Interview: Hey Violet’s Rena Lovelis Talks Healing, Reinvention, & the Band’s Final Album, ‘Aftertaste’

Hey Violet 'Aftertaste' © KayKay Blaisdell
Hey Violet 'Aftertaste' © KayKay Blaisdell
Hey Violet’s Rena Lovelis catches up with Atwood Magazine for an intimate conversation about redemption, reinvention, and the band’s upcoming second (and final) album, ‘Aftertaste.’
Stream: “Hazy” – Hey Violet




Hey Violet’s music has always been synonymous with empowerment, and the current season of the band is no exception.

“In 2024, we are loud and vulnerable and sometimes erratic and sometimes soft,” vocalist Rena Lovelis grins. “That’s what we’ve always loved about Hey Violet as a whole, is that it holds a space for the ever-changing seasons of us.”

Lovelis and her bandmates – sister Nia Lovelis and Casey Moreta – are visibly excited to discuss Hey Violet’s long-awaited second album, Aftertaste (June 28, 2024 via Hopeless Records). It’s been nearly seven years since the release of their debut album, 2017’s From the Outside, and while they’ve put out plenty of music over the ensuing years – including three EPs (Problems, Deep End, and Bloom) – their new LP is a big, bold, definitive statement from the trio.

Aftertaste - Hey Violet
Aftertaste – Hey Violet

Aftertaste captures the nature of the world around us and how we’ve interacted with it and been affected by it. It’s all about our reclaiming of self-sovereignty and becoming our own heroes,” Lovelis says. “We don’t go down without a fight whether that’s with our demons or those who’ve tried to hurt our spirit. Aftertaste is the epitome of resilience.”

As amped up as they are by their new music, there’s also a bittersweetness to the entire affair; for coinciding with their new album’s announcement came the notice that Hey Violet will be breakup up – or going on a “permanent hiatus,” as they put it – following its release.

It’s been a long, challenging and beautiful nine years and we three feel it’s time to allow ourselves to focus our energy on other projects in each of our lives,” the group posted to social media. “We love and appreciate each and every one of you who have made these years so full and special. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the time you let us be your life’s soundtrack. We thank you for the smiles and the tears and the ways you’ve allowed and continued to allow our songs to be a safe haven for your personal tribulations – and for being our safe haven, too. From the misunderstandings and recklessness of our youth to a wild and untamed coming of age to a deep reckoning of trauma and healing to surprising ourselves by learning to enjoy our own company and all of the emotions and experiences in between.”

It’s taken a long time to come to this conclusion. That being said, we are very excited for the next chapter of our lives and to let this project be laid to rest. We leave you with lots of love and a body of work that we hope will carry you onto whatever is next for you in your journey.”

Hey Violet © KayKay Blaisdell
Hey Violet © KayKay Blaisdell



Aftertaste is an intentional swan song: Hey Violet intend to go out on top through a collection of impassioned, emotionally charged songs that hit hard and leave a lasting mark on the ears and the heart.

The singles released thus far capture the sonic breadth and emotional depth Hey Violet achieve throughout Aftertaste. The feverish, achingly vulnerable “Hazy” reckons with their individual and collective band identities, both past and present. The beautiful, brutally intimate “Best Imposter” is a candid, confessional exploration of home and belonging charting the Lovelis sisters’ journey. The propulsive “Uncomplicated” is an invigorating, explosive homage to Hey Violet’s earlier music, and “i should call my friends” is a heartfelt, hypnotic, and infectiously catchy song about opening up to (and embracing) your loved ones.

All these amount to an intimate, dynamic, and powerful first look at Aftertaste. “It’s about dealing with mental illness, reckless behavior, being taken advantage of by those in positions of authority or corporate power, it’s about addictions I dealt with personally and addictions I watched people I loved deal with, it’s about abusive romantic relationships, and it’s about learning to understand your own demons and how to rebuild yourself after all of it,” Rena Lovelis says of the album. “To us, Aftertaste was the perfect name for this body of songs because it’s mostly dealing with the feelings you’re left with after trauma and immense pain, and a little of what that looks like once you begin to heal.”

