Interview: Lande Hekt Shows Us Why She’s One of the Best Songwriters Around on ‘Going to Hell’

Lande Hekt © Gingerdope
Lande Hekt © Gingerdope
Lande Hekt’s melodies on ‘Going to Hell’ will rattle around your head for days, while the lyrics make you feel seen for years
Stream: ‘Going to Hell’ – Lande Hekt

Lande Hekt had to create something. Armed with a mountain of talent and some half-formed ideas, the lead singer of punk phenoms Muncie Girls headed to the studio to figure out what she had. What started out as a Bandcamp solo project became a heart-on-sleeve representation of why she is one of England’s best songwriters.

Knowing she could do it all herself after accomplishing this on the ear-worm-filled EP Gigantic Disappointment, Hekt and producer Ben David hit the studio and started working through the songs. “To be honest, I hadn’t really had the chance to write all the instrument parts so a lot of it was written in the studio as we were recording. I didn’t want to rope anyone else into it in case it ended up being off the cuff, but not in a good way,” Hekt laughed. “I basically wanted to fuck around with the songs by myself and see where I could take them with only my ideas.” She may not have known what it would become but she knew it needed to come out. “I was pretty desperate to record some songs where I would play everything, just so I would have ultimate creative control—like the control freak I am.”

Going to Hell - Lande Hekt
Going to Hell – Lande Hekt

The end result, Going to Hell, is a rousing, emphatic charge through the mind of Hekt. It’s passionate, powerful and thoroughly entertaining. The music is simpler and poppier than we’ve come to love from Muncie Girls, without sacrificing any of the hard-hitting moments. “The songs have become more inward looking in terms of their lyrical content but also in terms of the musical side of things and the production. Trying to go a little more lo-fi, a little more jangly-indie and take the style away from Muncie Girls, just to do something different.”

Don’t worry though, the lyrics still have Hekt’s classic combination of earnest and endearing “My actual diary is probably less revealing than the songs that I write,” Hekt laughs. “My diary literally says things like ‘I just went to Tesco’s and bought a loaf of bread and soya milk, and then I had a bath.’ That’s my diary, while my songs are more how I’m actually feeling and the weird inner thoughts that people generally don’t say to each other.”

I put a lot of who I am into my songs, so you would get a better idea of who I am than someone I’ve worked with for years.

Lande Hekt © Gingerdope
Lande Hekt © Gingerdope

While Hekt’s earlier work was undeniably political, Going To Hell tackles the everyday struggles of a twenty-something finding herself. Ironically enough, this shift makes her work more political than ever. “The first album we did with Muncie Girls, all the songs—well not all but the songs that we pushed off that record—were political in the sense of being really straight up and down. You couldn’t really confuse the lyrics for meaning anything else. And that was quite nice because at the time we were a little younger and I remember that feeling of everything being so black and white, like ‘this is exactly what’s right, and that’s what’s wrong, and I hate what’s wrong so much’ and then putting that into songs was really exciting,” says Hekt. “I obviously still feel that about a lot of things, but I think writing more introspectively now feels like as a I get a little older and learn more about myself, that’s what ends up going into the songs: What I’m learning at that time. And yeah, that is a little more political. Especially recently, talking about coming out as gay. That is by its nature a political thing, even if it is an introspective issue.”

The album title, taken from the 10th track on the album, captures this personal-as-political approach to songwriting. “That song is about coming out as gay. Because there are other songs on the record that kind of keep up with the theme of coming out, I wanted this album to be about that,” says Hekt. “Obviously a lot of people think that gay people have so much acceptance in society and every chance that a straight person has—and I think in a lot of ways that is almost what it feels like for a lot of straight people—but it’s important to remind some people that there are still people who think gay people go to hell and that’s not even the worst thing. That’s just their own feelings. The worst thing is when they do something about it and make someone feel horrible, or worse.”

The name of the album had to reflect this reality. “I wanted it to sound, not necessarily over the top because I think it’s a valid thing to say, but pushing that narrative was an important decision. It does capture the whole theme of the album.”

Lande Hekt © Gingerdope
Lande Hekt © Gingerdope

This through-line is present from the first note of the quiet yet powerful “Whiskey.” Opening with a single distorted guitar, Hekt spends the next four minutes asking questions that even she couldn’t answer for the longest time. “It happens a lot of the time that I write a song and I won’t really know what it’s about. I know that sounds stupid but I’m literally just putting feelings out.”

Is it meeting someone who’s not into bands,
is it weird that they still understand?
Is it feeling stupid, is it feeling small,
is it all in your head, there’s nothing there at all?
Is it watching videos of you and your friends,
is it the third message in a row you’ve sent?
Is it saying goodbye to who you were back then,
is it the feeling of not having to pretend?

“I kind of just wrote it when I was really tired, really stressed. I realized later that ‘is it,’ means like ‘is it’ then whatever the sentence is that made you realize that you’re actually gay. I know that sounds weird but because I had suppressed the fact that I was gay, then all those questions in that song were like ‘Is that the reason that that happened in your life?’ Is it the fact that you’re gay?’

She pauses for a moment before adding: “‘Is it whiskey, is it beer, is it all the things you fear?’ It’s like, is it that or is it actually that you’re gay or is that a symptom of you trying to cover it up and not really coping with it.”

“Whiskey” captures something else too: The fact that Hekt is one of England’s most talented songwriters. Whether it’s solo or with Muncie Girls, her catchy melodies rattle around your head for days while her lyrics will make you feel seen for years. Few musicians are capable of expanding their sound, opening their heart and touching others as consistently as Hekt can.

“What I like about songs like [Whiskey] is that it’s relative to the listener and it serves a purpose to the listener. Because it’s quite ambiguous to what the topic actually is and because it never answers the question the whole way through, it’s nice to keep that open so it can mean different things to different people.”

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Going to Hell - Lande Hekt

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