call me by my real name

I listened to Wet’s music for the first time about two years ago. At the time, I easily connected to it, despite my lack of experience in romantic relationships. Because of that I couldn’t understand or describe what resonated with me so much. All I knew was that there was something that had me coming back day after day. Although their first album Don’t You, was super melancholic, it never made me feel sad. Instead I was comforted by the vulnerability, and listening to tracks like “Island” and “Small and Silver” felt like moments of catharsis.  Although I had yet to have a great romantic adventure, the joy and pain that was involved in one was real to me. In an old interview, Kelly Zutaru, the band’s frontwoman described their music as being like underwater, a full immersion. It’s the moment when you’re fully underwater and everything goes silent and all the chaos becomes muffled. It’s less like drowning and more like a moment of clarity.

The band’s latest album, There’s A Reason,  is quite different from their first. Although the subject matter still deals with heartbreak and loss, the sound is less melancholic and, in many moments Zutaru’s voice is bold and demanding. Favourites on the album include “Softens” and “11 Hours”. “Softens” was first released as a single and despite its beauty, it took me some time to fall in love with it. The issue was that I was listening to it on speakers, asking it to fill the space. But it’s the type of song that requires intimacy, whether that’s lying in your bed in pajamas with your phone pressed up to your ear or taking a long walk with your headphones in. Either way, the song’s brilliance can’t be lost in such intimate spaces. Zutaru’s soft voice cradles lyrics like “You don't know your place/The sun hits the table/At a beautiful angle”—lyrics that make me want to lie on the kitchen floor and weep. In “11 Hours” Zutaru’s voice is bolder. She sings about being powerless to one that she loves. She recognizes that the love she had hurt her more than it helped her. While the relationship may have made her powerless, in the song she demands her former partner to take responsibility: she no longer wishes to feel well because of them. With each drawn out “you”, she reclaims the power she once had.

Although Wet’s music lies within a certain realm of indie-pop, it’s the duality found in There’s A Reason—both lyrically and musically—that makes them stand out. It’s what keeps me listening time and time again, no matter the experiences (or lack thereof) I have in my own life.

 

Music Video Friday: Lorde's "Perfect Places"

One of my personal beefs with music videos of late is how random they feel. I understand the desire not to create something fairly obvious but I wish some videos would align, if only briefly, with the song or at least the vibe of the song. That's why I love Lorde's video for her song "Perfect Places" (from her album Melodrama). 

"Perfect Places" is a magnificent song about attempting to turn our reality into the very clear fantasy that exists in our head, and the various ways--drugs, partying, kissing boys--we try to do that. The song speaks to this escapist quality that I think comes with just living in a very tumultuous and painful world, but especially with feeling young and out of place. The video perfectly visualizes this by placing Lorde, alone, at a random house on the beach. Dressed in an array of decadent gowns, she runs along the beach and drinks whisky while swimming in a waterfall, like the angsty heroine of a Kate Bush song. The video is perfectly indulgent, Lorde is perfectly indulgent in it (with her one woman tea parties) and is so escapist I feel like I've taken a vacation. This song/video combo reminds me that although our realities rarely live up to our fantasies, sometimes we need to escape into a world of our own and let ourselves indulge. Nobody really needs to know. 

Is It A Video?

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A large part of why certain films are my favourite and I’ve watched them again and again is due to their soundtrack. For me, a film soundtrack isn’t just a perfect compliment to aesthetically stunning scenes; it’s also a way of making the narrative more tangible. I love soundtracks that utilize headphones and radios to further embed the audience into the story; it's as if you're sharing the moment with the characters. Like that world is yours also. Soundtracks allow me to continue living in the fictional world even after the credits are rolled and my tongue has started to itch from the saltiness of movie theatre popcorn. How can I ever listen to “Mystery of Love” and not think of Elio and Oliver running around the Italian countryside? Or associate the rush of Bowie’s “Modern Love” with the abruptness of falling? Below I share my three favourite film soundtracks. 

Call Me By Your Name

I don't think there's anyone who watched CMBYN and didn't fall in love with the soundtrack. It's filled with a perfect mix of tunes that work for every mood. From Sufjan's Stevens heart wrenching ballads "Visions of Gideon" and "Mystery of Love" to the Psychedelic Fur's hit "Love My Way", I relive every beautiful moment every time I hear any of the songs. The film's musical director also utilizes the songs super well, whether filtered from the car radio to further pull the audience in or softly playing as the credits roll and the audience is struck by the expressive artistry that is Timothée Chalamet's face. 