“The aftertastes aren’t all bad,” she adds. “It’s just more of our story and how we came to process the ways we downplayed our own inner strengths or ways that life took us down a different road than we had expected. It’s an ode to personal growth, making the best of a bad situation, and coming out the other side more alive and more independent than we’ve ever been.”

Atwood Magazine recently caught up with Rena Lovelis for an in-depth conversation about Hey Violet and Aftertaste. Dive into the band and their new music in our interview below, and stay tuned for the upcoming release of their second and final album, out June 28!

“We wanted to give our baby the ending it deserved,” Lovelis smiles. “We’re definitely looking forward to playing these new songs live, to seeing our fans for a last concert and to sending Hey Violet off with an immense amount of love! There will be a lot of tears for sure. Happy and sad tears. The bittersweet kind.”

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:: stream/purchase Aftertaste here ::
:: connect with Hey Violet here ::



A CONVERSATION WITH HEY VIOLET

Aftertaste - Hey Violet

Atwood Magazine: Great to catch up, Rena! Firstly, I want to say how excited I am for a second Hey Violet album! Wild to think about, but it’s been seven years since From the Outside’s release. This is a loaded question for sure, but how do you feel you’ve grown and changed as a band since then?

Rena Lovelis: Thank you! We’re excited, too. A number of lessons in growth have reared their pretty, and sometimes ugly, heads throughout that time. We’ve learned what we each want out of the projects we set our minds to. We’ve learned how to say no when something doesn’t feel right and have allowed ourselves the musical space to give an outlet to feelings that we didn’t know how to deal with when we had just started releasing music. It’s pretty insane when we think about how long it’s been since From The Outside came out, but as a band and individually, it was such an integral process and it really helped us shift our expectations of life and of Hey Violet and gave us the time to take back our own power.

What is the significance of the name Aftertaste, and how (if at all) do you feel it captures the spirit of its songs?

Rena Lovelis: Aftertaste is all about the tastes we’re left with after a variety of personal experiences. For Nia and me, the experience of being women in the music industry (and in the world) was imperative for this album. It’s about how you’re perceived or misperceived. It’s about dealing with mental illness, reckless behavior, being taken advantage of by those in positions of authority or corporate power, it’s about addictions I dealt with personally and addictions I watched people I loved deal with, it’s about abusive romantic relationships, and it’s about learning to understand your own demons and how to rebuild yourself after all of it.

To us, Aftertaste was the perfect name for this body of songs because it’s mostly dealing with the feelings you’re left with after trauma and immense pain, and a little of what that looks like once you begin to heal. The aftertastes aren’t all bad; it’s just more of our story and how we came to process the ways we downplayed our own inner strengths or ways that life took us down a different road than we had expected. It’s an ode to personal growth, making the best of a bad situation, and coming out the other side more alive and more independent than we’ve ever been.

Hey Violet © KayKay Blaisdell
Hey Violet © KayKay Blaisdell



It’s an ode to personal growth, making the best of a bad situation, and coming out the other side more alive and more independent than we’ve ever been.

Technically this whole album started getting teased out last year with the release of “i should call my friends.” Why did you choose that as your first bit of music back since Bloom, and the first look at Aftertaste?

Rena Lovelis: Bloom really touched on the dreamy world and self-empowering feelings of just beginning to learn to love yourself, but as I kept chiseling away at my own inner emotional layers, there was a lot of stuff that came up both from the past and from present experiences which made me realize that I needed to address these feelings head on if I was going to love myself more deeply. So even though Aftertaste is its own era and body of work, it’s the result of beginning the process of healing back when we did Bloom and the two EPs prior. It’s the taste of a lot of painful yet integral self-reflection.

i should call my friends” was the quintessential starting song for this new era because of a couple different things. A) We hadn’t released something for so long that we wanted it to not only be a nod to friends that have really been there for us during good and bad times, but B) it was also our way of telling our fans that we’ve missed them and that we want to connect with them more through the new songs coming out. Nia and I also realized years ago that we’re very outgoing introverts. We can enjoy time with friends and let our naturally fun personalities shine, but we also have very low social batteries. My battery tends to be even lower than Nia’s, so “i should call my friends” was our way of lovingly calling out my habit of needing to be solitary to recharge and, specifically, when I’d do so to a fault. I’m definitely trying to connect with the people I love and vibe with more.



