Each record I make is more of an amalgamation of who I truly am,” declares John Grant. “The more I do this, the more I trust in myself, and the further along I go.”
Even when the Michigan-born man released his debut solo album Queen Of Denmark in 2010, Grant laced sumptuous soft-rock ballads with an array of spacey, wistful synthesizer sounds, increasingly adding taut, fizzing sequencers, nu-synth-disco settings and icy soundscapes to the mix on 2012’s Pale Green Ghosts and 2015’s Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, the latter The Guardian described as, “variously agonising, hilarious, uplifting and moving: another bravura display from a unique songwriting talent.”
Now, with his fourth solo album, Love Is Magic, Grant has continued evolving, creating his most electronic record yet, in collaboration with Benge (Ben Edwards), solo artist, analogue synth expert/collector and a member of electronica trio Wrangler, Grant’s collaborators earlier this year under the collective name of Creep Show (on the album Mr. Dynamite).
Produced by Grant, and engineered by Benge at his Cornish studio, the diamond-hard, diamond-gleaming Love Is Magic, “is how I’ve always wanted my records to sound, but I didn’t know how until now,” Grant says. He also called on Paul Alexander of Denton, Texas maestros Midlake, renewing a working relationship that began on Queen Of Denmark. “Paul’s trained in theory and harmonies and was responsible for a lot of the backing vocals,” Grant enthuses. “He comes up with interesting angles rather than the obvious.” And he added, “he plays some of the best bass lines I’ve ever heard.”
Besides the quest for sound, “the lyrics are exactly as I want them too,” he declares. “They’re not just the doom and gloom of the past, they’re a snapshot of everyday life - the ridiculousness, the pain, the deep longing. Sometimes I’m back in the past, I’m living a lot in the present, and sometimes I'm worrying about the future.”
Anyone familiar with Grant’s story will recognise his battles - with addiction and health, with trusting love and relationships. From this turbulence, he’s forged another riveting collection of often brutal diatribes and confessionals, where humour, fear, anxiety and anger overlap as Grant, with trademark candor, figuratively exposes the machinations of his saturated brain. It’s epitomized by the album’s brilliant opener “Metamorphosis,” almost as if his warring psyches are facing up to one another, as impervious synth-pop and brain-on-fire imagery (“Tiki bar, rat soufflé, Buik regal, Marvin Gaye”) melts into dream-ballad introspection (“Questions left unanswered, spiritual extortion”) and back to synth-backed mania.
“‘Metamorphosis’ is about going down the road of insanity because of the inability to process feelings, and properly grieve for someone, and getting bogged down by mental illness and addiction,” Grant explains. “There’s the randomness at the beginning and the end, and the truth in the middle. It’s the mess of the human mind.”
The human mind is further discombobulated by the concept of love – we crave it, obsess over it, and are invariably traumatized by it, as the album’s title track explores. “Love’s a shitshow that requires work, it’s not all lollipops and rainbows. But nothing can distract from the fact that, in spite of it all, love is still magic.”
The magic of love also pervades two gorgeous, magisterial ballads toward the end of the album, “Is He Strange” and “The Common Snipe” - referring to the wader bird that makes a unique ‘bleating’ sound by rubbing its tail feathers together: “it's about truly seeing another human being and not projecting onto them what you want them to be,” says Grant.
In the same elegant, eloquent fashion, the album’s heartbreaking finale “Touch and Go” is another kind of love story, centred around Chelsea Manning, the former US soldier turned WikiLeaks activist who transitioned to a woman while in prison. “I was very touched by her incredible story,” says Grant. “What kind of strength does it takes to survive like that, hated by people who say she’s a pervert who doesn’t deserve to live?”
Grant closely identifies with that scenario as he experienced prejudice himself, growing up in conservative, religious Michigan, and then Colorado, where he came to terms with being gay while being subjected to a deeply ingrained hatred of anyone perceived as homosexual at school and further alienated at home. Music – especially the new – and gratifyingly gay/androgynous-leaning synth-pop sound imported from Britain – was a life-saver, while Grant also escaped, “the nasty world we grew up in,” through video games, as the gorgeous “Tempest” recalls. But hormonal anxiety would rise up, which Grant recalls in the irresistibly danceable “Preppy Boy,” a paean to, “those cunts at school, who I hated, but a lot were very sexy. It’s a fantasy about getting what I wanted with one of them.”
The 80s-synth-pop-perfect “He’s Got His Mother’s Hips” is a similar backhanded depiction, a #MeToo-related saga of “a cheeseball doing all he can to get into a woman’s pants, making a total ass of himself. It’s a fun song built on disgust.” “Smug Cunt,” however, is pure disgust, where a gorgeous beatific arrangement clashes with a vitriolic lyric about, “maladapted narcissists… the political system in America is built to produce the kind of buffoon we now have in charge.”
