A New Nashville Sound: Daddy Issues
Words by Ashley Locke
Photos provided by Lucky Bird Media
“It was kind of a joke at first,” said Jenna Moynihan. “We wrote a funny song together, and our friends thought it would be cool if we started a band. So here we are.”
Daddy Issues is a grungy girl power trio formed by Jenna Moynihan, Jenna Mitchell, and Emily Maxwell. Though the Nashville-based band began as a joke, the music they create is anything but. Their lyrics explore serious subject matter, tackling gender roles and mental health in bite-sized lines.
“I hate girls on tv/ They’re much prettier than me” opens Ugly When I Cry, a song from their 2015 EP, Can We Still Hang. It’s a simple but powerful line that cuts straight to the issue of the representation of women in media and the effect of that pressure on adolescents. In 2017 they released Deep Dream, continuing the cutting lyrics with lines like, “It’s a pretty day in the park/ and I feel sick inside.”
The band was not formed to make a statement, but Daddy Issues found a niche. They gave a voice to women’s issues that are not typically sung about. Before the #MeToo movement took the United States by storm, Daddy Issues was already writing and singing about sexual assault. “When I went through my trauma, there wasn’t any music that spoke to me or made me feel understood,” said Maxwell. “I want us to keep filling those gaps–it’s important to use music to talk about that kind of stuff.”
Moynihan added, “We were friends already, and we were comfortable around each other. This is what we talked about, so that’s what we wrote about.”
The band members all attended Belmont University, but they met off campus grounds in Nashville’s budding DIY spots. Though it is known for country music, Nashville’s underground indie scene has been thriving for years. “By the time we showed up at college, there was an established rock scene,” said Maxwell.
“When we first formed, we didn’t have to go seeking a scene. It was just there,” said Mitchell. “We just started playing basement shows. We threw shows at our house too.”
Daddy Issues has come a long way from playing house shows. The girl group signed with Infinity Cat, a Nashville label that represents bands like rock powerhouse Jeff the Brotherhood. They’ve played shows with Colleen Green and Diet Cig, and they don’t seem to be slowing down.
“We’re about to go on a small tour again,” said Moynihan. “There will be a few shows by ourselves, and a few with Alex G.”
No other band has captured the twists and turns of millennial life like Daddy Issues. “Everything we do is a product of our environment,” said Mitchell. “It just kind of feels natural to do.”
You can catch Daddy Issues at Secret Stages Fest on August 3, and be sure to check out their Facebook page for their other tour dates.