You’ve then followed that with “Uncomplicated,” “Best Imposter,” and “Hazy.” These three songs feel so distinct from one another, yet I feel like they capture Hey Violet’s many sides. Do you mind sharing a bit about them, and what resonates about them for you?

Rena Lovelis: That’s exactly what we were wanting to capture, in terms of their individual sounds as singles off this album. “Uncomplicated” is an homage to our older work. Even though Nia and I initially wrote “Uncomplicated” with another artist for their project, we ended up wanting it for our second album and, with the artist’s blessing, intentionally included it as a nod to first era Hey Violet. She’s the reckless abandon that I have to catch myself on nowadays if my mind starts to wander down temptations that I already know are bad for me.

Best Imposter” was one of the most vulnerable writing sessions we had in our entire career. The lyrics give some insight on where Nia and I are from and some of what it felt like to move to California from New York when we were young and what it feels like being born in 1997 and 1998, where we’re old enough to understand most experiences that millennials had, but then not knowing certain movies or games or equipment and feeling too young to fully connect. Then, on the other hand, we’re young enough to understand a lot of cinema and starlets and music and jokes that are all Gen Z era, but then feeling too old to feel fully a part of that framework as well. We’ve always felt like these wanderers that didn’t have a solid home base inside of ourselves.

Sonically, we wanted to incorporate a little Blondie, a little t.A.T.u., a little B-52’s and a lot of our own dreaminess while still keeping it fast-moving with a driving tempo and beat because that’s how it feels to experience imposter syndrome. Life doesn’t stop moving and yet you feel like you’re in this fog of emotions wondering whether you’re even worthy of being where you are. You start to feel like everyone else has something figured out that you can’t seem to keep up with or figure out for yourself. And that felt like the perfect catalyst for “Hazy,” which is more specifically about wanting to find ourselves beyond the veils of “Guys My Age” and “Hoodie.” As much as we adore those songs, there was so much more to us beneath the surface. “Hazy” is a real exploration of self, both in life and career. Kind of similar to the feeling you get hearing “What Was I Made For?” by Billie. Just, “What the hell am I doing and what’s it all for and what am I truly about and will I ever get there? And will I even know if I do get there or am I just too f*ed in the head?

Rena Lovelis: I do, in a way! It also made me realize that I’m actually not as crazy as I thought I was, haha. I’ve only had one truly healthy relationship in my life and that was when I was 16 years old. The guy was so kind and loving and having grown up with shit flying around the house and a lot of volatility, I wasn’t used to that and it scared me. I really draw from that experience for “Uncomplicated.” But separately, I’ve also experienced a lot of abusive and neglectful relationships, and having realized that, I’m thankful that I’m not trying to change myself to be smaller to fit someone else’s idea of what they want now. I don’t want the toxicity, I don’t want to argue, I never really wanted that pain or hurt. I actually have just wanted someone that could love and appreciate me for me like I’ve finally learned to and continue to learn to. I was trying to fit a decagon into a square space hoping the square would reform itself to my liking, but I don’t waste my time like that anymore. I kind of uncomplicated that whole situation, luckily! I’ll see myself out the door for that pun.



Likewise, you've talked about how imposter syndrome and self-doubt inspired “Best Imposter.” Where, for you, do those emotions stem from, and how do you navigate them?

