Proteins of Magic returns with the dark incantations of “Flesh It Out” released on 31st of August by New Zealand imprint Particle Recordings.
Here’s the blurb from Particle Records:
Operating in the same dark and subversive corners where Fever Ray, Jenny Hval or Björk may find solace, “Flesh it Out” is a track that arrives shrouded in a mystique all its own, with a strident confidence to defy conventions.
Written while gazing into the flickering flames of an open fire in Nashville, Proteins of Magic found herself caught in the daze of a flashback in which she had seen a young couple having an intimate moment during the day on the beach in Aotearoa / New Zealand. As Kelly Steven AKA Proteins of Magic remembers:
“The hope and the idealism, the youthful sheen on their skin, being unaware of what life lies ahead for them. That is what triggered the start of the lyrical process. I think the song lays out an emotionally treacherous life for them, a day in the life spanning 10 years and 2min 52 seconds.”
Surrounding surrealistic lyrics with hex-like incantations, tribal rhythms, sinister synthesiser trills, and haunting woodwind sections, PoM creates an unsettling ambience and intimidating presence to send shivers. “If I give you a smile will you resuscitate me?” she coos through gritted teeth.
Building to a hypnotic climax, “Flesh It Out” couples brooding instrumentals with a litany of foreboding vocal textures, each representing a disjointed voice of differing lost souls. Foreshadowing a bleak future, these spectres emerge to erode the wide eyed innocence of youth and replace it with existential questions and hollow false promises.
As its title may suggest, “Flesh It Out” was born from within a jam to evoke a spirit that is discernibly raw and immediate, before being layered and moulded repeatedly to find its current recorded form. The finished song spawns, regenerates and severs over its three-minute course, summoning a sense of self determination out of the chaos.
The NZ on Air funded video is directed by Ranger Garrett, which arrives with an art-house style film intended to capture a ‘day in the life’ in Nashville. Showing another side of the fluorescent glitz and glamour of the music city, it was shot around various alternative landmarks using a vintage Sony PMW-F3 and Sony Handycam DCR-SX45, including footage of the Dragon Park that was featured in Harmony Korine’s Gummo.
“I liked the idea of it being lo-fi and raw, and I wanted the filming to be like the recording process,” says Kelly of the video. “Less formulated. The cameras were actually literally held together with tape and things were falling apart. I wanted it to be a ‘day in the life’ in Nashville, in a manic, irregular, fractured way.”
“Flesh It Out” captures the creative intuition of Proteins of Magic, juxtaposing the realities between Aotearoa / NZ and Tennessee, opening a portal where the past and present coalesce .
Living between Auckland and Nashville, Kelly Steven is a multi-faceted artist practising in both audio and visual media. She writes, produces and performs as Proteins of Magic, and makes imagined worlds to translate her songs to screen by using claymation and digital art, creating an alchemy of sound, vision, time and nature.
There isn’t a single genre that describes the musical output of Proteins of Magic, but in broad terms it embodies the realm of Gothic; from the use of voices from elsewhere, layered upon one another, to the drama of art pop melded with eerie post-punk, she blurs the boundaries between innovative alt-folk and contemporary art music.
In 2022, her single ‘Lethal‘ went to Number 1 in the NZ Radioscope alternative charts. Her next single ‘Divine Physics‘ in 2023, was Number 1 in the 95 bFM top 10 and Number 5 in the NZ Radioscope alternative charts.
In NZ she has performed two headline tours, and played at Splore, Cuba Dupa, The Othersway and Cross St Festivals. Performing in 2023 at Big Ears Festival (USA), The Great Escape (UK), The Lexington and New River Studios (London), Primavera (Spain), The Blue Room (Nashville), BIGSOUND (Brisbane), SXSW (Sydney)
Her upcoming EP ‘Angel Hieroglyphics‘ will be released in February / March 2024.
“I consider her in that lineage of female musicians with a completely unique voice and approach, in the tradition of Nina Simone, Nico, Patti Smith, Björk, etc. She is the real deal.”
Shayne Carter NZ Herald
“Possessing a voice that not only metamorphoses thoroughly into her own askew existential poetry, her sonic performance feels like performance art that you can see and not just hear…”
Robb Donker Curtius American Pancake
“Proteins of Magic serves up delicious flute loops and beats. Her solo-on-stage set recalled the transcendent track-stacking of synths, wind instruments and choral elements found in the music of Steven’s experimental predecessors Björk and Kate Bush, and contemporaries such as My Brightest Diamond”
Celia Gregory WNXP Nashville radio
LIVE SHOW DATES:
5th September – 7:30pm – 8.00pm – La La Land – BIGSOUND (Brisbane)
7th September – 8:30pm – 9.00pm – La La Land – BIGSOUND (Brisbane)
8th September – The Great Club supporting Reb Fountain (Sydney)
11th September – Northcote Social Club (Melbourne)
7th October – Freida Margolis (Auckland)
14th October – Altar (Hobart)
18 – 21 October – SXSW (Sydney)