Last October, we jumped on Zoom with Skyler Molina and Austin Medrano of Texan bedroom-pop outfit Mickey Darling. They discussed risqué lyrics, using pop culture figures as inspiration, and balancing side hustles with the main grind. Sarah also wrote a review of their 2019 single “Reverse Cowgirl,” which can be found at the end of this interview.
Right now, a big TikTok trend is giving your gas station orders. When you’re on tour or playing shows and you stop, what do you usually grab?
Skyler: I don’t know if y’all have ever been to Texas, but in Texas this is just a funny, quirky little thing. There’s these big huge gas stations called Buc-cees. They might be the biggest gas station in the world or in the United States or something like that.
Austin: No, it is the biggest.
Skyler: In the world?
Austin: Well, I don’t wanna say that. Just in the United States.
Skyler: Yeah, well either way, it’s like a mini grocery store in a sense, that also has merchandise. When you said that, that was the first thing I thought of. My go to order, at least, is to grab an iced coffee. And sometimes they don’t have iced coffee. Sorry, I’m going to do this long anecdote about a gas station. I don’t like bottled iced coffee most of the time. So sometimes I’ll pour hot coffee into a cup, and pour it over ice, and then once it melts, I’ll put more ice in it, then I’ll put cream and stuff and I’ll make myself an iced coffee. Like homemade, in the gas station. I don’t really eat gas station food. And I don’t really like candy or any sort of junk food most of the time. So, I think I’d just get an iced coffee, probably, and if I had to, I’d probably eat… God, I can’t even think of what gas stations have. Bro, what’s your order?
Austin: I feel like I’m more on the junky side. I’d probably get a Dr. Pepper and some chips to go.
Sarah: Dr. Pepper rules.
Skyler: I haven’t had a Dr. Pepper in like seven or eight years. I definitely would buy those big jugs of water, like a gallon of water at a time. Because I don’t really like drinking tap water. He’d have a Dr. Pepper, I’d have a gallon of water. Any specific junk food, Austie?
Austin: We’re gonna go with Hot Funyuns. Those are really good too right now. And I’m gonna go with those creepy-crawler gummy octopus worm things. I really like them. I never eat them, but I really like them. We live off of Hot Funyuns and creepy crawler gummy worms. So gross.
Skyler: Sorry about the long anecdote.
When you first met, what were your first impressions of each other?
Skyler: We don’t necessarily remember meeting each other. We were in high school together and we were in two totally different friend groups. He was more in the skater group, and I was more in this group that was more like… we didn’t have a label. We didn’t do anything. We were just a random group of guys. We didn’t do sports, we weren’t skaters.
Austin: Those really were random as heck.
Skyler: We were an unclassified genre of kid because none of us literally did anything. But he was with the skater kids. I was with this unnamed group of kids. A lot of people in our groups were friends with each other, but they never intermingled. Our groups never hung out together, but some of my friends knew some of his friends. And we kind of became friends through exposure. That exposure effect where just kind of being around someone so much, walking by each other, seeing their face, saying hi. We just kind of became cool. I don’t think we ever really met. Unless you remember, Austie. I don’t remember a first conversation or a first time hanging out. We just kind of gradually became cool. He played guitar, I played guitar. That’s what I imagine we bonded over. If I could go back to my sixteen-year-old self, I think I’d say he’s a pretty cool guy.
Austin: Thank you, man. I don’t really remember us meeting. I just remember the first time we had jammed at your house, that was the first time we really hung out together alone, I think.
Skyler: Sadly, we don’t remember ever actually meeting. But, obviously we became friends. So, clearly we liked each other enough to be friends.
A lot of your songs incorporate clever wordplay, but some are pretty racy, too. Like talking about crying when you climax or squirting. Did you ever have any reservations about being so lewd?
Skyler: This comes up a lot actually, in conversation about the Mickey songs and stuff. I never personally planned on writing the lyrics so raunchy. It was never a conscious effort to be like, “I’m gonna write the raunchiest thing,” or, “I’m gonna write the most vulgar thing I can think of.” It’s kind of just how I talk, and how I sing.
