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Dark Synth-Pop Duo Disaster Fantasy Debut New Single “Anywhere”
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Northwest natives Ryann Donnelly (Schoolyard Heroes) and Byron Kalet (Journal of Popular Noise) pair hypnotic synthesizers with glossy pop vocals as Disaster Fantasy. Their new single, celebrating the joys of being present, “Anywhere,” is a sensuous, languid – occasionally even whispered – disco track serving as a remedy for our collective anxieties and existential dread. The quiet repetition of the chorus of this tantalizing track mesmerizes us. Both very much of the moment and eminently engaging, Disaster Fantasy is the perfect soundtrack as a refuge for modern dystopia.
“I really wanted a day off when I wrote the lyrics,” says Donnelly, who says the lyrics describe several exaggerated responses to exhaustion: total disappearance, absolute silence, drowning. “There are reference to secrets and promises— things we tend to protect or take extra care with. I’m trying to describe a space or create a feeling I wanted.”
Upon first listen, this track channels LED Soundsystem, Kraftwerk, and the breathy vocals of Donna Summer in her collaborations with Giorgio Moroder and Paul Jabara.
The song’s evolution proved rockier for Kalet: “I was really frustrated with the original track I had made, so I said fuck it – I’m just going to try to make it sound like Kraftwerk and OMD. So there’s a little ‘Trans-Europe Express’ hi hat sound and some synths reminiscent of ‘neon lights’ – but a more dancey groove. It’s a bit throwback, but layering on Ryann’s textured vocals brings in a modern pop focal point.”
In 2020, Popular Noise Records released Donnelly’s solo EP, Roses. Meanwhile, Kalet was working on a series of demos that would eventually serve as the foundation for Disaster Fantasy’s dark and melodic pop. That dichotomy carries over to the pictures Donnelly paints with her lyrics. “I think these songs are pleasurable and threatening at the same time” she relates. “They negotiate terms of one’s own failure, and try to personify it. But the way they’re sung, I think they sound pretty tender. The seduction or fantasy of disappearing – that’s also in there.”
Dr Ryann Donnelly is an artist and academic interested in subversive audiovisual practices. She has performed at venues including the Guggenheim Museum, exhibited video internationally, and promoted her own club nights In London. Her first book, Justify My Love: Sex, Subversion, and Music Video combined her thesis on queer and feminist video with her autobiography about being in a band. After Schoolyard Heroes disbanded, Ryann moved to New York, where she worked with Epic Records on a solo project, co-produced with notable indie figures like Mark Gajadhar (Blood Brothers) and Zac Pennington (Parenthetical Girls).
Byron Kalet is a designer and multi-instrumentalist with a current focus on synthesis and studio production. Throughout his career Byron has always sought to explore the common ground between visual design and sound. Byron’s first major project launched in 2006 with the Journal of Popular Noise, an experiment to marry concepts of graphic design, ‘zine culture, pop music and sound design. Contributors included Andrew W.K., Climax Golden Twins, and Past Lives, and culminated in the release of Foscil’s ‘Residential’ in 2010. Copies of the Journal of Popular Noise are held in the permanent collection of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the special collections library at Princeton University. Following the success of The Journal, Popular Noise was reimagined as a traditional printed periodical – Popular Noise Magazine, which became the first creative collaboration between Ryann and Byron. In 2020, Byron relaunched Popular Noise Records, an imprint for traditional music releases – and will release the debut from Disaster Fantasy.
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