Interview: Amanda Huff

Interview: Amanda Huff

We sat down with singer/songwriter Amanda Huff from You Win !!! to talk about their upcoming single 'Painmonger,' creating over the last year and what the future holds for the duo.

First off, how have you been?

Turbulent. I spent a ton of time this past year deconstructing myself and analyzing who I was vs who I want to be, then rebuilding from there. Mental health is a multi-headed beast, but I'm consistently inspired by my peers, and I have an incredible support system of friends to remind me that even if the work isn't done, it's not stagnant either. Sometimes all you can really hope for is that continued momentum to thrust you through the lows.

You Win !!! next single "Painmonger" being released on March 12th, what can fans expect from this new track?

It's way more pop-oriented and uptempo than what William and I usually write, but we thought we'd dip our toes in, which I think was a great decision! I'm such a sucker for slow, intimate music, but this felt like a refreshing way to flesh ourselves out without deviating from the core themes of our content. The song itself is still very personal, it's just wearing a different hat!

What does it feel like each time you release new music?

You ever been in a crowded room, and you close your eyes and then re-open them very, very slowly? While your eyes are closed, you dial in on the minutiae of your surroundings, then as you open them up you start to power-shuffle through thoughts of what the lights feel like while it's still distorted refractions, the proximity of every human in your radius, whether your behavior makes any sense, how it fits into the context of your surroundings in general, if anyone is even paying attention, what even is anyone paying attention to, whether it matters, and how you'd like to proceed.

It's beautifully panic-inducing, but if you can wrap yourself tightly enough in the ownership of vulnerability, you hit a point where all that analysis flies out the window and you're just grateful to be present and sharing yourself with everyone else.

What has been the hardest part about creating over the last year?

Loneliness. I spent a good few months at the start of quarantine just writing little lullabies for all my friends, and some for myself as well.

I'm an audio-tactile synesthete, so to have my pool of touch so largely reduced required a lot of cognitive rewiring to create music that didn't just exacerbate the voids I was experiencing. Through that came a lot of self-realization, innovation and a new form of vulnerability I didn't know I could access, but to get there was an excruciating process at times.

What has been the best part?

All the modes of creative cross-training I was finally able to give attention to! I learned to cook so many of my favorite things, strengthened my body physically, gave myself building and reorganizing projects, reconnected with my visual arts, and sometimes even just spent time moving around my apartment in slow motion.

One of my favorite games to play is pretending a room I'm in is a fish tank, so to get to explore the depths of my house in that manner, uninterrupted, was really beautiful. On a deeper note, I also got to put adequate time into that emotional dig. The sort where you face your ego and then say sorry/reach closure with people you love. I think that allowed my artistic practice to mature in a necessary manner.

Will you be releasing a music video for "Painmonger?"

You better believe we will! We were lucky to land Brendan Thain Jones to direct our video, and he pulled all the stops. It's got strobes and wrestlers, the effervescent Alex Scott, really all the excitement and chaos you'd expect from a track titled “Painmonger”. I don't want to give anything else away as the video is still currently in post-production, but we're aiming for a release early this spring, so the wait shouldn't be long.

What does the rest of 2021 look like for You Win !!!?

Right now our focus is on the release of our single “Painmonger” and the accompanying music video, but next on our roster is the release of a third single to tighten up our musical identity, then an album (currently have projected for this fall). It's going to be a wild ride of musical exploration, but I could not be more elated and proud to share it with everyone.

Do you feel like the accessibility of music has been permanently changed over the last year when it comes to how music is released, shared live shows etc?

Yes and no. We've been forced to adapt how we release and perform our material, formatting everything for the virtual platform, but does it compare to actually being at a show? Sadly, no. There's too much technology left to be ironed out in terms of recreating even a sliver of the electricity felt at a live show—speaking from both a performer and fan standpoint.

We've done a few virtual shows this year, and they were really fun, but I think my performance still suffered from the inability to directly connect with my listeners. I'm very big on non-verbal communication, and so much of that gets muddled when you have to try to simulate it for an audience that isn't physically there.

That all being said, I think there's a great benefit to continuing to offer a virtual experience. It's a great privilege to have the money, time and energy to attend all the killer shows Milwaukee has to offer, but that's not always an option, and so streaming is a nice alternative way to still consume and support the scene. Not only that, but building a virtual archive of performances helps artists get content they may have previously struggled to accrue. 

What's the biggest thing you miss pre-pandemic?

The electricity of shows. I want to stand on a stage as it rumbles. I want to blow my ears out standing next to the speakers as someone plays a sick bass line. I want to watch the drummers breath patterns and try to match their tempo while the other instruments swirl around me like a vibrant tornado. I want to feel that sonic ecstasy in its purest form again, and then hug everyone afterwards.

Music is a complex language, and I think so much of it depends on the physical experience. I miss having that wordbank, but I know it will be back eventually, and I'll be more ready than ever to receive it.

Where/When can people find the new single?

On March 12 it will be available on all popular streaming platforms, as well as available for purchase through our Bandcamp and iTunes.

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