070 Shake’s ‘You Can’t Kill Me’ surrenders to love and mortality with an 80s twist

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Long before 24-year-old Danielle Balbuena signed to Kanye West and Def Jam’s GOOD Music label, she was forging an elusive musical identity. The artist now known as 070 Shake anchored her image in poetry that ruminated on mortality – and the simple fact of human existence.

But as she contemplated the existential, 070 Shake gradually ascended the stratosphere. Shake first released wacky alternative rap songs on Soundcloud before becoming an inaugural member of the 070 collective in 2016 (his nickname is an allusion to the zip code of his hometown of North Bergen, New Jersey), and has continued to point out in 2018. via a report on West’s “ghost town.” Her well-received debut in 2020, Modus vivendiprepare the ground for you can’t kill mean abrupt dramatization of emotional adversity and an exploration of the cycle of life that so fascinated the rapper in her youth.

Through you can’t kill meThe 14 tracks of 070 Shake pierce listeners with deep emotions. Shake traces her human frailty via electropop on the opening track, “Web,” articulating her bewildered feelings for a lover and how she numbs herself to let go of the people she hurts. On lead single “Skin And Bones,” 070 Shake tackles synthwave while “Guest” battles heartbreaking conflict through repetitive, hard-hitting steel drums.

In a handful of cathartic and introspective tracks, Shake references life’s uncertainties and his abysmal devotion to others. The techno-thrilling “History” delineates 070 Shake’s troubled romantic past, while “Wine & Spirits” is a shaken acoustic elegy that speaks of premeditated suicide and a need for balance. Along with the heavy themes he reckons with, Shake’s second effort is an ode to ’80s sounds and his varied tastes.

“I can open my arms wide and go far,” 070 Shake told GRAMMY.com. “It’s a musical world without limits, especially for someone who grew up on hip hop and fell in love with alternative music – Beach House and Dream Pop. It made me realize that I can be anything. what I like. “

The quirky artist is auditorily infatuated with cinematic and visual narratives, incorporating into her music the tantalizing drama, mystery and suspense that would be at home in a sci-fi film or haunting gothic painting. “Films and foreign art are a big part of my musical process,” says Shake. “Artists like David Lynch and Francis Bacon inspired me a lot for this album.”

070 Shake caught up with GRAMMY.com on the final leg of their North American tour, which concludes with three sold-out shows in Los Angeles this week. She discussed the importance of maintaining a sense of ambiguity while battling the modern world of social media exposure, falling in love with Kehlani while making you can’t kill meand in collaboration with Canadian producer, Dave Hamelin.

How does visual art energize your creative process?

I have always been very fond of the visual arts. You can see it through my album covers and my music videos. I worked with an Italian painter to create the vision behind this album cover. One of the inspirations behind this album was undoubtedly Francis Bacon. His art and his personal experiences that I’ve had in relationships, I would say, help me create visual impact.

I watched a lot of French cinema when I created you can’t kill me. I really got into French culture. I think real life experiences and the physical world have inspired me a lot and how visual artists perceive the world.

Are there artists from different mediums that you really follow closely?

Yes, I like David Lynch. His film, blue velvet actually inspired the song “Blue Velvet” from that album. Movies are a big part of my process, it’s my #1 where I draw inspiration from.

What were some of the muses behind you can’t kill me?

I would say I’m very attached to the concept of death, I think it’s fascinating to me. I’m not excited to die or anything [and] I obviously enjoy life, but I think I don’t have that fear of death. When a human is not afraid of death, you see it from a different perspective. It becomes more beautiful and the unknown always tends to scare us.

I’m interested in the concept that we all have this thing in common. Every person on Earth is going to die. People can perceive death as the end or the beginning.

Your music focuses on human identity, emotion and the poetry of love. How do existentialism, autonomy and perseverance inform the development of you can’t kill me?

Why not explore these concepts further? I think people are always running away from the inevitable, so I like to delve into these concepts, because it’s something everyone is going to experience.

Talking about this subject makes my music live longer. I think the things of the world only stay here as long as you live.

What was the first conversation around the rambunctious but loving “Skin and Bones” video?

The video was directed by Noah Lee and I really wanted to see what we could capture together. The video relates to the different human experiences of love and just being and loving someone on this physical plane.

I know you fell in love during the pandemic and found unity and harmony with your artistic life partner, Kehlani. How was the production of an album with them by your side?

She’s such a supportive person and she’s very, very genuine. Honestly, it’s just beautiful to have that genuine relationship with someone. Just them wanting the best for you and being inspired by you and you know, always asking questions.

I think she’s motivating for me, it’s almost like you always have someone on your team who keeps picking you up when you’re down.

You are quite discreet on social networks and rarely share your life. You’ve talked about going off the grid in the past; would you dream of returning to a time when an artist’s art really spoke for itself?

I’m stuck in this period, so I have to deal with it, and I have to play the game, but that’s my ideal situation as an artist, is not having to use social media. I think the reason I’m in this period is to challenge myself, you know?

People aren’t outside as much as they used to be. Every time a new technology comes out, more people stay inside. To truly connect with the world, you have to stay out there and experience it.

Where does you can’t kill me earth in terms of the metamorphic cycle that tends to accompany the nature of being an artist?

My artistic talent reflects my growth, that’s for sure. I’m just myself and the public watches me grow. Not that one album is better than another, it’s just a different version of me. You might love me down but I’m gonna keep growing and it’s not gonna get better or worse, it’s just growth.

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