AGENDER’s public description is “schitzo synthy paranoid punk with a dash of dysmorphic desire,” which accurately describes their sometimes vintage 80’s post-punk/synth pop flavors of aural insanity. Lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter Romy Hoffman takes the spotlight throughout their brand new album, Fixations, which you can stream below, exclusive to OurVinyl. You can also read the interview I gladly had the opportunity to conduct, in which Romy tells all.
As much as it may be very typical, the origin of AGENDER morphed from a solo project on the band’s first album to a full three-piece band. How did this come to fruition?
I made the first record ‘self (en)titled’ at my home studio. I played everything, recorded and mixed it myself, in a short period of time. I felt a sense of urgency to write a body of work and what came out was a punk record. It all happened very quickly. I made the record and then put it out myself, immediately. I didn’t really think of anything beyond that. It was something I just had to get out, for my own sanity. Then I started getting asked to play live shows, so I assembled a band.
During that time, I wrote ‘Fixations’. I knew I wanted to record it with my good friend Casey Rice. He suggested to record it as a band, instead of me tracking everything myself. I assembled a band, consisting of two girls, Melissa and Yolanda. We rehearsed for a couple of weeks and then recorded ‘Fixations’ and by the end, we’d become a super tight unit.
It felt right. There was a magical dynamic between the three of us.
I was also very happy to venture out of solo land, where I write, play and perform everything on my own. That can drive you crazy and make you feel rather alone. I was ready to let others into this world.
It seems that you’re very musical – having multiple side projects in your solo project under your name and your Macromantics project. Does AGENDER resonate as a true reflection of you?
Of course. It’s a definite mirror reflection of self. It’s my true grit. It reflects my fears and my desires, my agonies and ecstasies. It’s true in that it’s an unedited version of myself. In this day in age, we chisel our lives to look a certain way for others on social media, etc. We brand ourselves without even knowing it. We choose what we let people see and what we delete from the narrative. I wanted this to be the opposite of that. I wanted this to be yuck and raw and unfiltered. Naked and not necessarily pretty.
Even the fact that we recorded it onto 2″ tape, and not onto ProTools reflects that it’s a true reflection. I wanted to keep it human, and not have to rely on digital machines. No vocal takes were spliced and sliced. We waited till I got the right vocal takes in one execution. Some of the songs were recorded in one take. No overdubs. I had to let go of any idea’s about perfection in the making of this record. Punk rock should not be perfect. That’s what makes it perfect. There was no ‘audio Photoshop’ i.e computer involved in the construction of this picture which I painted in sound. It’s totally a true reflection.
Fixations = Sex, coda.
Fixations represents a certain period in my life. The fixations were of a sexual nature. Fixations in general are like repetitious loops. The mind attaches itself to a thought and remains stuck. The thoughts then consume you. My mind likes to pause on things which are painful to think of. That becomes a comfort zone for me. Fixations, in this context, means insanity. Looking back, it was definitely a period of lunacy. But, if I milked a good record out of the insanity, it was well worth it.
AGENDER’s existence as a band really shows on Fixations, showcasing many different styles of the post-punk / synth-pop sound. Was this a conscious decision when recording, or did it come completely naturally?
I honestly don’t set out to write anything in particular. Nothing is planned. I sit and let it happen naturally. It’s more unconscious than it is conscious, or rather, it’s this weird fusion between my own consciousness and some type of collective unconscious. I am tapping into something greater than myself.
There were a few references I had in mind when it came to the fine touches in production and mixing.
So, writing wise, it was unconscious, but when it came to producing, it was a conscious decision to give it that classic post punk sheen.
What’s immediately next for AGENDER?
We’re playing shows in the U.S at the end of June/early July, up the West Coast, and New York. I’ve also begun demoing the next record. I’m about half way in.
Any last words?
Everything’s going to be just fine.
Written by Dylan Tracy
OurVinyl | Contributor