The wait has been worth it. Absolutely. No question. Kate Boy are true masters of synth pop and they should be bigger than everything else out now. This new track is just another brilliant chapter in a series of brilliant chapters. Sharp lyrics, ridiculous chorus and melodies, perfect and danceable synths, and that indescribably epic spirit that only they can achieve.
(PS You haven’t experienced Kate Boy until you’ve seen them live. Truly. It is is a life changing experience.)
The sort of listless, floaty sound of early afternoons in summer. Once I left the farmers market on Sunday, I spent an hour walking around Logan Square and Wicker Park with this track on repeat, soaking up the idea of summer that I so wanted to exist this year, but was (chillingly) out of my grasp.
What begins as a soft, yet somber piano turns into a collection of samples and layers, from cooing vocals to synthetic strings to cold and steady drum machine beats. It’s a lot and from anyone else it would be too much and yet this collaboration sounds complete and the end product is ultimately compelling.
This is a quiet little stunner. There’s no showy production or vocals, but the steady rhythm is warm and comforting. Truly, it’s the kind of song you immediately like and as you continue to settle with each of its elements – the precious melodies, the memorable guitar lines – that like turns into a deeper devotion.
Barrett recommended MUNA to me and I’m enjoying their brand of quirky, unpolished pop rock. Makes me feel like I’m 12 years old again. All of the less tracks on their more perfect EP felt familiar, like the familiarity of 80s and 90s aesthetics HAIM.
I feel like there is mainstream cool and then there is weird cool, which takes much more effort to understand and appreciate. Mainstream cool seems almost effortless. Weird cool feels confrontational. People will often react with, “What are you trying to prove?” when in fact one’s actions are instead born out of a desire to just feel comfortable in one’s skin, regardless of how that manifests.
Six years ago, people thought I was strange for wearing sequins so frequently. Was I trying to be fancy? Was I trying to make them feel underdressed? In my head though, sequins and sparkles were a manner of masking my growing depression. If I could wear something lovely, perhaps I could feel lovely too.
But soon, the depression morphed into contentment and acceptance and the clothing morphed into an identity, one that felt right for who I was and am. And other people saw it in that way too. A friend once said, “I didn’t understand it when I first met you, but now I can’t think of you in any other way.”
Does it make me cool? Probably not. But it makes me me and knowing and loving yourself is the ultimate form of cool.
He was my father’s age and when I wouldn’t give him my name or number or any true acknowledgement, he called me a “mean bitch.” It was in my favorite place of respite in the city, Caffe Streets. I think he knew. He made sure everyone heard. It is almost August. I’ve lost the summer fight within me.
Scenes are always worse than private embarrassments because you know that no one will do or say anything. They’ll just be thankful that it’s not them. When you are alone, it is easier to pretend that if other people were there, they would intervene. It is easier to hope for that because you believe that you will do the same for others, even if deep down you are not sure.
I saw The Golden Filter perform in a corner of the tiny, tiny perfect and now-defunct little club called Sonotheque. I used to dream about the space because I loved and frequented it so much. During that show, I stood right in front of their minuscule set-up and screamed my head off like only an obnoxious 21-year old can.
Nearly six years later, the group is back with another masterpiece of erotic, synthy goodness. I still feel sad knowing how they never reached their full potential, but listening to their old classics and this new late-night sliver of slinky, shimmery beauty keeps me happy.
"Silent Fireworks" by Dapayk & Padberg (Marek Hemmann Remix)
The original is nice and sensual, especially with Eva Padberg’s vocals, but I like what Marek Hemmann did the tempo of the song. It took me a while to realize they were cut from the same cloth. This remix sounds almost childlike and certainly joyful, a far cry from the pensive pseudo-deep grooves of the original.
Jarryd Klapper’s voice on this is the perfect touch to producer Count Bounce’s work as 5THS. I’m not familiar with Klapper’s past work, but “Sell It To Me” is the perfect introduction to his soulful, memorable falsetto. It’s a little late-summer stunner and I can’t be more excited to hear what’s next.
“Perfume’s ephemerality is its greatest appeal, the same way secrets can only exist if there is a listener. If right on our bodies, it is all we want to bury ourselves in. If on the right body, all perfume is sex, and we dig into the pleasure with our nails.”—
Most people who know me permanently know that I am fascinated by perfumes, by bodily odors and the ability to mask or transform them in general.
When I was in 6th grade, I hated my body so much that I avoided showering as much as possible. Daily and intimate proximity to my naked limbs made me uncomfortable and angry. There were other things wrong as well, but like most people, I took it out on myself by refusing to acknowledge what was there.
