All this is in the hands of Happy Xiaoyun


What is your favorite tarot card?

Perhaps this is one of the main mysteries – stars represent creativity and death represents change. Maybe you’ve been through enough in life that the Three of Swords and its symbolism of hard times have comforted you.

For Happy Little Clouds singer and guitarist Jac Mestel, inspiration comes from a deck of tarot cards.

Earlier this year, the Boston-based rock band, which hangs out at Sterling's Mestre residence, released “Emperor's Song,” a tune about an established protagonist who's kind of like the Emperor Card.

On May 1, they dropped the fun, energetic, grunge-tinged single “I Don't Should,” whose cover art depicts another tarot card: The Fool.

When you pull the Fool card during a tarot reading, the card symbolizes new beginnings and innocence, as well as an adventure into the unknown.

They were just embarking on such an adventure a few years ago when Mestel wrote “I Don't Assume.”

Mestel came out as a teenager on Long Island in the early 2000s in a less-than-accepting environment and found herself in a new, very small dating pool.

“I was first figuring out how to date, and I was kind of behind my peers in that because I was queer in a world where it wasn't widely accepted at the time. What do I do now? How do I do that? What? Mestel said.

Straight teens who dated their first high school crush looked to movies, songs, and TV shows for examples of how relationships work, but until recently, gay teens didn't have the same pop culture reference points.

If you knew other gay kids, chances are they weren't your type and you had to wait a few more years to get the kind of experience your straight peers told you about on the school bus.

In “I Don't Should,” these lines come from someone who has waited long enough and is ready to know what romance is like.

“My classes got delayed somehow/Can someone tell me how the game is played?” Mestel sings.

In the chorus, Mestel sounds like a '90s Alanis Morrissette telling her younger self about the journey ahead: “I don't think you know anything about life. /I don’t think you know anything about loss/I don’t think you know anything about love/Well, it’s time to learn.

By the bridge, the song's narrator discovers their “out-of-tune romance,” asking someone: “When should we touch? Should I try not to rush? I'm going to start from the beginning, my friend, you know.”

When Mestel's guitar, JD Bergstrom's bass, and Jesse Townsend's drums drop out after the final chorus, don't let them fool you.

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This ending is false. The trio returned for another minute-long jam, with Mestel unleashing some extra energy on the mic, wailing wordlessly.

Mestel went to college in Boston and lived in Somerville for many years before eventually arriving in Sterling, but she was apprehensive about being openly gay in a small town.

However, these fears soon proved to be unfounded.

“When I moved to Worcester, I wasn't sure how I would be treated, but people here are more minding their own business,” Mestel said. “Maybe in public, towns here have a more liberal view of the world, but on a personal level, everyone has been very nice to me.”

Like many queer people over the years, Mestel had to come out of two different closets, an experience that heavily influenced their songwriting.

Having lived as a cisgender gay man for most of his adult life, Mestel found himself wondering why they couldn't stop watching trans YouTubers' vlogs and timeline videos. Self-reflection made them realize that they, too, were trans.

“It was at least ten years, maybe more, between my two comings out. I found my connection to other people through their journeys,” Mestel said. “The struggle has always been to be able to be myself and not hide parts of myself, and I use songwriting to tell songs things I can't tell other people.”

“I Don't Should” is available for download on music streaming platforms and on Happy Little Clouds' Bandcamp page.



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