Kenzie

Kenzie was born in Ohio and never left. She is really bad at not crying but thankfully really good at applying (and re-applying) eyeliner.

it’s our birthday and we’ll announce a contributor week if we want to

Well, y’all, witchsong turns 1 today. In the last year, we had 39 different voices contribute to content. We published nearly 300 pieces. I can’t even begin to count how many artists we talked about. It was a better year than I ever could have anticipated, even with my shortcomings as an editor. Even with my periods of absence. I got sappy at the beginning of the year, so I’ll spare you most of that, but know this: I’m proud of witchsong. I’m proud of the people who helped make it such a phenomenal first year. I’m proud of people who took a chance and reached out about contributing even if they had no public examples of music writing to point toward.

What’s next for witchsong? We’d like to cover an even wider array of topics and artists next year. We’d like to have even more contributors. I would like to come back this time next year and say that we passed 650 posts. Instead of one contributor week, we’re going to have two. And we’re opening pitches to other medias– books, TV, and movies. Beyond that, if you have something you’d like to see witchsong do this year, let us know. We’re friendly.

Speaking of contributor week, the main point of this is to announce that witchsong will be hosting another week of purely contributor-driven content this spring. We are particularly interested in hearing about new bands and acts from genres we haven’t given enough coverage to, although of course we will still be entertaining pitches about anything and everything pop-related, including new acts, reviews, and longer-read essays. If you have contributed before and are interested in doing so, feel free to reach out. If you haven’t contributed before and might want to, definitely reach out.

Here’s how it works:

  1. By February 26th, you email us at hello@witchsong.com and include: a bit about yourself, a writing sample, and 2-3 pitches.
  2. By March 25th, you send us the draft of your completed piece(s), as discussed in the response to your pitch email. We’ll start the editing process and communicate with you about more specific dates for that process.
  3. Contributor week will take place from April 18-22. That means every day that week we’ll post pieces written by contributors, hopefully some voices we haven’t heard from before.

witchsong top fives of 2015, other shit edition

We are just (mostly) girls moving through the world, and our interests are varied because we are, like, actual humans with actual lives doing actual things in many different cities. We got girlfriends, we got promotions, we didn’t get promotions, we cried, we spent embarrassing amounts of money on makeup, we got fake nails, we broke fake nails, we drank a lot of alcohol, we took selfies on the top of a fake Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas, we graduated, we won. And none of that fits on top five lists if we limit it to music or books or whatever. So here, to honor ourselves, are assorted top lists from the whole of 2015. And by assorted lists, I mean two lists from me and three from Tess.

Kenzie’s Top Five Makeup Releases of 2015 Based Only On Their Name

  1. Anastasia Beverly Hills, Sad Girl
  2. Kat Von D, Gold-Blooded
  3. Colourpop, DGAF
  4. Marc Jacobs, Goddess
  5. Bare Minerals, Caviar & Cake

Tess’s “top five things I was surprised to discover that I enjoy in 2015”

  1. Moving the bulk of my reading to ebooks in earnest and with intention, and trying not to be all precious about adding to my already staggering stacks of paperbacks, primed as they are, without any further growth, to topple toward the carpet and bury me alive. It was Apocalypse Baby by Virginie Despentes that did the trick, I think, that I liked it so much in a couple late spring afternoons even without having any pages to flip or bend or leave sweaty fingerprints upon.

  2. peeing with the door open while my girlfriend watches an australian children’s television show about teenage mermaids in the adjoining bedroom.

  3. not compulsively telling the internet every single thing I think or feel just to receive in exchange the false comfort of having written. (“written.”)

  4. men’s jeans. a logical alternative to consider when you’re sixty-five percent legs, largely hipless, naturally obstinate. I don’t need to tell you I look very good in them but I will.

  5. the fact that Louis Tomlinson, my December holiday birthday Mega Capricorn idiot baby, funny, prickly rat king of my gay-ass heart, boy bander, short person who pretends to be 5’9”, genuine trash human with a face of glass and dreams used his twenty-fourth year on this planet to get a chick pregnant and, literally, in real life, is about to be somebody’s father.

top five things that tess spent money on in 2015

  1. cutting off two thirds of my hair.
  2. get weird by little mix
  3. a wildly overpriced puzzle that I tracked down somewhere and purchased from an eccentric collector in Kentucky with a musical voice and, I feel certain, a handlebar mustache, because someone I love wanted it.
  4. the perfectly unremarkable pair of G by Guess black combat boots I got at the TJ Maxx across the parking lot one day because I had arrived early to work in sex knotted hair and dirty Vans, boots which announce my every step with fantastically loud, sharp cracks that my heart likes.
  5. A signed copy of Get In Trouble by Kelly Link that sleeps with me in my bed most nights.

“Five” Best Endings of 2015, as per Kenzie

  1. Grad School.
  2. The final, triumphant, choir-backed “we can live forever” of “History.”
  3. Definitely not One Direction, so.

top five things tess was grateful for in 2015

  1. Monster Zero Ultra, an energy drink much more garish in both taste and aesthetic than my old sugarfree Red Bulls, and thus infinitely more compelling.
  2. Selena Gomez
  3. the United States Women’s National Soccer Team
  4. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 15
  5. Ugh, like. Love. All right?

 

2016: a better year, hopefully

“I used to hate myself but now I think I’m alright
I don’t know quite who I am, oh but man I am trying
I make mistakes until I get it right”

I like to be good at things. No, wait. That’s not quite right. I like to be exceptional at things. Gifted child syndrome, maybe. A product of the participation trophy generation, if you believe baby boomer press. There were a lot of things I was not good at in 2015. Letting go. Following through. Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. Running witchsong. (Just to name a few.) Aly talks often about some of these same themes when she writes her Aries horoscopes. Last February, in the very first horoscope post on the very first day of witchsong, she wrote, “You are holding onto your hurt like you are clutching barbed wire. It stings, and it reminds you, but you can’t go anywhere else.” Then, in April: “There is a difference between a controlled burn and a wildfire, and I want you to think about that this month.” I read these (and the other horoscopes) all year and I cried sometimes with how close to the bone they cut and I dreamt about a world where I’d be able to act on these bits of advice, where I’d be able to let go of the things that are killing me and learn the appeal of a controlled burn.

Well, friends, it is 2016, and like so many other people, I’m trying to change my reality. I’m going to manifest that world and trim away the things that are hurting me, that are holding me back, that are controlling a flame only I deserve power over. Three days ago, I thought witchsong might be one of those things. I remembered Aly’s warning about wildfires, thought about the bridges I’ve burnt in fits of rage or sorrow. I’m sitting. I’m going to put into this project as much as I hope to get out of it, and I’ll reevaluate later, but I’m trying not to be so rash. I’m trying to only walk away from the things that need walking away from. In 2016, I’d like to be better. Today I’m starting with forgiving myself and trying to let go of things, so that maybe tomorrow I can work on being better for witchsong. Today and maybe a few more times this week you’ll see a handful of posts that were meant to go up last month but that I simply didn’t post. Maybe I let another obligation take priority. Maybe I was too sad to get up. Maybe I just forgot. But people spent time on these, and the end result deserved better, and the people themselves deserved better, so. You know. Today I’ll make amends. Tomorrow I’ll try to show up more consistently, more intentionally. I’m trying to be better.

letter(s) from the editor(s): kenzie’s top ten albums of 2015

I love end-of-year lists. I love countdowns. The whole concept, the ranking, the weighing of one thing’s merits against another’s, that all appeals to me. I know some people don’t care for it, but me, I’m all for it. Which is why from now until the end of the year, you’ll see a whole lot of lists on witchsong. Some music, some not. We’re starting with top ten album lists from the editors, and since I get to decide the order, I’m obviously going first. So, enjoy. Here are my top 10 albums of 2015.

