PREMIERE: Too Weird for this World, Death Hags Soar into a New Dimension with “Future Now”

Photo Credit: Danielle Petrosa

Audiofemme first encountered the otherworldly “doom pop” of Death Hags back in 2018, when we interviewed the project’s mastermind Lola G. in anticipation of her debut LP. Since then, the Los Angeles-based artist has been chipping away on her prolific Big Grey Sun series, self-released on her own imprint of the same name. 2020 saw installments #1 and #2, and Big Grey Sun #3 drops on May 13. Today we premiere single “Future Now,” off a limited edition Bandcamp-only lathe-cut 7-inch that’s available for pre-order this Friday, May 7.

Lola describes the Big Grey Sun series as “an ongoing experience, a sort of quest or underworld journey.” Initially she intended the third installment to espouse a more hopeful, spring-like energy to follow #2, which she described as “nocturnal, like the darkest moment before dawn or the Balsamic moon,” but the pandemic threw a wrench in that vision. While she says she works well in isolation, the pandemic forced her to reevaluate all her work-in-progress tracks to make sense of what the third volume should be in light of our new context. The result was far more existential.

“In the end it coalesced around the idea of a sense of place, the land, belonging,” Lola explains. “We’re living in a time of great technological change with new space exploration, the metaverse, synthetic biology, and yet we have a powerful longing for a simpler world, with everyone baking sourdough bread or nerding out on cottagecore. There’s something fundamental going on. If we do colonize the moon or Mars, at some point people will be indigenous to that land – but will they feel that they belong there? And once we successfully create synthetic beings, will they have a sense of place? That’s what #3 is about.”

While she intended to include “Future Now” on Big Grey Sun #3, she ultimately felt it didn’t align with her new vision of the release. “I’ve had the bass line forever and the lyrics came together last summer, when it felt like we had finally entered the 21st century,” she says. “People are ready to create a new future and they want it now. I have a lot of affection for this track and I think it will probably be on Big Grey Sun #5 or #6, but I didn’t want to wait to release it – it felt like a 2021 track.” And besides, who knows what our world will look like by the time we make it to volumes 5 and 6?

On the track, Lola’s characteristically haunting, layered vocals float above grungy, almost psychedelic riffs. As she soars into the chorus, the tempo picks up in such a way that we feel as though we’re zooming into the new normal at supersonic speed. She writes and records nearly everything on her own except for drums, which she outsources to a friend. “I’ve toured by myself and also with a band,” she says. “The last tour I did was a hybrid, part band, part solo electronic set. I think that might have been too weird for most people.”

The weirdness is crucial for Death Hags, however, as Lola remains true to her unique vision and commitment to a DIY ethos. With the exception of one single released on Burger Records, she’s put out everything herself. “The DIY process is important to me. I need to be in control,” she explains. “I think labels can be wonderful but I haven’t felt the need to look for one yet.” The one downside, she notes, is the lack of access to physical distribution in record stores, but says that “Self-release is a very empowering thing to do for an artist. I saw a funny tweet the other day that read ‘you don’t need to get signed to Warp records bro, you need to drink more water.’” 

If anything has changed in the last year – and a lot has – it’s that many consumers have begun to shop more consciously, to intentionally seek out and support independent artists, artisans, and creators. So do yourself, Death Hags, and DIY culture in general a favor and cop a pre-order of this new 7-inch on Friday, in anticipation of the Big Grey Sun #3 later this month. With your help, we might just make it to a better future. Or, at the very least, Big Grey Sun #5 and #6.

Follow Death Hags on Instagram for ongoing updates.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Pazz & Jop Lives, 21 Savage vs. ICE, and MORE

Kacey Musgraves topped the 2019 Pazz & Jop Albums List with Golden Hour.

Pazz & Jop LIVES – Even if the Village Voice Doesn’t

When I received my Pazz & Jop Ballot in December, I couldn’t have been more shocked.  I’d assumed that when the Village Voice shuttered in August, the music critics’ poll would go along with it. As an NYC resident and regular Voice contributor I was sad to see the paper go, but the loss of the poll was like salt in a wound; there was something so methodical, so definitive, so objective, about tallying hundreds of critics’ top ten albums to determine the year’s best in a way that wasn’t influenced by the branding of any particular publication. And while the top of the list was interesting, the real value I got from the poll came from scouring the ballots of critics with similar taste to mine, mining for overlooked gems.

The Voice had published only one piece since its death, though an archive remained online. No one seemed to know who would helm the poll itself – some critics even thought the email ballots that had been sent were a  a ghostly, automated mistake, though some of the copy had been changed. The defunct alt-weekly began running Robert Christgau’s old year-end analyses, stretching back to 1971, when the poll began. And then, this week, a flurry of essays from Christgau, Jessica Hopper, Sasha Geffen, Tirhakah Love, and a roundtable of former editors, not to mention the poll itself, appeared.

