If you listened to KEXP at all in 2019, you likely heard the song “Revolution Lover” at some point. A station-wide favorite, the song tells a story of love during distress – be it political or personal – and how maybe if we just stick together, we’ll be alright. With the topical and optimistically affecting lyrics combined with an earworm melody, it’s no wonder the song has been in constant rotation since its release almost two years ago.
But, if you’ve never explored the artist behind the song, Nat Puff aka Left at London, then I implore you to do so. The Seattle artist is far more than a one trick pony, with a drove of talents including a brilliantly quick wit, penchant for pop hooks, and a gift for sniffing out talented collaborators on the rise.
Recently, she released Transgender Street Legend: Vol. 2. The follow-up to 2018’s Transgender Street Legend: Vol. 1, which included “Revolution Lover,” is as current as it could get, with half of the six songs being created during quarantine which tackle the political outrage and personal pain that’s being felt worldwide.
She hasn’t been shy about expressing her fury over Seattle’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement and even released a digital 7-inch in the wake of the protests called Jenny Durkan, Resign in Disgrace, which includes the opening track of TSLV2, “Do You See Us?” alongside the track “blue as a bruise.” Charleena Lyles, the Black woman killed by Seattle police in 2017, gets a well-deserved mention in the former track from local rapper Nobi, who also cordially invites us “to the riots of the workforce” while Left at London reminds us that we’re “a product of supremacy.”
It’s a different tone than the Left at London we met years ago on Vine, who went viral for her seven second skits on the now-defunct social media platform and then again, years later, for her “how-to” videos which hilariously break down how to make a song by beloved artists like Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator. As she tells KEXP, “I just don't really have the energy to do the ha-ha funnies right now. I just don't want to.”
Below, read more about what Left at London has to say about separating herself from comedy, the making of Transgender Street Legend: Vol. 2, productivity during quarantine, and her favorite karaoke songs.
KEXP: You’re about to release your new EP Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2, and you just released a covers EP as well as a digital 7-inch earlier this year, it definitely sounds like you’ve been keeping yourself busy.
Nat Puff: Yeah. So, when quarantine hit, I felt like prior – because I work full time in music – prior to quarantining, outside of touring and stuff like that, I felt like I was kind of losing my work ethic. I felt like I was sort of starting to go into this lazy pattern of, like, I'm just going to visit my friends. I'm just going to play this game with my friends. I'm going to do this thing with my friends, and stuff like that. Because when you're self-employed, you have the ability to slip up a lot. And, I was definitely slipping up a lot.
And so, when quarantine hit, it was like I literally had nothing else to do. I felt like I had to stay inside, as I hope everybody else has. But, pretty much, I started working on music much more. I literally remember the first cases of Coronavirus hitting Washington, and immediately downloading three hundred dollars worth of plugins that I've been looking at, specifically to be like, "All right, this is my year. I'm going to hone my craft. I'm going to work on a bunch of music."
Literally, four out of the six tracks on the EP were made after quarantine and made within the span of two, three months. And then, "Do You See Us?" and "Safety First" were both made after I had "finalized" the tracklist for TSLD 2 and I literally thought it was going to be another four-track EP. And then, my ambition just sort of drove it to have two more tracks that are some of my favorites on the EP. And I know that's not saying much because there's only six tracks. And you can say, like, "Oh yeah, some of my favorite on the EP--that's like half the EP." All these tracks are my favorite on the EP, to be honest.
Oh yeah, they're all freaking great. I love that you really got outspoken about how you felt about the protests and Jenny Durkan and all that. I think protest music is incredibly important. What kind of feedback have you gotten since releasing, Jenny Durkan Resign In Disgrace?
I think my favorite piece of feedback in regards to Jenny Durkan Resign In Disgrace, my two-sided single, was that there was an article about Jenny Durkan – about the movement to recall her, and this was not a musical publication or a publication that does any musical work. It was literally done by...God, I would have to look up who did the article...but, literally, they mentioned, in a very otherwise political article, my EP. And I was like, Whoa! That was like a genuine moment of shock and I was kind of holding my head just like being like, "Whoa, this is strange. Like I'm happy that it's here. But at the same time, this is extremely strange."
Yeah, now your music is being connected to the movement and everything that's happening. That's big.
