Happy Juneteenth everyone, and welcome back to MuuMuse.
I’ve admittedly been hesitant to write at all about music as of late. Between a pandemic and a long overdue global reckoning in the name of racial justice, it feels pretty insignificant to be clamoring over bops.
But then, as we’ll get into, escapism is still essential in maintaining one’s mental health amid all of the heavy offerings that 2020 has brought. While I know my presence – in blog form, anyway – has lessened significantly in recent years, I recognize that MuuMuse has still afforded me some small platform. And so, I hope that my readers are joining me in support and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement: to amplify Black voices, support Black businesses, and advance the cause through action, including petitions, donations and protests – these are just some of the various resources and ways to help.
Now, then…onto the music.
Even if you think you might not know of her, you know Victoria Monét‘s music. She’s been writing some of your favorite songs for years – from her longstanding relationship with Ariana Grande (“Honeymoon Avenue” all the way through to “thank u, next” – yes, Victoria’s been there the whole time!) to Fifth Harmony (“Reflection,” “We Know,” “No Way”) to, most recently, a co-write on Chloe x Halle‘s own Summer 2020 anthem, “Do It.”
The track will be featured on Victoria’s forthcoming album Jaguar, due out on July 31 – and, as she describes it herself, it was just one of those moments where everything clicked in a studio session as an in-demand songwriter.
“I actually hadn’t heard of SG Lewis before the session that we had, and I had a double session that day, but when we went in, I played him some music from my project and he played me things that he was working on and it just clicked. So I did a verse. I did a hook. And I do so much music that I didn’t even think about the song. I had finished a whole project and then revisited the song. And we were like, ‘Oh, this is actually really fire,'” she explained to Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s New Music Daily.
“A feature that we thought for it was Khalid, and so my manager sent it over, but I’d known Khalid from other conversations. We’ve linked up in the studio before. We have a lot of mutual friends and so we’ve been, we haven’t collaborated though. So we’ve done sessions with Alina Baraz. We’ve been in the same rooms with Normani and same tour dates. So I’m a huge fan of his. He’s always got something good playing and streaming. So I’m just happy to be able to collaborate with him. And SG Lewis is so amazing that I think Khalid can introduce the world to him. I can introduce some of my fans to SG and then vice versa. We can be cross branded into that world. So I think it’s a really good threesome.”
And truly, what a good threesome it is.
“Experience” is the kind of sun-kissed, ethereal, retro-meets-modern anthem that this summer deserves: it’s shimmering and bright, just like the glow on the song’s gorgeous single artwork…even if the subject matter is sort of complicated, lyrically speaking. And their voices compliment each other beautifully, as they trade off melodies across sumptuous synths and celebratory horns.
While (most) clubs remain shuttered across the globe, that hasn’t stopped our favorite artists from producing truly quality dance music in a variety of flavors: from Dua Lipa‘s Future Nostalgia, to Lady Gaga‘s Chromatica, to Jessie Ware‘s upcoming What’s Your Pleasure? And now more than ever, it’s important to have a dance floor escape – even if that’s only in our minds for now.
As it turned out, as with many of the songs released this year, the chorus of “Experience” especially takes on new meaning amid global protests condemning systemic racism and police brutality.
“I’m all out of love / You gave it away / I’m hoping that experience can get you to change,” the two croon.
“To be honest, we went back and forth about releasing this song because of the disgusting and confusing state of the world. After a lot of thinking and feeling, we decided to continue with the plan to put it out, so we want to give some context on why. We’ve always used music as a form of escapism from troubling things. This song, though deep in subject matter, sonically feels joyful and celebratory. It’s important to us to highlight and celebrate Black joy and love in the middle of so much pain and trauma,” Victoria and Khalid said in a joint statement.
“June is Black Music Month. It’s also Pride Month. And even though worldwide celebrations had initially been canceled for public safety during a health crisis, I feel my queer identity is another important celebration for me. The LGBTQ+ community and the Black community–especially those of us who are part of both–have always struggled to be seen in our own ways. The struggles between the two are not the same, but they share the inspiring persistence in the relentless pursuit to be heard and seen, especially in difficult times like these. Though it was a scary decision, we wanted to honor and represent that fearless part of our people by continuing with this release through it all. We hope this brings some solace and joy to you, and we hope its double-ended message is heard: Based on experience, we want change! We matter, we always have. Here’s to making changes and celebrating US the best ways we know how. Genuine love to you and yours.”
All of a sudden, the song – ostensibly about the complexities of a romantic relationship – becomes a call to action for change in a much broader societal sense.
And in a way, in the middle of this most transformative year, this song couldn’t be better timed.
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Photo Credit: Tribe Records / @VictoriaMonet