It was not until an old friend and classmate refused to sit next to me on the last day of school because “of my weird stench” that I finally recognized what was happening. I had lost a lot of friends and grew a lot of inches. I was 11 years old and nearly the same height and size I am now. I was womanly when I didn’t want to be and was angry that the world saw me as that when I so desperately wanted to feel like any other kid around me.
The top drawer of my sister’s underwear drawer was filled with all of the lotions and body sprays from Bath and Body Works and Victoria’s Secret she purchased on shopping trips with friends. Because she was in high school, she left for school at 7:30 and I had an hour alone in our house before my classes began. I used to test every scent on my skin, sometimes testing them twice in one morning: before a shower and after. I was obsessed with the differences from a clean body and a settled one.
Other girls were obsessed with clothes. I was obsessed with scents. In my mind, I could transform myself into someone else, someone better, with a spritz. This was also something I could control. I never wore makeup because my skin was so bad and I loathed clothes shopping because my tall, muscular limbs couldn’t fit into the teen girl sizes of my peers. But scents were mine to own and control, even if they weren’t technically mine at all.
My first perfume was Burberry Touch purchased in a Marshall’s in North Riverside. It was my sophomore year of high school. My sister started college and took with her the myriad of scents she liked to hoard but rarely used. I had to define myself all over again and I liked the strange pungency of the scent, despite it’s potent mix of florals and fruits.
Most girls wore Dream Angels Heavenly by Victoria’s Secret. But Touch was an act of rebellion on my part, perhaps my first ever. As I began to own my scents, I began to own other parts of myself that felt out of grasp: my style, my hair, and most importantly, my body itself.
Later in high school and college, I stood firm with one scent. If this was my time of self-discovery then I needed a singular scent to define it. My vanity now is covered in bottles little and small. Perfume and scents have moved from definition to playfulness, to mood, to curiosity.
Bvlgari’s Jasmine Noir is a tried and true standby. I wore it a lot at 23 when I first moved into my apartment alone. Now I keep it there just in case. I also love Dior’s Addict and Addict 2 Life. See by Chloe makes the winters bearable. Elizabeth and James’ Nirvana White is just a touch too strong for the day time, which is why I wear it every day. I’m enjoying pushing little boundaries.
I own thirteen different scents now. They are not impulse purchases. I think a lot of scent and what it means and how it changes and compliments who we are. I wrap myself in scents as I do clothes and as I do feelings. They can at times feel like the only tried and true lover, one that knows just how to kiss the skin. I don’t want it to let go.
Yesterday evening, I read the below essay as part of a special edition of The Marrow which took place at the Pitchfork Music Festival. I stood on a small wooden stage and choked up in front of some of my friends and many strangers. But it was one of the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences. Other readers included hosts Leah Pickett and Naomi Huffman, Huffington Post Chicago Editor Joe Erbentraut and Mark Richardson, Editor in Chief of Pitchfork.
“I’m just warning you, I’m not a very social person right now,” I said to an old friend who had just arrived for an overnight stay in my apartment.
“Oh,” she said.
“I mean, I feel like people have this perception of me. But it’s not true. Not now at least. I do things, but I am alone. And although I sometimes need them, I more just need myself.”
I need to take back myself.
I began living alone during college and it was during that time that I began going out alone. More importantly, it was when I learned how to dance alone. I grew up on dance floors, but they were the hardwood floors and concrete manufacturing garages that I practiced in. And I danced with other girls, girls my age, girls who were forced into these classes by their mothers. Girls who thought this made them dainty and precious and feminine. But for me, it was a natural extension of the self, even back then when I had barely been kissed, but certainly touched all over.
No, dancing for me was a claiming, a possession. A body is forever, even if it is not “right,” even as it ages, even as it struggles to live. It is the one thing we can not escape, whatever its state. It is punishment and pleasure. It is never perfect, even if the world tells us our imperfections are manageable through strife and pain. Or maybe it is always perfect, always right and valid and good. It is everything else that the world tells us it can’t be. To be satisfied in ourselves is to know the blessings of life.
This is me taking back my limbs. This is me taking back my space, taking more space, taking all of the space I can call my own. I need to, you see. Girls are taught to give space away. But I want it all. And if you fight me for it, I will find a way to take it back. I always do.
It was around 3PM and I was riding the Blue line back to the hood, my home, to get my hair done. I didn’t realize when the car got empty. I didn’t realize it was just the two of us, that he was slowly creeping toward me, moving from seat to seat to see if I saw him, to see what he was doing.
