No Such Thing As A Stupid Question #6 w/ Ina Persson (Heart On My Sleeve, The Hope And The Failure)
For the sixths edition of our interview series we talked with Ina of Hope and The Failure. It turned out as our sincerest and most intimate interview to date as the ever inspiring artist from Stockholm, Sweden - among other topics - spoke about her inner motivation to create art as well as her decision to quit her other band called Heart On My Sleeve.
Hey Ina. Thanks for taking the time. Hope you’re doing great. Please give us a brief introduction of yourself and the projects you are involved in.
Ina: My name is Ina and I´m currently 38 years old, I live in Stockholm, Sweden and I previously sang in Heart on My Sleeve and The Hope and the Failure but now THaTF is the only active project I´m in. I´ve been a part of the hardcore scene since the mid-90´s and got into screamo in the beginning of 2000 I would say. Previously I have put up shows and written fanzines but nowadays I´m not as active as I used to be (I´m getting old!).
A few weeks back your band Heart On My Sleeve, which was - and of course still is - relatively well known amongst people listening to screamo music, called it a day. But let’s postpone the topic and talk about your other project The Hope And The Failure first. I was lucky enough to see the band’s heartwarming performance at last year’s Miss The Stars Festival in Berlin. It was one of the first shows you’ve played after a really long period of time. In between your songs you talked about the story behind the formation of THATF, why the band broke up and why you finally decided to reunite. Since not everyone had the pleasure to catch you in Berlin, please share this story with our readers.
Ina: We started the band in 02 I think, me and Chris (guitar) met through a community on the internet and started talking about our common interest in music, it turned out that we both lived in the same area so we met up and started talking about creating music together. The first time we met, he actually had the first riffs to Prozac Hell. He knew Magnus (drums) from art school and also knew some other people named Lars and Jon who were interested and we all decided to start creating music together. Chris had access to a rehearsal space for his other band (Yamon Yamon) so we started creating music there. What is funny about the story of our band is that not that many people in Sweden really understood our music when we were active, the hardcore kids thought that we were playing too much emo and the emo kids thought we sounded too hardcore. We actually had to beg to get shows because no-one wanted to book us. We squirmed ourselves into shows by asking friends who booked or played in more popular bands. In total we only played 3 shows in the years we were active, haha. This was before screamo was a thing in Sweden and people just did not understand what we were doing I guess. We recorded a demo in a rehearsal room that we tried to spread around and there was talk about recording a full-length on Denovali Records but everything fell through. The band was put on ice when our guitarist Lars (who is American) was deported and had to return back to the U.S. We tried for a bit to replace him with a number of other musicians but it never really felt the same so eventually we decided to call it quits. Years past and eventually I started singing in Heart on My Sleeve instead. Here´s another fun part of our story though, about 6-7 years after we stopped playing with THaTF, a friend sent me a link to a Youtube clip where someone had put our demo up. I have no idea where they got it from but I realised that more people had put up different videos with our demo on Youtube and the comments were very positive and people seemed to love it. They wrote that it was original skramz and I actually had to Google it to find out what skramz meant, haha! Anyway, years after we stopped playing we finally got some kind of recognition and it seemed our demo spread like wildfire because all of the sudden all these reviews of our old demo started showing up on different music blogs and people were really praising it. It´s a weird but really nice feeling! Me, Chris and Magnus still kept in touch and sometimes we talked about rehearsing again but it never happened, until Alex from Miss the Stars asked me if we were interested in doing a reunion. A week before the fest in May we played our first show in Stockholm in 13 years.
The third Edition of the Fest was undoubtedly as great as expected and a full success for the MTSF orga-crew. Everyone seemed to have lots of fun and enjoyed those two beautiful days back in May. Since you’ve been in the position to be an active part as a musician as well as a regular visitor, you’ve experienced two different perspectives of the festival. How would you describe the atmosphere from both views to someone who hasn’t been there yet?
Ina: Oh, I love Miss the Stars Fest! I´ve attended all the previous years of the fest and will be at this year´s fest too. Like you said, I have been there both playing and just visiting. I would however say that I experience the festival the same, no matter if I have played or not. It´s a great place to meet nice and amazing people, see great bands and most importantly, finding out about new bands. I´ve discovered so many new bands that I would never have known about if it was not for the festival. Alex has this great ability to find all the gems of the genre and get them to come play. The whole atmosphere of Miss the Stars is so open minded and lovely, you can watch awesome bands, eat amazing food or just hang back in the garden and drink beer and buy merch. It feels like a lot of people who attend the festival are genuinely caring, I´ve met so many great people there. I love it when someone I don´t know come up to me and talk about whatever is in their heart, wether it´s my band, their band, other bands, vegan food, politics etc.
During your set you also talked about your depression and your everyday fight against it . Your vocals for Heart On My Sleeve and THATF are full of passion and heart-wrenching desperation. A lot of great song writing has its roots in depression and negative emotions, some would argue. Do you think you would have written and would still be writing songs if it wasn't for your depression? In what way do these feelings affect your writing?
