Special Interest is a sonic sucker punch to the stomach. Quickly barreling out of the New Orleans DIY music scene is knockout vocalist Alli Logout, guitarist Maria Elena, bassist Nathan Cassiani, and sonic soundmaker Ruth Mascelli. Together, the group deftly crafts explosive dance grooves and post-hardcore noise into complementary waves of glitzy sound. These artists are hot off the release of their 2022 album Endure which cemented their influence as revolutionists of a new sound and social consciousness.
The Bands Gone Wild
The band began in 2015, playing basement punk shows as a two-piece, consisting of members, Logout and Elena. The duo was joined by the two remaining members, Mascelli and Cassiani before the release of their debut album Spiraling in 2018. Following the release of their first album, the band amassed a cult-like following of the like-minded revolutionists, seeking greater equality for those overlooked by mainstream culture. The group’s live show became a sanctuary for queer and Black self expression and rage. Their live sets provoked wild, high-energy performances, inspiring a cathartic purge for listeners. In 2020, the band released their sophomore album The Passion Of which built upon the energy of their live shows, mobilizing their listeners to take action.
A Sonic Explosion
The members hail from various states across the country from Massachusetts to Texas, which opens their music to unique experiences relating to the state of the country and musical influence. This diversity of background, both musically and politically, is realized in the patchwork collection of genre and overlapping vocals vital to Special Interest’s sound. This exchange of sound and lyrical interjections manifests itself in a clash of internal and external desires.
“Those are the two things that we’re all holding at once—our own personal growth, and the things you can’t change that are going on outside of you,” said Logout in a recent interview with NPR. “Joy is this fleeting emotion, but there is so much joy in life… A life without joy is a life that’s not worth living, in my opinion.” This internal discourse grinds willfully against the anger and frustration the band feels in regards to national and global politics.
The Musical Revolution
The band’s most recent album, Endure was inspired by this dichotomy and the 2020 George Floyd protests. This album is the group's first release under UK punk label Rough Trade Records. The band’s outrage is palpable through Elena’s frenzied guitar chords and seething vocals from Logout. Tracks like “Herman’s House” and “Concerning Peace” are the band's call to action. “Herman’s House” is a foundational track on the album, reflecting the complexity of violence for the sake of a dream. The song’s title comes from the 2012 documentary by the same name which chronicled the relationship between artists Jackie Sumell and Herman Wallace, a former Black Panther member convicted of murdering a prison guard, which he denied throughout all 41 years of his solitary confinement. Sumell asks Wallace to dream his ideal house and together they craft Herman’s House, which was never realized even after Wallace’s death. This track, like Sumell, asks listeners to dream, crying out to them through the bridge, “We’ll all be Basquiats for five minutes or Hermans for life/ so when I say build I mean dream, because that's all we got promised.” The lyrics present a complexity of emotion while snarkily nodding to the systems of American education and politics which bastardize Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech, highlighting Black dreams in favor of Black rights and protective legislation.
Another standout track on the album is “Midnight Legend” featuring Mykki Blanco. The album’s ‘70s, ‘80s pop influences and club scenes are fully realized in “Midnight Legend”. This track plugs into the pulsing dance grooves of today’s radio hits like, Lykke Li and Mark Ronson’s 2019 collaboration on “Late Night Feelings” and even Lizzo’s 2022 hit “About Damn Time.” Special interest and Blanco’s take is more biting and sarcastic as Logout croons about the misadventures of a night out, citing the legendary status accrued through the highs and lows of a night on the town. The track is an anthem for queer club-goers, alluding to a utopian bliss only achieved on the dance floor. The track takes on a new meaning in the wake of the Club Q shooting in Colorado, representing the importance of cultivating safe spaces for queer expressions and liberation.
As we look toward the future of music, Special Interest will play an important role in creating outlets within our culture. One can’t help but feel the enormity of Special Interest as they diverge from the simplicity of the norm into the complexity of life, love, social upheaval and what lies beyond.
Featured Image by ANTIGRAVITY
Sources: Spotify, OffBeat, Spotify, Swampbooking, Spotify, Spotify, NPR, NY Times, Rough Trade Records, Spotify, Spotify, IMDB, IMDB, NY Times, Spotify, Spotify, Spotify, Spotify, Spotify, Spotify, Spotify, NY Times,
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