Painted Zeros – “Commuter Rage”
Painted Zeros, the project of Brooklyn-based musician Katie Lau, released their really great debut album, Floriography, way back in 2015. I honestly never expected to hear from them again, but today Lau has announced a whole new album, When You Found Forever, which will be out in May.
She’s leading things off with “Commuter Rage,” a sharp and incisive new track about standing up for yourself and trying to strike a balance between letting it go and getting pissed off. “If I were socialized like these jerks who believe that they’re gifts from god/ And my words and my opinions were half as heard, man/ I could transform this toxic culture to be your benevolent overlord,” she sings in the second verse. “I’d take over this shitty world and be your benevolent overlord,” she reiterates, as the song breaks down into some arresting guitar squalls.
Watch, listen, and read some words from Lau about the song and the Jess Coles-directed video below.
I was excited to work with director Jess Coles for multiple reasons: we are both queer women, and her style of filmmaking mirrors the way I make music—I write, perform, record, and mix everything myself, and Jess directs, shoots, produces, and edits all of her own work.
While discussing video ideas over coffee, I mentioned that I felt like I had been hiding myself in the past—hiding from taking ownership of Painted Zeros as my solo project, hiding my voice in my last album by burying it in my mixes—and that I didn’t want to hide or allow my art to be dictated by fear anymore. Jess suggested a music video that focused mostly on my face, with me and the sky as characters, and using the light and the morphing skyline to lend a surreal, dream-like quality (it’s worth mentioning that her video treatment included a lot of Ingmar Bergman stills, which I loved!) I have to confess that a music video where my face is the unflinching focus was not the most comfortable idea for me to wrap my head around, but after working with Jess and seeing the outcome, I’m glad I did.
The chorus of Commuter Rage, “I don’t owe you anything,” has become something of a personal mantra, a note-to-self when dealing with people who feel entitled to my time and energy. I wanted to write something that combined the feeling of being pissed off about injustice with a tongue-in-cheek (“be your benevolent overlord”) and ultimately joyous reclamation of my space/emotional boundaries.
01 “How We Can Be”
02 “Fuck My Life”
04 “Missing Trains”
05 “How Much Do I Hate”
06 “Commuter Rage”
07 “Glass Threads”
08 “I Will Try”
09 “November Snow”
10 “In My End”
03/24 Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory (w/ Haru Nemuri)
04/16 Brooklyn, NY @ Trans-Pecos (w/ Bethlehem Steel, Slight Of)
05/30 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere Zone 1
When You Found Forever is out 5/29 via Don Giovanni Records. Pre-order it here.