Written by Teyquil Skelton
I recently spoke with Westwood, NJ native and No Sleep Records recording artist, Best Ex a.k.a. Mariel Loveland. Good times were had as we talked about boredom being quarantined and what it’s like to release an album during a pandemic. Loveland expressed her woes about how much of a bummer it is to not be able to promote her new album, Good At Feeling Bad. Loveland spoke about not having accessibility to venues to perform her new record or have an actual album release show.
Loveland does hope that her fans would at least give it a listen anyway, even though she wasn’t able to promote it the way she wanted to. As the conversation proceeded, I asked what the reason was for transitioning from punk rock to indie pop and Loveland talked about how she was held back creatively.
Loveland felt that people expected her band (Candy Hearts) to only be confined to one genre musically. Punk rock was beginning to box her in a corner and began to stifle her growth as an artist.
Exploring other genres was something that intrigued Loveland. Her interest in other genres was very present in her music and led to the discovery of wanting to experiment on the record. For instance, she recorded a discography that opened doors to her experiments but fell on deaf ears with her fans who loved Loveland’s earlier stuff that she recorded with Candy Hearts. It was a response she wasn’t expecting but it didn’t stop her process, nor did it break her spirit.
If anything, it strengthened her creativity to step further out of her comfort zone and continue trying new ways to create music that she could begin loving again and feel good about. The punk scene became overwhelming and she began to feel pressured by the male populated punk rock culture. She decided to separate herself from the toxicity and start working on what’s important to her as an artist first.
“I just needed a break, I was just sick of it,” Loveland stated. Depression and anger started to consume Loveland emotionally, so she took it upon herself to be present in spaces where more women were.
Candy Hearts and Best Ex were not very different, and musically they tended to have similarities, she mentioned. She tends to write the songs and melodies at home with her guitar and then brings it to the band for arrangement purposes. Once that is done then it’s time to bring it into the studio for the producer to take the wheel and add to the magic. In this manner, Best Ex and Candy Hearts work hand in hand in regards to how music is made.
Lyrically, she’s become bolder over the years and as she continues to grow, so does her confidence. From that, she begins to care less about what anyone says or thinks anymore.
Her single “Bad Love” was inspired by bad decisions she’s made in the past. I asked her to name two lessons she learned from her experience and she said that she can give out the best advice but never follow it herself.
Second chances at making a change aren’t a thing of the past to the N.J. native. She believes giving it another go and to me, Loveland seems to be a bit of an optimist in that regard. Though she’s experienced multiple ups and downs, she still manages to weather the storm and find ways of continuing to stay active and creative. However, we all need the support of some kind and it always doesn’t have to be from humans themselves.
She disclosed she has a furry cat to turn to for comfort, love, and companionship. We talked about her fiery feline and how Loveland puts her on her lap but doesn’t cuddle with her often because of nibble bites her cat gives when she feels it’s a bit much. The reason for these behaviors is because of the training Loveland instilled in her when in moments they’re in spaces of play together.
As the conversation proceeded to a close, I asked Loveland when was the moment she discovered that kindness in people still exists. She replied and I quote “I often wonder how much it does.”
Loveland begins speaking of her travels between Jersey and England as she makes a pit stop in the conversation to talk about an experience she had with a pedestrian she met in passing who helped her with money to board the bus. Though Loveland had means of getting funds via credit card it wasn’t accessible for her to accumulate in the UK as it is in the US. With being twenty cents short, it prevented her from riding but the woman she came across gave her ten pounds and told her to keep it just in case she gets lost and need to make a phone call. The sweet gesture and care that the lady showed Loveland restored a little faith back into humanity. So much so, that she got inspired to write a song about it on that very bus.
When you’re hit with beautiful moments like this it’s imperative to document or, in the case of Best Ex, write a song as a way to engage and get inspired from it. Personally, I’m moved by her bravery and charged with motivation through her struggles. There are so many takeaways from this interview that I find wanting to apply in my own life and one of them is to take the bull by the horns and just experiment with my own music and begin learning how to love my art wholeheartedly without any doubts or fears that may arrive in my journeys ahead.
I think this album represents the voice of the voiceless and through her own obstacles, she’ll help others find their way as well find her very own herself. I’m excited about the release of this record and I hope her fans are too. Change is a good thing, and without it, we’re stifled and uninspired but there’s so many things to explore and the only way to discover those gems is to let go of all you know and give in to the thought of being surprised by the things you’re unaware of. It’s scary yes, but that’s the beauty of life. Every day is something else to do but to do anything is to let go of the usual and let in the curiosity to discover the art of what if.
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