Yeah. And, I don't want to take up too much space in regards to that particular topic, just because I don't want to overshadow a lot of the black and brown artists that are also doing this stuff. But, that's partially why I wanted Nobi on it. The other reason being is he's just a great rapper. And, he's also from Seattle so, I figured that he would have a couple of things to mention himself. I mean, he name-dropped Charleena Lyles, and that was the first time that I heard that verse. I remember it just like letting out this exhale, just like, "Shit" immediately once I heard those last lines. He made that song.
More people need to understand that without Nobi's verse, that song would have sounded unfinished. I genuinely believe that it couldn't have been anybody else on that track. I tried getting some other people on that track and it didn't work out and I'm kind of happy that it didn't because Nobi's verse really kicked it into high gear. And it gave it more of the energy that I needed in the song.
Were you already connected before this?
No. I actually got recommended... somebody hit me up about Nobi. I literally put a close friend story on my Instagram, just being like, "Hey, who knows some Seattle rappers?" And, two people hit me up saying Nobi's name. And so, I literally listened to one song of his – not even the full song. Once! I was literally like, "This is it, I have to contact this dude!" And, he was more than willing. Turns out, my manager had connected with him before, but it just never got back to me. And so, he was already following me and I was like, "Great. This guy already knows me. This guy's already been introduced to me. Therefore, it might be more likely that he'd be willing to hop on a track."
And, he was he was extremely cooperative, he was extremely... because, like the lines in the chorus where he's like, "You are cordially invited to the rise of the workforce;" those were lines that we sort of wrote together, like the interlacing lyrics. We wrote those together, and then he wrote his entire verse completely separate from that, recorded completely separate from that. And, the only thing that I added to that last verse, besides the effects that I added to the vocals itself, was... Originally, the verse was supposed to cut off right at "Why the fuck it ain't done yet?", the first one. And, then I asked him just to repeat it two more times, one quiet and then one extremely, like, yelling. And, then the song was finished. I knew that the song was finished immediately once I heard that. I was so happy with how, like....He was a cooperative worker, but like he also held his own and he...Nobi's a brilliant artist. I can't say that enough. If you ever...I'm not sure if you have the time or ability to, but I would suggest if you want to talk about "Do You See Us" more, contact Nobi. Because, I've been trying to get people to contact Nobi when people talk about this song, because...God damn! God damn!
Ed. Note: Nobi had this to say about "Do You See Us":
Nobi: Working with Left at London was an absolutely wonderful experience. It was the first time I had ever created with someone over FaceTime, we literally were in our houses and she called me up and was like, 'Can we walk through some parts on the chorus?' And we co-wrote it on the spot right there.
When she hit me up about the song, I had already released an album (Fulminate) that spoke on racial injustices and mitigating through life and it’s obstacles as a person of color about a month before. But so much had happened between June and July I felt like Left at London had created a skeleton for me to speak on how I felt about what was going on in my community.
I remember how furious I was after seeing so many cases of police brutality go unjustified. How hurt and outraged I was after seeing and experiencing flash bangs and tear gas from the police not far from Westlake Center where I play table tennis in the summertime. It was in the midst of all these feelings that Left at London dm’d me out of the blue on Instagram and I think I wrote my verse that day or the next, by the end of the week the song was finished. It all happened ultra quick.
Yeah. Absolutely! Looks like I gotta go delve into his work a little bit more. I know he was featured on Perry Porter's new album, but I haven't listened to a lot of his stuff. I've definitely got to.
Yeah. Literally, the people that have helped me on Transgender Street Legend Volume 2 were Nobi, Dylan Brady, Vera Much and Chuck Sutton. All four of these artists I respect, so much. I consider all of them, at very least, like, acquaintances. And good acquaintances at that. I feel genuinely so blessed to have all four of these people in my life, outside of music, but I'm also really thankful to have them inside of my life because of music. Because, that's what sort of connected us. Vera, if you don't mind me sort of changing the subject here...
Oh, no. Go for it.
Vera, it was really interesting the way that I met her because I sent a tweet about a year and a half ago, probably, saying.... I don't remember who it was, but somebody tweeted, "There needs to be a WLW Brockhampton," like a lesbian Brockhampton or something like that. And I was, at the time, I was like, "I'm ambitious; I like starting fifteen projects at the same time, let's audition people." And so, I gave out my email on the timeline, and I just asked people to e-mail me demos. And, a bunch of people e-mailed me demos and there were two specific people that stuck with me and are still friends and music collaborators of mine. There is Holiday Kiss, who remixed "6 Feet" on their EP of warm-core remixes on SoundCloud. Really brilliant stuff. Really brilliant producer, stream White Grape Juice. So good.
And then, there's Vera Much who... I remember hearing their album; they had an album called Sibling that was just this really cute album. The first track is called "Bagelwich" and it's literally them just ordering a bagelwich. Yeah, it's like, [sings] "bacon, egg and cheeeeeese." It's so quirky, it's so fun, and it's so, like... "Do Not Disturb" is also a great track on that album. And, they asked me to be on her new EP, which is called Thank You and it's coming out in like October, I want to say. I'm on a track on that called, "Mortifying Ordeal Of Being Known." And, I was so happy that she asked in the first place, because the beat is really like, it's like this happy beat about, you know, being perceived.
And, the idea of the social aspect of two humans sort of perceiving each other was sort of taken differently by each of us. Like, one of their lines is, "You see me through and through." Her verse is like, "Being perceived is very strange, but I like it." And then, my verse is more like, "Being perceived feels overwhelming, but I am trying to make the best of it." And, I feel like we did a similar sort of thing with "Safety First," where she had written about her girlfriend and I had written about my lack of one. And, it sort of changed the context of the song. I guess I make Vera's music a little bit more pessimistic by that association, but our dynamic is really, really interesting, and I'm really happy that I got to work with them on "Safety First."
Chuck Sutton is featured on "My Friends Are Kind Of Strange." I literally just texted Chuck, just being like, "Hey, do you want to work on a song together?" I met Chuck through my friend Valentine, who I toured with at the beginning of the year. She's literally like his best friend. And, they have a really adorable friendship, and I'm really happy for them. But, I contacted Chuck and I was like, "Hey, do you wanna make a song together?" And he was like, "Just send me a bunch of loops and I'll see what I can flip." And, there's a William Crooks song called "Semiautomatic." And, I did some instrumental work on that song. It was released as demos off of his album, Thunderbird. This song requires a lot of context, for some reason, so I'm just gonna give it all.
But, William Crooks released Thunderbird. He was going to have "Semiautomatic" on it. He asked me to be on it as an instrumentalist and a co-producer, and so I sent him a couple of things. William Crooks is also the person that does the producer tag that some might have heard on Yung Skrrt's song, "Where Did I Go?" All these people I met through Valentine; I'm so happy that I met Valentine because she connected me to all these great people, and also the other reasons that I'm happy to have met Valentine. But, William Crookes', "Semiautomatic" - wrote some stuff. I did, like, a three part harmony; the whooohoohoo...[sings]. That harmony in the background of "My Friends Are Kind Of Strange" was originally supposed to be for "Semiautomatic." And, then I gave it to Chuck and he was like, "Yeah, I could flip this easily." And, then the weird, dee,dee,deedle deedle...[sings], that is my voice. That is the three-part choir pitched up and just chopped up a bunch.
It is really incredible, what he did. And the entire song, immediately, once he did that, just sort of grew into, like....We just went section by section by section by section. And, sooner or later, we just had this fucking monster of a song. We had parts that we had to cut out. I've never had to do that in a song before where I was like, "Wow, we have too much song right now! We should probably dial it back." Normally I'm like, "This is satisfactory; I'm cool with this two to three minute long song." But, literally, Chuck and I kind of pushed each other in a way that was really, really unexpected. And I was really happy to work with him because he's incredible. And, oh, stream Chuck's music and stream Thunderbird by William Crooks. Yeah, I got to shout them out cause, you know, that song wouldn't be anything without them.
And then Dylan Brady, for those who don't know, is half of the duo, 100 Gecs. When I visited L.A....the first time that I met him I went to his studio in L.A., and he was working on this song called "Dumb Bitch Juice" with Alice Longyu Gao. And, I had never known about Alice before. I had never met Dylan before, but I knew like a lot about him, we talked a couple times prior and I wrote like a couple of lines on "Dumb Bitch Juice" and then, I got like five percent [laughs]. Gotta hustle. But then, I was like, "Hey, do you want to make a song together, just us?" And he was like, "Yeah, sure, let's do it. When are you free?" And, the only time that I was free was the morning before my flight. And so, within two hours, the most fast-paced, extremely gratifying two hours, we made "6 Feet" entirely in that two hours before I had to leave for my flight. I literally walked all my luggage from my hotel to his studio.
