Hand Habits – ‘can’t calm down’

Growing up in a small town in Upstate New York, Meg Duffy played as a session guitarist and touring member of Kevin Morby’s band. She started the Hand Habits project when she moved Los Angeles, starting out as a private songwriting outlet, but soon becoming a full band, with Meg at the forefront. Their debut album, ‘Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)’, was released in 2017 after being recorded during spare moments between touring, at Meg’s home.

The follow-up album, ‘placeholder’, was released two years later, and saw Meg work in a studio, bringing in collaborators. Over the course of twelve tracks, we find a tender, heart-felt album, yet at the same time intensely focused and refined.

‘placeholder’ is as much Meg’s fascination with the undefinable as anything else. Each song serves as an opening, a space waiting to be embued with meaning. The songs confront the ways in which experiences can serve as stepping stones on the way to self-discovery. Meg says,

a big aspect of my songwriting and the way I move through the world depends on my relationships with people. The songs on placeholder are about accountability and forgiveness,” Meg says. “These are all real stories. I don’t fictionalize much.

‘can’t calm down’ found its premiere on Matt Wilkinson’s Beats 1 show, and is the latest single from ‘placeholder’. Featuring a vocal from Elizabeth Powell, she of Land Of Talk, Duffy says,

this song took the longest lyrically for me to finish. i started it about 3 years ago and kept it in progress throughout different cycles of feeling. ‘ancestral damage’ and learned behaviors and conditioning to react/hold and place certain emotions are patterns i’m interested in taking part and understanding better. what can one do with rage? with pain? with sadness? and is it is possible to learn how to wipe away completely the knee jerk reactions to situations that are buried deep in one’s dna? and the role models that taught us how to behave, whether directly or residually…are they the ones who should be held responsible or is memory partially to blame?

The video for ‘can’t calm down’ was described by Gorilla vs. Bear as “achingl beautiful and poignant…profoundly articulated and relatable. It uses spellbinding lighting on LAs streets, and underexposed pastels on the indoor shots. It captures a glimpse of Los Angeles’ seedy underbelly, as we follow Meg – a vampire of course – as she wanders the streets in search of her next prey. She is beckoned by the flashing lights of a club, and upon entering, she focuses on the lead singer of a band, played by Sari Lightman, of Tasseomancy. It’s ominous, yet, beautiful – and there’s a twist at the end we won’t spoil.

Check out Hand Habits on their official website.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

Leave a Reply