10. Troye Sivan, Blue Neighbourhood.

Lane-Del-Rey-Honeymoon-Artwork 9. Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon.The whole album has the same sadness and pop and glitter of “This is What Makes Us Girls” and “Video Games” (although no song on Honeymoon comes close to being as excellent as “This is What Makes Us Girls”) but it’s also more self-aware in a way that I find vastly appealing. She is singing about jazz and California and pink flamingoes and Billie Holiday; she is really Performing Lana Del Rey. But she knows not everyone loves Lana Del Rey, and the tension that comes out of that self-awareness is a vital element of Honeymoon. “I don’t matter to anyone, but Hollywood legends will never grow old,” she sings on “Terrence Loves You.” The line that follows “we both know it’s not fashionable to love me” is “but you don’t go ‘cause truly there’s nobody for you but me.” She knows. “Look at you, looking at me.” She sees.

8. Shamir, Ratchet.

one-direction-album7. One Direction, Made in the A.M. “Maturity is not about attaining fixity, but about learning to handle flux, becoming a person who can grow and learn and leave and become a self, over and over, in new ways. You follow your heart even though it’ll break sometimes. Ending is not erasing, and ending does not eliminate the possibility of future beginning –– you will find me in places we’ve never been, for reasons we don’t understand. One Direction will leave us, is leaving us, has left us, but left with the promise that any time I’ve gone / you can listen to my voice and sing along, and in that sense, the words of “History” have become true: this is not the end, this is not the end, we can live forever.

1035x1035-MI00039034986. Carly Rae Jepsen, E•MO•TION. “Pop music is all about desire, but nobody wants like Carly Rae wants. (…) From insistent lead single “I Really Like You” to sweeping opener “Run Away with Me”, Jepsen’s still crushing, but her songs push hard away from the cliché of the passive, lovelorn singer. She sings authoritatively; the chorus on “Run Away with Me” is practically an order, as if everything in the world depends on whether she and the object of her affections leave the party together or not. And on “Emotion”, Jepsen all but hexes the guy who’s rejected her, though she phrases it like a love song. “Be tormented by me, babe,” she sings. “In your head, and I won’t stop/ Until you forget me, forget me not.” The words ring vicious in her sweet and pseudo-innocent delivery — she’s under your skin whether you like it or not.” Sasha Geffen, Consequence of Sound.

5. Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color.

sleaterkinney-nocities-14254. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love.I don’t know how to say that this album zips and quavers with real animal strength I sometimes forget can be a part of music and it makes me feel strong, sleek, like I’d only key somebody’s car if they really deserved it and I’d look good the whole time. Most days I feel as if I might do anything. Most days I cannot make all my parts move in synchronicity. Sleater-Kinney, still, now, and maybe I should outgrow this, though these songs seems to say I won’t (“wandered through the void of me” in the title track) helps me carve a clear self from my whole mess, clean, and that self is cool like concrete for an hour, for a day.

3. Little Mix, Get Weird!

selena-gomez-revival-album-2015-billboard-650x6502. Selena Gomez, Revival. “The current of this album is strong and swift and steady, and it sucks me under, throbs under my skin. This is so calculated, and I mean that in a good way – this is a hypnotist in peak form. This is the sinuous dance of a cobra as it moves toward prey. It’s quiet and even but it feels like when you speak very calmly because you’re afraid you will cry or laugh or scream. It is total control, a mastery of self and emotion, and it is then directing that control outward. Selena isn’t a belter, she’s not screaming at the top of her lungs; even when she’s showing emotion she’s doing it in a way that feels the exact opposite of casual. It’s not an accident when she lets a card show here and there. And there are flashes of that, quick bright bursts of energy up out of the steady rhythmic flow.”

Florence + the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful - Island Records, 20151. Florence + the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.But—and here is the vital thing, the thing that makes it an album about absolution and the cleansing power of fire, of fury, rather than the wrath of a woman scorned—through that all there is hope. There are the first tentative steps to piecing yourself back together on the other side of leveling everything you knew because there was something broken and rotten at the foundation. Look at “Third Eye” (you don’t have to be a ghost, here amongst the living; you are flesh and blood / you deserve to be loved). Look at “St. Jude” (and I’m learning, so I’m leaving). Look at “Delilah” (I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine). This is Florence as phoenix, rising from the ashes, newborn and vulnerable but renewed and washed clean by the flames.