No you did not! Two hours to make the song?
Two hours to make the entire song! The only thing that kept the song from being released that day, was just because I wanted to get the stems so I could mix and master it and maybe add a couple of things, which I ended up not even doing.
That is incredible.
Yeah. So, the entire song was written, recorded, produced--two hours. To this day, I have never felt like the ratio of quality to time has been so streamlined. It's incredible, the way he works. And I respect him so much.
Yeah, that's awesome. So, obviously, this is the second volume of Transgender Street Legend. Is there any sort of thematic connection that connects the two EPs together?
Yes. The thematic connection is that they're good songs that don't fit on any other album. [laughs] Literally, I tried to sort of make somewhat of a story, and try to make the surrounding tracks sort of make sense, sonically. So, it's not like a complete left field. Or, if it is a complete left field, then it's meant to be that way. But there is no concept or story line that connects the two, other than these are just songs that I wanted to release. These could have been just released as singles, one by one, but I just was, like, "All these tracks are good. I might as well, you know..."
Release them together. Makes sense. I'd also like to talk about your covers EP This One's For The MILFs. I'm curious about why you chose those particular songs to cover as well as the choice behind the album title.
So, the song choices--each one of them are important songs to me. And, it just made sense to put these songs in the order that they were. For "Pony" I, literally, made a remix of "Pony" using that same instrumental, and then I showed the remix to somebody. And, for some reason they were like, "Is that your voice?" And I'm like, "No, that's Ginuwine." They had never heard "Pony" before.
What!? How is that possible?
Yeah. Right. I mean, it's the male stripper anthem of the 90s. And, you'd think that at least one Magic Mike trailor would like give you...
You only need to see one!
Yeah you only to see ONE and you're good! But, I showed them that and they were like, "Is that your voice?" I'm like, "No, but it could be." And then, I tried singing it myself. And I was like, "This works, might as well." And then, "I Love You" was also a remix that I turned into... 'cause, I was so proud of that particular remix of "I Love You" that I was like, "I can't release this just by itself, I want to give this kind of a platform, and the only way that I can do that is if I sing it myself." And, it gave me the ability to do weird vocal effects, like the vocoder at the end, which... Oh my God.
I love it!
The vocoder! I have a love-hate relationship with geeking out over my own music because I do it a lot, but I was really happy with that vocoder. I was really, really happy with that vocoder. And then "Streetlights," that was a cover that I would do acoustically since, like, 2015 or something ridiculous like that; something like really early. And, I remember there was this time where I was, before Ginger came out, I was invited to the Brockhampton house. And, Vic of Victor Roberts, from the last track of Ginger, I was there and the album hadn't come out. We didn't know each other, and I played that for him and Dom. And Vic just got really emotional, he just immediately started really digging it. And, he was a little bit teary, honestly, and I was really just so honored to have moved anybody in that way and seeing that in front of me. So, we exchanged Instagrams and we sort of kept contact. And then, when Ginger came out, I heard him on the last track and I'm like, "Wait, that's you!?" And he was like, "Yeah, I told nobody until it came out." I was like, "What the hell!" He showed me a couple of his verses that he plans to put on his his debut, and he's a really good rapper; really, really, tells a story throughout every one. He's like the rap Joni Mitchell, it's great.
[laughs] Do you think he would describe himself that way?
I don't...know. I don't think so, but I could ask. He probably fucks with Joni Mitchell. I don't imagine anybody who doesn't.
It's a hard comparison.
It's a hard comparison. But, yeah, that song just meant a lot to the development of my friendship with him. And so, I kind of wanted to put it on there to sort of be like, "Hey, this song meant a lot to me, this cover meant a lot to me. And like, I want it to mean a lot to everybody in the same way that it meant to Vic." And I was just really happy to sort of contribute to that.
