by Anna Alger
Nadia Pacey, better known as Konig, has been going through a self-professed “transitional” period in her life, leading to the release of her debut full-length, Puberty. “I went through a break up, left my home, subsequently had to leave my job – I uprooted without thinking of a contingency plan before making a move. It has been quite the learning experience, and roused a lot of mixed emotions in me. Music has been my number one distraction,” says Pacey. The craft that is evident from one’s first listen of Puberty indicates that music has been more than just a distraction for Pacey – the album a haunting yet infectious collection of pop songs with cleverly strung together spoken word recordings from her daily life.
Although Puberty was just released in July, Pacey is at work on a new album and short film, saying, “I try to balance a practiced method of writing music with spontaneous writing and pure feeling. I don’t wait to be inspired a lot of the time, I write music regardless.” I got in touch with Pacey from her Toronto home where one of her hands was healing from a recent work related accident – in retrospect, email may not have been the best method of communication:
Anna: Why did you choose to include bits of conversations as interludes on the album?
Nadia Pacey: I began having really in depth conversations with friends and family when I was making Puberty, and knew for a little while that I wanted to include skits, like on a rap album, in the tracklist. I decided to start recording conversations people had with me or recording the atmosphere of the subway when I was traveling, and thought I’d edit these down to sort of chop the album up into parts, like it’s a story. I like that the listener is given breaks from the music if they are to listen to the album all the way through, as some of the album can be quite dark.
A: In “St. Vincent (feat. Graham)” you are heard saying that St. Vincent’s song “Bring Me Your Loves,” is “kind of summarizing [your] whole album.” Why that song?
N: Honestly I was a little drunk during that conversation – but that moment was unplanned. It was very well-timed on Graham’s part, for sure. I felt those lyrics, ‘I thought you were like a dog / but you made a pet of me’ summarized the album because that was how I was feeling – that my previous relationship had turned me into someone’s pet – all of the songs draw on that feeling in some way. I was quite bitter about it. Upon further reflection it was much more complex than that.
A: On Puberty you contrast eerie synths with pop inclinations. Was this a choice made in relation to the themes of the record?
N: Actually no! That’s how I’ve always written music. I like hooks, I like pop music that sticks in your head, but I find it very difficult not to write sad songs. So even if you were to hear a fun song from me it would probably be eerie or sad in some way. Also my mom is all about choruses that hook you and I really love it when she enjoys what I do. I like writing music that my parents would listen to.
A: Which artists inspire you?
N: I don’t have many artist heroes, really. I find I’m more inspired by individual works than I am by the people who made those works. I know shamefully little about a lot of the artists whose work I love. Like the painting that’s the background of the album cover – that is Puberty by Edvard Munch. When I see it standing by itself, I am moved. But I don’t know if Munch himself inspires me, because I know very little about his life. I know that, at least for me, in order for art or artists to inspire it’s necessary that the work has candour – and these to me are works like Kanye’s Yeezus or Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, or The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.
A: There is a definite structure to the order and flow of Puberty’s songs. Were you thinking of the track listing while writing this album?
N: Yes, I thought it ought to be like when you make a mixed CD for someone. You don’t just put songs in willy nilly – the mix has a rhythm to it. Like it starts down, goes up, comes back down again, like the rising action, climax, falling action of a story.
Konig has a couple upcoming tour dates. You can catch her in southern Ontario:
September 22nd, Toronto, ON @ Burdock
October 1st, Kingston, ON @ TBA (possibly the Artel)