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Video Of The Week #148: Perfume Genius – Describe

Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas) will release his fifth studio album, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, via Matador Records.

He has shared the first single, ‘Describe’, a track where Hadreas’s exquisitely artful vocals that oscillate between power and sensitivity, manoeuvres through a dense rolling fog of slide guitars and muggy percussion then into a sensitive minimal interlude. ‘Describe’ captures a sense of living in the moment in a fantastically adventurous song.

Hadreas notes, “it started as a really somber ballad. It was very minimal and very slow. And then it turned into this beast of a song. I started writing about when you are in such a dark place that you don’t even remember what goodness is or what anything feels like. And so, the idea was having someone describe that to you, because you forgot or can’t get to it.” Its accompanying video, self-directed by Hadreas, envisages “an end of the world where there are no boundaries, there are no edges, no rules, or the rules are completely new with how you interact with each other and the space around you.”

The excellent accompanying music video for ‘Describe’ is ripe with symbolic performance dance and was directed by Hadreas and features Seattle-based choreographer Kate Wallich’s dance company The YC. Wallich and Hadreas worked together on 2019’s The Sun Still Burns Here, a collaborative dance performance in which Hadreas wrote the music and performed.

Set My Heart On Fire Immediately sees Hadreas re-teaming with GRAMMY-nominated producer Blake Mills and features contributions from musicians Jim Keltner, Pino Palladino, Matt Chamberlin and Rob Moose. It was recorded in Los Angeles, where Perfume Genius settled in 2017 with longtime partner and musical collaborator Alan Wyffels.

The album “explores and subverts concepts of masculinity and traditional roles, and introduces decidedly American musical influences.” Throughout the album Hadreas plays with themes of love, sex, memory and the body, channeling popular music mythologies while irreverently authoring its own. “I wanted to feel more open, more free and spiritually wild,” says Hadreas, “and I’m in a place now where those feelings are very close– but it can border on being unhinged. I wrote these songs as a way to be more patient, more considered — to pull at all these chaotic threads hovering around me and weave them in to something warm, thoughtful and comforting”

The sense of communion and physicality was borne in part from Hadreas’ work on The Sun Still Burns Here. Already a formidable stage presence, it had elevated him to a rigorous multi-disciplinary performer. “I had been working with them for a year and a half. With lots of rehearsals, lots of performances, lots of relationships and energies, and I was feeling connected to my body. I was feeling connected to all their bodies. And having boundaries be blurred and having rules be gone and having all this play within nonsense and absurdity — in tandem with a real connection and truly valuable work.” In 2019, the show travelled to Boston, New York and Minneapolis after its Seattle debut.

Photo Credit: Camille Vivier

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.