It’s been five years since Portland’s Floating Room emerged with their spectacular and murky debut record, Sunless, in 2016. With each new release Maya Stoner, the songwriting force behind the project has not so much refined her sound but continued to build off what she’s last done and expanded her sound with 2018’s excellent, slow-burning False Baptism LP and 2020’s dreamy Tired and True EP. While ostensibly Floating Room has always been a “rock band,” the project is leaning into their distorted whims with the upcoming Shima EP, out November 12 on Famous Class Records.
The lead single “Shimanchu” gives our first glimpse at this fired-up version of Floating Room. Crunchy guitar riffs rise and fall against furious drums and a propulsive ethos that never lets up throughout. Stoner’s melodic prowess never gets lost in the fray, anchoring the song in her riveting voice that slowly escalates with each verse before she’s full-out screaming by the end of the song. The group describes the song as “a paean to Stoner’s Uchinanchu heritage and a retort to the condescension she faces daily as an Asian American woman.” Throughout the song, she repeats the refrain, “I’m an islander but I’m away from my island, so I am the only island here.”
Stoner shares details about the song and its Dance Dance Revolution inspired video below:
“This is a really fun music video for a song about some extremely un-fun topics. My people, the Indigenous people of so-called Okinawa, Japan, identify as Shimanchu which translates to ‘Island People.’ Every day I watched as Asian people here in America were beaten and murdered and the silence surrounding it all was deafening. Meanwhile, in my ancestral land, Japan was and still is letting the U.S. build a military base using soil that contains the bones of my ancestors. A third of our people died brutally during the war and were an innocent civilian population caught between belligerents—'attacked by tigers at the front gate and wolves at the back' is how some Okinawans describe it. The construction of this new base is desecration of the highest magnitude, committed by both the U.S. and Japan, two equally abhorrent global empires. When I wrote this I was 'left stranded alone in my rage,' as Cathy Park Hong writes. I can count the number of Shimanchu people I have met in Portland on one hand, so I have always been an island, but never in my life had I ever felt so alone. Writing this song allowed me to feel empowered in my isolation and through catharsis momentarily escape.
“I had been wanting to make a DDR music video for a while because it’s a game my siblings and I loved as kids. It’s funny this ended up being the song the idea was used for, because in hindsight there’s something very Asian American about it.”
Shima is available for pre-order now. The band will also head out on tour this fall with Citizen, Drug Church, and Glitterer. See the dates below.
11/14 Minneapolis, MN @ Amsterdam
11/16 Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
11/17 Denver, CO @ Oriental Theatre
11/18 Salt Lake City, UT @ Soundwell
11/20 Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
11/21 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
11/22 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
11/24 Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
11/26 Los Angeles, CA @ The Lodge Room
11/27 Los Angeles, CA @ The Lodge Room
11/28 Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
11/30 Austin, TX @ Empire Garage
12/01 Dallas, TX @ DaDa
12/03 Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom
12/04 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
12/05 Cleveland, OH @ Mahalls 20 Lanes
12/06 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
12/08 Atlanta, Georgia @ Masquerade - Hell
12/09 Orlando, FL @ The Abbey
12/10 Tampa, FL @ Crowbar
12/11 Durham, NC @ Motorco
12/12 Washington DC @ Union Stage
12/13 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
12/15 Asbury Park, NJ @ House of Independents
12/16 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
12/17 Boston, MA @ The Paradise
12/18 Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
12/19 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
On their lavish and stirring sixth album, the Portland-via-Bay Area band explore massive life changes and adversity with arguably their most diverse set of songs. Martin Douglas explores.
Moving briskly and coming in at just under a minute-and-a-half run-time, Troper infiltrates your psyche a song that feels like one giant hook.