We’re always on the lookout for ways to dismantle the patriarchy and fight toxic masculinity, and we just might’ve found the best method yet – music! From acclaimed artist Your Best Nightmare comes a new album that promises an effective way to tackle toxic masculinity, and it involves vampires!
‘Presents: A Simple Solution for Toxic Masculinity’, out March 21, 2024, is the new album from Your Best Nightmare, which promises to be a cultural milestone. Renowned for her bubblegum punk sound and mastery of the ukulele, YBN has captivated audiences with a distinctive blend of horror-themed narratives and genre-defying musical prowess. ‘Presents: A Simple Solution for Toxic Masculinity’ is a masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of conventional punk music.
Each track unfolds as a sonic experience, showcasing Your Best Nightmare’s ability to seamlessly fuse punk, folk, pop, and art rock into a cohesive, magical style. described as “beautiful, and yet unsettling,” this eleven-track opus from New Jersey’s cutest terror weaves a punk-infused horror story, daring to explore the audacious theme of feeding toxically masculine figures to a vampire lover. It’s a narrative that pushes boundaries and challenges societal norms.
Deeply inspired by a profound love for horror, Your Best Nightmare has meticulously crafted
a tale that delves into themes of gender nonconformity, feminism, romance, and rage. Presents… promises to captivate horror fanatics, romantics, and everyone in between, leaving them eager to hit the repeat button.
For those seeking an immersive musical journey that transcends genres and defies expectations, ‘Presents: A Simple Solution for Toxic Masculinity’ is a must-listen, and we have had it on repeat! Read on to see what YBN told us about the inspiration behind the album, the need to dismantle toxic masculinity with vampires, and her deep love of the horror genre.
When did you begin working on “Presents: A Simple Solution for Toxic Masculinity”, and how did the concept for this album come about?
I started working on Presents… in August of 2022! It feels like I’ve been with these songs forever. I started smack in the middle of the album with “Really Cute” and “Eyeliner” in the span of a day. I met someone that absolutely infuriated me, they oozed the toxic masculinity vibe, and all I could think was “what would it be like for me to date you?” The rest of the album fell into place after those two songs!
What are some of the themes you write about in your lyrics, and what experiences did you draw from to put the tracks together?
I wrote about some of my own personal experiences as a woman in the world, and some that I drew from the world around me. The biggest themes in the album are probably unbridled feminine rage and gender nonconformity. We don’t have to sit down quietly and take what’s dished out to us. We don’t have to conform to gendered expectations. I thought a lot about how romance and horror both tend to make female characters more vulnerable or gentle, and I wanted the songs to develop a character that directly opposed that concept.
The album is described as a “punk-infused horror story” which honestly sounds like the best description ever! What do you love about the horror genre, and how did you blend it into your sound?
I adore the nuances of horror; the genre itself has so many neat little subcategories when you look at it in all its forms. Campy horror is a world all itself, and I love the humor that gets infused (intentionally or unintentionally); like Freddy Krueger’s quippy one liners in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, or anything involving Elvira.
Classic horror films have some of the coolest soundtracks, and I always admire when composers take risks with unusual instrumentation, recording styles, or harmonic structures. My affinity for unusual keyboard/synth sounds definitely came from horror film scores. And at some point I started distorting all of the backing vocal tracks and never looked back; I’m really glad I took that risk!
I definitely blended a horror punk style into my music as well. A lot of horror punk follows really classic rock/rockabilly chord progressions and it just feels so fun and spooky.
TBH, toxic masculinity is its own horror story. Can you talk about what it means to create an album that is a commentary on this, and why it is important right now?
I remember getting cat-called as a teenager by grown men, and it made me feel so gross; it still happens, and it’s still gross. My whole life the world has told me to watch how I dress, how I act, and how to present myself solely for the male gaze. As an adult, I can see that toxic masculinity goes so much further than those experiences and how damaging it is to everyone. Toxic masculinity feels like an elephant in the room that, like, half the party can see and is saying “hey, what do we do about the elephant?” and the other half is saying “there is no elephant.”
Everyone needs to see toxic masculinity for what it is. Men shouldn’t be repressing emotions; women shouldn’t be objectified or belittled; misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and overall chauvinism shouldn’t exist. There is still an alpha male culture churning the waters as we try to make progress in equity and equality issues. Toxic masculinity is intertwined in a lot of the problems our society faces, and we need to remove it.
It seems as if the solution is to feed toxic masculine figures to vampires, according to your album! But in the real world, what are some of the solutions you want to see more of in terms of dismantling toxic masculinity?
I’d love to see people being allies for those around them in marginalized groups; we have to lift each other up and champion for equity. I think too often we become the main character of the impact of toxic masculinity, and we forget how it may impact other people. Listen to those around you, see their experiences, and help each other. We are stronger if we are together, and we are more powerful if we speak up together.
Also, teaching and practicing respect for others. Basic respect for others is critical for dismantling toxic masculinity. Respect means consent and understanding the word “no.” Respect means treating others the way you want to be treated. It means seeing others who aren’t the same gender as you as people of value.
Finally, encouraging the men in your life to be open and honest with their feelings is super important; boys do cry and it’s totally okay. If I hear “man up” one more time I’m going to go bonkers. The perceived dominant macho attitude that some men think is required to be a man is so toxic.
I always remind myself to be the change I want to see in the world. So if we’re going to dismantle toxic masculinity, we have to be the change we want to see.
Who are some of the artists or creative works that you drew inspiration from for this album?
It’s weird, but for someone who listens to an obscene amount of music I don’t feel there was any particular artist that I drew inspiration from for Presents…. My style is deeply influenced by a lot of different artists–Joni Mitchell, My Chemical Romance, David Bowie, and Ludo to name a few–but I’m not sure if you’d ever tell that by listening to my music. I wrote the first two songs and just knew I needed to finish the story.
I knew I wanted each song to balance on a thin line between joyful and terrifying. I went into the album knowing what season and color the album had to sound like (it’s fall and it’s reddish). The whole album ended up with more of a vintage vibe than I had ever expected it to have, but I truly adore what happened.
Who did you write the album for primarily?
I wrote the album for myself. I couldn’t let it go until I felt like I had fully told the story that was living in my head. Music is a super visual experience for me. Each song has what I can best describe as a very colorful vignette attached to it. Once I started writing the songs the vignettes started to bleed together into the story that I ended up creating. I couldn’t move on to even begin thinking of new ideas until I had completed this story and could see it and hear it from start to finish in my head.
As you gear up for the release of the album, during Women’s History Month no less, what kind of messages about toxic masculinity do you hope listeners will hear?
I hope they hear that they aren’t the only ones facing it: they aren’t alone. They aren’t the only ones sick of it! Put on that dress, or whatever makes you comfortable. Be authentically yourself, and dismantle this establishment.
If you could envision a world free from toxic masculinity, what would it look like to you?
It would be so pleasant! There would be bodily autonomy and no one would be hyper-sexualized. We would support each other: compassion and empathy would be second nature for all people. People wouldn’t have to live in fear of what others think of them, and people could just genuinely exist. A world without toxic masculinity would be a world where everyone could be their best selves.
Do you have plans for performances, touring etc once the album is out? Give us a preview of where fans can expect to see you IRL!
If you live in the tri-state area (NJ, NY, PA) you can almost always catch me somewhere, but I am indeed going on tour for this album!!
In April I will be in the north east; in May/June I’m going to drive up and down the east coast; and in August I’ll be going over to the UK! I’ll be posting about some of the tour dates very soon.