From Diss Tracks to the Dance Floor: Mandy Groves's Empowering New EP

Mandy Groves's new EP was inspired by having to cut multiple people out of her life who were bringing her down.
Mandy Groves's new EP was inspired by having to cut multiple people out of her life who were bringing her down. Minyoung Lee
“Sometimes people fuck you over, and sometimes they hurt your feelings, and you kind of have to let it go and move forward," says Denver musician Mandy Groves. "It’s just something you have to learn.”

On the heels of finally releasing her debut EP, Phases, Groves was reeling. Between December 2018 and April 2019, four different relationships across her professional and personal world unexpectedly fractured. A longtime friendship deteriorated. A former professional partner crossed boundaries in their work relationship.

Groves faced a decision: attempt to keep relationships afloat that had suddenly become toxic, or simply cut these people out of her life? Concluding that she was better off without them, Groves freed herself from the relationships. Doing so, she says she not only changed her life for the better, but found the inspiration for a new EP as well.

Blame, out May 1, is a pop R&B album about the many faces of self-empowerment. She wrestles with the irreversible, frustrating and painful details of life following the loss of a relationship in “That Bad," works out her heartache on the dance floor in “Honey," and tries to reconcile with whatever percentage of blame she deserves for the fallouts on “Guilty."

“I feel like it was an empowering album for me," she says. "I was able to really look at myself and be introspective and think about everything and really sort of come up with advice for myself – and also coming to terms with things that were happening. I feel like it could really do that for others, too.”

But Blame did not always sound like the pop-infused R&B that it is today. Despite being written in the span of about a week, Groves was initially set on a much different sort of project.

“It all started as this idea of like a diss album,” Groves says with a laugh. “I was like, ‘I’m going to diss these people, and I’m going to call everyone out.’ I shifted and finally found that concept, but it definitely started out as, ‘Fuck all of these people that mistreated me, and I’m angry, and here goes some music.’

“From there, I kind of ditched the tracks that were so angry, and now it’s this concept of losing people. I think acknowledging that I’m hurt about it and that these people have hurt me, and these things have hurt me – having acknowledged all of that, now I’m able to move forward.”

While Phases was a standout debut EP, consisting almost exclusively of moody, melancholy R&B, Blame balances that music she loves with the music she aspires to make.

“I think this EP was a lot more inspired," she explains. "I’m a lot steadier with my footing right now. I know who I am a lot more. I think that this one was just so much more inspired, and I was ready to just write. It really all came out at once, and I think it took me probably less than a week to write all the songs.”

Starting as diss tracks and ending at helping Groves find some peace during some truly tumultuous times, Blame already has proven to be a fruitful musical project.

“It’s miles different than the last one," she says. "It’s like now I can see what music can do firsthand for myself. It’s a weird realization to think that it hasn’t been released yet, but I’ve personally already gotten what I wanted to get out of it.
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Ben Wiese is a writer in Denver. He covers music for Westword.
Contact: Ben Wiese