“Look at you, looking at me” and “It’s not fashionable to love me”: Lana Del Rey Gazing Back on HONEYMOON

Honeymoon starts with a few mournful swells of strings, a moment of silence just long enough to feel awkward, and then this line: “We both know it’s not fashionable to love me.” It feels almost too on-the-nose, too pointed, but then again, everything about Honeymoon is on the nose. This is Lana Del Rey doing Lana Del Rey in the biggest, purest way she knows how; Lana Del Rey being exactly what we asked her to be; Lana Del Rey, gazing back.

The title track sets the tone for the album in more ways than just that. Sonically, all 12 songs are cut from the same cloth as “Honeymoon.” The instrumentals are like the orchestral soundtrack for a movie about the way we conceptualize Old Hollywood Glamour in the 21st century, beautiful and haunting but mostly serving to prop up the main draw: Lana. Her voice sounds better than it ever has, in my opinion. We get the sort of sultry, vaguely bored drawl we’ve come to expect, but there are just enough breathy falsettos and hummed bars peppered in to keep things interesting.

The whole album has the same sadness and pop and glitter of “This is What Makes Us Girls” and “Video Games” (although no song on Honeymoon comes close to being as excellent as “This is What Makes Us Girls”) but it’s also more self-aware in a way that I find vastly appealing. She is singing about jazz and California and pink flamingoes and Billie Holiday; she is really Performing Lana Del Rey. But she knows not everyone loves Lana Del Rey, and the tension that comes out of that self-awareness is a vital element of Honeymoon. “I don’t matter to anyone, but Hollywood legends will never grow old,” she sings on “Terrence Loves You.” The line that follows “we both know it’s not fashionable to love me” is “but you don’t go ‘cause truly there’s nobody for you but me.” She knows. “Look at you, looking at me.” She sees.

The feeling here is that Lana’s relationship to music and fame is about as healthy as her other relationships. She’s “looking in all the wrong places,” she knows “nothing gold can stay,” she just wants to “get high by the beach.” On “Art Deco” she sings, “I’ve got nothing much to live for, ever since I found my fame,” and she means it, but she also isn’t sure she wants to give it up. She’s in love with California and fame and being seen just as much as she resents it; she’s luxuriating in our idea of her music as music to pop Xanax and lounge by the pool drinking champagne to even when it chafes.

Jessica Hopper said in her review over at Pitchfork that the album “belongs to a larger canon of Southern California Gothic albums—Celebrity Skin, Hotel California, The Hissing of Summer Lawns” because of the way Lana sings about “the sprawl, toxicity, the culture of transactional relationships, the particulars of the light” in California, and I’m definitely inclined to agree. Something about the album feels like dancing by yourself to jazz records and then jumping into an ice-cold pool at a party even though you are in a fancy dress just to feel something. That’s melodramatic, but you have to have an appreciation for dramatic flair to appreciate Honeymoon.

I’ve seen people say that the songs blend together to the point of being almost indistinguishable from one another. That’s a valid criticism; the release doesn’t have a lot of variety, no. Sure, there are highlights (“The Blackest Day,” “God Knows I Tried,” and “Music to Watch Boys To” are my favorites) and missteps (“Religion,” the disappointing chorus of “Art Deco”), but overall the presentation and sound are unified across all the tracks in a way that feels intentional rather than accidental. For me, that’s a positive, and honestly there is something punk rock about the fact that she knows this isn’t radio music, these songs aren’t commercial-material, but you get the sense that she shrugged and recorded a whole album of almost sleepy-sounding romantic songs anyway. I like that. This is an album for putting on a turntable, for lying on the ground while you listen, for losing track of how long you let your last coat of nail polish dry for because you can’t tell how many songs have passed.

