issue 04 - do unto your neighbour
the return of french legends, discourse about sustainable creative creation and consumption, existential monologues, dealing with burnout and more
welcome back to FRESH! find us on insta @freshbywing ♡ what recurring thoughts have been in your head this week?
FRESH: new electronic (+ intro musings)
Step by Step / Creative Source - Braxe & Falcon
what a delight this is! French Touch legends (and cousins!) Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon make a triumphant return to the electronic scene as a new duo, self titled as Braxe & Falcon. though this is not their first rodeo with each other’s music (Falcon previously did a remix of Braxe’s track Time Machine back in 2013), this double single is their first release as an official artist duo - and marks Falcon’s first original release in twenty years!
Braxe mentions the following about the tracks in this interview with Pitchfork:
“This record is our variation on downtempo. The formula for dance music has evolved so far in terms of technically perfect production that we decided to give up on it and aim for sincerity foremost. And once we came to that realization, it was quite freeing.” - Braxe
arguably, some of the most resonant and iconic tracks in electronic music carry a simple, open honesty and sincerity in their message, especially within French Touch - think Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You or Daft Punk’s Digital Love. the same sincerity shows through these singles - out of the two, Step By Step is the more lyric and vocal-heavy track, yet it remains crystal-clear in its hopeful message of taking life’s challenges step by step no matter what happens. Creative Source focuses on the pure enjoyment and experience of music, sans external influences, highlighted in its spoken word interlude, “Just the music/That moves your head”.
Falcon also had the following to say about holding back on releasing music for two decades:
“It’s like having children,” he starts. “You don’t want to have a kid for the wrong reason, right? You need to feel comfortable bringing them into the world and stand by your decision in 30 years time. We’re submerged by exponential information all the time, and I just want to be sure that I’m adding something meaningful to the table, rather than engaging in cultural pollution. We want to have the feeling that we do this for the love of it… It’s a cliché, but in our case we prove it.”
and prove it they do indeed! likening songs (and really, creative creations of all forms) to having children is quite on the mark - both are a labor of love, and by their nature, an extension of yourself that you as a parent or artist, need to be prepared to nurture and protect in the wider world.
this notion of “cultural pollution” Falcon mentions lit up a lightbulb in my head - i think this was something i was trying to pinpoint in issue 02, within my thought process about Old Newness. living in the age of social media and information oversaturation comes with the responsibility to create intentionally, and also to create genuinely from the heart, instead of creating for the sake of being seen or staying relevant.
it can for sure feel like a risk in our current time to be an artist and take a hiatus from sharing your creations with the world, or even a break from creating anything at all, for fear of getting lost in the noise of everyone else’s creations. however, to run with the extended environmental metaphor, the antidote to cultural pollution is sustainable creation, and that is a choice for every individual artist to make.
i want to believe there still are conscious consumers of creative content, who will seek out work by artists they love who create sustainably, even if that means only hearing from them every few years, or even decades. as both a creator and a consumer, i aspire to be the kind of consumer of others’ art the way i would want others to consume my own art - a kind of applied do-unto-your-neighbor mentality.
Hypermania (LIVE) - Madeon
keeping in theme with elusive releases by French electronic artists, here is another recent one! marking Madeon’s first official track release since The Prince in 2020, Hypermania is the extended live edit version of Mania, the fifth track off his 2019 sophomore album Good Faith. Madeon is currently touring Good Faith Forever, the second live rendition of the titular album tour, and this particular live recording of Hypermania comes from the recent Denver stop on the tour.
the explosive music video splices together recorded video footage from Madeon’s live performances of Hypermania, as well as original animated visuals that flash on a screen on stage during the song. i won’t spoil any more and will let you experience it for yourself below if you haven’t seen the track live before!
(tw: flashing lights)
this is the first time Madeon has created a live music video in this manner to document the live versions of tracks within his shows, which are always different, distinct versions from their official album or single counterparts. out of the many memorable moments in the Good Faith live shows, Hypermania has to be one of the standout, jaw-drop moments, and having it preserved in this manner is just a treat. though personally, after seeing Hypermania quite a number of times live, it is an experience i prefer to reserve for in-person viewing rather than through recordings - just to also preserve my own cherished memories around the song and keep those very pure, vivid and intact.
this notion of preserving personal memories around specific songs is something Madeon also touches on in this following podcast:
FRESH: podcasts (+ self)
Madeon goes Back To Back!
it’s hard to get me to commit to listening to a full podcast episode - somehow i find it very difficult to concentrate on just people speaking for extended periods of time. yet i’ll pull out the stops for creators i deeply appreciate, and Madeon happens to be one of them. Willy Joy, host of the Back to Back podcast, chats with Madeon on this episode on varied topics, diving deep into Madeon’s creative roots in childhood, as well as the process of creating his Good Faith album.
Madeon mentions Good Faith thematically revolving around the idea of chasing unsustainable joy, the kind that feels euphoric and heightened, perhaps dramatic. since the album’s release, he has learned and grown to appreciate a different kind of joy - one that is peaceful, quiet, understated. it’s been very interesting (and rewarding) as a listener of Good Faith to have grown alongside the album era and followed a similar direction of personal development over the past several years.
back in 2019 when Good Faith was first released, i too found myself chasing such highs of joy; structuring my life around anticipating these heightened, surreal moments, only to experience the lows that follow once the moment is over. i realised the hard way that it isn’t a sustainable way to live, to experience life, and that joy can’t always be the number one goal, the emotion that you put on a pedestal over all others. (it’s made me seriously rethink the concept of the pursuit of happiness… perhaps that in itself is a form of toxic positivity too.) like Madeon said, there is joy to be found in peaceful and quiet moments as well as the heightened ones - in drinking your coffee in the morning, the sunlight casting shadows on the floor, the birds chittering away in the trees.
