must be the booze, and the drugs, and the heartache, I can’t seem to shake…
Nadia Kazmi wastes no time, diving straight into the deep end on her new album, Gold into Dust. She calls the record a “culmination of many realizations,” the product of the past two years writing and living in New York and Calgary: “Life is never what you think it will turn out to be, and that isn’t necessarily bad or good. It’s simply different.” Ultimately, Gold into Dust captures a range of raw, unforgiving emotion through crunchy overdrive, warm reverb, and reflective lyricism that establishes Nadia Kazmi as a potent, formidable indie rock force.
Listen: Gold Into Dust – Nadia Kazmi
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Gold Into Dust, Nadia Kazmi’s third full-length album (independently out May 12, 2017). Self-realization and self-questioning bookend an impressively relentless exercise in the marriage of rock and introspection: Album opener “Lamb” (“I am a lamb in wolf’s clothing”) opens with as much confidence as it does uncertainty, elevating our heartrates as Kazmi waxes poetic over thinly-vieled metaphors for a range of social issues. While she might never reach that same level of hysteria on the rest of her album, “Lamb” sets up the premise of the individual fighting through societally-prescribed labels to reach her own conclusions of identity, purpose and worth.
A slew of anthems and ballads follows as Gold Into Dust progresses, each track serving its place in capturing a moment of brief, soul-satisfying insight within the chaos of everyday life. “Like a Cat” offers some of Kazmi’s most powerful and imaginative poetry as she wails like Cold War Kids:
Been sleeping like a cat in the afternoon
with my belly up to the sun
Trying to dry me up
And waking like a ghost in the night
And I don’t even know why
Must be the booze, and the drugs
and the heartache, I can’t seem to shake…
Kazmi tends to switch songs up sonically, interweaving punk-inflected piano ballads with riff-driven guitar numbers to always keep listeners on our feet. Yet no matter how disparate surrounding instrumentations may be, Gold Into Dust feels intrepidly cohesive, bound together through Kazmi’s voice and rich melodic taste.
“I think the songs have the feel and sound that I was aiming for,” the artist muses. “I love songs, the crux of them, the kind that are timeless in some way. There’s definitely a vintage rock sound, but I think there’s plenty of the now in the production as well. ‘Like a Cat’ has a real combination of vintage sound and anthemic modernity in the chorus.”
She continues, “There are different moods throughout the album, from serious to fun, but the lyrics maintain a message. I’m always trying to capture something new or unsaid about whatever I’m expressing, and I like using metaphors that can be interpreted differently depending on who is listening. The song that’s most literal is ‘Kleptomania‘ because I think it’s obviously political, but even with that song, people have said they were uncertain what the subject matter was. I wanted to give the song a fun feel to juxtapose the subject matter. The best songwriters that I love most always did this well, like Stevie [Wonder], Lennon, Bowie. “Like a Cat” was written on piano and has a bit of a different feel to it for that reason; I was in a sad place when I wrote it but I still wanted the chorus to feel uplifting – because of its sound – even though the lyrics are a bit dour.”
As Kazmi dives deeper into the album, her songs grow more intense. “‘Cloak‘ is a song about those who love falling in love, and the object of their affection is obliterated by the desire for affection itself. People strike me as simply going through the motions of love without reflection on why or whether it is love or fear of being alone. ‘They Want My Soul‘ is kind of anthemic; I wrote it when I was feeling the tide was against young people with the middle class dwindling and the difficulty in owning your own home with rising costs of housing without proportionate rises in income. I want the ‘they’ to be vague so it could be interpreted in many ways. We all feel like as we get older, we change, and some of that idealism lost feels like our soul is being siphoned (or maybe that’s just me). ‘Suzanne‘ is about a woman going through some kind of ordeal and coming out the other side, changed but strong for her daughter.”
Nadia Kazmi’s music is engaging, her philosophy intoxicating: “Spending many years pursuing music or art is humbling,” she admits. “You may have to change your mind about what it is that dreams are made of, which is what the song ‘Gold Into Dust‘ is [about].” This album certainly comes across as a response to feeling the weight of the world. “That’s why I named the album Gold Into Dust: it fits. New dreams can also be beautiful. When you’re young, you’re overly idealistic; it’s inevitable that that will change. The pressures the world places on you seem inescapable, whether that’s your family, your financial situation, or your own expectations and desires. Life as an artist is a strange existence in today’s world, and you need to constantly reassess to continue in a world where (as my mother says), “the odds are stacked against you.” I’m lucky, we’re all lucky living in North America, which is why patriotism seems strange to me, or having a lot of pride in your appearance or intelligence. Those things are yours by chance – be thankful. But even here, things are changing quickly. I can’t just write love songs; there are thousands of people who do, and more power to them. I write about the things that I hope will shed some light on what is affecting us as a people. Sometimes that’s a love song, but mostly it isn’t. Love is paramount in life but for me, it’s a love for humanity.”
Gold Into Dust is raw and raucous, bold and untethered. It is Nadia Kazmi at her most intimate, an intelligent, colorful, cohesive and chaotic work that dares to go above and beyond.
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