New Jersey-based indie-pop outfit America’s Sweetheart recently released their music video for “Face To Face,” a song about isolation in the modern world. Made up of Anastasia Kinsella, aka Stace the bass, and Valerie Germain, along with the additional talents of Robbie “Seahag” Mangano (guitar) and Johnny Markowski (drums), America’s Sweetheart generates a passionate, vulnerable, and intimate song reflecting the separation engendered by the pandemic.
The video, directed by Jennifer Cobb, with illustrations by Katie Plitt and animated by Calvin Swaim, projects a dreamy, drifting alt-pop melody topped by melancholic voices brimming with nostalgic savours of the way life used to be. Evocative and poignant, “Face To Face” echoes the lonely textures of a world lost in transformation.
XS Noize caught up with Sweethearts Stace Kinsella and Val Germain to pummel them with questions about influences, inspiration, and the evolution of their sound.
How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?
Val: Like all good rock songs, we met on the dance floor!
Stace: We were the only 2 people dancing - it was a Go-Go’s song. We were yelling over the music and talking about being in a band. Val: I said, “I play the guitar,” and Stace said: “I have a bass!” We learned to play music together.
Which singers/musicians influenced you the most?
Stace: I love country music, and I love punk rock- anything from George Jones to the Sex Pistols and Hole, Oooo! and the Throwing Muses. I also adore Elvis Costello.
Val: Edith Piaf, Buddy Holly, The Who…
Which artists are you listening to right now?
Stace: I am really enjoying Khruangbin right now. Laura Lee is AWESOME in every possible way.
Val: You know that old song “Driver’s Seat” by Sniff & Tears. I can't stop listening to it - over and over.
What inspired your new single/music video, “Face To Face?”
Val: Our Producer, Godfrey Diamond, had an idea for a song about modern isolation; he wanted the chorus to have the words “Face to Face” in them.
Stace: Val came up with this haunting, pretty guitar lick, and I sang out a sad little melody; the words just came….we had recorded everything with Godfrey in his studio before the pandemic.
Val: Godfrey mixed everything during the pandemic. Unfortunately, it turns out to be even more meaningful now that everyone is hunkered down due to quarantine.
What do you want people to take away from the video?
Val: Hope. Have hope!
Stace: We are alone but together.
Why do you make music?
Val: Music is a force for good! And I can’t not. Even though it whips my ass, it’s the most satisfying fun – I feel like I’m using every part of myself when I’m in it.
Stace: I have never felt more alive and connected to the world and joy then when I play with Val. It is the best!
Is your sound evolving? If so, in which direction?
Stace: Our sound IS evolving; our music has always been…how do I say this, V? Ummm, pretty straight forward, like a happy slap on the butt cheek.
Val: (laughs) Godfrey has taught us so much. And he inspires us to go further, add dimension. We are so lucky to have him. We love you, Godfrey!
What are your plans for the near future?
Val: To write more songs!
Stace: Yes, please!
How are you handling the coronavirus situation?
Val: We are grateful to make some art during this time - it’s hard. It sucks, but we have a lot to be thankful for, and it could always be worse.
Stace: Yeah, we’re still here, man.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank, any shout outs?
Stace: Oh my goodness, Godfrey Diamond, Godfrey Diamond, Godfrey Diamond.
Val: (laughs) Stace is trying to manifest Godfrey right now (laughs). Yes, definitely Godfrey and Robbie "Seahag" Mangano, who Godfrey brought in to add his gorgeous guitar playing to our song. Johnny Markowski lays down the luscious beat on the drums.
Stace: My dear friend Jenny Cobb who directed our video and always supported America’s Sweetheart unconditionally. We love you, Jen. Our chum, Katie Plitt, drew all of those gorgeous illustrations for the video and Calvin Swaim, who animated Katie’s adorable drawings.
Val: We have had so much help and support from our families; we are fortunate to make music together.