At seven and a half months pregnant, Indie-Pop artist PENNER sat collapsed in her home’s hallway as she heard her husband say that he was no longer in love with her and didn’t want to be married.
Two years later, this California-based artist has emerged with a song and accompanying music video in which she dictates her fantasies of getting sweet revenge on the man who once said, “I do.” The song is titled “Criminal Daydreams” and is the first single featured in The Penner Sisters’ debut acoustic album, “Wandered Too Far”, released under Mercury Sky Records’ label.
These wishes of devastation, although in fantasy, provide a sense of understanding and commonality for other single mothers like herself. PENNER’s raw vocal nature helps listeners to understand the true pain she has felt as well as how sweet revenge would taste.
Although this track was designed for a full rock band, this tune took on a new acoustic and Indie-pop form as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The strumming of acoustic guitar ultimately fit the track perfectly as it portrays a climbing nature to the increased, more angry intensity.
The soft nature of PENNER’s voice becomes swept away with bitterness and rage throughout this foot-tapping beat. The raw and motivating nature of her voice becomes portrayed through the intensity of the music. “Criminal Daydreams” truly embodies PENNER’s fantasies of revenge and confidence becoming embodied in these negative feelings as listeners are sure to be wishing devastation towards their enemies following just one listen of this track.
Captivating, thought-provoking, and fierce are three words that describe this song perfectly. “Criminal Daydreams” truly illustrates revenge as the song continues to climb forward through its acoustic strumming and mood shifting lyrics.
Through the intense lyrics like ‘One day you’ll pay”, listeners can feel the raw emotion of personal experience pouring into this indie-pop tune. PENNER truly uses a hardship faced in her life to motivate and relate to her listeners in this track making this a must-listen-to.
Hey PENNER, Welcome to BuzzMusic! We loved your new single, “Criminal Daydreams”. You mentioned this song was written by your motivation for revenge in a personal experience, did this aid in your production of this song? Or make it difficult to fit in all your feelings?
Well, thank you so much for having me! You know, I poured so much emotionally into writing the lyrics and finding the instrumental hook melody that once the time came to produce the song, I had worked through the psychological background of “Criminal Daydreams” and was really able to be present in the creative process, especially with this final acoustic version you hear on the EP. The feelings that birthed the lyrics were like the initial source of momentum and then fellow musicians’ and my executive producer’s excitement about the song really buoyed me the rest of the way through the production process.
It was noted this song was originally planned to be performed by a full rock band, how do you think the quality and intensity of the music was increased through the acoustics instead?
I definitely appreciate that I was given the opportunity to reinterpret Criminal Daydreams from the original pop-rock number to this acoustic-pop version, precisely because it allowed me to kind of life in my feelings from a different vantage point - one that was still honest, but more grounded. The early version that my band, Amber Soul plays has these raging shredded electric guitar licks, the drums are explosively percussive, and I swear in the chorus. That version I think captured the moments of angry 3 am lyric-writing when I was earlier on in the grieving process of my life circumstance. When I sat down with Michael Dayvid and we constructed the start of this acoustic version, I was mentally more steady and collected, sitting there with a cup of tea in hand and open to being curious and exploring where else we could go musically with the song. It felt almost like a phoenix-from-the-ashes kind of moment, and I really cherish the end product for that reason.
How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic impacted how this song was composed and did it meet all your expectations and dreams for these lyrics and sound?
Covid-19 definitely affected the process of making this song. We started working on this version just before the pandemic really got going, so luckily I was able to meet with the guitarist, Michael Dayvid, to establish an arrangement, but from there on out, the process was pretty siloed. Michael Dayvid went by himself to Bongo Boy Studio and laid down the guitar tracks first, then I came in and recorded lead vocals. My brother, Devin Penner actually laid down bass, piano, and drums through his home studio system and sent the tracks electronically to Bongo Boy’s sound engineer, Dominic Romano. Then I hit the studio one more time and had a sheer blast laying down every vocal harmony I could wish to, along with any other trick I wanted (for example I whisper “Criminal daydreams” on the last line of every verse). And finally, Dominic worked his sound production magic and we had a final version! I think, in the end, it really exceeded where I imagined it would get to, which is due so much to the expertise level of Michael, Devin, and Dominic. Not to mention the support and collaborative facilitation of Mercury Sky Records' Executive Producer, Zach Zwerdling - Covid-19 was not going to stop him from supporting the artistic journey. I really learned the lesson that diligent collaboration really can enhance an artist’s work. I'm endlessly grateful!
Could you see yourself writing any other songs about this type of revenge to link with “Criminal Daydreams?"
Well, I definitely have been writing more songs drawing from the same personal experience that resulted in the making of Criminal Daydreams! After going through the whole siloed song production experience, I realized that I could use the skills I’d developed and compose songs that aren't limited to an actual band - I can choose as many instruments as I want in my Logic Pro X software program and create a song with as big a sound as I want, and in a genre that speaks deeply to me. So that’s what I’m working on now! I’m in the process of making a solo pop EP, which will probably be released in the summer or fall of 2021. I just finished the studio take of the first song, which will probably be the heavy-hitter on this next EP. It’s called “Wish I Could Float Away”, and it has about 35 layers, between the instruments and the vocal tracks. My brother collaborated with me again and really outdid himself creatively; like he laid down cellos and violins that ebb and flow in volume like ocean waves. There are harps, lots of synthesizer sounds, and bells even. It is seriously dreamy! Sonically, it’s akin to music by Imogen Heap, Billie Eilish, Sia, and Lady Gaga, all of whom are musical idols of mine. And while “Wish I Could Float Away” is a ballad, there are definitely many more songs on this next EP that have drive and edge, not to mention catchy hooks. The EP's vibe consistently is a haunting kind of vibe, and I’m really loving the process of making it. I’m definitely still processing the event that brought out “Criminal Daydreams” and there’s a lot of cool music coming from it. Stay tuned.
2020 has been a very challenging year for everyone. What has been keeping you inspired to create music? What advice can you give another artist who's finding it difficult to do so?
Absolutely, it has been challenging. I think honestly all of the time stuck in the box of my house has really made me aware of what’s going on in my mental headspace, and fortunately, I now have the musical tools to pursue taking those feelings and turning them into a project that challenges my brain. Coming up with rhythmed rhyming words and pleasing melodies and then making that into full-blown produced songs is a time-intensive puzzle-like task, which is kind of perfect if you’re stuck socially isolating and you have a computer and studio access. That being said, my advice to my fellow artists struggling to push forward through all the barriers that are definitely still real is to exercise self-compassion and not resist feeling the frustration or whatever emotion it is that you’re feeling. Talk to yourself like you would a friend in this position. Then wait for the emotion to shift, and creativity will flow. You've got this!