What’s your silver lining in 2020? Adult ISH podcast co-hosts Nyge Turner and Merk Nguyen ask themselves and their guests that very question in this episode that focuses on joy. “Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good” author adrienne maree brown reads a poem and teaches us how to appreciate the small radical changes that allow us to feel happy. NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest winner from 2017 (and basically joy personified through music!) frontwoman Tarriona “Tank” Ball from Tank and the Bangas shares exclusive select tracks from the group’s upcoming EP, “Friend Goals.” Be sure to follow all our socials at @yrAdultISH!
Merk: How are you feeling about this year?
Nyge: Woo… (laughs) Not the best. If I’m being 100-percent honest with you, just the overall feel of 2020 just has been kind of negative. Everything that’s gone on with protests and COVID-19 and just my regular anxiety of just regular life has kind of been a lot to handle. And with the election coming up, I’m really worried about how it will go. No matter who wins, because, you know, me and my dad and a couple of our family members and close family friends have been stocking up on food. Just because we don’t know if we’ll stop receiving certain services from people because we’re Black. And so all of that … It’s a lot of weight just on my chest is what it feels like.
Merk: Dang, that’s really heavy.
Nyge: Yeah. How has it been for you though?
Merk: One word answer, anxious. Very anxious for all the reasons that you mentioned. I think the two big things on my mind are one, the wildfires, because we’re on the West Coast, and knowing that these fires are happening because of human error and climate change is really disappointing. And it sucks not being able to open up my window because I don’t feel like the air quality is safe enough.
Nyge: Yeah. Like one day the sun just didn’t come up and it was just like, “Okay, yeah. This is what it is.” So if you don’t know, what happened was, in the Bay Area, the smoke just got so thick one day from all of the wildfires that were happening that it blocked the sun. To where the sun just couldn’t really shine through. So it was just super dark and it looked like it was, like, 3:00 a.m. for the entire day. And I was just like, “Well, this is what it is at this point.”
Merk: Yeah. I remember you sending me pictures of that and I’m like, “Wow, it looks like the Valencia filter.” But nope, that’s just the 2020 filter.
Nyge: Everything is just so crazy. Like, literally the moon could explode and I’d be like, “Oh, hey.”
Merk: Just another day in 2020.
Merk: I think another big one is COVID. That’s kind of the more obvious one. I just feel like that’s kind of ripped away any sense of initial happiness that I have. Because even a couple of weeks ago, the love of my life, Samuel, came to surprise visit me in L.A. from Seattle. But I couldn’t even be like, “Oh my gosh, you’re here!” Because my first thoughts were, “Have you gotten tested? Have you asked my roommate? Do you realize that we are at risk and ‘blah blah blah?'” All that stuff. It’s just weird not being able to just be happy in that moment.
Nyge: Yeah. Did you end up having a good time anyway?
Merk: Oh yeah. Yeah. He assured me that he went through all the necessary protocols and because of that we watched all four Shrek movies that weekend. And that’s actually why I’ve been doing my hair in this top bun, braid thing because #PrincessFiona.
Nyge: Aye! One of my favorite princesses, for sure! With the karate and all that.
Merk: Mmhmm. And burps too.
Nyge: And with that, welcome everybody to Adult ISH produced by YR Media, a show where we are very tired from the heaviness that is 2020 in this year. But we’re getting through it by looking to Shrek and Princess Fiona, specifically, for inspiration. I’m Nyge.
Merk: And I’m Merk, and this is our Silver Linings ISH episode, where we’re gonna lift those burdens of this year and find some delight ‘cause we freaking deserve it! Do you know why it’s called silver linings anyway?
Nyge: Well, I actually looked it up and it’s from an old poem that this dude came up with in the 19th century. But it’s also because even when it’s cloudy out or smoky out because of fires, if you look really closely, the sun is always peeking behind it. So the good vibes are always actually there, even if it’s something blocking their path at the time.
Merk: Ahhhh, I like that.
Nyge: And we’re talking about these good vibes today to acknowledge that given ALL the circumstances of this year, it’s hard to maintain quality mental health, even with the best self-care out there!