I always try to be as blunt as possible. In life in general, and in music. I want people to really, really understand exactly what I’m saying rather than alluding or being mysterious. Or leaving it up to the audience to guess what I’m thinking or guess my story. I want it to be real, real blunt and in-your-face. And then gradually, once I started coming up with the more raunchy lines, it kind of became a trademark in a sense. Like I expect myself to write something a little sexual or more raunchy and vulgar in some way.
Sometimes I do think about holding back a little bit, and not be super raunchy and super out there. But I like being as natural, raw, and vulnerable as possible. Whatever comes out, if I like it, I like it. I don’t like to censor myself or anything like that. On a last note, I do also consider the idea of a younger generation listening. We’ve gotten DMs like, “Dude, why can’t y’all make less vulgar stuff so I can listen in the car with my parents?”. And like, I would never, ever think about that. Whenever I’m writing my own story, I don’t think “OK, how can I say this in a less vulgar way?” because it’s my truth. So, I am more conscious of that now.
I’m not saying it’s ever gonna stop me from being raunchy or vulgar. But I do have that in the back of my mind at all times now. Like if I can say this in another way that gets the exact point across, but I don’t have to say “squirt.” Or I don’t have to say, “I cry when I finish.” So maybe I’ll try. I’ve gotten enough sexual stuff and enough raunchy stuff out of the way, so I can definitely simmer down for the next few songs so it’s not so sexually oriented or whatever the case may be. That was a mouthful.
Your lyrics are pretty vulnerable, too, ranging from daddy issues to smelling like baloney. What does it take to open up like that?
Skyler: I don’t know. Growing up, I always wanted to be very vulnerable as a person. You can ask any of my past lovers or closest friends. I always try to be as brutally honest and as vulnerable and as myself as possible in my life. I want to transfer that to music. I used to be a big fan of this author named John Green, who I’m sure you’ve heard of. One of the biggest authors in the world. And I used to love reading his stories, not because his stories were the greatest stories of all time, or because he was the greatest writer of all time.
I read all his books because I was fascinated with the way he was this grown man. I’d imagine he was forty years old and writing The Fault In Our Stars or Paper Towns. Like these books about teenagers, from the perspective of teenagers. So he had to not only think like a teenager, but talk like a teenager because he was writing from that perspective. And I just fell in love with the way he wrote because everything he wrote was so blunt and straight to the point, and you immediately understood it. He kind of dumbed his own way of writing down to appeal to a younger audience.
Whenever I read it, I knew exactly what was going on. I never got bored or lost in thought trying read a John Green book. I was always invested, because I knew it was quick and fast and he wasn’t sitting there mindlessly describing the color of a doorknob. I hate when authors do that. I don’t like reading stuff like that. I want to know exactly what’s going on, what’s being said, like dialogue or whatever. I took a lot of inspiration from that basically, along with my personality of being very vulnerable and honest. I wanted it all to be blunt and in your face.
It’s never been hard for me. It doesn’t scare me at all to be blunt or brutally honest. People DM us and ask us questions like, “Is Mickey a character, or is he really me singing true things and true stories?”. It’s half and half kind of thing. Obviously, I’m exaggerating certain things. I don’t talk like that in real life. I’m not at the dinner table being like “Dude, last night I made her squirt.” Like I would never say that. But in a song, it’s much easier, and it’s much more appealing to say something that’s true to me, but in a way I’d never actually say it.
The way I see it is I only have one option, and it is to be myself. I shouldn’t feel scared to be vulnerable and to let the world know and whoever’s listening know that this is who I am. And I actually have cried finishing. Stuff like that; true things that are actually coming out of me. And I feel like that’s why a lot of people have connected the way they have. I try my best to talk as specific as possible and not broad. I mean, sometimes I am broad. It’s complicated sometimes. But for the most part, I’m telling true things.
Like in “Big Sad,” I have this line that’s like “I remember when you kissed me, we were listening to ‘Ultra Light Beam’ / and we thought that it would be so easy / but Chance’s verse ends so quickly.” And that line is one of my favorite lines, because that’s exactly how it happened. I had my first kiss with a past lover during ‘Ultra Light Beam’ by Kanye West; we were too scared to kiss each other so we were like, “Alright, we’ll kiss during Chance’s part. Chance’s verse, that’s it, we’re gonna kiss.” Then, when Chance’s verse came, we were still too scared to lean in. And then, at the very last second of Chance’s verse, it happened so fast and went by so fast and ended so quickly. It was a beautiful moment and just a funny memory to have. I want listeners to know that, and know that story, and feel like they’re sitting in that car too in a sense. Sorry, I could just ramble for days.
