Last month, we celebrated a historic milestone when Hillary Clinton was nominated for president. I found myself in tears as I watched her acceptance speech on my laptop. Getting the chance to witness such momentous progress wasn't just exciting, it was utterly inspiring. I thought of this weeks later when I got the opportunity to speak with Mandy Lee of Misterwives, because her song "Not Your Way" pays tribute to the American suffragist movement, which also pushed forward women's political participation. We're premiering the video for "Not Your Way" on Lenny today, and Mandy told us about what's behind the song as well as what's next for Misterwives.
Dianca Potts: I love the Gatsby–meets–Myrna Loy vibe of the video for "Not Your Way." The 1920s were such a poignant era for women's rights and feminism. I love that you celebrate that in the video for your song. Can you talk a bit about the story behind it?
Mandy Lee: The video definitely pays tribute to the women's-suffrage movement. It's interesting because the 1920s were also the silent-film era, so there's this extra layer of how women have been silenced for so long. It's the coolest thing to think, Wow, 100 years ago we couldn't vote, and now we're going to have a female president. There's still a lot that needs to be done, but the fact that we have such a milestone, it's so exciting.
The song came about because I've been pursuing music since I was thirteen, and along the way so many men have told me things like "You need to dress sexier," or "Let's have you lose five to ten pounds," or "Your songs are good, but let's have someone else write your songs for you." Just all of the different things that strip you of who you are and how the industry tries to fit you into this unrealistic and unhealthy mold that doesn't allow women to just be celebrated.
For the video, there's a lot of gender bending in this band, and I thought it would be fun to flip the script and project what women go through onto men. It's comedic and slapstick, but at the same time the core of it is the message that this is what women go through. It's not funny for us. This is what women go through. It's our lives. In every aspect, everywhere you look, women are held to this absurd standard of what beauty is or what we should do with our lives and how we should look and all these crazy things. This is a really important project for me because of my personal experiences.
My sister Marlena Pavich-Bellande directed the video, and our crew was like 89 percent female. All these badass women were working on it. The set felt happy and exciting, and there was just this higher purpose of speaking for women.
DP: Misterwives is three years old now. How have things changed?
ML: A lot of the older songs were written by me prior to being in the band. Now we are working on writing songs as a true band, and it is really fun. I'll write the skeleton, and then we all come together and bring our ideas and push each other to create the best possible song that we can. To get to be in this musical family, in our studio every single day, playing music … so many ideas come from that organic way of working. There's something really special that comes from that.
We have a song called "Our Own House" that talks about how we're a family, but it's not just us, the six members of this band, it's everybody in our community. At shows we always play that song last, and it gives me chills because it's just such a cool thing hearing people all sing together. You have this unstoppable force from coming together through music.