Mykki Blanco Gives Us Some 'French Lessons'

Mykki Blanco Gives Us Some 'French Lessons'

A little over a year has passed since multi-talented artist, poet and musician Mykki Blanco kicked off their latest era with the mini-album, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleepand they're only continuing to broaden their creative horizons with the announcement of a new album, Stay Close To Music, due out this fall.

Set to be released October 14 via Transgressive, the new LP sees Blanco continue to blur the lines between rave, trap, grunge, punk and hip-hop, with a litany of guest stars such as Michael Stipe, Saul Williams, ANOHNI, Diana Gordon, Devendra Banhart, MNEK, Jónsi and more.

Written concurrently with lasts year's mini-album over a series of jam sessions in Lisbon, New York, Paris, Chicago and Los Angeles, Blanco explains that Stay Close To Music emerged from a creative crossroads: "At that point in my career, I didn't know what my own music sounded like without any kind of direct, outside reference. That's not a bad thing; that's how the majority of music is made."

Stay Close To Music once again sees Blanco working alongside producer FaltyDL to flesh out a new sonic universe for the artist, full of lush live instrumentation. "It just transported me," Blanco says of collaborating with FaltyDL. "It enabled me to dream in a way that I had never dreamed with my own songwriting. All of a sudden, I felt like I had this template where I could make that sound my own."

Blanco adds, "I wanted to see what it would be like to go back and be a musician from another time where you had to start every ingredient raw from scratch. That process, ideology and that way of making has not only changed me as a musician, it has creatively changed me as a person."

As a taste of what to expect on the full album, today's announcement includes Blanco's newest single, "French Lessons," featuring Kelsey Lu and ANOHNI (who appears on the album version). Full of slinky grooves and nostalgic lounge music vibes, Blanco revels in the ecstatic joys of queer love.

"The song is a reflection on the possibility of true love — on the notion that one truly can experience what we see in the Hollywood films," Blanco says, explaining how it's an "ode in a way" to Lou Reed. "I'm not what I would consider a singer at all. I'm a talk-singer, so I look to people in history who have that same style: Tom Petty, Jonathan Richmond of the Modern Lovers, Lou Reed... these are all amazing talk-singers and I feel comfortable in that style vocally."

Blanco continues, "The song was originally composed by FaltyDL and it encapsulated so much sonically of what I was trying to articulate with my own music. FaltyDL has a way of touching on the spiritual subtleties of life. He is able somehow to create mystery out of banality, to create tranquility and fill a room with zen like vibrations — something unnameable and yet so familiar a feeling."

The single is accompanied by an equally emotional music video shot in the country of Georgia as "a reflection on the ongoing struggles for queer liberation in Georgia," Director Felix Kalmenson explains. "Which is felt more than ever against the backdrop of violent reactionary protests to the queer movement in June/July of this year and many years prior."

Kalmenson adds, "The video drew on the legacy of the bisexual Georgian/Armenian film director Sergei Parajanov and his contributions to the aesthetic landscape of Georgian contemporary culture. Together we constructed a timeless odyssey of two lovers seeking emancipation and acceptance in a world mired by conflict and violence."

Check out the video for "French Lessons" off Mykki Blanco's forthcoming album, Stay Close To Music, and the full tracklist, below.

Stay Close to Music:

01 Pink Diamond Bezel
02 Steps [ft. Saul Williams and MNEK]
03 French Lessons [ft. ANOHNI and Kelsey Lu]
04 Ketamine [ft. Slug Christ]
05 Your Love Was a Gift [ft. Diana Gordon]
06 Family Ties [ft. Michael Stipe]
07 Your Feminism Is Not My Feminism [ft. Ah-Mer-Ah-Su]
08 Lucky
09 Interlude
10 Trust a Little Bit
11 You Will Find It [ft. Devendra Banhart]
12 Carry On [ft. Jónsi]
13 French Lessons (Single Version) [ft. Kelsey Lu]

Photography: Irakli Gabelaia