Nicole Marxen is a Dallas-based musician and visual artist, best known for being a member of the acclaimed, avant-garde pop act Midnight Opera, an act that has been featured by outlets like BrooklynVegan, Impose Magazine, Tiny Mix Tapes, Daytrotter and The Observer — and QVC, who highlighted the act in an original docs-series on beauty and glamour. Additionally, the band was awarded “Best Group Act” by The Dallas Observer for their mesmerizing live show, which melds opulent set design, choreography and costumes.
Marxen steps out into the limelight as a solo artist with her forthcoming solo debut Tether EP. Recored at John Congleton’s Elmwood Studio with Alex Bhore, Tether is a meditation on grieving and loss, influenced and informed by the sudden death of Marxen’s mother — and the EP’s material may arguably be the most personal effort of the Dallas- based musician and visual artist’s career to date. “I used to think that my life wasn’t worth writing about,” says Marxen. “I hid behind the characters I created, the haven of the stage, the armor of costume. My art was elaborate escapism.”
Fittingly, “Tether,” the EP’s first single and title track is a dark and brooding goth-like track featuring layers of wobbling and arpeggiated synths, skittering beats, industrial clang and clatter, scorching guitars and Marxen’s achingly vulnerable, soaring vocals that evokes a brewing storm of uneasy and complicated emotions coming to the surface in ways that the song’s narrator can’t completely comprehend or predict.
“In many ways, it was a crucial first step in my own grieving process and self-discovery as a songwriter. Being so rooted in showmanship, I hadn’t explored such vulnerability in my work before,” Marxen explains. “When I began to shift my efforts inward, I found that my truth very much needed to be expressed. The song serves as a reminder to hold space for myself.”
Directed by Judd Myers, the recently released video for “Tether” is lustrously shot black and white fever dream of nostalgia, heartache and loss featuring old home videos, lonely black top and Marxen underwater. Each frame is much like a surrealistic painting full of intense cathartic emotion.