Something of a fixture on the Brooklyn indie-scene, Drew Citron caught the attention of many as a member of acclaimed, Kanine Records signed band, Beverley. As well as releasing two records with the band, and taking to the road in support of the likes of The Drums and We Are Scientists, Drew also became a touring member for both Frankie Rose and The Pains of Being Pure of Heart. Following the break-up of Beverley, and her relationship with the band’s drummer Scott Rosenthal, Drew embarked on a new solo project. The result was Drew’s debut album, Free Now, released via Park The Van back in October, and today we’re premiering the accompanying video to one of the album’s stand-out moments, Dead On Arrival.
Much of Free Now was recorded on the coast of Northern California, Drew returning to her San Franciscan roots and attempting to recall, “how it felt to be an adolescent of sixteen, in love with a record”. It was the sound of melancholic walks, headphones plugged into a Discman, listening to The Smiths or something equally heartbreaking/heartbroken. Channelling that youthful energy into her own moment of heartbreak, Drew created a record that is at once fizzing with emotions yet has the wisdom of someone whose teenage days are behind her, there is a confident swagger to the record, the sound of someone taking control of their own musical vision.
On Dead on Arrival, Drew’s musical confidence manifests as a bombardment of muted guitar chords and pounding, almost primal rhythms, sitting in perfect contrast to Drew’s sweetly melodic vocals, bringing to mind the likes of Blush or Hazel English. As you’d perhaps expect from the title, the track takes on a certain gothic quality as Drew sings of a doomed romance, “you told me it would last, covered in grass right down to the soil, in a box made of pine”. That mood is matched in the accompanying video where Drew takes her bike for a spin around a graveyard in atypically bright sunshine. Check out the video below and read on for my interview with Drew, where we discuss touring hopes, embracing her pop side and why putting out an album in a pandemic forced her, “to appreciate the quieter moments of a release”.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Drew Citron?
I’m a singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, NY, originally from northern California. A lover, a fan of the Bee Gees, a Scorpio-Sagittarius cusp.
FTR: We’re premiering your new video for Dead on Arrival, what can you tell us about the track?
“Dead on Arrival” is my favorite song on the album. I love the lyrics, the drum pattern, and the production. It’s a song that evolved over several demo versions and the finished product fills me with joy, especially the girl group a cappella breakdown moment. We made the video in Brooklyn on my phone in early pandemic times last summer.
FTR: You’ve just released your new album, Free Now, what can you tell us about recording it?
I recorded the album with the help of many friends and engineers over many years. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve worked on since the last Beverly record, and it tells the story of a breakup and a woman getting free.
FTR: People will probably know you best as a member of Beverly, what made this the right time to release a solo record?
The material is just so personal, it couldn’t be released under any other name than my own.
FTR: What did you do differently with this album compared to previous records?
I didn’t shy away from pop mixing techniques – my vocal is up front and center, not buried in a million layers of overdubs and effects.
FTR: Who are your influences as a songwriter? What were you listening to when you wrote this record?
The Carpenters, Neil Young, Broadcast, Cole Porter, Bill Ryder-Jones
FTR: It’s obviously a strange world to be releasing the album into, how has the pandemic affected your plans?
I was supposed to go to SXSW and tour, but hopefully that will happen again someday. In a strange way, it’s forced me to appreciate the quieter moments of a release – like hearing from old friends that the music spoke to them, and making new fans and connecting with all the ways people are staying afloat from their living rooms. I’ve met a lot of cool podcaster folks and the like. A forced hibernation can be very recuperative and helpful for an artist, and for all humans in general. I’ve started working on a second record already, I’m very motivated to get back out there when the world opens back up.
FTR: What’s the best way for people to support musicians at this time?
I guess buying merch directly from them and through labels & retailers such as Bandcamp when they waive fees.
FTR: Once you can get back out on the road, what can people expect from the Drew Citron live show?
I want to make a wall of sound style hopefully 4 or 5 piece band. Let’s go!!
FTR: You’ve obviously done a lot of touring with other bands, does it feel different touring your solo material?
I haven’t had a chance to yet… I really imagine it will be quite intimate, vulnerable and rewarding for me.
FTR: Why do you make music?
I went to college for acting and the first day I got there one of the teachers said “Welcome. This is a very hard path you’ve chosen. If you can do something else, definitely do that.” Music is that thing for me. It’s the other thing I could do, and also the thing I’d die without. When I talk to myself before falling asleep, in the minutes between dreaming and waking, and in most idle moments, I’m singing.
FTR: Do you have any other creative outlets beyond music?
I read a ton of fiction, I feel it’s a creative outlet for me because it inspires me to make music. I love Lauren Groff, and right now I’m reading Ben Lerner’s first book, I highly recommend “The Topeka School.” Wow.
FTR: What are your ambitions for this record? Is music still a viable career?
No, it’s not, because streaming platforms don’t support us financially. But I do it anyway, and encourage others to do the same. My ambitions with the record are to touch at least one person’s life indelibly, and to live on and be able to revisit the album in 40 years and say, hey this is good!
FTR: What’s next for Drew Citron?
I’m currently mixing and finishing my second solo record – I got really busy in quarantine. That will be out next summer. Thanks for the video premiere, I hope you enjoy my favorite song from the album!