PVRIS x Scene Queen: “It definitely feels like a union of our humour and levity”

PVRIS and Scene Queen have been tearing it up together on tour in Europe. When we caught up with them in Berlin, we found Lyndsey Gunnulfsen and Hannah Collins becoming fast friends, even as road-life constantly threatens to send things sideways…

PVRIS x Scene Queen: “It definitely feels like a union of our humour and levity”
Poppy Burton
India Fleming

Lyndsey Gunnulfsen is explaining that the person who’ll perform tonight at Huxleys Neue Welt is not her.

“I kind of have to separate the two in order to have solid mental health and sanity at this point,” she says, backstage in the Berlin venue where PVRIS are playing later. “It’s not the day-to-day me. That’s my art, and those are the messages I want to spread, but it’s like a character, almost.”

That degree of separation between her on and offstage persona is one of many things that unite her and opener Hannah Collins, who tells K! she only feels ready for a show once she’s decked out in full Scene Queen attire. She can’t tell us right now, however, because she’s currently on the side of the Autobahn in a broken-down van.

“This is a good depiction of tour,” grins Lyndsey, who remains unfazed by the unfolding chaos. “Shit goes wrong every day.”

Even with Hannah stuck an hour away and the whispered speculation that she might not make it, Lyndsey projects an air of calm that feels intentionally curated. It’s the product of a vested effort to manage stress on the road, which usually includes daily rituals like journaling or lino cutting, and today involves not fretting about the semantics of towing a sprinter van.

Years of chronic overachieving in high school have prepared her for this moment. She always got straight As, despite all retrospective assurances from her parents that doing her best was the most important thing.

“I think I would have tried just as hard,” Lyndsey muses. “I don’t know what dumb psychological thing that is, or what I’m trying to prove to anybody, but I think touring kind of lessens all of those tendencies and really does ground you in the reality that nothing can go perfect.”

Elsewhere, on what is considered one of the fastest highways in the world, that reality has more than sunk in. Cars whip by Hannah’s Mercedes-Benz Sprinter so fast it sets off the car alarm, so she sets up shop on the grass and does her make-up there. When she walks into the venue hours later, she’s palpably relieved and implausibly stage ready, two rhinestones glued daintily on her inner eyes.

“What did you do to pass the time?” asks Lyndsey, fascinated.

“Panicked,” laughs Hannah. “My anxiety made it feel like it was one hour.”

While Lyndsey waits for Hannah to arrive, she compares the two of them to the Insta-famous adjoining pink and black houses in Santa Monica, which have lovingly been dubbed the ‘Goth and Barbie houses’. When they finally collapse on the sofa beside each other after Hannah arrives, the pair embody the comparison completely – Hannah in baby pink sweats, and Lyndsey in all black.

They are something of an unlikely pair, Hannah being the self-proclaimed queen of bimbocore, and Lyndsey the darker alt.pop powerhouse behind PVRIS, but it makes perfect sense on this tour.

“I think to me,” says Lyndsey, “it definitely feels like a union of our humour and levity, so it’s a good pairing.”

Scene Queen’s riotous 18+ is a brilliant example: sharp observations about sexual abuse in the music industry delivered with the dry flair of a Y2K pop song (‘Pink wristbands on the guestlist / Bras hanging on the bus / Yeah, you get a lot of girls / But not one is 18-plus’). Hannah nods to the fact Lyndsey had to experience a decade’s worth of misogyny in her career, and now she gets to be on the back end of that, “making fun of the 10 years of idiots”.

“And that’s why I’m obsessed with your project,” gushes Lyndsey. “It’s like the antithesis of misogynistic, stupid men in rock and metal. It just shits on them.”

Both are intent on carving out a space in alt. music that’s safe for women, but how does that look in practical terms on tour?

“Definitely trying to bring more women out – like our touring photographer, lighting designer, or merch girl,” says Lyndsey. “Just trying to have more women around.”

That said, both agree there’s still work to be done, and it all needs to extend beyond tokenism.

“I’ve seen a million men half-heartedly slap a woman on as first of four on tour and be like, ‘We got one!’” quips Hannah. “I feel like the biggest shift in music has been from women just saying ‘fuck it’ and uplifting each other.”

For Lyndsey, bringing more women into the fold is a crucial part of that.

“For the last three or four years of touring, we’ve mainly only taken out female-fronted acts or, like, queer acts,” she adds. “That’s been really important to me.”

Growing up, Lyndsey was the first openly queer artist Hannah knew of in rock music. It’s part of the reason why she also makes an effort to be on tours made up of women and queer people.

