Q&A: safety scissors talks origin, future and bringing energy to the stage


Photo courtesy of Maddie Farr

safety scissors will perform at The Daily’s newsroom on Sunday. From left to right, Weinberg junior Hope McKnight, McCormick junior Maddie Farr and Communication junior Judy Lawrence.

Esther Lim, Reporter

Northwestern band safety scissors started with a simple question: “Do you want to start a band?” 

The trio of musicians jokingly refer to themselves as Northwestern’s premier “lesbian indie rock basement grunge pop punk post-modern new-era emo revival band” on Instagram, but there’s one characteristic that unites the band’s versatile sound: energy. 

The three juniors — McCormick singer and rhythmic guitarist Maddie Farr, Communication lead guitarist Judy Lawrence and Weinberg bassist Hope McKnight — spoke to The Daily about their origin, upcoming Notes from the Newsroom performance and where they’re headed. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: Tell me about the origin of safety scissors — how did you all come together?

McKnight: Me and Maddie have been besties since freshman year. Last year, we were sitting on a train and Maddie had just auditioned for something, right?

Farr: I auditioned for something and I didn’t get it. And Hope has played viola for many years. So I turned to her and I said, “Hey, do you want to start a band?”

McKnight: We got a bass and then we started messing around and playing music together late at night or when we had free time. And then we decided to actually get the band going. 

Farr: We put up flyers around campus and Judy responded, and that was that.

The Daily: What’s the story behind the name “safety scissors?”

Farr: We’re all lesbians! It’s kind of a joke about that. 

Lawrence: That’s crazy to me — it was pure chance. The first time we all got together, (Maddie) was like, “Oh we’re called safety scissors because me and Hope are lesbians,” and I was like, “Oh! I’m also lesbian!” How serendipitous. 

The Daily: How do all those genres you described on Instagram come together to form safety scissors’ sound? 

Farr: Our whole thing on Instagram was, “If we claim as many attributes as possible, we can be the premiere group.” It’s just a joke. But I guess I would describe our sound as energetic and also with that, we don’t really stick to one genre. We don’t try to limit ourselves when we’re playing covers, or especially when we’re writing originals. Because why would we?

The Daily: What is the band’s trajectory?

McKnight: We definitely want to play as many shows as possible. It’s so much fun. 

Lawrence: I think playing as many shows, like Hope said, and seeing where that leads us is kind of a nice position to be in. We know we can do it, we’ve done it and we have more paths to go down.

Farr: I guess the next biggest step in our trajectory is actually recording some of our original music and getting that online.

The Daily: Tell me about your setlist for the upcoming Notes from the Newsroom. 

Farr: So the first one we’re playing is a song called “Cold.” That is one I actually wrote way before safety scissors was ever even a thought. It’s a song that I’ve been playing since I was 14 or 13 years old, but it’s definitely been adapted and improved since the dawn of safety scissors, so I’m excited about that one. And then the other two were more joint efforts in terms of writing them. The second one is called “Shadow” and the third one is called “Meltdown.”

The Daily: If there’s one lyric that you guys have written that is representative of the band, what would it be? 

Farr: “She said ‘Girl run away with me and I’ll show you things you won’t believe.’” It’s from a song titled “Twin XL.” Honestly, we try not to take ourselves too seriously, and this song is just a lot of fun for us to play! And of course, our songs are often about girls, so we feel like that’s representative. 

To catch safety scissors’ concert, tune into the live stream on Instagram or watch the recording on YouTube.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @EshLim1213

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