Merk: I totally agree, because even when I’m doing something like giving myself a pep talk or journaling about a positive thing, I go back to how hard this pandemic has been on so many people. And it’s as if silver linings are a privilege, but they shouldn’t be! ‘Cause everyone deserves good things like love, peace, kindness and joy, especially our girl, Joy!
Nyge: Yup! so later we’re gonna sit down with the lead singer of a band that is amazing at creating solace through their music. We’re gonna chat with NPR Tiny Desk winner Tank from Tank and the Bangas, and she’ll give us a super special sneak peek of never-before-dropped songs on the band’s upcoming EP, “Friend Goals.”
Merk: Yes! Your ears are in for a special treat! And throughout this episode you’re gonna hear from fellow listeners and YR Media staff ‘cause we asked the question, “What’s your silver lining of 2020?” Despite all that’s happened this year, there is goodness to celebrate.
Nyge: Yup, so let’s hear some of those answers now. After that, stay tuned for an interview with Adrienne Maree Brown, a pleasure activist who’ll teach us how to be joyful as we change the world, and as it changes us.
Ray: This year has been unexpectedly well to me. I ended up getting a new job that’s tripled my income. And now, surprisingly, I’m looking for a house. So this is my silver lining for this year.
Amber: So my older sister and I have shared a room my entire life. And I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty lonely at first when she just moved out at the very beginning of quarantine. But then I started, like, rearranging and decorating my room to make it feel cozier and finally fit, like, my aesthetic. And now I know and feel very lucky to just, like, finally have a space just to myself.
Merk: Now we’re gonna talk to a very special guest who wears a whole lotta different hats! Adrienne Maree Brown is a writer, doula, singer, badass, facilitator, Octavia Butler scholar, blogger, speaker, poet, and overall kind human!
Nyge: Adrienne is also an author of two incredible books, “Pleasure Activism” and “Emergent Strategy,” which offer ways to find joy and meaning during even the most difficult of times. Sounds like something we could all use right about now.
Merk: Totally! Basically, she’s an expert in silver linings. So, welcome to Adult ISH, Adrienne!
Adrienne: Thank you. I think that’s gonna be my new tagline. (laughs) I appreciate that.
Merk: So, in your book, “Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good” you tell us that “changing the world” doesn’t have to feel like a full on workout where we’re sweating, crying, maybe even bleeding. And instead you take the approach of finding joy in change making. And before coming across this, I didn’t really think about how there are politics behind healing and happiness. What’s an example of these politics in action that you’ve been thinking about lately?
Adrienne: Well, one of the things that I pay a lot of attention to is the pattern of overworking, burning ourselves out, martyring, especially amongst people of color, queer people, trans people. How so often our health is literally on the line and we’re literally trying to give ourselves completely over to change a system that has never in any way expressed that it cares about us, loves us, or will offer that care back. So, to me, one of the ways that we change that behavior is divesting from putting all of our eggs in the basket of, for instance, this federal government, a lot of our local governments, divesting from putting all of our eggs in that basket and instead investing that time and energy into radical work that we care about. So when I think about my year, you know, this is an election year, it will be easy to put all my attention on this, you know, election. I’m like, “It’s important. I’m gonna vote,” and I’m making sure that people do. But the majority of my time and attention is going towards those who are trying to build a new world, because I don’t believe in this system to ever actually magically figure out that the most valuable people are already here loving, living, trying to make a beautiful existence with each other. So a lot of the work is looking for the small local projects. I’m based in Detroit, so I pay a lot of attention to, you know, what is the ‘313 Liberation Zone’ up to? What is the Detroit Justice Center up to? What’s happening at D-Town Farms? What’s happening with small local projects that are trying to seed a new world and a future? I think that for all people, you need to find the small, local projects where your visions are coming true, not just the massive projects that’ll never really align with that vision.
Merk: Looking inward a little bit more, when it comes to small little projects in your life — in Adrienne’s psyche — what are some of the smaller things that have given you big joy energy this week?
