TRISHES Validates the Anger of Women of Color with “Venom” Premiere

Photo Credit: Alejandra Ocampo

Trinidadian-American singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Trish Hosein (known as TRISHES) is all too familiar with being branded as “angry” or “sensitive” for speaking up about ignorant comments and the same old insulting assumptions people make about women – especially women of color. Growing up, she was made to feel like the problem was her, and not society’s micro-aggressions. But her latest single “Venom” pushes back against those who gaslit her and invalidated her anger.

Full of experimental electronic manipulations and vocal warping that sound like male and female voices singing, though it’s actually all Hosein’s own voice, the song has a truly unique sound and fierce lyrics that appropriate the snake as a symbol of anger: “I got venom on the tip of my tongue/Just like a scorpion, just like a snake/I got tough skin/Armor I was made in/Just like a champion/Rattle and shake.”

TRISHES says the intention was to create a powerful, chant-like chorus. “I wanted the chorus to be a place where I could reclaim this characteristic that was either projected on me or that I felt shame about,” she says. As a nod to her roots, she incorporated South Asian scales, such as major sevens.

She hopes that the single helps people form a new framework around the concept of anger, not as an emotion that makes someone difficult or overly aggressive but as one that spawns art and social change. As an activist and multimedia artist in addition to being a musician, this is the function that anger has had in Hosein’s own life.

In fact, the creation of “Venom” helped her to look back at times she was angry and see that her rage was not only valid but also productive. “I grew up being seen as an angry woman simply for being an honest woman of color,” she recalls. “After I created that song, I look back on it, and that’s actually when I had more realizations: this makes sense. It makes sense that you are angry. It makes sense that you had this sort of rage because you’ve always understood the idea of justice, and you could always feel when injustice was occurring, whether or not you had the ability to articulate what that injustice was.”

She wants those who listen to the song to be able to see themselves in the same light. “I would want women and girls like me to understand that their anger is valid,” she says. “Anger is valid, period, but specifically the anger that comes from being in a society that devalues you is valid, and it’s not something wrong with you per se.”

“Venom” will appear on TRISHES’ debut album The Id, which comes out October 22. As a follow-up to her 2019 EP Ego, an exploration of our consciousness and spiritual selves, The Id is concerned with “fear, shame, anger, violence, and the things our subconscious builds when we’re not nurturing our inner child.” Through warped vocals, soulful singing, and R&B-reminiscent beats, TRISHES creates a thought-provoking meditation on racial inequality, consumerism, and other social themes. She provided the vocals and keys for the album and co-produced it with producer Hakan Mavruk, who layered on bass and drums.

The Id was written not in structured writing sessions but over the course of Hosein’s daily life as inspiration hit her. “I don’t really sit down and write music for myself — I wrote it traveling, and I write things while I’m walking in my head and when I’m driving,” she says. “I wrote this album at a lot of museums; I’m super inspired at museums. When I’d gotten all the songs together and sort of knew what I was doing, it was a pretty straightforward process, but the actual writing of the album was just kind of a thing that happened in my mind over time.”

As an artist, Hosein also creates visuals to accompany her music by stippling with a fine-tip sharpie. For the cover of “Venom,” she created an image of herself with her hair resembling a scorpion’s tail. “I guess that’s how I feel that I’m perceived often, but it’s again centering around anonymity, centering around shame and fear and anger, and they’re images that I feel capture those emotions,” she explains. After releasing Ego, she created a pop art and music experience where people could check out headphones and take a tour through the album museum-gallery style, and she’s hoping to do something similar with The Id.

She considers her use of vocal effects and wide-looping — elements that appear throughout her music — reflective of the tensions that TRISHES represents. “I started this project five or six years ago, and I think I was going through a moral dilemma in my life, figuring out my what my idea of morality was apart from the way I was raised or the structures I was raised in,” she says. While her music doesn’t offer a definitive answers, it asks those questions in unfamiliar ways so that listeners can reflect on the larger power dynamics affecting their own sense of morality and identity.

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