Interview: Penelope Scott on “Big Overwhelming Feelings” in Music

In May 2020, Penelope Scott posted a video of her on TikTok singing an early draft of a song that is now known as “Sweet Hibiscus Tea.” This video now has over 2 million views, 500 thousand lines, and was the start of hundreds of eyes suddenly being on Penelope.

Since then, Penelope has released two albums on Spotify, multiple singles and tracks on Bandcamp, as well as tracking her music process on TikTok, gaining a following along the way.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Penelope and discuss her thoughts on her music, career, and big overwhelming feelings.

When asked how she would describe her music, Penelope hesitated, then stated she figured she fell around the “indie/alt genre, but [her] followers can’t quite figure out where she fits.” She explained that her relationship with music came at a young age, where she began piano lessons as a kid. She started doing lyrics in middle school, got more into the technology of it all in high school, and now is a junior in college, where she has produced her released music.

As for her inspiration, Penelope says that she draws her lyrics from “Big overwhelming feelings.” From her very first lyrics which were inspired by her individual thoughts, to her more recent lyrics that are brought on by big things in the world- Penelope draws from those emotions to get her personal tracks.

These inspirations can be well seen in her varying tracks. Songs like “Cigarette Ahegao” and “Montreal” show her personal experience, whereas songs like “Rät” and “Born2Run” show her views on things happening in politics and the world around her.

Artists like The Freights and Corpse Husband constantly inspire her. Penelope says that she enjoys art that can exist without a personality, as she likes to be able to enjoy the technique. That can be shown in her social media presence, where she claims she made the choice to care less about her aesthetics, and more about the art she puts out.

Penelope Scott Album Cover
Penelope Scott 'Public Void' Album Cover

Penelope’s reflection of her sudden success on TikTok was one of “complete surprise.” When “Sweet Hibiscus Tea” suddenly blew up, Penelope said while it was an exciting time, she did have to deal with the stress of everything becoming much more to manage.

Going from a few followers to a few thousand followers is definitely a big adjustment, but Penelope handled it in a stride. Even now, with hundreds of people using her sounds and her top track, “Rät”, having over 22 million streams on Spotify, Penelope stays humble, kind, and relatable.

In the future, Penelope plans on putting out more singles, releasing merchandise, and continuing her career as a musician as she also continues her degree. Her socials are full of sneak peeks of demos, behind the scenes of her music, and answering questions from fans- a little capsule of her personality.

If you like alternative music with meaningful lyrics, Penelope Scott may just be the perfect listen for you!

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