Adrienne: You know, I feel like I have safety plans and a sense of shared aligned politics with so many more people now because I deepened into those relationships. And then, I’ve returned to my plants. I think it says something important about a human being to be able to keep something alive other than yourself. And for years, I wasn’t able to do that. And now I came home. My plants are on their last leg, but they’re still alive, and I feel joyful about the work ahead of me to bring them back into abundance.
Merk: I think one of the things I’ve been doing to find joy or small little moments in my life is using a Waterpik. Like, a water flosser. Like, a pressurized little thing. I’ve been wanting one for a while and my partner got me one. I’m like, “Yes!”
Adrienne: I love that. The little small upgrades of the pandemic I think are so important too. I also came home to my bidet toilet. You can get a bidet for, like, just over a hundred dollars now. You can go online and find [one]. It used to be very inaccessible, but once you go bidet, you never go back. And once you go bidet, you start to look down on everybody else who’s just like dryly using toilet paper! It just doesn’t look like they’re clean. The whole rest of the world is way ahead of us on this one. (laughs) The Western world needs to catch up.
Merk: One more question that I was curious about while going through your work was, what do you think your younger self would have needed to hear right now?
Adrienne: Oh. It’s not gonna be perfect. Do it anyway. I spent a lot, a lot of time trying to get things just right and please everybody and say everything just right. Now, I make mistakes every single day. The faster I make the mistakes, the faster I learn, the more authentic I am in my community. It’s just like “Oh, yeah. There’s no way I could be perfect about everything.”
Nyge: Definitely. No, I mean, not to bring, like, a sports route or anything like that, but I remember when I was like…
Adrienne: Take it sports!
Merk: Let’s go!
Adrienne: I’ve been trying to learn all the sports metaphors, because sports is where we, as humans, practice our nature. So…
Nyge: Yeah. I remember when I was learning to snowboard kind of early on. It seemed like I was hitting, like, this mental block like forever, until I learned how to fall. Once I learned how to fall correctly, then I was so much better at snowboarding, because I wasn’t scared of failing. You know, and I think you can apply that to real life. When you learn how to fall in life, like…
Adrienne: Yeah. When you learn how to fall and you learn that you’ll survive it. Most of the time you’ll survive it. And when you don’t, that’s the end of your time. (laughs) It’s like, you’re not in control of everything, but once you start realizing the worst thing in the world is not for me to fail, the worst thing in the world is not to have to apologize, the worst thing in the world is not to hurt someone’s feelings, the worst thing in the world is to shrink yourself until you can’t recognize yourself at all and then waste your life.
Nyge: Definitely, yeah. Thank you so much for that. I think, like, now that we’ve talked about all of this and all the stresses that we have on ourselves throughout the day, throughout the years, we can put all these things, all the tangible advice you’ve been giving us into the practice. We were told by our producers that you have a little something prepared for us.
Adrienne: Yeah. Thank you. I’m gonna … I was moved this morning to … I’ve been working on different, like … letting poetry come out. Poetry has been a big way that I’ve been surviving these moments, trying to sit with, like, what is a profound way to express what is happening right now? So I have this poem that I’ve written from a place of a lot of anger, because being in this election cycle has made me feel so much rage. (laughs) But I’m like, “But joy is my work and I’m cultivating peace all the time.” And I’m like, “How do I sit with those contradictions?” So I was like, “What would it look like to have a poem where I just unleashed the rage and what could it teach me?” So I wanted to offer that to you all.
Merk: Thank you. We’re ready for it.
Adrienne: So the poem is called “The Massive Rage,” and this is my first time sharing it, so thank you for listening.
