By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Already on the prowl with past singles like “Barcelona,” “Blue Hour” and “Velvet,” independent New York City-based female-fronted rock band The Silk War have dropped their debut full-length album ‘Come Evening.’
Their latest single “Slender Slander” carries a strong anti-gun violence message beneath its upbeat Blondie-esque grooves. Written in response to the Parkland School shootings, it features an accompanying official music video that was directed by Benjamin Kabin.
The Silk War are singer/lyricist Alexandra Blair, guitarist/songwriter/producer James Mullen, keyboardist Angelo Milliano, bassist Josh O’Guinn and drummer Andrew Mega.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Blair about ‘Come Evening’ and more.
Music Bugle – How did you decide the band name?
Alexandra Blair – The entire process took us about two years. We had always known that we wanted to use the word “silk” because of how prevalent it was in “The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.” Sylvia’s use of the word “silk” always held this oxymoronic meaning to us, something more powerful than fabric, so we stumbled upon the word “war” to complement her meaning behind the word. After some quick Googling, we found an underground Wikipedia page that explained that The Silk Wars were wars fought over the silk routes during the Roman Empire. The article then went on to explain that the wars were fought for, “the luxuries of women,” which we thought to be ludicrous and sexist, to say the least. Wars fought for the luxuries of women do not live in fabric, they live in the fight for equality of body and mind; the modern Silk War that we wage.
Music Bugle – What made you guys want to release “Slender Slander” as a single and did the video for it come out as you hoped?
Alexandra Blair – We decided to release “Slender Slander” as a single because of the poignancy and urgency of the issue that is gun control. Although we originally wrote the song in response to the Parkland School shooting, mass shootings plague us every day, which makes a song like “Slender Slander” a song that is sadly always timely. As recently as May 10th this year, there have been 194 shootings in the past 18 weeks, an astronomical number that continues to rise. The result has created a veil of numbness in us all due to the normalization of serial violence. “Slender Slander” serves as a reminder, a wake-up call and hopefully, a catalyst for real change. The video came out exactly how we wanted it to, having been inspired by The Clash’s video for “Rock The Casbah.” The two songs are very similar in their musical/lyrical approach by using upbeat music to accompany a serious message. We chose to feature multiple statistics, news reels and 17-year-old Ruby Salvatore Palmer in the music video to contrast the wild, chaotic nature of the live footage.
Music Bugle – How would you describe New York City to someone who has never been there before?
Alexandra Blair – New York City, a Mecca for wild inspiration and chaos, is a place that has something for everyone, no matter what you are looking for. An overflowing, overwhelming handout of pleasure and despair, New York has always been the best and worst of everything you could ever imagine. The amount of microcosms are extraordinary, each one chockfull of the ones who want to be understood. The city never ceases to amaze us and thus, we are nothing without her.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your album ‘Come Evening’?
Alexandra Blair – ‘Come Evening’ was a process that was continuously evolving from its initial starting point. It was grueling at times, because of the sensitivity of the subject matter. The writing process urged every one of us to meet that part of the mind that we all try to suppress and tame, the truest part of ourselves that we hesitate to meet. Each song on the record lives in a world of its own, both musically and lyrically, so we were constantly transforming as a band while still being true to ourselves. The result is a whirlwind through the mind, like New York City in one night.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Alexandra Blair – What excites us most about our style of music is how disparate the styles of each song of ours actually are. There are no preconceived notions when we first write a song as to what sound we want, what we always need to sound like and what we always need to write about. We allow the song to take us where it wants.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Alexandra Blair – Both “Lark Mirror” and “Sylvia” were the hardest to write, specifically because of the emotional subject matter. “Lark Mirror” floats above the notion of being killed by your lover, a person you assume you are not wasting your youth on, a person who you instead give your youth to. “Sylvia” was written as a letter to Sylvia Plath asking for help, pleading to be understood. Both songs reckon with the notion of chronic loneliness and the desire to disappear, to vanish.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Alexandra Blair – We have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the same way that all musical artists have. We have lost the ability to play live, our most vibrant strategy to achieve real human interaction. Our music is so interconnected to New York City and the music scene, so to be without everyone for so long is a tragedy that knows no bounds. Having always tweaked our songs based off of a New York audience, we were left to turn the mirror on ourselves and trust the recording studio and its subsequent bubble. We have always been a band that explores the importance of solitude, so in a way, the pandemic has solidified the importance of self that we have always stood behind.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need an escape?
Alexandra Blair – For this question, it really completely depends on the individual. For Jimmy, it would have to be Barcelona, the topic of which is realized in our song “Barcelona.” For me, I would have to say that I escape into whatever book I am reading. I am always so caught up in my thoughts, sometimes paralyzing my everyday life, so to read from another’s perspective grounds me in ways that I cannot even describe. I am obsessed with reading everything from classic and existential lit to mid-20th century poets.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Alexandra Blair – Our ongoing playlist includes a wide range of artists – everything from the new Royal Blood record, Soccer Mommy, METZ, The Limiñanas, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Philip Glass and Phoebe Bridgers to 60’s orchestral pieces arranged by Henry Mancini and Jackie Gleason.
Music Bugle – What does today’s music industry need more of?
Alexandra Blair – We are really surprised that there isn’t more music that is coming out right now that is the reflection of the time, of the pandemic. The music industry in general should be more about the artistry and honesty rather than follower count and Instagram fame.