We jumped on Zoom with Maryam, the Toronto native that makes music under the name of Poolblood! We chatted about our bedrooms, favorite pop-punk acts, and graduation anxiety. Photos by Kate Killet.
Your recent demo of “My Little Room” discusses feeling out of touch with reality but also feeling thankful for your little space. How are you navigating these feelings today?
I feel like all of quarantine everyone’s been cooped up in their houses and being in their rooms. When I wrote that song, I wanted to talk about that, but I also wanted to talk about how I’m thankful for it. Obviously, there are some people who are unfortunately homeless and stuff like that, and we have a housing problem in Toronto that’s really unfortunate. And I’m just thankful to have a place that I’m staying that I get to write music in and stuff.
Also, just the way your room is your room, and it’s an extension of yourself. I wanted to celebrate it in a way, too. I wanted to talk about how everyone’s room has changed over quarantine, like you really had to make it your own space. Decorate it the way you need to decorate it, and put things that you need to help yourself get through quarantine. I put up a lot of cool art and moved my recording space in, and bought new sheets because that felt like something. The small things are really helpful.
The video for “My Little Room” also features a bedroom tour! What are some things in your bedroom that are important to you, and why?
The bedroom that I filmed the video in is actually my close friend’s room. She was my bubble buddy, so we spent most of the quarantine together. Her name’s Kate Killet, she’s really cool. She’s a photographer from Toronto. Her room is really cool because she shares a lot of stuff that I like. Like we would just listen to Kate Bush records on repeat.
In my room, I think honestly, it’s the Buffy box sets that I have. Which is really funny because I don’t have a DVD player, but I just love collecting things. That’s my precious thing in my room. And some books on self-help, because I think everyone needs to read up on how to take care of themselves. And plants, I think that’s been a big thing too. I got fake plants because I’m bad at watering them and at taking care of them. I like the image, so I have like a big cactus in my room. It’s really great and I love waking up next to it.
As a Cancer sun, you describe “Yummy” as “an ode to every water sign. Can you elaborate on this, and also how astrology has impacted you personally and musically?
I feel like I have a lot of water sign friends. It’s very much the same, we mirror each other in a weird way. Like we’ll both feel like crying, so we have a cry fest and watch a Disney Channel original movie or something to get through it.
For “Yummy,” I got to do it with my friend who’s a Scorpio, and our energies just worked really well together. When we made the EP, I was thinking of old school 90s teen rom-coms and things like that, and what really inspired us and stuff like that. He loves pop rock and I love pop rock too, so I was like, “Let’s just make a pop rock EP that’s an ode to teen movies.”
The astrology part was just, at the time I was really interested in it and I was super fascinated with how certain people follow these certain characteristics or have certain traits to them. As someone who’s always felt like an outsider and stuff like that, it was a cool way to navigate who I can trust.
Astrology’s super great, it’s not super set in stone and people are unique, it’s not just like, “Oh, I’m such a Cancer,” or “It’s my Virgo moon popping off.” It’s fun to see memes on Instagram like “When a Virgo and a Cancer Sun meet” and it’s an image of St Vincent and Dua Lipa about to kiss onstage. I think that’s why I was interested in astrology, and that’s why other people are into it. It tells you more about yourself too. You’re like, “Oh, mercury is in retrograde. It’s not my fault I feel like this. It’s not mental illness, it’s the moon.” That kind of thing.
You’ve said your next record will maintain a focus on platonic relationships. I believe many of us have spent a significant part of this pandemic thinking and rethinking over our friends and the state of our relationship, but where are your thoughts on this?
That was something that was kind of the baseline for a lot of the songs that I was writing for this record. It’s a lot about, especially just for me right now, at a certain point especially graduating and finishing school like that, it’s different now because you’re trying to make new friends but outside of an obligatory situation like school. Like before, you saw each other because you were in the same class. Now, it’s just kind of focusing on, “How do I make friends now that I’m an adult?”. I kept that in mind while I was writing.
Also changing friendships, at least for me over the last year. That was interesting, but also kind of sad. You start to realize how certain friends work in your life. Boundaries was a really big thing I started to learn about and how that can really shape friendships. Also going through the motions of losing a friend. That was something I was going through at the beginning of quarantine, and it’s a major theme on this record that I’m writing. Just because talking about losing friends, not many songs talk about that. Every song is a love song or a song about a breakup. Losing a friend is just as big of a thing as a breakup, and sometimes even harder, I feel. I wanted to explore that and have a place to make music through that lens of friendship and platonicy.
Especially as someone who’s queer, I think community is super important and friendships are super important. Obviously battling a world or a society that doesn’t really represent you and you’re marginalized, your friendships are really your core family. Especially if you don’t have a family that’ll support you in that aspect. Friendship needs to be celebrated, for sure.
