Premiere: Step into the Future of Feminism with Birch’s “femme.two”

Birch challenges us to revise our understanding of beauty in the dazzling “femme.two,” a passionate deconstruction of norms stepping into the future of feminism.

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There is a myriad of ways that women are repressed by a patriarchal society. I wanted to take one of those ways – beauty standards – and turn it on its head.

On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March became the largest single-day protest in American history, sending shockwaves throughout the United States as millions of people stood up and came together to peacefully demonstrate their support for women’s rights and a slew of other issues. It was an inspiring display of unity; a resounding amplification of ideas that have been around for generations – ideas of equality and justice that will surely outlive us all, because the work is never done.

femme.two - Birch

femme.two – Birch

We’ve come a far way in the past fifty and one hundred years, but there’s still a long road ahead in the fight for equality. Society transforms slowly, but every time another person stands up or raises their voice, the needle moves a little farther in the right direction. Brooklyn’s Birch challenges us to revise our conception and understanding of beauty in the dazzling “femme.two,” a passionate deconstruction of norms and traditional valuees.

I don’t wanna wait for the tide to change
listen to my voice and you’ll feel the same
Keep your eyes up, your thoughts on track
keep your eyes up, and don’t look back

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the music video for Birch’s evocative 2018 single “femme.two,” released this August. The moniker for Brooklyn-based musician and producer Michelle Birsky, Birch emerged in 2015 with a progressive voice and experimental sound. Her EPs Halfway and Not Human have seen continuous artistic growth and exploration of the space in-between genres – where electronic and pop collide. This progression continues with “femme.two,” whose spacial timbres and sonic structures evoke the likes of Warpaint, Gordi, and Radiohead.

“‘femme.two’ is a song about shedding the past and stepping into the future of feminism,” Birch explains.

It’s a song about how it feels to be a woman right now in this political climate, and the mix of hope and anger within each of us.

Co-produced by Ariel Loh, with Mat Towles on bass and Sarah Galdes on drums, “femme.two” is (arguably) Birch’s most unique and exciting release to date. In a Facebook post this August, Birch expanded on her song’s inspiration and message:

femme.two is a song about the feminist movement today, how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go. It’s about recognizing our collective power as we fight for an equal world. That said, it’s not an anthemic, “ra-ra” feminism song, because that’s not how it feels to be a woman right now. Often it’s dark, an uphill battle. But we are determined and we have each other. Keep your eyes up. Don’t look back.
Birch © Vladka Malyuta

Birch © Vladka Malyuta

Immersive and ambient, “femme.two” is itself a thing of beauty: A dynamic and heartfelt assertion of strength, hope, perseverance, and convinction. Moody and emotive, it heralds a new era for the artist, whose vision is further realized in the incredibly powerful accompanying music video.

Directed by Birsky and Kevin Henthor, the “femme.two” video highlights (y)our traditional idea of beauty and looking “beautiful,” before wiping it (literally and figuratively) away. “This video deals with one aspect of female oppression and attempts to break it: beauty standards. I asked four people (female and non-binary) of various ethnic backgrounds to come together and sit in front of a mirror… and fuck up their faces. It’s a big F you to patriarchal beauty standards and the ways they’ve kept us down and kept us small. Let’s keep moving forward.”

By using our faces as palettes, and makeup as our paint, this video seeks to highlight the ways in which women have been kept down throughout history, and highlight the ways that we must rebel against these standards to make change. ‘femme.two’ is about moving forward and stepping into the future of feminism.

I don’t want to wait for the sun to rise
we’ve spent too many years in this god damn line
Keep your eyes up, your thoughts on track
keep your eyes up, and don’t look back

Michelle Birsky, Nadira Foster-Williams, Lio Mehiel, and Nataysha Echevarria star in the enchanting “femme.two” video. Using the face as a template, each individual alters their makeup – some by smudges and smears, others by skewed lines and unconventional patterns.

“femme.two” is more than a conversation starter: It’s a call to action – a resounding charge for us to redefine beauty as individuals and as a collective; to embrace ourselves, and to invite others to embrace theirselves too. While you may not expect to walk away from this video and find your neighbors’ faces streaked with color, ask yourself: Why not?

Birch has challenged one of Western society’s (tragically) fundamental values with “femme.two.” Her future is bright and bold, and we cannot help but laud the artist for taking charge of the conversation. Stream “femme.two” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Stream: “femme.two” – Birch

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femme.two - Birch

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📸 © Vladka Malyuta
art by Eric Messihi

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com