By Calli Ferguson | July 28, 2022

Brooklyn-based Indie Rock band, Razor Braids, is made up of this perfectly eclectic group of four female and non-bianary musicians, each of whom takes inspiration from their own unique niche of rock history. Painting across media from Punk to Folk, the band creates powerful, heartful music for feeling all the feels. And maybe that’s why Razor Braids’ music is such a vibe: you have this colorful combination of influences that’s really sensitive and really bold at the same time. 

The next ingredient in the spell this group is casting over NYC’s Indie music scene is how they bring it to life on stage. In a beautiful display not only of their music, but also of fierce joy and connection with one another through that music, Razor Braids shows are absolutely electric.

We had the joy of talking with Hollye Bynum (bass/vocals),  Jainie Peacock (guitar), Hanna Nicoles (drums), and Jilly Karande (guitar) before their show at Elsewhere this July. They shared laughs, stories, and tender little musings on music and emotion with us, and answered a few questions  for the groovement: 

How did you all meet and start playing music together?
HB: I used to work in dance for a while, but I got really burnt out on it. Love it, but got burnt out, and I wanted to come back to music– something I’d done in my past. I started the band in 2017, actually. But then I suffered a head injury pretty quickly after starting it and being pretty jazzed about it. So I was out of the game for a little while, but once I got back in my body and was okay, I started taking acting classes, which is where I met Jilly. At Stella Adler!

JK: Stella Adler: Bringing band members together. 

HB: That feels very New York! This also might be New York…

I was hooking up with this person that I was cool just hooking up with, no relationship. But he panicked when he told me he was dating someone else. And I was like, “Well you don’t need to panic. It’s all good.” But, I think it was kind of like a gift to me, he told me about Jainnie! ‘Cause we needed a guitarist at the time. And he was like, “I feel so bad, but I know someone pretty amazing!” And that’s how Jainnie got in the band.

Then, we all played Punk Island. 2019 maybe. Hannah was in another band at our stage, and we were all like, oh my god–who is this person. We were all having a bit of a crush. And that’s when we really formed!

We really got into being in the band right before Covid hit. I think we played two or three shows and then Covid hit. 

When you first started playing together, was there any music you were bonding over or inspired by
HB: One thing about us: we are a super eclectic bunch. There’s definitely some crossover. Like I know Jilly and I both really love singer/songwriter and folk. But everybody could speak to their own music taste.

Yes. We would love to hear a little about each of your influences…
JP: At that time [the beginning] particularly, I was listening to a lot of Jack White and The Stripes. For guitar, that was a huge inspiration for me. Ty Segall was a huge inspiration as well–his guitar tone and solos. That’s kind of the world I was living in at that time.

HN: Yeah I feel like Ty Segall was definitely a common thread for a lot of us. For me, BOC’s, La Luz, Shannon and The Clams…that kind of stuff.

JK: Especially at the time that we all met, I was really into singer/songwriter stuff. I’m a huge fangirl for Lucy Dacus and Julia Jacklin. Hollye and I connected over Phoebe Bridgers really early on which was special. 

We all kind of grew up with some 90 influences too that I think come through. I listened to a lot of Pavement, War, and Radiohead when I was little. 

HB: I was like– I mean, don’t wanna say that I’m a “super fan,” or that Phoebe Bridgers should be scared of me… she shouldn’t! Haha! But at the time, I was obsessed with her songwriting and really got into reading articles to see how she gets to the end results. How she starts the songwriting process, writes her lyrics–that was really special for me. Who else do I love?

ALL: Jessica Lea Mayfield

HB: Jessica Lea Mayfield is my favorite artist of all time. I love The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O. 

We have a nostalgia playlist that we’ve put together. It’s definitely ‘90s. And then we get into some emo stuff. Hannah and I were definitely emo kids. But we’re definitely eclectic; I think that’s one really special thing about us. 

‘Eclectic’ seems to be a really good word to describe the way your music sounds too. It’s cool hearing you all talk about those influences because you can hear them and somehow they marry so naturally. Do you think that’s a result of good collaboration? How do you find yourselves working together when you all come from different backgrounds?
That’s really been something that we’ve smoothed out over time. But whether we like it or not, we’re each bringing our own flavor into each song. We’ve each found what we’re good at or what’s most comfortable. And more recently, we’ve been challenging ourselves to do different things. I think we’ve all expanded our music taste, but we are bringing in our own things. And then we really work together to fuse that and ultimately make it about what’s gonna be a good song. 