In Grant’s most hysterical (in both senses of the word) assassination yet, the narrator of Italo-disco strut “Diet Gum” is simultaneously revolted by and attracted to a lover referred to as Dr. Turd-Face and Stupidzilla, and their time together, “a cross between Cannibal Apocalypse and Lassie 9”. “It’s the absurd extreme of a relationship,” he explains. “I'm exaggerating aspects of my own personality. It’s a lot of fun, but there’s a lot of truth in there too, about how people treat each other.”
There’s much else to tell about Grant: how the demise of his first band The Czars lead him to abandon music for five years before an instantly acclaimed solo career, chart success (Grey Tickles… went Top Five in the UK) and a Best International Male Solo Artist nomination at the 2014 BRITS alongside Eminem and Justin Timberlake. Sinead O’Connor and Tracey Thorne have guested on Grant’s records; he’s sung live with Alison Goldfrapp and Kylie Minogue, and as part of 2017's Songs Of Scott Walker (1967-70) BBC Prom, while co-writing/singing songs on Hercules And Love Affair and Robbie Williams albums. His music has been used in films such as Andrew Haigh’s drama Weekend and Daisy Asquith's Queerama. In 2016, he fronted BBC Radio 4's Reimagining The City, taking listeners around Reykjavik, where Grant has lived since 2012; in April 2017 he curated North Atlantic Flux: Sounds from Smoky Bay in Hull. Showcasing thrilling and innovative musicians from Scandinavia and Iceland. But that is the past, just as Grant’s autobiography, for publishers Little, Brown, is the future. The present is Love Is Magic, the latest installment in Grant’s astonishing story.
Partisan Records no longer has the capacity to accept unsolicited demos.
WHO WE ARE
INFORMATION WE MAY COLLECT FROM YOU
When you use the Site or contact us by e-mail, social media, telephone, or other methods, we may collect and process the following data about you:
- Information you give us, including:
--Forms filled out by you on the Site;
--Content of correspondence with us by phone, e-mail or otherwise;
--Orders placed on the Site;
--Participation in discussion boards or other social media functions on the Site;
--Entering a competition, promotion or survey;
--If applicable, resume, work history, CV, resume or other job application information;
--Reporting a problem or requesting support for the Site.
- The information you give us may include your name, address, e-mail address and phone number, date of birth, payment information, personal description, photographs or images or comments.
- Information we collect about you.
- With regard to each of your visits to our Site we may automatically collect the following information:
--Technical information, including IP address, login information, browser type and version, time zone setting, browser plug-in types and versions, operating system and platform;
--Information about your visit, including the full URL clickstream to, through and from our Site (including date and time);
--Pages you viewed or searched for; page response times, download errors, length of visits to certain pages, page interaction information (such as scrolling, clicks, and mouse-overs), and methods used to browse away from the page.
- We may also collect information about your devices (including phones, computers or other devices) where you access and visit our Sites. Such information may include unique device identifiers and mobile network information (including phone number), IP address, language and time zone, operating system, hardware version, device locations (including specific geographic locations, such as through GPS, Bluetooth or WiFi signals).
HOW YOUR INFORMATION MAY BE USED
We may use information held about you in the following ways:
- To help us respond to your queries;
- To provide you with information on the relevant Partisan recording artist;
- To provide you, or permit selected third parties to provide you, with information about other goods and services we offer that are similar to those that you have already purchased or inquired about or that we feel may interest you;
- To make suggestions and recommendations to you and other users of our Site about goods or services that may interest you or them;
- To provide or permit third parties to provide targeted advertising via websites you visit about goods or services that you may find interesting
- To measure or understand the effectiveness of advertising we serve to you and others, and to deliver relevant advertising to you;
- To track the progress and number of entries in competitions and promotions.
- To allow you to interact with our Site, for example by posting comments or to share information from our Site on third party social media platforms;
- To carry out our obligations arising from any contracts entered into between you and us and to provide you with the information, products and services that you request from us;
- To manage your access to the services or notify you about changes to the services;
- To comply with legal and regulatory requirements;
- To administer our Site and for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research, statistical and survey purposes;
- To improve our Site to ensure that content is presented in the most effective manner for you and for your computer;
- As part of our efforts to keep our Site safe and secure;
We may combine information we receive from other sources with information you give to us and information we collect about you (including information in relation to your devices). We may use this combined information for the purposes set out above.