And then, the last track, "Oh, Maker," that one has been around since my birthday in 2019. The first time that I heard ArcAndroid, which is the Janelle Monae album that "Oh, Maker" comes off of, I was curious--I, literally, heard the song and I was like, "Why is this so fast?" For some reason, I just kept on hearing it slowly and with harp and all of these lush instrumentals. And so, I arranged it for live performances. And I was originally going to make it just a live performance thing. And then I was like, "I should record this because this sounds great." And, I finally laid vocals over it and somebody hit me up saying, "Hey, I mix and master music. Do you want me to mix and master it?" Complete stranger, just hit me up in my inbox and I'm like, "Yeah, sure. Go ahead. This is the track." And, I was really happy, too, because the mixing on that is gorgeous, and I'm really happy they were able to do that.
Absolutely. It's a gorgeous rendition of it. I definitely am most partial to the Billie Eilish cover because I'm obsessed with her. I feel like you should definitely do a Billie Eilish 'how-to' video.
It's really weird that you mention that you like the Billie Eilish one the most because the reason why--I completely forgot about this until you said it--but, another reason why I did the "I Love You" song as a cover, was because there was a moment in time in which I was going to make a Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? cover album.
Oh, shit. The whole album?
The whole album!
I was going to do that, and then I tried to remix any other song from that album. And I'm just like, "I don't like this as much as I originally did." And the cover album was originally going to be called, At The Moment That All Of Us Go To Bed, What Is The Location In Which We End Up?
[laughs] Oh my God, that's too good!
I'm kind of sad that it didn't come together.
I mean, I think you should still take a stab at it. Just for the album title alone.
Just for the title alone! I feel like Billie would sort of fuck with the cover that I did. If anybody has her number, text her my cover because I really want her to hear it. Like, genuinely.
Let's get it connected. We'll make this happen.
Yeah, just casually. Just like, you know, "Do you know Billie Eilish? Hey, check this out."
Yeah, I'm sure she's not busy.
Yeah, she's chillin'.
So, what's going on with You Are Not Alone Enough? Last year, you told John Richards it was in the works and it was going to come out soon. Where is it at?
Oh, OK. So...
I feel like a whole story is coming.
[laughs] Yes, it's a story. It's not shelved, I'll start with saying that. Well, I guess it's technically shelved, but it's going to come out. But, it's not going to come out as soon as I promised, which was a year and a half ago. So, obviously it's not going to come out as soon as I said. But, the album is pretty much finished at that point. And then, pretty much what happens... Like, the album is pretty much finished, and then we were just like, "Yeah, let's just mix and master these last couple of songs." We were in the process of doing that and then I started learning production; I started learning more about production on my own. And, we just kept on adding stuff to the songs, and then we had to remix them. And then, it just got to the point where I had to move out because the producer of mine was my roommate, and then I moved out because I had gotten a different cat and they were allergic. And so, I was just like, "Sorry that I have to choose between you and the cat, but I'm going to choose a cat."
I get it.
Yeah. I was like, "Yeah, we can visit each other in a couple of months. I'm sure that that will be a possibility because that never stops happening and that never stops being a thing." And, low and behold! Coronavirus. Then, they move to Philly and so, pretty much, I...I don't have to start from scratch. They gave me all the stems that I need to sort of just like mix and master on my own. But, since then, I went through a couple of other break ups that I've written about and I'm just like, "OK, now the tracklist is going to change." And so, we lost one of the tracks in the move because, for some reason, we recorded it on a free version of Reaper. I don't know why, but...
You gotta cut corners somewhere.
You gotta cut corners sometimes, and we really cut corners for that one song. So, yeah. You Are Not Alone Enough is being worked on, kinda-sorta, right now. It's going to be finished once I get a clear answer on a couple of things about the release itself, because it samples a couple of things and I want to make sure that we can get those samples cleared. And, then I'm going to add a song or two, I'm going to take a song off, I had to take off two songs. So, the album is really beginning to like...I'm worried about it becoming my--God, what's that Dre album that he kept on saying was gonna come out and then never did?
Oh, yeah. It's slipped my mind what it was supposed to be called but I know what you're talking about. He spent like twenty years on it and ended up like just shelving it.
I can't believe that he just scrapped it like, that's not good enough. Just add more songs. Take some off. That's the way albums work.
Yeah, fix it, edit it, I don't know. Take it to someone else, maybe they can fix it. Yeah, that seems ridiculous to me as well.
