Bringing back the classic dreampop sounds of the 90’s, Whisper Party!’s synth and reverb driven sounds and ethereal vocals are reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins and Blonde Redhead. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Jean and Rex to discuss all things music and mental health. Read on!
In three words, describe your music
Rex: Dreamy, ethereal, and mysterious
What influenced that?
Jean: I think it’s a genre shift for both of us; not that we haven't listened to this type of music (dream pop and shoegaze) before, but we started listening to more of it (and learning the nuances). Rex brought up starting a dream pop group, and once we started, we noticed the songs came more easily and organically than previous bands we’ve played in.
Rex: When I was younger, I listened to quite a bit of Shoegaze in High School. Over the pandemic, my friend Garret and I were listening to a lot of dream pop and shoegaze; bands like the Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Blonde Redhead, Lush, and I fell in love with it all over again. I thought Jean would sound great singing this style, and so I pitched it to her. We put up a Craigslist ad for a guitarist since we had a drummer at this point, and 50 people answered back. When that happened, it was cool because it validated our idea to start this band, and helped us see that people are into this style.
How do you think your music has evolved since you got together to make music?
Jean: My music has evolved, yes, but what’s interesting is, writing music with Rex and my bandmates has come almost like second nature. We’re all creative but open to each others’ ideas. For me, that’s helpful because it’s been validating. I'll bring an idea to the group and thus far I’ve gotten good feedback. That response gives me the confidence to pursue what I think is interesting or would be a good song. I'm super proud of what we’ve done so far with this new project, Whisper Party! It’s the perfect combination of all of our creativity. It’s exciting because I think we've found a style that we all work well in. In past projects, I’ve felt pressure to write what I think the listeners would like, but it’s not always what I might be drawn to, but with Whisper Party! we write what we like, and hope that others like it too (and people seem to really be enjoying it!)
Rex: Our other band used to play on Frenchmen St, but for me trying to play original music in that area now is almost a lost cause. You find yourself playing a cover then another cover, and very reluctant to play an original song after people have heard and sang along to so many familiar tunes. Whisper Party! will probably never play on Frenchman St., but we're okay with that. We haven't played any covers yet. We might play one or two if we find a song that really speaks to us, but for now, we’re focused on our originals.
What made you want to get into music? What sparked that “hey, I want to do that!” moment?
Jean: My mom instilled a love of music in me at a very young age, and I’ve been engaged in music ever since. It helped me get through some hard times as a kid and I didn’t want to say goodbye to it when I “grew up” (hehe).
Rex: I never really had a 'spark' moment. I broke my arm one summer in sixth grade so I picked up my dad’s bass and started playing it. From there, I was always playing in bands and practicing.
Allen Toussaint once said, “Music is everything to me short of breathing. Music has a role to lift you up, not to be escapist but to take you out of your misery.” Reflecting on that sentiment, how has music guided you through the hard times in your life?
Rex: It's just a profound statement in general. Like most kids in the 90s I used to have my CD player in my bed. When I had bad days, I would read and sing every lyric. It's always interesting how at different points in your life, songs can have so many different meanings to you; like if a loved one passes or if you fall in love, music carries you through those moments and emotions.
Jean: I relate to that. I can hear the same song many times, but after an impactful life event, I might hear that same song again, and it takes on a completely different meaning or emotion. Personally, I may write a song that is needed for only that day(s) or moment(s), but then I can let it go. Music can be permanent or fleeting; it can be written in stone or as flexible as the wind. It helps remind me that nothing is permanent and life is ever changing. Joy will not be permanent nor will sadness, and both will come around again and again.
Besides music, what other coping skills do you use to unwind and relax?
Jean: Writing and playing music, of course, is a standard go to, but recently I've gotten really into exercising. I'm very active, which has helped my mental health immensely. I'm also very conscious of what I eat now and that makes a big difference to how I feel. I also use affirmations if I'm really struggling. Changing HOW I talk to myself, helps me fight those negative self statements that can come creeping in!
Rex: For me, I like going out in the garden, getting sunlight, and listening to nature. I'll go on runs and listen to the birds. It's a grounding experience for me. Also, I enjoy smoking marijuana. I believe in everything in moderation, but it helps calm my mind.
Are there any final thoughts you want to share with our readers?
Jean: I want to say that I appreciate the work that your organization does. Mental health and mental wellness is definitely a passion of mine and Rex's. No one should ever feel alone in their suffering or in their joys. We are grateful to be a part of the conversation and I want to extend to any reader out there that you can always message me, and I’ll be here to listen. Message me on IG @whisperpartymusic or @msconjeaniality, and you can find me on Facebook at Jean Preston. You’re not alone.
Rex: I want to say Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the work you do behind the scenes. It's work that needs to be done in our community and society, and we’re grateful to be a part of it.
To learn more about Whisper Party! Check out:
Instagram: @whisperparty music
Photos by Alex Zemanovic for the BTD Foundation