Kristeen Young’s steely, indefatigable identity is as resistant to categorization as her music, which has been described as “eclectic,” “operatic-punk,” and “intergalactic” without ever quite capturing it. Her songwriting was born out of trauma, after all, a way to escape what she describes as a “nightmarish” upbringing in adoptive and foster homes. It makes sense that her sound would capture the peripatetic nature of youth, that merging of deep pain and ecstatic discovery.
Her new single, “These Are the Things I’m Not the Most”, tells that story in a striking way. The first single from her forthcoming new album, Live at the Witch’s Tit, it’s a sprawling, anarchic ode to embracing individuality in the face of sneering opposition. “I prepared the way for John the Baptist,” she sings with a smirk. “Then, became the way for Jesus Christ/ I sat the truths in the mouths of Buddha/ Then, bore Allah between my thighs/ But, still, I’ll never be your equal.” That’s okay, though, because Young refuses to be judged by the standards of yore: “I know I’ll never equal you/ I know you’ll never see my shine/ There’s no age/ There’s no race/ There’s no gender/ Here, here, here.” Preach.
As it leaps nimbly between pop and hip-hop touchstones, the song’s video finds Young cycling through sheer outfits, leather, and exclamatory makeup in between preaching her message from a podium. A brief prologue — apparently incorporating visuals from another, forthcoming video — is eerie and very, very bloody. You’ve been warned. Watch above, or listen to the track below.
Young elaborated on the story behind the song and video for Consequence of Sound:
“The intro to the video is an interlude moment on the album … so technically it’s another song. And the visuals to the intro is the ending of an upcoming video for ANOTHER song. The song, this song, “These Are the Things I’m Not the Most”, is somewhat my life story or the core of who I am. The verses talk about how it was growing up in a foster home (eventually adopted by these foster parents) where I was never welcomed (to put it mildly) and a bit of what it was like for me in the neighborhoods and at school — not really fitting in anywhere for various reasons. The intro to this song is about some groups of people … no matter what they do, what incredible, world changing moments they achieve will never be “let in” or seen or validated by the people who control — the same people who’ve controlled for centuries. In the intro in the video, I’m taking off layers of different colors of skin with each phrase. And every time I take off a layer I’m a different mix of skin tone. So this big picture intro transitions to the verses of my personal experience. And then ultimately the chorus which is saying these surface level, skin deep identities that the world concentrates so much on and says THAT’S WHO WE ARE really mean very little about us individually. Thus, These Are The Things I’m Not The Most. I am a mixed person in so many ways more than just race (which I am mixed race) and I think many people are. We are more than the this or that, two choices only in this world. We are all a unique mix and should be treated individually. And I also think this is about music. To me, genres are like races almost. I am filled with many genres of music and I don’t like being asked to choose one or boxed into one. This song moves through genres because of all of these reasons.
The video was shot in St. Louis by Brian McClelland at various Cherokee Street locations. The night time location where I’m chasing the camera was shot outdoors on a street by the river front of the Mississippi River.
Jefferson Wayne White is the drummer. Megan X Thomas is on bass.”
The follow-up to 2014’s The Knife Shift, Live at the Witch’s Tit arrives in September 15th. It features Megan X Thomas (Ghost) on bass, as well as Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), John LaMacchia (Candiria), and Sarah Register (Talk Normal) on guitar. It was co-produced by Young and Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex). Four more tracks are set to get music videos in the future.
Live at the Witch’s Tit Artwork: