Photos and Interview by Jordan Edwards
Girl groups have come in many different forms over the years. From The Supremes to Destiny's Child to Fifth Harmony, the sound and style has continuously shifted. Born out of the Pandemic, NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS seem to pull from every era. Gabi Gotts, Perrin Xthona, and Tammy Gonzalez met at Boston's Berklee College of Music and combined their diverse musical backgrounds into a radio-friendly sound with sharp edges.
They dip into '60s harmonies with '90s and Y2K inspired compositions. Like TLC, they dress themselves as individuals and take on personas completely different from one another. But the production is modern and beats are heavier, the result of an upbringing that included dubstep, trap, and EDM. While the vocals are smooth, there's an intensity that you don't hear in a Destiny's Child record.
We talked to the trio about their new EP bad things come in 3s and how they approach songwriting.
Congrats on the EP! How does it feel for it to be out?
Perrin: Thank you! So so exciting, I literally can’t wait to bump it at our next pregame haha.
Tammy: It's so insane that this project is finally out. I can’t even conceptualize that anyone outside of the three of us is finally going to be able to listen to every song back to back!
The beats are hard, and the vocals have early 2000s vibes. What inspired the sound?
Gabi: So during the time we were writing for this project, we were going out a lot because I was taking monthly trips to LA. It was wild. We were doing sessions every day and going to bars like five nights a week haha. So our entire world was basically Megan Thee Stallion & Doja Cat, and like "…Baby One More Time’ and "Like a G6," so I think a lot of the sonic inspo definitely came from that. I think we all also feel like the pop songs from the 2000s were indubitably the best, with the hookiest melodies, so we wanted to channel that over hard beats that invoked the feelings of going out!
NTMC from left: Tammy Gonzalez, Gabi Gotts, and Perrin Xthona
Your name refers to the fact that you used to mostly work on other people’s projects. Do you feel more comfortable with being the stars and prioritizing your own music?
Perrin: we’re actually surprisingly comfortable! We’re constantly having to learn new things, but everyday it feels more and more like it's what we’re meant to do. And it’s a lot easier having all three of us, so we never go through anything alone. I get to work with my best friends everyday.
Tammy: It's crazy that none of us originally intended on being artists. Now that we’re doing it, I can't imagine doing anything else. As artists, we get to see our songs through to the finish line, which you don’t get to do as a songwriter. We have so many ideas and are loving the creative process.
You met as students at Berklee College of Music. How did the band become a band?
Perrin: So, I was friends with Tammy and Gabi separately at school, and after we left and were home with our parents for the pandemic, I started doing zoom sessions with them both. I talked about them so much to each other that we eventually did sessions with all three of us, and loved it so much that we released a couple songs together.
At what point did you realize that this could be a long term project?
Gabi: So we put out ‘"bev hills" not thinking anything of it. We thought our friends would listen and maybe some random people on the internet but nothing crazy. So when it randomly got playlisted on Spotify we had a freak out moment, and I think that was the first time we all kind of looked at each other like, “If you guys are in, I’m in!”
Do you have actual songwriting sessions, or do you throw ideas back and forth as they come?
Tammy: Our sessions always start by making a Google doc. Usually we’ll work with a producer and while they do the beep boop bops we’ll write lyrics first. We joke all the time that our songs are just slam poetry because we save the melody for last. On rare occasions we’ll do melody and lyrics simultaneously. But usually it's lyrics first, because we get so into the concept haha.
How do you feel about the music scene here in LA? Do you miss the East Coast?
Perrin: I’m from the West Coast so as much as I loved Boston, I’m very at peace here.
Tammy: I’m from New York and definitely miss it sometimes. I could see myself heading back in like 10 years haha. I love the music scene in LA though, especially now that live shows are coming back.
Gabi: I went to high school in the Bay Area, and that’s where my parents live now. So, I’m right at home in LA haha! I moved only a couple of months ago from Nashville, where I lived for two years, and the music scene there is amazing too; a little more intimate. I will say, though, I do miss the stormy summer season in the South. I’m feeling a little starved of torrential rain.
Tell me some acts you’re really into that more people should know about.
Tammy: I’ve had Hailey Knox’s songs on repeat all month. I'm obsessed.
Perrin: I’ve been really into Belis lately!
Gabi: I’ve been obsessed with MUNA for the last couple of months. I saw them at a festival last September and have been hanging on every word ever since haha. I’m also consistently surprised that William Crooks isn’t bigger than he is – literally some of the best production I’ve ever heard, he’s crazy.
What’s your summer looking like? Lots of shows?
Gabi: Hopefully! We’re gearing up to start doing live shows right now, which is super exciting for us given that we’ve never performed before (being pandemic babies). Right now, we’re in the process of creating the live set and choosing songs and what we want the visuals to look like, so it’s a fun time right now. We’ll post any updates about live shows on our Insta, so def follow that if you want to stay in the loop.
NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS – "bad things" (Official Visualizer)