In addition to struggling to feel accepted by loved ones and by the communities around us, queers struggle to feel accepted by the person that perhaps matters the most: oneself. Alt-folk duo, Naz & Ella, build on their own struggles with this issue in their new single ‘Internalised’ – off their upcoming EP (DE)HUMANISE – singing “I’ll set me free / Is it all internalised?”
The song makes use of guitar riffs and the production is authentic. Naz and Ella’s vocals complement each other in the chorus, creating a Haim~esque harmony. The lyrical content neatly fits into the newly-defined genre of “quarantine music”, with the insights encouraging the listener to look inward. The theme of the song, in itself, is outside the box. The song ends with the speaker accepting their queer identity and love for their partner.
The story-telling arc of the song resonates with the idea of “catharsis” in literature, both, as the layman understands it, as well as in terms of the understanding Aristotle seemed to have. The protagonist (or here, the speaker) experiences shame and fear, and eventually goes on to purge oneself of these emotions, with the audience vicariously learning to avoid the same tragedy (internalised queerphobia). The track encourages those still finding their way out of the closet to recognize the socialisation that induces self-hate and guilt within LGBTQIA+ people.
This is perhaps intentional, as Naz and Ella wish to convey a potent message to young queer audiences with their music. “One of the messages we intend to convey in this EP is that for anyone who feels dehumanised, that they don’t have to tolerate it or participate in their own dehumanisation to comply with social norms,” says Naz.
Moreover, ‘Internalised’ isn’t the duo’s only song with a theme that’s outside the box. Many of the songs in their upcoming EP are unapologetically political, including ‘Exotica’ – a song about the exotification of women of colour – and ‘No (Doesn’t Mean Convince Me)’ – a song calling out normalised sexual harassment in bars and clubs. When asked about the intersection of politics in their music, they say, “Much of our music is somewhat political; politics impacts every facet of our lives…it’s hard not to write about political issues. We’d say the intersection of politics in our music is important to us as our songs are just as much about the lyrics as they are about the music and we want to create songs that make people think and possibly even act.”
Their upcoming EP (DE)HUMANISE releases on 7th May, 2021, to coincide with Bandcamp Friday— an initiative by internet music company Bandcamp, where all music sales are directed towards artists for a 24-hour period. The EP is influenced by “folk, post-punk, and grunge influences”, and is anticipated to cater to young audiences, especially those that enjoy exploring work by indie artists. They also have a podcast series ‘Not Another DIY Music Podcast’, which talks about the stories behind their songs and production choices.