Currently split between Vancouver and Brooklyn, acclaimed art-punk act outfit Grim Streaker — Amelia Bushell (vocals), Dan Peskin (guitar, electronics, synths), Bill Dvorak (bass) and Piyal Badu (drums) — initially made a name for themselves playing DIY spaces and venues across North America, sharing stages with METZ, IDLES, Surfbort, A Place To Bury Strangers and a lengthy list of others.
The quartet quickly became known for a precise and frenetic pace, which frequently lays the foundation for Bushell’s explosive stage performances. And along with that, they released two critically applauded efforts — 2017’s Minority Girl EP and 2019’s No Vision, which The FADER called “razor-sharp modern punk that harkens back to the icons of the genre.”
Bushell stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her singer/songwriter side project Extra Special — and in light of the pandemic, she relocated to Vancouver. Interestingly, Bushell’s move to Canada helped channel a new creative process for the band, which included a decided change in sonic direction: Bushell’s performances became more vulnerable, playful yet unsettling. Peskin built a genre-bending band of art punk while Dvorak and Basu locked tightly into pulsating, danceable frameworks.
Recorded at Greenpoint-based Diamond City Studios by Johnny Schenke, Grim Streaker’s latest EP MIND was officially released today through Montreal-based purveyor of all things psych Mothland. The four-song EP is a surreal, subversive effort that reflects on the current state of mental health, laughable social constructs and the inescapable, seemingly infinite working grind centered around a sound that meshes careening disco punk and R&B among other things.
“There has been a constant question of the why/how we create music as we’ve grown together over time,” the member of Grim Streaker say in press notes. “Influences from the punk, no wave and post-punk eras have always created a playground for us to build upon. Much of our latest songwriting draws from more diverse musical influences delving into the realms of dance, hip hop, funk and industrial. With MIND, each song exists in its own world, pulling sonically from new places with a punk point of view.
“The main theme for MIND is mental health. Finding happiness and mental stability in a world full of socially constructed expectations. Being different and having one’s own unique views and preferences on society and its dwellers. Work and money, being a part of a machine.
“Most of the EP was written in the pandemic on the internet or right before in NYC. It was recorded alongside Johnny Schenke from the band P.E. at Diamond City Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was printed live off the floor wearing masks, with minimal overdubs. We got weird with instrumentation too, using a number of synths, drum machines and even household objects to build up the layers of each song.”
MIND‘s frenetic and uneasy title track “Mind,” features wobbling atmospheric synths, angular and percussive blasts of guitar, a driving motorik-like groove, relentless, metronomic-like four-on-the-four, paired with Bushell’s sultry delivered lyrics on the tenuous hold on reality in the unending grind that sonically brings Gang of Four to mind.
Directed by Stephen Mondics and Devan Davies-Wood, the frenetic and turbulently edited, accompanying video for “Mind” follows a man’s tenuous hold on reality while being a cog in a relentless, profit-making machine.
“‘Mind’ is a uniquely dynamic song,” the video’s directors say in press notes. “We knew the video had to match the song’s frenetic energy in the visuals and pacing, and we wanted to incorporate a narrative based on the themes presented. The visual textures felt right for the song, as they both breathe and feel organic in ways that complement each other so well. The edit matches the pacing of the song perfectly, reinforcing its turbulent nature.”