c/o Aiden Malanaphy

c/o Aiden Malanaphy, Senior Staff Photographer

The Argus spoke to Nicholas Catalan ’22, Sammy Osmond ’22, and Emma Valentine ’22 (known as the band Mother’s Friends) in the cozy living room of their senior house. From the walls plastered with pictures of various eyes (leftover from their roommate’s house show) to the candy pink “Friend” cart tucked away in their kitchen, the band’s presence was undeniable. The three have been making music together since freshman year, and The Argus had the pleasure of sitting down with them to learn what makes ‘Mother’s Friends’ tick. 

The Argus: How did you all originally meet and form a band?

Emma Valentine: I went to high school with Nic in LA. 

Nic Catalan: And middle school!

EV: And we came to Wesleyan at the same time. Then they [Nic and Sammy] were roommates.  

Sammy Osmond: Nic and I met through the WesAdmits Facebook group and…made a song together immediately before we came to school. Then, [in the] second semester of freshman year, Emma started singing and we decided we needed to form a band.

A: Did you and Emma make music together before you came here? Or was it just at Wesleyan?

NC: Actually sparingly. We had a song on SoundCloud, but her mom was always pushing us to be in a band together. 

EV: I know my mom really wanted us to be in a band, then it happened, which is so cool!

A: How did you come up with the name “Mother’s Friends?”

SO: We don’t really remember how it happened. I know where we were and when we found the name, because we were actively trying to come up with a name for a long time. We were sitting in our dorm room, because we were roommates, and our friend Mim [Pomerantz ’23] was over. She was reading from the various materials in our room, like books and records and things and random phrases and somewhere, in something, she came across Mother’s Friends. 

NC: And we acknowledged it. Then we tabled it and continued to look for names for the next couple of months…but we ultimately came back to Mother’s Friends. I guess now every band on campus wants to be a familial relation, like a mom or a grandma. They’re biting.

A: What’s your favorite song that you have made together? 

SO: I think my favorite song that we have is unreleased right now. There’s a song called “Overlook” that we wrote while I was in LA visiting. It’s really fun to play live. That’s definitely my favorite, at least for right now.

EV: I would say I also like one that’s unreleased. It’s called “Gun.” It came out pretty effortlessly and I really appreciated that. 

SO: That song is being released by the end of the semester. 

NC: I’m going to go with the classic: “It Happens Every Day,” our first song…I make the instrumentals for the band, and that song is so poorly made. It sounds like shit, but it’s just a classic to me. It’s so fun to play and mosh to. When other people [started] sing[ing] the words, that was a crazy moment.

A: What was your first concert like? 

SO: So, we got Tyler Jenkins ’22 who agreed to drum for us… In one weekend we suddenly had three shows even though we had never played before. I had never performed in front of people before but Nic and Emma had. We [also] played at Tiny Shed, a show that was recorded but never released. This was the end of our freshman year. We played Battle of the Bands, [and] we played at Zonker Harris day, and my little brother was sitting in on guitar and bass interchangeably, it was nuts… We hit the ground running for sure, and three completely different vibes. One was a small show, then one was nighttime in Eclectic and a completely full house, then one was Zonker and it was so cold. And we opened for Michelle, [our] claim to fame!

A: What is the deal with the Mother’s Friends Shopping Cart? 

EV: It’s in the kitchen!

SO: We used to enter Westco through the door behind Weshop. There was this shopping cart that was around there for a long time and we decided to take it. We took it and we decided to make it the mascot of our band. We spray-painted it candy pink and wrote “friend” on the front and now it’s the “Friend” Cart. It was really useful before I had a car because we put all the instruments in and we would cart them around; it was a great prop on stage too. Then it became this roaming art installation because we just left it and let it float. But it’s back with us now. 

NC: It was in the dumpster by Physical Plant and Emmett Levy [’24] found it and rescued it before it was thrown out and saved it for us, which was really nice.

SO: That’s the short story of the cart. We hope it’ll survive at Wesleyan and just bring some people some joy even after we are gone.

A: What is your music-making process like and what inspires you?

SO: None of our songs are written in the same way. Or very few I would say. 

