The World's Burning, and Rae Spoon's 'bodiesofwater' Aims to Put Out the Fire
Published Aug 31, 2018The world is on fire — literally and figuratively. We witness it every day, both in the breakdown of the Earth's climate that's making conditions less and less liveable, and in the fresh hell that is contemporary political discourse.
That soft glow of the burning world provides the background of Rae Spoon's ninth album bodiesofwater, a collection of songs well suited for a civilization feeling perpetually on the brink of self-destruction: Spoon collects water and dried food as the end of the world comes bearing down on "It's Getting Close"; the end itself takes the form of a natural disaster on "Bioluminescent"; and Spoon serves a scathing takedown of the misguided Liberal government and their pipeline policies on the sludgy, synth-filled "You Don't Do Anything."
"I think it's always been the end of the world for someone. As long as globalization has been happening there has been people dying from it and environments being destroyed," Spoon tells Exclaim! "It's just that it's actually finally coming into the land where rich people live. Everyone thinks a global catastrophe is at hand, but interestingly enough, politicians are not doing anything about it."
bodiesofwater emerged from a concept Spoon had for a song cycle about their relationship with the ocean that surrounds their Vancouver Island home, and the commonalities between the government's control of waterways and bodies. They planned to perform the song cycle to an audience submerged in a swimming pool. The album came together before the performance, but Spoon is organizing a 2019 tour with this live setting. The shows will also present a rearranged version of the album that uses ocean and water samples turned into percussive sounds — an interesting juxtaposition, given the fiery hellscape life on Earth is quickly becoming.
Spoon points to the fractured relationship between humans and the land as the core of the album and feels a responsibility to engage in the dialogue surrounding these issues.
"I think to live [in Canada] and not be a part of that conversation would be cowardice in some way," Spoon notes, but they feel hopeful that this relationship will heal: "I think we can change everything."
This optimism is woven into bodiesofwater. the upbeat folk-rock and electronic soundscapes of the majority of the record highlight this. By album closer "Beach of Bones," Spoon celebrates their connection with the Earth and calls on the power of community to mend humanity's relationship with the earth. "Put it back together," Spoon cries.
"I think that the earth is going to change from whatever happens, but there's space now to be talking about these things," they say.
Of course, there are other conversations to be had, and Spoon addresses them here; bodiesofwater includes tracks about self-care and sexual assault within the music industry. It's all in sync with their career's tradition of addressing the world's issues, bad and good: Colonialism, Xenophobia and gender identity among them. This honest approach to songwriting is one that Spoon considers to be critical in fostering an authentic and enduring relationship with listeners.
"Early on in my life I made choices about, was I going to be out as queer, was I going to be out as trans, was I going to be out as non-binary. I think every time I had to make one of those choices, it didn't make any sense to me to cultivate this artistic relationship with an audience without just being myself," says Spoon.
"There's ups and downs with success, and I really have been trying to weed out that capitalist part of the music industry. It's not that I don't want to make money, but weed out that greed for attention or that star culture stuff. I think it's better to not think of yourself as different than your audiences — it actually hurts people's shows I think. I'm in for the long haul, so I've just been trying to find a very chill way of doing things and keeping a lot of control."
Rae Spoon's bodiesofwater is out September 7, courtesy of Coax Records.