Week in Pop: Ha Ha Mart, Mane, The Tablets

Sjimon Gompers

The Tablets' own icon Liz Godoy filmed in front of artwork from sister Melissa Godoy Nieto; photographed by Habib Khan Awan.

The Tablets

The commanding commandments of The Tablets; photograph courtesy of Liz Godoy & Habib Khan Awan.

NYC’s electro-aesthetes The Tablets have returned in a major way in 2017. Liz Godoy, Brenden Beu & visual artist Melissa Godoy Nieto are releasing five double-sided flexi-disc single all throughout the year through Brooklyn’s Mon Amie Records (of whom reissued Q Lazarus’s eternal single “Goodbye Horses”) that will culminate in a custom container that will collect the compiled singles all together as one. Having recently released Not a Sign, The Tablets gifted us with the world premiere of the music video for the b-side “Tyranny Glitches” directed by Habib Khan Awan featuring art & dance moves from Melissa Godoy Nieto.

“Tyranny Glitches” finds Kwan’s camera slowly making one elaborate & slow zoom out that reveals Liz, Melissa (dressed in a navy blue body suit) & Brenden performing their blocked motions & expressions. Liz acts out her vocal delivery as Melissa dances with red streamers attached to her hands (in front of a cosmic, cave-style painting that she also painted) as Brenden sits in a debonair manner stage left & plays his guitar with a statuesque stoicism. Melissa’s visual piece takes center stage that is seen like some sort of creation myth as Liz falls into the frame as soon as she begins to sing in a minimalist style of impressionism that expresses ideals that escape outside imperial & restrictive impositions. The stripped-down basement synth pop’s luster is given an equally subterranean visual salute as we see the three acting out their contributing roles as creators, song stylists, visual composers, dancers, art pop enthusiasts & curators of tomorrow’s creative concepts. The Tablets send out a cosmic smoke signal from a visual & audio presentation about being dedicated to rising above & out of the clutches of closed-mindedness & away from the powers of all tyrannical & adversarial forces that hold you back. Immediately after the following debut for The Tablets’ “Tyranny Glitches”, read our candid interview with Liz & Brenden.

What’s new in the world of The Tablets?

Brenden: 2017 is turning into a busy year for us. After spending most of last year writing and recording the follow up from our earlier LP and EP, we released Not a Sign, the first in a series of two-sided flexi discs on Mon Amie Records in February. We are releasing the next single, I of Nothing, on May 26.

The Tablets’ Liz Godoy; video still courtesy of Habib Khan Awan.

Describe the making of the new flexi, and the inspirations behind “Tyranny Glitches”

Brenden: As we were wrapping up recording for this new collection of songs we were unsure how we wanted to release them. We weren’t sure we wanted to go the route of another LP. We’ve done that already and these songs don’t necessarily benefit from continuity, but we do like the immediacy of singles.

Liz: One of my favorite parts of all of this was the actual brainstorming meeting we had with Mona, where we all decided we would do this. I mentioned flexi discs and Mona has worked with one of the places that still presses them; from then it all fell into place. It was super exciting to come out of that session with this plan. There’s something very magnetic about these little flexible records, without becoming too precious, at least for me. I just think they look great, they sound like they should sound, lower quality than actual vinyl, they’re still enjoyable sound-wise, fun to handle, and easy to maintain for a physical format.

Liz: With “Tyranny Glitches”, I lean toward the idea that the listener decides what a song is about. Don’t read past here if you’re like that. For anyone who prefers something more explicit: To me “Tyranny Glitches” is about conditioned and righteous anger, sometimes uncontrollable. If you’re on the receiving end you can think it’s nonsense and completely irrational, and I understand that. Writing or talking about this even now gives me anxiety. I wanted to pair this with a breezy sound. It can seem farcical, but I didn’t want the subject to have an equally dark sound. Growing up with someone so angry and dictatorial so close to me, it is inevitable that while I constantly strive for self-awareness, I am still partially a product of my upbringing. I can really fail sometimes. Encountering someone with similar traits but with the lack of self-control, especially when in any position with power over another person has always terrified me. I feel that I know what someone like that is capable of if left unrestrained.

Liz Godoy of The Tablets; video still by Habib Khan Awan.

Tell us too about translating “Tyranny Glitches” for the music video you made with your sister Melissa and Habib Khan Awan and how the visuals further the song’s meaning.

Brenden: I think we could’ve taken it into further absurdist territory, but it might have turned into nonsense. This is another zero budget, super low resources video and when working with that kind of constraint it’s important to be realistic with the vision that you set out to capture.