DISCLOSURE OF YOUR INFORMATION
We may share your personal data with selected third parties including:
- Business partners, suppliers and sub-contractors for the performance of any contract we enter into with them or you in order to provide you with a product or service;
- Business partners, suppliers and sub-contractors to provide you with information about promotions and offers;
- Relevant Partisan recording artists and/or their representatives;
- Advertisers, advertising networks and social networks that require the data to select and serve relevant adverts to you and others. We may also use aggregate and other information to help advertisers reach the kind of audience they want to target. We may make use of the personal data we have collected from you to enable us to comply with our advertisers' wishes by displaying their advertisement to that target audience;
- Analytics and search engine providers that assist us in the improvement and optimization of our Site;
- Third parties when you consent to or request such sharing.
We may disclose your personal data to third parties:
- In the event that we sell or buy any business or assets, in which case we may disclose your personal data to the prospective seller or buyer of such business or assets;
- If Partisan or substantially all of Partisan’s assets are acquired by a third party, in which case personal data held by it about its customers will be one of the transferred assets;
- To any other third party where lawful.
STORAGE AND TRANSFER OF DATA
Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our Site; any transmission is at your own risk.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTHER THIRD PARTIES THAT PROVIDE CONTENT, ADVERTISING OR FUNCTIONALITY ON OUR SERVICES
Some of the content, advertising and functionality on our Site may be provided by third parties that are not affiliated with us. For example, you may have the opportunity to log in to our Site using sign-in services such as Facebook Connect or an Open ID provider. These services will authenticate your identity and provide you the option to share certain personal data with us. Services like Facebook Connect give you the option to post information about your activities on this Site to your profile page to share with others within your network.
This Site is not directed toward children (as defined by local law) nor does Partisan knowingly collect information from children (as defined by local law) without parental consent except where in compliance with applicable laws.
You may be entitled, in accordance with applicable law, to object to or request the restriction of processing of your personal data, and to request access to, rectification, erasure, and portability of your own personal data by contacting us as described in the “Contact” section. We may require you to prove your identity with approved identification if you request this information.
You may also be entitled, in accordance with applicable law, to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority if you consider that our processing of your personal data infringes applicable law.
You are responsible for keeping your information current and up-to-date. You may update your information by contacting us as described in the “Contact” section.
We will retain your information for as long as your account is active or as needed to provide you services. We will retain and use your information as necessary to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, and enforce our agreements.
If you wish to subscribe to our newsletter(s), we will use your name and email address to send the newsletter to you. Out of respect for your privacy, you may choose to stop receiving our newsletter or marketing emails by following the unsubscribe instructions included in these emails, accessing the email preferences in your account settings page or you can contact us as described in the “Contact” section.
LINKS TO THIRD PARTY WEBSITES
Our Site, our newsletters and other communications may, from time to time, contain links to and from the websites of our partner networks, advertisers and affiliates. If you follow a link to any of these websites, please note that these websites have their own privacy policies and that we do not accept any responsibility or liability for these policies.
USERS OF SITES IN THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA
Legal Basis for Data Processing
We may use automated decision making technologies, including profiling, to support our data processing activities. Our automated decision making capabilities include logic that attempts to identify artists, music, communications, products, or offers that we believe may interest you. By using this logic, it helps us personalize your interactions with Partisan and Partisan artists. For you, this means that you may see online advertisements, direct marketing communications (if you have subscribed), or other advertising or marketing messages or special offers based on your activity on our Sites or interactions with Partisan Entities and Affiliates or our third party partners.
In some instances, you may be required to provide us with personal data for processing as described above, in order for us to be able to provide you to use all the features of the Site.
- transferring personal data to countries that have been deemed to provide an adequate level of protection for personal data by the European Commission;
- using specific contracts approved by the European Commission which give personal data the same protection it has in Europe; or
- transferring personal data to the United States to an entity if they are part of the Privacy Shield which requires them to provide similar protection to personal data shared between the Europe and the US.
You may be entitled, in accordance with applicable law, to request a copy of relevant safeguards by contacting Partisan as described in the “Contact” section.
The information, artwork, text, video, audio, pictures, software and other intellectual property (collectively, "Materials") contained on the Website are protected by copyright and international laws. You may only access and use the Materials for personal use. You may not otherwise reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, modify or create derivative works of the Materials (or authorize others to) for commercial gain, unless authorized by the appropriate copyright owner(s).
Framing of the Website is permitted only with Partisan's express agreement, and any stipulation on how the framing will be displayed or made available on any third party site shall be at Partisan’s sole discretion. Partisan reserves the right to withhold consent for any reason and any failure to monitor or control each instance of framing shall not be considered a waiver of any of Partisan's rights. Any framing by a third party shall not imply the endorsement or sponsorship of Partisan.
You expressly agree that use of the Website and related services is at your sole risk. The Website, Materials and related services are provided on an "as is" and "as available" basis. Partisan makes no representations or warranties with regard to the Website or any Materials therein, whether express or implied, arising by law or otherwise, including, without limitation, any implied warranty of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose or non-infringement or any implied warranty arising out of course of performance, course of dealing or usage of trade.
