“Not Sweet Enough,” the latest track from Lesibu Grand, is a journey both audibly and visually. I don’t mean the song takes you on a journey as much as the Atlanta band does, offering multiple reimaginings of the song that all serve to emphasize the same point: from the grungier, contemporary original version of the song to the new Punk Cellist remix and accompanying Victorian-inspired video (both of which premiere on Audiofemme today), the oppression and mistreatment of women is an age-old problem.
These collaborative remixes are nothing new to the band, having recently released a snappy Pls Pls remix of single “Hot Glue Gun.” As far as “Not Sweet Enough” goes, they originally wrote the song in response to draconian abortion laws drafted by the Georgia state legislature. “We thought it was perfect timing to speak out against that whole mindset,” explains frontwoman Tyler-Simone Molton. Their original take was more aligned with the band’s audible punk aesthetic, but they soon discovered a cello cover of the song on social media by Berklee College of Music student Ian Legge, who has been posting string versions of his favorite punk songs to YouTube over the past year as The Punk Cellist (he also takes requests via Patreon). Lesibu Grand reached out to him to collaborate, and from there this remix was born.
“The idea of doing it in a different genre and taking it kind of old school, but it’s still relating to a problem that’s very relevant today, is [an intentional] juxtaposition,” Molton says. The genre-spanning across centuries, from pop punk to a more classical style, is a means to drive home the agelessness of the problem itself.
The video follows the same path. The original is a corn-syrup-soaked romp akin to Celebrity Deathmatch or Robot Chicken. Molton shapeshifts from her real physical body to a Barbie version of herself, imagery so fraught with societal expectations of women that the metaphor borders on satirical. She ruthlessly kills all the (action figure) men – “Obviously we’re not going around slaughtering men,” she says – that stand in her way.
In the updated concept, she’s dressed in Victorian garb, almost like a character in an opera. “I’m supposed to embody a very proper, well brought up young woman who’s looking at the content of the video,” she explains. In a meta sort of way, watching the video is meant to radicalize her long in the past, and the realization that she “has this oppressive angst that she wants to get out” awakens.
In a recent interview with Afropunk, Molton said, “We call out the lawmakers, specifically in Georgia where we live, and warn them of our resistance – although they write state law and want to use it to control our bodies, women and their allies can organize, speak our minds, energize popular opinion which is still pro-choice, and ‘bring them doom’ by voting them out of office.”
Until then, she’ll keep revamping the fiery songs she directs at them so that they are constantly reminded of what’s coming for them.