This week, Detroit’s own Flint Eastwood – Jax Anderson – released “Real Love,” a powerful song detailing her broken relationship with the Christian church, and how breaking away from it finally gave her the chance to find love and truth. Like many people in the LGBTQ community, Anderson says she felt ostracized by the church because of her sexuality. After years of being told that there was something wrong with her, she decided to cut ties altogether with the church and free herself from what she felt were the judgmental confines of Christianity.
Anderson didn’t take this decision lightly. As someone who comes from a long line of preachers and grew up in the Christian church, separating from it meant much more than not saying her prayers on Sunday. “It was an extremely hard decision,” says Anderson. “I knew that I would be losing a community of people that I’d loved for a very long time and I had a huge fear that it would cause a division in my family, but thank god it didn’t.” She says although she made the split a while ago, this is her first time talking about it and also her first time openly singing about her sexuality. And the timing wasn’t a coincidence.
A few weeks before the song was released, Anderson’s older brother – who is also a preacher – sent her a link to a video of her family’s ex-pastor receiving an award for a “gay conversion therapy workshop” that he hosted for young women who are questioning their sexuality and gender identity. “We were both like, ‘this is ridiculous and it’s terrible that he’s doing this,’” says Anderson. “Especially because it was targeting girls aged 11-13 and that really hit home with me. That was exactly where I was when I was 11.” Understandably outraged, Anderson felt the best way to express her anger was to write a song about it.
She pulled up a bunch of instrumentals sent over by her brother Seth Anderson, a producer who goes by SYBLYNG, and settled on a piano loop that sounded like it came straight from a hymnal. “I sat down and wrote the song in about thirty minutes,” J. Anderson says. “I basically went through all of the ‘fruits of the holy spirit’ – which in Christianity are love, joy, patience, kindness – and said I found all of those in ways outside of the church, not by being a Christian but by being who I am.”
Anderson starts off “Real Love” by singing, “Can I be honest for a minute? Found peace when I lost religion / Found love when I thought I couldn’t.” Her opening lines set the stage for her description of her life after the church – one full of acceptance, love, and freedom. At one point in the song, a male voice says “Love without truth is not love,” exactly imitating the words of the conversion pastor’s acceptance speech, twisting his ill-meaning words back on him to create something positive.
With the help of strong choral voices consisting of Detroit divas Bevlove and Vespre, Anderson manages to orchestrate a reformed gospel song in which the world is her church, love is her God, and truth is her bible. Released just in time for June’s Pride celebrations, “Real Love” serves as a reminder that no one in the LGBTQ community should ever feel alone.
“I just want people to know that they’re not alone and it’s okay to be who they are,” says Anderson. “It’s not as scary as you think.”
Flint Eastwood will play her first Detroit show in over a year this Friday, June 29th with Princess Nokia at MOCAD. Doors at 7pm, tickets $25.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
New year, old song, new video: the perfect transition into a what is sure to be a creatively bountiful year for Detroit and beyond. While our gaggle of talent puts the finishing touches on upcoming projects, releases and new visions Flint Eastwood’s latest video for “Oblivious” a track from last year’s Small Victories EPis a beautifully hyped visual for a song that begs to brace for change with a tumultuous fluidity. We find our heroine Jax Anderson, dressed in her usual dapper, western priestess attire dancing a warrior dance with similarly clad compatriots in a warehouse space. We are also introduced to our antagonist and mysterious femme fatale, who is shown by the lakeside and sauntering through a wheat field cloaked in black with rope precariously in hand. “Oh, I keep my eyes closed/Keep my mind oblivious, oblivious” claims Anderson, covering her eyes mid-dance as if to insinuate that our blindness is voluntary. It is with that imagery that Anderson is ambushed and a black bag is thrown over her head as she is dragged off and kidnapped. The most striking visual component is the violently ethereal underwater footage of our simply clothed leading women, swirling about in a tangled tango of light and dark as we are confronted with sporadic shots of what must be a brief life-flashing-before-your-eyes moment. The water bubbles look like cosmic explosions against bare skin and the mirrored black tile crosses which feel curiously morbid in context. Are we in control? Is it best to remain oblivious and be swept up in spontaneous fate? For a pop song, Flint Eastwood poses existential quandaries and pairs them with brooding cinematic storytelling that keeps us guessing, heads just above water.
