Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Suicide” by Hypatia Lake from their self-released album Ouroboros.
Those familiar with Seattle band Hypatia Lake might notice a few differences in their offering for today’s Song of the Day. They are a band in transition: from a four piece to a trio, from shoegaze to power pop, from My Bloody Valentine to Jimi Hendrix. But some things have remained the same, and fans who have been following them from one incarnation to the next will recognize familiar elements in the latest album, Ouroboros, in addition to some of the new themes expressed by the band. Lance Watkins talked a bit about the transition and how the inspiration for this album is the impending Armageddon a the fictitious world he has created that is not too dissimilar from ours.
Your songs were originally written based on the fictitious characters of the made up community of Hypatia Lake. Does that still provide inspiration for you?
Yes. This new album continues to follow the narrative theme we have established by making the concept of the band revolve around Hypatia Lake as a community. This record expands on developing a character from the previous album, Rose Marie. It’s basically a cosmic battle, the 2012 of Hypatia Lake, in which there is a Star Eater and she has to defeat it to save the world.
How has your songwriting evolved since your original concept?
Lyrically the songs have evolved to focus on my understanding of cosmogony and philosophy, while stylistically we’ve moved more into the ’70s power trio and away from the ’90s shoegaze sound.
What is your typical songwriting process? Is there a primary songwriter or more of group effort?
Generally, I’ll have a skeleton of a song and the band takes that skeleton to create the body of the song.
What can you tell me about today’s song, “Suicide?”
On one level, it’s about a military official in Hypatia Lake who knows that the Star Eater is coming to eat the Earth, so he’s planning on killing himself, and on a deeper level it’s about the unknown factor and moral ambiguity of the act of suicide. I think often people assume that what happens after death is better than what happens while you’re alive, and I often question what that means, what the odds are and why we work that way.
Currently, Hypatia Lake doesn’t have any shows listed as they’re wrapping up a tour tonight in the Bay Area, but keep an eye on their website and Facebook page. To compare to their previous sound, here they are performing “The General’s Gleaming Edge” back in 2008 at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge: