Like many "outsiders," Yen Strange spent her teenage years struggling to find her place in a small Australian town. But since then, she's been able to harness her experience to produce beautiful, glistening bedroom pop with a goth edge, all culminating in the premiere of her new music video for "Donnie Darko." And needless to say, it's a trip and a half.
Combining lo-fi production with hints of emo and '90s grunge, the queer singer-songwriter's first single is a powerful song that tackles her battle with depression and her inner demons through a homage to one of Yen's favorite films, Donnie Darko.
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"It's been a crappy few years and 'Donnie Darko' was me coming to terms with the fact that I'm NOT ok and I DO have demons," she said of the Fletcher Mathers and Alice Ivy-produced track. "I had, and still have, a pretty mundane life so it's easy to fall into patterns of self-hate and depression, I still don't know how I'm gonna overcome that negative voice in my head."
That said, as Yen went on to explain, writing songs and listening to music were a couple of things that made her "happy for a little while." So in honor of "Donnie Darko's" debut, Yen made us a playlist of some of her favorite songs with a pop-punk flair, which are also guaranteed to make you feel a little more understood on darker days.
Check out her playlist for yourself, below.
"Fresh" — Tired Lion
A happy sad song for me that has soundtracked many night drives and rainy days. Never fails to make me melancholy, but I love it.
"Same (Remix)" — Deb Never & Tommy Genesis
Discovered Deb about 2 years ago, and she's been my favorite artist and a huge inspiration ever since. Everything she puts out rules, but this song will always be special to me as the first song I heard by her.
"They Don’t Care and That’s Ok" — Biv
Bit of a random one. Saw a Snapchat of this guy playing in someone's car and deep dived into his 70 million albums. This is a more tamed one of his, which stood out to me and the title is like the one thing I learned in the last few years about life that has opened my eyes to being ok with stuff, so I instantly liked it.
"Sleep Sound" — Closure
A Sydney band I've followed for a while that stuns me with every release. The way Lucy's voice doesn't miss a beat in the chorus and the way the sub drops in the bridge breakdown is so gorgeous. This is one of the most unpredictable, but true to pop-punk songs I've heard from Aus in a while, I reckon.
"Hook Me Up" — The Veronicas
Do I even need an explanation for these national treasures? When this plays, I yell.
"Actuality" — Tired Lion
A cool track from her new album that lyrically is just so juicy. "Never where I need to be/ I guess I'm letting go," is so simple but seriously hits me hard.
"Wasted Times" — The Weeknd
The Weeknd is a dark man. I call it pop-punk in the way the vocals distort and the crisp drums. And the way I could hear this in a rock band setting is a testament to good songwriting.
"Woke Up In Japan" — 5SOS
Love these bois. Just really sing along to that chorus, don't cha. Kind of feel like this chord progression is hard to not groove to, as well.
"Blurry" — Stand Atlantic
Bonnie Fraser's voice is literally perfect and nothing less. This band is so tight too, just musical genius all around.
"Hollywood’s Bleeding" — Post MaloneThis song triggers a really strong visual of Posty screaming into a mic in a grungy venue and spitting on the front row. I love how everyone thinks he's so lovely when he's quite clearly got such an evil punky side.
"Amy’s Grave" — Aries
I listen to this over and over. The whole Welcome Home album, actually. His production is pretty buttery and his voice is very sexy. Love the guitar's thin chorus-y tone. Yeah, I'm glad I found him.
"Jackie" — Yves Tumor
A very recent find, but this one is on repeat in my bedroom and the music video is so delicious, too. Just the tone of the vocals and the cool unusual chord changes. I can't get enough.
"Leaf Skeleton" — Bloc Party
"Leaf Skeleton" was just another random discovery and it's one of my favourite alternative songs now. Something about his voice and the chords just make me want to sit in peak hour traffic crying in the driver's seat with this on repeat, which I can't do because my car only plays CD's and I haven't been able to find this one yet. But I will.
Photo courtesy of Ash Rosas