Following the breakout success of her single “Overwhelmed” last year, Royal & the Serpent has returned with Searching for Nirvana, a new EP named after the grunge icons.
The seven-track collection not only pays tribute to Kurt Cobain and company, but also lays out a narrative that tackles mental health, sexuality and self-acceptance.
“Nirvana has been such a big musical influence to me,” Royal tells ABC Audio. “But really what we’re all searching for is this sense of joy, this sense of wholeness, this sense of oneness, which is what ‘nirvana’ really means.”
“I just wanted to meld the two worlds,” she adds.
If you were to compare Searching for Nirvana to a Nirvana album, you might pick In Utero — just as that record found Cobain reacting to the massive success of Nervermind and “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the EP sees Royal grappling with the newfound fame “Overwhelmed” has brought her.
“Nevermind was [Nirvana’s] super breakout pop, hit the masses, changed their lives [album], and I do think ‘Overwhelmed’ had a lot of those tributes for me,” Royal says. “This is just a continuation of that story.”
Even with a hit single in her pocket, Royal’s battle with self-doubt still rages on in Searching for Nirvana, just like with Cobain and In Utero.
“I’m still me, and I’m still struggling with the same things that I was struggling with when I put out ‘Overwhelmed,'” Royal says.
So, given those similarities and Royal’s stage name, why isn’t the EP’s title a “Pennyroyal Tea” pun?
“My best friend’s name is Penny, so we always joke about that song, because every time we hang out, we’re always spilling the tea,” Royal laughs. “So we’re always joking about ‘Pennyroyal Tea.'”
Searching for Nirvana is out now.
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