Cliché: When did you first get involved with music?
Mariel Loveland: Music is such an inherent part of soul, I feel like I never existed without it. I remember it all the way back to a time when I barely had any memories, and I wasn’t tall enough to even see over a church pew. Around that age, my parents would sing me “Eight Days a Week” by the Beatles. I always loved it. Growing up, I was always in the school chorus or church choir. Then, when I got to high school, I joined the marching band (where I was a terrible French horn player) and got my very first guitar as a Christmas gift (I was slightly better at that one). I started writing songs on it before I even knew how to play a single chord. Though, I’m guessing those songs weren’t very good. I would just press my hands on the strings and try to figure out what sounded nice.
Do you remember your first gig?
It’s really hard for me to remember my first gig. I do remember being a very young child and having a fight on stage with my sister during what I think was a Christmas mass. We were singing in the chorus. Does that count? Otherwise, I think the first time I played my songs for people was in high school during an event I threw for the literary magazine. As far as gig that I’ve gone to as a fan, I think my first was The Elephant Show live. My mom said I had a major fever and was massively ill at the time, but raged like a crazed toddler anyway.
Why did you decide to move on from your former band, Candy Hearts?
Honestly, it just wasn’t making me happy anymore. I love our fans. I love playing shows for them, but the older I got, the more toxic the pop punk scene started to feel and the more isolated I felt as a woman. It was honestly really tough for me, and I started to get terrible anxiety about everything having to do with my career. I remember feeling my hands shake just seeing the caller ID of anyone on my team. I would stay up at night and pray the universe didn’t take away my success and everything I had built. I felt like I was always bracing for a disaster, and it shouldn’t feel that way. You shouldn’t feel like you’re always gasping for air and struggling to breathe. You shouldn’t have to put up with the abuses happening within a scene because you want to keep the success you’ve worked for. Frankly, at a point, the success isn’t worth it. We started playing music because we had this need to express ourselves. It was freeing. I wanted to be empowered again.
Would you say that your sound or your musical preferences have changed since your time with Candy Hearts?
I wouldn’t say my preferences changed. I would say they expanded. All the bands I loved when I was 19 and started Candy Hearts, I still love. It’s just now I have this affinity for modern pop music that I didn’t have before. Deciding what I want my band to sound like has always been a huge problem for me because I love so many different genres. I just want to make a record that can be an amalgamation of all the things I love.
Why does indiepop speak to you as a genre?
Indiepop has such a range of sounds that really check every box for me. It’s the one place where you can have that twinkly, chimy guitar we see in 90s alt, mix it with bone-shaking buzzing synths, and layer it with the harmonies you fell in love with listening to the Beach Boys as a kid. Indie pop can be anything and everything. You can pick elements of any genre as long as you have a killer melody.
Tell us about Best Ex. What’s the meaning of that name?
I’ve always sort of felt like an underdog in music. I remember being that girl pulling up to play at a House of Blues in a dented minivan, and the load-in guys being absolutely perplexed we’d be driving ourselves in such a tiny vehicle. I remember being dropped off at a red carpet in our crappy van that had the passenger’s side mirror duct taped in place. I remember sleeping with three of us, lined up like sardines in a king sized bed in a hotel because we couldn’t afford another room. My band mates and I have a lot of fun, but we’ve never had nice things. I really liked the idea of Best Ex because, to me, it meant the best thing that someone didn’t want. It felt like us.
Your new single,”Bad Love”, was inspired by personal experiences. Have you figured out why you chased bad love?
That’s hard to say. You can’t choose who you love, but you can choose how you act about it. I think in the past, I’ve impulsively dove into anything that felt good, exciting and fun. I think I still do that, and when I love, I love fiercely. I’m intensely loyal, and I really do try to see everything through, when probably should just hang up the towel. By the time something gets bad, you’re already comfortable in whatever is happening, anyway. If bad things started out bad, no one would ever get stuck in them. In a way, you get used to being unhappy, so it starts to feel normal.
I do think that the love I’m singing about in this particular song isn’t exactly bad per say. It’s more about the self-inflicted pain of continuing something you know won’t go anywhere because you really wish that would. I read a thing on Instagram once about being upset and unhappy in relationships — romantic or not — because you’re trying to take a bath in a fish bowl. It’s like you’re trying to love people so deeply and so wholly, when they’re the kind of people who are a puddle and not an ocean. That really stuck with me, and I think none of us should ever go diving headfirst into a puddle. You’re gonna break your neck.
Why do you think we are so drawn to people and relationships we know are going to hurt us?
Well, I think humans are attracted to danger, as long as it doesn’t have the potential to be fatal. It’s why we see horror movies. It’s why we ride roller coasters. It’s why we watch reality TV, and why people try to drink just enough to be a little tipsy, but not too much to actually be ill. In so many ways, conflict and fear are our recreation, as long as it’s not something that actually hurts us long term (just look at the waitlist for McKamey Manor, which is maddening because it’s so horrific). The truth is, your heart can break an infinite number of times without ever actually breaking, and your body is trained to remember pain less acutely than it remembers other feelings.
I don’t think most humans intentionally enter relationships they know are going to hurt them. I do think they enter relationships that have obstacles, thinking that if they love a person enough, they can overcome those things together. Every person has some sort of baggage, it’s just some people have worse baggage than others. On the days you do manage to work it out, it feels like you’ve beat some sort of video game boss level. If you can’t, you sob for a month, reset the game, and it starts all over again, right?
How are you trying to break your unhealthy relationship habits?
I’m trying to break my unhealthy relationship habits by just not being in a relationship. It’s not fun for me to have my heart broken over and over again. The highs and lows are absolutely maddening, and I’m not sure it’s actually worth it. In the age of Tinder, people view relationships as completely disposable. They’re always looking to upgrade. They think that because something is slightly tough at one moment in time — whether you’ve had a bad string of days or the audacity to express an unpleasant human emotion — that there’s a new relationship just a swipe away with a better, easier, hotter, more successful person. But you can’t replace people. You can’t conjure a genuine connection that took time to build with a swipe. This only breeds lonely people, so like Emma Watson recently said, I’m self-partnered. For the most part, I’m the only person I rely on, and it’s nice knowing I can do that. If I’m ever in an I Am Legend situation, I’d probably crush it.
What advice would you have for someone who feels like they can’t give up chasing the wrong person or pursuing toxic relationships?