Your bio on Accidental Popstar Records mentions how you’ve enjoyed making zines, is this medium something that continues to resonate with you?
I love zines, it’s so much fun to be like, “Hey guys, we have art we can put together with poetry and writing.” I think it’s my second favorite form of art because it encapsulates writing and beautiful visuals together. Even just like magazines growing up were a big thing for me. I was a huge J-14 fan, and like Tiger Beat, and I wish those magazines came back in a way where we could talk about personal stuff and things that are in conversation right now. Zines are cool.
It also mentions that you love pop punk and riot grrrl! Who are some of your favorite artists from these genres?
I feel like pop punk was something I grew up on. In high school I was a huge pop punk band. During quarantine I was going back to old music I used to love, so I was listening heavily to Fall Out Boy. I love Fall Out Boy. And Paramore, I love Paramore. They’re my favorite band of all time, such a great band. I was listening to MCR, I love MCR. For riot grrrl, Bikini Kill because Kathleen Hanna is literally a queen. I used to love L7, Sleater Kinney, and I think Hole too. For a lot of people, Hole is a really staple band. The first time you listen to Hole, you’re really inspired, I think. So much rage, femme rage is really inspiring. You’re like, “I wanna pick up a guitar and make music now.”
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned while making “Yummy” and “I wish I was in a Punk Rock band” that you’ve taken with you as you work on your next album?
I feel like the most important change was that I learned how to really hone my writing skills. For “Yummy,” it was how collaboration works and how to really understand how important energies are, especially when you’re recording in a room with people. It’s special to record with your friends, that’s something I would never trade anything for. It’s so cathartic and it’s such a beautiful space to be in. That’s something I’ve held onto ever since. Just being by yourself has been really hard over this year, not getting to feed off your friends’ energy. Just being in a room together and being like, “Oh, that sounds like this, that could be this way,” instead of virtually. Hopefully now that we’re getting vaccinated, we’ll be able to just be in the same room with falafels in our hands, laughing and TikToks in between takes. That’s what I’m hoping for, actually praying for.
You identify yourself as “boring” in your Bandcamp bio. As fellow homebodies, what are some of your “boring” hobbies?
I love everything that’s super mundane. I love going to bed early. That’s just so good. I really love watching the same thing over and over again. Which is probably bad, I should be watching newer things. But I’ll rewatch my favorite TV series over and over again. Another thing is like, the sun will go down and I’ll be like, “Great, now I can make a big-ass cup of Chai tea.” Everyone had to find their small little joys during quarantine to keep themselves sane. Even if it’s just like, “It’s 5pm, I can open a white claw now or something.”
Your song “Dreamer” talks about almost graduating and dreaming about the future while feeling hidden. As new grads ourselves, how did you navigate these emotions?
When I wrote that song it was just about how I have all these aspirations and I want to do all these things, but I haven’t graduated school and I keep putting it off. That line was just about that. Fully graduating, it feels weird. It’s a different milestone, it’s a different milestone than high school or your first job or all those things. I feel like once you graduate, it’s an actual certificate of “I am an adult, I know things, I’ve learned things, I’m big brained now.” That kind of thing. It’s been really exciting. I’m really happy that I’ve graduated. I’m glad you guys are happy you’ve graduated too. No more waking up super early for 8am classes and ripping your hair out during finals, that kind of thing.
It’s super scary to not know what’s coming next, and thinking like, “Oh will I make it, or will I have to go back to school? Will I have to get my master’s to get an actual job? Will I get to even pursue what I want to and what I went for with my degree?” Those are lots of conversations I’ve heard from my friends. Or “I did this, but I don’t want to do this anymore.” I ended up just pushing through my last year because I knew I just kept putting it off.
Which is really sad, because I had this great opportunity to actually learn and expand minds, and then you’re just kind of like, “I’m stuck in this socially constructed life time thing.” People are like, you have to graduate at this time and you get your career and all sorts of stuff. And you get so comfortable being like, “I’m a student,” and you don’t have to say anything else, and you don’t have to talk about what you’re doing. It’s awkward, it’s like now you’re in an in-between stage where people are calling you jobless.
Last question: what are some of your upcoming plans?
I’m finishing up this record hopefully, that’s been really exciting. Going into recording for that, that’s the next thing I want to do. Release by next year, fingers crossed for that. When things are open, I hope to tour, and I hope to keep promoting it and stuff like that. Keep figuring out life, and things like that, I guess. It’s so hard to look in the future, especially in this present moment after graduating. I don’t even want to think about tomorrow, I need a break now. I need a breather now. Just go into hibernation for six months.