housespouse, formally known as Jo Malicdem, co-director of UG2MSG, released their first single today May 12, 2023 and it’s pretty sweeeeet. Sweet Tooth has been marinating for years, hibernating, waiting for the perfect time to emerge. Turns out singing high school love songs with a wiser mind makes for great music, fun visuals, ya know the works.
I sat down with Jo and discussed the making of the magic behind the artistry of an unrequited teenage crush.
Jo Malicdem - Themself Maya Chang - Crush #1 Piper Torrison - Crush #2 Astrid Ortega - Crush #3 Naomi Ash - Crush #4 Gabe Perez - Crush #5 Story by Keely Martin and Jo Malicdem Directed by Keely Martin Produced by Namo Chalermpao and Katelyn Grace Reddy Cinematography by Jenn Babick 1st Assistant Camera - Kolbie Jones Production Design - Maeve Huttner Script Supervisor - Naomi Ash and Katelyn Grace Reddy Naomi Ash - Script Supervisor Katelyn Grace Reddy - Script Supervisor Edited by Keely Martin Colorist - Chris Thach Craft Services - Gabe Perez BTS Photographer - Gabe Perez Title Card Animation - Jo Malicdem “Sweet Tooth” Written and Performed by housespouse (Jo Malicdem) Produced by Gabe Perez
u: I love housespouse. hp: My partner came up with it at brunch like last fall and I was like, oh, that's really nice, actually. It's really awesome. u: Where can everyone listen to your music? u: Hopefully on all streaming platforms. If Distrokid.com does its job, paying them like, I don't know, like $10 a month or whatever. This music distribution as an independent artist is so crazy. u: You wrote Sweet tooth when you were in high school. hp: That is correct, yes. I was actually mistaken and was spreading false information. I actually wrote it when I was 17. I wrote it the summer I had just graduated high school and it was the summertime and I was like, you know what, I'm going off to college soon, I should make some money. And so I babysat for people, for my parent's friends in our neighborhood. And there was an ice cream shop that had just opened right by a bunch of the family's homes for who I would babysit. And I babysit basically every day. So after my shift I would head into the ice cream shop and get cup of Thai tea ice cream. It was especially enticing because there was a really cute worker who worked there and that inspired Sweet Tooth, essentially. u: Do you think that the song will reach them one day? hp: Probably not. I have no idea where they are now. Maybe they're still working at the ice cream shop. The ice cream shop itself was so cute. It was called Mother Moo Creamery. u: Where did you grow up, a fairy tale? hp: Actually, this neighborhood really reminds me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore and Gilmore Girl. But yes, young and sweet and 17. u: Young and sweet and only 17. In the process of bringing the song to life and creating the visuals for it, how do you feel like you've honored your 17 year old self and your present self? hp: Honestly, it's been a very healing experience overall. I never thought that the first song I would put out officially would be Sweet Tooth or just anything older that I've worked on. Just because at least right now, I feel like there's a really big dissonance between who I was when I wrote Sweet Tooth and who I am now. But at the same time, by working on this music video with my friends and collaborating with people with styles that are very identifiably, notably mystical and whimsical, it was so cool to be able to go back into my 17 year old self, like Oxford Doc Martens. Just think about what they would have really liked to see, like what they would have imagined the Sweet Tooth music video and visuals to look like. u: You were directing with them in the co director's seat in a way. hp: Exactly. u: Do you think where you grew up influenced the way the visuals look? Is there anything in the music video that represents the environment you were in or who you were then, or is it more so a reimagining of that? hp: The settings in the music video are definitely a reimagination of what my world felt like when I was 17, through rose colored glasses. My character is me playing myself. They go through a list of crushes that they have, and three of them are featured in the music video. And throughout the course of the video, you see me giving different giving up different parts of myself as gifts to each crush. By the very end, my character learns that all they really need is themselves, which is like, super cliché, but there's a lot of truth to it. I bring that up because I was such a hopeless romantic in high school. I still love Romcoms and I love all of the sitcoms. I've seen so many sitcoms, and I'm such a sucker for the slow burn in TV shows and all of those. It was fun to be able to kind of write that out for myself, for my teen self. Kind of this storyline where I am literally giving up parts of myself to get people to like me back. I think I definitely had many experiences in high school where I did that, and it was a learning experience. u: You have a visual background as well as a musical background. How do the two combine and what was it like being so involved in the visual process of everything? hp: It was really cool, honestly. I had never worked on a music video specifically, but I had done photo shoots before, so when I was approached by my friend, Katelyn Reddy, an Emerson film student [who] specifically wants to go into music video producing. She came up to me and was like, I really want to platform you and maybe bring one of your songs to life. She went on and on about video treatments and all of these other film terms and I was like what are you talking about? 😂 She was like, you know what you do? You approach this project the way that you would approach any other project, just naturally, and then I'll figure everything else out for you. And so I just went on Pinterest and put together a look book mood board together, thought about just like, costuming ideas and lighting ideas and just my own romance media inspirations. And so there was a lot of Jess and Nick from New Girl, but also Pride and Prejudice references completely contrasted, but still super important to who I was when I was. It was really cool to be able to just express what I liked as a 17 year old, but also what I really valued visually, which was kind of this soft glowyness, which I feel like is just how the world looks when you're that young. Like, I felt confident in myself and I was definitely someone who always made the first move.
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by: Riley Halliday
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