NC: Sometimes Emma and Sammy will have a melody idea, but oftentimes I’ll have a file where I started making the instrumentals and then I’ll play it for them. Then they’ll come up with some ideas to sing. The song that we’re sitting on right now, “Gun,” Sammy came up with a hook idea for it a year ago when we were in our High Rise apartment together. We didn’t know what to do with the rest of the song, it was vexing us. Then Sammy visited LA this summer and the three of us sat down and I was on piano figuring out the next part without the file. Then we put it all back into the files we had started. It’s a lot of transplantation and random sparks.

SO: The other funny thing about “Gun” is that the reason it was written was we decided we wanted to have a song called “Gun.” We just thought that [it] would be funny to write a hook with that word in it because we thought it would be provocative. 

A: What was it like making music during COVID-19?

EV: It was bad, we had to pivot to do stuff remotely. I also was at school for Fall 2020. That’s around when “OK NOW” came out and we did that completely remotely, I was just in LA recording the vocals and sending them over. 

SO: Most of our music that’s out right now was released during [COVID-19]. We released our EP, “Glass,” in that first semester that was impacted by [COVID-19]. [COVID-19] definitely didn’t stop us, but it changed things for us.

NC: I think [COVID-19] was hard on me because I got [COVID-19] in the spring of 2021 and then I was in a bit of a depression where I didn’t do anything musically. By the end of the semester, I was kind of able to get back on my feet. But that was a really hard time where I wasn’t able to do the things that I wanted to do because being sick sucked.

SO: Yeah, I guess we did go through a slump, but on the whole, we muddled through. 

A: After being apart for so long, what is it like living together and making music?

NC: It’s really fun even when we’re not making music together. We enjoy each other’s [company]. 

SO: We’re great friends. I don’t think it has necessarily changed a lot, except for that it’s just more convenient. We’re [also] really excited to have shows in our house. We were supposed to have a show that unfortunately we had to postpone, it was canceled for some unavoidable things. It’s going to be really fun to be able to play music in our own house and have people hear it. It’s great living together, it’s only made things easier. 

A: You’ve been living together and making music together since freshman year. How does it feel to be seniors?

EV: Scary!

NC: I personally like it because I’m a music major, so I’m writing a thesis and [also] working on a senior recital [for] the end of the year, so the things I’m doing in school as a senior have been so engaging. It helps me feel like I’m working towards something tangible. I’m also able to balance the dumb shit that we get up to on a regular basis when we’re not working on our projects. 

SO: I have a lot of moments of gratitude this year. The Wesleyan music scene is filled with some of the greatest and most talented musicians I’ve ever met. I feel so lucky to be able to play with them. Both within our band, like Tyler Jenkins ’22, Hudson Christie ’23, and Sam Eaton ’22  [but] also all of the other musicians around us. I really feel like I’m part of this scene and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have experiences like this again, once I graduate. So it’s a really beautiful thing and that’s not lost on me. I’ve been very lucky.

EV: It’s also the kindest group of people, ever. The people in the music scene here are super encouraging to one another, and it doesn’t feel like a competition, which is kind of amazing. 

SO: Super true. Also playing for Wesleyan students is really fun. Our concerts are always really fun and I want to fit in as many as possible before we graduate, because it’s a blast.

A: How has the music scene been affected by [COVID-19], and what was that like?

SO: I was like, a chunk of my life was missing, not being able to play shows because that’s one of my favorite things to do. We got to [play] right at the end of the semester but still.

NC: Personally, I was fortunate [enough] to play even while Emma wasn’t here. I got to play with other musicians who have their own acts. I got to play with Dachelle Washington ’22 as her bass player, which was just fantastic. I was lucky to be the side person for other people’s projects, but it’s a totally different beast from having them with me. 

A: What do you see as the future of the band?

SO: We have a whole album written. It’s just a matter of recording it and getting it through all the processes. But as far as after graduation, I don’t think we’ve talked about it.

EV: We are taking it one step at a time.

NC: I’m going to drag you guys along with me to make your careers into music, I don’t care.

A: What are your other interests outside of music?

