KUNZITE — RATATTAT‘s Mike Stroud and Abuela’s Agustin White — can trace their origins to each of the project’s individual members occasionally crossing each others paths while admiring each other’s work: When Stroud was busy touring with RATATAT, White went on a spiritual journey that found him exploring yoga, meditation and psychedelics. Throughout their friendship, the duo had been looking to do something together — and KUNZITE allowed the duo the ability to merge their mind and missions with a sound that blends psychedelia with beat-heavy electronic production and live, organic instrumentation.
The duo’s debut effort, 2018’s Birds Don’t Fly was written and recorded mostly through email. But their forthcoming sophomore album VISUALS, which will be released through Lowly/Wilder Records on August 20, 2021 sees the duo writing and recording material together — in the same space and at the same time. Interestingly, during the album’s recording project, the duo realized that they sounded best when they harmonized.
Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “FROSTY,” a song that found the duo changing things up quite a bit with Stroud taking up lead vocal duties. But at its core, the song is a summery, beach friendly jam centered around a cosmic groove, easy going bass line and Stroud’s laid-back vocals. VISUALS‘ fourth and latest single “LEMON SWAYZE” was recorded between Stroud’s upstate New York barn-based studio and White’s Oregon-based domed shaped studio. Sonically, the track is a decidedly dance floor friendly jam, centered around rapid-fire, four-on-the-floor, buzzing guitars, a sinuous, motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic, euphoria-inducing hook — with a playful nod at Cyndi Lauper. As the story goes while recording the song Agustin stood in the middle of his Oregon-based domed studio and felt a channel of energy through the line that came through the studio, and began singing the first thing that came out of his mouth — which are heard on the final track.
“‘LEMON SWAYZE’ was created with the mission of bringing listeners to their feet, dancing in exaltation while on a crazy joyride,” the members of KUNZITE explain. “The track’s title was inspired by a vision Agustin had of lemons as spaceships, induced by the consumption of a favorite cannabis strain, Lemon Cake.”
Directed by Felix Heyes, the recently released video for “LEMON SWAYZE” follows a day-in-the-life of an effortlessly cool older dude, who is a mix of Captain Lou Albano, Hulk Hogan, Colonel Sanders and The Sopranos’ Paulie Walnuts as he wears a green Adidas track suit and drives around town in a lemon yellow convertible, full of lemons in the back seat. And as he zooms around town, he’s rocking out and having the best life anyone could have, which includes some absolutely hallucinogenic sequences that remind me a bit of segments of 1,2,3 Contact and Sesame Street. “The video’s lead actor, Michael ‘Keysey’ Keyes, is a Colonel Sanders-esque character who also has Hulk Hogan’s mustache, and he asked me if I knew what ‘proanoia’ was,” Felix Heyes says of the video for “LEMON SWAYZE.” “He said, ‘Well, you know how paranoia is the feeling that unknown things are conspiring against you? Proanoia is the feeling that unknown things are conspiring to help you.’ And then he drove off in a 1971 Mustang full of lemons. Being ‘proanoid’ pretty much sums up my experience with KUNZITE and the team behind this music video!”