Ina: I started becoming depressed when I was 13 years old and I have been struggling with it since then. I have had periods in my life where I did not want to continue living and I have to admit that I have tried to commit suicide a couple of times. I was diagnosed with chronic depression when I was 21 years old, how the fuck you can diagnose someone that young with that is beyond me, but that´s what happened. The problem was that it became my whole personality, all I was; someone who will be depressed my whole life, someone beyond saving. This really fucked me up since I saw no need to do anything to change it, this was who I was. The only way to deal with these feelings was to write about them, I wrote a fanzine, I kept a diary and I started writing lyrics. Writing about it helped me to deal with the anxiety and the death wish in a way that no therapist had ever been able to help me. My problem was that I didn't want to deal with the shitty hand that life had given me, I didn't want to deal with the experiences, the self-hatred and the anxiety so I kept putting my head in the sand and just lived this lifeless life. When I started writing, it helped me confront my fears and try to handle everything in a new way. By forcing myself to face the problems I also dealt with them and tried to come up with solutions to them. Writing about it became a way to become better and I started realising that I was not beyond saving. As long as I don´t give up on myself and as long as I keep on struggling and try to find things in everyday life that matters, I will be okay. I have never held back or censored my lyrics because putting them out there has been the ultimate way for me to admit that they reflect my life and my feelings. Even though some people might never understand, there might be someone who does. All the lyrics I have ever written are a reflection of what I was feeling at the time when I wrote them and all of them are a part of me. In many ways, writing has helped me save myself from me and ultimately saving my life. I still have really bad periods but I´m much more equipped to handle them now, I still get anxiety but I have the methods to calm them down and now, at 38 years old, I finally have a life worth living. I appreciate everything I have, the people that care for me and the good things in life that I could not see before.
What would you like to tell people who are struggling with mental problems and depression?
Ina: Don´t give up, the darkest hour is just before dawn, no matter how shitty life feels, there will always be good times ahead, try to live for those moment if there is nothing else to live for. Talk about what you´re feeling, if your friends or family are not receptive, write about it. Creativity has always helped me and I know others who feel the same way, be creative, not for others but for yourself, to deal with what you´re feeling. Write, paint, craft, play music, write lyrics, scrapbook, take photographs, film, do anything that can take your mind of the pain but also to deal with the issues that causes your anxiety. They will no go away by themselves, you have to deal with them no matter how hard it is, it´s the only way.
After coming back with THATF you already released new music in the form of one song, which was released on a split record with the Canadian band, Heavy Weather. How did this collaboration came about and what are your future plans with THATF?
Ina: I found Heavy Weather on a Miss the Stars sampler that Alex released last year and I went to their Bandcamp and bought their demo. I thought the music was so incredibly good that I wrote them on Facebook to tell them how awesome I thought they were. Me and Will from HH started chatting and eventually he asked if Heart on My Sleeve wanted to do a split with them. We in HOMS had just released our full-length at the time and had no new songs in the making but I really wanted to do a split with Heavy Weather so I asked the rest of the guys in THaTF (we had just started rehearsing) if they wanted to record a new song which we did. We recorded the song in early spring last year in our rehearsing space, it was the first thing we had recorded in almost 14 years. I like the song but I don´t know if it is representative of our new sound, we have not played together for so many years so I don´t know if we have figured out how we want to sound yet. At the moment the band is down to three people, Chris and Magnus and I , we have decided that we need some time to figure out what we want to sound like before we continue to make and record new songs again. There will be new songs but time will tell how they will sound like.
On September 3 you’ve played your last concert with Heart On My Sleeve at Cyklopen in Stockholm. After the breakup it’s probably like a huge chapter of your live is being closed. How does it feel and what were the main reasons to call it a day?
Ina: I think our last show was probably one of our best ones so I´m happy with it. We got to play with some of our friends´bands that we played with before and the whole night was filled with amazing people and awesome bands.
I was the one who wanted to quit Heart on My Sleeve, I was afraid that I would regret the decision afterwards but I haven´t. I had been thinking about quitting for quite a long time and my heart was not in it anymore so it felt like it was the right decision to make. We had played together for more than six years and I did not want the same things as the rest of the band. For instance, touring and playing shows have always been really hard for me. Because of my anxiety problems, it takes a lot of me to get on stage and sing. Every time I play live it feels like I´m giving a piece of myself, it might sound pretentious but that´s how it feels like. Every show I feel exposed and vulnerable, I can´t remember any show where I didn't panic or had anxiety afterwards. The rest of the band loved playing and touring which eventually created a conflict because I felt like I held them back by not wanting to play shows or by being negative about playing shows. I held out for 6 years and performed many shows during that time but it was hard for me, especially on tour where you had to do it every night. I still love all the guys in HOMS and we are still friends and hopefully they understood my decision to break up the band.
Thanks a lot for the interview. Conclusively we’d like you give you the chance to recommend a few projects.
Ina: Oh, there are so many awesome band out there but since I´m all for the sisterhood I want to recommend some amazing bands with one or more female members: Osoluna from Spain, Amygdala from Texas, Night Witch from Florida, Snöhamn from Gothenburg and Vivre Sa Vie from Stockholm.
Thank you for sending me the interview and thank you to anyone who likes any of my projects for caring about what I have created, it means a lot to me.