By Nicholas Jason Lopez
While it typically takes two to tango, it can also take two to make some “Milquetoast.”
It is namesake of the new single from Liverpool, United Kingdom-based artists Mary Hennessy and Milan Reid, whom have crafted many tunes over the years that range from folk to electronic music in a quest to better themselves as musicians.
The Bandcamp-only track was formed out of a marriage between isolation and vintage keyboards, located within the deepest realms of lockdown.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with Hennessy about “Milquetoast” and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Liverpool to someone who has never been there before?
Mary Hennessy – Liverpool will surprise you. It’s this tiny, but significant little place scattered with hidden gems and great people. Even though it’s of course, a famous city, it still feels like it holds a quiet secrecy in a way. It has an understated brilliance to it.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Mary Hennessy – I appreciate the challenge it brings. Making music has motivated to properly teach myself guitar and theory and I really enjoy the process of it all. When it comes to the creation of the songs, it’s quite surreal and fulfilling having something so small and quiet that I wrote in my bedroom be formed into something much bigger than what it was when it began. There’s always more inspiration to be found during the recording process.
Music Bugle – What inspired your song with Milan Reid called “Milquetoast”?
Mary Hennessy – “Milquetoast” was inspired by Milan messing around with his synths, trying to make something poppy, but still true to himself. According to him, it came from a love of lo-fi, wonky hip-hop from people such as Flying Lotus and RAP Ferreira. He never intended to rap on it, so he sang on top and got me in on it. The lyrics, quite frankly, are nonsense. I’d like to give you an insight, but I just started with the title and ran with it.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mary Hennessy – Music-wise, I’d say it’s actually benefited, as well as hindered me! The pandemic has given me plenty of free time to take advantage of. This mainly consists of me sitting with my guitar most days and practicing it. Even though life is currently quite uninspiring, it feels productive to have this focus and intent to get better at something worthwhile. On the other hand, it’s also meant I’ve been unable to start recording the new album with Milan, so I feel like I’m sort of in limbo.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need an escape?
Mary Hennessy – Honestly, my bedroom. My room is my most favorite and sacred place to escape to. I get to just be alone, surrounded by my silly little trinkets and no one but myself. It’s a safe space I can call my own and just appreciate. You don’t have to be anyone in your own room.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Mary Hennessy – So much! I’ve been trying to listen to a new album a day, so Spotify is truly serving right now. Arlo Parks’ ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ is definitely something I keep returning to. “Caroline” is one of my favorite tunes this year. I’ve also been listening to Remi Wolf’s songs a lot. They’re ridiculously addictive and I still can’t get enough of Adrianne Lenker’s ‘Songs.’ She’s such an incredible artist.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Mary Hennessy – I can’t remember who actually said this, because I’m a literal fool, but the quote, “Never be the best musician in the room” really drives me, music-wise. When I’m feeling insecure and lost in my music, I remind myself of that quote as a way to drag my brain out of those thought paths of thinking that I’m not good enough. It eases the internal pressure I impose on myself to be this insane melody-making machine that can just shred space and time from my fingertips. If you’re the worst musician in the room, there is always something you can learn. Hence, there are always ways to improve and it’s just a never-ending self-improving process, really.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Mary Hennessy – Last year, I began rollerskating! One of my new aims in life is to become the princess of rollerskating. I mean, I’m truly terrible, but my ass is going to skate to that throne, no matter how many grazed elbows and knees it takes to sacrifice along the way.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Mary Hennessy – I think I just remember being so amazed when I played my first ever chord on the guitar when I was around 11 years old. I was like, “Heck yeah! Look at me go!” I did a C chord. I didn’t understand what I was doing at all, but it just felt fascinating and bigger than myself to hold this guitar and make noise. Still feels the same whenever I write a song.
Music Bugle – What do you hope for from the rest of 2021?
Mary Hennessy – I’m hoping I can begin to record my next album and just see what the heck happens with it all, really! Been sitting on these songs for a while now. It’s going to feel quite strange when I finally record them and shape them in to real things, but I can’t wait to see how they turn out.