“Derby” Momma

Momma is comprised of songwriters Etta Friedman (21) and Allegra Weingarten’s (22). “I remember the title, Two of Me, originally came from this creative day Etta and I were having together,” Weingarten recalls. “Etta said something like, ‘It’s crazy—being alone with you is like being alone with myself.’ It references that feeling and encapsulates how we write together: a form of communication, where we’ll constantly switch off who is playing lead and who is playing rhythm guitar in the same song.” Self-taught guitarists who grew up outside of Los Angeles, Friedman and Weingarten met by fate in high school and eventually began writing songs together. The pair’s close friendship provided an open channel to create and experiment from a place of trust and joint experience. Inspired by songwriters like Kim Deal, Liz Phair, and Elliott Smith.

The pair now live far from home and each other while finishing college in New York and New Orleans, Friedman and Weingarten have continued to write the same way they always have. For the past two years, during breaks between semesters, the two would assemble DIY west coast tours, open LA dates for bands like Gang of Four and Ian Sweet, and workshop new songs together at home. Decorated with bright interlocking guitars, confident harmonies, and vivid storytelling, the band’s debut album Interloper and recent Apollo 7” capture Friedman and Weingarten hitting a stride at the end of their adolescence, while establishing a sound and vision that the band continues to expand upon. Friedman and Weingarten began building a more focused and detailed world in the material they started to write for their second full length. Over the course of several writing sessions—often months apart—the two wrote one song after another, slowly piecing together the story of an alternate reality they called “The Bug House.”

Two of Me is an ambitious concept album made up of fictional vignettes dealing with morality, youth, and punishment, that Friedman and Weingarten have populated with tragic heroes from their imagination. “The Bug House represents this sort of underground purgatory or hell that people are sent to as punishment,” Weingarten explains. “Two of Me’s songs are about coming to terms with the side of you within yourself that is maybe capable of darker things.” Momma’s second full length unfolds like a small town drama, where characters like video stringers and young lovers experience poetic justice in carnivalesque settings, detailed through Friedman and Weingarten’s illustrative lyrics. “It’s cool to have this world to go to that just belongs to Allegra and I, that we can both work on and revisit while we’re living in separate places,” Friedman notes. “Having a larger concept that’s not rooted in reality made it a lot easier to work on together from a far. The album is rooted in a lot of real feelings and experiences, but we wanted the stories to be set in a fictional world.”