Kisskadee is the self-defined, “maximalist” project of multi-instrumentalist Kasie Shahbaz. The project is Kasie’s attempt to embrace her love of unusual time signatures and vast orchestral arrangements, and break away from traditional songwriting tropes. The result is Kasie’s upcoming album, Black Hole Era, out at the end of next week on Anxiety Blanket Records. Ahead of the release, today Kasie is premiering the latest single to be lifted from the record, Ursula.
The first full song on Black Hole Era, Kasie has suggested Ursula serves as its introduction and reveals what she describes as the record’s, “chronological concept…the gradual separation from motherly love as the record moves from childhood to adulthood”. Ursula explores the first separation, as Kasie explains, “the dissonant chords under playful lyrics recall the feeling of getting separated from one’s mom at the Chuck E. Cheese, lost in a haze of games and strangers. The child wanders in a sea of people filled with terror, but over the years comes to expect busy isolation as life per usual”.
As you may have already guessed the song was inspired by the Little Mermaid, in particular, “the idiocy” of when Ariel gives her voice to Ursula so she can walk on land and be with a man. The track is in some ways Kasie poking fun at herself and, “the compulsion to give up all aspects of myself, to make up for that initial loss of familial love in the search for a partner”.
While described as the strangest song on the record, Ursula still taps into relatable themes, contrasting our desire to find unconditional love in the face of the nagging isolation of existing inside your own head. As well as lyrically, Ursula is also musically unusual, like a walk on ever-shifting musical sands. The track starts with fluttering finger-picked guitars, before a rumbling psych-influenced bass and jazzy drums ground it with earthy grit before it soars skyward on swooping vocals and airy synths. It’s a trick repeated throughout, as Kasie’s songwriting never settles for long, before quickly hopping off in search of pastures new. Perhaps the music here is the perfect allegory for Black Hole Era, the playfulness of childhood, giving way to the uncertainty of adulthood, like the titular Black Hole growth comes with loss, each expansion leading us closer to our ultimate demise. A deeply thoughtful single from a songwriter showing herself to be quite unlike anyone else.
Black Hole Era is out May 6th via Anxiety Blanket Records. For more information on Kisskadee visit https://kisskadee.bandcamp.com/.