That Feeling You Can’t Contain: A Conversation with Twin Princess

With rippling synths, existential prose, and ringing siren-like vocals, the Philadelphia synth-pop/doom-country outfit Twin Princess has carved out a distinct niche for themselves in the indie world. Lead singer Pauli Mia’s ethereal, breathy voice wraps listeners in a spiritual embrace, the occasional breaks in her cotton candy-soft croons making for an exquisite build and release of tension.

I first heard Twin Princess’s music through osmosis, largely as a result of shows they had played with mutual friends across the East Coast and SXSW. With their debut album Blood Moon slated for release this Friday, May 26th, Twin Princess plans on expanding their already versatile catalog, their sound evoking a variety of musical predecessors and contemporaries from Joni Mitchell to Arthur Russell to Lucy Dacus.

A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents spoke with Pauli Mia of Twin Princess about touring with Puppy Angst, her love of Mariah Carey, and prioritizing pleasure and joy in the music world.

Welcome to A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents! Would you tell me a little about yourself? 

My name is Pauli Mia (she/her/hers), I’m based in Philadelphia which I love deeply and intensely, I’ve got two cats and I love Real Housewives. I’m not sure what to say in terms of who I am, I’ve always been a visual artist until I arrived at music and now my thing is more like multi-media with Twin Princess (band) being the central focus. I’m generally excited about the idea of possibility, and what presupposes possibility, and how that can become a million different things to create a million different outcomes. And I love to have fun. Art!

How long have you been playing and writing your own music and what drew you to music in the first place? 

I had no intention of ever really making my own music until around 2018, right before I moved to Philadelphia. I got really excited and sucked into messing around with a MIDI controller keyboard, USB mic, and GarageBand in my apartment. I always gravitated towards music and it always felt like everyone in my life was in bands, and mainly I was totally obsessed with karaoke. I met Ryan Ficano right after I moved to Philly and we started Twin Princess as a just-for-fun recording project at his house, and that turned into our 2020 EP “Fraise”. I’ve always been in love with singing and I always involved writing in my art in the past, so this project felt like a very exciting avenue to try to figure out how to work out my ideas with music.

I can’t stress enough how much I adore your voice. Who are some of your favorite vocalists of all time and why? 

That’s really nice, thank you so much. There’s the big one, the queen generally: Mariah. There are so many vocalists I really admire but in terms of specific artists, I can name a few big ones for me; Björk, Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, Mitski, Fiona Apple, Beyoncé obviously. I also want to mention my buddy Ripley Shultz (of premier Philadelphia band “Ripley”) who I took voice lessons from and who is a really amazing vocalist.

What are your favorite things about being a Philadelphia-based musician? 

Philadelphia is the greatest city on earth. It’s the best. There’s so, so much cool stuff happening in Philadelphia that is constantly bubbling over and it’s insanely exciting to me at all times. I am so lucky to be friends with a bunch of really cool people who make music, and who are incredibly supportive, kind, cool people. Truthfully, I’m totally obsessed with all of the bands belonging to my friends and friendly acquaintances and work friends and exes and lovers and enemies and frenemies and other such denominations.

It’s this kind of exasperated song about being frustrated with myself and frustrated with the self-destructive choices I’m making. Largely, the self-destructive choice of hanging out with people who were not good to me in Allston.

– Pauli Mia (Twin Princess)

I’m obsessed with your song “Allston.” Would you tell me a little about the song and how it came about? 

Thank you! The song is about the neighborhood in Boston, MA, and all the baggage therein. It’s this kind of exasperated song about being frustrated with myself and frustrated with the self-destructive choices I’m making. Largely, the self-destructive choice of hanging out with people who were not good to me in Allston. It came together as this wildly easy pop song that Ryan and I referred to as our “pop-punk banger” and we both hated it almost the entire time we were working on it, until something shifted (we added bowed guitar) and we got excited about it again. I’m glad we didn’t cut it because I think it’s fun. And it’s important to have fun!

You recently went on the road with another fantastic Philly band, Puppy Angst. What are some tour highlights that you can share here? 

Touring with Puppy Angst was so awesome. I am really grateful to have gotten that opportunity. Some highlights would definitely include getting the chance to get closer to my bandmates, going to buc-ees and getting overwhelmed, eating at Taco Bell 100 times, etc. The biggest thing that was exciting about tour was how much truly incredible music I got to see. The whole experience was almost entirely playing and seeing music and listening to the bands we were playing with in the car, and it made me so excited to write and play more music. It was really invigorating, even though I lost my voice at the very end.

What can people expect from your live shows? 

Twin Princess live shows have recently evolved from a duo to a full band. My bandmates (Adam Dasilva, Kirby Vitek, Eric Scheuler) and I have a shared responsibility to have fun. We try to make sure the vibe is consistently atmospheric and maybe even at times cinematic. I usually will try to incorporate visuals into my performances whenever possible using projections of video collages and color fields. Again, it’s a shared responsibility to have fun, so we take that very seriously.

As this is a music-focused site, who are some of your favorite up-and-coming musicians that readers should know about? 

I’m super excited about so many bands- Lizdelise, Cowboy Cold, Ther, Laveda, Cheeky, Ogre, all of the bands we are playing with at our release show (In Lieu of Roses, Sunday Evening Drive, Shannen Moser), and is it gauche to say Puppy Angst since I play in that band? And a million more!!

What does the rest of the year have in store for Twin Princess? 

Our debut album is out May 26, with the album release show at PhilaMOCA the next day, Saturday, May 27. After that, we are still cooking up some shows and perhaps we’ll be traveling for some of those shows… to be announced. We’re working on some new music as well, which is still in early stages. And we will be making sure to have fun.








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