But, yeah. It's like, I've been trying to refrain from talking about it just because...I appreciate the confrontation. I've been trying to specifically avoid talking about it so I could just wait until everybody forgets about it. And then, when I'm ready, you just be like, "Oh, You're Not Alone Enough. It's out now!" And then everybody's like, "What, that still existed the entire time?"
Right, but you do realize that every single interview from last year, you mentioned that it's about to come out. So, people are probably wondering.
Yeah, I cooked up a real Yondu with that one.
So, should we talk about Tik Tok? Are you on it? As a former Vine star, that seems the next place to go. Or are you just done with the small video format?
I'm on Tik Tok. I haven't posted a Tik Tok that's not just me advertising my music since March, something like that. Like it's Tik Tok. I'll go on it to watch other people but I just don't really have the energy to do the ha-ha funnies right now. I just don't want to; I don't have that energy and I don't want to put that energy out, really, anymore.
I don't mind if other people are making jokes right now, just as a general thing. But, I just don't feel comfortable doing it outside of my personal circles right now, in this moment. It's just like, I can be funny in interviews. I can be funny in certain song lyrics, but that is all I'm interested in currently. Not to say that that might not change. But, it also might not change.
Plus, I'm really trying to change my image to being just sort of...I just kind of want to be considered an artist. And so, I don't mind talking about Vine, Tik Tok, stuff like that, on the occasion. But, if somebody is about to ask me about Vines that were not popular until they got featured in Vine comps two years after Vine had shut down. I'm just like, "I also have an EP!" I've had interviews, and this is not shade to you because you've been very... this is like the first time that you've mentioned Vine in an otherwise really long interview. And so, I'm really happy that it took this long to do it. Normally people hit me out of the park with, "So, Vine..." And I'm like, [sighs] "Great!"
Right like, "How do I get rid of this!?"
[laughs] Yeah. So, it's like, it's a part of my life; it's a part of my former life and I'm happy that it existed. I probably would not have gotten such a platform without it. And, I acknowledge that and I'm really thankful that that happened. But at the same time, I'm just tired about it right now. I have so much more to say about the music stuff than I do about Vine. I've milked that cow dry.
Where do the how-to videos fit in? Because, they are like music-based but also comedy. Are you also done with those?
I'm kind of am done with those, to be honest. Like, those too, I just...If one comes...I did make one video that never got released; one how-to video that never got released. And I think it was the genuine reason why I stopped doing them, because I was just like, I did it, and it was funny. It was accurate; it was good. But it just didn't, it just didn't...I wasn't excited about it, so I just never released it. I just never was like, "This is something that I'm proud of." Plus, the beat that I made was really good, and I'm going to try to use it for somebody else.
Yeah, I can see not wanting to give up a good beat just for jokes.
Yeah. So, now I'm essentially doing the, like, how to make a blank....Essentially, I'm making vaguely blank type beats to practice my ability to produce. And, I've made some really good beats and sort of like dived...Because, the cool thing is, that if you're not putting yourself in that box where it's like, "OK, I'm trying to make a, for lack of a better example, I'm trying to make a Tyler, The Creator beat." I, literally, did make a beat that I was intending to make sound like an Odd Future beat. Then, I added a couple beep boops and whatnots, and then, it just sounded like a Left At London beat. It just sounded different than I intended it to, at the start. And, because I added that, it became more unique and it became less like I was trying to copy somebody. It felt like I was using my influences as, not just an influence, but as like the blueprint for how to make my own sound. And then, I would like make a quote, unquote type beat. And then, I would adjust it, slow it down, speed it up, change keys, just random stuff, and it would sound great. And, literally, with "Safety First" I was trying to make like a...like, the guitar part at the beginning, that was what it started with. I've mentioned this to a couple of interviewers, but the guitar part was what I started with. And, it was originally supposed to be way faster; it was supposed to be [sings] "Da da da da da..." And then, I just slowed it down, added tremolo and pitched it up. And then I added the vintage drums to it and I was like, "Oh, this has a completely different feel, this has a completely different vibe." It went from being this sort of like punk song to this...I don't even know what to describe "Safety First" as sounding like, because the feeling that it gives me is the same feeling that I got re-listening to "You Only Get What You Give" by the New Radicals. I mentioned that song so much when talking about "Safety First" because it was genuinely like the emotional blueprint of "Safety First." I wanted to have that same sort of like sonic feel that "You Only Get What You Give" gives. You know? You remember that song, right?
