On the Nature of Change: How Plastic Picnic’s “After You” Offers a Personal Journey Unlike Any Other

During our conversation with Plastic Picnic, we learn of the significance “After You” and its accompanying video hold, how the band is embracing change, info on the upcoming EP and more.
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Many will face a crossroads as they age and grow older, often signaling changes in their lives. Whether these changes are welcomed or not, there is a blanket of uncertainty that capes itself over one, and it’s up to that person to figure out how to handle it. Plastic Picnic embraces this moment in life with their latest single, “After You,” and, instead of giving in to fear, they march onward triumphantly.

After You – Plastic Picnic

New York-based band Plastic Picnic has been relatively quiet these past two years, but that changed when they released “After You” earlier this month, reinvigorating fans with their signature dreamy soundscapes and synth-laced hooks. It’s the first single off their upcoming EP Vistalite which is set to release July 19. And now, with the accompanying music video, the experience “After You” brings has only been heightened.

The track has an astral hue to it, giving it this spark that can light up any night sky. Gentle strokes of a synth keyboard begin the tune and carry the melody throughout. As percussion and subdued guitar riffs enter the mix, a soundscape of whimsy is created, allowing listeners to fall into a joy-induced trance that one would be hard-pressed to want to leave. All of this is then surrounded by a stellar vocal performance that is equal parts emotive and charming, making for a track that has a lasting shine.

With the music video, the complexities “After You” presents are translated into a visual format with perfection. What can be viewed as a seemingly silly video showcases the exhilaration these sudden changes can bring, the unknowingness of what can lie ahead. With the waves crashing, winds soaring, and stormy weather brewing, there couldn’t have been a better setting for this multi-dimensional track.

Atwood Magazine was fortunate enough to talk to Plastic Picnic about their release. Gain further insight into their latest single, music video, and upcoming EP, Vistalite, with our exclusive interview!

Watch: “After You” – Plastic Picnic


Atwood Magazine: Hey, everyone. Thanks for taking the time to connect! 2017 saw the release of your self-titled debut EP, and now, two years later, the follow up is near. During that interlude, what sort of growth were you experiencing as a band and as people?

Plastic Picnic: ( Emile ) — As a band, we just wrote so much. There’s a dozen plus songs and then another dozen ideas that will become songs that didn’t make it on this EP. I think we realized how to write together more efficiently and collectively and in a way that keeps us all more invested.  Every song seems to sincerely capture our collective decisions which is a balance we struggled to find in the past. I think we’ve found it though, and that’s exciting. So as collective songwriters we just matured a lot, both in knowing what we want and our ability to efficiently capture it.

Personally, I went through a lot of large life changes, moving, relationships, family death, etc.  But I also got a therapist. And through that, I’ve experienced a lot of clarity, which is new for me. I certainly had a very foggy couple years where I wasn’t confronting things to avoid pain. But, recently I began that confrontation and it’s been really good for me.  Obviously, that’s given me a different perspective on things, which I think is reflected lyrically throughout the new album.

How does the Vistalite EP compare to your self-titled EP? What does the new EP mean to you?

Plastic Picnic: I think the first EP was very fast and visceral for us. We had hardly realized we were a band and then we had a collection of songs out in the world representing us. Not that we weren’t happy with it, it just wasn’t discussed much, it just “happened”. So this time, we really took our time, trying to craft what we want the continuation of Plastic Picnic to sound like, both with the new EP and moving forward.  So in that way, I feel like this EP is a big progression for us, both with sonic experimentation, production quality, and songwriting. But I think it’s also just more intentional. I knew what I wanted to say and I think we did those thoughts justice with the songs we built around them.

To me, Vistalite is about clarity. I think it still is sad music to dance to, but there’s an important silver lining of hope in the songs that I find refreshingly positive. It’s about looking back on tragedy, whether that be death, the end of a relationship, etc, and being able to be grateful for what those lives brought you, and what they taught you about yourself.  So where I may describe the old EP as escapism, to me this EP is about not escaping, but rather confronting what’s necessary to have a more balanced future. To embrace change, but with purpose and self-awareness.

Plastic Picnic © Bronson Snelling

Something I love about your music, and specifically “After You,” is how it shimmers with its varied instrumentation and synths. Despite the rise of synths and ‘80s inspired soundscapes, you still manage to hold a unique sound. What does the music creating process look like for you all, and what would you personally describe your sound as?