Austin, you mentioned going to school in another interview. What are you going for?
Austin: I’ve gone to Texas State from 2015-2019. I actually just graduated last year. I went for Computer Science. It was kind of like a safe move before this Mickey stuff started happening. I have sort of an interest in it. Previously I was undecided, and pretty lost. Still am lost, but not as much, I guess. I went for CS because I have a decent interest in it, and I was like “Okay, yeah, I can make a living.” And then I got super lucky with Skyler. But yeah, I already graduated.
Alt Angeles said in a feature about “Reverse Cowgirl”: “If you’ve ever had your emotions played with by a skater boy that cuffs his pants, you’ll feel personally attacked by this song.” Would you say this is a fair characterization?
Skyler: Oh, that’s funny. Not that playing with girls’ emotions is funny. Not that. The skater thing. I don’t know, maybe. It could be accurate. It’s weird because I know who we are, but I don’t know who listens to us. We haven’t really found out the genre of person that is our fanbase, because there’s so many different characters and personalities from people. I don’t know. Austin, do you agree? I don’t know, maybe. I’m not a skater but I cuff my pants. I just cuff my pants because my pants are too long.
Austin: I’d say based on the lyrics, and based on skaters actually having a sort of stereotype with playing with girls’ emotions, I’d say it’s a valid take.
Skyler: I feel like you could put it into anything. Like a punk rocker that doesn’t play with girls’ emotions would also listen to “Reverse Cowgirl.” It can kind of go anywhere. But I’m sure that this fits the criteria for some guys. At least “Reverse Cowgirl.” That’s a really funny, cool thing they said.
What have you had on repeat lately?
Austin: For the past two days, I’ve been jamming this song by Hunny called “Lula, I’m Not Mad.” It’s this wonderful mix of 80’s instrumentals and pop punk vocals. And that’s just something I’ve never experienced before. I really can’t stop listening to it. I listen in my house, and right when I go in my car I play it as well. Another song I’ve been jamming is “Cleric Girl” by this guy named Sisyfuss. He’s actually a local guy too. Those two songs are the ones I’ve been eating up.
Skyler: The things I’ve been listening to the most recently are a song by Drake called “Chicago Freestyle.” Like Aus said, I’ve been listening to that song all the time whenever I can, whether I’m in my car or in my room. I’ve been listening to Declan McKenna’s new album, and Dominic Fike’s new album. And there’s this song by Nico Days called “Hide Our Feelings” that I’ve been listening to a bunch. I don’t really listen to a lot of music. Mainly Nico Days and Drake, that’s all I listen to.
What are your upcoming plans?
Skyler: We’re starting to work on an EP right now that should be hopefully done within a few months. Other than that, the world’s kind of in a weird place right now. We have a few shows booked in the next few months, but they were booked a year or a year and a half ago. I don’t know if those shows are still gonna happen, which I really doubt they are. We haven’t heard anything back from that. We were supposed to go on a tour this past summer, but that fell through because of Covid. Right now, we’re really just focused on staying mentally sane in quarantine and working on some music in the meantime. Other than that, I don’t have anything planned. Austie, what about you?
Austin: Nah, I’m basically the same. Just trying to get that EP done. That’s pretty much it.
You have four songs named after different celebrities. They’re pretty big names. Have any of them noticed you yet?
Skyler: Oh god no, I wish. That’d be so sick. I love all those celebrities. Whenever we first started, we were on the third song and we released “Shane Dawson.” I was trying to DM him a bunch and I was trying to get his attention on Twitter. Only for a few days, I gave up immediately. I was trying to get his attention because I felt like he was the only one out of those four celebrities that’s on social media and would be looking at his phone. But maybe someday. Can’t wait to hear from Em Rata, that’d be so cool. I was obsessed with her a few years ago. Maybe one day.
You have multiple different projects alongside Mickey Darling. How do you balance creating different music for each project?