Favourite track: J'adore Venise//Loredana Bertè

Frances Ha

I spent the summer of 2015 waking up at four in the morning, catching the all night bus to go work at Starbucks until my legs went numb. Each morning, I experienced the sort of nighttime magic that every song, poem and film filtered photographs talk about—feeling like you’re the only person alive in the whole entire world, bonding with the people who seem to crawl along the edges of the crush--and the Frances Ha soundtrack played a large role in amplifying that feeling. This soundtrack makes “Everyone’s a Winner” by Hot Chocolate the most romantic song in the world, perfect for tripping along empty streets and peering into store windows as if they were lost memories. In someways the Frances Ha soundtrack acts like a map, a way to connect the different points of discovery in Frances journey, physical and otherwise.

Favourite Track: Modern Love//David Bowie

Submarine

The only solo Alex Turner album I've ever going to need, Submarine's soundtrack is only five songs which are perfectly used throughout the film. Submarine itself is a magnificent film that doesn't try to hard to be profound or quirky--it just is. And it's soundtrack perfectly aligns with that. It's the perfect thing for floating paper boats in deep rain puddles and watching fireworks on cool summer nights. 

Favourite track: Hiding Tonight

Honorable mentions: An Education, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Collected), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

SUMMER ‘18

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This summer started out a bummer--I didn’t have a good job, my future was really uncertain and I spent more time worrying than enjoying myself. Eventually things figured themselves out, as they’re wont to do and I started a new job where I’ve met some pretty cool people. Hanging out with them has reminded me of how good it is to just have fun and be open to dancing, whether your drunk or not. That sort of attitude has snuck its way into my summer playlist which, in my opinion, is full of BANGERZ and that I’m pretty much listening to till there’s snow on the ground. One of my faves on here is “Heart to Break” by Kim Petras which is really just the bop of the summer. One thing I’m really embracing this summer is the idea of risking delight. I’m always so cautious, so “practical” and I let that hold me back in a lot of ways. It means a lot of missed experience and a lot of unnecessary regret. This summer, and the rest of this year, is about being open to experience even if it breaks me, even if it makes me cry. With this playlist I’m officially crowning this summer as the summer of dancing your ass off and having one or six martinis. We all deserve it. 

Hokey Cokey with the Opposite Sex

THE VIDEO FOR “FOUR OUT OF FIVE”

Like any Arctic Monkeys fan, the announcement of the band’s latest and freshest album couldn’t have come soon enough. It’s been five years since AM, the album that made them so popular that you couldn’t visit an Aritizia without hearing a song from it, and I was jonesing for something new. I didn't know what to expect--I knew I wanted something different from AM, which felt a little too much like pop--but I was so pleasantly amused by the title, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino that as soon as it popped up on my Spotify on the day of its release, I listened to it, despite the fact that I had been just about to go to sleep.

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino has been both a surprise and a comfort. Upon first listen, I didn’t feel the same excitement that I’ve felt for other long-awaited music releases, (like Lorde’s Melodrama) but I didn’t completely dismiss it either. And although I couldn’t say that I loved it just yet, I found myself constantly putting it on, curious to discover all the creases and pockets of it all. It wasn’t until I listened to it with headphones, actually listened to it, not just played it in the background, that I began to connect with it. I think what had kept me curious was that, especially lyrically, the music felt like a throwback to their early music. I feel like Alex Turner's penchant for slightly kooky yet smart lyrics that could easily fit into a short story collection was a major part of why I ever fell in love with the band in the first place. A bit of that kookiness was lost with AM, made a brief appearance on The Last Shadow Puppet's most recent album (I still love the lyric: "It's love like a tongue in the nostril"), and has exploded on Tranquility Base. I can’t help but think about the poignancy of lyrics like “I launch my fragrance called “Integrity”/I sell the fact that I can’t be bought” (Batphone) and “The leader of the free world/Reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks” (Golden Trunks), or one of my favourites: "Love came in a bottle with a twist-off cap" (Star Treatment).

