By Jane Morgan
In January of this year, I came across a song called “Play By Play,” by an artist named Arthur Ashin, or Autre Ne Veut. I learned it was the second single from the forthcoming album, Anxiety. After watching the lyric video roughly fifteen times in one day, I made an emotional decision that it was the best song I had ever heard. I then decided I needed to listen to the first single, “Counting.” I was two songs in with Autre Ne Veut, and I was in deep.
By the time Anxiety came out in February, I had already been trying to mentally prepare myself for what was probably going to be my favorite album of all time. The mental preparation didn’t work, but your girl was spot on with the favorite album prediction. The pop//R&B//neo-soul sound that ANV so perfectly mastered on this album seemed to completely fill a musical void for me. (Note: there’s an interview where he mentioned the term “failure pop” to describe his music, and I think that term changed my life.) It was the first album I had heard in a long time that I felt an immediate connection to, which is largely due to the fact that behind every song seems to be Ashin revealing himself emotionally and musically to the listener. I felt like this person whom I hardly knew anything about was opening up in a pretty significant way, and I felt like I, too, could use this album as an outlet for everything I had ever had a hard time realizing or expressing. I think he writes about the human condition and familiar hardships and anxieties without implying that he feels more than the listener, which makes the songs really accessible. I never saw Ashin as trying to proclaim some unique case of anxiety, but rather writing about a very human feeling and common disorder.
By August, I had watched and read copious interviews, become obsessed with his first two releases (Autre Ne Veut and Body – EP), nervously talked to him a few times on Twitter, and received a snapchat from him of his Nikes and a bottle of spilt seltzer. I was finally able to see him live on August 17th when he opened for Twin Shadow in Central Park. It was a completely spiritual experience for me, and I just remember being in complete awe of the way the album was translated into a live performance. It was one of the most emotional performances I have ever seen, and I am constantly blown away by how much he bares himself to the crowd. I haven’t read anything or talked to anyone who fails to mention that aspect of his shows. They feel so personal for so many people. A week after the Central Park show, I went to Montauk with my roommate to see him play at the Surf Lodge. He played with the same emotional volume of the week before to this super swanky Hamptons crowd. (My favorite person there was the trader who seemed genuinely offended when Arthur took the stage because he was interrupting his conversation about champagne.) The show was incredible and I anxiously talked to him afterward when he confirmed my suspicion that he is the nicest person ever. I also had a mental breakdown because he dedicated “Ego Free Sex Free” to me before I was aware he knew I actually existed, but I honestly don’t want to talk about that.
In the past few months, I have gotten less nervous to talk to him on Twitter, I saw him play another wonderful show in DC with one of my best friends, and he saw me outside a Majical Cloudz show where I played it too cool and was too tired and cold to act like his biggest fan. He is the best and I am eternally grateful for his music, his kindness, and his tweets. I listen to Anxiety always, but I turn to it when I’m dealing with my own anxiety, when it’s cold outside, and when people are just generally difficult. I can’t remember the last time I started my morning by listening to someone other than ANV, and I can’t remember the last time someone else tweeted at me just to thank me for my encouragement or to say they appreciate me. This week I’m at home in Florida (sorry) for Thanksgiving, which I’m pretty sure is a made-up holiday (sorry), and my mom woke me up yesterday morning by dancing to “Counting” with my golden retriever. What I’m saying is “Happy Thanksgiving,” and my love for Autre Ne Veut is alive, well, and noted by my friends who text me just to say they recognize his song in the new Victoria’s Secret commercial.
Here’s a playlist for the newbies of some of my favorite new songs, old songs, and collaborations (that rdio has to offer). I hope you all enjoy as much as I do (or just slightly less because I’m only thinking about your health): http://rd.io/x/QaNEJjMwI7E/