We talk to the indie-pop duo about their songwriting process, recent influences, and feeling connected to an audience.

Photography by Alex K Brown.

Photography by Alex K Brown.

JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion began writing music together after four years of friendship and instantly fell in sync. Together they identify as Overcoats, an indie-pop duo with notes of country and electronic. Following the success of their first two albums, which featured hits such as “Fire & Fury” and “Nighttime Hunger”, they are back with Winner. The highly anticipated album, with singles “New Suede Shoes”, “Horsegirl”, and “Never Let You Go”, is finally out now and it’s a beautiful progression in Overcoats’ discography.

With influences that range from Bridgerton to spilled coffee, Winner is a reflection of a moment in time for Mitchell and Elion. Lyrically, the album depicts a push-and-pull of girlhood and adult responsibilities. Uncertainty and resiliency run through the tracks, inspired by personal rejections and career risks (such as splitting with their former label and starting their own imprint). It is a compelling reminder to trust your gut and get back up if you fall. Overcoats worked on Winner from country music capital Nashville, which prompted them to focus on songwriting first and foremost. The album is stripped back and raw, with crystal clear vocals and honest lyrics.

We asked JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion about their songwriting process, genre-bending sound, album influences, and tour.

Listen to the album…

Now for the interview…

How did you both start creating music and when did you join forces?
Writing music had always been a private thing for each of us before we met. After four years of friendship, and singing lots of covers we decided to try writing a song together. That song was “Little Memory” which ended up on our debut album YOUNG.

How do you typically collaborate with each other? What is the process of writing and producing together? Does it look different from track to track?
Yes, we collaborate in many ways, we don’t like to be rigid about things. Sometimes we’ll pass snippets of song ideas back and forth and create a collaged song. Other times we will sit down and work from an idea or experience to start a song from scratch.

Your sound is such a beautiful combination of pop, country, and electronic notes. How did you find and refine your sound, and how would you describe it?
We feel like each of our albums is a reflection of the moment in time we’re living through, combining influences, inspirations, and daily experiences. On this new album we were inspired to return to our roots of guitar and vocals and our adolescent heroes like The Chicks. This album’s stories lend themselves to a more vulnerable sonic world, guitar and piano ballads…but we’re suckers for a pop song, so we couldn’t help but try to make these tracks into revenge pop anthems.

The track “New Suede Shoes” had a unique, spontaneous origin that turned into a larger metaphor. Can you discuss the journey with this song and your decision to release it ahead of the album?
This was a really fun song to make! It came about naturally because as we sat down to begin writing, Hana spilled her entire iced coffee onto her new suede boots. And exploring why feeling like such a hot mess led to some further unpacking of life choices, feeling stuck, craving change, feeling like a kid, wanting to be an adult etc etc.

What was the music video environment like and what do you hope to convey through the artistic vision?
The music video was shot in our friend’s Victorian home north of NYC. We’ve been playing a lot with juxtapositions of time and place. An indie band singing about spilling coffee in a Victorian dining room–a bridgerton sister wives on a mattress plopped into the middle of an expansive field in Tennessee (“Horsegirl” music video). The video for “New Suede Shoes”, and all of the videos we’ve released for this album so far, feel like manifestations of the push and pull we’ve been experiencing in the last few years. Entering our late twenties as the pandemic wanes on, the disillusionment started to set in. Our last few years have been strewn with changes, rejections, and painful growth moments. The video for “New Suede Shoes” is a nod to those moments of change, the desire to still play dress-up even as life’s realities hit hard. It’s whimsical and fun, but the subject matter ends up being quite poignant.

What can we expect from your album Winner?
Winner is our truest sounding album yet. It’s the most raw and vocally focused. We wanted to strip away a lot of the sounds that we considered “cool” and try to make something that was fully transparent and just ourselves. The songs all deal with dualities and how it’s important to have a positive outlook even when things are crashing down.

What were the greatest inspirations while working on the album?
We made the record in Nashville which was so inspiring. Being in the home city of classic songwriters made us really want to focus on the songs and not covering them up. We were also watching Bridgerton at the time of recording, which definitely made its way into the album…lol. The naughtiness and the shirking of responsibility or expectations. Thelma and Louise was also a big one for that point as well.

What was the process of creating it?
We wrote it over probably 6 months. We did trips to Nashville and LA to put ourselves in new rooms with new people. Sometimes that juxtaposition can help you see yourself as an artist more clearly. Once we wrote the songs, we spent a few weeks in Nashville recording and producing it. It was record, sleep, repeat.

Do you have a favourite on the album?
Our favorites are constantly changing. JJ is a big fan of “Don’t You Wanna” and Horsegirl. Hana really loves “Say My Name” and “Vagabond”. We tried to have messages on there that work for many different moods and feelings.

You have toured with some of the biggest names. What have those experiences been like?
They’ve all been such great learning experiences. Artists do things in so many different ways; it’s both validating and normalizing the struggle of tour and the things that each artist does to make it healthy for themselves.

What are you looking forward to most about your North American tour?
We haven’t toured in what feels like ages. Sometimes releasing music just feels like shouting into the void – but seeing people’s faces and hearing them sing the words – that type of connection is going to feel incredible.


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