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EMA: The Spotlight’s Void

Caitlin White shakes off her nerves at the offices of Matador Records.

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Erika M. Anderson is doing yoga in a corner room of Matador’s open floor plan SoHo office. It’s late afternoon on a Friday, and things are winding down for the week in the indie powerhouse’s headquarters. I do interviews about five times a week at this point, but I’ve never had someone do yoga while we talk. It’s relieving in some ways, because I’d found the prospect of interviewing EMA to be especially nerve-racking. It’s rare for an artist to make me nervous, but the sweaty smears my fingertips make on my iPhone screen as I scroll through my questions are tangible proof of my butterflies.

It takes a while for our interview to get started. I’d been waiting on a folding chair in the nonexistent lobby of the old-school Manhattan building, chatting with an affable publicity director, a man who has had a hand in the advancement of more legendary artists than years I’ve been alive. Matador’s involvement with EMA’s career feels auspicious and makes sense. I’d find out from her later that Matador and co. tried to sign her even before her celebrated 2011 album, Past Life Martyred Saints, came out, but it wasn’t in the cards. Instead, her first release with them will be this year’s The Future’s Void.

Finally, a lanky woman, taller than I expected with a sheath of white-blonde hair, walks down the hall. Is that even her? I squint, not 100% sure, but then she’s trying to hug me in apology for making me wait. She’s dressed in sweats and a T-shirt on which she’s hand-drawn the Ghostbusters logo. This is not what I was expecting from the woman who penned “Butterfly Knife”.

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“I like interviews most of the time,” she says casually, settled, at least for now, on the love seat. “That, and I’m from the Midwest, so I try to be polite. We’ve talked about me so much. We should talk about you!” She insists, so I tell her I’m a native Oregonian, knowing she relocated to Portland after the clamor around Past Life Martyred Saints died down. The record not only sent ripples through grunge, indie rock, and electronic pop circles, but also addressed bleak themes of depression and self-mutilation.

Its creator, though, is the unaffected strain of serene that rarely accompanies artistic temperament. She seems genuinely interested in me as a human, something that’s rare when interviewing musicians—especially good ones. We talk about the charms and pitfalls of her now home of northeast Portland before moving into more nostalgic territory of her childhood in South Dakota.

“It’s taken me such a long time to unpack growing up in South Dakota. It was such a culture shock to move to L.A., but it’s also very subtle. People have different stereotypes for like Italian versus Germans, but Italy and Germany are so much closer to each other geographically than California and South Dakota are.”

ema 02 EMA: The Spotlights VoidThe two economic mainstays for her hometown of Sioux Falls are a meatpacking industry and the state penitentiary: not exactly fertile ground for creative impulses. Still, the urge to create came early, even if she struggled with authority.

“I was doing music in high school,” she says, noting a gradual shift from choir to her own music. “I got kicked out of choir like three years in a row—just for being naughty! I got an electric guitar and started fronting weird rock bands. One of them was called Swamp Pussy. I had these weird performance, arty punk bands. It was a really male-dominated scene in South Dakota. There were no ladies at all playing, so I was kind of like this sensational thing. I had a rep at that point. I had a shaved head, and I was ‘that Erika chick.’”

Part of her rebellion stemmed from the usual suspect for kids trapped in America’s confining school system—boredom. An early one-off release revealed that the three-minutes-and-done song structure never suited Anderson, whose 16-minute interpolation of Robert Johnson’s “Kind Hearted Woman Blues”, for instance, takes patience and keen attention to fully appreciate. Or, listening to the seven-minute mythical drone of “The Grey Ship”, the opening track from her last album, it’s easy to see why Anderson found public school to be tedious; the breadth of ideas and styles wielded by these songs suggests a mind more interested in the uncanny than textbook answers or lunchroom complexities. Still, she says the typical popularity hierarchy wasn’t as prevalent in her Midwest high school. I ask her if she was really “goth in high school,” a lyric from “Butterfly Knife”, and she brushes off the idea of a label that specific, asserting instead that she sensed she never fit in.

“In South Dakota, there was no distinction between people—you were just weird or you weren’t weird,” she says. “I was weird! I wore combat boots and a trench coat for a while. I was a young female nerd, a total bookworm, and really smart. Any work they gave I would be done with really quickly, so I was always bored. I would act up a lot, and I was brilliant, always in trouble, always going to the principal’s office.”

