Scene Queen: “Anything worth doing is going to come with controversy”

Scene Queen is leaving her mark with a fearless attitude and a mission to create a safe space at every show she plays.

Words: Ali Shutler.
Photo: Frances Beach.

Scene Queen wrapped up a hefty touring stint by pulling one of the biggest crowds of the weekend at Slam Dunk North. “The show was just what I needed,” she grins backstage shortly afterwards. Playing live is so much fun that she doesn’t feel like she’s got to prove anything at festivals like this, despite her rapidly rising stock. She’s also pretty chill about going home to finish writing her debut album in the coming days. “Pressure? No. Tired? Yes,” she adds.

After releasing two editions of her ‘Bimbocore’ EPs back in 2022, Scene Queen (real name Hannah Collins) established herself as a giddy force that wasn’t to be messed with. 2023 single ‘18+’ only underlined that fearsome attitude. A ferocious call-out of the predatory behaviour of men in bands, the track continues to cause waves.

Her label, Hopeless Records, did warn Hannah that the track was going to cause backlash and people were going to get mean. “Anything worth doing is going to come with controversy,” she explains, with the label backing her whole-heartedly. 

Inspired by the awful things she witnessed as a teenager in the Midwest scene, ‘18+’ sees Scene Queen carry out her mission to make any show she plays feel like a safe space. Clocking up over 3 million streams, it’s clearly resonating with people. “I left it broad enough that it could apply to any number of bands,” explains Hannah. “The unfortunate fact it’s connecting is proof there’s clearly an epidemic within the scene.”

The track will feature on Scene Queen’s upcoming debut album, which will be released as soon as she’s able to. “I hate waiting to put out music,” she says. It’s not finished, but she has a vision. “’Bimbocore’ is always going to be the vibe musically,” she explains. “I love the contrast between super girls vocals with heavy guitars or screaming over a twinkling track. My whole thing with the hyper-femininity is to show the strength and power within femininity. It’s also a fuck you to misogynists, so I’m keeping that attitude, but not every song will be called ‘Pink something’. It’s more of a concept album,” she promises, with ‘18+’ fitting into the “theme”.

Hannah goes on to explain that humour is everything when it comes to delivering the message of Scene Queen. “The easiest way for me to digest things and process them is to have them delivered in a jokey way.” It’s why songs like ‘18+’ and ‘Pink Rover’ (“a song written to explain the rage I feel towards a society that allows women to be treated the way that they are”) are full of so many smirking one-liners. “If you come into something too seriously, people will back away and miss the message.”

“When I started this project, I never knew it was going to reach the scale that it’s got to, but I always knew I wanted to shift the scene a little bit,” she continues, with her debut featuring a variety of collabs with female artists. “I just try to be as loud and out of the box as possible because somewhere down the line, there’s going to be a girl that does the type of in-the-box metalcore that people think is acceptable, but it’ll be that much easier for her. I’m cool with taking the hate,” she adds with a smirk. 

But more than hate, Scene Queen is inspiring a whole lot of love. “The thing I’m most proud of is feeling like I’ve been able to foster this little community within my music,” she beams, already looking forward to a return to the UK for her biggest-ever headline shows in October. “Every time I come here, I have an exceptional time.” ■

Taken from the August 2023 edition of Upset.