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Artist Feature Interview

Prismia: Embracing Rebirth on ‘Amongst the Emerald Mind’

Anna Mariko Seymour of Seattle-based rock outfits The Morning After and Destination Unknown is a multi-hyphenate producer, vocalist, Berklee graduate, drummer. Now she can add solo act to that list as she enters the newest phase of her career under the moniker Prismia, making ethereal synthrock paeans think Lykke Li and Santigold with a dash of Pixies that tell nuanced stories of conflict, pain, love, and self-empowerment from a young woman’s perspective.

Upon the release of her debut EP Amongst the Emerald Mind, A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents sat down with Prismia to discuss the importance of prioritizing inclusion in the arts, embracing an exploratory approach to music, and telling women’s stories on their own terms.

What is your mission statement as an artist? 

To encourage inclusion and inspire limitless creativity through the power of music. 

Who was the first musician you discovered on your own who you thought was genuinely really cool? 

The first I can remember is Avril Lavigne. I just loved her music and her aesthetic. When I saw the music video for “Sk8er Boi” I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen and I fully wanted to be her. It’s incredible how many people she’s influenced. 

What did you study at Berklee and what was the most valuable skill you learned there? 

I studied contemporary writing and production, but beyond that I would say that the people skills I developed were the most valuable takeaway from it. The interpersonal relationships I built there really strengthened me personally and professionally. 

You’re both a drummer and vocalist. What are the biggest benefits and challenges of that balance? 

I was a drummer first before I started singing. The physicality of it is probably the most challenging part, especially when you’re playing a stationary instrument and having to connect with a live audience. But for me the benefits always outweigh the challenges, because I get to do what I love. I was mostly in rock bands before I went solo, and everyone’s influences are normally combined. You get different sounds with every combination which I really love. 

Are there any specific references you would compare your other bands to? 

I formed a band called Destination Unknown back in the day which started as a blues rock band. As members came and went the sound would always change based on what we were listening to. For example, a new bassist might join who was really into funk or certain members might be metalheads, which would lead to the band adopting more of a hard rock sound. I was also in an all-female band called The Morning After and we were really inspired by riot grrrl bands.

Your latest single “Blameshifter” is very sonically diverse. Were there any conscious inspirations for that song? 

Not really. I know it’s a more fun answer to have a specific reference or inspiration, but it just kind of happened organically. When I first wrote it I wanted to add a more electronic-based sounds to my music. I’m always wondering what little flourishes I can add, whether it be a flute or a zany synthesizer. I added a lot of little vocal chops to accentuate the biting sassiness of the song. I have a friend on my team who’s also my mixing engineer. He played guitar on the song and totally killed it. 

Are there any bands you loved as a kid who you still love now? 

Nostalgia is real. I grew up on pop punk, so I still love most of Blink-182’s discography and that one Panic! album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. I loved how dynamic sounding it was, while still fitting into the guitar pop realm. 

An important part of your mission as an artist is inclusion and intersectional feminism. For you personally, what is the most important part of telling stories from that perspective?

Women’s stories are important and need to be shared on their own terms. I’ll never claim to speak for all women, but as a woman, I’m always conscious of the content of my music and the image that I’m projecting. It touches all of my artistic endeavors. I’m also mixed Asian-American and I want to explore my own relationship to my identity through the art that I create. 

What are you listening to right now that you would recommend to everybody? 

There’s a rapper from Seattle named Xxngel Baby and a duo called babe.wav who have been helping me with live shows. My mix engineer Michael has an awesome psychedelic rock project called The Meltdown Committee. He produced my EP Amongst the Emerald Mind as well, so any rock artists from Seattle who are looking for a producer, I would obviously recommend him cause he’ll make you sound amazing!

Your new EP is called Amongst the Emerald Mind. What do Emeralds signify to you? 

I wanted to go in a really green direction with this album because green represents growth and rebirth, which I really wanted to incorporate into my output. 

Do you have anything else coming up that you’d like to plug?  

I have a lot of songs that I’ve been sitting on since the beginning of the pandemic that I’m excited to return to. I’ve been setting goals to share as many of them as possible, and I hope that people can connect with how I’m feeling. That’s what music is meant to do! 


