INTERVIEW: renforshort

renforshort is quickly introducing herself to the world with a fusion of honest and angsty pop-rock tracks that have a real nostalgic and retrospective sentiment to them. The Canadian singer-songwriter released her debut EP ‘teenage angst’ at the beginning of 2020, and from there the journey she’s been on has been at full throttle. With listeners quickly relating to the honest unravellings about the coming of age themes, life in general, and battles with anxiety, she has candidly spared no details in telling it how it is. 

Following in the EP’s footsteps she released the lighter produced ‘fuck, i love my friends’ which immediately went viral before then dropping the angsty layered ‘nostalgic (luvsick)’ which gave off some early 2000’s Avril Lavigne vibes. But her most recent release is an universally relatable track about the frustration of having to rely on social media and technology to connect with people instead of just going outside. 

The production continues the alt pop-rock sound that has been growing throughout her discography. Coming off the back of ‘nostalgic (luvsick)’, this song is just as anthemic in honing this big hook that you’ll want to scream along during a live show. It has a early 2000’s influence within the production which brings back the angst that was cemented in everything done by Avril Lavigne, Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy in the mid 2000’s through a pop influenced lens. 

I recently chatted to renforshort about the creative process behind her new single ‘Virtual Reality’, how Avril Lavigne has inspired her, and how she’s creatively channeled her anxiety and eating disorder into her music. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Virtual Reality’ is a punchy track that plays as a commentary on how addicted we are to our phones and electronic devices. Can you explain how this track creatively came together?

RENFORSHORT: So I actually did this song through Zoom which is fairly ironic *laughs*. I was with this producer Pom Pom and this writer Jesse Fink, and Pom Pom pulled up some tracks she was working on and I was immediately like “that is sick!”. So we played around with them for a bit and it ended up getting to a place I really liked. 

When we got to writing, I realised that I haven’t experienced anything groundbreaking in the past few months because there wasn’t really anything to experience other than being inside. That in itself inspired the song. 

While the song is about social media and how harmful it can be, a big part of it is wanting to have the motivation to leave your house again. Fresh out of this quarantine, it’s going to be really easy for me to get out of the house again but before one of my biggest regrets was taking advantage of not leaving the house if I didn’t have to.

I’m not a social person, so I don’t like socialising if I don’t have to. Like running into people and having spontaneous long catch ups is my least favourite thing in the world, unless if I really like the person. So that’s why I don’t like going outside, or going to parties, it’s too much pressure for me. That was the real inspiration for this song because I’m now itching to go outside, and I will talk to anyone who approaches me. I will talk to the birds, customer service, I don’t care. Like, please! I will answer every scam call and be like “hi, how are you?” *laughs*. It’s funny how it’s all turned, so that’s what this song is really about. 

TB: Where in the timeline did you write ‘Virtual Reality’ compared to songs like ‘nostaglic (luvsick)’, ‘i drive me mad’ and ‘fuck, i luv my friends’? 

R: I wrote this song 5 months ago in October. I then wrote ‘nostalgic (luvsick)’ and ‘i drive me mad’ a year and a half ago, which is crazy! Holy crap! They were definitely spaced out, but they aren’t too different from each other. 

TB: What references did you have for this song sonically? Because when I listen to your music I get a lot of nostalgic early 2000’s pop-rock energy. 

R: Overall I take a lot of inspiration from Metric, Nirvana and Arctic Monkeys. There’s just something about those bands that I’ve always been drawn to. There’s also a different element as I do make music that could be more rocky and grungey, but there is also a part of me that is so attracted to artists like Tame Impala who have the craziest baselines. And then I have a lot of lyrical inspirations like Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. It’s fun to write an angsty song every now and then, but for me I really like to write about how I’m feeling, and that’s something I feel like those artists did. 

TB: When I reviewed ‘nostalgic (luvsick)’ the references I used to explain the sound of the chorus in particular was Busted meets Good Charlotte, Avril Lavigne and Ashlee Simpson. Do you think that is somewhat accurate? 

R: Oh yeah, for sure! Avril Lavigne is not only an icon in general, but she’s also a Canadian icon. I used to make Video Star’s to her songs all the time, it was everything. It’s so crazy because I’m actually going to be on a show with her tomorrow, and she’s actually one of my biggest inspirations, so it’s a full circle moment. 

