At this year's Electric Eclectics Festival in Meaford, Ontario, Oakland's self-described "poptronic princess" AH MER AH SU caught our attention with "Klonopin," a heartbreaking tribute to her complicated relationship with prescription anti-anxiety meds benzodiazepine, or benzos.
"I pop my Klonopin in the morning, I pop my pills to keep me going, I think that I might have a problem, but I still ain't hit rock bottom," sings Star Amerasu. "Crush that Xanex into powder, give me a drink in about an hour, I want to forget my life."
Prescription drug use and abuse is taboo and vulnerable territory, regions where she has set up permanent residence. All of the songs on Amerasu's upcoming sophomore EP Rebecca, recorded at Bad Lunch in Montreal, will distill her experiences "growing up as a teenage transitioned black trans woman." (Topics which she also addressed during an appearance in the "USA" episode of VICE's Gaycation.)
Of the airy, twinkling first single "Klonopin," she tells THUMP, "I wrote this song right after a friend and amazing transwoman, Bryn Kelly, took her life. I was so, so messed up. I took molly and Klonopin everyday... it was total escapism. It made me realize how tenuous life can be for a lot of us."
By channeling this experience—and her use of the drug to manage anxiety—into music, she hopes to offer support and validation to others. "There is no shame in self-care," contends Amerasu. "If self-care is taking a Klonopin, drinking and having fun, that's totally okay. Everyone in my circle is coping with a society that is fucked. Taking care of yourself is paramount."
AH MER AH SU performs at the Radical Love: 4th Annual East Bay LGBTQ Youth Pride in San Francisco Oct. 22, and Oct. 25 at the Night Light in Oakland.
Kristel Jax is on Twitter.