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Keep Your Secrets Uses Their Lyrics to Say What Words Can’t

From a YouTube cover channel to their recently released second EP, Keep Your Secrets has been a community effort since its inception.

Malerie Gamblin and Matt Nguyen-Ngo started Keep Your Secrets as a cover channel. The duo had attended undergrad together at William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA and started the channel in 2020. Malerie sang and Matt played the instruments.

“For the first few months, the only people who really paid any attention to us were our friends. We had maybe 50 monthly listeners on Spotify,” they said.

In part, they were inspired to start the channel by Meet Me @ the Altar’s song “Garden” and Four Year Strong’s album Brain Pain, which were blowing up in 2020.

Their turning point came in April 2021, however, when musician and influencer Joseph DuBay shouted out their TikTok and funneled thousands of listeners to their page. They had two songs on streaming services at the time: pop-punk covers of “Therefore I Am” by Billie Eilish and “Forget Me Too” by Machine Gun Kelly.

“This was right when everyone was making videos dunking on a band called the Tramp Stamps for a number of reasons, and Joseph made a video telling people to stop listening to them and listen to us instead,” they explained.

This boost in listenership was the impetus they needed to turn the original music that existed only as voice memos in their phones into a reality. They searched for more band members, finding them in unlikely places.

They connected with lead guitarist Ken on Reddit, rhythm guitarist Jasiu from a musician’s networking group on Facebook, and their original bassist Kyle from Malerie’s workplace. Together, Malerie, Matt, and Kyle recorded their first EP in Matt’s bedroom studio. Ken and Jasiu joined the band to play shows in the summer.

Keep Your Secrets - Press Photo
Keep Your Secrets - Press Photo

On February 24, 2023, the group released their second EP, ‘it’s all good’. They created it alongside Casey Cavaliere from The Wonder Years throughout late 2022.

“In addition to crushing the mix, Casey has also been a valued mentor for the band,” they said. “His advice from his experience being in an established band has really helped us navigate the music scene.”

The multidimensionality of their sound is showcased on the album. They call themselves a pop-punk band, but draw from genres like metalcore, post-hardcore, emo, and j-pop. Keep Your Secrets cites “finger-pointy punk” like The Wonder Years, Neck Deep, and The Story So Far, as well as metalcore and post-hardcore, as major influences.

“We’re also influenced by anime openings, and we even made a heavier cover of “Gurenge” by LiSA, the season 1 opening for the anime Demon Slayer,” they said.

Another influence on their sound are their roots in the DMV area. Malerie and Matt both grew up in Maryland, and Ken and Jasiu grew up in Virginia. Currently, they have members and touring members living in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Their DMV influences are wide and varied, but come through in the uniqueness of their sound.

“Matt listens to Darkest Hour, a melodic death metal band from D.C., Good Charlotte from Waldorf, and the progressive metal band Periphery out of Bethesda. Jasiu also listens to Periphery, plus Turnstile from Baltimore, pulses from Virginia, Mikau, Older Notes, and Origami Angel. Ken is originally from Virginia Beach and spent a good time in Richmond, so he is influenced by bands like Turnover and Broadside, and even hip-hop/rap artists like Pharrell and Wale, who are from the DMV.”

Keep Your Secrets is a female fronted, all-POC band. They spoke to the stigma against non-white, non-male people that still exists in the pop-punk scene despite bands like Paramore and Meet Me @ The Altar attempting to break that barrier in the 2000’s.

Malerie says, “it’s been really interesting to see peoples’ reactions when they find out that she’s in a punk band, because they’re not expecting that from a tiny Black woman!”

However, being a woman in the music industry still has its difficulties.

“[P]eople can be very weird to women in bands,” they explain. “Malerie’s had to deal with incidents where people have done and/or said creepy things, inappropriately crossed boundaries.”

The fact that they are woman-fronted and all-POC gives them the opportunity to dig into issues like systemic sexism, racism, and mental health related to identity from a unique perspective.

“On the other hand though, being a woman-fronted all-POC band also means we’re held to a higher standard, whether consciously or not. Like in any other industry, our demographic makeup means we have to work a bit harder to reach the same goals as many of our peers.”

Keep Your Secrets uses their lyrics to address heavier topics such as these. Their new EP seeks to speak to the experiences of the new generations, while still maintaining a maturity and progression in the genre. Topics include “strained relationships, both familial and romantic, failed friendships, finding yourself as a 20-something in a world that’s becoming increasingly messed-up.”

Photo courtesy of Keep Your Secrets
Photo courtesy of Keep Your Secrets

Outside of music, they enjoy creative and social hobbies. Ken works out regularly, learns k-pop choreography, and collects beyblades. Jasiu loves skateboarding and fingerboarding. Malerie cares for her cat Franky and recently picked up skiing. Matt loves sci-fi and Dungeons & Dragons. Together, they enjoy watching anime.

From a technical perspective, the group has had to work from the ground up. For on-stage shows, they recently started playing to a click track, which they call a “godsend.”

“Having a metronome going at all times also helps us do things like start certain songs without Matt having to count off, so to the audience it seems like we’re just magically perfectly in sync,” they said. “Right now, it’s just Matt and Jasiu running a click in their in-ears, but we’re considering getting everyone hooked up.”

The group loves performing. Getting on stage is a full circle moment, and they say that seeing fans who know the lyrics to all their songs is “the best feeling.”

“It’s still very surreal to realize that we actually have awesome, dedicated fans who aren’t just our friends, family, and significant others,” they said.

At the end of the day, the group exists to go with the flow.

“[W]e’re just a bunch of 20-somethings making music. All the stuff beyond the music itself, we’re not 100% sure what we’re doing! Nowadays, you can’t just be a musician; you have to also be a content creator, your own tour manager, your own accountant, and all these other things. The most we can do is do our best research, ask for advice from our mentors like Casey, and put forward our best effort in all of those things.”

They think that the most distinctive thing about them is their sound: though firmly pop-punk rooted, they use “eclectic influences” in a unique way. They also make sure that they have a cohesive look and presence that makes live shows pop and leave a lasting impression on new fans.

To see Keep Your Secrets on stage, you can see their mini-tour with Darro at Mona Liza Studios in Brooklyn on April 14, the Local 724 in Pittsburgh on April 15, Southgate House Revival near Cincinnati on April 16, and at Pie Shop in D.C. on April 22.

With the recent release of their EP, they are looking to do a larger tour soon. They also have a music video that will be released soon. Ever ambitious, they also are working on demos for their third major release in the (distant) future.

Jaci Jedrych

Jaci Jedrych is a World Politics student at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She loves going to concerts and exploring different genres, and has a passion for arts and news writing.

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