — with its metallic, bone-shaking chorus — Royal & the Serpent is back today with yet another raucous single in the form of "IM NOT SORRY" (both of which will appear on a bigger project arriving "very very soon").
Where the Los Angeles rock star's lyrics could translate literally ("I wanna kill everybody/ I'm not sorry, I'm not sorry"), she says the song's message runs much deeper, challenging her fans to make their voices heard and embrace all their imperfections.
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To visualize these ideas, Royal & The Serpent transformed herself into the Joker for an official "IM NOT SORRY" music video, where she runs wildly around the city wreaking havoc. "Hey, it's a beautiful day to be an asshole," she sings, her eyes manic like the iconic supervillain.
The entire effort is reflective of the dichotomy that Royal & The Serpent aims to achieve through her work, from the "sweet sunshine angel" of a royal persona and the "freaky devil maniac" of the serpent. So dive into both, below, as PAPER talks to the musician about coping with mass trauma and using humor to get by.
Why'd you decide the Joker was a perfect character to capture the attitude of this song?
It was really important to portray this story and character in a fictional way, because the lyric is so heavy and intense. The Joker is this rather sad, troubled outcast turned totally psychopathic. After the past two years of separation/ isolation/ trauma, we're all kind of on the brink of insanity — he fit the bill.
What was it like getting into character for this?
To be honest, it was kind of triggering — a lot of energy to take on. When we finally finished makeup, I had a full on panic attack. Luckily, my makeup artist (god bless her) was able to talk me off the ledge. She suggested I take all the anger and frustration I was feeling, and use it to play the part — it worked.
"It's about being unapologetic in our imperfections, and unafraid to speak up and seek help when we know we need it most."
This chorus is, obviously, very loaded — leaning into extreme confidence and extreme anger. How'd you land on the lyrics?
Firstly I'd just like to say, this song is a metaphor and is not meant to be taken literally. It's about being a narcissist with an inferiority complex (overconfident, yet fragile and insecure). It's about being unapologetic in our imperfections, and unafraid to speak up and seek help when we know we need it most.
What was it like writing and recording such an apologetic song like this in-studio?
It really is a wild thing, what we get to do for a living. Being a creative is such a blessing, it leans very heavily on connection and energy. You have to really listen to what your gut and intuition is telling you in these rooms, otherwise you end up chasing ideas so far down the drain that all the life gets squeezed right out of them. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that something is special. Everyone in the room can feel the buzz and the tingle it gives you when you're all riding the same freaky wave.
When was this song created? Did it have anything to do with our extreme global repression and isolation? How did that impact the music-making process for you?
[Laughs] I just looked to see what day we wrote it and it led me down this rabbit hole where I found the first voice memo of us in the studio laughing as we realized we wrote the chorus to the song. June 24 2021, to be exact — and, of course, I think it would be silly for any of us to think that the mass trauma we've been through as a collective hasn't affected us in every way it could have — especially creatively. A lot of the music that's coming out these days is filled with angst and rage. Creating is one of the healthiest things we can do with those sorts of emotions.
How important is humor in your songwriting process? That's what keeps these songs light, while still hammering home your perspective.
Honestly, it's everything. When we're talking about concepts that are so thick with intensity, I think it's necessary to laugh at ourselves a little. My mom always taught me as a kid to laugh at the voice in my head when it was twisting the story of my life into pity, anger or self doubt. She'd say, "Life's a stand up show and your inner voice is the comedian." It stuck with me and, quite honestly, has made the hardest moments a little softer around the edges.
"My mom always taught me as a kid to laugh at the voice in my head when it was twisting the story of my life into pity, anger or self doubt."
This feels like an apt follow-up to "GO PHUCK URSELF." Do you see a relationship between the two?
Someone is paying attention! A+ to you, three gold stars. Of course, it's all connected. We're dancing around themes of loss, tragedy, death — but don't worry, every ending is always followed by a new beginning.
How are your 2021 singles representative of what's coming next? Is this part of a larger effort?
This is the first time I'll be saying this publicly, but yes — we're slowly unfolding a story that is leading us to my favorite project I've ever created, and it'll be here... very very soon.
Photos courtesy of Royal & the Serpent