Scratch Pop

by Connor Desai

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about

She calls it Scratch Pop. Standing squarely on the shoulders of her two previous releases, which include tracks licensed by Sony and several independent films, Connor Desai's deftly homemade music is as sublimely sustaining as a thick slice of her chocolate chip banana bread. Foregoing studios and backing bands, Connor assumed complete creative control by producing her signature vocal layers and guitar work with newfound electronic elements.

“Love Song For Cal Anderson,” adopted by Seattle Parks for their website (www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?id=3102) is a resplendent sampling of the world she has been working on; all about strutting down inner city parks, finger-popping and breathing in the essence of an evening in a communal “lair.” Along with songs like “Farmer’s Eyes” and “The Migrator,” these are elegant and quietly intense glimpses into worlds of secrets and skipped heart-beats; luxurious, early 70's cinematic soul meets synth-era nocturnal.

This new work evolved out of sessions woodshedded with Connor's previous group in Spokane, WA, causing her to abandon the more conventional folk-rock approach of her previous albums. Synchronistically, it got her to start thinking about what she really wanted to say with her music; which adds a healthy dollop of subversion to the seduction.

"In the past I tried to hide the fact that I was a mother, because I believed my career in music would be negatively impacted. With this album, probably because I did it on my own, I realized my gender is as innate as my creativity, which freed me to embrace both more fully. We hear success stories all the time, but more inspiring to me are the women and men who have gone before, who struggled in darkness to redeem a social condition without ever seeing it through to completion. I also grew up a little bit, it's like, join the club. Point out a random person on the street and the chances are pretty good that they feel marginalized in some way."

Connor has spent ten years in full-time motherhood, having had her first child young; she solidified her talents as an artist though the daily, assorted rituals of nurturing others. Consequently, she knows how to woo and soothe an audience, culminating in a sound that seems both transcendent and subterranean. Like a beat poet of folk-bop, she acts on her mission by living it out as lifestyle, and she teaches music in her children’s school classrooms with her spare time. “We collaborate on songs together. In Kindergarten, it’s about being ‘kind, safe, and fair’ – the necessary tools for building community. In 4th grade, there’s an emerging awareness of their own vulnerability – to find a place within that community. I am continually renewed by kids’ willingness to be honest creators, and the promise of those creations to inform the overall impact they will have on the world.”

Watch Connor and Queen Anne Elementary's kindergartners sing their original song, "Kind, Safe, and Fair": www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd1aF9EjhTk
Watch Connor and Queen Anne Elementary's 4th graders sing their original song, "It's Time to Learn": www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xxKFRVQ8CU

What is Scratch Pop?

“To me, Scratch Pop is the feminacy-fueled musical compendium to John Carpenter's ‘They Live,’” she says. “At least, that's what I aspire to anyway.” By contrast, Connor honed her work in an ASMR-like vein of creative experience. “My kids, including my five year old son, learned to needlepoint during the making of this album. The simplicity and lack of modern media was a balm. If only for a short time, I feel like we got to wear the magic sunglasses together.”

The evolution of Connor's fan-labeled genre can be tracked in this article (www.examiner.com/article/jazz-artists-use-facebook-creatively-to-build-audiences) from The Examiner about the attention her naming competition garnered on Facebook. "'Scratch Pop' is catchy, and succeeds in adequately describing pop music that is homemade, unlike one equally-awesome-but-less-practical entry, 'Chef Boyar-C.'"

The homespun concept bled into album artwork ideas, which resulted in her first needlepoint project. "I didn’t anticipate how I would crave it, not only for its meditative and smart-phone-deterrent properties, but for the spiritual connection I felt with all the women who have spent time weaving, alone with their thoughts that were, for the most part, unshared.”