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Live Music Review

Live Review: SASAMI at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Like Rina Sawayama crashing a Harley on speed, SASAMI has set a gold standard for wholesale showmanship on her latest tour supporting her newest album of nu metal-inspired paeans. The former classical composer-turned-indie-icon took the stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday. Her backing band were the first to emerge, three long-haired men who looked like distant relatives of Slayer, all three of them donning royal blue hooded cloaks.

SASAMI was quick to follow suit, looking like a medieval vigilante princess in a frilly white bodice and corset along with fishnets and a leather harness. Her entrance was met with an eruption of cheers from the demographically diverse crowd of indie kids and queer BIPOC pop and metal fans. One male audience member threw out a suggestive comment about her looks, which was quickly shut down by a corral of boos from surrounding concert-goers. “KILL HIM!” SASAMI jokingly sneered in response, making it abundantly clear that she’s not afraid to mobilize her following to annihilate anyone who threatens to exploit her or her fans.

After attentively tuning her Gibson Explorer, she opened her set with “The Greatest,” a slow and towering cut that immediately set the mood for a liberating two hours of SASAMI ripping and roaring through a searing lineup of hair-raising tracks off her expansively cathartic sophomore album Squeeze, which included a violent thrash cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Sorry Entertainer.” Squeeze was written to express the beauty and violence of the human condition through fuzzy walls of metal rage, with assistance from Megadeth’s drummer Dirk Verbeuren.

Throughout her raucous set, SASAMI commanded the stage with outrageous antics that teetered on the edge of self-destruction. This included bellowing and coughing through blood-curdling screams, sticking the amp cord in her mouth and gyrating as if she’d electrocuted herself, violently ramming herself into her bandmates, mounting the drum-kit to jump on her guitarist’s back, and engaging in elaborate choreography that evoked the motions of a shaman calling to the spirits in a protective ritual.

The energy in the room was radiantly positive as SASAMI clawed her way through each song, her dedicated followers relishing every second they had in her presence. In the middle of her set she beckoned her opening act Zulu, a powerviolence metal band from L.A., to join her onstage, who joyfully grooved on the sidelines for the rest of the show.

Near the end of SASAMI’s set she got close to the verge of tears, expressing her immense gratitude for the sense of community she’s found at her shows. This was topped off with a heartfelt shoutout to her queer fans who feel understood and valued through the anger and deliverance expressed in her music. There is nothing subtle about SASAMI, and this live performance only solidified her promising output.


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Live Music Review

Live Review and Q&A: Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge

As her name would suggest, the musical output of Trophy Wife—the solo project of 21-year-old Berklee student McKenzie Iazzetta—is inherently subversive. Her songwriting and her distinct vocal delivery constantly contradict one another, with lyrics where she leans into the role of the austere and unaffected “cool girl” trudging her way through the endlessly messy charade of daily life. Take songs like “Involved,” and “Knife Fight” for example, where Iazzetta wails through gritted teeth, “I didn’t mean to get excited, I didn’t mean to get involved,” and “I do not need it, you were only a test in the first place, try me, try me, try me.”

These lyrics function as a form of protection against ever being perceived as emotionally damaged or wounded, a similar technique employed by her contemporary indie predecessors like Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Snail Mail, and Japanese Breakfast. But don’t be fooled by the text. The strained cracks in her voice give her away every time. It is this naked vulnerability and juxtaposition of earnestness and defensiveness, hopefulness and despondence, infatuation and disgust, that makes her songwriting so compellingly sincere.

I caught Trophy Wife on Wednesday at The Mercury Lounge on a bill with Charles Irwin and Sub*T. She was the first of the three acts to take the stage, donning her best babydoll grunge getup while she attentively tinkered with the tuning pegs on her baby blue Fender Jazzmaster before leading her band through the opening number of their setlist, “Ask Me Anything.” 

Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge. Photo by Isabel Corp

Throughout her eight-song set, Trophy Wife performed every song on her latest EP Bruiser, as well as an unreleased song called “Baby’s Breath” and an enthralling cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ classic lovelorn ballad “Maps,” which she was quick to deem “the best song ever written.” It was a gorgeous tribute to the NYC garage rock legends that evoked the same visceral growing pains Karen O had to be feeling when she wrote the song close to Iazzetta’s age. 