And how would you guys describe your sound? What genre do you see yourself in? Or if it doesn’t exist as a genre yet, what would you call it? 
HB: So at a party, if someone’s like “What is Razor Braids??” (they’re drunk in my scenario) and they just want it short-and-sweet, we say that we’re rock or indie rock. BUT Jilly has actually come up with this very specific thing…

JK: That I’m sooo good at remembering! No but it’s something along the lines of having an indie rock ethos with our songwriting, but kind of bringing this 90s flavor as well. And rooted in a bit of punk energy. 

HB: I think we can be a very specific thing that’s unique on its own where it doesn’t really fit under one certain umbrella. And I think that’s pretty fuckin’ cool. 

That definition is so good because there are parts of it that find people at their hearts in a really soft place. And others that find people at their power. It’s cool for those to exist in the same place and not feel like opposites within your music. 
HB: Well if you really think about it– and not just to be absolutely cheesy– your power comes from being in tune with who you are and where you are. And that might be in a lovey place or a sad place or an insecure place. But recognizing where that is, is what power is. 

No, we love the cheesiness! On that note, if there was one thing that you would want people to take away from your music, what would that be?
We want them to cry. 
But when I was young, growing up in Tennessee, I had friends from home that don’t have similar lifestyles. They picked a different life path. And I always just felt a little bit alone growing up. And I couldn’t quite figure out how to be comfortable with that. But I do know that when I listened to the musicians that I loved, I felt safe and good and happy. I felt valid and like I was gonna be okay. And that’s why I wanted to play music and loved going to shows. I was the most at home I’d ever felt in my life. I would love for someone to take that away from our music. 

We’ll make a song for every mood that you could ever experience so that you never feel like you’re crazy or alone or whatever. 

That’s beautiful. And in terms of live music, we hear your shows are electric. What do you think it is about your concerts that touches people or makes them so fun to watch? 
HB: We definitely take it to an extreme place. People come to see a show. We want to be engaging. We want it to feel exciting. And we also really love playing music with each other! So we’re simply just like…really fuckin’ happy. 

Jannie’s a little daredevil and loves to jump off shit. I danced forever, so I love to do a backbend. You know– we bring our own flavor! It’s important. I can listen to your record and really appreciate the songs. But when I see you…I wanna see you! 

Totally! And you all have played a bunch of NYC venues. Where was your first show? 
Our first show together was Brooklyn Bowl. That was 2019. 

And what are some of your favorite venues in the city? Either that you’ve played or would like to…

JP: We just played at Brooklyn Made and had a great experience. 

HB: Brooklyn Made’s sound is sick. We played The Broadway a couple times. I worked there and this is not a plug: There is something about it where we feel at home in that space. We can do whatever the fuck we want. 

Okay and anywhere in the world– what would be your dream venue?
Red Rocks!
Red Rocks is a definite. 
My nips just got hard thinking about Red Rocks. 

JK: Somewhere I’d like to play sooner rather than later is Union Transfer in Philly. It’s kind of like their Brooklyn Steel. But I went to school in Philly and there are so many people I’ve seen there and just thought it was the coolest thing. I love that venue and I think it would be a very special experience to play there. 

HB: Absolutely. Just because I’ve seen some special shows there and I just love the vibe, I would love to play Forest Hills. I love the idea of playing outside.

So another thing– we’ve noticed you guys do a lot of red. Wearing it in your shows, graphics, ect. Where did that come from? 
HB: When you’re not a stylist, it’s tough to get everybody to throw on something and we all look cohesive, but also individual, but also cool. So at first everybody picked a color, and we did monochrome. And that was cool for a while. And then we did all white. Then all black. Then sometimes black and white. Which feels very New York.

But I really love red. My hair is red–Hannah dyed my hair! So one show I was like, “Let’s try all red!” And the response that we got from it was so cool! It felt like we had really tapped into something. 

Also, we went on tour… and wearing all black outside New York is not it

But red shares the vivaciousness. There are a lot of different versions of red. There are complexities within red. But energy–which we have very much of–is at the forefront. 

Awesome– And before we wrap up, what’s next? New music? Shows? Travel? 
We’re playing Music Hall of Williamsburg next weekend which we’re super stoked about. But we’ll also be recording new stuff to put out this year. And we’re planning a West Coast tour!

Thank you!!

Connect with Razor Braids on Instagram, Youtube, Spotify and their website

📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis

Image source