Kelsey Lu_Video still

Morning After Coffee was certainly required today, waking up after trying to sleep off the shock and then sorrow last night after learning of David Bowie’s death.

In the spirit of post-Bowie discovery of mavericks operating at the edges of contemporary music, here’s a young Brooklyn, New York musician, Kelsey Lu, stumbled upon by internet happenstance today in amongst all the Bowie eulogising.

I’m not sure if “Morning After Coffee” is folk, jazz, blues or pop. Maybe it’s all of these things. She may channel some of his same uncompromising and adventurous spirit if this song and the other utterly different track on her Soundcloud profile is any indication.

“Morning After Coffee” is a hauntingly minimal song – just cello and voice. It was a good non-Bowie thing to hear today. The video is also an evocative piece of minimal and intriguing visual art in its own right.

I don’t know much about Kelsey Lu, other than she plays the cello, makes dark weird electronica as well and has collaborated with Dev Hynes/ Bloodorange and also Empress Of (she’s one of the backing singer in this video).

Bowie was unique in that he produced what was essentially pop, but which so often blurred lines between not only chart pop of different styles over the year, but also avant-garde/experimental music, pop culture, storytelling, theater, art, film and video, fashion, philosophy & goodness knows what else. And often all in the service of that chart pop song too.

He meant a lot to so many different types of people, over so many generations. The peerless music – what songs they were – re-drew boundaries over many stylistic changes. His multiple identities over the years, particularly his gender-ambiguous 1970s identity and outlandish outsider persona, made a lot of people feel better about being different; being ‘freaks’; being themselves.

There was a lot of the usual “we’ll never see his likes again” stuff too. Which may well be true – particularly if we give up looking and give up believing in others. It’s not that his type of musical genius isn’t still among us. It’s just that it’s not channeled to us now as easily as it was  when Bowie hit his stride in the 1970s and 1980s.

For example, I’d put Bjork in the same company, even though she’s not as widely known. But she’s also had a remarkable longevity as a vital and uncompromising music artist operating both within and beyond mainstream pop, and continues to explore new ways of making her art and has ‘re-invented’ her identity through her music, characters and visuals several times already.

Given the amount of music available to us today – new and old – the stratification of music into so many genres and sub-genres and the diversity of spaces for music to exist and be discovered through today, we’ve got to look harder for the Bowies of today and tomorrow

Don’t give up on the future of music. The possibilities are still endless. It just needs us to believe in that, believe in those still taking music places, and to support them with our attention and interest. It’s what Bowie would want.

 

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