Avant-pop Artist Nicole Marxen Grapples with Grief in “Bones/Dust”

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Known as one of the shiny dark innovators behind acclaimed avant-garde pop band Midnight Opera, Dallas-based musician and visual artist Nicole Marxen makes her solo debut with a new EP, Tether. The latest single, Bones/Dust off the record, serves as a meditation on the grieving process for the sudden passing of her mother. The title track finds itself traversing the vast, desert landscape of loss.

Marxen muses that for a long time, she didn’t feel as if her life was worthy of writing about. She treated her art as a form of escapism, hiding behind characters she created through the haven of the stage, sporting the armour of costume. Stripped of these trappings, however, she was raw, hurting, and in desperate need of a more authentic and direct emotional outlet.

“My mom was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. When she passed, I used to say that she’d probably haunt me for a good laugh. There were countless nights where I’d be lying in bed, waiting for a presence to reveal itself. A few months later, I saw the film Personal Shopper. Kristen Stewart plays a woman grieving the loss of her twin brother. The two had believed they were mediums and agreed whoever passed first would give the other a sign from beyond. Stewart’s character becomes obsessed in her anticipation, which resonated with me on an eerily similar level.”

Soaring from screeching highs to icy subterranean depths, Marxen creates a sonic landscape in which she is unafraid to own her pain. Recorded at John Congleton’s studio, Elmwood, with Alex Bhore (This Will Destroy You), unresolved emotions began to take shape, guided through spirit and determination.

“In many ways, it was a crucial first step in my own grieving process and self-discovery as a songwriter,” says Marxen. “Being so rooted in showmanship, I hadn’t explored such vulnerability in my work before…when I began to shift my efforts inward, I found that my truth very much needed to be expressed. The song serves as a reminder to hold space for myself.”

Grief cannot be overcome, only carried. A raw, open wound, Tether is a captivating debut.

Tether is out on February 26th, 2021.

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Photo by Judd Myers

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