Rena Lovelis: Well, I definitely spoiled a bit of where they stemmed from a couple questions ago, but I navigate them by reminding myself that I’m not defined by a place or a year or a group of people or what I know or don’t know. I don’t want to confine myself in that way anymore and I don’t take to heart someone’s opinions about me that I know aren’t true or from people that haven’t seen our efforts and how much we’ve gone through in our career. I’ve let fear dictate my actions for so long and I’ve gotten so sick of that, thank God! Even if my voice cracks, I want to let myself be myself as loudly as I want to be and be someone that lives as true to my values as possible and leaves the negativity and bullshit out of my atmosphere.

“Hazy” is such a catchy, cathartic eruption – and possibly my favorite of the singles released already! What's the story behind this anthemic, achingly emotive song?

Rena Lovelis: Thank you. It’s so funny… When we started out in music, there were a lot of goals that were projected onto us. Like you have to be huge, and you have to be the best, most accessible, most relatable band to walk the earth… And around 2020, I was going through a really rough time accepting myself after all of those outside opinions got into my head. It felt like I had to re-evaluate who I really am and what I value, and who we are as a band and what we want to represent. Hazy is about the feeling of being stuck in what most of those that know the band seem to know us for, and grappling with the expectations of what we were once told we should be.

It was a long process trying to figure out who we really were as a band and as individuals. That’s obviously an ongoing exploration, but there was a turning point once we were on our own, without a label and without management. We felt so stuck in the days of “Guys My Age” getting some notice, and then “Break My Heart” and “Hoodie” following it. We love those songs, but we have so much more to say than that.

People still come up to us and say “Oh my god, I love that song ___” and almost always name one of those and while we’re appreciative, [but] we also want to talk about newer, more honest tracks we have. It felt like a daze that I was living in for a long time. Like a cacophony of everyone else’s opinion of what I should be and what we should be as a band, to the point where I actually went to a psych ward toward the start of the pandemic. And when I came back home and started just, like, doing life again, I realized I didn’t know what the f*** I wanted or who I was. I still don’t at times, but that was all the more reason why this song needed to be written and why we wanted it on our second album. It’s about that fog of wondering what your life is about, who you’ve been, who you are and who you want to be.



I realized I didn’t know what the f*** I wanted or who I was. I still don’t at times, but that was all the more reason why this song needed to be written and why we wanted it on our second album.

Do you have any favorite lyrics or lines from this epic track?

Rena Lovelis: “I don’t know if I’m meant for something more, but I will try. I’ll try it all over and over and over again.” And the turnaround in the last chorus where the line switches to “And I can be crazy; I’d rather be free.”

Sonically, all of your tracks sound so confident and feel so bold. What were you going for when recording Aftertaste’s songs; what was your vision for the album, if any?

Rena Lovelis: Our vision for the album as a whole was the aftermath of a battle. The album touches on some really heavy topics and we wanted to incorporate the things that happen once you’re bloodied and bruised. Your wounds hurt so much more in the days after you initially get them. They bleed and ooze and you get that metallic taste in your mouth, but they also heal and scab over and scar and there is a natural process to that. The wounds themselves aren’t natural and it’s extremely dysregulating for your body and mind, but it’s about the confidence to stick up for yourself and the innate ability and personal drive to heal and reclaim your voice and to own your scars.

Hey Violet © 2024
Hey Violet © KayKay Blaisdell



Going off this question, who is Hey Violet in 2024, and how does Aftertaste capture the spirit of your band today?

Rena Lovelis: Hey Violet is a vessel for introspection and extrospection. It’s an extension of the three of us and everyone who’s been a part of it. It’s an ongoing story. In 2024, we are loud and vulnerable and sometimes erratic and sometimes soft. That’s what we’ve always loved about Hey Violet as a whole is that it holds a space for the ever-changing seasons of us. Aftertaste captures the nature of the world around us and how we’ve interacted with it and been affected by it. It’s all about our reclaiming of self-sovereignty and becoming our own heroes. We don’t go down without a fight, whether that’s with our demons or those who’ve tried to hurt our spirit. Aftertaste is the epitome of resilience.

