This autumn, Shamir released his seventh full-length release, Shamir. Our favorite countertenor has been taking his time to nurture his craft, game, and it-ness in Philly’s DIY scene. Since Hope and Revelations (both released in 2017), Shamir has released the full-length statement records Resolution (2018), Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw (2019), and Cataclysm (2020). These document Shamir’s artistic growth from cutie caterpillar eco-nerd toward the winged pop star we encounter, cocoon-less, on Shamir. We love to see it. I spoke with the artist in the late summer about pop stardom and visibility, the butterfly, mental health, Scorpio, Capricorn, the Oracle Twins, and two pairs of twin moms. Peep our star-crossing conversation below.
I noticed you began to use the butterfly image during Revelations, and by now it’s really flourished and multiplied. What does the butterfly help you symbolize? It was always a natural thing. It’s weird, one of my closest friends lives in Ottawa, and there’s a moth outburst there. At first, we thought it was butterflies, but he actually did some research and talked to his neighbors, and it’s a moth outburst. They’re blind; they run into you and hit you, and that shit hurts, you know? Anyway, I told him, “moths are cousins of butterflies,” and then I sensed this tingle — this was literally yesterday — and I was brought back to another time in my life. At the beginning of middle school, that’s when I was an eco-nerd, I had three different fish tanks in my room. …
stick your head in a song, not the sand.
This is a season of enduring hunger, and keeping alive the promise of being fed. Our vaccine is held up by a pharmaceutical trade race, weapons and violent tongues keep rising, and we’re losing lights every week. For some of us, this is the first time the world’s burned too hot, and for others, this feels like only the latest fever.
By our lights, culture can only do what it has always done. Music keeps our pain and our hope company; it clothes and shelters us when the world will not. In music is strength.
So set your SpaceX brainchip to sickening~ and stream yourself a rhythmic river to freedom… Here’s our Summer 2020 Playlist (in no particular order):
Flo Milli – Ho, why is you here?
“Beef FloMix” made fancam happen and introduced the world to Flo Milli. Flo Milli is Flo Milli. This July, Milli released her first mixtape, Ho, why is you here? and you could fit its flaws in the space between its title’s “here” and “?” Flo Milli delivers insistent jabs gloved in goofy punchlines, and insists on the immediacy of every syllable. Her wordplay checks each box like sevens on a slot machine. Her rhetoric is truer than Benjamin Franklin’s; her flow goes farther, faster, than Paul Revere. Flo Milli could have written the Declaration of Independence, but no Founding Father could have written “Weak.” Give Flo Milli her flowers, and wrap a twenty around each bloom. …
Michael Love Michael is an independent musician and writer based in Manhattan, whose latest single, “6 Jaguars,” holds up a magic mirror to wealth inequality. Enchanted, we had to catch up with them to ask about their reflections on crafting music as a lens through which to see what money makes of us.
How do you navigate the relationship between storytelling and selling stories? We don’t have another system right now. This is where we are, and I’m a person who has a certain amount of ambition. I’m putting music out there, which is an ambitious endeavor on its own, you know? I’ve worked within corporate hierarchies, so I can make a living. I understand this is necessary until we invent a new way of living and being, and supporting ourselves. But my desire to tell stories comes from a place disconnected from the idea of making money. I lead with my heart. I try to not live my life based on what’s gonna make me the next quick buck.
Like the film Parasite, “6 Jaguars” is a portrait of someone in their high tower while we suffer below, but there’s a certain luxe appeal. You end up wanting it, but also knowing that it’s awful. I’m really drawn to that juxtaposition, always. I’ve been binge-watching a ton of TV, like everyone, and I’ve been watching a lot of Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy shows. I’m obsessed with how they have these central characters who on the surface are corrupt, but you find goodness within them. They’re complex. And that’s how real life is. Nothing is one way or another.
At the end of “6 Jaguars,” as you repeat that phrase, “Bitch if they don’t like me / Cunt if they despise me,” it transforms in meaning. …
From Sydney to London and on, she's producing her own path
If we harnessed the anxious repression behind every fake smile on Zoom—let’s say on a Wednesday at 5pm—we’d solve the energy crisis. Or, we’d get “Block Colours” by Aria Wood! Currently based in London, Aria Wood is a singer/songwriter/producer/savage who left Sydney, Australia, to go get hers. “Block Colours” is a single in anticipation of her upcoming debut EP, Groovy Tunes, to be released independently. “Block Colours” takes what kills in dealing with shit people—the shut-in, useless emotion when someone tries you and you can’t react—and spins that into something that shimmers and shakes.