Yeah, of course!
OK, good. Good. That's a classic, that's a genuine classic. And more people need to stop seeing it as this corny song because it name drops a bunch of artists or whatever their issue with it is because, it is genuinely a good song. It was a hit for a reason. Oh, God, I love that song. It's one of my favorite pop songs, one of my favorite chart-topping pop songs.
I've been asking people, "What are your favorite chart toppers?" lately just because it's really interesting to see what people like that is already liked. Cause, if I ask people, "What are your favorite songs?" they're either going to mention a bunch of songs that mean a lot to them that I don't really know about which, normally, I'd be like, "Oh, I want to listen to that eventually." But, we're in the middle of a conversation and I can't just dip out to listen to it. So, I've been asking people, "What are your favorite chart-toppers?" And then a conversation starts because sometimes these songs aren't heard by... Like, I was driving my roommate to work and I'd mentioned that one of my favorite chart-toppers was "Come On Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners. Such a good song and they had never heard it before.
They'd never heard "Come On Eileen"?! What!
They had never heard "Come On Eileen" before! Because, they didn't really grow up around radio. Like, they didn't really grow up around radio.
Have they never been to a bar before?
They're like 20. So, yeah.
Ah, there you go. That explains it.
Yeah, I tried doing it in a karaoke bar once and that shit is too high. Yeah, I was straining and, literally, as soon as the song ended I turned to my group and I was like, "I'm never doing that song again."
Isn't there like a key change midway through, too?
Oh, yeah. But, that's baby stuff for me. God, I miss karaoke. Did you have any favorite karaoke songs?
Yeah, I did. Do you remember the band, Jet?
Oh, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"
Yep, that is my go-to song.
That's your go-to?
Yes, literally every single time I do karaoke.
That's a good go-to! Do you have any others?
I usually go for like early 2000s alt-rock, so I'll do like a Killers song or The Strokes or something like that. My voice is kind of low and not super great, so I have to stick with male singers.
Yeah, controversial opinion: "When You Were Young" is way better than "Mr. Brightside." Like, infinitely better.
Ooooh...yeah, I think they're pretty equal par. That's like picking my favorite child. I really loved and still love early Killers. Sam's Town was one of my favorites for years. So, yeah, that's a tough one.
Those are good choices, those are good choices. Just like really early 2000s alt-rock and... What was the first song that you said?
Yeah, Jet, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl."
Oh yeah, so it was all just early 2000s alt-rock. Like stuff you could hear in car commercials. And you'd be sad that they were in car commercials because you're like, "Damn, that was a good song!" And then, years later you're like, "All right, I don't associate it with car commercials, anymore. I can sing this again."
Totally. There's been enough time that you're like, "Oh, I forgot about that song!"
Yeah, we've healed, now.
[laughs] Exactly. I love the album review that Pitchfork did of that Jet record. It's, literally, just like a gif of a monkey peeing in its own mouth. I personally disagree with the review but, you know, to each their own.
Damn. I mean, sometimes you've just got to do your own controversial opinions in gif form. I hope if I get a negative review that it's in gif form.
I hope so. I want my negative review to be like a really outdated gif. Like, I want a Rage Comic as my negative interview, you know?
Oh, my God, that would be hilarious. Yes.
I want somebody to say like, "Le bad" or something, about my album.
[laughs] Yeah. Then you don't have...Because words do actually hurt but can a gif really hurt us?
I can name a couple that did.
[laughs] So, anyway....
You're fantastic. I love this!
This is so fun. I feel like I'm taking so much of your time, though.
I literally have so much of it, so, don't worry about it.
I feel you there. But I guess we'll just kind of wrap up with a pretty KEXP-centric question: since KEXP is the station where the music matters, why does music matter to you?
There's a really snarky part of me that was about to go like, "Ah, it doesn't really matter to me." [laughs]
[laughs] Fuck music!
But, yeah. Music matters to me for a lot of reasons. I feel like it's a form of expression; it's a form of release; it can boost your mood. It can help you process things whether you're writing it or listening to it. I feel like it's just a perfect sort of vessel for all of that to happen.
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