There’s a saying that in order for new things to arrive, let things go. That adage rang true for Elizabeth Nistico. Formerly known as lead singer and co-founder of the duo HOLYCHILD, the project would soon meet its ending point in December 2019. Even as HOLYCHILD was slowing down, Nistico began the DNA of Revenge Wife, her solo project in 2017. It’s not just music, but houses all her artistic endeavors. Nistico is an art director and director of all her videos, along with creating the treatments. She released Background Songs For Your Boring Life: Part I back in February, which is a collection of songs that addresses topics such as shedding past trauma and the ills of capitalism. This is all marinating with the synth and programmed drum set pieces that will bring you back to the 80s’.
Armed with a Patreon that Nistico regularly updates with demos, an inclusive group for other artists, and fan feedback, she has truly built a sustainable community. Much of Nistico’s early dealings with abuse in the music industry almost smoldered her dream. But, Revenge Wife serves as a creative baptism, to start anew.
I spoke to Nistico about horror movies, her motivations behind the birth of Revenge Wife, manifesting, and finding out what love really means to her.
You started the journey, that is Revenge Wife, in 2017. It was towards the end of HOLYCHILD and born out of frustration with the music industry. Background Songs For Your Boring Life: Part I is a really cool, free-flowing stream of consciousness for you. So thanks. With releasing the first EP and on the precipice of releasing the second one soon, how does this growth look to you now?
It’s just life. You look back, and you’re like; “I feel bad for myself.” There were positions that were hard, but they helped me and I grew. It’s just that general experience. Do you know what I mean? When you’re like, “Wow, that was a lot.” I mean, it really was a lot. A lot to split with the label and Holy Child, but feels really empowering. I love Revenge Wife, and I’m so happy to be doing that right now.
There might be a bit of, “Is this going to work? How are people going to perceive this new thing?”
Yeah, but you know what? With the label, they were, like, shitting on us so hard. For HOLYCHILD, I just looked like yesterday or something. It gets like 180,000 plays, or listeners a month on Spotify. That’s like a lot. They had us convinced we were failing at everything. So, when I split from Holy Child and went to do my own thing, I thought Holy Child had already gone really bad. That we were always doing badly. It was only up from there. So, I didn’t really have that feeling of “am I going to do as well as HOLYCHILD?”
Because the label really made me feel like we didn’t do very well. They thought we were going to be like Katy Perry. Anything short of that, they were like, “it’s not working.” Then we thought it wasn’t working. With Revenge Wife, I don’t really have any of that baggage. So, it feels good to move forward without that.
You are really active on Patreon. It’s a place where fans can make a direct investment and artists build a community. I know you wrote about 60 to 90 songs for Revenge Wife, and you reveal a lot of demos there. Also, behind-the-scenes footage of your videos. Do you find Patreon is better than the typical album rollout that you were accustomed to?
Yeah, I mean, the music industry is so messed up. Patreon is kind of the only direct-to-fans way. Even if you release a song, and you own all your masters, you don’t see royalties for six months. There’s always a lag. Patreon stands as this thing that is the only direct to artist payment concept. That shouldn’t be the case. We should have that in other places, and we don’t.
Beyond that aspect of it and how the music industry is, it’s also really inspiring. You don’t have the metrics of Instagram. The people who want to be there, are there. Things don’t just get lost. It’s really kind of fun. I really like it.
With Instagram, you have to deal with all these algorithms and if things are going to get seen. With Patreon, there’s a spontaneity there that is both beneficial and exciting, I’d presume.
I’ve put songs I write on Instagram, but it’s not really the best platform for releasing art. With Patreon, I put music on there. Videos, short stories, etc. I put whatever I want on there. It’s more of a platform for artists.
Diving into the song, ‘Manifest,’ I think many people don’t realize how hard it is to manifest things. There’s a push and pull in the song where you mention, “I don’t feel like doing another vision board.” I’m trying all these things, but life is getting in the way. I wanted to rope that in your manifestation of Revenge Wife. Was this song born out of that process?
Yeah, I mean, I’m all about manifesting. I’m definitely a person who does that. I think about what I want, and I love that. I’m really into that spiritual realm of things. The song ‘Manifest,’ to me, is the perfect convergence of me. It’s like me talking about spirituality, but then also, capitalism exists. I really feel like there’s this toxic aspect of the American dream and manifesting. Where it’s like, “well, if you didn’t get what you wanted, it’s because you didn’t want it enough.”