(Adrienne reads poem)
Adrienne: As we move closer to the elections, again, we have to attend with how much will we play the game, showing up, waiting in lines, people of faith as we have had to be and always been. And really, what other option is there? We come in droves. We speak among ourselves. If we love ourselves, we know which of these men has less Tulsa in their blood. Which of these men doesn’t long to see us below deck, below branches, below the unbearable weight of them, their egos, their desire for us to just take it. The violation of polite conversation after the abuse, but before the overdue apology. In any way, so much has been taken that justice may be impossible. Some days it chills my blood. How will we ever know peace? Well, we have to forget everything. Will we have to burn the books and make the history fiction? How can we breathe near you, sleep near you, dream with you, when we remember when we can be living our lives and be reminded by Grio, thoughtful essay, scathing expose, image kept fresh across years by threat or bullet or lie or law? How when you haven’t stopped murdering us in our beds, gleefully taking our blessings, killing our children, counting us collateral damage as you choose money over masks, over safety, over adaptation, over earth, shooting first and asking no questions, ever. All the while acting as if it were us trying to take anything from you but our own lives, our own labor, our own right to grieve. All that you’ve claimed beyond your portion of miracle. You lost soul, you greedy, greedy. I lose the words. I choke on my anger. Even I, all the time cultivating joy in my heart. Even I, seeing beyond the constructs. Still when I come across the artifact or the present moment or the border in my dream that says how far I can go, we can go, we can be, I remember we are not yet free. I will not be. Cannot be until you choose to be free. Who designed it this way. How will we ever get beyond bitterness? How will we ever get beyond heartbreak? How will we ever be able to tell our stories in any genre but horror. How, I wonder, as we barrel towards another battle that we have no wish to fight. As we want to hold each other, but you’ve made it dangerous. We want to lick each other’s wounds until the scars spill new names, make different promises, fly. But not like angels, not like birds, not like anything that has ever moved through the sky before. Fly beyond your touch. That’s all we need. And it seems to be the only thing we cannot do. Cannot get to, cannot run for. You wait around each corner of history, belly gaping with hunger, eyes pulsing with hate, demonic, vapid, wasting the precious and only life you will get. And you even tell your children these lies to shape into them a foolish worldview in which we cannot rest and they cannot feel their blessing. I have been casting spells and speaking dreams my whole adult life, but even I feel the ways you are making me into your nightmare without my consent. Make me your enemy when I bear no arms, making me your prey wherever I graze with my children. It has been so long. So long I have to remind myself it isn’t forever. It is so constant I have to remind myself it cannot last. It is so small to be a part of the sacred. It is so heavy, this massive rage. I am only able to sleep, dreaming of volcanoes which peel away the surface and explode and melt down what is, which decimate and steal and swallow and change, which become glass and then green island, which become breeze and beach and whale watching and song and fruit and dance and children and children and children. When I feel it inside me, this raging molten flow of the truth. I can only rest remembering life comes from the eruptions and nothing you’ve made will last. And my rage fills up my mouth and our rage fills up the earth and we can darken the whole sky. And if we can’t breathe then you won’t either and our destinies are intertwined. You fools, you fools, you flesh and bone, muscle and bone, terrified to be alone, you there hiding in your telephone. You will heal or your line will end. We will heal or we will die praying and dancing, surrendering to the joy still beating in our chest. We will find a way to live here on this earth or she will blow us to the sky, melt away our flaws, leaving only a perfect stone full of story.
Nyge: That was amazing.
Adrienne: Thank you.
Nyge: (laughs) Thank you. It’s so many lines in there to hold onto that made me think of, like, so many different things. From the moment you said Tulsa, you took my mind on a trip of its own. And, yeah. Thank you so much for that. And then also, just as a poet, like, I can never recite my poetry that fluently when I just write it. So shoutouts to that too.
Adrienne: Thank you.
Merk: Yeah. I was just going to say on the note of just providing safe spaces in your mind, people listening who might just really be finding it hard to find hope, what would you say to them?
Adrienne: To me, we have to be able to feel the full range of our emotions. When I hear people speak of their hopelessness, it makes me think that they’ve never been given the room to fully express it, to fully express their anger, to fully express their fear. I think once you let those things out, once you fully, like, let them pour through you. You see that the only option is to be an optimist. The only option is to find a way to be hopeful. If you’re part of the collective, there’s only one option. We have to just believe in tomorrow. And sometimes that’s de facto peace. I’m like, “I can’t imagine January. I honestly can’t really see it, but I can think tomorrow and the day after that,” you know? I just had to keep moving one step at a time. And today I’m alive. I have my faculties. I have a ton of people that I love. I have grief practices. I have my tarot deck, you know? Like I have as much as I could have for this moment and anything I need, I’m on the path of learning. You know, I was watching James Baldwin’s work, “I Am Not Your Negro,” and he talks about that. That it’s, like, optimism is our only option. Like, we just have to stay alive. I think of that as part of my faith work. The universe will tell me when it’s no longer time for humans to be here. But as long as we’re here, my work is to help us be in my relationship with each other here.
