On “Fleas,” Katie Dey Makes Homespun Pop Sound Uncanny

The song’s official video is a trip, too.

August 04, 2016
On “Fleas,” Katie Dey Makes Homespun Pop Sound Uncanny Katie Dey

"When the real is no longer what it used to be, nostalgia assumes its full meaning," wrote Jean Baudrillard's in Simulacra and Simulation, his 1981 philosophical dissertation about the dissolution of the "real" and the rise of the "hyperreal." It's a line I think of sometimes when I listen to certain escapist strands of music, including the uncanny songs of Australian artist Katie Dey.


Hers is a clever and demented take on homespun indie pop, built from jumpy melodies, inhuman voices, and what feels like a million layers of texture. To listen is to abandon reality and step into Dey's unnerving hyperreality that, just like Baudrillard said it would, generates a kind of inescapable nostalgic longing: despite being crosscut with sonic gunk, the final product is always sad and beautiful and eerily familiar, as if it had been your favorite song on some alternate plane of existence.

I don't think the formula has ever worked better than it does on "Fleas," an unhinged earworm from Flood Network, Dey's first full-length, out August 12 on Joy Void. There's a hole in my heart/ I can't wait til it starts/ to fill up with mud/ in a flash flood, she sings, the words padded with fuzzy beats and mangled harmonies. The song's music video, debuting below, was directed by Linnea Nugent. In an email to The FADER, Dey had this to say about the clip:

I think Linnea did an amazing job of capturing the emotional vibe of this song with her video. She has a great sense of how images and colours can interact with sounds to amplify the feelings that music can give you, and I think this video does a really good job of making the feeling I was trying to convey a little clearer, as well as being very visually beautiful on its own. The highly saturated and heavily layered digital aesthetic fits the sound of my music pretty closely, too.

On “Fleas,” Katie Dey Makes Homespun Pop Sound Uncanny