There's been a lot of chat about how much this album, more than any others, has a really strong narrative. Alex Turner told Zane Lowe that he sees it to be like a collection of short stories. And the world that's built throughout the record is very clear and defined, that I feel like I'm a part of it. But apart from it's narrative brilliance, this album also feels like a very poignant commentary on the state of our world today. While not overtly political, it's hard to miss the concern about the way the world has changed, and the way it continues to change. The futuristic theme of the album feels like a sort of warning--we can look to the future all we want but it doesn't really change anything that's going on right now. Listening to the songs on tis album, I can't help but think about consumerism and gentrification, what it means to sell-out, and what the future of our world actually looks like. It makes me think about what it would mean to throw away our smartphones, and if any of us actually want to do it or if it feels good and smart to say it. Just like it used to feel good and smart to say that we would never be sell-outs.

Tranquility Base is the kind of album that you can't help but think about all the time, the kind of album that you're constantly making discoveries about. It makes a mark, one that can’t be easily washed off. It this amazing combination of art and storytelling and social commentary. It's the perfect "comeback album", and despite my initial reservations, I can confidently say: I love it. 

It's Not That Deep

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I think of all my monthly playlists, this one's playlist has been the one that has truly captured how I felt throughout the month. It's actually hard to listen to the songs that I added at the start of the month because I feel so different now. I went from feeling moody as fuck, listening to Frank Ocean and the Shangri-Las all the time and feeling weary about life to listening to "New Slaves" several times a day and just being like FUCK YOU AND YOUR HAMPTON HOUSE. I never really have a grand motive for making monthly playlists, but this month I realized how well they come to capture my mood every month. They've accidentally become as much of an outlet as my journal is. Every playlist I've made feels like a reminder of who I used to be, how I've grown and who I'll always be. 

February Faves

February was a sort of difficult for me--I felt really untethered and lost, and desperately wanted to drop everything in my life and lay in a bed made of pizza. In an effort to break through the fog, I focused on evaluating what I wanted and how I was going to get it. I had to reevaluate all the things I’ve come to accept as unchangeable. In addition to the conversations I had with myself, I also had a few conversations with people I trusted to be straight with me and who understood what I was going through. 

Here are some of the things that got me thinking this month, that intrigued me, and made me feel that I'm capable of creating my life.

Watch

Mary in Lonely Swim by Greta van der Star (ANYONEGIRL)

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise/Maya Angelou (Netflix)
It doesn't need to be said: Maya Angelou was a phenomenal force of nature. She's always been an inspiration to me, as a writer and as a black woman but there was so much about her I didn't know! This documentary shows how much she loved and was loved, her commitment to activisim and her bravery and resilience. I've been recommending it to everybody. 

Browse

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I'm always looking for book recommendations (even when I still have lots to finish) and Girls at the Library not only provides a cornucopia of book recs but they're also paired with great interviews with amazing women who discuss the importance of books in their lives.

Read

“Let me teach you what the world thinks about us, and let me teach you what we’ve seen the world do to girls who look like us. And let me teach you why they’re wrong.” 
There’s a lot of conversation surrounding #MeToo and from the think pieces to the opinion essays to the open letters, it can get overwhelming. This Guardian profile on Tarana Burke, the founder of Me Too, was one of the best things I’ve consumed on the topic. Burke gets back to the foundation of the movement, what she started it for and what she thinks is the benefit of it. She also recognizes the sensationalization of the movement and how that can divert from the purpose and importance of the movement.

Image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi for Man Repeller

Image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi for Man Repeller

"Sexual violence may not be eliminated by a more nuanced and open conversation around consent, power and pleasure, but that doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t critically important". 
The Conversation I Wish We’d Had After Aziz Ansari

 

Listen

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the New Yorker Festival

Oprah's Super Soul Conversations. This has easily become one of my favourite podcasts, not only for the openness of the guests but for their certainty and their optimism. The interviews with Paulo Coelho, Gretchen Rubin, and Maya Angelou are my favourites.  

My February playlist! I usually make a monthly playlist and listen to it (almost) every day. February was particularly moody with lots of Angel Olsen, Lana del Rey and a track from Mitski.

What I was reading, watching and listening to in January

 

Songs to Dance To

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Since watching Call Me By Your Name, every time I think about the scene where Oliver (played by Armie Hammer) dances his heart out, it always brings a smile to my face. That moment is so poignant because there's something to be said for dancing with such freedom, with little care if you look good or sexy, because you feel good and sexy. I've been having a few of my own carefree solo dance parties recently and it's been amazing. Here are the songs that have been accompanying my flailing.