Merk: (cries) Well, I just want to thank you. These tears that I have right now, they really are tears of joy and healing, and I just want to say it is such a pleasure having you on the silver linings episode, and for just sharing and reminding us of the hope that we have, the fact that we survive.
Adrienne: Thank you, Merk. Thank you, Nyge. It was a pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, and really a profound space to get to be with you this morning.
Nyge: Thank you so much. And for everybody listening, be sure to buy her books “Pleasure Activism and Emergent Strategies,” and check out her blog at adriennemariebrown.net
Lauren: My 2020 silver lining has been the opportunity to explore my creative ideas and having more time and room to get curious about what I’m able to do, and actually seeing those things come to life.
Nyge: Today’s music guest comes from one of my favorite places ever, New Orleans, Louisiana, and they’re called Tank and the Bangas. They are a group that basically reinvented the way that we look at NPR’s Tiny Desk when they won the Tiny Desk Contest in 2017. They were nominated for Best New Artist at the 2020 Grammy’s even though they’ve been around for about a decade! They are soul, funk, R&B, spoken word, jazz and pretty much joy personified.
Merk: They’ve also got a new EP coming out called “Friend Goals” that drops November 20 with collabs from CHIKA, Duckwrth and PJ Morton. So here with us is none other than Tank herself! What’s up!
Tank: Heyyy! That was such a sweet introduction. (laughs)
(Tank and the Bangas’ “To Be Real” plays)
Tank: That’s one of your favorite places, huh? It is very special. No other place like New Orleans.
Nyge: I feel like it’s one of those gems where you feel like you’re not even in the U.S. anymore. Like, it feels like you’re in, like, a mythical place. My family’s actually from Rayville, Louisiana, and then they moved down to New Orleans about 50 years ago. And so…
Tank: As they should have!
Nyge: My uncle lives right at the top of Bourbon Street.
Tank: Oh, Lord! I don’t know why he would ever do that.
Nyge: I know, right?
Merk: So, Tank, you’re here. Where are the rest of the Bangas?
Tank: I actually just left them. We were just practicing for all the shows that we have coming up, so they all scattered across the city right now. One of them is probably gardening somewhere because he’s really into that since COVID. You know what I’m saying? One of them is probably doing something with music and one of them is probably doing something with his other group that he has.
Merk: So all of you have come together to create this EP that was mostly created through Zoom during quarantine to abide by good ol’ social distancing guidelines. And we want to know what that process was like. So we’re starting out with the short game called “Zoom: Doom or Come Throom.!” (laughs) So we’re gonna list some features of the platform and you’ll tell us whether it came “Throom,” like it came in clutch during the production process, or whether it kind of sucked and put your group in “Doom.”
Merk: Alright. Mute button!
Tank: Oh. Gloom… I’m supposed to have the word for it!
Nyge: Doom. Yeah. Gloom works too though!
Tank: Doom. And I will only say that because, like, I was talking to somebody on Zoom and I’m thinking I’m on mute and I’m not, and I’m talking about the man. Oh, my Lord. It was the news. Oh, my Jesus. I said, “I’d never want to do this one right here. I wasn’t even wanting to do this one right here.” And then he messaged me. He was like, “Tank, your mute’s not on.” And I was like, “I know.” (laughs)
Nyge: You’ve got to lean into it at that point. Like, “Yeah!”
Tank: Oh, my God. Straight up Doom.
Nyge: How about lag?
Tank: I feel like a gloom and a come throom all at the same time. Number one, everybody knows that it’s always gonna be, like, a little lag. But I know that we were recording and the software was really … It came throom for us.
Nyge: Aye! Shoutouts!
Merk: Okay. And next one, background.