True manifesting and spirituality wouldn’t say that. They would say, “well, it’s not meant for you, and you’re meant for something greater.” I feel like there’s this aspect to just want it, and you’ll get it that doesn’t recognize aspects. You can be born in a situation that doesn’t afford you to even desire those things. It’s also speaking to the “oh, just work harder, and you’ll manifest” side of things.
I like how honest ‘Earthquake” is. What we’ve been through with the pandemic has shaken our foundations. I would imagine many people have looked at their lives in totality. Questions like, “maybe I should reach out to that person and see how they are?” Or even, “why aren’t they worried about how I’m doing?” Did you go through bouts of that?
Yeah, totally. I think when I was writing ‘Earthquake,’ I was really sad and wanted to talk to this person who didn’t want to talk to me. I didn’t understand. It is really honest. There are so many lines like “I don’t understand how you just like left. I don’t understand how you just don’t love me anymore.” Now, I’m in a place where I’m like, “fuck that person and that type of love.” I’ve kind of had the realization about those types of people who can just leave in such a heartless way. Those people leave a wake of destruction behind them. I wonder if they hate themselves for that. Or if it gives them power, but I don’t really like that type of person anymore.
I’m over that style of love. It’s really painful. So, I was hoping for a disaster to talk to this person. But it’s kind of like, is that what you need? I have another song on part II, called ‘I Wouldn’t Run To You In The Apocalypse.’ The first verse is like, “it’s not that I miss you. I just don’t want to be alone.” It repeats that a bunch of times. If you need a disaster to talk to someone, that’s not the right person. The videos are definitely like on that path of what is a good relationship and what do I want for myself. Figuring out how can I move forward despite having experiences in the past.
You stated on your Instagram account that the videos all follow a storyline. There’s ‘Home,’ ‘Earthquake,’ ‘Manifest,’ and ‘Dream I Had’ so far. Is there a video for ‘Lucifer’s Girlfriend’ in the works?
Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to do one for ‘Lucifer’s Girlfriend.’ Yesterday, some other people were talking about it too, and I was like, ‘oh shit!’ I think I’m gonna just release the first single from Part Two in October and that video. Then, leave ‘Lucifer’s Girlfriend’ open-ended in terms of not having a video for that one. Maybe I’ll go back to that one. It’s like a crowd favorite.
There’s a horror aspect that bubbles through these videos. You look at movies like Hereditary or Midsommar, and they deal with emotional trauma. In depicting a relationship going sour, how did you mold these horror themes into the visuals?
Yeah, totally. I love horror. Love Ari Aster. He’s a huge inspiration. If you’re trying to say a message, it’s easy to say that message by having visceral emotions come into your art. So, if you can evoke fear with horror, then you can have the audience thinking about fear in relationships. Or fear in their lives. It’s all connected. I’m working on a horror film right now, too.
Is there anything that you can say about what you’re making yet?
It’s kind of like, similar to Hereditary and that it has social commentary. Hereditary has so many messages. When you’re watching, you’re like, “oh my god. We’re all pawns in this.” Mine is about social commentary on beauty standards in Hollywood. I’m revising it right now and then. Hopefully, we’ll shoot in within the next year. It’s in the early stages still.
The February 10th letter you wrote to yourself deals with your unfortunate dealings with misogyny in the music industry and how far you’ve come. Revenge Wife, as a name and action, is powerful. It feels like you taking all this trauma and directing it into making your inner voice and artistic nature everything you wanted them to be.
Yeah, totally. I mean, Revenge Wife is definitely me turning into myself. Also, me trying to realize that I don’t need these people. I don’t like that relationship. I really don’t. Why do we feel like we need people who are not kind? We don’t. Cut them out. It feels good to move into Revenge Wife. I don’t need anybody who doesn’t support what I’m doing. I know that my intention is good. That’s like the confusing part about everything. You’re like, my intention was good, so why don’t you get it? It feels great to be in that place now.
So, the first EP is there’ are a lot of pop flavors in it. From what I understand, the second EP is going towards acoustic?
The second EP is pretty similar because part one and part two make up an album, Background Sounds For A Boring Life. Those two are pretty similar. I was planning on going acoustic for the next album. Now I’m writing it, and I’m writing all these crazy pop songs. Not crazy pop, but like The Beatles and Billy Joel. I think it’s going to be produced out too, but in a more analog way. I don’t know yet though because I’m still in the writing process.