Scene Queen reigns supreme: “It feels like I really can do whatever I want”

With ‘Hot Singles In Your Area’, SCENE QUEEN proves that staying true to yourself and embracing your sexuality is the ultimate form of empowerment, no matter what the haters say. Check out the latest cover story for our New Music Friday playlist edit, PLAY.

Words: Ali Shutler.

“You can tell it’s a cathartic record because of how many of the songs end with feral screaming,” grins Scene Queen. Across her two ‘Bimbocore’ EPs, Hannah Collins has used Scene Queen like a weapon to shake up the old, tired rules of rock. Her debut album ‘Hot Singles In Your Area’ is both an origin story, a renewed attack and a hint at what comes next.

“I wanted to explain why Scene Queen was necessary, from the general misogyny I experienced as a teenager just existing in this space to the harassment I’ve got in my day-to-day as a woman,” she explains. “When I was younger, I felt like it wasn’t safe for me to be in this scene, and I never wanted anyone to ever feel that uncomfortable.”

With gloriously vicious songs like ’18+’, ‘BDSM’ and ‘Pink Push-Up Bra’, ‘Hot Singles In Your Area’ rages against sexism and predatory behaviour, while Wargasm collab ‘Girls Gone Wild’ sees Hannah and Milkie Way “talking about how every time we do something raunchy, we’re slut shamed. If men do it, they’re rock stars. It feels like the perfect combination of our two bands,” she adds, finding joy in shared fury. 

There’s more to this project than chainsaw anger, though. “As I was writing this album, I was coming into my sexuality and trying to figure that out,” Hannah explains, with the record littered with horny dating songs. “It’s kind of perfect because there’s all this queer joy, but it also has the typical queer experience of exploring new territories and feeling incredibly awkward,” she continues. 

“The album is about being comfortable in your skin,” says Hannah, which is something she’s learnt since she dropped debut Scene Queen song ‘Pink Rover’ in 2021. 

“I was afraid to express my sexuality on that first ‘Bimbocore’ EP,” she explains. Before Scene Queen, she released the classic-rock-inspired ‘Are You Tired?’ as RØSÉ in 2021 but found the reception odd. “It was jarring because rock is supposed to be accepting of everyone, but it does attract a lot of super conservative fans.”

She knew she didn’t want to start pandering to that audience, so she rebranded as Scene Queen and made sure that her debut EP featured “hyper-feminine” queer-leaning track ‘Pink Panther’ which deliberately appealed to the female gaze. “I had to unlearn caring about the opinions of men,” she says.

The reception to the track shocked Hannah, “but it made me feel safe to really express that part of me with this album. It means half the songs are about kissing girls, but it was super cathartic for me to be able to do that,” she adds.

Musically, Scene Queen’s debut album also takes that Bimbocore sound to new levels. “Those two EPS were my trying to make a sound of my own,” with the result a vicious blend of pop and industrial metal, she explains. “With this album, I wanted to see how far I could push that.” ‘MILF’ takes heavy influence from country, ‘Stuck’ sees her heading to the club with 6arelyhuman while the hyper-pop leaning Myspace anthem ‘POV’ has her teaming up with The Ready Set to “talk my shit and own my space”. Through it all, there are nods to Y2K icons Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. “I just cannot exist in one genre,” says Hannah. “There are a million different inspirations on this album. It feels like I really can do whatever I want.”

“The album is about being comfortable in your skin”

Scene Queen

When Hannah launched Scene Queen, she always knew her gigs would be feral and attract people like her, who needed a place that felt safe, euphoric and a little bit chaotic. “I wanted to make a space where everyone feels like they can fully be themselves and nothing seems embarrassing,” she adds. “I didn’t know that it could be as far-reaching as it is, though,” with Scene Queen comfortably straddling the worlds of pop and metal. “The hate is a lot sometimes, but then you play a show, and it all feels worth it,” she adds.

She also had a vision of the things she wanted to sing about, with Scene Queen a fearless, over-the-top character who could say things others couldn’t. “I didn’t understand how important that would be for others, though,” she admits. “People keep pointing out things about my own project that I’d just never considered before. Turns out Scene Queen really does mean a lot to a lot of people.”

“I am always writing from a deeply personal place, and I think that’s why this project has had the reception it’s had,” she continues.

There’s a wicked sense of humour to everything Scene Queen does as well, from the smirking one-liners that litter her tracks to the title of her debut. “I am fully incapable of talking about anything remotely traumatic without it being through the lens of humour. I have to have some sweet slant to it, and that’s usually me making a joke out of it,” she explains. “I guess we all have a different response to things that happen to us.”

“When you deliver something serious with a sense of humour, I think more people pay attention,” she offers. Scene Queen constantly pokes fun and takes the piss rather than preaching. 

“Now there are so many dark things happening in the world, I feel like having an album that does touch on difficult topics while also being super funny is kind of ideal,” says Hannah, even if she’s kicking herself slightly for scrapping a song about Donald Trump because she didn’t think he’d have any sort of relevance in 2024. “The album does take you on this roller coaster journey of, ‘Because this happened to me, I will become stronger’,” she says.

“My whole thing is surprising people,” says Hannah. “And because the album has so many insane moments, I wanted to end it with one last shock.” Closing track ‘Climax’ is a wholesome, ambitious, emotional anthem that showcases a totally different side to Scene Queen. “It’s everything you’d expect from a rock song, but not a Scene Queen song,” she offers. “My grandmother loves that song, but I’m not sure she’s aware of the joke in the title.”

“I am fully incapable of talking about anything remotely traumatic without it being through the lens of humour”

Scene Queen

‘Climax’ has also opened a door for album two, which Hannah will start creating later this year. “‘Bimbocore’ introduced Scene Queen. This album is about why I became Scene Queen, and I think the next thing will finally showcase a little bit of Hannah,” she says, a mix of fear and excitement. 

The track was written after the rest of ‘Hot Singles In Your Area’ had already been recorded and practically flew out of Hannah. “I had written a whole album about being comfortable in yourself and standing against whoever, but I wanted a song that said it’s also okay to be vulnerable. I wanted a reminder that it’s important to find people you feel safe with.”

As well as touching on the bubbling undercurrent of hate that follows her every move, ‘Climax’ is a celebration of the positive community that Scene Queen has created. “It’s me pleading to my fanbase, wanting to always have this positive space because everything else in the world is so impermanent and scary.” There’s a lot of love as well. “Thank God I found these people.” 

As well as her diehard fanbase, Scene Queen has become fast friends with the likes of PVRIS, Vukovi, LØLØ and Wargasm. “It’s this incredible community of women which has renewed my faith in rock music,” she says. 

“The mission of this project is still to make as many people feel included as possible,” she adds. “People ask me why women are now at the forefront of the scene, and it’s because women, queer people and femme-presenting people are all supporting each other,” she adds. “This album is a love letter to sticking to your guns. It’s never easy, but it’s always worthwhile.” ■

Scenę Queen’s album ”Hot Singles In Your Area’ is out now. Follow Dork’s PLAY Spotify playlist here.