What do you love most about this new album, and what do you hope listeners take away from it?

Rena Lovelis: I love that it’s less about heartbreak as a result of ex-partners and longing for someone to come and save me. We really said f*** that and I did a lot of deep-rooted hard work to get out of that headspace. I hope it empowers others to know that they, too, can become a more evolved version of themselves. I hate to say the phrase “reinvent yourself” because it’s kind of superfluous, but it’s a more realistic form of that. Everyone needs time and consistent small action that eventually lead to a larger, more natural evolution of reinvention. You don’t reinvent overnight; you sit with the wounds and you allow the skin the rebuild.

I’d be remiss to not talk about the hiatus, if you don’t mind sharing – was it tough coming to this decision, and what are you each looking forward to in these coming months before your split?

Rena Lovelis: Yeah, it was definitely tough. You get comfortable living in one period for so long and it’s tough coming to terms with any life change, but it was pretty funny actually getting together when we initially spoke about letting Hey Violet have its last moment because we all felt entirely the same way. It definitely felt right for all three of us, but it was more important for us to continue working on the second album and to give these songs the life they deserve and give our fans the music they’ve waited so long for.

We wanted to give our baby the ending it deserved. We’re definitely looking forward to playing these new songs live, to seeing our fans for a last concert and to sending Hey Violet off with an immense amount of love! There are so many fans that have been here since we started almost a fricken’ DECADE ago and have watched us grow and evolve and change. They’ve traversed this journey with us and the world with us, quite literally, so we want to make our last few months all about that. There will be a lot of tears for sure. Happy and sad tears. The bittersweet kind.

Hey Violet © 2024
Hey Violet © KayKay Blaisdell



We’re not a brand, we’re a band of three humans with hearts and minds and souls that are changing from writing session to writing session

So, will Hey Violet be going out with a bang?

Rena Lovelis: Absolutely. I’ve never been so excited about playing new songs live and we’ve all been kicking ass working out and practicing. I might even whip out the bass again for a couple songs. I won’t give too much away for the live show, but that’s really where we’re focusing right now. The album is truly for our core people and we just want to have a blast for one more night before we see where our lives take us next. Aftertaste in itself is a pretty bloody good time (hint, hint on the album artwork!), so we’re really excited that this whole album is where we’re laying Hey Violet to rest comfortably and unapologetically.

In the spirit of teasing listeners, what else can fans look forward to off the new album? Anything we can share to start getting folks amped up and excited?

Rena Lovelis: Oh man, I think fans are really going to be thrown for a loop with a couple of the tracks. The album showcases many versions of us, and that’s exactly what we wanted. We’re not a brand, we’re a band of three humans with hearts and minds and souls that are changing from writing session to writing session, and this captures a ton of raw emotion that erupted in those writing and production sessions. One of the songs is a demo with all original scratch vocals from the writing session. We also played with a lot of different effects and samples and natural sounds that happened in the studio. Throughout all of the tracks, there are birds chirping, audience laughter, and even Casey’s chair squeaking as an instrument in one of them.

In the writing session for another one of the songs, I was crying while recording almost the entire scratch vocal. We ended up re-cutting those, but it’s the kind of song that hits you like an ocean of pain, but then the instrumentation makes you want to drive 95 miles an hour on the highway at night and just feel everything, so I’m very excited about that one. It’s heavy and it’s freeing and there was just a ton of love and guts poured into the album as a whole. A lot of Alanis inspo (old and new!), a little bit of Olivia Rodrigo, a little early 2000’s on a couple tracks. I hope it takes everyone on an emotional rollercoaster, but ultimately ends as that healing feeling after a much-needed cry. We’re very stoked to just f*** everyone’s day up in the best way.

— —

:: stream/purchase Aftertaste here ::
:: connect with Hey Violet here ::



— — — —

Aftertaste - Hey Violet

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