Premiere: Swahili Blonde, ‘Rose My Emperor’

Swahili Blonde, photo by Heather Cvar

This past summer, Nicole Turley released “Deities in Decline,” her first EP as Swahili Blonde since 2012, and now she’s unleashing a full-length album, “And Only The Melody Was Real,” on Jan. 22, via her own label, Neurotic Yell Records. While she’s always been the woman behind the curtain, producing, engineering and, in the past, leading a live band, this record sees experimental musician Turley going even deeper into her own musical world. Swahili Blonde has featured members of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Duran Duran, Devo, Slits, Feels, Dante Vs Zombies, and more, but at this point in her life, it seems Turley needs to connect with herself, and it makes sense. Dealing with her recent divorce, Turley put her emotions into these new songs. She says the album represents “the deterioration and break-up with someone I spent seven years of my life with. Someone I loved very much. It’s about cycles, and how painful endings and beginnings can be.”

As this was an emotional process, she brought in friend Jennifer P. Fraser to help co-write most of the songs and get them on their feet. But she wrote “Rose My Emperor” on her own. It was inspired by The Lovers card in one of her tarot decks, in which the lovers are represented by the marriage of an Emperor and Empress. To her, this represents the male and female aspects of every person, man or woman. She says, “I think every human being has male and female aspects inside them. These aspects bring forth strong behaviors and instincts, and are there to give us insight and to serve us well. When these parts of ourselves are nurtured and blended together, they bring us harmony. When we are disconnected from them, we are in conflict with ourselves and that can be very confusing and disruptive. … And then on top of that, finding the right inner and outer male/female blend in a partner can be challenging and a long process of trial and error.”

While the source may be emotional confusion, the music carries confidence and sways through layers of synths and drums. Performed, recorded, and produced by Turley herself, it’s post-punk music for space witches lurking in dark corners of the club.

||| Stream: “Rose My Emperor”

||| Previously: “Discover Aurora,” “Purple Ink”