There are five women at the top of the album list – for the first time in the poll’s history. Kacey Musgraves got the top honors, with her breathlessly praised Golden Hour, followed by Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer. Next comes Cardi B, Mitski tied for third, and Robyn’s Honey rounds things out. Noname and Lucy Dacus appear in the top ten as well. And though Childish Gambino’s “This is America” was deservedly voted best single of the year, the rest of the year’s top songs feature Cardi, Janelle, Ariana, Robyn, Mitski and Kacey as well.

While it’s hard to say if there will be a Pazz & Jop next year, this year feels at least a little triumphant, and not just for the women who dominated year end lists. It’s a reminder that music journalism, while on shaky ground, has the potential to grow, change, and most of all, to keep existing, so long as there is a community of critics willing to sound off. Ann Powers says it best: “With Pazz & Jop I bring a different mind-set to it. I am thinking about the larger community of music writers. And I care about the larger community of music writers a lot. I want us to have a home to be together, and that’s what Pazz & Jop gives us. And so, the fact that this poll still lives, it makes me feel like I still have a bigger home.”

21 Savage vs. ICE

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained 21 Savage on Sunday, claiming that the Atlanta-based rapper was born in the UK, is in the US on an expired visa, and that felonies stemming from a 2014 arrest could lead to his immediate deportation. 21 Savage, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, confirmed that he was indeed born in London, but that he was already in the process of renewing his visa after becoming aware of his “illegal” status in 2017. A representative for 21 Savage pointed out that while the rapper had indeed been arrested on felony drug charges, he was not convicted and has a clean record, and should be allowed to remain in the US until matters of his citizenship are settled, given his fourteen-year residency and the three children he has fathered in this country.

Immigration is obviously a hot-button issue in this political climate, and some have pointed out that 21 Savage has been critical of the government’s separation of families at the US-Mexico border. Though he came to prominence rapping about life in the streets – including gang violence, drug dealing, murder, and guns – he’s given a lot back to the Atlanta community as of late, and his latest album, I Am > I Was has been a huge success. Despite lots of support from fans and the hip-hop community at large, 21 Savage has a long legal battle ahead of him – we can only imagine what is like for those facing the same battle, but without resources.

That New New

Just in time for Black History Month, Chicago neo-soul singer Jamila Woods announces her next album, Legacy! Legacy! whose thirteen tracks each honor a different person of color; the latest single from the LP is dedicated to writer Zora Neale-Hurston.

Patio shout out fellow NYC DIY band Washer in their latest single, “Boy Scout,” from their forthcoming debut LP, Essentials, out April 5.

Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast directed the latest video from Charly Bliss. “Capacity” will appear on the band’s sophomore LP Young Enough, out May 10 via Barsuk.

Foxygen’s new album Seeing Other People will arrive April 26 via Jagjaguwar and have shared its lead single.

Neneh Cherry shared a video for “Natural Skin Deep,” from her phenomenal 2018 comeback album Broken Politics.

Death Hags shared “Electrochemical Communication.”

Andrew Bird is equal parts Frank and Richie Tenenbaum in the new video for “Sisyphus,” from his cheekily-titled My Finest Work Yet LP, which comes out March 22 via Loma Vista Recordings.

The Japanese House will release their debut LP Good At Falling on March 1 after releasing a string of buzzy singles.

Thelma shared a delightfully weird video for “Stranger Love” as well as a new single, “Sway,” both from her sophomore record The Only Thing, out February 22.

Madrid duo Yawners have confirmed their first live appearances in the US will take place at this year’s SXSW; to celebrate they’ve released a video for “Please, Please, Please,” the lead single from their debut LP Just Calm Down, out March 22.

SOAK (Derry, Ireland based singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson) releases sophomore LP Grim Town on April 26 and has shared its very timely first single “Valentine Shmalentine” with a cute visual.

Khalid dropped this Disclosure-produced banger from his latest album, which will be out in April.

iamiamwhoami vocalist ionnalee announced her sophomore solo album REMEMBER THE FUTURE (out May 31) and subsequent tour with lead single “Open Sea.”

Bibio shared this smooth-as-fuck track from an as-yet-unannounced follow-up to 2017 LP Phantom Brickworks.

Ariana Grande just dropped thank u, next, only six months shy of last year’s Sweetener LP.

