Every other week, Anthony Kozlowski pens the Atwood Magazine column Tunes & Tumblers, pairing new and classic albums with cocktail recipes. He quickly found however that drinking alone is a sad business. So he invited his friends Pedro Isaac Chairez and Ryan James into a recording booth to aid in mixing delicious drinks and to discuss the music that they all love. Strap on your headphones and enjoy a cold one on us.
This week, the gang sits down with LA grunge pop singer talker to premiere her new single “Keep Me Safe.” A blistering slow-burn of a track, her latest is the soul raging against inevitable change. When the shifting landscape looks less and less like the world we know, where does that leave us? Tune in to hear her answer and more.
It’s been said that the only constant is change. As clichéd of a sentiment as that is, the world seems to exist in a constinual state of flux. Timelapsed over millennia, rivers chisel the earth into writhing canyons, mountains rising and crumbling like ripples in a pond. Though we’ll never experience anything quite like that in the snap of the fingers that we exist, even our tiny lives are wrought with change. People swoop in and out of them almost like phantoms, the main cast rotating like that of a soap opera. Sometimes those changes are welcome, bringing us closer to our goals and dreams. Sometimes they blast holes in our hearts that we struggle to fill. Sometimes it’s a little of both.
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Celeste Taucher, known by her stage name talker, is no stranger to that emotional tug-of-war. Her debut EP Horror Films – which we at Atwood Magazine are huge fans of – dealt with the personal backlash that change can have on oneself. From the opening track “Changes” (a more fitting introduction there’s never been) to the pot coming to a boil of closing number “Intimidated,” it’s a love letter to the emo heart seeking to navigate all life’s volatility. But therapy doesn’t have a finish line.
talker continues her confessions with “Keep It Safe,” a melancholy lament that knocks on the tear ducts of anyone who’s lost someone important to them. A steady march of drums and a weeping guitar lays a canvas for her to unwind the knots in her head. She knows this loss is necessary for the both of them, but grapples with feelings of abandonment.
Floating in your memory
I’m not as weightless as I seem
I just want you to be happy
But I don’t know where this leaves me.
“Keep Me Safe”
Atwood Magazine and Tunes & Tumblers are proud to be premiering “Keep It Safe” by talker. And for the first time ever, resident mixologist Pedro Isaac Chairez got to test his hand at pairing a cocktail while the artist herself graded his work. It’s a step above the pressure he is used to, but he only sweat through a single shirt.
Though “Keep It Safe” is the testing ground, the imagery Celeste pours into it does most of the work for us. The claustrophobia is palpable, the rap of the drum imitating that of a clock counting down to her loved one’s departure. In talker’s case, it was her best friend. “I was in a transitional time in my life,” she says. “And whenever you go home or see a friend you’ve known for a really long time, there’s a comfort and sense that you’re with someone who’s seen every version of yourself. She got a job out of state and I was super happy for her, but the sense of impending loss caused me so much pain at the same time.”
Pop songs tend to live in emotional extremes – happy or sad, love or heartbreak, ecstasy or destitution. But most feelings exist in the grey spaces between. Or in talker’s case, the blue.
“Keep Me Safe” is a ping-pong game of outward support and inner turmoil. Through it, talker maintains a profound understanding that even positive change can wound us, and that our emotions about events usually contain two or more contradictions. It’s emo that rubs our deepest insecurities more than wallowing in superficial angst, nodding to Neutral Milk Hotel and Phoebe Bridgers more than the defeatist wailing of mid-00’s radio. When she finally bursts through in the song’s chorus, it feels cathartically earned. When confronted by that which we can’t control, what more can we do but wail in resistance?
Who’s gonna keep me safe when you’re gone?
Who’s gonna keep me safe?
It’s a question that goes unanswered. But through sharing her struggle, talker can perhaps stand back up one foot at a time. The drumbeat carries on after all.
To make this exploration of loss complete though, we need the other half of the Tunes & Tumblers equation. As always, Pedro doesn’t disappoint (just ask Celeste). Please reminisce responsibly.
A Floating Memory
- 1.5 oz Bonnie Rose White Whiskey (Orange Peel)
- 2.5 oz Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
- Elderflower Tonic Water
- Dried Hibiscus Flower
- Pour whiskey and pea flower tea into a tumbler over ice.
- Admire the blue color while it lasts.
- Once you’re ready for the inevitable change, add elderflower tonic.
- Garnish with dried hibiscus flower and cheers to the next step.
Change lies at the heart of “Keep It Safe,” and all of talker’s music for that matter. To capture this, Pedro crafted a cocktail that literally changes as you make it. Each step is a nod to talker herself. Whiskey is her jam, but she wanted to play a little with color in this drink. Connoisseurs will know that whiskey’s traditionally amber hue make that a bit difficult to accomplish, so we grabbed a bit of a novelty alternative. Bonnie Rose’s White Whiskey hasn’t been barrel-aged, so it bears a transparency not unlike vodka (but far more delicious).
Next comes the tea. talker is a huge fan of a piping hot mug, and approaches her music organically, so this seemed like a no-brainer. Plus, it’s one of the few ways you can manipulate color in a drink without adding heaps of sugar. The pea flower itself is often associated with departure or bidding farewell to someone you care about, which fits “Keep It Safe” like a glove.
But the chemistry of pea flower is also very delicate, so the minute you add something to it, it changes color. You know it’s coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. All you can do is embrace it, however uncomfortable it makes you in the short term. Pouring a dollop of elderflower tonic water over the top shifts the drink to a deep purple, and mixes in a twist of sweetness that fundamentally changes the cocktail’s make-up. It’s the same, but different, just as we all are day by day and year to year. We float in our memories, but that doesn’t mean we stop making new ones. Garnish with a hibiscus flower, a symbol of something dear to you, and toast to what’s next. We all grieve for what’s passed, but at least it happened. We can take that with us no matter what the future holds.
This episode is Tunes & Tumblers’ biggest to date. It’s one thing to discuss an artist while they’re blissfully unaware of our little show. It’s another beast to do what we do best in front of their very eyes. But it wasn’t an hour of unmitigated pressure. Floating Memories in hand, we discussed not only Celeste’s creative process and the inspiration behind “Keep Me Safe,” but how each of us have dealt with change in our own lives. One way or another, everyone’s had to swallow the dichotomy of being happy for someone moving to the next stage of their life while mourning the loss of them in their own. When you break up with someone, you’re not just losing that person too, but a whole life that you’ve gotten used to. We’re not shy about sharing those moments, but what is drinking for if not to get intimate?
Celeste also takes to #Mood like a champ, regaling us with the arcade soundtrack of her youth. Additionally, we discover how deep the rabbit hole of celebrity net worths goes, while we attempt to answer the question “Who has the ginger?” (The answer may shock you).
Change may be an unstoppable force, but it doesn’t have to be a terrifying wave that drowns you with its might. Dive into it and float to the surface. After time, it may not be the dark shroud it seemed at the time. And maybe with a little music, you can navigate the hardship with someone who travelled the road before you. talker is no stranger to the emotional turmoil that boils over when our lives threaten to upend. Who’s going to keep us safe? Eventually we can. The clock never stops ticking even after everything’s gone.
Tunes & Tumblers 010:
talker and a Floating Memory
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© Pedro Isaac Chairez