Revenge Wife is the latest project from Liz Nistico of HOLYCHILD. It’s an ongoing visual project that has been rolled out over the course of the past couple of months, first with “Earthquake” in February, then with “Manifest” in April. It’s horror hidden behind Nistico’s familiar brat pop sounds.
Today, the third Revenge Wife track makes its’ premiere, “Home.” The video—the third installment in the ongoing saga—will be released on May 13.
Nistico talked to me about how the project will unfold and her long term plans for both it and a separate feature length film.
Is HOLYCHILD completely done? Is it just on hold for now? Is this the main focus?
This is the main focus for me now. Maybe we’ll do some reunion shows in some years for HOLYCHILD. Who knows what the future holds, but I’m really focusing on Revenge Wife and Louie [Diller] is really focused on his own project. He’s producing other artists now. So, yeah, Revenge Wife for me.
It seems like a while ago that your Instagram broke off from HOLYCHILD into Revenge Wife, and I didn’t totally understand what was happening at the time. Was it a fully formed idea at the time or did you grow into it?
I actually started considering [the concept] and writing for Revenge Wife in 2017. Things with HOLYCHILD were hard. We were having a hard time with our label and it just felt like we weren’t able to move forward with releasing music. That was really hard for me, so I started doing my own thing. I didn’t know when I was going to release it, but I told everyone in my personal life, “Yeah! I’m also working on this other project.”
It took a little while to figure out how I could put it into the world. I write a lot of music. I had written so many songs already. Eventually, I decided, “I’m going to work on my album now.” It was actually a thing that I was working on a bit while we were working on the second HOLYCHILD album, The Theatrical Death of Julie Delicious.
When you first started writing for Revenge Wife, did you know it would be a concept thing? A visual/audio experience? Or was it just a side music project?
It’s like when you’re writing a short story and you put your pen on paper. You know something crazy is gonna come out and you don’t know what will happen. You’re watching it like it’s TV; but it’s your own hand. I knew there was gonna be some crazy visual component to it, because that’s just me. But when I started writing for it, I didn’t know what that would be. But I felt excited to found out.
Did you and John [Karna, Nistico’s boyfriend and creative partner] work out the whole video concept as you were writing or did that come later?
John has been so amazing and helpful seeing my vision through. I can be like, “This is what I’m thinking!” and he’ll be like, “Okay, nice. How can I help?” It’s been me kind of figuring things out on my own and then he’ll help out when I need.
I’m writing a horror film right now. I have the first draft. I’m hoping in the next year, we can film it and I’ll direct and star in and score. So I’ve been really in a horror mode over the past year. When I started doing the visuals, I started realizing that I wanted it to feel like a nightmare; I wanted it to feel like a movie. I’ve directed over 40 music videos. I was getting kind of bored by the music video thing. They’re small. There’s only so much you can do with three minutes. That’s what I started thinking that I wanted these videos to feel like films. I love horror. I think it’s a cool vehicle for satire.
The Theatrical Death of Julie Delicious – that short film – which I did to accompany the HOLYCHILD album was kind of like dipping my toes into an absurdist space. It’s not really horror; but it’s not really dark. It’s been coming together. All of the music videos for Revenge Wife are sequential. They’ll all flow into each other. Three years down the road, all of the music videos will tell a story together. I’m excited to commit to that.
So this isn’t just a ten track, one album deal. This is an ongoing, ever-evolving project?
Yeah, exactly. I have the first album done, Background Songs for Your Boring Life. The EP will come out in June. I’ll be recording the second album in July; it’s more of an acoustic album. And I have the third album planned out; it’s a different vibe.
I’m looking at like five years. It’s a five year project for me; in terms of planned out stuff.
The lyrical content is heavy, but the sound is pop. It’s fun. And the visual is very dark. I assume that was all a very deliberate choice?
Yeah, definitely. I love juxtapositions like that. It kinda comes natural. If I’m making a music video, I’ll think, “What would be the most obvious music video for this?” and I’ll try to do something that’s really different from that. Or if there’s a part where it’s like, “Well, the obvious editing choice is to go really fast?” the I’ll be like, “Well, what is it like if I go really slow?” I do that with everything. That’s how my process is; I love that. I think that St. Vincent does that really well.
Did the horror movie that you’re writing spawn from Revenge Wife? Or was that a whole different thing?
Everything is just me. These are just the things I’m doing. I’m not doing anything but thinking about my music, writing my music, recording my music, the visuals that I’m doing. And consuming art and being inspired in different ways.
The horror film I’m doing is social commentary and it’s all pretty in-line with brat pop stuff. With HOLYCHILD, all of the lyrics were trying to get at these issues that seemed fine but are actually detrimental. It’s the same messages that I say in everything, but in a different context.
“Home” is streaming everywhere now.