Pom Pom Squad Couldn’t Stop If They Tried

Get in! We’re going down fucking hill. Those are the very words Mia Berrin, the lead singer and vocalist of Pom Pom Squad lays out on the Brooklyn band’s new track, “Downhill,” their first song since 2021’s Death of a Cheerleader. The track opens with sinister sonics, and lyrics that convey the fraught push and pull between of self-ambition and self-destruction. It’s a strong return from the band, rife with all the angst, wit and grit we expect.

Speaking of expectations, according to Berrin, this next era for Pom Pom Squad is “a bit darker overall.” “But it’s still playful,” she tells PAPER. “I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting production-wise and ‘Downhill’ is an example of that for sure. When I was demoing it, I tried to let go of any preconceived notion of genre and just put together sounds that felt good. I’m trying to follow my creative intuition more. I’ve been in a phase of my life where I need to strip back and reconnect with myself — who I am at my core. Visually, I’ve been pulling from childhood influences: Alice in Wonderland, Sailor Moon, video games and, as always, film.

Below, Berrin breaks down the inspiration behind “Downhill” and tells us what’s in store for Pom Pom Squad next.

Tell us about “Downhill.” What was the song’s inspiration?

In the space between Death of a Cheerleader and this upcoming project, I was grappling with two opposite poles of my personality: my desire to hide and my desire to be seen. In my day-to-day life, I’m pretty shy and reserved, but there’s this other part of me I don’t understand that feels pulled to be on stage. Sometimes, being ambitious feels like being self-destructive, and I wanted to explore the line between the two.

Why did you choose “Downhill” to introduce your new era of music?

Initially, I wanted to go with a song that was more similar to the sound of Death of a Cheerleader, but my team really pushed me to take a bolder step by releasing “Downhill” first. Ultimately, I think it was the right decision. It’s more reflective of my current influences, and I feel like it shows my growth as a writer.

What have you been up to since Death Of A Cheerleader? What are some of the highlights and lowlights since that album?

There have been so many of both. I think the biggest lowlight is just grappling with being perceived and misunderstood. It’s so easy for someone on the internet to come across a sliver of your life and make a snap judgment about you. As a Cancer, I’m really sensitive to that… less to what people say and more to the fact that anyone would take the time to be needlessly cruel. On the other hand, I get to do what I love every day! I’m really proud of the team I’ve built around me. Shelby, Lauren, and Alex (my bandmates) and my “Downhill” collaborators, Sabrina Song (co-writer) and Cody Fitzgerald (co-writer and co-producer), have taught me so much about collaboration while also allowing me to stay true to myself and my vision.

What are you most excited to share with your fans next?

I’ve been playing the same songs on tour for three years straight, and I can’t wait to give my fans and myself something new to dig into. I’m already wondering what they’re gonna wear to the shows.

Photography: Bao Ngo, Eliza Jouin

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