By using the Website, Materials or related services, you agree that Partisan will not be liable for any loss or damage of any nature whatsoever and howsoever arising out of or in connection with the viewing, use or performance of the Website, Materials or related services whether due to inaccuracy, error, omission or any other cause.
PURCHASING CONTENT, PRODUCTS OR SERVICES ON THE WEBSITE
If you wish to purchase any content, products or services offered on this Website you will be asked to supply certain information. You will be asked to provide your name and email address and depending on the method of payment you will be asked to provide details of either your credit card or your mobile phone. Access to certain content or products may be age restricted. Where any such restriction applies you will be asked to confirm that you are old enough to purchase the items or purchase and view the content as appropriate.
We may monitor any message board and/or webchat area which exists on this Website though we are not under any obligation to do so. We advise you to use care and discretion when disclosing personal information on any message board or on any chat area on this Website as other users may collect and use this information and this may result in users receiving unsolicited messages from other people.
Users must not upload, post, publish or transmit any unlawful, fraudulent, libelous, defamatory, obscene, threatening abuse or otherwise objectionable information of any kind, in any area of the Website including on message boards and in webchat areas. Partisan considers as constituting objectionable information any information which constitutes or encourages the breach of any intellectual property right including copyright whether such right is owned by Partisan or any third party.
Any user of this Website should contact us immediately by email if he or she feels that any message posted on any message board or the content of any webchat is objectionable in any way. We will then endeavor to remove the objectionable messages if we consider it to be necessary.
USE BY CHILDREN
If you are under the age of 16 you should obtain the consent of your parents or legal guardians for submitting any personal information to this Website.
Children under the age of 13 should not submit any personal information without the written consent of their parents or legal guardian. If you are a child under 13 and want to submit personal information to us please ask your parent or legal guardian to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org specifying that they consent to us collecting your personal information through this Website. Parents or legal guardians may review or change the personal information of their children or refuse further collection of any such information by sending an email to us at email@example.com.
If we make a sale to you on this site we may use your financial information (including credit card transactions) to check your qualifications and Bill you for and otherwise facilitate your purchase of products and services. When you make a purchase on the Site, we will provide your financial information (including credit card transactions) to our service providers and to such third parties as we determine is necessary to process your transactions. These third parties may include the credit card companies and banking institutions used to process the transaction. When you purchase products or services of third parties offered on the Site, we will provide your financial information (including credit card transactions) to those third parties. Any of these various third parties are authorized to use your financial information in accordance with our contractual arrangements with such third parties and in accordance with their own privacy policies, over which we have no control.
HOW WE USE AND WHEN WE SHARE BROAD DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
We may use, and may transfer to others to use, broad demographic information that may include data from your activity at the Site, but not personal information. For example, we use broad demographic information to tailor the site to the interests of our visitors, and we may share it with advertisers and other third parties so that they can tailor their advertisements and communications to the appropriate audience. We reserve the right to use such broad demographic information, and to allow others to make use of it, without limitation or restriction, and without further notice to you, in our sole and absolute discretion and is the sole and absolute discretion of those with whom we share such information.
When we include links to other internet sites, on this site and in our newsletters and other communications, we do so solely as a convenience to our visitors. Operators of such linked sites may acquire personal information about you through registration procedures or other means and may use that information in accordance with their own privacy policies, over which we have no control. Your access and use of linked sites is solely at your own risk.
Whenever we obtain your personal information we take reasonable precautions to protect it from unauthorized access or disclosure, but we cannot act as insurers of the security of your personal information transmitted over the internet. Accordingly, we assume no liability for any disclosure of data due to errors in transmission, unauthorized third party access or other acts of third parties, or acts or missions beyond our reasonable control.
If you are a member of the artist community you should note that when you complete your member profile this information may be viewed by other members. Accordingly you should not provide any information in your member profile that you do not wish to share with third parties and you should have no privacy expectations with respect to the information contained within it. You should be aware that if you voluntarily disclose information online in a public accessible area, such as in your member profile, a message board or chat room, that information may be collected an used by others. We do not control the actions of our visitors. If you disclose personal information in your member profile message board or any other public accessible place on the internet you do so at your own risk and should understand that your submitted information may be collected and used by others to send you unsolicited messages, advertisements, or for other purposes. Please remember the protection of your privacy begins with you. You are solely responsible for maintaining the secrecy of any password you use to register, and you should always be careful and responsible whenever disclosing information online.
USER GENERATED CONTENT
By uploading photos, images, or other content ("Content") to the Site you grant us a perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform, display, translate, and create derivative works of the Content for any purpose.
Partisan Records, LLC, 281 N. 7th St., #2, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Partisan Records is a member of Knitting Factory Entertainment. Knitting Factory Records is its sister label and the same team are responsible for releasing its catalogue and new titles.