Quoting Picasso about artists' need to steal, Connor readily admits overt influences: “My first foray into this magical collective was co-opting Cindy Lauper's 'Time after Time' shaker-percussion combo for the song 'Farmer's Eyes.' It was supposed to be a placeholder track but when I tried to change it, it sounded all wrong. Whatever misgivings I had about keeping the percussion were assuaged by my experience with cooking; you're supposed to use the stuff you love, not wistfully admire it from an imagined distance. I wish somebody had told me that early on. The uniqueness comes, not from some uprising of earth-shattering originality in your soul, but from diligently combining all the sonic ingredients that have pricked your ears since birth. In the end, your uniqueness is directly tied to your ability to appreciate. To really appreciate - meaning, total absorption. This realization unblocked me creatively; a song is a meal for the soul."

-Chris Estey
Big Freak Media

credits

released June 25, 2013

1. Farmer's Eyes*
2. Love Song for Cal Anderson*/**
3. The Migrator*/***/****
4. Orange Clouds
5. Middle School Journal
6. As You Were
Bonus: Love Song for Cal Anderson (greymatter remix)

All songs written, recorded, and produced by Connor Desai
Mixed by Mell Dettmer (except Love Song for Cal Anderson remix, mixed by greymatter)
Mastered by John McCaig

*Conga played by Lalo Bello
**Male vocal by Mo Groove, Trumpet played by Kevin Seeley
***Kick/rim shot samples recorded at Comrade Studios by Mike Tsigiri
****The person(s) responsible for Logic 9's "Victory Drum Loop #6”

With gratitude to: MD, AB, and JB for their invaluable insights, encouragement, and selfless contributions to this record in all it’s stages. Tyson Benard for his graphic/comic wizardry. Chris White and Comrade Studios. The monkeys, for being monkeys.

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about

Connor Desai Seattle, Washington

Mixtape musician, needlepoint enthusiast, middle school math teacher.

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Track Name: Farmer's Eyes
The way you move

I’ll tell my story three times today
My former glory knows what to say
You will listen with farmer’s eyes
Like you’re trying to tend my lies

Now that my senses have all been checked
What was the use in being circumspect
You were too bold never been told a fire can burn
Out of control blistering souls when will you learn

Homesick when I’m still home
The way you move
Simmer down
Track Name: Love Song for Cal Anderson (Parks at Night)
The hollow sound the turning round of the game
The light is high the light is right in my way
I am walking past a window in the dark
We are sharing secret races on my mark

I dig the big brass band that’s playing here for free
And the tuba so low and sweet
You know that it’s so sublime
To walk through parks at night (parks at night)

Your collar’s flipped a hollar’s clipped in the air
The dark abounds outside the sounds of our lair
I am walking past a window in the dark
We are sharing secret races on my mark

I dig the dogs out here just chasing after tail
Owners get along so well
You know that it’s so sublime
To walk through parks at night (parks at night)

I dig the big brass band that’s playing here for free
And the tuba so low and sweet
You know that it’s so sublime
To walk through parks at night (parks at night)
Track Name: The Migrator
Migrator
Filled with many faces
But no friends
Migrator
So many faces
No friends

Regretful on board
And restless at home
Migrator
Pass through this place
Leave me my soul
Track Name: Orange Clouds
See the wind blow on those birds
Trying so hard to stay the course
Then orange clouds came into view
Shape shifting my tune to opaque on blue

It’s like they’re flying on a treadmill there
Feeling like they’re going somewhere

Quiet is patient and quiet is kind
We’ve both been waiting half the night
Shall we wander room to room
We’ll observe and approve like the chaperone moon

But I’m fixing to get some rest
Opening the medicine chest

When I wake I find she’s gone
The dissonance of yesterday carries on
But what have we done my midnight muse
You’ve left me with nothing that I can use

I’m just feeling this sight unseen
I’m jumping on a trampoline
Track Name: Middle School Journal
Read it to me
Our history
Loosening streams
Canyon pages

Poised on the bow
To navigate vows
It’s here you are found
In two ages

A glimpse of our show
A war in the snow
Frozen preservation

Are we putting on airs
Musical chairs
A family demonstration

All the way down

We need to be ourselves with one another
Track Name: As You Were
This is the time of your life