Skyler: It’s not as hard as it seems or sounds in the sense that you can’t put yourself in a box. If you’re making music in general, for instance if we’re making Mickey, there’s so many genres and types of music that we’re capable of making and we would potentially want to make. But in our own mind, we kind of put ourselves in a box with Mickey and we can only experiment so much with Mickey until it’s not Mickey anymore. That sort of became a creative outlet for us to make different stuff. We have different appeals, too. Aus listens to very different music than I listen to. He has his own cravings and I have my own cravings. And it’s cool to also work on stuff by yourself. It’s therapeutic in that sense. That’s the main reason we did it. I didn’t just want to make Mickey stuff, I wanted to make really sad ballad stuff. And I wanted to make poppy stuff. Like actual, real poppy stuff, like Dua Lipa or Charlie Puth pop stuff. And other stuff too. Same goes for Aus. He wanted other things too. I don’t know if you wanna add on that, Austie.
Austin: Nah, he pretty much summed it up. Really, the balance is pretty simple, I’d say. We try to make music every day. But everything that we make isn’t always gonna come out the way we want it to sound for Mickey. So our side projects are like a cemetery, in a sense, for all the Mickey rejects. Not that they’re bad, just that it’s not an ideal sound for Mickey, and if we feel like it’s good enough to put out then we’ll put it out. Either on our other projects or on Mickey. It’s nice to not be limited by trying to sound indie pop sometimes. Sometimes I’ll randomly make rap, or whatever. Just for the fun of it.
Post-Coronavirus, what is your dream venue to play?
Austin: Harmony Suite!
Skyler: That’s like an insider that only me and him know. I don’t really know a lot of venues, personally. I know some names, and I’ve been to a few in Austin and San Antonio, but the only one that I know of that’s a staple in Los Angeles that I’d like to play is a venue called The Troubador. I’m pretty sure every famous person in history has gone through that venue. It’s not even a big venue or anything. We’d definitely love to play that venue at some point. I would definitely love to play Stubb’s in Austin. I’ve seen so many bands play there, that to be on that stage and fill up that venue would be the most insane, surreal moment to live through. What about you, Austie?
Austin: I’d say Stubb’s Outdoor. I’m not really familiar with a bunch. And the Mohawk, one day, too.
Skyler: I would definitely love to do the circuit of Austin, Texas, just because of the fact that we grew up going to all those venues and seeing our favorite bands at those shows. So yeah, at some point, definitely playing all the Austin venues would just be the dream in general. I’m sure there’s a bunch of venues I can’t think of right now that I would love to play at some point.
“Reverse Cowgirl” Review
When I heard the line “You ride everything that flirts, babe / All my friends say that you squirt, babe / You’re a cowgirl in reverse, babe / Did it hurt, babe?” on my Spotify recommended while driving, I was instantly obsessed. I pulled my car over IMMEDIATELY and emailed Mickey Darling asking for an interview.
The song is candied bedroom pop and obnoxiously catchy, and the mild sexism is shocking and vulgar enough that I didn’t take it too seriously. Lines like “All I fuck is Blondies / just so I can get a bit nostalgic” were clever enough to take the song’s humor a step beyond just shock value.
The narrator’s other confessions reveal he seems to hate himself as much as he hates the girl; to me, this elevates “Reverse Cowgirl” beyond the usual bedroom-pop “I hate my ex” song trying to air personal drama out on SoundCloud. And it isn’t just that the melody is deceptively upbeat. This narrator is much more self-aware than the average Casanova that thinks wearing pink means his sex pestery is woke. Though, he does attempt to hide his low self-esteem behind a facade of extreme arrogance, declaring, “you never learned to suck on my cockiness.”
He calls himself pretentious, wanna-be artsy, and a princess. He admits to being insecure and too damaged to be in a healthy relationship. He’s honest about waiting by the phone for his ex to call him, just so he can pretend to ignore her. The song is more a cry for help than a diss track, and he owns up to that: “All you talk is shit, babe. All I am is shit.” The narrator is also open about his possible bisexuality, which I found impressively brave.
After I sent the email, I drove to my friend’s house to make her listen. “I mean it’s good. But why do you still like indie band guys?” she asked. “They’re all gaslighting assholes. If this song was about me, I’d feel violated.” As someone whose roommates nicknamed her after a certain Pokémon, I think it’s funny. But each to their own.
And check out Mickey Darling at worldsexiestboyband.com!