South Carolina’s Hunter Park has been recording her own brand of cosmic Americana under the moniker She Returns From War since her debut 2015 album Oh What a Love. Having had her sound described as “tropical goth country”, the trans artist channels her experience growing up in the southern swamp country outside Charleston into her music, along with tales of heartbreak.
With her third album Ruthless scheduled to come out in early 2022, SRfW has recently dropped the album’s first single “Snakeskin Boots”, an atmospheric country track with a sauntering melody. Park took some time to answer our questions about the new single, its origins and what it foretells for her next album.
Indy Review: For those of you who haven’t heard you before, can you talk a bit about how you started in music, and how you found your voice and sound?
Hunter Park: I started playing and writing music when I was fifteen, I spent a couple of summers in Nashville trying to study the industry and I think that’s where I fell in love with country music. When I was in college I moved back home to Charleston and plugged into the local scene here. The local scene is where I developed the idea for SRFW. Its founding is richly based in the music and venues of this town.
IR: What was the origin of “Snakeskin Boots”? How did the idea for the song germinate for you?
HP: This song originated in my drummer’s backyard. I’d written the lyrics, I just needed help matching the chords and constructing a melody. It was written during the pandemic… my writing style was all over the place but I knew I wanted one dreamy 90s Country moment on this record. I wrote what I know from playing those smoky back bar stages bathed in neon….
We were working on a fundraiser for a local bar/venue called The Royal American. This song will be played there many times.
IR: While the track certainly has country elements, it feels a lot more atmospheric than traditional country music. Can you speak a bit about how you found the arrangement for the track and the production of it? Was there a certain type of emotion/feel you were trying to capture?
HP: I owe a lot of the elements of the song to my wonderful co-producers.
Wolfgang Zimmerman has worked with Susto, Band of Horses, Brave Baby etc is truly a force for good within our music scene. Joel Hamilton, whose project Mechanical River is one of my favorite bands both live and recorded, worked to make an expansive group of songs that pushed me further in how I write.
The beautiful pedal steel is brought to us by Josh Kaler out of Nashville, his many projects including Hula- Hifi have solidified him in my mind as one of the divine players of the instrument.
IR: About the song, you’ve said it’s a “…continuation of my attempts to mystify the heartbreak in the everyday”. Could you go into more detail about what you mean in terms of “mystifying heartbreak”, and why that intrigues you as a songwriter?
HP: To be blunt, most of the time love sucks. I get bitter and vengeful. Love takes a lot out of me. Mystifying heartbreak means never letting love take away the beauty you see in yourself, and protecting your power. No matter if your feelings are screwing you over, it should make you feel any less yourself.
IR: What is the significance of the “snakeskin boots” to you in the song?
HP: If you’ve listened to my stuff before, snakes come up in a different song I’ve written, they’re an important source of imagery for a lot of songwriter types. They’re an ode to empowerment, cycles, shedding (I.e these boots are made for walking) if life gives you lemons, make a lemon martini in your sexiest heels.
IR: How does “Snakeskin Boots” fit in, both lyrically and musically, to your upcoming album Ruthless?
HP: As a writer and performer I’m always looking to grow in the style of my songs, on the last album I learned new ways to foster imagery, I hope this collection shows growing and expanding on that idea. Looking at words in different ways to create a moment in time, I think that’s the essence of this single and an undertone of this album as a whole.
Keep an ear out for Ruthless next year, and listen to “Snakeskin Boots” in our A Single Sit-Down Playlist!