Thursday, July 25, 2024
Singer Paris Paloma interrogates the myth of femininity

Singer Paris Paloma interrogates the myth of femininity


If there is a way for music to emulate dripping wax, freshly blown-out candles and the discomfort of being stared down by a table of men, Paris Paloma has done it.

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter’s Gothic music is, at times, a refresh of Greek mythology, religion and art. She expertly concocts stories that combine her own experience with impeccable references that leave audiences feeling like they learned something about not only her and themselves, but the world we inhabit.

“That’s just always been a vehicle for me to tell very biographical stories and still have some distance and protection from it,” said Paloma in a Zoom interview from her London home.

Her breakout song, “Labour,” sounds like it drips from the pomegranate-stained lips of Persephone, drenching the undervalued people who postdate her in righteous, red fury. It’s a reckoning for subjugated people, a way to put into words the feeling of being used for all your worth and then tossed aside.

In the folk ballad, Paloma sings: “All day, every day, therapist, mother, maid/ Nymph then a virgin, nurse then a servant/ Just an appendage, live to attend him/ So that he never lifts a finger/ 24/7, baby machine/ So he can live out his picket fence dreams/ It’s not an act of love if you make her/ You make me do too much labour.”

The song went viral on TikTok, with users sharing their experiences with sexism as the song’s lyrics pounded in the background. “No one can prepare you for that level of visibility in such a short space of time,” says Paloma. “It was just picked up by women, by the trans community, by the queer community, everyone [who] resonated with it. It became something so much bigger than me, which I was so grateful for. But also at the time, I felt really ill-equipped to thank everyone.”

To show her appreciation and give a voice to those who connected with her music, Paloma created a new version of the song in March 2024 (a year after the original was released), featuring background vocals, art and videos from fans.

Adam and Eve references also make their way into Paloma’s work. In “The Fruits,” she focuses on the difficulty of women embracing their sexuality under patriarchy when their sex is the thing that so often causes women danger.

“‘Devil,’ you call me/ But seems to be enjoying/ The fruits of my labour that came to me too young/ When he stole my virtue/ I’m glad it seems to serve you/ That I was born a daughter and not a son,” she sings in the track.

Paloma’s new album “Cacophony,” out Aug. 30, continues her mythos.

The opening song for the album, called “My Mind (Now),” and the name of the album itself were directly inspired by the Greek mythological creation story, particularly how Stephen Fry wrote about it in his book “Mythos.”

“It’s the idea that life in Greek mythology, instead of a big bang, they said that the universe began with chaos. And out of this chaos — this great cosmic yawn of a cacophony of noises — in the darkness, creation sprang forth,” she says. “That felt like my creative process because songwriting is what comes out of the chaos in my mind. So it’s both what informed the song and the title of the album because all of these songs are born out of this creation myth.

“It’s so chaotic to the point that creation is what must spring from it in order for you to cope.”

June 23 at 8 p.m. at the Atlantis, 2047 Ninth St. NW. Sold out.

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