Earlier this year, That Brunette stepped into a spotlight of her own creation. She finally shed her past, discarding a previous stage name, and has since flourished in her craft. Her new song “Platonic,” premiering today, displays an artist continuing to discover her place in the alt/pop space and carve out a singular voice.
“My heart is a little bit broken/When you cheat on me with the city where I’m from/Yeah, our story was just beginning,” she sings over magical-sounding percussion built from bells, shakers, and handclaps. The song’s emotive core plays provocatively against a glistening shell, and with production courtesy of Certain Self, it’s the friendship anthem we all need right now.
Musically, the song mirrors “one of those friendships that starts explosively, like a chemical reaction, and proceeds to help you evolve as a person,” the Brooklyn artist tells Audiofemme. “I love writing about more than one kind of love, and this felt like the perfect opportunity to explore platonic love and how it can be just as profound and transformative as romantic love.”
Those xylophone-like sounds, which give the message blinding brightness, were actually created with “an untuned piano being strummed with a kitchen fork,” she notes. “Certain Self and I had fun experimenting with organic sounds in his apartment to create an eclectic rhythmic atmosphere. From there, I wanted to bring it to a more ethereal and dreamlike place with shimmery synths and angelic bells. I love how it came together.”
“You opened a part of me that was dying,” That Brunette muses later on in the song. Despite its inherent longing, writing the song was actually “a happy experience” for her. “It serves as both a lovely little time capsule of the inception of a friendship, as well as an examination of platonic love. I felt like I was honoring this friendship’s impact on me by writing a song about it and that felt good.”
“Platonic” falls quite in line with another 2020 entry called “Metro with Matthew,” in which she celebrates friends who have never left her side. “I’m so lucky to still be friends with so many people I met my freshman year of college nearly a decade ago. We’ve grown up together and seen each other at our best and worst,” she says, “and we still love to hang out and shoot the shit. I treasure those connections the most because they’ve stood the test of time.”
Coinciding with the single drop, That Brunette has crafted a line of merch for the first time in her career ─ with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting various Black drag performers in the Brooklyn scene, like The Dragon Sisters. “They are iconic and everyone needs to know about them. I’ve been friends with them since college and their ability to transform a room in under .5 seconds is breathtaking every time. Their work ethic is only rivaled by their ferocity and performance capabilities. Obsessed forever,” she says. “I also need to shout out Miz Jade who has been killing the game since before I knew the game existed. Her seamless blend of raw talent, fashion, storytelling, and comedy is truly finessed. She’s a professional who’s caused me to get my life on multiple occasions.”
The merch came together in collaboration with graphic designer Florencia Alvarado, who is also the co-editor of Women on Women, a publication of art and poetry made by LGBTQ+ women. “Florencia has been the perfect person to collaborate with on the shirts. Our aesthetics blend together in such a natural way,” says the singer.
“I want to give back to Black people in a tangible way. This allows me to give funds directly to people whose art I’ve loved and admired for years,” she explains. “Especially in a pandemic when it’s basically impossible to support Drag Queens in person at the clubs, it just feels right to continue supporting them financially in some way when I’d normally be out tipping my queens every weekend.”
Like many, 2020 completely rearranged how That Brunette thought about creativity and songwriting. “It forced me to come back to my roots of writing songs alone with just me and the piano. That was difficult in some ways because writing alone can be uncomfortable,” she reflects. “There’s no one to use as a distraction or to bounce ideas off of. That made it a little harder to move through the stickier parts of the songwriting process, but the songs I have written are very close to my heart. And I can’t wait to bring them to life.”
“Platonic” showcases That Brunette’s earnest desire to keep pushing forward, exploring with increasingly more fascinating moods and structures. “My next long form release is in a similar vein of organic production fused with pop textures. I’ve been enjoying pairing a somewhat grittier backbone of raw percussion and dirty bass synths with lush and shiny pop pads and synths. I feel like that’s the world my vocals want to live in, and it feels really authentic for me.”