EV: In addition to performing, songwriting, and singing, I do creative writing. That’s my main focus other than the band and other musical things. I’m not a music major. So I really do most of my music out[side] of the curriculum, which I can’t tell if that was a good or a bad decision, but I can certainly say it enriched my entire experience. But, when I’m at school, I’m focusing a lot on my writing for classes and that’s sort of what I spend my summers doing too. And a lot of journalism. I am particularly fond of when the music and the writing intersect. 

NC: Music is my main thing and it’s what I spend most of my time doing as a music major. I compose for solo bass as well as do session work and perform. My goal outside of college is to go on tour with a musician around the country. I also really enjoy teaching. Tyler Jenkins, our drummer, and I started this little business a few years ago called Wes lessons, where we provide affordable lessons because it’s really expensive to take private lessons at Wesleyan. He teaches drums and piano and I teach bass and guitar and we provide affordable lessons for students taught by students in a comfortable environment. I really think that it is an important way for me to give back all the time I spent on music and help other people out. Outside of music, I am a big fan of soccer. I was a soccer player in high school and got recruited to play here and then got cut the first week.

SO: Outside of music, I’m a film major, focusing on documentaries. I’m doing a documentary thesis on a local ice cream man, [who is the] owner of the green and purple ice cream truck. If you’ve seen it around he is a really great guy. I’m loving it so far. So that’s my [involvement] outside of music. I notably work at Swings. I used to do a great deal of things around campus. I used to be a Westco president and planned a lot of events and [other] sorts of things along those lines. But now as a senior, I’m pretty busy with my thesis and with music and with work and I’m happy with that. 

A: What’s your favorite performance moment?

EV: Our first mosh! The first official one was in the WestCo Cafe when it was actually 400 degrees in there.

SO: This was the start of our sophomore year. It felt like our first real show. We had it figured out [and] we had Hudson playing with us. That was the show when people were starting to sing stuff back to us and we had decided beforehand that if the energy was right we wanted to mosh for the guitar solo at the end, and it happened! We moshed at the end of “It Happens Every Day,” and it was wonderful and beautiful, and we’ve done it at the end of every show since. But I feel like the music scene has been slow to start back up. I feel like there are a lot of venues around campus and [it doesn’t] feel like they are putting on as many musical events as they could. There used to be concerts every weekend. The musicians are still here and we’re all ready to play. We’re just kind of improvising. 

EV: But come to our show this Friday at Music House!

SO: That’s going to be a stacked show, most of the senior bands will be there. Literally, five out of eight. This is the who’s who of the senior class musicians.

NC: I’m playing in three of the bands!

EV: I do a little bit outside of the band as well. I help out a couple of friends write their songs. 

SO: Yeah and I have a folk act with my little brothers back home. Maybe something more will come of it. I play the banjo and sing.

NC: I play with Dachelle, [who is an] amazing human being [and] Emily Bloomfield ‘22. We started playing together a lot more this year, which has been fabulous. I [also] play with the Clay Rogers ‘22 band [and] the Grateful Dead cover band, Jerry’s Kids.

A: Do you have any pieces of advice from your time at Wesleyan? 

NC: The people that you spend your time with are so valuable. I have such a great appreciation for these two and all the other people I’ve met at Wesleyan. That’s been a gift that I can’t even try to quantify how much it’s given me and how much I love the people here. I want to give back to them and perform with them. Work hard, but also do dumb shit, like go to the top floor of Exley, just cause you want to.

EV: This is very basic, but taking advantage of the resources like Red Feather for music. Red Feather has been such a cool venue for us to record in and [also] take advantage of all the amazing opportunities that the school has to offer. Do your best, but in the end, that’s not what yo’’re going to remember. You’re not going to remember the test. You’re going to remember the people that you spent time with. You’re gonna remember the shows you went to. I wish I had realized that a little bit earlier too because I’m so jealous of the people who have so much time to do that now.

SO: It’s all about the people. I’ve always been happiest at Wesleyan when I’m around the people who make me feel welcomed, so seek out those people. And if you haven’t found those people yet, keep looking. Cause that’s the best part of it all. And that’s where you’re going to find the most happiness while you’re here.

Lia Franklin can be reached at lfranklin@wesleyan.edu

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