The most striking visual component is the violently ethereal underwater footage of our simply clothed leading women, swirling about in a tangled tango of light and dark as we are confronted with sporadic shots of what must be a brief life-flashing-before-your-eyes moment. The water bubbles look like cosmic explosions against bare skin and the mirrored black tile crosses which feel curiously morbid in context. Are we in control? Is it best to remain oblivious and be swept up in spontaneous fate? For a pop song, Flint Eastwood poses existential quandaries and pairs them with brooding cinematic storytelling that keeps us guessing, heads just above water.
Flint Eastwood‘s “Glitches” finds its heroine in Jax Anderson, whose battle with her mother’s death gave us the album Small Victories last fall. Small Victories was a eulogy, a cry for closure, and ultimately a poetic pop anthem for anyone who has ever suffered immeasurable loss. Don’t mistake Anderson’s confessionary vulnerability for weakness; she rises up and throws emotional punches in “Glitches” like a boxer in training in preparation for the ultimate head to head: the past v. the future.
The video is simple in its content but executed with a cinematic richness that reads as an autobiographical dream, or more so peephole into the internal mechanism required to face her own mortality. The video follows Anderson as she begins training with a coach who is also training a young boy. This paralleled shared experience between the antagonist and the child is reflective of the connectivity between our inner child and our adult self, realizing that the fight within is inherently present. There are several visceral cuts to Anderson as the only passenger on a boat speeding across the water that evokes an urgency as the viewer can only assume that she is searching for the intangible.
The video gives the illusion of slow motion and embodies a discernable hesitation. This barely palatable distortion of speed feels like a personal attempt at the grieving platitude of taking one day at a time, but in “Glitches” proves to be a poignant play on sensationalized time. The climax reveals cuts of Anderson in the ring to her feverish hunt in a sun drenched church, where she confronts a television screening real home movies of her as a little girl featuring her mother as she mouths the words “Turn it Off!” to the camera man. It is the fusion of this authentic, remarkably personal moment tied to a Anderson’s semi-fictionalized characterization that tugs on our own experiences and poses the question: “how do we move on?”
Watch Jax Anderson throw some emotional punches below:
Even without knowing the emotionally turbulent backstory behind Flint Eastwood’s latest EP Small Victories, the first single “Find What You’re Looking For” paints a cathartic landscape that evokes the sensation of conserving breath and energy before climbing a mountain. The song resonates as whispered, yet resilient, triumph. Jax Anderson is no stranger to small victories, nor large ones, respectively. A statement released with the single informs that the song is an interpretation of the last words spoken to Anderson by her mother before she passed: “Don’t let this break you.” As the listener or compassionate voyeur we may not know what the “this” is and we may not know what we’re looking for, but it is with this haunting ambiguity that makes the track accessible and effective in its ability to sound both confident and cautious. In the wake of such loss, Anderson sounds as if she’s begging the sky, crooning, “I don’t want to lose you/this moment next to you/you tell me what to do.” What is most strangely refreshing about “Find What You’re Looking For” is that it shines as a great contrast to the gritty, danceable electro-indie-rock vibe of Eastwood’s 2013 release, Late Nights in Bolo Ties. If this track is any indication to the journey ahead both for Anderson and the audience, Small Victories (to release on October 9th, 2015)will likely encourage the defiant act of letting the light into the dark places.
Detroit is a perplexing musical playground. From the greats of Motown all the way down to (like, rock bottom level down) king of the trailer park Kid Rock and his pasty, ornery 8 Mile loving opposition, Eminem to minimalistic power duo, The White Stripes and that guy selling a surprisingly fire rap demo in the gas station parking lot, the fabric of Detroit’s musical reputation is eclectic and strange; a fitting categorization. But what often gets overlooked is Detroit’s unbreakable continuing history of women in music. While compiling this list of friends, virtual unknowns, and local legends, I found I was overcoming my own poorly formed belief that Detroit was deficient in powerful female influence. Detroit is ferociously defined by the voice, talent, and unwavering sense of “Yeah, I got this” best demonstrated by these babes. The collection of women below share in their uncompromisingly daring expressions of self which in turn is a reflection of Detroit’s maverick spirit.
