Music

FEE LION Stuns With 'Blood Sisters'

by Brendan Wetmore

The first beats of each song on FEE LION's new EP, Blood Sisters, are distinct thumps — generously caressed, pulsating beeps and clinks are linked together by deepened synths' sine waves and made new by her lingering lyricism. Her voice is echoing, just as demanding of listeners' attention as her spectacle-like performances where she dresses in intricately crafted latex ensembles and moves confidently to each beat.

FEE LION, also known as Justina Kairyte, has managed to develop a sound that is anything but comforting. Blood Sisters is a spiky, prickly, and haunting EP that alerts rather than comforts. Listeners might enter a trance-like state at parties where she performs, like "Bound" in NYC: the sounds explored on the EP are akin to that of some kind of active meditation; the songs employ sounds that excite, but rhythms that sedate.

There's a villainous quality to FEE LION's softened blows of techno pop. It manages to slip through the cracks of each word she utters, crafting difficult parse narrative that's best experienced yourself. Her futuristic take on a darkly omnipotent aesthetic makes FEE LION a standout in a genre that has been quickly increasing in popularity.

Read the PAPER exclusive interview with FEE LION below about her approach to crafting such a complex soundscape, and listen to her new EP, Blood Sisters.

What was the concept behind the title of your EP, Blood Sisters?

I wrote the tracks on Blood Sisters over the span of almost two years. Initially, I wasn't focused on a motive or theme but as I spent more time with the tracks, a narrative started to form. I wrote "Blood Sisters" first, then months later was in the studio and came up with what is now the chorus of "My Man." "When I get the chance, I'll take it slowly...wash my hands...leave you on the ground." And instantly I was like, "Oh my god, this is slasher film material." The vision of the EP became this dark fantasy: the story of a mysterious murderess slaughtering her lover in order to step back into her own light. I wanted to emphasize the importance of getting rid of people that pull you down and finding your Blood Sisters — your family, your chosen family, the Judy's that have had your back since day one and would gladly help you bury the body.

How would you characterize your production techniques?

Figuring it all out as I go.

The instrumentation of each track is highly specific and dark. Personally, I can hear influences like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' work for The Social Network. Does that happen to be one of the inspirations behind this EP?

I love Trent Reznor! Depeche Mode, Tzusing, TR/ST, D.A.F, Beta Evers, Ministry are always in heavy rotation.

There's a twisted romanticism to some of the themes of the EP. Where do you see these themes stemming from?

Throughout the entirety of the project I was struggling with my mental health and that had a large impact on the EP. To me, the EP is about self-love, because that's what I was searching for. I was experiencing a deep disconnect with myself and had to begin the journey of re-learning how to love myself, which can be so daunting! There were many, many days where I just didn't leave my bed, didn't leave the house and most definitely did not work on music. This wouldn't be the first time; I am actively working on finding the balance in my process.

"The EP is about self-love, because that's what I was searching for."

Is your writing process different from your producing process?

It all bleeds together and into my everyday life — sometimes the magic happens in my home studio but I've written full choruses in my voice memos while stuck in traffic. I'm working all the time, if not in the studio, in my head. "My Man" was the hardest track to finish in terms of production because I didn't feel the mood was right in one section. Even now i listen to that section and I'm like, "Hmm... I don't know about that." Definitely my own harshest critic!

What was your favorite part about constructing this EP over the two-year period since you began the project?

It's been a crazy ride. I have to say, although there were countless fun moments and discoveries behind the scenes of Blood Sisters, I think my favorite part is right now — being done. Being able to finally share everything is a giant weight off my shoulders. Feels amazing! Next.

Sonically, do you have a personal favorite moment on the EP?

My favorite track was "Blood Sisters" for a long time. Now though, "Heaven" is hands down my favorite song start to finish and the spooky mid-section of "My Man" is my favorite mood on the EP. I've spent a lot of time with each of these tracks from inception to birth and they mean everything to me. Some days though, I hate my entire body of work and want to scrap everything, shave my head and start a new life but that's all part of the process. Who knows, maybe my 2007 Britney moment is just around the corner.

Photography: Nicolas John and Benji Morino
Styling: FEE LION
Wearing: Gilles Asquin
Assisted by:
Isabelle Myers and Olivia Bennett

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