My headphones were a little box and that little box protected me from the outside world. As soon I could, I began wearing oversized, heavy ones that covered my ears and, if my music was loud enough, my face, my body, but especially my thoughts. They were a method of escape for a woman who craved it.
And in that box there was the sad disco of Donna Summer and the ache of Sade. There was the isolation of Joy Division and the heartbreak of Sharon Van Etten. There was the weirdness of Bjork, the assurance that you, that I was worthy of myself in whatever way I would grow. But mostly disco and house. The heat of the rhythms. The singleness of the sound.
I can’t wear them now. I am too afraid of their ability to lock me away from the world. I need to see the world around me. I didn’t then. And since then, what runs through my mind is not the syncopation of the rhythm or the instrumentation. It is not the lyrics. It is not the warmth of the vocals. It is not anything except:
Who is here? Who wants to hurt me? Who craves the power?
Concentration is a privilege of the body, one I no longer have. One I think about more often than not. To concentrate is to be in another place, to not be aware of my surroundings, to fall victim to the ways the world works.
Is he waiting to strip me of my sanity? I can remember the deadness of his eyes. I don’t know if he ever actually saw me, even as he held me down, even as he looked me in the eyes.
How did I get back here to this place where I am of two things: the mind and the body?
When my friend left, I realized that I had begun to fall deeply into that aloneness. That things had gotten worse. That the aloneness had transformed into loneliness and pain and anger. That being around a friend was a blessing and a necessity. But also, to be alone is not always to be lonely. But it had become that thing for me.
Not all places of escape are the same for all people. We each develop something that speaks to our everyday, our tastes, our sorrow. I know mine more than many other things in my life: the dance floor; the blinding, shimmery lights; the weight of the bass.
I came home from work and slept and woke up a little before midnight. I needed to go home again.
Negativity breeds negativity. Positivity does not act the same. No, positivity takes constant effort. Happiness is effort. Joy is work.
I think that negative memories work in much the same way. Unless the night was truly spectacular, we rarely remember solid pleasantness. Moments that are just good fade until weeks and months bleed into one another. But the bad has a way of staying, an unwanted acquaintance that takes root on the couch of your mind and forever overstays.
I arrived at Smart Bar, alone. It was a disco-themed night. The lights were glowing. Faces were distinguishable. And the disco ball was spinning, the room illuminated and lovely. Because it was the middle of the week, the space was not packed. I could breathe. Freedom was free.
Great disco is more than just the joy. Through and through, it should be about the transcendence of the dance floor, of dance, of the body in motion. We dance when we are glad. But also, the dance floor is communal escape. It is freeing because one is literally free. There is space to move. I am taking back my space, one song at a time, one note at a time, one beat at a time. I count the rhythms in my head, the steady 4/4. It is like my heartbeat. Moving steadily, a great pace, it is the constant. Other people have each other. I have music. I have movement. I have it.
It is possible to be and do what you want and to think about what you did a month or a week or a day later. I recognize when I am making bad decisions and do them anyway. I would rather recognize than to pretend they were never even there. I would rather recognize than to wake up one day and wonder where all these moments went and what they actually mean.
I’ve had this quote saved in my drafts, trying to figure out why I liked it so much and I think it’s finally kissed me just so.
It is about the processes, yes, but also the way the mind functions. What we think and how we think vs. what is the tangible thing that represents those thoughts. But that is not and can not be everything. The body is not the mind at work. A physical book is not the act of reading.
I loathed the idea of a kindle until I got one a couple of years ago and then it made so much sense. My apartment was (and still is) filled with books. I buy them regularly, making trips to my usual haunts in the city for stories both new and old. But now, I read even MORE. I have the kindle app on my phone and on my laptop too. My mind is free to read always and whenever. That is powerful. It will always be the words that matter not the medium in which they are delivered.
Consider the power of the tumblr dashboard. If you follow the right people, you will be surrounded by beauty and passion and humor and light. And also, words that will change your life. Strangers can share with you worlds you’d never known. A book is a book but a word is not just a word. It never can be and never will.
I should be asleep but this soulful synth pop jam featuring two of my favorite musicians has me bouncing around my room like it’s the middle of the day. What else is there to say? Dave’s production is top-notch and captivating and Tinashe sounds as lovely as ever. There. Now back to dancing.
I’ve been listening to this one since the weekend and earlier today, while walking home after a long day a work, I couldn’t help but smile knowing how far and long I’ve grown with Blonde Redhead. There are few artists I can say that about and few artists I believe will continue to thrive at the pace they are right now. But Blonde Redhead is constantly full of little surprises that keeps there fans devoted, hanging on to each new note.
