Song of the Day: Destroyer – Tinseltown Swimming in Blood

photo by Ted Bois

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of 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. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” by Destroyer, from the 2017 album ken on Merge Records/Dead Oceans.

Destroyer – Tinseltown Swimming in Blood (MP3)

Earlier this year, Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers released their seventh full-length Whiteout Conditions. It was the band’s first ever album without Dan Bejar, the enigmatic wild-haired singer/songwriter who also records under the name Destroyer. In an interview with Stereogum, New Pornographers founder/frontman A.C. Newman explains: “he was right in the middle of doing a Destroyer record which was something we’d narrowly skirted for our whole career. I’m always amazed that we managed to. Sometimes we avoided Destroyer, sometimes Destroyer avoided us, but eventually, we hit at the same time.” This past Friday, that record was released: Bejar’s 12th solo album ken.

For ken, Bejar found inspiration in the 1994 single “The Wild Ones” by UK glam-rock group Suede. He explains: “Sometime last year, I discovered that the original name for ‘The Wild Ones’ (one of the great English-language ballads of the last 100 years or so) was ‘Ken.’ I had an epiphany, I was physically struck by this information. In an attempt to hold on to this feeling, I decided to lift the original title of that song and use it for my own purposes. It’s unclear to me what that purpose is, or what the connection is. I was not thinking about Suede when making this record. I was thinking about the last few years of the Thatcher era. Those were the years when music first really came at me like a sickness, I had it bad. Maybe ‘The Wild Ones’ speaks to that feeling, probably why Suede made no sense in America. I think ‘ken’ also means ‘to know.'”

Destroyer is embarking on a massive world tour, which includes a Thursday, February 8th date at the Neptune Theatre. Follow him on Facebook to see the entire itinerary. Below, watch a clip for today’s featured track: director Karen Zolo (aka KC) delivers a remake of the 1962 French sci-fi classic La Jetée, written and directed by artist Chris Marker. Like the original film, the video is constructed entirely out of still black-and-white photographs. Via a statement, she explains:

“I’d just had a conversation about artist Chris Marker with a friend when I was approached to make a music video for the upcoming Destroyer album. ‘You have a month.’ Okay… I had no idea what the song even sounded like, but the only idea I had was to remake Chris Marker’s La Jetée, as faithfully as possible. It’s not just an homage to the great cine-poet, it’s also about the medium of film, about still photography. It would have been a billion times easier and less stressful to shoot it digitally, but it was worth it.”

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