22-year-old indie pop artist splendi released her latest single, “nancy drew,” on September 2 after her debut single, “unoriginal,” landed on Spotify’s top editorial playlists, including New Music Friday, Lorem, Fresh Finds, and fuzzy.
Disguised as an upbeat pop song, the synths have an edge to it, pushing “nancy drew” in a more angst-filled direction. On the track, splendi explores experiences of gaslighting and betrayal, with an overarching theme of trust issues and how these can be worsened in an unhealthy relationship.
As a bisexual woman in the music industry, splendi takes inspiration from other queer female artists making waves in a male-dominated scene, like beabadoobee, Phoebe Bridgers, Remi Wolf, and countless others. Melodic chatted with splendi in the days leading up to the single’s release to discuss the inspiration behind the song, her unique approach to upcycling merch, and finding a community in the music industry as a queer artist.
What’s the story behind “nancy drew,” your upcoming single? What inspired you to write it?
On the instrumental side, actually my friend Nick, who produced the song, texted me a random demo that he made while he was just at work one day, and I listened to it, and I knew I wanted to write over it just because it had this perfect dark synth vibe. I kind of immediately had a topic in mind, and I wanted to write about my trust issues over the instrumental just because it had this really angsty kind of feel to the song. But yeah, I guess the story’s about just some trust issues that I’ve had in the past, but I definitely wrote it while I was having some like, issues in a relationship of just being lied to over big things, being lied to over small things, and just how I think that that line kind of fell into a pretty repetitive pattern that was really messing with me, like in my head and everything. And so, yeah, that song was just like, a good way to, I think channel some of that out. But yeah, it’s about my trust issues, mostly in a relationship but there’s some stuff about past things, too.
Was this something, then, that you were writing kind of as you were experiencing it and working through it? Or was it something that was more reflective?
I think it’s a bit of both. I would say that the stuff I was definitely working through was not current, but was very fresh. So I want to say it was a couple of months after, like some big hiccups in this relationship with issues of lying and things like that. So it was definitely a way of working through it, but also reflecting at the same time.
So it’s about a collection of experiences, or is it looking into a particular relationship that this song channels?
It’s definitely looking into a specific relationship. But there’s some nods to how I also just have trust issues even before that. I mean even in the chorus, it’s like, “First name, Nancy. Last name, Drew / and you reinforced my trust issues.” Like I’ve always kind of had trust issues, but this person just really made them a lot worse in a lot of ways.
Yeah, when you already have worries about putting your trust into somebody, it’s so easy for someone to reinforce those. It only takes one little thing. You mentioned the line in the chorus, but I was wondering if you had a favorite lyric in the song?
Oh, yeah, I think this one just came to me in a stream of consciousness writing, but I really like the one where it says, “Like Honey Nut Cheerios, your lying is cereal.” I came up with that and I was like, ‘Well that’s pretty cool,’ and so I left it in.
I like that! Are you going to channel that into merch at all? I feel like that could make some cool designs.
I think so, because, speaking of merch, almost everything is sold out, so I have to start making some new T-shirts. The tote bags are being made pretty consistently, but yeah, I have some fun t-shirt ideas for sure.
I read that you upcycle your merch, which I think is really interesting. Where does the inspiration to do that come from?
Yeah, it’s really crazy. So my manager’s girlfriend, Nicole, who’s a friend as well, is insanely talented. She’s a fashion designer and kind of had the idea of doing upcycled tote bags that are made out of donated pants. The first step was getting a ton of pants, so bunch of my friends and I just started collecting pants that our friends weren’t wearing anymore. And then, once we had enough collected, Nicole cut them all, and made them into these super cool tote bags. Some have pockets on the outside, some have the pockets on the inside, which I think are super functional, too, because like, with just a random tote bag I’m always losing stuff at the bottom. But yeah, once the totes were made, I took each one and made designs for them, like logos. I put them on a special paper and cut them out, ironed it, and then they were done. The process definitely took some trial and error, though. The first, I think five that we made, we realized that the logos were backwards, so, like all the texts, had been flipped. Because I think, with that special paper, some images have to be reversed, depending on how dark the fabric is. So yeah, like five are backwards. But they still looked really cool. I like the way all of them turned out.
Does this come from a sustainability initiative or is it just a creative outlet? Are you looking at ever mass producing merch, not upcycling?
Yeah, I mean it definitely depends. Like, the upcycling of merch is great, because it’s sustainable, and it also is just a really fun process. I tell everyone that they’re made with love, because I think there’s just been so much work put into them. The process for each tote bag or t-shirt was very individual for that one piece which is just fun. So it’s definitely a cool creative outlet. But I mean it also is great that they’re sustainable and we’re reusing materials. That’s the same thing with the t-shirts and hoodies and everything, like all of those were thrifted just blank t-shirts that I slapped logos onto. So I think if enough people are eventually buying merch where it’s not possible to keep up with making merch that’s like one hundred percent sustainable… maybe that’s an issue down the road. But I like doing the upcycled merch for now, for sure.
A lot of companies now are turning towards more sustainable production, anyway. So there’s a lot of room for that, but it’s really cool. I think it’s super unique. It kind of makes everyone’s merch feel like they have something one of a kind.
Exactly. And I mean, yeah, everything on the totes or the t-shirts was made with the idea of how the finished product is going to look for just that one item. So all the colors match whatever colors are on the shirt and the tote bag. They’re all completely different, which I think is really cool.
Yeah, that’s awesome. I read just in a little bit of your bio that as a bi woman in the music industry you take a lot of inspiration from other queer female artists. Which artists have inspired you, and in what ways?
Totally yeah, I think, like honestly, most of my musical influences and inspirations are women that also just so happen to be queer women, because I guess the music industry is like that sometimes. But yeah, to name a few, beabadoobee is one I really just love. I love all of these artists, but I really love her. spill tab, Wallice, Clairo is like a given. Remi Wolf, I love her stuff, but I really just love her lyrics. Like, they’re so clever, and they’re fun. Same with Samia. But yeah, those are just a few that came to me. I could probably come up with a whole list. St Vincent. Like, it’s hard to come up with them all on the top of my head.
I listened to a lot of male artists as a teenager, and I still love a lot of different artists, but I feel like as I’ve grown and been more comfortable, I guess, like in my identity and stuff, I feel like I’ve ended up gravitating towards more queer female or non-binary artists. I just think there’s also a bit of just the experience that they capture in their lyrics, as well as just the vibe at their shows. There’s so many amazing queer female artists that are breaking out into the music industry in ways that they haven’t before. And I just feel very inspired by it, as well as like, I think it’s really great for women who are listening to feel more seen by the music they listen to, in an industry that’s been really dominated by men. So that’s been really awesome, like not even as an artist but as just a music lover and someone who works in music, it’s really cool. Do you feel like your identity has played a role in the way that you’ve navigated the music industry?
I think so, yeah. I think what’s cool about being a bi artist is that I think I’m able to connect more and really find such a community in working with other queer artists and musicians, because they just kind of get it. It’s way easier to form connections and a community around that. I think that’s really special, but I totally relate to listening to majority male artists as an early teen, before I knew about all of my favorite artists. Yeah, most of my musical idols were definitely men. And yeah, I mean, there were some cool female musicians, but I think it’s nice, because there’s a lot more representation now. And, like, you know, if fourteen-year-old-me had known about beabadoobee back then, that would have changed the game for me. Like that, that would have been so cool.
Yeah, you were saying “changed the game,” even just more songs about queer relationships. Cause when you’re younger and you’re mainly listening to male-fronted bands and songs that are about straight relationships while you’re still navigating your identity, you don’t have as much being modeled for you. I mean, less modeling and more like, affirming. So that’s also a big thing with developing your music taste and growing the landscape of artists that you know, it can be very affirming. Like, this summer I photographed Lucy Dacus and Clairo, and at their shows I was just thinking that I felt a lot more connected to the other people there than I had at other shows I’d been to, because I feel like the majority of the people have an ability to understand these experiences compared to other shows I’ve been to that don’t have that same community.
Exactly. Yeah, it’s really something special. It’s really cool. I’ve been to a couple of Clairo concerts, and the vibes are just so much better than most other shows. Because, yeah, it just builds a community around the music. I think most people at the shows are queer women mostly. It’s just so cool.
“I think what’s cool about being a bi artist is that I think I’m able to connect more and really find such a community in working with other queer artists and musicians, because they just kind of get it. It’s way easier to form connections and a community around that.”
What songs would you see your single next to in a playlist?
I’ve been on a Jackie Hayes kick lately, and I feel like this song kind of matches her vibe. I think “Dead End” or “Headache” by Jackie Hayes. And this maybe doesn’t fit the genre so well, but “3 HEADS” by Jean Dawson also just kind of gives similar vibes. And maybe anything off of Wallice’s new EP ‘90s American Superstar.’ That whole album is a bit heavier than the rest of her stuff, so it definitely fits the angsty kind of vibe of the song.
What would be the ideal setting for somebody to listen to this song to? Like, here would they be seated? What would they be doing?
Oh my god, maybe like sitting on the couch in a dark room, like contemplating their life decisions, or something just when you’re in like an angsty mood. I don’t know, the synths really bite, there’s just something about it. I was definitely going through some stuff while I was writing it, so the tone is pretty negative. But it’s also like, I don’t know, you could listen to this while you’re driving in the car. I think that the chorus is catchy so it’s not like a sad song, but it’s definitely a moody song. So any moody vibe, I think.
Yeah, because you were saying “in a dark room,” but it is upbeat. It definitely has to bite to it, so I feel like it can be one of those contemplative tracks where you’re sitting by yourself, reflecting on whatever’s happened in the past year or five years, but it can also be like a screaming in the car song or a party song. It’s very versatile.
Maybe a dark room with like disco lights or something.