Ava Luna, “Steve Polyester”

Liz Pelly

“Listening is the most overlooked form of perception,” Ava Luna’s Becca Kauffman (who takes lead vocals on this song) told me last year, in an interview about her audio zine Master Cactus. “I’m not talking in terms of music, but actual sound/s. Everything besides music. We can’t close our ears the way we can our eyes, and there’s so much aural information all the time.” With her audio zine, Kauffman’s stated goal is to encourage people to “listen the way they see”. And that pointed vision is one she clearly rewires with songs like “Steve Polyester” too, which is almost more of an audio story. Or is there no difference?

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“Is this the beginning of the song or the end?” you can hear Carlos Hernandez wonder out loud at the very beginning of the song’s video. It’s apt introduction for a clip that’s entire narrative is one big psychedelic loop. Featuring drawings by Angela Stempel, the clip starts the same way it finishes, with the song’s protagonist laying in the grass in “the not so popular part of town”. We quickly get swept away in her blurry daydream, one where she is determined to find local legend Steve Polyester. She walks all over town, hitting detours when she constantly falls through the ground, gets swept back to her doorstep. Will she ever see him again? It might sound totally out there — it’s a story that requires your full attention, multiple plays even, to work through — but after a minute, it actually starts to become kind of heart-wrenching watching our girl wandering about town, forever searching for this person’s she’s never going to find.

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