One of the most enjoyable highlights of the performance was the undeniable chemistry between Iazzetta and her live band. Near the climactic end of their closing number, the seven-minute long opus “I’m Getting Better,” her guitarist Mario Perez shredded violently on his back while her drummer Michael Martelli continually thrashed his head wildly as he played, throwing his entire body into robust snare hits that would make you think he was chipping away at cement. But none of this detracted from the captivating pull Iazzetta had on the audience, her spellbinding croons and dreamy guitar strums grounding and centering the rest of the band in a divine form of dynamic synchronicity.

Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge (Christian Pace on bass, Michael Martelli on drums). Photo by Martin Garcia

A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents caught up with Iazzetta prior to her set at the Mercury Lounge to discuss the icky feelings of growing up that inspired Bruiser, her love of Liz Phair, and how re-recording a song she wrote at nineteen allowed her to forgive her younger self. 

You’re currently pursuing a degree at Berklee. How has it been balancing school life and the responsibilities of a working musician?

Luckily it’s easier if you go to music school. It’s a lot of time management but it normally works out well since most of the shows I book are on the weekends. 

If you could morph into any rock star, living or dead, who would it be? 

Probably Mitski. A close second would be Fiona Apple, but she’s got enough bullshit to deal with already. I wouldn’t exactly want to live through her particular circumstances. 

I understand that you grew up listening to several artists in the Lilith Fair lineup (Liz Phair, Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos). Who in that camp has influenced your writing the most? 

Definitely Liz Phair. I had the song “Johnny Feelgood,” in constant rotation as a child because my mom would always play it. She chronicled the trial-by-fire way of navigating life in a very blunt and tongue-in-cheek way that I really gravitate to as a songwriter. 

How did you go about writing and recording Bruiser?

I already had a batch of songs written and one of my roommates Micah said, “You should definitely record these.” Micah played drums on the record and got his friend who runs a studio to let us use the space. We had rehearsed the songs a bunch and showed up to the studio with a really fresh and open mind. It was all done in a weekend. 

My favorite track on the EP is “I’m Getting Better.” What did the process of bringing that song to life entail? 

I just sat down one day and thought “I really needed to write a longer song,” and it ended up being twice as long as I anticipated. That one came together the smoothest. All of the vocals were done in three takes before we layered them. We really just wanted it to sound like it was being delivered “through gritted teeth,” and for listeners to feel that tension and sort of hold their breath. 

What made you decide to re-record and repurpose “Knife Fight?” 

I just didn’t feel like it sounded like me anymore. The first one was recorded when I was nineteen. I was still figuring myself out when I first wrote it and didn’t think the song was as fully-realized as I wanted it to be. 

Do you still resonate with that song now? 

I wrote it a long time ago, so it’s not so much that I still resonate with it now, but more that I can better understand what I was feeling at that time. I can look back at that time with more perspective and this new version is sort of an ode to baby me. A way of forgiving my younger self.  

Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge. Photo by Isabel Corp

What has been the most interesting takeaway listeners have had from this EP? 

I think what’s been really cool is that listeners have made all these thematic connections between all the songs that I never noticed until they were pointed out to me. I was using a lot of sarcasm as a defense mechanism and deflecting blame in these songs, basically “cool girl”-ing my way through the trial-and-error situations of everyday life. 

You’ve received many comparisons to Phoebe Bridgers and Snail Mail. Does that ever put pressure on you? 

Not really. I have my own thing, but I think it would be pretty flamboyantly egotistical to claim, “No! I’m not influenced by that at all,” because that’s obviously not true. I can definitely see the parallels, because I make music that is a certain flavor of coming-of-age with a tinge of anger, which is very on brand for them. It’s certainly flattering that I’m even receiving those comparisons at all.

Finally, what’s the best thing to listen to to get hyped up before going onstage? 

Definitely Wednesday. They’re a shoegaze band from Asheville, NC and I’m obsessed with their latest album Twin Plagues


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