Since 2015, VOIID has excavated a space in Australia’s DIY underground which belongs solely to them and their voracious set of fans. Based in Meanjin, VOIID’s acerbic EPs – Pussy Orientated (2017), Drool (2019) and Socioanomaly (2020) – followed in the footsteps of the feminist punk bands before them, exposing the physical and emotional brutality which pushes young women to the margins. Anji, Mina Cannon (drums), Antonia Hickey (bass/vocals) and Kate Mcguire (guitar/vocals) have built a haven for listeners to feel empowered in their anger, their wildness and their friendships. “It couldn’t be anyone else. It has to be us four,” says VOIID’s lead vocalist, Anji Greenwood.
2023 sees VOIID embracing a new confessional bend and a sound that straddles the faultline between alt-rock and post-punk, their debut LP, Watering Dead Flowers, couldn’t be anything else either. ‘Free Kitten’ is the latest single to follow previous singles ‘Lexapro’ and ‘And So Two’, you can watch the clip for it here.
On Watering Dead Flowers, VOIID break from their external focus, turning their gaze inwards for the first time. Drawing from diaristic source material, its songs are both headstrong and unsteady, calculating and vulnerable in the way they explore the defining relationships and emotions of young adulthood. The personal remains political, but the record’s strongest anchor is the unit of the band and the connection between its members, a sacred constant in the face of ever-shifting romantic and family dynamics.
At the top of the record, “And So Two” pays tribute to the friendship between Kate and Anji, who were two grades apart at their regional Queensland high school. Kate was into art and skateboarding, she drank goon sack beer with boys at the park. She liked Raw Power by Iggy and The Stooges, same as Anji, who was a self-professed “outspoken bitch”, bleached her hair and didn’t shave her legs. The first time the pair properly spoke was in the early hours of New Year’s Day, the school holidays before Anji went into Grade 10. Anji’s sister had come home from a party with Kate in tow, and Anji heard Kate talk about wanting to be in a band.
“I said, “Can I be the Cherie Currie in your Runaways?’” Anji says.
After a year of jamming together in Kate’s basement bedroom after school, Kate graduated, moved to Brisbane and recruited the rest of the band. Anji would fly down on weekends, playing shows underage in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, eventually even Sydney. Set on escaping to the city as soon as she graduated, Kate was the reason her mum trusted her enough to leave home..
“Kate’s my voice of reason,” Anji says. “And then I’m like, the fucking little goblin that lives under her hat.”
Watering Dead Flowers was recorded in 2021 by Matt Cochran (Talk Heavy, WALKEN) at Birthday Boy Studios, with assistance from Caleb Anderson (Mouse). In pre-production, Matt and Kate bonded over their love of that dog. Kate says, “I am obsessed with literally everything they’ve put out.”
She cites Juliana Hatfield’s big college-rock sound as another major touchpoint. “I didn’t want it to be too overproduced,” Kate says. “This is what we sound like when we jam. The raw guitars, nothing flashy – it feels good.” And then there’s the syrupy sweet influence of Beabadoobee, which we hear creep in for the first time on “Lexapro”. Anji experiments with a new prettiness in her vocal tone, brandishing it like a weapon against the voices that minimised her credibility in the past.
“It’s kind of like a ‘fuck you’, but in a vulnerable way,” she laughs. ”It’s so annoying, because it’s been happening the whole time we’ve been in the band, you know… If we were all dudes, we’d be just as good, except we’d be way more popular.”
Backed by a haunting string arrangement and a kick drum that feels like a heartbeat, “Little Sibling” meditates on the rite-of-passage discovery that parents are whole people, with their own flaws and regrets (“she’s the reason that I’m like this”). When the band started writing the record, they noticed that mothers kept cropping up in the lyrics, so they decided to honour the connection more explicitly.
“In the past few years, I’ve come to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for my mum that I didn’t have before,” says Anji. “There are so many repetitive patterns in intergenerational trauma, the same as there are in the relationships [I write about]… I was inside my grandmother’s stomach, inside of my mother’s stomach, you know?”
“Ctrl Alt” and “(Delete)” speak to the way the body experiences anxiety and dissociation. On “Ctrl Alt”, the fantasy of existing as a weightless beam of light eclipses the reality of existing as a person. Collagist “(Delete)” is deceptive with its high-voltage gang vocals and overdriven guitars; it presents all the familiar beats of a house party from the distance of a driveway, a reflection in a mirror. Friends feel far away, and up close, people don’t seem to mean what they say.
Watering Dead Flowers gets its title from “Swallower”, a churning track where reality is distorted by a relationship that breeds insecurity (“Can I sleep in your bed? / Don’t wanna take up space”). Anji likes to return to an image of a garden in her brain when she talks about her mental health, and she has a sign next to her bed that says ‘water the dirt until the flower grows again’.
More florals sprout up in “(Delete)” – she describes the process of drying out petals to preserve imagined memories – and again in the “Daisy” interlude: a strung-out lullaby cover of Harry Dacre’s “Daisy Bell”, which Anji’s mum would often sing to her as a child. The interlude bleeds into the grinding, hot-and-bothered “L’Amour Fou”, a filthy reverie which is soured by regret, once the initial lust has faded. Anji is considering bringing a beret on tour to wear while she delivers the French verse.
Buoyed by resplendent strings and a Breeders-esque dual-vocal bridge, “Free Kitten” finds triumph in moving on, and in learning to make peace with lingering heartache. It gives way to the record’s expansive closing track, “The Bedroom”, which follows Kate and Anji’s journey from the basement bedroom in Rockhampton (concrete floor, drum kit, Iggy Pop poster) to meeting Mina and Antonia (“held my close hand / fill in the blanks with two we hadn’t met”), and writing this record.
“She’d have her Coke Zero, I’d have my Coke, full sugar, and we’d just dream about the kind of things we wanted to do with our lives,” Anji says. “And so two became four.”
“It’s so nice when you find people that you just love so much. You hear about musicians who hate all their band members, or who just aren’t that close to them, and I’m like – fuck no! I’ve seen all these girls’ boobs! They’re all so smart. They’re my future bridesmaids, they’re my best friends. Every time we’re together I’m just like, having the best time.”
The release of Watering Dead Flowers will mark the end of the longest interval VOIID has ever taken between recording and releasing a body of work. “The Bedroom” makes no secret of their eagerness to discover if this record meets audience expectations, and their cool exterior hardly conceals an deep-rooted desire to produce work that lives up to the albums that got them through their own coming-of-age. “I don’t give a fuck,” says Anji, “but at the same time, I give so much of a fuck.”
Ultimately though, the album is a love letter addressed to each other and made available for the world to see, like carving a heart into a tree trunk. It overflows with private references to memories in sharehouses and their backyards; specific, shitty things that exes said and did; other bands and albums, pets, siblings, even a scene from the movie Ice Age (2002). It really, really couldn’t be anyone else.