April 21, 2017

Stream: Snake Boy Gang - Spit

Stream Snake Boy Gang's new album Spit.

Snake Boy Gang debut LP Spit carries infectious melodies that are weary yet cathartic, brimming with bright, taut hooks that will stay buzzing in your brain. Singer-songwriter Madeline Rafter carries the talent for writing confessional and evocative pop songs that expand and grow over topics of fears, regrets, loneliness, and self-growth. Opener “Roof” builds with speed and uneasy feelings as Rafter sings “so here’s the view from the top/ a little lopsided and sloppy/ I lost my balance now I’m tumbling through the darkness.” Her heartfelt and confessional delivery adds to each line’s sense of urgency. Her lyrics carry the conviction of someone like Fiona Apple: a profoundly individual presence centers, above all, on searing autonomy and the act of becoming. But fun songs – bright and sweet as they are also focus on darker topics of life’s ups and downs. At times, Rafter writes extremely personally, ruminating over minute details or brief flashes of memory. A fuzzy merry-go round of synth melodies melt into soft heartbreaking lyrics that move like poetry. On “With You” Rafter confesses a desire to ditch healthy snacks for nachos and hanging out with her crush. There’s melancholy here too but also a much-needed goofy playfulness. Her songs are both sinister “Go to Hell” and mystical “ Detained”, but like a disco ball, it always encourages dancing through the darkness. The more you listen to this album, the more  intricate melodies grow on you as each lyrical story unfolds.

Along with the premiere of new LP Spit, Madeline recently spoke with The Le Sigh about what it’s like to be young artist in Philadelphia, process of recording her new album, and all time favorite pizza toppings.

TLS: Growing up, which groups or artists inspired you to create music?

SBG: Always women on stage! All of my favorite artists for as long as I can remember have always been women shredding or making beautiful folk music. Laura Stevenson, Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, and Sleater Kinney have been my favorite artists since 7th grade and that will never change. Amen.

TLS: When did you first get the urge to start writing yourself? How do you write your songs—in a journal?

SBG: I started writing Laura Marling and Sharon Van Etten rip off songs on my acoustic guitar in middle school. I didn’t keep a diary so I think I channeled all my melodramatic energy into those songs. Lots of intense metaphors about matches and wine and talk of moving to the city. I mostly wrote lyrics and ideas in a journal at that time. I wish I had it to revisit!

TLS: When it comes to writing, when do you feel like you’re the most inspired?

SBG: I mostly write when I have a good chunk of free time, I can’t write in the morning if there’s something I’m planning on doing in the afternoon. Recording while writing has been a monumental change for me. filling out a song, like adding a beat and bass line, while still working on it really helps me to finish songs and not abandon them.

TLS: How do your roots in your hometown music scene influence your writing? Did you develop new styles and ideas after moving to Philadelphia?

SBG: I was not very involved in my hometown music aside from shredding the baritone sax in school band. I did go to a lot of bluegrass shows in high school though, doesn’t influence my playing much but boy do i love a good hootenanny! I think most of my music growth has happened since I moved here, not sure how much of it would’ve happened anywhere just as I got older, and how much is philadelphia specific.

TLS: What song on Spit are you most proud of and why?  

SBG: The songs I cherish the most are "fight with me" and "detained." They are the last two song I wrote for the album and ones where the rough mix I made is closest to the final version. They both came together really quickly and easily, felt very natural. They both feel very honest and pure to me.

TLS: Some of your songs on the LP focus on feelings of being down/depression, do you think writing helps you to work through these emotions and how does the catharsis process work for you in song-writing? 

SBG:  I don’t feel like songwriting is necessarily a cathartic experience for me, when I’m feeling bad I don’t feel better after writing a song. Writing can be helpful in understanding my own feelings and where they’re coming from though! Sometimes I’ll notice a pattern where I’m talking about something specific, maybe feeling not listened to or appreciated, in every song I wrote that month. Then I realize I gotta talk to my loved ones about that and check in with myself about it!

TLS: What was it like recording with Mark Watter and when did you first get involved working with Sleeper Records?

SBG: Before starting this album I didn't know much at all about recording or production. I'd recorded with other projects in the past, but always took the backseat and had trouble advocating for myself and pushing for what I thought would sound best. For Spit I did almost all of the tracking and rough mixes on my own, learning about recording as I worked on songs. I have experienced people in my life, like my friend and former bandmate Sam Huntington, who I could ask for advice when I'm 15 pages deep in a forum about bass EQs and feel like I'm gonna smash the computer, but tried not to rely on anyone else or put anybody's opinions before my own. Pushing myself to learn all this stuff was a very empowering and positive experience! Working with mark on mixes was great, I would highly recommend him to any Philly musicians looking for somebody to mix their stuff! He brought tons of creative ideas to the table without being overpowering or making it his project. He took the rough mixes and made the album sound much more polished and big.

I started talking to Will and Joey (Sleeper Records) after the album was pretty close to finished. I don't remember who approached who about it (I think we all knew that we like-liked each other and wanted to work together before talking about it). They are so easy to talk to and work with, I'm so happy to be putting this out though them!

TLS:  If you could write the soundtrack and score any film, what movie would it be? 

SBG: Wayne's World

TLS: I have a crucial final question about a topic very close to le Sigh’s heart. What’s your favorite, most crucial pizza topping?

SBG: Pineapple on pizza forever and ever and ever. If you are anti pineapple on pizza please do not buy or even stream my album.


Abbie Jones, who will sing along to every Liz Phair song at karaoke by heart and is always down to get milkshakes past midnight. When she isn't writing about music, she is playing drums in her band or hosting shows in her backyard.