We’ve been in love with Kristeen Young since her brilliant 2006 album The Orphans (the song “Kill the Father” fantasized about, yes, killing off several famous older rock stars, including one David Bowie – who was actually a fan.) So we’re always rather atingle when she reaches into her bag of creative tricks and pulls out something appropriately grandiose.
And so it is that we have the privilege of premiering her intriguing new video for “You Always Win.” It’s taken from her forthcoming eighth album, the cleverly titled Live at the Witch’s Tit (out September 29) which is once again produced by Bowie legend Tony Visconti, and flaunts guest guitar work by Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner and Living Color’s Vernon Reid.
The song itself, with its boogie-woogie piano riffs, eerie synths, thundering drums and rollercoaster dynamics, is Kristeen as her most compelling and galvanizing. “Don’t act like it’s been so difficult for you,” she sneers at the song’s surely wrath-deserving subject, in her always chilling/thrilling operatic wail.
Unusually, she tells us, she gave up total creative control of the video to director Jenn Alva (of FEA / Girl in a Coma). The result is her performing amidst a provocative southern-porch brothel scene, as flamboyant as it is peculiar.
She recalls, “We were surprised, intrigued, honored when Jenn said she’d like to shoot a video for ‘You Always Win.’ I most enjoyed watching and interacting with all the actors in the porch scenes….actually might have been my most enjoyable video making memory ever. They were all so perfect and funny and great at what they do.”
Kristeen’s sartorial choice is, as ever, one of the central stars; indeed, she’s wearing a modified, sequined American flag dress once owned by late comedian Phyllis Diller – and given to her by old pal Morrissey, with whom she’s toured many times.
“The song itself, she explains, “speaks to being a peripheral person or group of people who are always left out …you know, the ignored demographics….and how it always comes back to being an individual and making choices as an individual. When we have nothing….we still have that.”
Not really surprising for her, she even finds a “political” dynamic in the instrumentation: “Nick Zinner plays some atmospheric guitar at the end of the choruses. The piano is taking the traditional guitar role in this song…it’s the driving force. And the guitar is taking the traditional keyboard role of being the icing on the cake. This happens a lot on this album, the reversal of the guitar and keyboard roles…which – since the guitar has historically often been viewed as “male” and keyboard as “female” – might mean something and might not. But it supports the dominant theme of this album.”
Kristeen Young is doing a residency at LA’s Redwood Bar, every Wednesday in August.