Liz: I knew I wanted to start with three people in a dungeon-like space. I wanted it to be super saturated like Almodovar’s High Heels (in Spanish, Tacones Lejanos is a much better title) or Women on The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, but even more extreme to the point of some distortion, and to have some “Twin Peaks” strangeness. I wanted to perform in a way that resembled Juan Gabriel, Rocio Durcal, Lola Beltran, hugely famous ballad performers in Mexico known for their melodramatic style. Morrissey is so huge in Mexico in big part because our Latin-American icons set the stage for the córtate las venas (wrist slashing) drama. Melissa’s performance in a way is the indicator for all of this absurdism. I wanted her with me because well, we’re sisters, we’re close, she can also understand where I’m coming from, just go for what I’m going for without having to concern herself too much. I am evoking these idols while I perform, but I’m still the composed one in the video even though we know that’s not exactly real. But if this is regularly part of your life, it gets to you, you carry it around, it becomes real, surfaces at some point. I think this is where the parallels come with the theme of the song. If you asked my relatives in Mexico, I’m the stoic, distanced one, but I’ve never not been Mexican. I was born and raised there and that will inevitably show. If you asked my friends here, I can be the voice of reason and calm, but I can go to terrible places, and I keep that to myself. Brenden is always watching, patiently waiting for things to settle into rational territory. A bit too much perhaps. Habib co-directing was super receptive, supportive and really helpful in making all of this happen.

Still from Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownM.

What else are you recording right now?

Brenden: The rest of the singles for this years releases are essentially done. We’ve recorded more songs than we are likely to put out this year and are just finishing up some final touches at this point.

Other releases and items in the works?

Liz: I’m always over-thinking faster and too far ahead of any realistic timelines, I probably shouldn’t overwhelm myself with the future songs, but I do. In my mind there’s EPs, cover albums, dream collaborations, etc. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Brenden: Once the rest of the singles are released this year I’d like to revisit some of the songs we recorded, but aren’t putting out yet. Sometimes if you let a recording sit for a while it turns into something different when you come back to it. You hear new parts that didn’t occur to you the first time around.

Other artists and activists you want to recognize?

Liz: I feel like I need to instead mention organizations that exist to help the disenfranchised, and encourage more musicians and artists to get involved in their fundraising efforts. Planned Parenthood to start….I don’t know what I’ve would’ve done if it weren’t for them when I first moved to Southern California from Mexico. Life can be completely different for people who don’t have options, or this kind of health access. Also the ACLU of course, but there’s a huge list of other wonderful pro-human rights organizations out there. Funding is a huge determining factor for their successes. Choosing one organization you really believe in and getting involved or giving even a small amount of money can make a huge difference these days. We are also always eager to play fundraisers…so get in touch!

I have huge admiration for the people involved in protecting the rights of undocumented, and now documented immigrants too, either through legal counsel, or in the case of deportees, the groups offering asylum and food in the cities where deportees get dropped off. Obviously this is a personal subject for me, being from Mexico and having relatives and friends who have immigrated to this country from abroad. There are so many, very strict and costly processes in place and there’s already a wall on the border (or much of it). I saw it every day growing up. It’s mind-boggling to me that, to this day some people still believe that people coming here illegally from other countries simply walk across as if it was nothing, to take advantage of their tax dollars and take away their jobs.

Brenden: The ACLU really is doing incredible work. The quick action they took on the travel ban was inspiring. These days it seems like the courts are our best protection from the overreach of this aspiring fascist.

The Tablets live on film; photographed by Habib Khan Awan.

Wisdom for 2017?

Liz: Watch as many David Attenborough narrated specials as possible, they will feed your heart. These are anxious times, maybe it’s temporary, but we need to try not to put off the things that we think will make us happy.

It’s also so important to be aware of all that’s going on outside the bubble of our daily lives. Some people do some pretty grotesque things to other people, and choosing to only see why we’re so blessed and pat ourselves on the back in order to trick ourselves into being content with life is kind of irresponsible. We can do more than that. You can look at what’s fucked up and unfair, help someone out in a small or big way, and still go to the beach on a beautiful day and enjoy it. I know people that do this everyday, but we need more.

I know at times I’ve shied away from talking this way for fear of sounding like that sketch the girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party but maybe if we all try to make a better effort each time, we will get better at making sense. And ultimately, not everyone will like everyone, so no point in delaying that pain.

Summer hopes?

Liz: More video collaborations with friends and new friends. More walks and breathing more fresh air during the warmer days. The very cold winter air keeps me consistently in bed, with asthma and breathing issues, so I’ve really been looking forward to milder warmer months.

We’d like to play more long weekend mini tours, mostly to get out of town and meet more people outside our everyday environment. We love it here, maybe too much, but we’re too comfortable in our NYC world, we have our routines and the people we love, but a bit of a change would also be good, and I don’t mean a vacation. To anyone out there, let us know if you’d like to work something out!

The Tablets’ Not a Sign is available now from Mon Amie Records with more singles soon to follow.

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