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Typically, the long stretches of boredom between school and breaking out of Sioux Falls were filled with early drug experimentation, but more ominously, also a looming sense of the collective generational angst that led to horrific events like the Columbine shooting. Now, at a time when senseless mass shootings feel like a semi-regular occurrence, Anderson reflects on hearing those sentiments coming down the pipeline.

“In the Midwest, we could kind of see Columbine coming from a ways off. That was totally in the water, I think,” she says. “I remember smoking weed in the basement— and I don’t want to say what grade because it was a really young grade—and people would just be like, ‘Man, it would be so rad to just bring a gun in…’ That’s kind of what ‘Butterfly Knife’ is about; when did that talk become a reality?”

The vicious noise of that song, along with its openly violent lyrics about self-mutilation, make a harrowing, uneasy listen. But it also reflects this underbelly of dissatisfaction that desperately needed to be exposed. Anderson said that she thinks talking about it in such literal terms was what caught people’s attention. In a 2011 interview with The Quietus, she mentions being inspired by a story in LA Weekly about a teenage couple who murdered their friend. The song channels that kind of twisted reality—the stuff that’s too weird to be anything but true.

“I was talking about it in a frank way, and I think that was part of the reaction to it as well,” she says. “It wasn’t some metaphor of like, and then I was ‘golden brown’ or something like that. It was just straightforward.”

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Anderson talks openly about the burdens of student debt, the slipping economy, and (though she clearly has a great relationship with her own family) what the dissolution of the nuclear family structure has done to our culture. For this generation, nothing is certain, and even the best-intentioned Millennials can find themselves over-educated, underpaid, and unfulfilled. As Anderson talks passionately about how she won’t even name-check her college in order to discourage future kids from enrolling in an institution she deems useless, I bring up my useless Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I’m not even nervous anymore; this feels like the kind of rage against the institutional machine that I engage in daily with my cohort of highly educated, broke freelancer friends.

As a freelance writer in Brooklyn, my credentials are rarely ever checked beyond a byline or an editor’s co-sign. Sure, I’m technically using my English education, but I probably would’ve been better served to just start building up clips. My close readings of Victorian novels have no bearing on the sheer enormity of daily news blogging. Hearing about the impossibly small journalistic cliques of Brooklyn and working against a deadline seems to fascinate Anderson. We discuss the pressures of pursuing art, including how parents often view these endeavors as hopeless. For most people in their mid-20s, the stable financial structure and emotional ties of their parents’ baby boomer era are largely a thing of the past.

“Everything that was in America—everything that your parents would say to you that worked for them—is no longer,” Anderson muses when I ask about her parents’ reaction to her career choice. “There’s no safe route anymore. Circling back to what my parents think, they’re like, ‘You should go to college. You should go to grad school!’ and those kind of things. It looked like I was kind of on the road to lifelong poverty. I mean, I’m still kind of on the road to that. I also tell my parents this: Everything that seemed like it made sense back when they were young is no longer a guarantee for anything.”

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Moving to Los Angeles for college was the first glimpse that Anderson had of communities deeply rooted in the arts, especially experimental forms. Out of South Dakota and into the chaotic sprawl of Los Angeles, she became involved with other young artists, and stumbling onto the scene there piqued her interest more than a degree ever could.

“I don’t even get into where I went to college because I don’t want to encourage anyone to get into student debt,” she says. “I didn’t really know you could go to art school. By the time I got out to L.A., I was hanging out with people that went to Cal Arts, and I was like, ‘Wait what? What do you mean you studied experimental drumming technique for college?’ I wanted to make weird, experimental videos, but I didn’t know that you could do that in school.”

It’s unsurprising that art school wasn’t on Anderson’s radar, but as soon as it was, she eagerly entered into the visual arts and music. Before turning to music full-time, she began studying avant-garde video editing and technique. Some of this imagery still inhabits her aesthetic.

Even before her time in the noise band Gowns, she became involved with the burgeoning noise scene in L.A., first as a guitarist with Amps for Christ, a project started by metal enthusiast Henry Barnes. The band was his attempt to mesh a love of folk, jazz, and classical music with metal and experimental noise. The influence from this project might be part of what prompts people to call EMA’s personal output “folk-noise,” a label that while true in its basic assertions, leaves much to be desired when describing her sound.