All of that being said, I’m not going to tiptoe around what people want to know: this album isn’t Born to Die 2.0. Lana Del Rey will never make anything as captivating and dynamic as Born to Die, and she knows it. You hear it on Honeymoon, you hear it in interviews. She knows. But that doesn’t mean Honeymoon isn’t important, doesn’t mean it isn’t progress in its own way. Honeymoon feels like the logical conclusion to a trilogy of albums developing the story and sound of Lana Del Rey, a singer that the world once accused of being a hoax just because of the control she exerted over her image and presentation.

Now she’s given us the ultimate product, a blues-y, mournful procession of an album that feels like the essence of Who Lana Del Rey Is, or who we are expecting her to be at least. But it is vital to recognize that she won’t give us everything, that she doesn’t have to. She isn’t looking at us from the cover. She’s looking into the distance, and she’s shielded by sunglasses and hat and hair and folded arms and car. We only have what she’s willing to give us. But what she’s given us is beautiful.

witchsong certified witch songs

witchsongs

It was, for like, a solid three days, fall-like in Ohio. We’re talking open-the-door-to-leave-realize-you-need-a-jacket fall. Buy-a-goddamn-pumpkin-spice-latte fall. A new moon over the weekend and highs in the low 60s and an electricity in the air and I felt like I was coming into power, growing into myself. (Also I got my hair done last week and it looks really, really good.) Anyway, here is an 8tracks playlist to scare the village kids to.

1. halsey – control
2. how to destroy angels – a drowning
3. sza – green mile
4. fka twigs – figure 8
5. chelsea wolfe – color of blood
6. zola jesus – night
7. mø – fire rides (night version)
8. ruelle – war of hearts
9. ms mr – all the things lost
10. lorde – flicker (kanye west rework)
11.  michael o. – bottom of the river (delta rae cover)
12. the kills – i put a spell on you (screamin’ jay hawkins cover)

On Responsibility

At the beginning of this week, we ran a piece about Fall Out Boy. We shouldn’t have run the piece, and at the very least, we should have placed a warning in front of that piece before it ran given the specific content of it, and we didn’t. We’re sorry. The piece has been removed.

There is more we could say about it. I could try to couch this in explanations as to why I made the executive editorial decision to run the piece. But that would distract from the point, which is that we made a mistake. We’re sorry, and more specifically, because I am only really speaking with my own voice here, I’m sorry. Sorry that I didn’t run the piece the way it should have been run and sorry that I let other obligations get in the way of me addressing this in a truly timely manner. I have a responsibility to witchsong and witchsong as a site has a responsibility to its readers, and we were lax in those responsibilities. I do want to make it clear now that witchsong does not condone abuse, of any sort. I never thought I would have to say that so explicitly but our actions were not in line with that belief so here we are. I want to reiterate that I, and the rest of the witchsong team, support the creation of safe spaces for girls, for young people, for abuse survivors, for the people who need it the most. We want witchsong to be a safe space, a good space.

We will not be publishing pieces about works created by abusers. No qualification on that. No critical approach or gentle hand or nuanced angle. witchsong is not a space to hurt people. If a piece makes it past our editorial team and gets published about someone you know to be an abuser, please contact us at the hello@witchsong.com email address and let us know, and we’ll pull the piece for review. No questions asked. We believe that this is fully within the scope of our responsibility to the readers of this site and to the people who give their time to creating for it.

On the topic of responsibility and safe spaces, I have one last note. I want to make it abundantly clear that the vicious bullying of a teenager is reprehensible. I doubt anyone seriously thought that the teenaged author of that piece genuinely supported rapists, and yet that is one explicit accusation that was made against her. We are all prone to saying things out of hurt and anger that we haven’t thought all the way through– I did as much on a closely related topic earlier this week– but this is something I cannot in good conscience go without mentioning.  Our misstep with the piece hurt, and our silence hurt, and I understand that; I apologize. I simply ask that in the future, you choose to engage with the editorial team directly rather than with the writers or with non-witchsong parties; ultimately it is my failure as the head of this editorial staff and my responsibility to make amends.

