Shawna Cupples, the indie music black sheep, delivers some eerie compositions in a series of simultaneous projects that seem to be igniting the indie music world quickly and oddly.
Shawna Cupples may not have a name that is instantly associable with the dark grimy gothic world she seems to represent so well in the music video for her breakthrough single ‘Dusk of Dawn.’ The track, from title to video, is trying to tell us all something about the reality of being a young girl in the modern commercialized world: we just have a hard time getting at what it is.
This is for the best, as a clear and direct approach would probably just feel cheesy and overt- like a top 40 cash grab. Cupples speaks on incoming dementia, clenched palms, and the traditional storytelling mechanic of finding your way and requesting some help you hardly expect to receive at all. It is a love song, at heart. But one that has not quite realized what love really is. This is all reflected in tears of blood, checkered unlit hallways, and mysterious notes under doors (a potential past love interest). The video confounds and mystifies, but this is necessary. Any other feeling, and we would feel bludgeoned over the head with the overt. I can only pray Shawna Cupples protrudes her feelings about the world in artistic sentiments white-washed in punishing guitar licks, dirty city streets, and a gorgeous voice signaling dementia and paranoia. I would expect nothing less.
The song and video does sort of conclude with a dizzying guitar solo and Cupples, borderline zombified and in serious distress, passing a note to herself- much cleaner and relaxed. If it is a suggestion of warning about the future, it is well done and remarkably odd.
The video has some borderline sinister visual passages, accented by the broken voice of Cupples. I do not say broken in the sense that it is bad. It sounds peculiarly vulnerable, actually. Her voice sounds like the best of Shirley Manson from the 90’s band, Garbage. As a matter of fact, the instrumentation recalls Garbage’s best days circa-1996 when Version 2.0 was a smash hit of new-wave darkness and pseudo-metal. Cupples also sounds a bit like Flyleaf, while downplaying the cheesiness and holding onto a lot of those same lyrical approaches of sadness, despair, and the light at the end of the tunnel. Add in a little bit of the gothic tinge of Bat for Lashes and the punk energy of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and you have the concoction of a wonderfully talented artist who places visual deliverance and beautiful hostility over any groundbreaking musical ideas.
Shawna Cupples has her EP album Exordium available here. She is also intricately involved with the absolutely inspiring Life in LA Project, which continues to focus on improving community life in the City of Angels. I am always enamored by an artist who does something outside music with their, um, music, but we will leave that wondrous project for another day.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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