Anderson says collaborating with Ezra Buchla in Gowns let her have the freedom she needed to be as honest and raw as her music has become. She admits this with a certain air of defeat, but also a knowing shrug. For women attempting to go against the grain, to make grunge or noise music about using drugs, or any sort of disturbing subject matter, the backlash can be sudden and swift.

“I need to be in a collaboration, yeah,” she admits. “Even when we were in Gowns together, they would be like, ‘You’re fronting this band,’ and I’d be like, ‘No, I’m not!’ It was terrifying for a little bit. Especially because a lot of the things I’m saying lyrically, even back then, I wanted someone else involved. I wanted a guy to give me legitimacy or something. It gave me the ability to say things that I wouldn’t if I’d been on my own at the time.”

This tension may have been part of what eventually led to Gowns splintering, which led Anderson to finally put out music on her own. Music served as a catharsis for the dissolution of her personal and professional relationship with Buchla, whom she was dating at the time, and set her on the course to becoming EMA.

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When her solo project took off like it did, the attention and the scene started to overwhelm her. EMA, rock star, is widely known for a vivid, colorful aesthetic and intense, no-holds-barred music that fearlessly confronts drug use and dour breakups. But Anderson, with her easy, open charm and by-the-book Midwestern friendliness, by no means wanted to live a rock and roll lifestyle.

“I think I’m moving at about the pace I can move at and still be happy,” she says. “I don’t think that if I was going to hugely blow up that I would be able to keep it together. I get really anxious. I would worry about going out and being recognized. I’d be worried about, what are people saying about me? What do people think they know about me?”

Released only by the obscure European label Souterrain Transmissions, Past Life Martyred Saints still managed to enter the Billboard Heatseekers chart at No. 20, a rare feat for any indie noise record, let alone one by a relatively unknown female artist without any stateside label help. With Matador behind her, it’s likely that The Future’s Void will further push EMA into the popular consciousness—something that she clearly grapples with and even seeks to avoid.

“I would do things that were a little bit self-sabotaging, or appeared to be at the time,” she says. “Maybe I’m kind of hiding out in Portland, Oregon, instead of hustling around New York or L.A., but for my personal psychology at the time, it was what I could handle. It was what I could deal with. I wanted to acknowledge that I’m having a hard time right now with certain aspects of this.”

Questions of surveillance and the Internet’s vast catalog of readily accessible data pervade The Future’s Void. What is digital identity, and how does it mesh with our physical personhood? The fact that this record comes three years after her first sheds some light on what she’s been grappling with in the meantime. It also explains why there’s been almost no mention of her in the media; she’s been actively avoiding the spotlight.

“One thing that still surprises me is that ‘being known’ is something that people still have so much aspiration towards,” she says. “We’ve seen so many people self-destruct. It almost always ends up shitty. It’s always bad. Attention, what does it get you? What does it do to you? What’s important to me is doing things that I feel strongly about and staying proud of the work that I want to do. But I’ve realized that I have a negative stress reaction to being recognized or scrutinized.”

After touring was done, Anderson left California, moved into one of Portland’s many grungy townhouses with her creative collaborator, Leif Shackelford (who directed the video for “California”), and got back to work.

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“You know how a lot of people in Portland are in like these beautiful old houses? I live in this shitty townhouse apartment with white walls and shitty brown carpeting that’s all kind of fucked up,” she laughs. “When people come over, they can spill a beer. It’s fine. Everything is like art room. We’ll tear everything apart and make a photo shoot for a second, then we’ll go upstairs and make T-shirts.” The space includes an underground basement area that served as the makeshift studio for recording The Future’s Void in its entirety.

It takes us a while to get around to talking about the actual music. For one thing, Erika as Erika seems entirely separate from the idea of her I’d formed reading old interviews and listening to her music. She seems to have already internalized much of Portland’s lighthearted looseness and speaks frankly on almost any subject. It’d be easy to have a conversation with her that never touches on music at all, actually, because she has so much to say about other forms of expression, including some biting social commentary about the transparency of pop stars like Katy Perry.

ema 09 EMA: The Spotlights VoidShe’s funny, too, and laughs a lot, deflecting more pointed questions about drugs by telling me her grandma is an early adopter of technology and will be reading this. She shares her personal slang “flex coast” as a nickname for the unhurried mellowness of the West Coast and periodically fiddles with her hair in a natural, unconscious manner. We get to the album in a roundabout way—by sharing our mutual struggle with creating something worthwhile, something we’re proud to have made or written.