Plastic Picnic: Lincoln here, our process for writing the instrumental parts has changed over time and is constantly adapting to each song. With Vistalite, the songs were primarily created out of recordings rather than being written live which allowed us to step back, listen, and scrutinize each part much more than we’d been able to before.

We’ve always thought of our instrumental palette as a spectrum from acoustic to synthetic and we like to juxtapose those elements within a song. For example, we’ll use bass guitar and synth bass in the same song and a lead guitar line might later be voiced by a synth. We find our music to be more interesting when the soundscape combines elements of different eras and different genres. Generally speaking, our music is synthy, indie rock but we’re always trying to find new ways to use the sonic elements of our genre to create a sound that’s unique to us.

Lyrically, “After You” contains a maturation of ideas and themes, presenting your story beautifully. Can you expand on the significance of the lyrics and where these ideas and emotions came from?

Plastic Picnic: “After You,” in its core is about embracing change. Again, personally, I went through a lot of changes and I think in the past when those changes have occurred, I’ve numbed myself or avoided confronting the real issues that led to those changes.  But “After You’ is about that confrontation and embracing the beauty in what you and someone you love had, understanding that you both had a place in each other’s lives and change doesn’t devalue that. So while there’s all this fear in change, “After You” (to me) is saying change is good even if it’s sad and scary, especially when you have the clarity to look back on something knowing it made you a better person.

Transitioning now into the music video for “After You,” it has so much charm and personality to it. How does this visual reflect the song for you?

Plastic Picnic: Gordon here: The day of our video shoot turned out to be stormy and cold. Though it didn’t feel like it at the time (those shots in the water were painful!), we actually lucked out. Instead of a sunny backdrop, we ended up with something much more nuanced and moody. The empty, windswept beach highlights a darkness behind our playfulness as a band. Like the song itself, the video is upbeat on the surface but if you look closer there are unexpected haunting elements that keep the emotion from being one dimensional

What made Rockaway Beach, NY the place to film? How does it act as an extension for the song and its meaning?

Plastic Picnic: One of our reoccurring themes as a band is the blend of synthetic and organic elements. Rockaway Beach is an in-between place. It’s both nature, and not. It’s also distinctly New York, and yet doesn’t feel like a part of the city. For a song about change and indecision, it represented the perfect kind of limbo. Plus the ocean is always such a compelling image of the unknown.

As an aside, did you actually have to stay upside down with your head in the sand, Emile? It’s honestly quite impressive!

Plastic Picnic: A magician never reveals his secrets. But yes, Emile is a champ. He spent a lot of time upside down and he never once complained. Or maybe he did and just couldn’t hear him with his head in the sand.

Plastic Picnic © Jake Hanson

Many records often see a message or theme present on them, providing a window into the artist’s or band’s headspace. With that in mind, what are you looking to share with the Vistalite EP? What story are you wanting to tell?

Plastic Picnic: Overall, Vistalite is a record about transition. It’s about the vertigo you get when you feel a significant chapter of your life drawing to a close. We all feel the appeal of escapism, but these songs are about overcoming that urge and leaning into change. It’s not always happy, but ultimately there’s an element of hope if you embrace it.

With the EP releasing in less than a month, what are you most excited for? What are you hoping fans will get out of their first listen?

Plastic Picnic: I think more than anything I’ve ever been involved with, this collection of songs is a really sincere representation of my headspace lyrically. It feels extremely personal, transparent, and honest.  So, while that makes me feel vulnerable, I’m also excited to let everyone in. I think anytime we release music, there’s that nervousness about reception, will people like it, etc.  But this time we’re so proud of these songs that I feel like those nerves have died off. We really love them and are just excited for everyone to listen.

To close out, what plans do you have for post-EP release? Any insight of what fans can expect to see later in 2019 and beyond?

Plastic Picnic: We have some touring on the books, really hoping to do more of that this year.  Our live shows are so visceral for us and we’d love to be able to share that experience with as many people as possible. But we’re also still writing a lot.  And while we’re very excited about this release, we seem to be in a sweet spot with writing. So everyone can expect more music sooner rather than later. Our demo hard-drive is overflowing with ideas, which is as exciting for us as it is for whoever’s listening.  So in the spirit of Vistalite, we’re hoping to strike a balance between finishing more new music and touring as much as we’re able.

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