Brooklyn indie rock band Slow Fiction channel inner turmoil into stunning sound on their debut EP, a radiant, achingly raw, and beautifully cathartic soundtrack to dancing while crying.
“In the distance, where it doesn’t matter” – Slow Fiction
We started writing as a way to express ourselves and translate the potential energy of our emotions into the kinetic energy of music.
As is the case with the best art, you don’t need to know the details of Slow Fiction’s lives in order to understand what they’re going through.
You can feel it all in their music: The seismic churn of heavy-hitting guitars; the unrelenting rush of vigorous drums; the delicate, soul-stirring vocals that shine like a beacon of light – hopeful and heartfelt, like a sturdy anchor in life’s stormy seas. We’ve all got our messes; we’re all just trying to make it through the day in one piece. Slow Fiction channel inner turmoil into stunning sound on their self-titled EP, a radiant, achingly raw, and beautifully cathartic indie rock record.
Emotional turbulence never felt so damn good.
I watched protests turn to contests
I watched people melt to gold
I raced down subway platforms just to find
The same blood from the cold
And I told small lies to some big guys
And then sold them to the streets
And then I crawled back home to your bed of dirt
And laid down at your feet
And then I smiled at siren vultures
As they sang my precious songs
And then I ran away from you at 2AM
cause you chose to sing along
– “Jericho,” Slow Fiction
Independently released February 16, 2023, Slow Fiction is a captivating introduction to a band we’ll surely be following for years to come. The Brooklyn-based five-piece of Julia Vassallo (vocals), Joseph Skimmons (guitar), Paul Knepple (guitar), Ryan Duffin (bass), and Akiva Henig (drums), Slow Fiction debuted in early 2022 and have quickly found their niche in the pocket between the dreamy and the visceral: Their songs hit hard, hit fast, and never fail to leave a lasting mark, both on the ears and on the heart.
Their first EP is comprised of six tracks written over the last two years and recorded in August 2022 with Paul Blackwell. It sees the band dwelling in a cerebral headspace, and soundtracking that introspective, isolated experience with a raucous sonic fracas. Inner turbulence spills out not in hushed whispers, but in soaring shouts.
“The collection of songs all have their own stories and personalities, with characters attached to them, and there’s truth between every line,” vocalist Julia Vassallo tells Atwood Magazine. “As a whole, the record is the story of our group so far, and what we’ve accomplished and experienced together.”
“For the most part, we had a pretty clear vision of what we wanted because we’d spent a large part of the summer writing, arranging, and demoing all our material before it was brought into the studio. We wanted to make music that had depth and vulnerability, while still having fun. Something really interesting that was added to the mix post-live tracking in the studio was a lot of the noise and sampled materials that you hear on the record. We all worked in our rehearsal space to get a lot of the really interesting textures and colors embedded in the meshwork of this EP.”
“The EP is a great first chapter for us because it shows our diversity in inspiration and our ability to just create the kind of music we want together,” she adds. “We started writing as a way to express ourselves and translate the potential energy of our emotions into the kinetic energy of music. This is the kinetic energy… sorry I actually can’t believe I just used scientific terms!”
As our first extended release, it feels like a genuine introduction to us as a group. It’ll be nice to look back on this EP and see the way we defined our group and sound at this specific point in time.
Slow Fiction opens with a cinematic explosion of overdriven guitars and churning drums: The utterly enthralling “In the distance, where it doesn’t matter” sets the tone with a dreamy, cathartic outpouring of radiant indie rock that is at once hard-hitting and intimately tender – soothing the nerves while energizing a weary soul. The band dance on a razor’s edge in “Jericho,” a heated upheaval of biblical proportions that constantly builds tension while releasing emotive energy. It is in this song where Vassallo sings her favorite lyric on the EP:
I witness small deaths at the pawn shop
Where strangers trade their lives
And then I pray at church on 6th street
Where my eyes are met with knives
But the truth is that every song on Soft Fiction is worth its weight in gold.
“My personal favorite rotates depending on the mood I’m in. Right now it’s ‘Brain Protection Energy,'” Vassallo says, referencing the EP’s heavy closing number. For her bandmate Joe Skimmons, another indisputable highlight is Akiva Henig’s drums. There’s plenty of favorite moments to choose from on a record that makes mincemeat of the phrase “all-hits, no misses.” Slow Fiction perform with raw finesse and effortless grace; all of their songs are present, passionate, and unapologetic.
The EP’s lead single, “Top 10 Movie Scenes,” is easily the band’s most mainstream, pop-friendly song – a cinematic, irresistibly catchy, and utterly dreamy catharsis that washes over the ears in waves of shimmering guitars and soaring vocals. “Writing through a false lens allows you to put yourself in the minds of people you don’t know, and create storylines that don’t exist,” the band say of this song. “The idea behind this track came about during a paranoid delusion… and a melody followed shortly after.”
Take one, tell her that’s it done
Bite the hand understand
No one’s waiting on the bed at home
Leave it all alone
Take two, she doesn’t have a clue
You wrote a song, sing along
About another eye on you
and it’s always blue
Take three, put it all on me
It’s a laugh, aftermath
Of a life I couldn’t see, of all I’ll never be
Take four, she’s knocking on the door
So switch the lock, change the key
Now you’re running to be free
Will you really be
If your reality is moving too fast, try a little Slow Fiction.
“I think we’re hoping that people will apply their own personal meaning to the music, and in general, they’ll just have any sort of reaction at all while listening,” Vassallo shares. “Personally, I get the most of my joy in writing and recording music, and then just feel an overwhelming sense of relief when it gets released. I hope someone cries – I’m a crybaby.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Slow Fiction’s Slow Fiction EP with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut!
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Stream: ‘Slow Fiction’ – Slow Fiction
:: Inside Slow Fiction ::
In the distance, where it doesn’t matter
Julia: The title of this song is from the poem “Imagining Defeat” by David Berman. He is one of the best writers of our generation and that poem of his does a great job at conveying a lot of similar emotions that this song contains. It’s also heavily inspired by grief and the circular motions of life.
Julia: The biblical story of the Battle of Jericho is a pretty good read. There’s a lot of inspiration from all sorts of texts, including different religious/spiritual materials. While writing the lyrics, I partially imagined a lame guy ranting about how fucked up the world has become, all the while, he’s also super toxic. Mixed bag of inspiration.
Top 10 Movie Scenes
Julia: I feel like we really became a group while creating this song together. It was something that happened so naturally, and everyone’s chemistry was bouncing off one another in a really cool way. I loved watching Watchmojo on YouTube growing up, a big inspiration for this one.
Joe: We were listening to a lot of shoegaze and noise bands while recording the EP. This track came out of us trying to experiment with different textures while recording in our rehearsal space. We worked with Jonathan Schenke who had a huge influence on this track, and did an amazing job mixing and mastering all of these songs.
Julia: Somehow this is simultaneously the most lighthearted and the most cruel-intentioned song that we have on the EP. I don’t know, something is deeply funny about personal insecurities when it’s put to a melody. I also think it’s important to note that I was going to change the word “daddy” in the song, but someone giggled when I sang it, so it stayed.
Brain Protection Agency
Julia: This is the first song that we actually had as a group. It’s gone through so many iterations, beginning with me showing it to Paul and Joe back in March of 2021 on a ukulele, if I’m remembering correctly. This track definitely signifies how far we’ve come together. It has this theme of dark humor, which I think is a common thread in a lot of the music.
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