Jamie Crewe is Poisonous Relationship, and his excellent new house record is called “Garden of Problems”
Those guys over at Butt Magazine are often on the cusp of great things of all different sorts: fashion, photography, music, writers, etc. They do stellar interviews that, somehow, read like high non-fiction. Yes, sometimes high like they’re done on weed (or poppers), but more like they elevate gay culture and talking about gay culture to a brilliant plateau of intellectual seriousness. And the other day, via Facebook, Poisonous Relationship showed up on my feed. The video (below) for the first track and single, “Men’s Feelings,” is one wild ride of visual imagery.
Jamie Crewe is one fascinating queer. The video’s like a drag Cindy Sherman experiment. While he name-drops neighborhoods of Los Angeles, this peculiar creature hails from London, and he caught up with a Butt writer for a Q&A (where the record’s also streaming in full) last week that is quite illuminating. Very little ink has been spilled on this one, and we’re trying to change that ASAP.
If you love Hercules and Love Affair, this record’s going to tickle you all summer. Let’s be real: Poisonous Relationship is house music, but it’s approachable and doesn’t make you feel like you need to be around strobing lights or on drugs to appreciate it. In the way that records by DJs like DJ Koze or Caribou’s Daphni record did, it blends beats, sparse vocals, weird samples and hypnosis to make rambling, long house tracks go down nice and smooth. “Men’s Feelings” is 10 minutes long on the dot, and after the name-dropping comes in the delightful repetitive chorus: “Men’s feelings / Tell me more about men’s feelings / I wanna know feelings / Tell me more about men’s feelings.” This is entertaining on multiple levels, as a man, because men aren’t supposed to have feelings. Or, the stereotype is that women have more feelings or feel things more potently than men. Which is bullshit. Some women are completely unfeeling, and some men (sure, lots of homosexuals, especially) are brimming and bursting with feelings. And in the video, as he coos this phrase on repeat, shape-shifting from glamorous drag persona to persona, it adds another level. Suddenly, he’s a gay man posing as a straight woman asking honestly for men’s feelings to be explained. It’s a beautiful mind-fuck!
Then, to my delightful surprise, the whole thing’s on Spotify for our listening pleasure. And it’s a great listen. As he says in his Q&A with Zac Bayly:
“What’s with your bongo drum obsession, by the way?
I do have a bit of a bongo obsession, don’t I? On the record, it’s about having this constant throb. The original idea for the record was like, ‘What if I made a house record with no bass frequencies?’ Then bongos and hand-drums were really key in keeping it burbling along, leading you from one song to the next. In the end, I put bass frequencies in because it felt better. But there’s not a proper bassline until like the fifth song or something.”
On the second track, “Nobody,” a delicious sax groove dips its toes into the mix. Then comes “Nite Birds,” one tripped-out chopped vocal that’s brilliantly re-worked, carrying you into the high-pitched percussive groove as eerie sirens waft in the background. Oh yeah, and on “Yellow Poppy,” you can hear Beyonce howling (to Missy) “There ain’t nothin’ out there!” from Missy’s 2002 gem from Under Construction, “Nothing Out There for Me.” BONUS POINTS. He smartly employs elements of tribalism, too; bongos, like he says, are something Crewe’s obsessed with, and we’re not mad. Here’s hoping the Gayborhood DJs start playing and remixing this whole thing pronto; it’ll get em’ major bonus points from Buttheads and house fans alike.
*Photo c/o Butt’s Danny Calvi.