The Los Angeles-based band Bouquet make music for time travelers. Their latest 10-inch record, aptly titled In a Dream, combines a humming drum machine with blown-out synths, sparkly guitars, and the soothing, layered vocals of the singer Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and her bandmate, Max Foreman. After my first listen, the album had me spaced out on my couch, totally mesmerized.
In addition to playing said sparkly guitar and singing lovelorn lines like “I’d rather be fooled than be let go,” Carolyn is the band’s in-house designer and her aesthetic infuses the band’s show fliers and music videos. We’re excited to premiere Bouquet’s video for “Come to Your House,” which features flowers as you’ve probably never seen them before:
Carolyn and I traded ideas over email about her cardinal rules for a healthy friendship, and why the best part of making art is just doing it.
MAURA LYNCH: Let’s talk about the video for “Come to Your House.” It takes flowers—which so often symbolize daintiness and femininity—and totally destroys them in a violent, funny way. How did the video come together?
CAROLYN PENNYPACKER RIGGS: “Come to Your House” was a super fun video to shoot because we got to fly our creep flags! Last summer, my friends Julie and Swan Moon made a short video with our director friend, Dawn Garcia to promote their live radio, sometimes-public access show Divided Daughters on KCHUNG TV. The preview showed flowers being chopped by kitchen knives and I must’ve watched it approximately a billion times in total ASMR trip out, mesmerized! It was such a cheeky take on domesticity and it also looked awesome, so I asked if they would want to expand on the theme for a music video.
What was the shoot like?
We made a long list of ways to devastate bouquets, and then asked our floral artist friend, Felisa Funes to help set design. She worked on a wedding the night before the shoot and had a ton of leftover spoils. We went crazy on those flowers. And vases. And picture frames. We put lotion on the leaves. It got a little perverse. I broke a mirror. We were laughing so hard, wearing sunglasses and shirts wrapped around our heads so that we wouldn’t get cut by flying shards of glass.
I like that the song feels romantic (“How can you sleep with the sound of my desire ringing in your ear?”), but it can also be read as platonic—like the desire you might have to hang out in your best friend’s room and leaf through all of her stuff. Did you have a friend like that growing up?
I am so glad you hear that! The song is about longing for intimacy and inclusion, not exclusive to sexual desire. Growing up, I had a few friends like that: We’d make elaborate personal zines for each other, breathe along to the same TV show on the phone together, and TRADE DIARIES—what?! I’m still close with all [those friends] except for one, and I consider [the end of that friendship] my first real “breakup.” Real talk: A lot of my platonic friendships have been waaaay more intimate than many of my sex-romance relationships.
Friend breakups can be devastating. What do you wish you knew about friendship back then?
I have an acronym that I apply to new friendships that would have saved me significant grief when I was younger: FSE. Every new friendship has to meet these criteria (to be interpreted loosely):
F = Fun. Is this person generally fun to be around? Not necessarily “cheerful” or “hilarious”—some of my friends are default grumps, as I can be—but when we get together, it’s still hella F-U-N!
S = Smart. Doesn’t have to mean booksmart*, but rather, is this person curious about the world, excited about things that extend beyond superficial BS, and into exploring? Maybe they demonstrate smarts through poetry, or sandwiches, or mixtapes, or TV synopsizing, or evading security guards. (*Booksmarts are also great.)
E = Easy. I have a lot of friends, including myself, that might be labeled “difficult” by dominant cultural (read: gendered!) standards. “Easy” is more about trusting my intuition—is it easy to say both “Yes!” and “No.”? Is it easy for me to be myself with this person?
How have your friendships changed as a result of “FSE”?
My female friendships now are the most rewarding they’ve ever been—we don’t stay up all night on the phone, but we exchange a lot of love and support, and still a few secrets.
Speaking of hanging out with friends, you were recently a guest on Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow’s very amazing Call Your Girlfriend podcast. I love the way they talk about “shine theory“. Has that factored into your experience as a musician at all?
Absolutely! Amina, Ann, and Gina [Delvac, Call Your Girlfriend’s producer]’s interest, insight, and general attitude are ceaseless founts of inspiration, my beacons in the night. “I don’t shine if you don’t shine,” is always relevant, a real paradigm shift away from “only one winner” culture. I feel hella lucky to be part of a supportive group of friends—we invest in each other and as a result, when good things happen to any one of us individually, we all share the joy.
On the podcast you mentioned you create all the artwork for Bouquet—how’d you get involved with design?
I had a very influential high school art teacher named Miriam Klein Stahl. (She recently illustrated the book, Rad American Women A–Z with Kate Schatz.) She taught us how to make prints, weld, and by example, give zero fucks. She had a really relaxed way of teaching—I think if you completed every assignment you’d get an “A”—it let students try some very wild stuff. One semester my friend and I made a six-foot metal stapler you could bounce on.
That reminds me of the piano scene from the movie Big! What’s your favorite part of the design process?
My favorite part of making art is making art, just doing it—not getting hung up in perfectionism or other distractions.
Does that visual impulse present itself in other aspects of the band? Do you ever envision a visual narrative for the songs you write?
Totally. I’ve got mini paracosms and stage sets in my mind for almost every song—I usually “go to there” when I perform. We consider the music videos extensions of the band, and have been super lucky to work so closely with brilliant director-buds who understand us. We’re working on integrating more visual elements to make the shows more immersive—sometimes with minimal props or live projections. At our record release show, our friend JJ Stratford, set up her video synthesizer and “played” along to our set, she is so tight.
What’s your relationship with performing? Do you consider yourself a natural performer?
By the time I started playing shows, I felt super supported by my core peeps, so it didn’t feel unnatural. I’m weirdly wary of the word “natural,” but I do love to perform, and I know some people don’t, so maybe I am! I do feel a sublime body-twizzle when connecting with an audience. It feels like understanding. And being understood. ♦