New Noise: Mitski Is Your New Indie Rock Life Coach
Welcome to New Noise, a shout-out to Refused and a new weekly column on Billboard.com for highlighting up-and-coming alternative and rock artists. When we say "up-and-coming," we don't necessarily mean "brand-new," as our first subject already has three albums to her name. What we do have in store is a weekly shout-out to an artist who's just beginning to enter a bigger stage and spotlight, who we hope you, the reader, hear much more from in the future.
Some artists spill their souls on the internet; others just want their reps to post those pre-order details. Brooklyn's Mitski identifies firmly with the former.
"I always want to make it clear that I am a real person with real life and real thoughts," she says," bringing to mind both her lyrics and her Facebook and Twitter feeds. All joking aside, those lyrics -- and the songs that convey them -- are really, really good.
In her song "Townie," she confesses she wants "a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony," but steadfastly concludes, "I want me to be what my body wants me to be." Check out the song's killer animated lyric video:
Mitski's third LP Bury Me at Makeout Creek was re-released this week (April 7) on Don Giovanni Records, five months after it first turned up on Double Double Whammy. Now teamed with the Jersey-based label home of Screaming Females and Priests, the album is primed to reach a larger audience, along with four new tracks and a new personal essay in the booklet.
After growing up abroad, Mitski found her musical self while studying composition at SUNY Purchase. While working with orchestral music on school hours, she found she fit in with the D.I.Y. community, too. "It has a really lively indie rock and punk scene, so I got exposed to it for the first time," she says. "I awoke to the fact there's another way to make music; I knew punk existed, but it was never around me."
Mitski admits she's still somewhat of a guitar novice (she plays bass live), but the simple chord progressions leave ample room for listener ears to immerse themselves in the winsome lyrics. Punk and folk sensibility abound, but Makeout Creek isn't exactly what you'd label a "punk" or a "folk" record. Similar to Waxahatchee's fantastic new album Ivy Tripp, it's an unfiltered collection of visceral, lyric-driven indie rock songs that capture an artist unafraid of sharing her experience in figuring out music, and well, life.
"When someone is a musician -- trying to make a living off being a public figure -- it's really easy for people to see me as a face on a screen that doesn't have a personal life," Mitski says. "I think thats actually very dangerous and I want to make people know I'm a real person with flaws and feelings."
Once her music's settled in, those feelings bravely come through in real time. For instance, she recently shared a list of four "jobs" (sort of like like new year's resolutions in March) on the Mitski Facebook page, beginning with, "make the best music you can make. don't get lazy. this is #1 always."
And there's more on the way -- Don Giovanni has already promised new music from Mitski to follow up the Makeout Creek re-release. "I hope to be a writer and musician my whole life, fingers crossed," she says. After studying the orchestral side and cutting her teeth on music's punk end, Mitski now has a great opportunity to fill in the ample space in between.