“I never want someone younger than me feeling like they only had one person that they could look up to,” Hannah says emphatically. “I want them to see, ‘Hey, there’s an entire community of us.’ And I think Lyndsey does an exceptional job of that, and I’ve tried to do that with my career, but I am just starting out.”

When she tells Lyndsey about the significance of first discovering PVRIS in her Tumblr days, she picks nervously at her black and pink nail varnish, her admiration immediately obvious.

“It’s kind of funny, the trajectory of PVRIS,” she says. “How their music evolved has always gone along with my life, because I grew up with it.”

She’s quick to point out how much more experience Lyndsey has, and just how daunting it was to join forces with her on this tour.

“I was so nervous,” she admits. “Even on her sleepiest day, I would imagine, Lyndsey could perform like an insane person. She’s just so musically talented. So it’s cool to get to watch that, because I truly never had to be in that space where I’m shredding on guitar.”

As Hannah sees it, her role is to hype up the crowd. She considers herself more of an “entertainer” and Lyndsey a “really fucking good” musician.

“It’s just a good show regardless of what the vibe is, versus if I’m tired, I really have to turn it on because my whole thing is dancing,” she explains. “My vibe is so different from what’s coming on right after.”

Lyndsey takes the compliment gracefully, but disagrees.

“I see the entertainer thing, but you’re also extremely talented,” she assures Hannah. “To me, we’re both just artists.”

Now on their third day of tour together, the pair have only managed to see brief snippets of each other’s sets, but Lyndsey did catch Scene Queen’s legendary ‘twerkle pit’ last night. Easily the most fun part of SQ’s show, when she instructs the crowd to dance, it’s light-hearted and fun, but also engineered to get everyone moving before the next band.

“The fact that I force people to do something as ridiculous as a twerkle pit is kind of ideal,” laughs Hannah. “By the time my set is done, they’re already dancing.”

That said, it’s not something Lyndsey would ever expect to see at a PVRIS show. “And that’s progress!” she laughs.

The high-energy dance element required of Scene Queen is complicated by, of all things, European sodium guidelines. Only two days into the tour, Hannah, who has Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), realised she was naturally halving the amount of salt she was eating just by virtue of being away from the States.

“For PoTS you need to have a lot of sodium because it helps with your blood pressure,” she explains. On the road, she’s been forced to get creative. “I got so sick of the taste of chips and actual salty things that I was covering German gummies in salt.”

Sodium levels in check, there’s only two things left to do before she hits the stage: blast 2000s crunk and get into her outfit. She emerges from the dressing room in a pink fringe dress, the full Scene Queen metamorphosis complete. She shimmers as she moves through the corridor, her body language noticeably different.

Onstage, her confidence and command of the crowd seems worlds away from the woman who was so “nervous and jet-lagged” she hadn’t fully processed she was even on this tour. As Hannah storms through 18+ and Pink Panther, Lyndsey, armed with a glass of tequila mixed with a hydration tablet (“For balance!”), is determined to make tonight the night she sees more of the set.

“She’s so sick!” she shouts over the blare of bimbocore. “Obviously I love seeing the girlies enjoying it, but I really love seeing these big dudes bopping to it.”

Hannah echoes that sentiment once she wraps things up.

“That was so fun,” she beams. “That crowd was insane, and I feel like I won over a lot of muscular men for some reason.”

She’s almost bemused, like she can’t quite believe her show alone might have swung it. She weighs it up aloud: People liked the guitar. The crowd was down to party. Or maybe it was that she sounds heavier live? In reality, it was all her.

Between differing schedules and various manic moments, it’s a miracle they’ve both managed to watch each other, and there’s barely any time to let it sink in before she’s off to catch PVRIS’ equally electric set. She soaks it up from the exact same spot Lyndsey watched her from, extra enthralled when Hype Zombies comes on, because she “literally listened to it 4,000 times” when it came out last year. At this moment, she can relate completely to the crowd, and you can sense how monumental that is: “This tour is just people being painfully nervous and nice, I don’t know how else to describe it,” laughs Hannah.

Clearly, the unique combination of calm and chaos this tour has provided agrees with Lyndsey, who Hannah describes as a “super-zen and nurturing” presence.

“I am really restless and always moving at home, too,” she agrees. “So when we’re touring, I feel a little bit more aligned energetically. It makes me really happy that we’ve created that space.”

Even on a post-show high, the prevailing vibe is tranquil, the only issue seemingly that people are being too polite.

“It’s kind of funny, because my entire band and myself are very anxious people, in the sense that we always feel in the way,” says Hannah. She’d wanted to watch PVRIS from side-stage long before tonight, but didn’t want to impose.

“Please,” instructs Lyndsey, “please get in the way. Whenever you want.”

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