another concept the two discuss in the episode is the idea of actively participating in culture and contributing your own voice to it, instead of just having a passive appreciation of culture and consuming content without creating something in response. there is nothing inherently wrong with passive appreciation, in my humble opinion - there is a valid time and place for it, such as when you are burnt out or uninspired and feel unable to create, and not everything always warrants a cultural response. that said, active participation is the fundamental backbone of culture being able to self-sustain and evolve - think of the founding group of French Impressionist painters who cross-inspired each other’s work, fashion trends being copied from runway to the street, and musicians covering or remixing each other’s songs. in a sense, i think FRESH is also my way of active participation in culture that feels more sustainable and more refined than commenting on a post or retweeting. i gradually want to incorporate more slow forms of communication and media into my cultural experience, and long-form newsletter writing feels like the perfect segue into that.
near the end, Madeon mentions Digital Love by Daft Punk as one of his greatest music memories - to him it is a special song, one that is like a jar you only open (and listen to) on special occasions. he details being intentional about each time he plays the song, during moments when he can add more positive memories to the song ‘jar’, and not just casually having the song on in the background.
funnily enough, Madeon’s love for Digital Love (and his love for everything else Daft Punk) was a big influence in the track being one of my own ‘special song jar’ songs - a lot of the memories i have with the song now are linked to hearing it played at one of Madeon’s DJ sets, or listening to it with fellow lovers of Madeon’s music. pretty much every Madeon track also has its own special song jar in my heart now, and i’m more intentional about when i do listen to anything Madeon. it’s fascinating to see the cycle of cultural transmission happening in real time and go full circle, something he also mentioned in the episode!
sometimes i think myself into deep spirals of overthinking, every thought feels overwhelming and crushing from the pressure of all of them combined. during one of those times, this track off The Weeknd’s latest album came up on shuffle, and it made me stop in my thoughts and listen for a moment. this monologue track gets very existential, very life-in-review, and very philosophical and metaphorical. something about it reached through to me when i needed to hear it the most, and afforded me a moment of solace.
the gist of Phantom Regret is a reminder to stay present, find bliss and create your own idea of heaven in this very moment, as that is all that really exists or matters. zoom out to a wider perspective of who you’ll really be, what you’ll take with you when you leave this Earth - the things that seem important now and worry you, ultimately are insignificant in the grand scheme of existence.
“divine boogaloo” at the end makes me laugh every time. after all, we are all just living in a magical, yet nonsensical world.
Breakfast Wrap Bonanza
after discovering these amazing frozen vegetarian burrito wraps from Amy’s when I was in NYC, i had been searching for an acceptable alternative in Hong Kong, to no avail. until i popped into my local 711 store and rediscovered these, the BBQ Plant Based Meat Hot Wrap! it is still quite difficult to find vegetarian options in HK, especially ones that aren’t imported and are instead locally made - this one does happen to be made right here! i had seen plant-based food options available by 7-Select before, but i avoided trying them as i am usually not a big fan of meat alternatives (they taste too real). something about this one passes my extremely rigid taste testing, the “meat” feels just far enough from the actual thing for me to handle, and the (also vegetarian!) BBQ sauce is stellar.
i love popping one of these in the toaster oven for a few minutes in the morning - a perfect breakfast in my book 😋
Wake Me Up, Before You Go-Go
(spoilers for Moon Knight!)
i love it when television shows select great songs to feature in episodes, and i love it even more when they use said songs in the perfect scene sequence. Moon Knight is very happy to check those two boxes right off my list. without getting too specific and spoiler-heavy - i’m talking about the cupcake van sequence. if you’ve watched the first episode, you know what i mean. wake me up, indeed. (i have yet to catch up on the second episode!)
you can listen to the songs featured in episodes of Moon Knight below! i still have the chorus of A Man Without Love loudly stuck in my head - i think it will be there for a while yet.
a little exciting thing that happened, a bling by wing piece got featured on @megastyleph’s Instagram!
on the creative side of things, i think i’ve been in a bit of a jewelry creation burnout. this circles back to the notion of cultural pollution and sustainable creation we touched upon at the beginning of this issue. ever since it’s become trendy (and dare i say oversaturated) over the last few years, i’ve found the culture of Instagram small jewelry businesses to perpetuate a quite unhealthy expectation to consistently be churning out new creations, posting pictures then selling them. this is of no fault of any singular creator - by nature of having more competition and choice in the market, it becomes necessary to consistently create and make that known on social media in order to capture interest from potential buyers. i myself am guilty of buying into this notion and internalising it as well, putting pressure on myself to fulfil the unrealistic expectation of creating and posting every single day.
recently, making jewelry has felt like a chore and something i’ve had to go through the motions with, rather than feeling like a creative outlet i genuinely enjoy, which is what it started out as. it’s a slightly scary realisation to come to, and not a place i thought i would find myself in. changing creative outlets and concentrating on writing issues of FRESH over the last few weeks has been a much needed balm to that, and leaves me feeling more inspired to continue creating.
in the end, it boils down to the double-edged sword that is monetizing your creative passions - at some point it can begin to become something you have to do, instead of something you want to do. that said, i wouldn’t have it any other way - making a living by creating art has always been my dream, and i intend to see that dream through, no matter the challenges and changes.
hope you enjoyed that multi-faceted dive into the ethics surrounding creating and consuming, and finding sustainability in the midst of that somehow. this is something at the forefront of my mind especially after this issue, and i hope you can also take a moment to reflect on your own habits of creation and consumption.
love and all wonderful things,