It is a fact, universally recognised, that online dating is a soul crushing activity, not meant for the faint of heart. When British singer/songwriter Minke delved in for a few fleeting experiences at looking for love in all the digital places, she was struck by the emptiness of the endeavour. So, naturally, she wrote a song about it.
As she works on her debut EP and spends a little time on the West Coast of America doing her songwriting, Minke chatted with Refinery29 about the sources of her digital inspiration, why she hopes we'll keep searching for analog connections, and what gives her faith in humanity in these rather bleak, Black Mirror-inspiring times.
Refinery29: I was listening to "Maybe 25" today and I'd love to know what inspired the song and how it came together?
Minke: "I started writing it about online dating. I missed that boat because I was in relationships, but I found myself single and decided to give it a go. It struck me how [laughs] meaningless it all felt. I don't know what I was expecting but it felt so empty, fake, and gross. The experience got me thinking about the world we live in and what it means to connect with someone and how we go about that. I was a bit depressed thinking about it [laughs], because in an Instagram world it can be very confusing to sort through what's real and what's not. It came from a place of longing."
Refinery29: It seems like that feeling isn't something that's just based in dating apps; we live these lives that are digitally based in many social aspects, in our work lives, and in our political discourse. As you've been considering the topic, what solution did you come to about how to make your own communication better?
Minke: "I wish I had the answers! I think we've dug our own hole; the idea of technology is great and on the face of it we've never been more connected but a backlash is obviously happening. For example, people are buying more vinyl records. People want that, more real connections, and they're going out to seek it because you have to push yourself to do it. It's easy to be lazy with technology, and I'm one to do that too. We've all got to make a conscious decision among ourselves to do more. But again, I know nothing; I'm feeling [that anxiety] as much as everybody else. I'm as insecure and worried as everyone else. Saying honestly how I feel about it is something people seem to relate to.
"My family and friends ground me, they're the most important thing in my life. That's closely followed by music. I started playing guitar when I was 12. From there I started writing songs and its become a therapeutic and meditative experience for me where I shut my door, sit on the bed, play guitar, and think about ideas and what happened in my day. Doing something physical like that is a very good distraction [from technology]. I think exercise, trying to keep you mind and body in a good place, is good to stop anxiety and depression and the byproducts of spending too much time in this [online] world."
Refinery29: What I like about "Maybe 25" is that it has such a mellow beat. You're singing about this serious subject, but it sounds so calm and relaxed. Where did that come from?
Minke: "It started as I was just describing: sitting on a bed at home, just fooling around. I was turning 26 and that was on my mind. Then I met up with my producer Rory, who I do a lot of stuff with. He's so good at making those mellow beats that are rousing, beautiful, and subtle. You want to dance to it and you want to cry to it — it hits you, but it's never too much. That's why I love working with him. We spent a couple of days playing around with it but had the main song quite quickly, in just a couple of hours. We then spent some time playing on the production. The lyrics, especially, came super quickly; I think it was something that had been sitting in my subconscious for awhile. You just have to let it come out as honestly as you can and try and capture it."
Refinery29: You just moved to L.A. Does that change the vibe of the songs you write versus writing in London?
Minke: "Absolutely. Obviously London and L.A. have very different vibes, but it doesn't affect my process too much. I'm probably more relaxed in L.A. because that's generally what the city gives you with the weather and the chill vibes. It has a positive effect on my songwriting because it improves my general happiness. I tend to take care of myself more in L.A., because I want to go outside more. London is magical and always will be, though. Grime and hip-hop there, right now, are so fun. They're both good in different ways."
Refinery29: What's your take on the different political scenes in America and the U.K.? Is that something you factored into your decision to come to the states for a bit?
Minke: "I did. I feel as frustrated in England as I do here. The youth are, rightly, rising up the same here as they are there. We feel completely let down by our politicians. It's scary and uncertain; the only thing we can do is shout as loudly as we can and hope this is fucking over soon. It's scary, but we have to stick together. What's been beautiful in both places about this scary time is watching people's humanity grow and watching them come together. It restores your faith. It is exciting and incredible to think about the time when our generation will be running things. I look forward to it."