Fielded’s Boy Angel and the power of unmodulated feels

NM Mashurov

photo by Daniel Dorsa

Hysteria might not be in the DSM anymore, but there is still a very real deep-rooted stigma around “excessive” female desire. Everyone’s familiar with the trope of the girl with “crazy eyes”—the girl who’s emotional, overly attached, the girl who’ll stop going through your phone just long enough to watch you sleep. It’s been immortalized in movies and memes alike.

When considering the reality that one in six women has experienced stalking (as opposed to one in nineteen men) and that two-thirds of those were by a former or current intimate partner, you’d think maybe there is no corresponding “overly attached boyfriend” meme because controlling behavior and emotional abuse is “too real.” Instead, the “overly attached boyfriend” is everywhere in pop culture, valorized as romantic and passionate, while women who show the same behavior are pathologized for failing to live up to an tyrannical standard of “chill.”

Fielded is not chill. In multiple songs on Boy Angel, Lindsay Powell’s third album as Fielded, Powell consciously plays with the crazy girl trope. On the eponymous song, a lovelorn ode to a dream lover, her voice grows breathless and escalates in pitch, asking “Do you love me? Do you? Do you?”. On the intro to “Madly”, Powell bellows “I might be someone you call / at the end of the night / when you’re looking for love / but my feelings are much too strong / to be doing you right / if i’m not the one that you want” before swan diving into an apocalyptic bass drop. The title is tongue-in-cheek: the narrator’s emotions might be intense but they’re far from mad—quite the opposite, she’s doing a rational thing by setting boundaries and removing herself from a toxic relationship, singing “though I love you madly, I’m gonna pay my last respects.”

Boy Angel is a gorgeous piece of baroque pop, driven by Powell’s powerful voice and masterful production. Fielded holds back no emotions; she hones them into meticulously articulated grandiose power pop.

Powell produced the album herself, poring over techno and pop inspirations and the result is resolutely tight electronica—some tracks are glitchy, some are minimal, “Madly” can straight up work as a Fade to Mind cut. Powell’s vocal somersaults are front and center on the album, her voice alternately desirous and barbed, life-giving and chilling. On the opening track, “City of the Dazed”, her voice is huge with wanting and nostalgia, highlighted poignantly in a breakdown where the music cuts out and the only accompaniment is self-harmonizing and handclaps.

A few days ago, @moscaddie tweeted that “a lot of what we code as ‘strong’ or ‘stoic’ actually emotional gutlessness.” Boy Angel is simultaneously emotional and strong, coding being present and honest as a product of boldness and clarity.

We caught up with Fielded to talk about the album, out now on her label Universally Handsome digitally and physically as a a USB necklace. The record release is this Thursday at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn with Vita & the Woolf.

Boy Angel is your first release since 2013. How have you evolved as an artist since then? What has changed in how you approach music?

I’ve spent a lot of my time since releasing Terrageist touring. I stopped a little while ago because I had to make a decision between mental clarity and the road dog life. I’m always the person who wants the adventure and I absolutely love playing live but as a songwriter I’m realizing I need a lot more time to myself to write—the songs are always coming, I have a never ending list of voice memos on my phone – but in order to actually make it happen I need to feel grounded. I wrote and recorded most of the songs on Boy Angel over 2 months at my parents’ house after I left Los Angeles, right after my full-length had just come out.

Part of the reason I decided to self-release Boy Angel was because I had a hard time finding a label that wanted to work with me on it. It’s been ready to go for about a year but I hit a point of feeling discouraged and frustrated. I realized a lot about my perspective on the music industry and myself as an artist. I needed to stop waiting for something to happen and make it happen. So I started working towards Universally Handsome—it’s been a really inspiring process.

This is a really solid pop album. I love that the production is so clean and grandiose. What was the process of producing it like? Did you self-produce it?

Yeah, Boy Angel is self-produced. I’m definitely a proud parent. I produced Terrageist, as well, but I was more open to asking for help and opinions this time around, and a little more willing to let my Pop Freak Flag fly. I had wonderful friends come and play on it, I’d say, “try this but do it your way” and it really worked. I mixed like crazy—I worked on these songs on and off for about a year.

Whenever I make a new record I’m like, “okay, here are my top ten songs of inspiration.” I literally made a chart of my absolute favorite pop songs, and then one of my favorite techno songs, then one of my favorite dancehall songs … you get the picture. It’s scientific for me. I’ll just listen to these songs over and over, on the train, while I’m cleaning and I’ll nail their mixes into my mind so that it’s organic when I’m producing. Then it’s sort of radio silence, I won’t listen to anything at all while I’m writing and recording, for like two months. I love releasing because it means I get to delve into music again!

Do you have a background of production work beyond the Fielded releases?

I really wouldn’t say I’ve produced anything besides the Fielded albums unless you count the albums of bands I’ve been in…

I would love to be producing other artists, especially women. My dream to be be making backing tracks for female rappers, straight up. ha. I feel like this is the first time I’ve felt ready to work with others in a producer capacity.

album art by Nicole Ginelli

album art by Nicole Ginelli

How do you translate these songs to live performance?

I absolutely love performing live—it’s literally my favorite. I want it to be visceral; I want it to be real and present. I want to connect with people and sing my heart out. I truly try to give 110% every time I play. There is nothing like making music with an audience, it creates a whole new layer of feeling that can’t even be put into words.

On the technical end, I do a lot of live syncing and synth playing but I’m starting to move away from wanting to control everything—I really, really want to start playing with a band. This EP more than anything I’ve done lends itself to a bigger live sound and I miss that organic live connection that happens with multiple people on stage. Also, singing is the soul of it all—it’s taken me a while to realize that focusing on singing live and leaving the rest to a band doesn’t make me less of a producer.

Your voice is really unique and at the forefront of the album. How do you feel about the Kate Bush comparisons it’s drawn?

I’d maybe be complaining if people kept comparing my voice to Roseanne Barr’s while she sang the National Anthem back in the day but Kate Bush? She’s a True Freak and an absolute Vocal Queen. I’ll take it, that’s a super high compliment!

The album is called “Boy Angel” and the label is called “Universally Handsome” — both references to male beauty. Why did you choose those names?

I definitely wouldn’t attribute the album or label name to any specific gender. I always thought of ‘Boy Angel’ as beautiful name for someone or a term of endearment for a loved one. In my mind Boy Angel is a sort of dream alien lover with blue skin and wings and a love of fast cars, maybe. Boy Angel might be something different to you. I like the idea of providing the set up for a fantasy and allowing the listener or audience to carry it out on their own terms. I like to think of this album as an expression of forbidden sexuality and an invitation to allow the highest self to become reality. The name is an acknowledgment that that highest self exists in another. Everyone is a Boy Angel to someone.

Universally Handsome to me is a name for something that is a product of extreme confidence; it doesn’t matter your kink or vibe or how you identify—if you’re coming from a place of love, confidence, respect and sincerity then you are absolutely, 100% Universally Handsome. I chose these names in honor of repossessing language so that it might better express exactly who we feel we are at any given moment.

Can you talk a little bit about your goals for Universally Handsome? Earlier this year you were working towards making it a hybrid clothing/music label. What does Universally Handsome encompass?

Universally Handsome is just getting off the ground this month; the future holds a lot but I’m not at liberty to say exactly what right now. It is a hybrid clothing/music label, for sure – Boy Angel is coming out as a USB necklace and there will be other wearable accessories available. It will be a soft launch and garments will be released throughout the year that will be paired with an auditory experience. I’m excited to experiment with it and see how it develops! Hang tight!

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