The debut single and lyric video from the BK indie art-pop project explores the way embarrassment can empower and demonstrates how music that dares to go deep can also make you dance
“All my psychologists and therapists agree // That I’m a breath of fresh air“
After living in this city for five years and having it on the to-do list in my Notes app for approximately four, I recently–finally–crossed something huge off my Brooklyn bucket list.
It wasn’t polar plunging (done that), getting a septum piercing (not for my nose shape) participating in Nathan’s hot-dog-eating contest or dating a drummer (not sure which is worse for your health!!). Instead 2022 was the year that I… started going to therapy.
There wasn’t anything specific that sparked this decision. It was just that after 33.3 years of paddling comfortably along the surface of my personal pool of feelings, I decided it was finally time to explore the deep end, and it’s been…hard as fuck! But also very, very good. It’s emotional exercise, and while it’s painful and exhausting and you sometimes don’t want to do it, there’s catharsis that comes along with looking inward and a sense of confidence that accompanies the conquering of your fears.
However, this unearthing and airing of emotion—embracing the uncomfortable and sharing the shame—shouldn’t be completely limited to one-on-one interactions or confined to the couch. The beautiful part about art is its potential for understanding and unity. When listening to music, there’s nothing better than the sensation of being seen and understood, of experiencing your own emotions reflected in song and familiar feelings expressed in an album. It’s even more powerful when the artist uncovers the ugly bits we so often try to keep hidden, committing an act of love via vulnerability as they pull the privacy shades up to shine light on something dark that’s buried deep inside. And of course, it’s even better when it makes you dance.
With that, we’ve arrived at our featured release. A day before the universal drop, I’m thrilled to premiere the groovy and attention-grabbing debut single and accompanying lyric video from O. Wake.
This is “Riper Than Ripe.”
“It might fuck you up // Till you break it down”
O. Wake is the moniker of visual artist and illustrative musician Ofer Shouval, who along with making music and playing venues around BK since his art-pop/indie-rock project’s inception in 2019, also holds an MFA in Digital Media from Pratt Institute (hence the very rad video).
Ahead of the track’s release, Ofer sent over his thoroughly mapped out thoughts (my favorite kind!) on the inspiration for and themes explored on the song, as well as his thoughts on different types of power, and the ability of oppeness and art to heal ourselves and heal tohers.
“Embarrassment and shame are really interesting to me as things to make art about and write music about. A lot of people who write music lean on looking cool, always wanting to look cool, but actually being cool has to do with letting go of the need to look cool and being willing to be a little bit more shameless, not being conquered by that emotion. In a way you see that working for so many people who are successful and bad in good ways (Trump became president because he didn’t give a shit about looking like an idiot and people related to that). That sort of general idea of boasting about being the most beloved patient in a psychologist’s practice, it felt like an idea I could put forward. It ties into idea of finding things that are difficult and feel difficult to say. The fact that I also kind of believes it in a sort of context and it’s something I wouldn’t want to say out loud in polite company, that’s part of it—finding something you feel shame around and pushing through that shame. When you do that, you find energy there. You find power there. And if that power is people laughing and dancing and having fun, all the better.
There are two kinds of power, really. The kind that tries to maintain itself, entrenched power, privilege. And then the kind of power that asserts itself. That comes out of identifying the ways in which you feel unable to express your feelings and how the world around you affects you, how you censor yourself, being brave, and speaking up. A lot of people find when they do that, they gain legitimacy, not just for their own feelings, but also for other people’s feelings. Other people feel empowered when they hear or consume art that feels free to talk about things that are maybe embarrassing or against the grain of what’s considered okay to say.”
“Riper Than Ripe” is the debut single from the forthcoming full-length from O. Wake, which “draws inspiration from the richness of identity, intersection, and technology.” Along with offering intel on the meaning of the song, Ofer also sent over some notes on his solitary writing process and the pot-fueled, nearly naked state in which he wrote the song:
“I was living in Crown Heights at the time I wrote ‘Riper Than Ripe.’ I took over one of my roommate’s really big room. She was gone the whole break so I moved my studio into there and used the larger space. It was a railway apartment with old oak paneled walls and big windows looking over onto Park Place. There were lots of plants and a cat. I was writing in my underwear, smoking a lot of weed, and being fully immersed in writing and no one was around to bother me. That’s the image I associate with ‘Riper Than Ripe.’”
While that sounds like the literal dream, I encourage you to put on pants (preferably of the party variety) and come out to catch O. Wake LIVE at C’mon Everybody on February 18th!
Meet me there and let’s talk feelings on the dance floor—
That, for the record, will always be my favorite kind of therapy.
Follow O.Wake at @o.wake_music, check the artist out on Bandcamp and pre-save the song on Spotify now!
Feature image provided by the artist.