Jax Anderson, lead queen, is a powerhouse. Unsigned rockers, Flint Eastwood are on to something. Slinking rock-revivalist vibes tinged with Sleater-Kinney moments and vocal ferociousness that could give Alison Mosshart a run for her money, Flint Eastwood makes The Black Keys sound like watered down elementary school karaoke.
Married electro punk duo ADULT. fronted by Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, is Detroit’s answer to Devo, Romeo Void, and Wall of Voodoo without ever feeling like an imitation. First assembled in 1998, ADULT. is an obscure and active staple and in many ways a pioneer in the formation of Detroit’s current synth punk scene.
Formed in 1997 by Amy Gore, The Gore Gore Girls are one of the cities most influential psych-punk bands. Fittingly named after a 70’s splatter flick, The Gore Gore Girls have toured as support to The Cramps and have played festivals with The Stooges, The Strokes, and The Zombies. Over the course of ten years and three albums, they’ve managed to maintain their psychedelic, raised-from-the-dead sound that continue to set the stage for some of the other ladies on this list.
4. SUZI QUATRO “IF YOU CAN’T GIVE ME LOVE”
Detroit’s under credited queen of rock is as much of an influence today as she was when she hit the scene back in 1972. Although not the first of her kind, Quatro paved the way for girls who could hang with the boys by crafting a subdued androgynous persona on stage and a roaring rock sound behind the mic. Considered one of the first female bassists to break through in the boys game of rock n’ roll, Quatro remains one of Detroit’s baddest women of rock.
Singer Rachelle Baker and producer Nick Marrow make up Little Animal, a dreamy duo responsible for the sexiest music in town. Smoothly assembled, celestial textured electronic beats that could be easily be the love child of Erykah Badu and Bjork.
Ruth Synowiec fronts Mexican Knives, a buzzy, lo-fi blues rock band with biting bass lines and pulsing surf punk undertones. Alongside guitarist Zach Weedon and drummer Blair Wills, Synowiec vocals are a perfect counterpart to their Brian Jonestown Massacre tendencies. She may have told The Detroit Metro Times last year that she “has no idea what she’s doing” although endearing, it’s clear that she’s wrong.
Asia Mock, Sarah Stawski, and T.J Grech are Pretty Ghouls, an angsty, raw nerve punk trio that is undoubtedly one of the hardest, fuzziest newcomers to come out of Detroit in recent years. Unapologetic, Pretty Ghouls channel Detroit god Iggy Pop through their own “fuck you” filter, which makes sense considering Mock told Detroit’s Metro Times in 2012 that she wants to be the first, black female Iggy Pop. “I just want to scream in people’s faces and maybe get to rub my vagina on something in public.”
Jessica Hernandez is a Detroit darling to the max. One of our cities most beloved female acts, Hernandez (and The Deltas, respectively) have birthed their own breed of soul/pop that is as sugary as it sexy. Colorfully confident arrangements paired with Hernandez’s signature saccharine vulnerability makes for some of Detroit’s grooviest pop.
9. CHEERLEADER “QUENCHED”
Flint-based Cheerleader, comprised of Nisa, Polly, and Ashley, is a muddy, gritty Nirvana-demo sounding trio who unabashedly thrash lyrics like “Little boys with big dicks/we need a cure for it” over messily effective compositions. Although Cheerleader doesn’t have a large collection of songs, they are a defiant presence in the Michigan underground.
10. EL DEE “HEAVEN HELP ME”
Lauren Deming, or El Dee, leads a group of friends/musicians into a jazzy throwback dreamscape all her own. Rich and pure, Deming’s vocals are breathy, yet challenging. Without a rigid commitment to an era niche, El Dee manages to fuse Gershwin-esque standards with contemporary arrangement not unlike Amy Winehouse or Jon Brion, with avoiding sounding like a “fusion” artist.