In a recent Tumblr post, Claire Boucher said of her artistic struggle: “I think Grimes succeeded because I had to discard everything else in my life in order to do it. I was so fucking desperate to make it work, I don’t think I could have possibly allowed it to fail.”
2012’s most exciting music came from similarly visceral places. Angel Haze went from murderously nightwalking the NY streets to searing autobiography; Purity Ring cut through a fragile ribcage with their lingering tripped-out RnB to find a bloody beating heart; our fearless September cover star Azealia Banks went from being a YouTube breakout to the one to beat. Artists like Andy Stott, John Talabot and Holly Herndon, meanwhile, manipulated the human voice in layered and tangible-sounding music that lacerated pop, dance and electronica. You could hear the red-raw knuckles in every stage that Savages took to this year.
Visually, things were messier still. The wild videos of J-Pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the covergirl of our December Asia issue, were rainbow-hued mazes of visual puns and double meanings; Lana Del Rey pushed American Dream imagery until it bled as she was bent over a pinball machine by a hairy biker; Mykki Blanco commanded the frills and feathers of a gender-screwing bacchanalian party.
In the past, musical trends represented a natural and needed shift, whereby the introspection of post-punk usurped punk and Top 40 trance found its counterpoint with the understated ballads of Adele. But in 2012 only the broadest painter would see a likewise shift in the tension between the web-enabled mainstream and underground. Maybe our January 2013 cover star RiFF RaFF nailed it, actually, when he rapped in ‘Bird On A Wire’: “Causing storms in sunny weather / Hoping my days get better.” The most interesting artists this year weren’t the ones that steered clear of storms, but those that started them and shone. Here’s to more rainy days.
We spoke to the rising US rapper just as ‘New York’ was blowing up. Two weeks after we spoke, she signed a major label deal.
The Canadian duo told Owen Myers about their love for Aaliyah and Lord of the Rings as they prepared to release ‘Shrines’.
In his first UK interview, the Tri Angle producer reflected on his ‘Kings and Them’ mixtape and the religious connotations of his music.
Artists Al Qadiri and Al-Maria compiled nine striking examples of the Arabian Gulf’s particular brand of Futurism, as an adjunct to their full-length feature by Karen Orton in our November Art Issue.
The rapper told Charlie Robin Jones about the outer-space influences of his “mysterious phonk,” with an exclusive film by Colin Dodgson.
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