As an abstract and non-didactic form, dance music has long been a genre for dreamers. For many there are worlds in the spaces between beats, vast caverns of meaning to be excavated from a few clipped vocal snippets. It is a canvas on which to project your own imagery, adaptable by design, ecstatic in its orientation. The Brooklyn-based producer FXWRK has always had this tradition in the background of her work. Even when indulging clubbier impulses or in collaboration with friends, her work has always left a lot of space—favoring slow, thick synth lines and swooning production flourishes. She makes songs that leads toward existential introspection—dance tracks with moments of silence for brief meditation.
Today, she's sharing the visual for a song called "The Awakening," the title track for her debut full-length, intended for release sometime this summer. Like a lot of her pieces, the track is a sample-heavy but ultimately minimal track that creeps along amid playful bass bursts, offering drifting arpeggios that evoke both meanings of the word space.
The video's a sort of psychedelic self-portraiture, featuring overlapping images of FXWRK herself, blooming in time with the track presents a lot of footage alongside its negative, suggesting a full spectrum of color and meaning amidst its three-minute runtime. It doesn't tell you what to think, but there is this sense of opening up to the universe, of becoming part of something bigger than yourself. A DJ I've come to really enjoy over the past few years, Eris Drew, describes the music she plays as a way of communing with the "Motherbeat," a force thats hard to pin down but "is a transcendental message, a language of resonant pulsation." FXWRK doesn't use those exact words to describe "The Awakening" that the track refers to, but the idea—that the structure and sound of dance music could allow you to tap into something bigger than yourself—seems consonant.
"There are people all over the world today going through a really beautiful, painful process of 'waking up' to who and what they are beyond external dictates and social conditioning," FXWRK says via email. "They are fueled by deep desires to sense their own magic again, to finally confront and release old trauma and belief systems that generations before them never let go of. Many feel drawn to create a more beautiful world than the insanity we see all around us, and often sense they are here on Earth now for a really important reason."
FXWRK says that over the last few years she's been on a journey of "Ascension" what she calls a "process of lighting up the darkness inside me with my own light, reintegrating lost shards of my soul that ran away in moments of repeated trauma." Through that period, she's explored the pain of her past, confronting the dark depths of her own psyche head on. And what results from this metaphysical exploration, she says, is her art.
"Thankfully, the process leaves a byproduct and that is my music, which is encoded with energy to soothe and assist other people as they heal and wake up," she says. "The contrast between light and dark, body and soul, physical and ethereal, represents the human journey through duality."
It's a lot of heady ideas to contain in an album, let alone a three-minute video clip, but that's the beauty of the work she produces—and of the style in which she works writ large. There is room in the gasps and wisps, the snare hits, and the wailing vocal samples for you to find whatever it is that you need. It's there if you want it.
Colin Joyce is an editor for Noisey and is on Twitter.