As the coronavirus crisis has only served to hasten the already significant New York / LA exodus, there’s certainly no better to time to look far beyond the culturally atrophying Williamsburgs and Silver Lakes to find art that genuinely challenges the established order—an order that has surely been strengthened by art’s disappointing timidity over two post-Millennium decades.
And so it is that surging eccentrically out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the glorious curiosity that goes by the name of Valerie Lighthart. At just 22 years of age, the cultural polymath has already dabbled in filmmaking, poetry, acting, modeling…and, of course, her true raison d’être, making music. But with her new single and video “Love & Money” (the latter which BlackBook premieres here), it might be said that she has also crossed over into feminist philosophy.
“I sought and found safe spaces to unpack the difficult feelings I had about womanhood, femininity, sexuality, and autonomy,” she explains. “As a young teenager, a dance class I took with my older sister helped me begin to unravel the complicated web of internalized misogyny I learned. It taught me to connect to my body in a new way and learn to embrace my thoughts and desires in a group of supportive femmes.”
The video, co-starring drag performer Melee McQueen and queer Latinx pop artist Solana, comes off something like Derek Jarman directing Lady Gaga, playing wittily but provocatively with notions of gender and sexuality. And over a lush, hook-laden electro-disco musical-box backdrop, Lighthart recites the sardonic mantra, “All we want is love and money / Coming for it all honey.”
“It explores the femme experience in our society,” says Solana, “the roles we’re encouraged to assume, and the spectrum of desires and goals we have and why we have them. Ultimately this project is about shining light on multi-dimensionality as an intrinsic part of femme nature.”
“Love & Money” actually serves as the introduction to Lighthart’s By Moonlight series, which will see a trio of EPs released in the coming months (via N43 Records) weaving a historical-modern narrative on the femme condition.
And isn’t that just what we need right now?