WORDS: NICOLE STANTON
IMAGE: ANI ACOPIAN
Twice she told me we were looking for an object – something whole to put in the top left corner. JJ was right, of course, oozing an effortless creativity. She held up our collage, whiskey on the floor among clippings from our now deconstructed college bedrooms. We had chosen a woman running a race on a Russian post card. We cut her in half, and pasted her right-side: head thrown back, outlined in teal, the small object, an apple we finally found, was only ever meant to highlight her. A week later I have the left half of that woman, shoved in a notebook in my backpack stuffed in an overhead bin. To my right is a plane wing and storm clouds drowning seventy-seven Texas counties and I’m here, above the ground, avoiding disaster, “The Fog” playing in my one working ear bud.
I’m happy to know what Overcoats sound like without the roar of plane engines and inside both ears. They occupy that space beneath sternum, where thrill blooms, love’s beginnings swirl, and nostalgia finds its ache. “The Fog” has a bass that vibrates right there…embracing the layers of both pain and hope that make Overcoats a soundtrack resonating with life’s complexities.
Freedom is when I’m with out you, when the fog lifts, I’m the only one I see.
I watched them write a song once. Hana and I walked into JJ and a friend, Angus, toying with sounds. JJ played what she had so far, something she had written the night before. The same night we had cut a woman in half and pasted her. The night she had fled a party, pulling a thread of sound from her swimming head. Sirens wailed from her computer. Angus plucked chords on his guitar: “This is what you’re looking for.” Hana sat, asking JJ what it was about. She imagined screams trapped in throats, trying to shout and scream at a friend refusing to listen. "Watching her sleep is wild, head sunk into folded limbs, having so much to say but only feeling your words burn in your throat." In three sentences JJ had Hana on board, the way in which they understand and move together is viscous – sometimes a bit derpy, other times so sultry, always in sync.
Overcoats is a project birthed from two absorbent, sensitive souls, who make music deeply personal and eternally relatable. The most thrilling part of their music, the layers of sound that move in and out of one another, is that it originates from a sleeping friend, seeing an ex with someone else – then a room full of friends making sounds out of someone’s feeling.
Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell are a gift, on their own and as a duo. They are now leaving their college community where they found their roots to go to Dublin, taking their music outside of living rooms and onto continually bigger stages. What will be thrilling to observe, and to hear, is the sounds of their new community, of new people imagining what it is to watch a friend sleep.