I think about this all the time, and we are about to get really deep as this is something that I speak to my therapist a lot about, but I feel like there is nothing going on with me right now and I don’t feel like I’m progressing. But then I’m like “DUDE, snap out of it and think back to 6 months ago and where you are now. You are going to be on a show with one of the reason you make music! That’s crazy!”. 

TB: The music video for ‘Virtual Reality’ is a dark affair that seemed like it would’ve been a lot of fun to film. So what was one of the funniest or weirdest things that happened on set?

R: The men in the morph suits could not see ANYTHING. They were being pulled in a kindergarten trail with a rope. They were literally being pulled around the whole set, and they were just taking little baby steps which was so funny to watch. 

TB: From releasing your EP ‘teenage angst’ at the beginning of last year, what was the biggest thing you learnt about yourself as an artist that you’ve taken into this next body of work?

R: That’s a great question! I think I learnt that I could be more myself. I was still unsure of my platform, and who was listening to me. I felt like I needed to please a bunch of people, but I think this next project is really just unapologetically what I want and is truly authentic to who I am. They are all songs that I really really love.

With ‘teenage angst’ there were a couple of songs I was iffy on even though I really liked what they were talking about. But now I just feel like I’ve evolved so much from that point. I feel like I can just be myself, and I’m not scared anymore to speak up in a session and voice how I feel about something creatively. 

TB: ’i drive me mad’ is a song that immediately stood out to me because of its contrasting of high energy production with deeply honest and relatable lyrics about anxiety. Is this a production and lyrical contrast style that you actively approached with this song? 

R: When we were making the song I was fresh out of a panic attack that happened in the studio. We knew we could pull from that and take my raw emotions I was experiencing right then and benefit off them. So we just started writing this song about anxiety, and the producer Jeff Hazin was like “I have a pretty bold idea, but I reckon it’s going to work… what if we sped it up?”. So we sped it up which is a bitch to do with a metronome. But the sound of the production is supposed to feel like an anxiety attack in the chorus with when your heart speeds up and everything then comes at you.

The way I think about this song is like going to a 4DX cinema. You feel it emotionally, but you also feel it physically. 

TB: On ‘bummer’ you sing “There are times I wish that I was somebody else. Pretending I’m okay but, shit, I’m hating myself”. Where does that lyric take you to when you hear it now? 

R: I feel like I’ve definitely got better. I’ve only spoken about this a handful of times, but starting in 10th grade I had a really bad eating disorder. I did not like anything I did, or anything about me. At this point now I’ve fully recovered which is why I’m happy to be open about it, but I do feel like that sometimes still. It’s apart of being human. You see these people, and you just want to be them. You want their life, you want to look them, you want to have as much success as them, and you want to be as happy as them. But you don’t know what’s really going on there, and I think that slips everyones brains too much. You don’t know what it’s really like on the other side, and I still do feel like that sometimes. So that is what sparks that lyric. It’s still very relatable, and I don’t know when it’s not going to be relatable, but hopefully soon. 

TB: ’fuck, i luv my friends’ is a song that celebrates your relationships with your friends. So what has been one of your favourite memories with your friends in the past year through covid? Have you been doing zoom dinners/game nights? 

R: Honestly, no *laughs*. I never did the whole Zoom thing with my friends as they are all busy and go to school which sucks. The best thing I did with a friend was that we incubated on our own for 2 weeks, and then we got tested, and then we had a slumber party for a week just us. We are both nuts about COVID, but we really just needed to hangout and be together so we took all the necessary precautions and then just hung out for a week. It was amazing, and it felt so great to be with a friend again. 

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. Are you ready? 

R: Lets do it!

TB: The emoji that best describes my new single ‘Virtual Reality’ is…

R: The phone with the cross over it.

TB: A strange obsession or hobby I’ve picked up during lockdown has been..

R: Cooking and doing drag make up! They aren’t strange but it was different for me!

TB: Favourite drag queen?

R: Oh my god! Katya, Adore Delano and Trixie Mattel. 

TB: The colour of my toothbrush currently is…

R: Blue and white with hints of yellow!

TB: When I think of Australia I think of…

R: Vegemite and avocado toast, which I really, really love!

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

R: A no! I don’t get it! I don’t like that! 

‘Virtual Reality’ is out now!