Ethel Cain Talks with Wicca Phase Springs Eternal on the Talkhouse Podcast

“We live in the suburbs of the music industry”

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a pair of musicians who create with an air of mystery, but who have a fantastically straightforward chat here: Ethel Cain and Adam McIlwee.

Ethel Cain is a character created by Hayden Anhedonia, though one that’s been sort of all-consuming. Anhedonia began releasing music under the name in 2019, finding her sound and her vibe over the next couple of years before releasing the absolutely epic Preacher’s Daughter in May of 2022. The album, a concept collection about the life and ultimate demise of Ethel Cain, skillfully moves through sounds from a sort of Gothic Americana to slowcore to ambient sounds to who knows what, exactly, other than it’s thoroughly engaging. The album was pretty quickly hailed as a masterful debut, and Cain found herself not only the darling of the music world, but with some prominent modeling gigs as well. As you’ll hear in this chat, though, the spotlight has gotten a little bit bright for her taste lately. She’s currently on the European festival circuit, though she’ll head back to the States in October for sold-out shows at really interesting venues. Check out “Crush” right here.

Cain and today’s other guest, Adam McIlwee, go way back. He was an early supporter of her music, and appears on her Inbred EP under his most prominent alias, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Though he started his musical journey as part of the pop-punkish band Tigers Jaw, he’s moved in a dozen other directions since. He founded the emo-rap collective GothBoiClique back in 2012, which briefly counted Lil Peep among its members. As Wicca Phase, though, McIlwee combines synth-pop with more acoustic sounds and more hammering beats, depending on the track. His latest release under the name is self-titled, and it just came out in June. It’s well worth checking out. In fact, check out “Moving Without Movement” right here.

Now for two people who’ve created such interesting mystiques, this is a refreshingly down-to-earth conversation in which they talk about trying to carve out space as middle-class musicians who don’t expect to conquer the charts with their music—but who’d love to be able to make a decent living at it. They talk about what to do when you hit a touring wall—this chat took place not long after Cain fainted onstage in Australia—and how great Vicks Steam Inhalers are for singers. Hey Vicks, you might have a couple of spokespeople here if you play your cards right. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Hayden Anhedonia aka. Ethel Cain and Adam McIlwee aka. Wicca Phase Springs Eternal for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the other podcasts in our ever-expanding network. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: right, Ebru Yildiz; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

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