End Notes

  • The 61st annual Grammy Awards will air on CBS this Sunday, featuring performances by Janelle Monáe, Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Brandi Carlisle, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves, Dua Lipa with St. Vincent, and, in what is sure to be a train wreck of mediocrity, Post Malone with Red Hot Chili Peppers. But Ariana Grande has dropped out after the show’s producers refused to let her perform recent single “7 Rings.”
  • The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan has been reunited with his Gish-era Stratocaster after it was stolen nearly thirty years ago.
  • Recently released from a year-long prison stint, DMX has announced an anniversary tour to commemorate his 20-year-old debut, It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot.
  • Early-aughts dance punks The Rapture will reunite for a Brooklyn show and festival appearance (at Long Beach’s Just Like Heaven).
  • Big Boi, whose very brief appearance was literally the only highlight of Super Bowl LIII, has also announced a tour with Goodie Mob and other members of Atlanta’s legendary Dungeon Family crew (but hopefully not Cee-Lo Green?).
  • Merge Records turns 30 this year, and the iconic indie imprint will celebrate in July with the MRG30 Music Festival in Carrboro and Durham, NC. The lineup will of course feature Superchunk and other label stalwarts like the Mountain Goats, Wye Oak, Fucked Up, Destroyer, and more. Tickets went on sale today.
  • Kim Gordon is getting her first-ever solo art show at Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum; featuring figure drawings, sculpture, paintings and sound installation; the show, titled Lo-Fi Glamour, goes up mid-May through September 1st.
  • Jonah Hill and Vampire Weekend took over the UWS Zabars to shoot a music video.
  • Dinosaur Jr. mysteriously appeared on the Japanese Billboard Hot 100 with “Over Your Shoulder.” The track appeared on 1994 LP Without a Sound, but unlike that album’s inescapable alt-rock jam “Feel The Pain,” was never released as a single.
  • 52-year-old Gorilla Biscuits guitarist Alex Brown passed away from a brain aneurysm last Friday.

INTERVIEW: Death Hags Reconnects With Her Untamed Self

Death Hags is the solo project of French singer-songwriter and L.A. Musician Lola G, who last month released her first single “Metal Teeth.” It’s about “women reclaiming their freedom to be angry, strange, loud and dangerous,” and it’ll appear on Death Hags’ debut LP, slated for release via Burger Records this spring. She’ll also be heading to SXSW in March. We talked to her about her dream musical gear, the production process & her personal transformation through solo touring and living in the woods.

AF: I really like when artists create new genre names. I saw on Souncloud you tagged #doompop. Can you describe what doom pop and/or post-industrial is? How else would you describe the sound of your new record?

LG: It’s always hard to describe your own music, so when people started asking me what this new project sounded like, I would say it was “pop songs about the end of the world.” That was the best description I could come up with. I shortened it to “doom pop” because I love writing dark and doom-y bass lines but my pop sensibility won’t go away. I’m a fan of early industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle so hopefully there is a little bit of [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][post-industrial] somewhere in Death Hags.

AF: How and where did you record “Metal Teeth”? What is your songwriting process like? What kind of gear do you use? What is your dream piece of gear you’d love to use for future recordings or live shows? What’s your favorite aspect of the writing and recording process? 

LG: I recorded “Metal Teeth” in LA during a session I did with my band DTCV. I played everything except drums. A few months later I ended up scrapping the whole album except for “Metal Teeth.” It’s the only song that felt right. That was pretty much the beginning of Death Hags.

To me the most exciting part in the songwriting process is the initial creative spark. Lyrics or a melody I hear in my head, or a whole song. Recording is more of a mystery. You never know how things are going to turn out. I’ve had some amazing recording moments in places that were basically crappy warehouses and completely empty sessions in professional studios. There’s something elusive about recording and I’ve learned to respect that.

For gear, I have a modified 1980s Electra guitar and a 1970s Univox bass, although I tend to record with whatever Fender P bass they have in the studio. I recently got a Microbrute analog synth that I am in love with. And of course, lots of pedals!

I don’t think I have a dream piece of gear. If I could buy anything I wanted right now, I would probably buy a bunch of synths and get a crazy custom-made pedal from Death by Audio.

AF: Tell us about the personal transformation you’ve gone through with Metal Teeth. What do you want people to take away from listening to the new record? 

LG: I spent a lot of time alone in Nature last year and had some intense spiritual experiences foraging in the forest. It pushed me to tour by myself, which is probably the most transformative thing I’ve ever done. Metal Teeth reflects this need to reconnect with the untamed, with the strength and self-reliance that come from really knowing yourself. I’ve only begun the journey so I don’t know where it’s going to take me. Maybe ask me again next year?

As far as this record, if it could give people goose bumps when they listen to it, I would be very happy.

Look out for Death Hags @ SXSW:

3/14 Nochebuena in Space @ Stay Gold
3/16 Cigar City Management Showcase @ Lamberts Downtown Barbeque
3/17 Onward Indian Electric Garden Party @ Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
3/17-18 Burgermania VII @ Hotel Vegas[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]