Finally, I just want to take a moment to specifically and sincerely apologize to those abuse survivors for whom reading the piece was harmful. I’m sorry.

WHAT YOU TELL YOURSELF HAS ALWAYS BEEN A LIE

Woozy is the first word that comes to mind when you listen. Think about when you’re out and it’s too late and you can feel the music somewhere deep in your gut but it is a battle to keep your eyes open, because you had a drink or two more than you should have but you want to keep dancing, you want to stay up until the sun comes up, so you’re sort of half swaying your hips with a glass of water in one hand and a beer in the other and there is lipstick on the neck of the bottle and on the cheeks of your friends and you are just so tired— that is what B. Miles’s newest release, “Shaking Hands,” sounds like.

There’s something unmistakably sultry, even sexy, in the beat. Then there are her vocals, by turns pouting and crystal clear, almost purring on lines like “I think I killed a man but it wasn’t planned” and then soaring just a few bars later on “want you to look me in the eye and tell me what you’re waiting for, oooh oooh oh.” The lyrics have some downright Holzer-esque truisms, but Miles wields them in a way that makes you nod along instead of rolling your eyes. It’s just the sort of glittering dark pop we’re into around here. A release, and a musician, worth paying attention to.

Summer Giveaways: U.S. Edition CLOSED

Thanks to like, the general good mood summer has put us in and all of you being really wonderful, witchsong has decided to do a giveaway! In honor of our girlfriends, the USWNT, at the World Cup currently, we’re going to start with the giveaway that is only open to individuals in the United States. There will be an international giveaway with different goodies to follow.

Giveaway 1Giveaway 2

THE PRIZES

  1. Gossip Stopper soap by Witch Baby Soap
  2. Vonnecats zine by Gemma Flack
  3. Sticker pack by Gemma Flack
  4. Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz
  5. Secondhand copy of Tapestry LP by Carole King
  6. Secondhand copy of Take Me Home LP by Cher
  7. Secondhand copy of Private Dancer LP by Tina Turner
  8. New I Want to Grow Up CD by Colleen Green
  9. Mix CD made just for you by our very own Caroline
All prizes were purchased by witchsong editors with their own personal money and do not indicate any sort of relationship between the creators and witchsong.com.

THE ENTRIES

There are six different ways to get entered into the giveaway, and if you want to do all six, those all count as their own entry, which is pretty cool if you think about it because six chances to win is a lot of chances. Please note that no matter which entry you choose, you must also make a corresponding comment for your entry. For full details and explanation see the rules below. THIS GIVEAWAY IS CURRENTLY CLOSED.

  1. Comment on this post and tell us something you’ve been listening to lately, or, alternatively, who your favorite members of the WNT is.
  2. Follow us on tumblr.
  3. Follow us on Twitter.
  4. Like us on Facebook.
  5. Tweet about the giveaway (must include a link to this post and the @hellowitchsong handle).
  6. Reblog the giveaway post on tumblr (multiple reblogs do not equal multiple entries).

THE RULES

  1. You must provide a valid email address, as this is how we’ll contact you for your mailing address.
  2. All entries must be made as their own comment on this post, with either a screencap or link to posts/tweets as verification.
  3. Winner will be drawn using a random number generator and matched to the corresponding comment number. (That’s why you have to make each entry its own comment!)
  4. You must live in the United States.
  5. No members of the witchsong writing team are eligible to enter.
  6. Giveaway is open for entries beginning 12PM EST 6/15/15, and will close at 12PM EST 7/6/15. Entries have been extended until 12AM EST 7/9/15.
  7. Winner will be notified by 12AM EST 7/7/15 7/10/15.
  8. If you win, you will be contacted for your mailing address. If you fail to respond within two weeks, a second winner will be chosen and you will forfeit your prize.
  9. Failure to follow any of the rules may result in one or all of your entries being voided.