Even in a year where so many of us turned to music streaming services for peace of mind and connection, it can be hard to keep up with all the new releases out there. Inevitably, there are worthwhile albums that are true hidden gems, waiting to be discovered like New York City trio Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum's pristine debut record, Thanks for Coming, out now. Drawing on influence from the glam, experimental and ambient music of David Bowie, '80s new wave dance, and contemporary electronica, there's an atmospheric art felt in the band's music that leaves you in an ethereal and reflective state of mind. Made up of vocalist, Michael C. Hall — best known for his role as Dexter Morgan in Showtime's Dexter — and instrumentalists Peter Yanowitz (The Wallflowers and Morningwood) and Matt Katz-Bohen (Blondie), the band first met when Hall led the 2014 Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Itch. Fast becoming friends and sharing a common love for genre-bending music, the three have merged their talents for Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum.
Ready to head out on the road with their 14-track record beaming with a blinding existential vision of immaculately expressive songwriting against moody, spacious backdrops of subtle drums and low bass, Hall, Yanowitz and Katz-Bohen, tell PopCulture.com exclusively that with their album being avant-garde and ideal for every mood, they enjoy the challenge of testing themselves genre-wise.
"On our [2020 self-titled] EP we had six songs and they were all different from each other and we like that sort of mash-up," Yanowitz told PopCulture from the band's studio in New York. "And then for the full link, we just continued that, and then we have another record that we just finished that I think also plays into that same feel where we like to jump around. It's funny, we just wrote a set for our tour that's coming up this week in Europe and this set's a little bit of mash-up and challenging to try to figure out how to lay it out, but it's fun for us. I mean, we like all kinds of music, maybe one day we will make a record that all sounds like one thing."
With time passing from when the three first wrote the album to finally releasing Thanks for Coming this past February with numerous music videos — including their latest "Tomorrow's Screams," which was released earlier this month — Hall told PopCulture the album has no doubt taken on another tonal shift in perspective and meaning almost a year later. "I think everybody's hearing things through the filter of the past 18 months or more, with everything that's gone as crazy as it has. It's hard for people not to keep that kind of thing in mind when they hear stuff, consume stuff, think about stuff," he said. "We weren't necessarily thinking about the pandemic when we were writing a lot of these songs, but yeah, I think it's inevitable that it reframes things."
Katz-Bohen, whose daughter helped name the band, says the playful moniker aligns most serendipitously to their overall tone and sound. "I feel like we do have a lot of whimsicality within us and the name kind of reflects that, scary as some of the themes can be," he said, to which Hall interjects that they were all "immediately" taken with it. "That's kind of what our music sounds like, so to us, they're a little more in sync, but I can certainly appreciate how the name is maybe a little more whimsical than some of lyrics and maybe feel of the music," the multitalented actor and performer said. "But it's a big museum, lots of rooms, lots of wings. Lots of places you can go."
Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum's most significant specialty is its songwriting, stylistically nuanced with a kaleidoscope of layers fueled by immersive lyrics and celestial sounds. With the three having accomplished backgrounds in music and theater, the combination of musical talent sparks a unique experience that plays to unified listening, stimulating thought, emotion and immense heart, pulled from rare depths. As Katz-Bohen tells PopCulture, the three work off one another almost constantly to make this kind of magic happen.
"It's weird, we've written songs here in the studio altogether and we've written songs where Michael sends a voice note from his phone around and we'll write to that," he said. "Or Peter sends an idea, or I'll send an idea, or two of us get together and work on something. So, we just try not to impose limits because you can catch it, creativity, anywhere at any time, really. Peter still has an old recording from Mexico of this music from a church that he was just walking by, and one of these days, we're going to turn that into a song. Hopefully."
Hall adds that with the band being so musically and lyrically strong with their creations, their "influences are as extensive as everything" they've ever heard and never limited to where they are currently set up, like New York — a city of vast experiences and a bustling existence. Adding how the trio doesn't "set out" to write songs about what's currently happening, Hall says if any lyrics speak to what's going on in the world, it would be logical as they are "citizens" within an experience. "New York is definitely a part of it — it gets in your bones. There's a rhythm to it, and there are certain sounds that the city makes that probably make their way into the sounds we make," he said.
Yanowitz shares how the band's studio at the moment is just off Union Square. "We do all of our vocals in this room, and there's always a siren going off on the street down there that makes it onto the recording. So almost every one of our songs has a siren on it," he laughed, to which Hall interjected, "deep, buried in the mix, there's a siren in probably every song."
Heading out on their inaugural European tour this winter, beginning Nov. 27 and hitting up 11 cities, Katz-Bohen said he and the band are "thrilled to be playing again" and getting the chance to travel overseas for the first time in a long time. "It's great after having been unable to play in front of an audience; it's a treat to be able to do that again," Hall said as Yanowitz interjects, "We can't wait!"
With a good number of cities in the United Kingdom that Hall has yet to see, the singer-songwriter shares he is most excited about "all the rooms and those ears and human bodies" that will be filling venues. "We've played a good number of shows, but they've all been here in New York. We were about to go on a mini trip out west right before the pandemic hit, and that got canceled," he said, adding how they had to boil down 16 to 11 because of what is happening in Germany. "We're not canceling them; we're just postponing them. That and the Kyiv shows."0comments
Yanowitz adds it's the band's "first time" getting out of New York and playing consecutive nights. "I feel like it'll be great learning — we'll come back a different band, and I think we're all getting excited for some touring in the new year in the States and hopefully get up to Canada."
For more information and how you can see Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum live, click here for tickets and dates. For more on the band, head to their official site for music, merchandise, and lots more! Thanks for Coming is now out at all digital retailers and available to stream.