AN INTERVIEW WITH ADULT MOM
“Cristina Yang is the best character on television,” Steph Knipe says confidently. I recently had the chance to chat with the vocalist of Adult Mom before their sold out show in Brooklyn about Grey’s Anatomy, moving across the country and inequality in the music industry.
“She’s my favorite,” Steph begins to elaborate. “I’ve gotten through a lot of trauma and breakup stuff because of the writing of her character.” Something that the content of Grey’s Anatomy and the music of Adult Mom have in common is the ability to beautifully portray difficult experiences. “Sometimes the show is ridiculous and melodramatic, but they tackle things like assault and abuse so well, and have these multifaceted ways of talking about and handling issues,” Steph says.
From their debut in 2014 to their most recent LP, Soft Spots (released in 2017 via Tiny Engines) Steph has written about any and every relationship experience. The record begins with the soft vocals of “Ephemeralness” and is followed by the quick and quirky lyrics of “Full Screen,” kicking off with the line, ‘Do you fullscreen your porn? Do you think about me as you watch her crawl across the floor?’ The cohesive album follows Steph through nine tracks in total. Highlights include fuck-you anthem, “Steal the Lake From the Water” and the beautiful, melancholy finish, “First Day of Spring.”
Formed in Purchase, NY, Steph started Adult Mom as an outlet of expression. “There was just so much happening around me. I had never even known songwriters before, and suddenly all my friends and everyone around me were writing and playing all the time, so it definitely made me feel more comfortable getting started.” Having grown up in a quiet town in Rockland County, NY, Steph was once very closeted emotionally. “I didn’t feel comfortable at all in high school, so when I got to Purchase it was this entirely different space that made me feel like I was home for the first time.”
“My favorite song to perform live is ‘J Station,’ because it’s this hysterical and dramatic but true story about a night meeting up with an ex, that could literally be in a sitcom. ‘Told Ya So’ is another favorite, because it was the first time really affirming something for myself as a healthy coping mechanism and not just being sad,” says Steph.
We touched upon the inequality in the music industry, particularly the lack of diversity in tour lineups, and what we can do combat the problem. “There are so many moving parts to these big package tours. So many people involved in the booking process.” So what can we do about it? Steph says, “Speaking up about the issue is helpful, and honestly, literally just fire these promoters and booking agents that don’t give a shit, that are just looking at their paychecks. If you’re an all male band on one of these tours, just do better. It’s not just up to your manager and booking agent - your band is your business. You do get to make decisions, and you do have the last say. I want to give everyone involved a stern talking to!” Although there’s a long road ahead, with driven, conscientious artists like Adult Mom working hard to change the way the music industry challenges these issues, 2018 is already looking a little brighter.
Adult Mom just finished writing their next record. “We’re kind of sitting with it at the moment, we’re not really sure what we’re going to do with it yet.” With a big move to Chicago in Steph’s near future, they don’t want to rush into anything just to get it done. “We’re really going to take our time with it.”
Adult Mom has a few tour dates remaining with Chris Farren this February. You may catch a fun Lucinda Williams or Lorde cover, or the stripped back version of “2012” that Steph played in a modest and beautiful encore at the sold-out Baby’s All Right show.