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serpentwithfeet

Barboza Seattle

Friday, June 22, 2018 7:00 PM - 2:00 AM

21 and Over, Live

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Event Details

serpentwithfeet is an avant-garde vocalist and performance artist whose growing body of work is rooted in dueling obsessions with the ephemeral and the everlasting – key components of his artistic journey from a childhood stint as a choirboy in Baltimore through his time at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied vocal performance before relocating to New York City. His forthcoming debut full-length album soil is a return to the sensibilities and wide-eyed curiosity of his musical youth before symmetry and sterile soundscapes ruled the roost. With the release of soil the chameleonic serpentwithfeet (born Josiah Wise) rediscovers and ultimately returns to the unhinged version of himself he was sure he had outgrown.

“soil is about me returning home then realizing that i carry home with me daily.”

Following the release of Blisters – his 2016 foray into hybridized pop produced by Björk collaborator The Haxan Cloak – and two big tours, serpentwithfeet returned to the studio in 2017. There, he explored the fullness of his voice and became increasingly interested in playful singing which intrigued recording engineer Jason Agel. That vocal performance was only complicated by his feverish rumination on the dissolution of an impassioned love affair that left him stunned and speeding toward the inevitable – a more intimate relationship with himself. One in which he embraces and mocks his own flaws with abandon, lets an uncharacteristic shock of hair down over his infamously provocative forehead tattoos, makes room for his most pressing sexual desires and returns to the gospel that dominated his formative years. In this embrace of imperfection and romantic failure, serpentwithfeet has found soil; the forthcoming album is his first release for the label partnership between Tri Angle Records and Secretly Canadian.

soil features contributions from rising experimental producer mmph, sound manipulator Katie Gately, A$AP Rocky contemporary Clams Casino, and Paul Epworth – one of the Grammy Award-winning minds responsible for Adele’s critically-acclaimed album 21. The project recorded between New York City’s WhiteWater production house and Epworth’s London studio was co-produced by serpentwithfeet. On this outing he trades glossolalia and peacocking showmanship for intricately layered harmonies, a sumptuous bottom register that appears for the first time to challenge his fluttering tenor, and ballsy sonic experimentation encouraged by Gately, whose talent he describes as “making voices sound like elephants and elephants sound like car engines.” Together they develop an unctuous sound that suggests billowing clouds and the dense, plodding stomp of 12-bar blues. Once concerned with perfect execution of gospel runs and dishing up a gossamer falsetto, serpentwithfeet is out of balance and reveling in the concept of mess on soil. Particularly, what it means to part ways with sterility and the urge to uncoil himself in order to occupy more space. soil is the moment at which he unfolds himself with zero intention of closing back up.

“I’mconstantly talking about how black men are always manspreading and pushed to be these super masculine, bovine – seven foot niggas. For a long time I was interested in what would happen if we rebelled against that and we were small. I was into the minutiae and then I realized I wanted to take up space again. I have practiced that smallness and quietness and that’s fine, but now I don’t want to be that delicate. I’m not interested in that right now. This album definitely pushed me in that way. There’s a certain naivete in this new music. With the blisters EP, I was trying to prove a point to myself and the listener. I was trying to string together a lot of ideas before. This time I wasn’t trying to sound smart. I was as crafty as I could be with the words, but I just wanted to keep my eyes open and be accountable for what I was seeing .”

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