Week in Pop: Emily Ritz, Hélène Barbier, Pictorial Candi

Sjimon Gompers

The continuing adventures of Berlin pop designer Pictorial Candi; photographed by Moritz Freudenberg.

Madam West

Catching up with east coast aesthetes Madam West; press photo courtesy of the band.

NYC’s Madam West just released their Warm Bodies EP today via Floordoor Records & provided us with the following listen. Comprised of Sophie Chernin,Todd Martino, Will Clark, Jory Dawidowicz & Mike McDearmon; the group continues to expand their vernacular & aesthetics with a keen volition that embraces the stranger sides of society at large’s evolution/devolution. What initially began as a Bushwick duo has become a local New York institution in the making with a style & sound made to enlighten the soul & assuage the weariness of the worn-out mind & body.

Collaboration & creativity rules on high in the Madam West camp as Warm Bodies begins with playing on the gender role stereo types on the electro-rock of “Strongest Son”. The animalistic yet human carnal nature is explored on the title track, contrasted with the could-shoulder despondency & frustrations of “Erstwhile, Manatee” that dives deep into the complex subject of feeling aloof & disconnected from others. Madam West dives into our own inter-connective & interpersonal stitch-work on “Seams”, continuing to move their audio arrangements in a variety of directions as heard on “L”, closing with the narratives of generational wisdom of “Wise Blood” that brings a host of psychic-psych components that surprise with a controlled & quixotic flair. Madam West’s Warm Bodies EP seeks to understand the odd & sometimes unconventional sources of warmth & comfort for today’s cold & frankly uncomfortable times.

Sophie Chernin, lead singer & songwriter of Madam West shared some exclusive insights on the new Warm Bodies EP:

This EP has been a long time coming. Most of the songs on Warm Bodies took months to write. Our process is 100% collaborative, which takes a long time and happens in unpredictable fits and starts, but yields complex arrangements.

For instance: With “L”, our guitarist Will brought in a D’Angelo-inspired riff and some lyrics that I wrote a melody for. Over the next few months, we layered in the rest of the band and were pretty satisfied with what we had, although Will and I felt it lacked a certain something. Just a week before we recorded it, Will came back with this Joni Mitchell-style bridge that ended up being the glue that tied the tune together.

Songs like “Wise Blood” and “Erstwhile, Manatee” started with punchy grooves that our bassist Jory wrote and taught the band. We slowly weaved the skeleton of those songs around them. “Seams” and “Warm Bodies” originated in simple guitar melodies I wrote that our keyboard player Todd fleshed out with layered textures, rhythmic and harmonic complexity.

Conceptually and lyrically, most of the songs are reflective: self-soothing during a time of high anxiety, feeling completely numb in the days following the Trump election, weighing the potential implications of motherhood against an artistic career. But what they all share in common is a desire to find something difficult to touch or explain—something magical and transcendent—among the mundane yet constant movement of the mind. That’s why we jokingly refer to our aesthetic as misanthropic pop: a feeling of misfit-ness that translates to something everyone can relate to.

Madam West’s new Warm Bodies EP is available now from Floordoor Records.

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