I wish it was as easy for me to move someplace else as it is for so many of my friends. They see other places as chances, as means to an end, as an extension of what they want in the world. But I see them as impenetrable forces. I’ve never visited a city that I didn’t love. Because I can not imagine myself within them permanently, I instead feel appreciative of what they offer. If I were to dig deeper though (and by deeper, I mean deeper within myself), I would need to escape and quickly.
She asked me how I was doing and I said I was fine. But the more I talked, the angrier I got, until my anger was the only thing I saw. The injustice was the only thing I saw. The racism was the only thing I saw. The costs were the only thing I saw.
"I used to think these things happened to me because there was something wrong with me, that I was the common denominator. But now I know that it is every woman and that it is always. Now I know that the world is just fucked up."
"And how did it feel to say all of that?" she asked.
Well, it felt better than pushing it aside to assuage people’s moods. It felt right.
On twitter, I described Juce’s music as an ESG/late-Spice Girls hybrid and I stick by that assessment. That bass is a straight-up tribute to ESG and that harmonies remind me perfect Spice Girls singles like “Say You’ll Be There.” I never knew I needed this combination until now.
"Wrote a Song About You" by MNEK (Kaytranada edition)
I think I’m at the point no where I just post any and everything Kaytranada creates. His sound is so distinct and always successful. Maybe it’s because he makes it all seem so easy that I’m endlessly fascinated. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never known a contemporary producer to create such instant, booty-shaking jams as Kaytranada. Teaming up with MNEK and elevating his silky, honey-vocals is the sort of collaboration I wished happened months and months ago.
This has been giving me so many mid-90s feels. A reminder that I’m only 26 and so when I mention this, I’m talking about my memories of back seats and MTV and dance classes. I’m so excited by this new, sharp, joyous direction for Moko. In terms of the efforts and style cues of UK pop house, she has nailed it even more than her contemporaries. I’m obsessed in the best possible way.
“For girls who are aware that our culture expects them to be benignly happy, shiny objects—smile for me, baby—there can be a defiance in not only embracing sadness online, but cultivating a kind of ambiguity as to where the performed feeling ends and the “genuine” feeling begins.”—
I’ve been thinking about this in the context of why the internet has been and continues to be an important outlet for me. It doesn’t hold the same weight as it did when I was 18 or 19 or 20 years old, but still, I turn to it because it allows me to be vulnerable in public.
There are levels of performativity in cultivating an online identity, or at least it seems that way. But maybe we cling to our online identities because we need them to feel like complete human beings. Maybe it’s not performing at all so much as releasing parts of ourselves that previously had no way of being given the light to shine and prosper.
I do not know what I would have done if I did not have words to save me. And the keyboard became an easier method of communication. I still cherish writing by hand; it gives me the means of clarifying my thoughts in a way that a computer screen can’t. But the access to a keyboard also allowed me the possibility of quickness and ease. Let me spew forth this sadness right now.
“Doing what you love can help with this. Doing what you love allows you to remember so well, to feel so closely how you have loved, that you can forget the space between yourself and the words you draw with. Forget the distance between you and everything, everyone, else. Love becomes transmutable. Freud knew this. Writing can be an effective replacement mechanism—and in its solitude, there is antidote for the deepest loneliness.”—Lucy McKeon in "Meeting Joan Didion" for The Paris Review
Unlike most performers, I found and fell in love with Ry X’s music through a remix of his stunning “Howling” by Âme And I’m thankful that I did. I hear he track constantly while I’m out as if it’s a remember to take a quick break from the bass of the dance floor. The yearning. His voice also doesn’t hurt in selling each note as if it is th most important in the world.
It’s always so great to hear new music from Majical Cloudz. Despite my current love of bleeps and bloops, I’ve always found utterly earnest vocalists so compelling. That sort of authentic, raw vulnerability sounds so rare on contemporary records, but when you hear it, you can’t help but turn to it again and again.
I realize it’s nearly midnight, but imagine it is the late afternoon. The weight of the sun is finally lessening. The humidity is dropping. Here and there, you feel a nice, light breeze. It is summer and maybe you are by a pool or maybe you are in a place like where I was today: a beautiful rooftop with views of the skyline and a restless house beats. This song would sound perfect there. But really, it’s so good that you’ll listen to it whenever, even right before midnight.
She said, “It’s perfectly fine to not be over this.” What a relief. A culture of complete stages is not my truth. First this happens, then you feel it constantly, then you work on it, then you feel it never. That is what should happen. But, I have never been good at the “shoulds” of life. I fall into situations; always a push, never a step.