“You don’t get taught very well how to access that part of yourself,” she says. “It looks to other people like you’re lazy. I’d sit down there forever and not be able to do anything good, so I’d just go take a nap. But then while you’re taking a nap, it’ll be like, ‘ding!’ The idea will come. You have to do it while you’re relaxed. It is hard. It’s like a weird other sort of work. I’m a real night owl, so I’ll stay up till 4 a.m. and sleep till noon. Everyone around me will be like, ‘Oh, wow. You’ve got the life, don’t you?’ And in some ways that’s true. But it’s hard. It’s hard in this other sort of weird way.”

While moving to Portland let Anderson leave her old life behind and duck out of the spotlight, it was also isolating in some ways. Trying to write an album is a particular kind of work, one that the majority of people can’t relate to very easily. Still, the presence and partnership of Shackelford was definitely a strong force on the new record.

“For this album, basically, I would write the stuff, and then Leif and I musically fight,” Anderson says, citing their shared Midwest experience as another plus. “We met in West Oakland, but he’s from Minnesota as well, so we’re both Midwesterners.”

The self-imposed isolation helped Anderson grapple with the concepts she wanted to tackle for her second effort and avoid distractions that would lead to what she calls “the dreaded sophomore record.”

Part of the reason this album feels more cohesive than a lot of its contemporaries stems from the fact that almost everything about it was created by Anderson. It’s almost entirely DIY; there was no big-name producer polishing it to a sheen; it wasn’t even recorded in a professional studio. Strangely enough, aside from Anderson, Shackelford, and her high school friend Billy Sandness, who played drums, the only other person involved with the album was an Italian producer named Ricio.

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“I ended up mixing in Italy, which was totally weird and seems like super fancy because it was in Italy, but it wasn’t a super fancy studio or anything,” she says. A good friend of Anderson’s knew a guy near Bassano with a nicely treated acoustic room, something the album needed for mastering after being recorded in a basement. “It was near Bassano, and the guy—I just called him Ricio—was great and really respectful. We could’ve gone someplace in Portland, but it was good that it was impossible to draw it out. Like, you have a week. And I can’t go back to Italy if I don’t like the mix.”

The result of Anderson having almost total control over the record means the even though the songs are wildly disparate, there’s a sense of cohesion. The marching organs of album closer “Dead Celebrity” are still interspersed with lightning rods of static noise, and the same fuzzy distortion permeates the mellower “When She Comes”. At times, this current of warped sound threatens to overtake everything else, as it does on “Satellites”. It lurks on “Solace”, too, which Anderson laughingly calls “Leif’s Chemical Brothers moment.” The contrasting tones reinforce her central thesis concerning the individual, surveillance, and fame.

On the cover of her new album, Anderson is wearing an Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset designed for a full-immersion video game experience. The Internet has been flooded lately with articles addressing Facebook’s purchase of the software for $2 billion, but this cover was designed before any of that.

“The front of the record cover has this simulator, and the picture on the screen is from this giant TV that I found on the street,” she explains. “There’s these different rainbows that go through there, you know, like video feedback? On the back, it has come unplugged, and you can see the back of the door frame and a part of a dirty couch. So, it’s revealed: I’m not in magical future land; I’m just in a dirty basement. I feel like it should be a .GIF.”

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.GIFs do pop up in the video for her second single, “So Blonde”, a song that critiques the sexualized trope of a blonde white woman and how that image ties into the mythos of Southern California itself. Anderson rocks a Jim Morrison T-shirt and drives around Venice Beach in a convertible while highly sexualized, suggestively drawn .GIFs of blonde girls and other stereotypical L.A. characters flit in and out of the frame. It’s a sly take on the signifiers of rock and roll life and serves to further distance EMA from the dreaded “pop star” role that she wants to avoid at all costs. “I feel more like Charles Bukowski than Katy Perry!” Anderson says.

Considering her career started in L.A., invoking these deeply contrasting, iconic figures from that city is apt, and this contrast, too, evokes the ironic, tongue-in-cheek grunge and rage found on “So Blonde” in the intermittent screams. “I’ll go down, plug in my own stuff. I’ll run the Pro Tools session. I’ll edit my vocals. I’ll throw the compressor on. I’ll add this part, add this part. I’ll do that. I’ll work with my photos. I’ve learned how to do Photoshop, Lightroom. All these programs! I don’t have the fucking time to go to the gym! I’m not going to go to the gym five times a week to be this pop star person. And that’s actually the hardest thing, because if you’re a lady, they’re just like, ‘Tell me about fashion! What do you like? What designers do you wear?’”

She bemoans the fact that interviewers will still ask her about fashion before they ever ask her about Pro Tools settings.

“The main thing I think that I feel as a gender difference has to do with the way you look and the way you feel the need to look,” she acknowledges. “Like today, I was even going to dress nicer or whatever, but then I was like, ‘You know? Fuck it. I’m just going to wear sweatpants and a T-shirt that I drew on, because that’s what I wear.’ It’s stuff like that; that’s the thing that actually makes me feel crazy. I’m not a fucking pop star. I do everything!”

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No matter how much Anderson seeks to avoid the spotlight and surveillance that have followed her since EMA’s inception, she’s never really questioned the process of creating and performing music.

“I have this really vivid memory of the first time Gowns performed at The Smell, and we performed ‘White Like Heaven’. And I just had this feeling,” she recalls. “There weren’t that many people there, and I was just in the front room doing my thing. But I was like, ‘I’m doing this thing that I’ve always wanted to do!’ or just something where I was like, ‘Whoa, I’m doing this! I’m here. I’m in Los Angeles, and I’m playing at this weird, underground club singing this weird-ass song that I wrote.’ I always remember that. I remember being like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m kind of for real.’”

At this point, her label guy ducks his head in to make sure we’re doing okay and probably to give Anderson the avenue to opt out if she wants to be done. We’ve been talking for a good 45 minutes, which is a pretty substantial time for her to be on the spot, even if this is going to be a lengthy story. I’m happy when she tells him to give us some more time to continue the conversation, because it feels like we’ve just been getting to the core of things: surveillance.

The culture of surveillance that has developed alongside the Internet is part of what fiction and art have been predicting for the last 50 or 60 years, and Anderson says one of the goals of her album was to speak to those past ideas about what modernity would look like. It’s still odd, though, to realize that she wrote and recorded all of this material before the NSA scandal surfaced, before it became clear that we don’t just scrutinize each other’s tweets, Instagrams, and Facebook updates, but that the government was watching our private online behaviors, mundane or otherwise. The gaping maw of data that has begun to pile up since the Internet’s inception leads to other, unfathomable questions about space and digital existence: Where does this information go? What about the rural places that aren’t yet glutted with technology’s sprawling grasp?

“I feel like I was really drawn to the word ‘void,’ and I don’t know if that comes from growing up in South Dakota,” Anderson says. “It’s a wide-open space and a weird void to grow up in. But I really like the idea of the word void. The other part of it is the future, just that everything we’ve been thinking about for the future is already here.

“What we’ve been predicting and a lot of stuff that’s in predictive and speculative fiction is already happening. We’ve caught up with all these predictions. We’re close enough, and the truth is somewhere between this dystopian and utopian ideal. We’re not like all dressed in white all the time and everything is sterile. But I don’t want to say its completely dystopian either, because there’s a lot of great stuff with it. What does the future look like?”

The Future’s Void veers off into its own territory, full of screeching, torrential noise that shapes itself into spacey ballads and industrial anthems. In some ways, the texture of confusion it creates feels like the logical background for the themes discussed in the lyrics. The record is as varied and unpredictable as our current digital experience; a mid-album track, “Neuromancer”, has a reggaeton beat punctuated with musings on selfies, the new Millennial, and even an allusion to the devil himself. It’s a post-modern, post-internet hodgepodge of sounds, ideas and allusions blown through the lens of Anderson’s own probing, initial experience with fame.

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Anderson calls “3Jane” the centerpiece of the album, and its lyrics grapple with very real legislative issues like paparazzi culture (“There should be a law about it/ When they can take videos of you”) and how so much of what we create is now designed with commerce in mind (“Turn it into a refrain/ It’s all just a big advertising campaign”). But the more personal parts of the song return to the subject of surveillance: “Feel like I blew my soul out/ Across the interwebs and streams,” followed by “It left a hole so big inside of me/ And I get terrified that/ I will never get it back to me/ Guess it’s just a modern disease.” Almost anyone who has used the Internet and social web in any form can relate to these ideas of commercialization and loss of self, but these concepts affect people in the public eye on a whole different level.

“You’ll meet someone for the first time, and you’re being spontaneous and having fun, and then they say something that they’ve heard about you or they know about you,” Anderson says. “And it shuts you down! It kind of divorces you from yourself in this way. I mean, it’s not all good, and it’s not all bad, but it’s a weird phenomenon. That’s kind of what I most wanted to say.”

Why does it feel so hard to write about artists who make music about shared pain? Listening to these songs and feeling a vicarious sorrow feels inexplicable on some levels, as though relating to the pain vocalized is voyeuristic, even when it mimics or recalls our own lived experience. The artists who share our sorrows and our struggles evoke more than the ones who soundtrack our parties and voice our joys. It’s this element that causes us to view EMA’s music with an idealism, to compare her to Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain. Sure, her sound resembles theirs in some ways, but more so, she is confronting the same fears that they faced.

I’ll send a tweet out into the universe or question my own desire to tweet, and these are the meta narratives that The Future’s Void dissects. No album released so far this year deals with technology in the daily, social terms that it has come to represent in most of our lives like this record does. I’m nowhere near the level that Anderson is in terms of “fame,” but I can relate to her disgust and distrust of surveillance and its uncanny grip. As a writer, I’m putting a public version of my voice out into the ether every day. I’m often shocked at the form it comes back in; at other times, I’m deeply pleased. In a digital world fraught with this kind of social reverb, how is creation altered by the cyclical conversation, unending discourse, and perpetual feedback?

ema 08 EMA: The Spotlights Void“It’s so hard,” Anderson says, referring to how she stays afloat in a world that demands ownership over her and over her image. “I found it much easier to break though everything musically, lyrically. I feel like I had much more of my own voice. I find it much harder to keep an even keel or keep my true north when it comes to a photo session. When someone is behind the camera and they’re taking a photo of you, you subconsciously strike a pose. I try to take my own photos when I can, but I’m doing so much of everything I get bogged down.

“You can just kind of feel when you’re moving out of control. You can feel when you’re not ready for something and when you’re losing control of things. I’ve had many experiences where I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll try this shit out.’ Then, later, I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, that was not for me. That was emotionally damaging.’ That’s what your 20s are about.”

Even as she seeks to avoid the pop star avenue, the spotlight, and the trappings of fame, there’s still a level of success that Anderson holds herself to, a measure of what she accomplishes with this release.

“With this record, I’m not gunning for fame,” she says. “I wasn’t like, ‘I need to write these hit singles’ or something. It’s important to me. I’ve got some sort of weird ethical code, even though I don’t know what it exactly is. The avenue of what people consider success or failure is kind of defined. How many did you sell? How many people saw it? How many this and that? You have to choose what’s right for you. You can’t forget that.”

When I leave Matador’s office to go home, it’s dark and most of the commuter foot traffic has already died down. On the way over, earlier that afternoon, I’d had “3Jane” on repeat. It leans more toward the softer, vocal-focused music I’m often drawn to. But I put on “Solace” because Anderson just told me it’s one of her favorite songs off the record. The end is a revolving swirl of the words “beg” and “pray,” or maybe it’s “prey.” I realize it’s impossible to tell which word she’s using—that is, until the lyrics go up on her blog. Eagerly scrolling through them, I realize she’s written both words with a slash between them.

For some reason, this play on homonyms sums up the whole record for me. The gut feeling that blasting your innermost thoughts and hopes into the digital void will leave you vulnerable is always coupled with the illogical belief that someone, somewhere is listening, that our creations make a difference. We want to believe that a force bigger than us still works on the side of good, that a Truth is possible. These are the questions that inhabit this album; this is what drives us to create even when the blasts from the fame feedback loop reveal an essentially empty experience. But within the wordplay, inside the binary of “prey” and “pray,” there exists a playful artistry that buoys us back up out of this existential mire. The spotlight’s void, and speaking with Anderson and listening to The Future’s Void reveal that she’s not going to succumb to the brief pleasures that fame and money yield. It’s Bukowski instead of Katy Perry again.

Photography by Wei Shi. Artwork by Steven Fiche & Cap Blackard.

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