Believers newest single “Midnight Shoppers” is an indie ode to the poignant dichotomy between haves and have-nots. With music oddly uplifting and serene for such a devastating premise, the lyrics highlight both the obscenely wealthy and the quietly destitute.
Wesely Powell is currently the only artist associated with Believers, which was a longtime collaboration with his brother, Tyler. These days Believers is primarily a studio project combining ambient and psychedelic influences with house and pop. Piecemeal is Believers third (final?) album and it’s one that Powell’s been working on for over five years.
Today Glide is excited to premiere his new single “Midnight Shoppers,” which begins with atmospheric swells and echoes followed by low toms and heavily distorted bass. Crisp guitar octaves and cinematic synthesizers are generously peppered throughout the mix. It’s poppy and groovy carried by a consuming bass riff.
That bass: both driving and overdriven marching ceaselessly to the everpresent toms. The tension those drums create is palpable throughout “Midnight Shoppers.” The snare is used so sparsely in this track, it’s not until the last minute or so that the drums start to break through the mix and then immediately pull back.
Powell’s vocals are airy and light, yet powerful. His lyrics are full of biblical imagery, and not just the asking of alms or the /…trash can preacher/ With a divine spiral/ amongst the descriptions of the destitute. One rarely encounters the word “swathed” outside of a cradle in a manger. But here Powell sings about /Another, quiet/ Swathed in plastic/ Suffering unseen company/. These poor, faceless beggars, are our “Midnight Shoppers” and it’s both sad and beautiful that Powell uses the possessive “our” here because it’s also true. They belong to us. Despite what those that drive by in their hundred grand cars may think.
Listen to the track and read our chat with Powell below…
You mention in your Kickstarter that you recorded (or at least planned to record) with your friend Blake Henderson. Can you elaborate on the recording process for Piecemeal? Did you end up playing all the parts?
Hi there. Thanks for taking the time for this. After a long lived collaboration as Believers, a few years back my brother Tyler moved to Denmark. Despite his absence, I was still set on finishing what we’d started. I chipped away at our leftover songs and supplemented them with 5 more tracks of my own. I played the majority of the parts, recording between my house and, thanks to my Kickstarter supporters, Blake Henderson’s studio (his help and company was invaluable in getting it done). It came together bit by bit, one track at a time. There’s a nice blend of my budget lower-fi home recorded parts and the more hi-fi parts done at Blakes. Medium-fi? We were nearing the end of mixing when the lockdown came, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we were able to remotely mix it in real time.
There is a good deal of biblical imagery and language in the lyrics to “Midnight Shoppers.” Was this a purposeful addition or simply a side effect of the description of folks suffering?
I can see how you might think that, but I didn’t have the Bible on my mind when writing this song. Despite what the moniker would suggest, I’m not a god fearing man.
What was the original inspiration for this song?
There are few places that display the twisted dysfunction of American inequality as boldly as where I live in the Bay Area. You regularly will see $100,000 cars driving past tent encampments. It’s yucky, to put it lightly. As with so many social problems in this country, we have the means to properly address and perhaps solve them, but we lack the collective will. The song is about how easy it is to lose touch with our compassion for those suffering quite literally right outside our door.
What would we all see if we could see through Astrid’s eyes?
Astrid is a Swedish friend of mine that came to visit us in the bay a few years back. While heading to a concert in San Francisco, we walked through the Tenderloin, a neighborhood with a high concentration of unhoused people. After walking through a few blocks of tent encampments and people sprawled out on cardboard boxes, she lost it and started crying. To her it was an unimaginable scene of depravity, something that essentially doesn’t exist where she lives. So, to get to the question, I think it’s less about what we would see through her eyes and more about just opening our eyes to what’s there.
Will this solo project become a new chapter for Believers or is this truly a farewell?
I know the Kickstarter oh-so-dramatically called it the “Final Album,” but the more I sift through my ever growing backlog of unreleased songs, the more I want to churn out another record. I’m hoping that once Piecemeal is released, I’ll get the gumption to focus on the next batch. The older I get the more that time is at a premium, but I don’t think I’m ready to let go just yet…wish me luck!