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Enter the glimmering dream world of she’s green

she's green, from left to right: Teddy Nordvold, Zofia Smith, Kevin Seebeck, and Liam Armstrong
she's green, from left to right: Teddy Nordvold, Zofia Smith, Kevin Seebeck, and Liam ArmstrongAmaya Peña

by Sofia Haan

June 13, 2023

In a world of excessive industrial noise and digital plays for attention, Minneapolis-based shoegaze band she’s green is creating a sonic escape hatch for listeners. Their music is a salve for those who want to feel understood and connected in a distorted world. 

Since she’s green began playing live in the summer of 2022, strong feelings have been a key element of their performances in basements, DIY venues, and local scene spots like Mortimer’s. “Some of my friends have come up to me after the show and tell me “that was so emotional for me!’” singer Zofia Smith says during a Zoom interview with the band. “They’ll say it really made them think about themselves, they even cried, or they were looking around and hugging each other. I hope that other people also experience that.”

Emotion is just as present on the other side of the stage, empowering the band to continue its creative growth. “[Recently], while we were crammed into this garage, playing a set with some of our friends, I looked at the crowd and I saw some people who I had no idea who they were, but I saw them singing along to [our songs]...and they’re just smiling,” bassist Teddy Norvold says. “That’s one of the things that I’m drawn to most by shoegaze – how it creates such an atmosphere.”

All of the band’s members began playing music in their youth, spurred on by mandatory piano lessons, parental music influences, and a natural inclination to perform. As they grew older, each found their own musical footing, played in school-sponsored bands, dabbled in groups of their own, and eventually tinkered with beat-making software on laptops to create music. They all eventually became fixtures at shows throughout the Twin Cities and joined a thriving community of like-minded young creatives. 

Relationships forged in the music scene eventually established the she’s green project, eventually culminating in a group composed of guitarist Liam Armstrong (a regular MPR contributor), Smith, and drummer Kevin Seebeck. Working off of Armstrong’s pre-recorded instrumentals and Smith’s vocal tracks, the initial group developed their sound through jam sessions and made plans to play live. A month before their first show, Norvold – a Radio K colleague and friend of Armstrong’s – joined the band on bass. “It just fit together once Teddy came in, and felt like it was finally pieced together,” Smith says. Together, the band bonded over a fascination with ’90s alternative/shoegaze music, notably the guitar pedal technology at the heart of the sound. 

The band’s stated influences include many of the big names of shoegaze, dream-pop, and ambient music: Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins, Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, Mario Duplantier, LOW, Beach House, Mojave 3, and the names keep rolling. “I’m not going to pretend that I don’t think that I’m ripping off people when I [play], because I’m thinking “Oh, I wonder if I could do something here like this act or this bass player,” Norvold explains. “I think that yes, we are very influenced by a lot of acts that we’re huge fans of, [but] I think that some cool, new stuff can arise by blending them and adding something that is inspired by something else. [We’re] taking a bunch of stuff and throwing it into a blender and seeing what happens, just mixing our own kind of primordial soup.”

As much as they have been shaped by players on the national scene, the band draws equal inspiration from their Minnesota peers. “The local scene is really inspiring, just seeing what everyone’s doing and all the different ways they’re going about it,” Norvold says. 

she’s green’s sound is currently undergoing what Norvold describes as their “Jurassic era,” a time of evolution and experimentation. Picture fluid, collaborative jam sessions with music building and flowing off of the ideas brought to the group by individual members. “I’ll have my [guitar] part laid out and maybe some lead melody ideas, but then someone else will come in and have a very good sense of what they want and what they want to add,” Armstrong explains. “It’s never like I have a full song mapped out, [whereas] some of the earlier songs that were fully done.”

Songwriting is a similarly joint effort. Usually beginning with a chord progression provided by Armstrong, Smith tinkers with vocal melodies and writes about whatever comes to mind. Her lyrics dissect and reflect on deeply personal experiences with full transparency, laying bare the sentiments lying just below the surface. “Anything emotionally-charged really drives all of us,” Armstrong adds. “It’s definitely a cathartic act to put our anxieties into song and send them out to an audience to be rid of them.” 

The final product? The band’s creative efforts present a transcendental sound, juxtaposing Smith’s soft and melodic vocals with fuzzy, noisier instrumentals. The gauzy, atmospheric soundscapes wash over and transport listeners to another world. And it’s loud. Very loud. “I think that’s a big part of our live show’s draw,” Seebeck says. “I hope people walk away from our shows thinking “Holy s**t, that was loud, but they sounded really cool.” 

After offering audiences glimpses of new music and releasing singles to streaming services, she’s green’s debut EP, Wisteria, is set to release at the end of June. The band tracked and recorded all songs in the bedroom and basement of Armstrong’s home, eventually receiving help from Why Not’s Henry Breen on sound mixing. 

Featuring re-recordings of previously released songs like “Mandy,” the EP also offers several new tracks. she’s green’s new music presents a point of growth in the band’s music, carving out new depth. On “Lakes,” Armstrong’s guitar toggles between incredibly heavy and sludgy to bright and airy, mirroring Smith’s soaring vocals. It’s a surging sound, beginning slowly before diving into a deep, enveloping undercurrent of noise. “We’d describe [the EP] as reflective of memory and past selves,” Armstrong explains. “[It’s] very wistful, but also very redeeming and transformative.”

This dichotomy, this coexistence of diverging emotions, is where she’s green thrives. By pairing gentle melodies with heavy sounds and optimistic innocence with painful realities, the band offers their audience music that is beautiful, reflective and grounding. “I hope we’re giving people trance-like experiences and making them feel present,” Armstrong concludes. “I hope we’re offering them material they can relate to and be vulnerable with, all while helping them feel hopeful.”

she’s green will perform at the Payne Ave Fest at The Treasury on Saturday, June 17; at Fine Line with Daphne Jane, lapdogs, and Emma Jeanne on Saturday, June 24; and are set to release their debut EP Wisteria on Friday, June 30. Find more shows here. Raines Lucas (Tollbooth, maplebrook) joins the band on guitar this summer. 

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.