Tank: The little features? Like, you could put, like, a lil … I love that. Come throom! I will put little Barbie dolls around myself. For a long time, for at least one time, for almost about 15, 20 minutes of me and the Banga’s Zoom call, we just was switching out backgrounds constantly. Like, “Check me out, I’m in space! Check me out, I’m on the Eiffel Tower. Check me out y’all, I’m back in Spain!” So, it gave us a lot of laughs. But it’s crazy lil’ time. You know, sometimes, it be looking crazy as hell, but it’s still a feature that I appreciated. So, you know, Zoom came throom with that one.
Nyge: You did amazing on “The Game,” by the way. Great job!
Tank: Oh, thank you Nygel!
Nyge: When I saw the song titled on your EP called “Self Care,” that’s not exactly what I pictured it sounding like when I saw the title at first.
Tank: What you think it was gonna sound like? I’m curious.
Nyge: Let’s play the clip for everybody, so they can hear what it sounds like, and then I’ll explain.
Tank: (laughs) Okay.
(Tank and The Bangas’ “Self Care” plays)
Nyge: That’s something that I love about your group, is that y’all have a way of thinking of things that’s so out of the box, but still driving home a point and a feeling that’s so relatable to everybody.
Tank: Aww, thank you!
Nyge: Most self care songs that I know are, like, super calm and easy going. And they focus on mindfulness and like a slow, easy way. But y’all approached it from a hype, energetic, in your face direction, really encompassing, for me, the frustration of quarantine. But what inspired this song and this hype approach that y’all took?
Tank: That’s so funny. I appreciate you saying that ’cause I never thought about it like that. And you right. That is normally how they be like. (sarcastically) “And now it’s time to provide a little self care,” you know? You right, you right. What I was thinking about was honestly just the fact that … I think I was thinking about it honestly from a ladies perspective of being home. And I really, you know, just try to take care of myself in a lot of ways without anybody there, you know? Like, truly being alone in space. But I put my little brother on it and he was like, “I ain’t got time for no ex!”
(Tank and The Bangas’ “Self Care” plays)
Merk & Nyge: (laughs)
Tank: I love the way he do that, so it dang ain’t for just me. But I called my closest girls on there and it just was so much fun. The beat was so much fun. I don’t know. When I think about self care, even though I don’t even practice it 1000-percent of the time, I think about it as something that, if anything, it needs to have some movement. The song was fast and poppy, because, you know, when I’m ready to self care, in my mind, I’m like, “Oh, it’s time to go get some bananas! It’s time to get some apples! I’m about to call a train! I’m about to start running! I’m about to give up cold drinks, sodas. I wanna see results next week!”
Tank: You know what I’m saying? So maybe that’s a reason why…
Nyge: That day.
Tank: That day? That hour! So maybe that’s a reason why this song is so upbeat, because when I think about self care, I really get into this mode like, “It’s time to go!”
Merk: So, in your music and your performances, you bring so much fun, relatability and animation to them, and you’ve said that it’s in part inspired by the dolls you’ve played with, but also watching Disney Channel!
Tank: Oh, I love the Disney Channel. Number one, I used to play with dolls with my sister for years. And even after she stopped playing with dolls and had a little doll of her own, if you know what I mean … She had a baby, I was really left to my own devices. So her dolls became my dolls. I would play with all of them, at least until I’m like maybe 17 or 18, which kind of gives you a wild imagination and just so much wonder. The story always ends the way you want it to.
Merk: Yeah, I was going to ask which characters of those infused into your DNA?
Tank: Probably Shia Labeouf from “That’s So Raven.” I mean…
Merk: “Even Stevens!” I was like, “Wait, was there a crossover episode?”
Nyge: Aye, Bay Area!
Merk: Chill Grill.
Tank: No, they did not. Definitely “That’s So Raven.”
Nyge: Another Bay Area.
Tank: Even Bert and Ernie from “Sesame Street!” And definitely “Sister, Sister!”
Merk: Oh yeah.
Tank: And all those are coming up on Netflix now, so you’re able to see … Oh yeah, “Smart Guy.” All that stuff.
Merk: Well, how would you describe the inner child that you have, because we all have one inside of us that we carry into adulthood. Who is she? And how does your music nourish her?
