“My childhood was really chaotic,” says Meg Duffy, the musician behind bedroom rock outfit Hand Habits.
Each of Duffy’s songs is like a personal whisper in your ear—mournful and sweet all at once. But how does she establish this intimacy with her listeners? Perhaps it’s her acute awareness of music’s ability to connect people. “Playing music is a conversation in a way,” she says. “You don’t speak, but there’s emotion that everybody is tapped into and I think that’s really important, like finding new ways to communicate with each other.”
Her newest track, “yr heart,” included on a new 7″ that’s out today via Saddle Creek Records, epitomizes her oeuvre filled with the kind of contemplative music that could only come from deep introspection. Of her creative process Duffy says, “Whenever I’m writing, I’m just writing what I feel and most of the time it’s very literal. I feel like writing songs is a way for me to work a lot of things out and to have a greater understanding of myself.”
Her difficult upbringing certainly affected her relationship today with music. Surrounded by sadness and seeking an escape, Duffy was inevitably attracted to music-making from a young age. “I moved around a lot and lived with people that weren’t my nuclear family, and I tried to get out of the way,” she says. “[Music] was definitely a way to escape. I was pretty shy growing up and didn’t say how I felt a lot. I think it made people pay attention to me in a way that I wasn’t getting before.”
Duffy ruminates on how her queer identity influences her songwriting, as well, “I think about identity a lot and try to be honest in that way,” she says. “Most of the songs I write are inspired by a queer relationship that has directly affected me.” She wonders what parts of her sexuality are shaped by her upbringing and what, if any, are innate. “I’m like, ‘Do I want [a monogamous relationship] because that’s just been the way?’ But then again I come from this family situation that was definitely not conventional, so I think that has more to do with it than sexuality. I’m just like, ‘It would be really nice to have a wife or a partner and have a family.'”
Though in some senses she may be inclined towards security, each of her songs through Hand Habits sounds as if she’s putting her heart on the line—a huge risk, and one that pays off beautifully.