Momma’s Music Is Medicinal

The Brooklyn-based band on growing up together, their upcoming tour, and the realities of making it in music.


Momma’s origin story begins in Los Angeles, where bandmates Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten first met as teenagers. With a shared interest in artists like Alex G and dedication to developing their own sound, Etta and Allegra started playing together in high school. Now in New York, their band, Momma (which includes their producer and bassist, Aaron Kobayashi Ritch, and drummer, Preston Fulks), is about to embark upon their next tour (this is certainly not their first — they opened for Weezer on tour just last year). Before they set out on this next adventure, where they’ll be opening for Girl In Red, they reflected on their past decade of making music, the necessity of holding down multiple jobs, and what it means to make it as musicians today.

Meg: How did you two meet, exactly?

Etta: We met in high school in Los Angeles. We were drawn to each other because we could tell we were going in a creative direction, and we were into the same things.

Allegra: Etta had been playing on a project called Momma with another person. That person couldn’t make a show so Etta just asked me to fill in. We tried to learn the songs and then just ended up writing a completely new set. We were 16 and 17.

Meg: Were you taking any kind of vocal or guitar lessons, or are you self taught?

Etta: We’re self taught entirely. I think that's what was special about our connection. We were both interested in certain ways to play guitar. What words you can use in a song. How to make things sound interesting. We were into a lot of similar artists and exploring ways to make music.

Allegra: One of the ways we became friends was that we both really loved Alex G. Now, we’ve toured with him and he's a friend of ours. It's very true that he’s the reason we became friends and started writing.

Meg: How have your tastes changed over the years? Have they moved in different directions?

Allegra: We’ve both changed in a similar way, and I think we can see that in our music. When you first start writing and have no experience, you’re a lot more uninhibited. The creative process is more pure. So we always joke that we were more creative back then. I’ll be like fuck, I cant write the guitar parts I could when I was 17 because I was more open minded then. We’ve honed our craft to the point where it feels more mature and professional — and both sides of the spectrum are good — it’s something we’ve been meditating on a lot.

Meg: It’s really beautiful that you’ve seen each other evolve and grow since you were in that young, uninhibited state. Have you guys had to learn how to maintain that special friendship over almost a decade?

Etta: When Allegra and I started really bonding, we just became like family. Allegra’s family is my family. I think we just have this very sisterly bond. Our friendship means the entire world to us. I think we just respect each other a lot, and ultimately we want the same things both in what we’re doing now, in pursuing music, but also just in being able to experience cool things together.

Meg: How did you guys decide to live in New York as two Los Angeles natives?

Etta: I moved in 2017 for school. Allegra moved in 2020.

Allegra: I graduated in 2020 in New Orleans and I didn’t really have a choice (laughs). We wanted to do music and it worked out because I really love it here, too. We just needed to be in the same place.

“I think we just have this very sisterly bond. Our friendship means the entire world to us. I think we just respect each other a lot, and ultimately we want the same things both in what we’re doing now, in pursuing music, but also just in being able to experience cool things together.”

Meg: Do you guys have strong preferences between New York and L.A.?

Etta: I like New York.

Allegra: I don’t take a side on this. I just grew up in Los Angeles, but I’m good.

Etta: I just think that there’s something about Los Angeles that is too transactional. New York is too, but In a different way. If I'm going to really spill my tea, I just think people in New York are not hiding their intention. People here are very upfront and direct and I can respect that more.

Meg: Are you guys working other jobs here as you make music, too?

Allegra: Yes, definitely. I work at a restaurant in Williamsburg. I’ve been working in restaurants since I was in college. I work four shifts a week, and so does Etta, and we have opposite schedules. It’s tricky, but I don't see how people don't do it because there's so much down time when you're not on tour, and I'd probably just spend all my money when we’re not working on a record. And I like my job.

Etta: I am a barista. And yeah, I think honestly this conversation is pretty important because it took us, or at least for me, until getting a business manager to really understand how to balance everything. I don’t think everyone understands how hard it is to make a profit as a musician. We had to do a lot of tours where we were losing money before we actually started making money.

Allegra: It wasn’t until 2021 that we started working with a business manager.

Etta: I have a lot of respect for managers that are looking for upcoming talent, because you really have to put so much belief behind these people. There were so many times that were like, this is crazy, there is so much that’s up in the air.

Allegra: It’s crazy. You could have one Spotify song that has 100M streams and you could probably quit your job. But if you don’t have that.. You need to be touring in big rooms.

Etta: I think it’s important to have this part of the experience though. Longevity is something that is important to us. Look at Taylor Swift, doing this tour and being the most famous she’s ever been after 15 years or however long. That’s goals. I think it’s important to have to work and understand how much work it takes to get to where you want to be.

Meg: How has touring been in the past years? What’s your tour style?

Allegra: [laughs] We just like to have fun and don’t take ourselves very seriously. We’ve partied a lot for 2-3 month long tours, which was detrimental to our bodies and souls. But we like to goof off and we have our little rituals. Get snacks and watch stuff.

Etta: We have some pretty fun solo adventures. There was one time in Fredericksburg, TX, this really tiny German town, when we just bar hopped for hours and talked about so much shit and saw some really random local playing covers at some bar. It was one of the most fun days.

Meg: Have there been any really surreal moments?

Allegra: We toured with Weezer and Modest Mouse. Every single day of that was surreal. It was totally chill, they're all sweet normal people. It was just funny. Every once in a while we’d be like, woah, what’s going on.

Etta: That was definitely crazy. Maybe it was the 2nd or 3rd show on that tour when they asked us to sing one song together for the rest of the tour. We were like, we have to be professional about this. They are really serious and very musically in tune. They were like, what key do you want to do this in? And we were like ummmm…. After that set every night we would take a second in our green room and be like, okay we have to practice.

Allegra: No I mean that was crazy.

“Longevity is something that is important to us. Look at Taylor Swift, doing this tour and being the most famous she’s ever been after 15 years or however long. That’s goals.”

Meg: Okay, one last question. The song ‘Medicine’ is my favorite. Can you talk a little bit about the story behind that song?

Allegra: That’s one of those songs that had a really long life before we fully gave birth to it. I never, ever do this, but I was in the shower and singing the riff in my head. That’s how that guitar part came to be.

Etta: That's a song where, at the time, we were both in relationships. Well, Allegra is still in hers. But it was the first time we felt loved and were very happy and all of that, and I think that was the first time we could write a love song together that wasn’t depressing or degrading. It's a reflection of where we were at mentally and in those relationships.

Meg: That’s so sweet. I love that. What is it like playing those older songs now? Do you feel that you grow out of them at all?

Etta: There is a time where you can lose the connection to a song. You hold it with such importance at the very beginning then over time it just changes.

Allegra: It’s just like what we were talking about at the beginning, we’ve changed a lot and the way we make music has changed a lot since we were 17.

Etta: Yeah, sometimes I’ll have a moment where I’m like, woah my brain is ascribing new meaning to what I was originally talking about in this song. But that’s kind of the beauty in all of this, too.

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