Tank: Wow, that’s such a good question. As I’m adulting these days, you know, it’s an interesting balance to feed the inner child, because I think another way I was able to stay so youthful, you know, in my spirit is because I had no … could you curse on here?
Merk: Yeah. (laughs)
Tank: I had no fucking responsibility! (laughs) Which is a major way that people can stay in the mode of childhood, because you don’t have any responsibilities as much when you are a kid. And so now I just feel like I have to find that balance, because just specifically, right now, honestly, over the last couple of months, I’ve been doing that adulting like getting my first place. So all that’s all on my mind right now is comforters, pillows, curtains. I feel like such an adult, but I get this kiddie enjoyment, excitement, child-like, when I get anything new. (laughs) It’s something that you definitely have to nourish. And right now, I am nourishing the adult responsible side of myself in this particular season.
Merk: Now let’s keep the title track “Friend Goals,” Nyge’s personal favorite on the EP.
Tank: What are you talking about?! Are you forreal?!
Nyge: Yeah, I’m forreal.
Tank: Thank you, Nyge, so much. I love that one.
(Tank and the Bangas’ “Friend Goals” plays)
Nyge: In “Friend Goals,” at the beginning of the song, it feels like, you know, you’re hyping up your group of friends that you have today, and how amazing they are and how happy you are to have them. Then you start the verse with, “Hey, loner.” And then you have a line later in the song that says “Me, myself, and I, I think I should start a new trend, a club where all the loners go.” That part made it feel like close friends weren’t always easy to come by. So, all that being said, who was Tank in high school?
Tank: Definitely not with the cool crowd, for sure. Definitely with the, you know, kind of the nerdy loners type people. You know, it was cool, but we had fun and we loved our crew. And, you know, I didn’t have any problem begging and hoping and wishing to be popular, because I was happy with the friends that I had made and the friends that had found me. You know, I was fine with them. I was a poet. I was a choir nerd, because I loved choir. We went on so many field trips and it was cool people. I used to walk around the hallways, like, my big curly hair, my lil’ uniform, my lil’ eyeliner, my lip gloss, and I’m thinking, “Today gonna be the day I meet my boyfriend.” You know, I’m pretty. He’s gonna notice that there’s nobody else like me. You know, he’s gonna think I’m unique. He’s gonna be like, “Wow, who’s that girl with the big hair?” That never happened. (laughs) That did not, ever. And then, later on, when Hurricane Katrina hit and I had to leave New Orleans and go to Indianapolis for like a year or two, I was so scared because I was thinking, “I don’t have any friends here. This is my senior year. I don’t know anybody. They wear regular clothes here. I don’t have any clothes.” Like, “They gonna judge me.” I was so scared. But it was when I went there was when I truly, like, kinda met myself. Because in New Orleans, even though you’re so free to be yourself, in high school, it doesn’t feel that way. You know, you feel like you need to have the latest clean shoes, uniform gotta be clean, you know? You gotta speak a certain way, act a certain way. You hair gotta be a certain way, or you really just not considered to be, you know, cool.
Nyge: That transition from wearing uniform to, like, free dress is crazy. Like, I wore a uniform literally from the fourth grade all the way until my senior year of high school. And then college, you know, obviously has no uniform. And so I was like “Yo, I have to have clothes for, like, every day? Like, yo!”
Tank: The stress! But it’s like, nobody cares, right?
Merk: I definitely just would go into my mom’s or sister’s closet and just wear stuff. So I had comments from people saying “You either dress like you’re 12 or like you’re 41.”
Tank: Oh my God!
Merk: And I’m like, “Yeah, so? I’m just trying to express myself! Can you love me?”
Tank: I wore a lot of my sister’s clothes too, by the way. And they were too tight so I would always wear a jacket covering the fact that I couldn’t buckle the pants.
Tank: Yeah. So while we would have been friends.