As March collapses into May, and the seasons lock themselves indoors, we need pop that processes dark thought to motion. Turn “Block Colours” on at 3AM, when you’ve lost yourself online, and see where it takes you.
Wood set off for London in 2019, her luggage stuffed with production gear. She doesn’t arrange on others’ beats; she creates and arranges her sounds alone. This means her songs are married to themselves at every layer, like Valentina’s makeup. The beat and the fantasy express one message, together (also like Valentina). When asked about producing, Wood replied:
“I like making sounds, continuing to try and understand what textures go together. Layering and shaping sound in different ways is like painting a picture. Even if I’m tired and unmotivated, I sit down and can’t stop doing it. I’ll work at it eight hours and somehow it’ll still feel good.”
Here for anyone who works eight hours to help us shake the demons off our backs. …
The artist releases his latest music video from the album Blue Collared Baby
The event took place in Bushwick at Rubulad — with guest performances by some of his friends Charlene Incarnate, Merlot, Bill Priss, Baby Love and Juku
Tegan and Sara scaled the music industry mountain and planted their names in the sky. Born Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin in Calgary, Canada, the identical twin sisters achieved indie stardom with their eponymous band in the ’00s, before becoming pop icons in the ’10s, in no small part thanks to touring with Katy Perry in 2014.
Now they’re rounding the bend into the 2020s with a nostalgic turn. Their ninth album, Hey, I’m Just Like You, inspired by ’90s cassette tapes, and the accompanying co-authored memoir, High School, gave the twins a chance to look back at their teen years.
GAYLETTER spoke to Tegan and Sara each separately — Tegan about the new music and Sara about their first book.
One of the tracks on your new album, “I’ll Be Back Someday,” it really captures that teenage need to get away, to find a more tolerant place. Did you feel like that growing up? I mean, even as an adult I need to get away sometimes. [Laughs] With that song, though, it sounds poppy and upbeat, but the undertone is this idea that you’re anxious about facing the person that you are, anxious about admitting what you feel for somebody. While I didn’t physically run away as a young person, I definitely repressed who I was for a long time. You know, when I eventually ended up hooking up with my best friend who was a woman. …
Slayyyter’s debut inaugurates the new
Slayyyter first pinged our radar with her standout singles “BFF” and “Mine” over the last year, in which she emerged shockingly — almost aggressively — ready to take over. With Hustlers’ pre-recession extravagance domming the box office and Normani’s “Motivation” video single-handedly rocketing the early 00s back to pop culture’s forefront, Slayyyter is our first true heir to Britney Spears’ Blackout. She reformulates the icon’s decadent sonic finale to an epoch of celebrity excess and shamelessness. The density of Blackout, its grimy pink-and-blue oversaturation, its raw desire to wield acquired power — in short, those qualities that made it critically rejected the year of its release — are spun by Slayyyter’s post-ironic revelation of all the satisfaction that darker pop can bring to light.
We still haven’t had enough of “Mine.” This level of pop ecstasy—think “Vegas Strip fantasia,” “champagne and shotgun weddings”—has had no equal this year. The simplicity of the lyrics and Slayyyter’s hyper-emotive delivery (so excessively felt it’s almost parody, but never quite) creates a dreamy space within the propulsive, Uber-to-the-club type beat. In short, it’s a hit. “BFF” (“Smoking up inside my white Jeep / with the pink seats”) and “Daddy AF” (“Playboy in the grotto / I’ve been popping bottles / All night”) stand out as other examples of Slayyyter’s approach. Their production is dense, heavy, and hyperkinetic, well-suited to SOPHIE’s world. The mixtape vacillates in mood, but what remains constant is its intensity, its excess, and Slayyyter’s hypnotic, committed vocals.
While the pop of the 2010s documented our mass adaption to the internet (like Katy Perry’s use of “epic fail” in “TGIF,” and Taylor Swift’s caption-lyric “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22”), Slayyyter feels born of the internet, molded by a newer imaginary. …