Premiere: The Visceral, Poetic Beauty of “Relaxing Apartments” & Ten Kills the Pack’s Debut EP ‘Force Majeure’

Ten Kills the Pack © 2020
Hauntingly intimate, Ten Kills the Pack’s beautiful “Relaxing Apartments” is a visceral, poetic portrayal of anxiety, solitude, and an unsettled adjustment to the new normal.
for fans of Iron & Wine, Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens, Gregory Alan Isakov
Watch: “Relaxing Apartments” – Ten Kills the Pack



It’s safe to say that lately, we’ve all felt a little like the protagonist in Ten Kills the Pack’s new music video. These are uncertain, dark times – we don’t know what tomorrow looks like, and so the majority of us are living in a perpetual “today” – existing in the right here and now, taking each day as it comes and looking not into the future as we so often do, but rather, to the present for guidance, comfort, and sustenance. Hauntingly intimate, “Relaxing Apartments” is a visceral, unsettled portrayal of anxiety, solitude, and discomfort in the face of a new normal.

In “Relaxing Apartments,” the protagonist (portrayed by Maaor Ziv) has just moved into a new apartment and is experiencing living alone for the very first time; presently, we’re all undergoing a new reality during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some of us in self-isolation and entire cities on pause or under quarantine. Many of us, too, are alone – learning, slowly, how to cope with the loneliness, the restlessness, the isolation, and the time to ourselves.

Force Majeure - Ten Kills the Pack

Force Majeure – Ten Kills the Pack

Drug dens and parties.
Relaxing apartments.
Lows where you’re drowning.
Dinners with friends. 
Savings accounting.
Poor stomach lining.
Cigarettes for heartbreak.
In love and well slept. 
How am I supposed to feel right now? 
Tell me how am I supposed to feel right now?

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the Maaor Ziv-starring music video for “Relaxing Apartments,” the beautiful final track off Ten Kills the Pack’s stunning debut EP, Force Majeure (out May 15, 2020 via Nettwerk Music Group). The musical project of Toronto “city songwriter” Sean Sroka, Ten Kills the Pack has been delivering dazzling acoustic overhauls of emotion since introducing himself with 2018’s aching “Barcelona.”

Two years later, Force Majeure presents Ten Kills the Pack as a brilliant lyricist and an equally evocative singer. “”The term ‘Force Majeure’ derives from definitions such as ‘a chance occurrence’ or ‘unavoidable accident,'” Sean Sroka tells Atwood Magazine. “While there’s no major event to my knowledge that has shaped my life, I do believe that there are these certain experiences that stand out as individually significant; uncontrollable, small hurricanes – mini Force Majeure events. The result of those experiences is this body of work. These 7 songs. The EP pulls from these stages and moments and explores the feelings of being incomplete, wrestling with depression, longing for companionship, struggling with negative social standards, and loss of direction.”

Ten Kills the Pack © Vanessa Heins

Ten Kills the Pack © Vanessa Heins

We feel life’s raw push and pull throughout this seven-track compendium; whether it’s the unadulterated confession in “When I Say You Are Killing Me,” or the reckoning in “Drunk All the Time,” or the emotional outpouring in “You Just Want to Feel Whole Again,” Ten Kills the Pack continuously stuns us into reflective silence again, and again, and again.

The final and shortest track on the EP, “Relaxing Apartments” offers little solace, but lots to think about and feel in its unsettling closure.

Its raw poetry is poignant, heartfelt, nostalgic, and relatable to all as the artist puts sparse, but vivid words to a familiar struggle for satisfaction, happiness, and contentment.

“‘Relaxing Apartments’ is a short poem I wrote within a confusing, anxiety-filled time,” Sroka recalls. “The part in life where you’re looking towards the future while also beginning to reminisce. Where you’re wondering if ‘missing’ something actually means you want that something back. And when you’re curious about the extremes that lie within the different lifestyles you once lived and the one you lead now. The questions I’ve had in my head about what kind of life I should be living are constantly fluctuating and fluttering – maybe it’s the age or the artistry or the anxiety, who knows? The music that sits beneath it is light, simple, and juxtaposing to these heavier odd thoughts. A method that makes the subject matter feel a little bit less intimidating while also confronting it all. ‘Relaxing Apartments’ was the last piece I wrote for Force Majeure, which to me is perfect as it somewhat sums up all the different moments and feelings it took to write the rest of these songs that came before it.”

Ten Kills the Pack © Vanessa Heins

Ten Kills the Pack © Vanessa Heins



The questions I’ve had in my head about what kind of life I should be living are constantly fluctuating and fluttering – maybe it’s the age or the artistry or the anxiety, who knows?

Perhaps it’s worth highlighting the subtlety of Sroka’s lyrics a second time. Sroka manages to express so much by saying so little, painting images in the mind with two- and three-word stories:

Drug dens and parties.
Relaxing apartments.
Lows where you’re drowning.
Dinners with friends. 
Savings accounting.
Poor stomach lining.
Cigarettes for heartbreak.
In love and well slept. 
How am I supposed to feel right now? 
Tell me how am I supposed to feel right now?

Only at the very end does the artist actually insert himself into the scene, asking a seemingly innocuous, yet deeply rhetorical question: How am I supposed to feel right now?

The “Relaxing Apartments” music video is everything one could possibly want it to be. The video elevates the song to insurmountable heights, turning it into a true soundtrack to inner imbalance, turbulence, and turmoil. It’s a testament to the talents of both Maaor Ziv and the director that this three-minute visual can pack such a powerful punch.

After watching Maaor Ziv settle in to a tiny one-bedroom flat, we hear her speak into a microphone: “I just wanted to record what it sounded like on my first night living alone… It’s weird.” She takes a deep breath, holds it for a second, exhales, loosens her wrist, ups the microphone’s sensitivity to pick up outside sounds, and proceeds to absorb her surroundings. What heartbreakingly beautiful isolation; what a stunning depiction of loneliness and solitude. We can paint our own emotions and interpretations directly into this work of art – if we perceive her situation as a sad one, we’ll experience sadness and see sadness in her; yet, if we enjoy alone time and take joy in such solitude, we’ll feel that too. It’s this complexity to life experience – the lack of black and white – that makes “Relaxing Apartments” such a compelling work and an exciting display of Ten Kills the Pack’s artistry.



Ten Kills the Pack © 2020

“Relaxing Apartments” – Ten Kills the Pack © 2020

“I really like this video,” Sroka exclaims. “It balances creepy, romantic, odd, and endearing all at once for me. While it definitely speaks to the song’s notion of lifestyle extremes, it also carries the song towards a different place where it more-so lends itself to the feeling of the concept, versus the other way around; in turn, giving the song a new breath and life of its own. I was fortunate enough to work on this video with a talented artist and friend of mine. It was an idea that was captured a few years ago only to sit around, then resurface again right when I needed it most. It’s a unique piece that I’m really glad to be sharing.”

Many folks will be learning the words “Force Majeure” during this pandemic, as events are forced to cancel or postpone and contractual agreements are examined. A select group of people will come to first hear and understand these words through the gorgeous acoustic folk of Sean Sroka’s Ten Kills the Pack. They will be the lucky few who hear enchanting, emotionally-charged music when they see those words on a page. They will have a special understanding of Force Majeure – one that reflects a deeply personal art that’s now come to life with breathtaking grace.

Ten Kills the Pack’s debut EP Force Majeure is out now. Watch “Relaxing Apartments” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

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:: stream/purchase Force Majeure here ::
Stream: “Relaxing Apartments” – Ten Kills the Pack



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Mitch Mosk

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