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Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, the duo known as Overcoats, released their debut album Young almost exactly a year ago, and they're starting to feel restless. They're working on their next album — it has them so swamped that they're not even following the Kurrent Kardashian Scandal, they tell me — and they're expanding their sound. Almost as a symbol of their current renaissance, the color-coordinated duo is releasing an acoustic version of their most pop-heavy song, "I Don't Believe In Us."
"It was one of our most 'dance' songs, [so] we wanted to reimagine the song in a more intimate and honest way," Mitchell, 25, tells Refinery29 over the phone. "We often like to put these sad lyrics to dance beats in order to make them palatable. And to create kind of a catharsis as you listen to the words."
Overcoats released "I Don't Believe In Us" as a part of the deluxe edition of Young. A celebratory addendum to the album, the song has the boppy vibe of something that could appear in an iPhone commercial. In the music video for the song, Mitchell and Elion perform a series of dance moves. The style of the dancing — raw, a little silly — is incongruous with the lyrics, which aren't exactly happy-go-lucky. The chorus rings, "I don't believe in much of anything / I don't believe in us." It's nihilism wrapped in bubblegum.
Elion, 24, adds, "With 'I Don't Believe In Us' acoustic, because we have this version that we can kind of let loose to and dance to, we wanted to have a version that kind of stripped away those electronic pieces and was kind of our rawest form. Because when you first hear it the first thing you may hear is the electronics and the pop, and we wanted to highlight just the songwriting in this version."
This version is bubblegum-free and contemplative. The beat is gone, replaced by a thoughtful ponderance of guitar. Elion and Mitchell love dance music — something you can cut up to, as Drake might say — but they wanted a track that focussed on the lyrics themselves. Without the bubbly synth under their voices, "I Don't Believe In Us" is a different song. It shifted from unhinged celebration to what feels like a measured epilogue for their first album.
For Overcoats, the track is a semi-summary of the past year. Following the April release of Young, Overcoats went on tour. They're still touring, actually, while they lay the groundwork of their next album.
"A lot of the lyrics in 'I Don't Believe In Us' are sort of a representation of what it's like to be a musician on the road for a year. The romance of it all gets shattered. And you're like, 'Oh, I'm not a pop star flying in first class everywhere,'" says Mitchell, laughing. "But, the resolve of the song, is 'That's okay, and I choose that anyway.' This song in its rawest form speaks to that a lot."
Being raw is a specialty of Overcoats, although their next album might not have the same close-quarters qualities as Young. Their next album is aiming bigger; it might be more raucous.
"We're writing in a much more rock mentality," Mitchell shares. "Because we've realized that playing live and being able to shred on guitar and wile out is the most fun thing. And we're just gonna follow that."
Listen to full acoustic version of "I Don't Believe In Us," below.