As a self-described purveyor of “cyber-pop,” Los-Angeles based artist Princess Cyberspace materialized last year with her debut #Cyberpropaganda – seven tracks that amounted to 21 minutes of saccharine satire-laced critique of dating in the modern age. With vocals auto-tuned to oblivion and a tongue-in-cheek comical twist, #Cyberpropaganda hinged on a happy-go-lucky vibe that hid a deeper resignation to social media dystopia. But on her latest track, the twelve-minute “Born to Suffer,” Princess Cyberspace strips away the bubblegum to zero in on themes of desperation, depression, and dependency that so often drive the addictive need for approval online.
“I wasn’t originally thinking that’s what I was going to explore,” says Rebecca L’Amore Morgiewicz – the real-life, flesh and blood musician behind the project. “I didn’t really have a plan at all. It was just me expressing myself as I lived my life with clinical depression. It’s like a painter has a painting right? They have a canvas in front of them and they’re always adding to it… it was all in my head.”
When she wrote “Born to Suffer,” the artist was coping with a break up and searching for a release. Delivering melancholic lyrics in a deadpan tone over a repetitive loop, Princess Cyberspace asks, “They say we deserve each other/Is that true?/Are you undercover?” A feeling of unease permeates these ominous questions. But there is also familiarity as she pulls at dubious threads and unravels uncertainty that so many of us have felt in toxic relationships. “I was in a relationship with someone… and I never felt like I could trust him, I always felt like he was possibly lying about something,” she explains. “I think the lyrics really represent how it feels to be dependent on another’s love in order to be happy, and never knowing whether or not the person on the other side of the relationship is lying or being honest.”
The music video, premiering on Audiofemme, intersperses ’90s computer graphics with intimate shots of Princess Cyberspace wandering in an expansive desert juxtaposed with vague scenes of bondage which communicate feelings of entrapment. The track itself has a trance-like quality that the music video perfectly compliments as the visuals unpack the heightened emotions many of us have experienced as the emotional seesaw of lockdown continues. “Depression rates are higher than ever,” Princess Cyberspace points out, adding that the song feels “very relevant right now – especially not being able to have any social contact, which is such an important thing.”
Even the length of the track lends itself to that feeling of being on a never-ending loop of self-doubt – and the monotony of the pandemic. Produced with Ari Ingber, Princess Cyberspace says they left the track “obnoxiously long” because it worked with the song’s message so well, not only representing that internal struggle, but also providing commentary on our demand for immediate gratification. “All my older songs are like 2 to 3 minutes… we kept those songs short because it kind of shows how on the internet things are so impersonal and quick,” she explains. “This one is more of a drag because it plays with the notion of how long are we going to be unable to live a ‘normal life,’ how long is this plague going to last?”
Taking inspiration from how the URL world confuses IRL interactions between people, “Born to Suffer” critiques the use of social media to portray an image of ourselves that we prefer, hiding the parts of ourselves that society deems inappropriate. But Princess Cyberspace takes a sympathetic view, hinting that many of us don’t always possess the language to communicate how we truly feel. In a society that for centuries has portrayed the end goal of our lives as being happy and monetarily secure, we are only just learning that not being okay is also okay.
In a move akin to someone posting that perfect, happy Instagram picture when the reality couldn’t feel further from that, Princess Cyberspace reminds us of the ills that a social media-saturated life brings. By shining a light on the materialism she sees online, she hopes listeners will realize what really matters and what accounts for a life well-lived. “I think the problem is that there isn’t enough love,” she theorizes. “We’ve all become super independent, and people say that’s a good thing, but people are so concerned about money, status or other stuff like that. They’re focused on stuff that doesn’t really matter. I think that if you just follow your heart… that’s good. Humanity needs to go back to being old school and focusing more on love.”