Larkin Grimm’s Week in Pop
Larkin Grimm just released Chasing an Illusion via the venerable folks over at Northern Spy Records & it is now our pleasure & privilege to present the inspiring artist’s following exclusive Week in Pop guest selections:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, “The Silly Song”
Going to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in a theater with my mom and older brother was a formative musical experience. The soundtrack to this movie is so far out! It’s beyond experimental and relies quite heavily on dissonance and yodeling.
Kelis, “Bossy ft. Too $hort”
When I was a kid my family was a group of about 200 hippie communists in the inner city practicing meditation and energy healing to alleviate violence and drug abuse. So I lived in this really awesome neighborhood in Atlanta called Grant Park where the kids hung out in the street, opened fire hydrants, jumped rope, and played rhyming games together. They called us “The Blue People” because all our adults wore blue. Maybe it was a cult. Anyway, the playfulness of Kelis reminds me of my childhood friends in Atlanta and the rhymes we used to make up. Also, I mixed up the beat of the drum too. That’s right. I’m Bossy.
Nina Simone, “I Loves You Porgy”
All my life I wanted my voice to be deeper. When the choir girls were practicing their high notes, I was trying to push my lower range, and I’d practice singing Nina Simone in my bedroom. I never planned on being a singer, but this was a secret pleasure.
My high school boyfriend went nuts when I told him I was going to Yale instead of marrying him. After we broke up he used to stalk me at work and at school and he was in the audience when I gave my first musical performance in front of a large audience, at a school talent show. I saw him right before going on-stage and had a panic attack. My whole body was shaking but I went on-stage and sang this song. Any woman who has ever been in love with an abusive man understands this song. Nina Simone’s is the best! In that moment her music gave me strength. I won the talent show and was recruited by a big Atlanta theater company right there and then. Since then fear has always been at the root of my strength as a performer. I face it before every show I play. It’s real terror. Whatever I’ve felt, I’m sure Nina Simone felt it deeper.
Diamanda Galas, “Double Barrelled Prayer”
When I started writing my own music, it did not fit expectations that men put on women’s music: that a woman singer should be cute, sexy, and sweet. My music was funny, weird, playful, and sometimes dark and intense. As a southerner and the daughter of an old time musician I loved murder ballads and listened to a lot of punk, metal, screamo, where male singers were tearing their throats to shreds and coughing up blood. When I started singing like that, some bros were really mean to me and told me I should stop channeling dark energy. I did not understand why Johnny Cash or Lou Reed could sing about murder and pain, why Jello Biafra and Ian McKaye could scream but I could not. When my friend Emily Cheeger from the band Vuk introduced me to Diamanda Galas, I felt vindicated. Suddenly a whole world opened up because no matter how dark and intense my music was, Diamanda was heavier. She screamed louder. She pushed the boundary further, making room for me to express myself. Diamanda made me feel brave, no longer alone. I used to listen to this track at full volume every morning in my Yale dormitory to prepare myself to deal with all the entitled fucks like WATCH OUT THE WITCH IS WOKE!
Yoko Ono with Ornette Coleman, “AOS”
When the world is weighing heavy on me and my Jesus complex is feeling persecuted, I think about Yoko Ono and realize what an easy time I’ve had. Yoko was 20 years ahead of her time and it doesn’t do anyone any good to be ahead of their time. I love all her music, from the screaming to the pop songs. She’s such an incredible woman! Because of her, every time I hear someone call a woman crazy, I know that instead of being crazy, this woman might actually be a genius. Also, WORLD! QUIT DRIVING GENIUS WOMEN CRAZY!
M. Lamar, “Carrying” ft. Hunter Hunt Hendrix
Can I tell you a secret? Gothic Impresario M. Lamar has a wonderful sense of humor. He also shares my love for Diamanda Galas. He also saved my life one time when I was wicked depressed. Goth friends. Gotta have your goth friends.
Yma Sumac, “Chuncho”
Whether she was really from Peru or she was just a girl from Queens, Yma Sumac is insane in the good way. This is joyful music and I listen to this stuff for kicks. It’s like the extreme camp version of what I strive for as a singer.
Larkin Grimm live; photographed by Sahara Shrestha.
Walter Thompson, “Soundpainting”
Anaïs Maviel, who is a total music head and improvisational genius, brought me to one of his performances at NUBLU on the Lower East Side. I was struck by Thompson’s grace as a dancer and conductor. I’ve been going to free jazz shows since college and while I find the music cathartic and sexy, it’s cool to see someone bring order to the chaos through live composition. The language Walter Thompson invented is so useful! We should all learn it.
Live with Larkin Grimm; photographed by Sahara Shrestha.
Anaïs Maviel, “Peze Kafé”
Anaïs is often joining my band as the drummer, and she has skills in every direction. This Haitian/French singer/composer/interpreter is just a brilliant light in the music world. Get in, folks! She’s absolutely stunning in performance. Anaïs encourages all my weirder impulses in the use of my voice, and I’m grateful for that.
Larkin Grimm; photographed by Sahara Shrestha.
Shilpa Ray, “Burning Bride”
Shilpa is one bad motherfucker, the coolest woman in the world. A friend said about her, When I saw Shilpa Ray’s band play, I realized I had only been pretending to like all the other bands.
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