Conspiracy & Catharsis: Cliffs + Caves Search for Truth in Achingly Raw “Mint Gum” ft. David Ramirez

Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino
Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino
Cliffs + Caves’ emotionally rich and achingly raw alt-folk song “Mint Gum” ft. David Ramirez searches for truth and meaning – for an anchor to reality in a sea of conspiracy.
“Mint Gum” – Cliffs + Caves ft. David Ramirez
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In this whole universe, I’m not sure what to believe. But it’s all okay when you’re with me…

In a world so filled with fakes, what – and who – is real?

It’s more than the distractions and diversions of our everyday, and it goes beyond the propaganda and misinformation campaigns that have spread like wildfire these last few years. There’s so much going on in the world that it’s all too easy to lose sight of ourselves and drown in a sea of unimportant data and details, plots and scheme. Cliffs + Caves’ new single is a beacon of warm light shining in the imposing darkness: Emotionally rich and achingly raw, “Mint Gum” featuring David Ramirez searches for truth and meaning – for an anchor to reality in a sea of conspiracy.

Mint Gum - Cliffs + Caves ft. David Ramirez
Mint Gum – Cliffs + Caves ft. David Ramirez
Earth is flat
Moon landing’s fake
Why are the skies mostly grey
Aliens among us
Somethin’ ’bout GMOs
Where does recycling go
I don’t know

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Mint Gum,” Cliffs + Caves’ second single of 2023 (independently out March 31). Featuring fellow Texan singer/songwriter David Ramirez, “Mint Gum” delves deep into a fractured and vulnerable human psyche as its narrator(s) struggle to keep their heads above the water – to not lose sight of themselves in a world that feels increasingly chaotic and overwhelming.

Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino
Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino



“‘Mint Gum’ has been one of the rawest songs to ever leave my journal,” Cliffs + Caves’ Claire Justice tells Atwood Magazine. “It came from a place of deep loss and reaching for any truth that I could find to set me back on my path. From being so raw to playing on conspiracy theories, it also was one of the most challenging and creative thought processes and work with my other half.”

“This generation has been so deeply inundated with relentless conspiracy theories that touch on everything from whether or not birds are real to home appliances tracking your daily routine,” she reflects. “It is so hard to find what you can believe in without any doubt, except for what is real and what is tangible. The deepest truth comes from our relationships with those around us. Better yet, the love and care we feel, whether or not it is reciprocated. It is what makes us human, to care so deeply and thoroughly. Love is real, heartbreak is tangible, those bonds between friends that are knotted balls of string from one person to the next are the wildest, most thrilling truths the world has to offer.”



Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino
Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino

Debuting in 2017 but together forever, Cliffs + Caves is the mother-daughter duo of Lindsey and Claire Justice. Born out of a shared passion for intimate lyricism and soul-stirring melodies, the band have released two EPs (2017’s Hold On and 2019’s Capsize) to date, with a smattering of singles along the way. They recently closed a four-year gap with this past February’s “Sunrise,” whose rich melodies and vivid production find what was once a more classic Americana sound now deeply entrenched in more alternative atmospheres.

“Mint Gum” follows “Sunrise,” and essentially confirms Cliffs + Caves’ stylistic pivot into the indie/alternative folk space – one also occupied by the likes of Gregory Alan Isakov, Leif Vollebekk, First Aid Kit, and The Head and the Heart. Enchanting, cinematic, and altogether stunning, “Mint Gum” aches with yearning and nostalgia for a simpler time when we knew who we were, we understood what we wanted, and we felt like we had a designated place in the world. The pair rise to a beautiful fever pitch in the song’s breathtakingly cathartic chorus:

But I can’t chew mint gum
without getting sad
A million more things than
the best kiss I’ve ever had
I can’t wear your college sweatshirt
Without thinking of your hands
A million miles away
Only one happy is my dad

It’s a moment of visceral reckoning, and easily one of the most moving outpourings we’ve heard all year.

Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino
Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino



For Lindsey Justice, so much of this song’s depth comes out in its last line: In this whole universe, I’m not sure what to believe. But it’s all okay when you’re with me.

“With endless opportunities to chase down rabbit holes of random information online that comes from questionable sources, we almost don’t know what we can trust at all anymore,” she shares. “But one thing we DO know and we can always trust: The time we spend with the ones we love is what matters most. Our relationships with one another are what is real, and lasting and worthy of our time, and attention and affection.”

“Hanging out with Claire so much, I’ve heard lots of crazy conspiracy theories that her generation has been immersed in through social media like TikTok: From the moon landing being fake, to flat-earthers, to chemtrails – and even how they ALL have heard that the ‘birds arent real’ because Nixon had them replaced by drones. We were discussing how impossible it is for kids these days to even know what’s real or not – but we can know that our love for others is real.”

“Your best kiss ever is a truth you can hold in your heart. You know how very real a heartache feels when you’re still in high school and someone you love leaves for a college hundreds of miles away. You know how wearing his college sweatshirt can make you still feel close to him even though he’s so far away. The last line of the song: ‘In this whole universe, i’m not sure what to believe. But its all okay when you’re with me.‘”

Birds aren’t real
It’s not safe outside to play
Who listens to what we say
The world needs war and
Cats that glow
When will we reap what we sow
I don’t know
But I can’t chew mint gum
without getting sad
A million more things than
the best kiss I’ve ever had
I can’t wear your college sweatshirt
Without thinking of your hands
A million miles away
Only one happy is my dad
Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino
Cliffs + Caves © Kirby Trapolino



Justice also talks about how David Ramirez helped the duo shape this track into what it is today. “We had a bunch of this song somewhat pulled together before we met David Ramirez for a Sunday afternoon songwriting in his Austin living room,” she explains. “He is such a genius with how he writes songs – the magical nuanced things he thought to do and brilliant way he simplified the wording of lines – and his instant vision for the bridge, hearing THAT voice sing our words completely made us melt. We walked out of his house and were floating the whole drive back to Houston. He is one of our biggest songwriting heroes; seeing him play live is a MUST if you haven’t. It’s like an out-of-body experience how his whole spirit connects to his lyrics with the tone of his voice and his countenance on stage. So having David on this song just means the whole world to us. We’ve never been more excited to share a song than this one and are so beyond thankful that David recorded on ‘Mint Gum’ with us.”

Immersive, atmospheric, and achingly raw, “Mint Gum” is without a doubt an exciting evolution for Cliffs + Caves – not to mention a soul-stirring reckoning with life, love, and what it means to be human: To be alive, and present, in this reality. Stream “Mint Gum” exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and stay tuned for more magical moments to come from this rising Houston-based juggernaut.

In this whole universe
I don’t know what to believe
But it’s all okay
When you’re with me

— —

:: stream/purchase “Mint Gum” here ::
“Mint Gum” – Cliffs + Caves ft. David Ramirez
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— — — —

Mint Gum - Cliffs + Caves ft. David Ramirez

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? © Kirby Trapolino

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