Merk: Just looking at each other’s outfits like, “No, you’re so good, you’re so good.” So people listen to your music not only cause it’s fire, it’s awesome, but also because of the good vibes that you and the Bangas give off, and we feel like, at Adult ISH, we’re trying to do the same thing in our own way by giving people good adulting vibes. But that’s not always easy for us, because our topics can be heavy or we bare our souls in our first person stories. And sometimes stuff just goes down in our personal life, like the death of loved ones that makes recording tough. Is there ever pressure for you in the group to constantly be the source of other people’s positive energy?
Merk: It’s interesting, and I’ll tell you that … I think it’s kind of like a relationship. You know, somebody said this so perfect one time. “Yeah, you may fall out of love, but just make sure you don’t fall out of love at the same time.” So when I say that, I basically say “If I’m down, then Josh will be up. And if Josh is down, Albert is up. And if Albert is down, then Norman will be up.” You know, we all have these moments in our lives where our personal lives, like, overtake the musical part. And we will definitely get on each other like, “Hey, you need to step it up.” Or, you know, ” You need to come on time a little bit more.” We’ll definitely point it out, but someone else will also point out, “You remember that time when you needed grace? You remember that time when you needed some understanding?” And even me, I’m asking that right now, like, I’m late every time, at least 50 minutes, because somebody is always coming over to the house to help me do something. But I’ve been on time for years. So, you know, I would like a little grace and so on. So when it comes down to inspiring people while you go through, my answer to that is basically just to make sure that we don’t all fall out of love at the same time.
Merk: So what have you been doing to find joy during quarantine?
Tank: Shopping for pillows.
Nyge: Yo, pillows are expensive!
Tank: I found some for, like, 35 dollars. You figure out stuff when you’re adulting that stuff actually cost, and you didn’t know that because you get busy shopping at Family Dollar forever. So that’s what I’m discovering. But other than that, I just love those moments when I’m just with my band and we create something extremely fresh and foreign to all of us. After we finish creating a new song, we literally say we just created magic, because we made something that wasn’t there before. Right now, we’re creating magic. This conversation wasn’t there before. We’re literally creating it, making it happen. And something about that is just so incredible and warming, you know, makes you want to do it multiple times.
Merk: Get your dose of serotonin by following Tank on IG @thinktank20 or the whole group on Twitter @TankandDaBangs. And make sure you listen to the EP “Friend Goals” when it drops on November 20!
Kyra: There have been some moments of joy for me, but, I must say, one of the biggest ones is that I roasted an entire duck with honey and soy sauce. That was one of my late father’s go to recipes and being able to cook it by myself. Albeit, it was great, because it did remind me of him and how he always put so much love into the food that he made. And I tore that duck up. It was so good. I mean, I wish I could let you guys taste it. You can’t, but you’ll just have to trust me. And it really did bring me some joy during this pandemic madness.
Merk: Thank you to Ray, Amber, Lauren and Kyra for sharing with us your silver lining of 2020. And, of course, the rest of y’all for listening to another episode Adult ISH, produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation.
Nyge: Thank yous go out to our producer Georgia Wright, Senior Producer Davey Kim, Executive Producer Rebecca Martin, and sound engineer Galnadgee Joe-Johnson. Check us out at adultishpodcast.com.
Merk: If you haven’t already joined the Adult ISH fam on all the socials, you can follow us @YRadultISH. And if you’re diggin’ the good vibes of our show or feel so inclined to tell the world how it’s helped you on your adulting journey, give us a review on Apple Podcasts! Five stars much appreciated.
Nyge: We are also proud to be members of Radiotopia by PRX. An independent listener-supported collective of some of the brightest shows in all of podcasting. Find them at radiotopia.fm.
Merk: And before we go, I didn’t ask you yet Nyge. What’s your silver lining of 2020?
Nyge: My silver lining of 2020 is love. Like, for real. Obviously, for my fiance. I’ve talked about that on every episode. Sorry guys.
Merk: I think you have.
Nyge: What popped into my head when I said love this time was I just saw my grandma yesterday and she was on her porch and I was talking to her kind of from the street. When I told her I was outside and she came outside onto the porch, she kind of did like a little dance on the porch when she saw me. And then we got to talk and it was just beautiful.
Merk: What a beautiful way to end! Alright, with that beauty, we will talk to you all next week.