CONTENT WARNING: This contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering.
Experiencing an upheaval as disrupting as sexual assault is a tender battle that isn’t easily won. Many songwriters find moments of solace within their craft by creating space to be vulnerable and begin healing. Alt-pop angel, Teagan Johnston, who releases music as Little Coyote, recently turned her trauma into songs on her Stay Gold EP. The three-track collection, engineered by Erin Tonken (David Bowie, Tony Visconti), indulges in somber yet powerful piano melodies that are wrapped around Johnston’s compelling vocals. She evokes a tremendous feeling of comfort through her lucidity, serving as a confirmation that these stories were ready to be shared.
Stay Gold is a stripped-down, brooding window into Johnston’s darkest moments. She explains, “It has been a year of pain and growth, a year of touring alone for the first time, a year of attempting a deeper level of honesty in my songwriting.” It is evident though, that she has stepped away from one of the most difficult parts of her life and has come through the other side with newfound strength and a glimmering piece of work.
Below are Johnston recounts of her songwriting process, advice to other victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, and how she has managed to “Stay Gold.”
Written By: Deanna DiLandro
What was it like recording this EP after experiencing intense domestic toxicity and assault?
The process of writing and recording these songs was really great. One of the things I’ve always loved about music is how you can take negative feelings or experiences and turn them into something meaningful and positive, it was beautiful to watch these songs go through that process.
Why do you feel it’s important to share these stories with your listeners?
I think honesty is really important in music. The honesty of artists regarding their personal experiences allow listeners to find a commonality, to understand more deeply our own experiences and the experiences of others. Sharing dark stories has never been necessarily a goal for me but dark feelings or experiences have just always been what I write about. It’s a really important part of my healing process. Putting those stories into songs I think is beautiful. It’s something that makes me proud and I want to share but how people take it from there is up to them. It is really rewarding when I’ve had a listener identify with my songs and experiences and when the songs can help them in their own healing process.
Has allowing yourself to be vulnerable and honest in your music helped you in your process of healing? How are you staying gold?
Absolutely! Writing the songs on “Stay Gold” was like allowing my most honest voice to speak, often at times when I didn’t want to listen. I get a lot of answers from my music. I’ll be in the middle of writing a song and I’ll be like “Oh that’s how I’m feeling??”
I’m staying gold by staying true to me, my truth, my vision, and my feelings.
Since releasing "The Trouble With Teeth" in 2017, how do you think your approach to songwriting has evolved?
I think my songwriting has evolved since my first album to be more direct. I was going through a period of time when I was writing “The Trouble With Teeth” where I thought it was really uncool to write directly about “love.” I wanted everything I wrote to be metaphoric and rooted in philosophy or science but with my newer material I’ve been enjoying not shying away from just saying exactly what I mean. Not worrying if its too emotional or not cool enough.
Do you have any advice for people dealing with these kinds of harmful relationships? How do you think we can better serve victims of domestic abuse as a society?
I think the most helpful things anyone can say to themselves or to someone else who is experiencing a harmful relationship is “you deserve better” and that any kind of physical or emotional abuse in a relationship is “not ok.” There is never a reason, there is never an excuse. As a society we can best serve victims when we provide them with resources like a safe place to stay, legal aid, protection and counseling.
If you are in need of help check out these resources below: