tee vera

"manifestation (in flesh)", is a reference to the result of a population being pressured to a point of rupture. Historically this can mean revolution, whether political, social, often both. Changing power structures or the elimination of them altogether (at least an attempt). Many of us have been engaging with the genocides happening in Sudan, The Democratic Republic of The Congo, and Palestine, for varying amounts of time. Unfortunately marginalized populations don’t necessarily all get a revolution, and the power’s that be (often in the form of a nation state but not exclusively) corroborate together to strip these populations of any chance at liberation.

In spite of everything, people persist. The literacy rate in Gaza and the West Bank is 97.51% (as of 2020). Within many Palestinian households either in Palestine or across the diaspora, revolution against the current occupation has been a topic of discussion for the entire lives of many. For those of us who weren’t born into this conflict, we likely figured this out at later stages in spite of what our schools and families taught us.

Conservatives in the United States have continued to push for cuts to education, for the figurative or literal burning of books, for the suppression of conscious thought. One of the most powerful methods authoritarian governments have for suppressing revolution is to stop the spread of liberating education. The education they seek to fund gatekeeps knowledge to the ruling academic class and conditions the lower classes to fall into line as workers.

Speaking of legislation, us in the United States are also facing a genocide, namely of trans people (This is not to compare scales of death or violence to other genocides named in this article, the point is to address the methods used to attempt to eliminate a population). As a trans woman myself I’m constantly feeling the pressure on my shoulders of an unpromising future and uncertain access to medicine (including HRT). My trans friends who currently live in much less safe states for trans people are facing this institutional violence right now as we speak, and while we can fight to help those in similar situations move to safer areas, that comes at the cost of leaving the friends and physical community they presently exist in. Asking people to uproot their lives simply for them to live at the baseline comfort that cis people enjoy should make us question how we can mobilize against these systems.

Governments only have power because we allow them to. Institutions only have power because we allow them too. Money only has power because we allow it to. These systems intend to fracture us and segregate us because it is in their interests to do so. It is in their interests for us to be apathetic. That is to say the liberation struggles of Palestinians are linked with those of all colonized and marginalized people on this planet. And those struggles are interwoven with the struggles of queer people everywhere. Every marginalized population’s liberation is interlinked.

So that’s what inspired the creation of this EP. Not specifically in the moment, whatever sonic expressions I take on are generally more abstract representations of my feelings. This is why I so often work with Jungle, It has the potential to be a wall of sound or a sequence of very distinct pieces. The songs on this EP are intentionally mixed with heavier compression and saturation than I’d normally be used to using. They sort of punch you in the gut, each kick with enough distortion to stretch across the frequency spectrum. That’s the reason why I use so many guitar pedal emulations in my production these days, saturation tends to be the glue.

The EP opens with a sample from the film “Born in Flames” basically spelling out the need for revolution, and not a peaceful one. At the end of “manifestation” a line from the film, “She will burst through the age of dark confusion like lightning, and her name will be the manifestation of the spirit in flesh” is uttered. This is where I got the name for the album, the “she” referenced being really being a stand-in for any revolutionary. Being a sample from a piece of media engaging in feminist discourse it definitely resonated with me, but I felt the need to also append certain themes of the film and expand the conversation to include trans women like myself.

The track “starry” was maybe the second song I made for the project, it doesn’t really have any specific themes other than general romantic feelings in the sample. I’m not really a romantic person too often but I do like expressing that through my music. It’s not so much a literal take on the lyrics but a more general longing for something more that I often feel.

I actually made “separate” first in the process of this ep, the title and sample being a reference to me being sick at home when I made it. I was really frustrated and annoyed at the irresponsibility of my peers in terms of masking and such. I used some out of the box samples (like using an 8 bar loop of “My Chain” by Gucci Mane as the bassline), and positioned the vox a bit off beat. I like sampling R&B vocals because I can stretch the cadence across more beats than in the original song, making them climb up the breaks like a ladder.

The final track “dreams” was supposed to be a bit more of an ambient piece, but it’s rhythm became a lot more driving once the idea for the bassline came into my head. It’s placed last because of the theme of dreaming, or imagining a different future. The notion that “dreams are real, all you have to do is just believe” is the feeling that we can actually reach the future we want for our communities through action, through taking concrete steps to get there. Not to say these things are easy obviously, but to affirm a fluid nature of humanity.