Scene Point Blank: A lot of your music is very introspective and self aware. Something I appreciated was that it wasn’t dramatized or finger point-y. Do you think that using really fun, poppy music is a good way to process [heavier subject matter]?
Ilana Hope: I mean for me personally, I feel like if I don’t write about my own experience and my own life, then what would I even write about? I know some people can write and tell stories or write in other ways - and that’s really great - but there’s no subject in the world that I know better than myself. And nobody else knows my story better than me either. So if I’m going to say something, I’m only going to say it from my point of view and how I feel about it. I’m not going to project and pretend everybody feels the same way, or that everybody who struggles with a certain thing will understand.
"I like writing fun pop music because it’s fun for me to do. I enjoy performing it, I enjoy singing it. I don’t want to spend all this time pouring my heart out into words that I don’t want to sing at the end of the day."
And I also feel like… I don’t know, I like writing fun pop music because it’s fun for me to do. I enjoy performing it, I enjoy singing it. I don’t want to spend all this time pouring my heart out into words that I don’t want to sing at the end of the day. There’s no point in being in a band if you don’t want to perform your songs, and because it’s my band, [Foxy Dads] can be whatever I want. If I decide to be a nu metal band tomorrow, I can. It gives me a lot of freedom. If I mess up the words to my song, that’s just how the song goes now - it’s my song. No one can tell me I’m doing it wrong because I’m completely doing my own thing.
I tried really hard to separate myself from a lot of the emo-guitar bands [that are popular] right now - which are great, but I’m just really sick of feeling like I don’t fit into that crowd. Or that I’m not doing it well enough. I just really want to enjoy myself and not worry about what anybody thinks and you know, I don’t make music for those people. I don’t make music for men. I don’t make music for people that are gonna laugh at me in a Guitar Center. I don’t make music for people that are going to tell me that if I don’t like Weezer I’m wrong, or if I don’t like the Beatles I’m wrong. I don’t really care about that. I want to make music that’s fun for me to play, that I enjoy, and that’s very true to my experience. So maybe pop music is a way for me to ignore everybody else.
Scene Point Blank: I didn’t mean that it was inauthentic by any means. I just think it’s interesting - and I love it too - that [Foxy Dads] is very fun and very catchy. But that it’s also very introspective.
Ilana Hope: No, I getcha (laughs). I just want to enjoy performing my music! I really do. And I feel like that shows when we play, especially with my new lineup. Everybody really likes what they’re doing. I want to see people dance. It makes me happy. I’m sick of singing songs that I’m bored of, or that halfway through I’m like, “ugh, I can’t believe I’m singing this song again.” I just want to keep it interesting for me. And luckily that’s interesting for other people, too.
As I change, my music will change. It can be whatever I want it to be down the road. When I get sick of this, I’m sure I’ll do something else. I don’t want to be confined to any sound. I don’t want Foxy Dads to be a “this” band or a “that” band, I just want us to be a fun band.
"As I change, my music will change. It can be whatever I want it to be down the road. When I get sick of this, I’m sure I’ll do something else."
Scene Point Blank: You have a song on the album called “South by South Less.” Have you played South By Southwest (SXSW), or do you want to?
Ilana Hope: So I’ve never played SXSW, and I’ve also never gone to SXSW. I would! But the song has nothing to do with that. That was actually written in a pretty weird period of time.
This was [written] after a very long, very rocky relationship [and breakup]. We wanted to stay friends and stay in touch. That was just kind of hard, because I feel like sometimes both of us were kind of abusing that. Like, he would only hit me up when he needed support and help emotionally. But then, you know, I would hit him up when I needed something. So I hit him up while he was playing SXSW. [“South by South Less”] is about me texting him and feeling really ignored. Like, I was there when you needed me, why won’t you be there when I need you?
Scene Point Blank: You’re going down [to play] your second Fest. I love the idea of Foxy Dads at Fest, because [it means that] you can be a part of the same overall community as a band like Less Than Jake or AJJ.
Ilana Hope: I love Less Than Jake! I grew up on them - they’re seriously like one of my all time favorite bands… and I like Fest because it’s supposed to be, like, punk or whatever. But like you [implied], they’ve been opening up and I think that’s the way to go.
Scene Point Blank: I feel like the “punk” umbrella’s opened up more.
Ilana Hope: Yeah. I think the fact that I just do what I want for my music - to have fun for myself, and to not make music for other people - I think that is, like, super punk.
Scene Point Blank: Are there any bands you’re really excited to see?
Ilana Hope: The Weak Days! I’m most excited - more than anyone else - to see The Weak Days. They. Are. My best friends.
Scene Point Blank: You toured with them last year to Fest, right?
Ilana Hope: Yeah! We had never met, but we had planned this tour together with somebody else who ended up not even being on it. So we were all just kind of like, “well, I guess we’re still touring together.” So they came to my house a few days early so we could all practice and stuff. And within five minutes of them being there, we were all best friends. Literally, clicked minute one. We’re just super tight. We were on the same page the entire tour, which never happens. There’s literally a framed picture of The Weak Days in my apartment. And they also have the wallet versions of the pictures of us together. (Laughs) So yeah, I’m more excited to see the Weak Days than anybody else.
I’m definitely excited for Joyce Manor and Laura Jane Grace. I’m excited for Dikembe and… Dowsing! Dowsing are like, the GOAT. They are so sick. I love them. Origami Angel is also playing, and they’re on the same label as me. They were the first band on Chatterbot [Records], and [Foxy Dads] was the second. We have competing time slots so that’s kind of a bummer that I can’t see them. But I wish I could!
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any survival tips for Fest?
Ilana Hope: Hydrate! Pedialyte is really good. Don’t be so focused on seeing bands that you forget to eat, sleep, or take care of yourself. I also personally have a rule where I don’t drink alcohol at all at Fest. Because at Fest, where there’s so many people, one drink will turn into ten drinks really quickly. Fest hungover sounds like the worst experience in the entire universe to me and I don’t want to play that game.
So definitely just take care of yourself. Pace yourself and don’t get pressured. Don’t feel like you have to see every band - take time for yourself! As much time as you spend seeing bands, you should also spend eating, sleeping, and relaxing.
Scene Point Blank: I feel that. Last question: for a lot of people, New York DIY can be hard to get into. How would you recommend a younger person gets involved in the scene?
Ilana Hope: I’d say just keep yourself open and [know that] you don’t have to be in bands to be part of it. You don’t have to play an instrument. You don’t have to be good at an instrument if you play one. You don’t have to make the kind of music that’s popular in your scene. You don’t have to be in a band at all - you can be a photographer, you can be a booker... you can be whatever you want, really.
"But especially for non-men in the scene, I would personally say don’t limit yourself to feeling like you have to be a fangirl."
You can be an artist, and you can just be a fan. But especially for non-men in the scene, I would personally say don’t limit yourself to feeling like you have to be a fangirl. Because that was something I struggled with a lot growing up in the New York scene. I always felt like the only way I could support shows was by being there and buying merch, because I didn’t know [how to play] an instrument and because I wasn’t taken seriously. [I thought] I couldn’t do anything. So definitely don’t tell yourself you can’t, because you can. Anyone can be in the music scene in any way, shape or form. [For example], my good friend Ellie tours with bands and promotes L.E.A.D. DIY, which is a not-for-profit that promotes epilepsy awareness at shows. Being involved in the music scene [those ways] is just as valid, you know? Every place needs a venue owner. Every place needs a booker. Every band needs these people. it’s not, just, “oh, I can’t play guitar so I can’t be in the scene.”