Connor Desai cozies up to the world with Scratch Pop through first single “Love Song For Cal Anderson”
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“Connor Desai’s new collection of charming folk pop – Scratch Pop – features impeccable bedroom production with subtle electronic elements supporting her relaxed original songs. It’s perfect music for taking your time getting out of bed on a Sunday morning, or for romancing that special someone over drinks on the back porch.” –Abe Beeson, KEXP/KPLU
Seattle-based Connor Desai has been illuminating and nourishing audiences with her artful, cosmopolitan, soul-searching serenades for a little while. As besmirched local rock reviewer also puts it:
“Blending her irresistibly sultry purr and uncluttered guitar stylings with innovative rhythms, Connor’s sound floats between jazz, folk, pop and indie slowcore without breaking stride.” –Matt Brown, NadaMucho
She calls it Scratch Pop. Standing squarely on the shoulders of her two previous releases, which include tracks licensed by Sony and several independent films, Connor Desai’s deftly homemade music is as sublimely sustaining as a thick slice of her chocolate chip banana bread. Foregoing studios and backing bands, Connor assumed complete creative control by producing her signature vocal layers and guitar work with newfound electronic elements.
“Love Song For Cal Anderson” is a resplendent sampling of the world she has been working on; all about strutting down inner city parks, finger-popping and breathing in the essence of an evening in a communal “lair.” Along with songs like “Farmer’s Eyes” and “The Migrator,” these are elegant and quietly intense glimpses into worlds of secrets and skipped heart-beats; luxurious, early 70’s cinematic soul meets synth-era nocturnal.
This new work evolved out of sessions woodshedded with Connor’s previous group in Spokane, WA, causing her to abandon the more conventional folk-rock approach of her previous albums. Synchronistically, it galvanized her to start thinking about what she really wanted to say with her music; which adds a healthy dollop of subversion to the seduction.
“With this album I see the link between my gender and my creativity. Money doesn’t equal influence, creativity does. Women, as vessels of creation, are ideally suited to forge this musical movement. Money was made only to represent that which is precious to us: our creations. What if we influence others to actualize their creativity? Giving even one more person a chance to create, to essentially have control over their own lives through music I made in my bedroom is, to appropriately use the cliche, living the dream.”
Connor has spent ten years in full-time motherhood, having had her first child young; she solidified her talents as an artist though the daily, assorted rituals of nurturing others. Consequently, she knows how to woo and soothe an audience, culminating in a sound that seems both transcendent and subterranean. Like a beat poet of folk-bop, she acts on her mission by living it out as lifestyle: a $10 donation to one of six pre-selected non profits gets listeners a downloadable copy of Scratch Pop on connordesai.com, and she teaches music in her children’s school classrooms with her spare time. “We collaborate on songs together. In Kindergarten, it’s about being ‘kind, safe, and fair’ – the necessary tools for building community. In 4th grade, there’s an emerging awareness of their own vulnerability – to find a place within that community. I am continually renewed by kids’ willingness to be honest creators, and the promise of those creations to inform the overall impact they will have on the world.”
What is Scratch Pop?
“To me, Scratch Pop is the feminacy-fueled musical compendium to John Carpenter’s ‘They Live,’” she says. “At least, that’s what I aspire to anyway.” By contrast, Connor honed her work in an ASMR-like vein of creative experience. “My kids, including my five year old son, learned to needlepoint during the making of this album. If only for a short time, I feel like we got to wear the magic sunglasses together.”
The evolution of Connor’s fan-labeled genre can be tracked in this article from The Examiner about the attention her naming competition garnered on Facebook. “‘Scratch Pop’ is catchy, and succeeds in adequately describing pop music that is homemade, unlike one equally-awesome-but-less-practical entry, ‘Chef Boyar-C.'”
The homespun concept bled into album artwork ideas, which resulted in her first needlepoint project. “I didn’t anticipate how I would crave it, not only for its meditative and smart-phone-deterrent properties, but for the spiritual connection I felt with all the women who have spent time weaving, alone with their thoughts that were, for the most part, unshared. We, as in all of humanity, missed out on a lot of great opinions; opinions that ended up being woven into tapestry.”
Quoting Picasso about artists’ need to steal, Connor readily admits overt influences: “My first foray into this magical collective was co-opting Cindy Lauper’s ‘Time after Time’ shaker-percussion combo for the song ‘Farmer’s Eyes.’ It was supposed to be a placeholder track but I never looked back. Whatever misgivings I had were assuaged by my experience with cooking; you’re supposed to use the stuff you love, not wistfully admire it from an imagined distance. I wish somebody had told me that early on. The uniqueness comes, not from some uprising of earth-shattering originality in your soul, but from diligently combining all the sonic ingredients that have pricked your ears since birth. In the end, your uniqueness is directly tied to your ability to appreciate. To really appreciate – meaning, total absorption. This realization unblocked me creatively; a song is a meal for the soul.”