One evening over winter break, I was curled up on the couch binge watching reruns of Rob & Chyna. An arctic blast hit Minnesota, and I was too cozy inside to dare to step outside. Usually I’m one to change channels when commercials come on, but suddenly, a smooth, fragile voice started to sing. A Toyota truck pops up on the screen, as well as a family. They head off to the woods and are setting up Christmas lights on the ground, and then a plane appears. A shot of a woman dressed in a military uniform—presumably related to the family—appears on the plane. As she looks down, the lights on the ground spell out, “Welcome home, Julia.” As much as I was in love with the commercial, I had also fallen in love with the song. I immediately went searching for what ended up being “Normal Song” by Perfume Genius. As I looked more into Perfume Genius, I found it to be a one-man band from Seattle.
Perfume Genius’ history is a very interesting one. Being a Seattle native, Mike Hadreas who, grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, dropped out of high school during his senior and was intensely bullied for being openly gay. (At one point, he was attacked by men in his neighborhood.) Hadreas moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and then returned back to Seattle in 2005. In 2008, Hadreas started a MySpace page—lol, remember those?—under the name Perfume Genius.
With aching emotion and a delicate, trembling voice, usually only backed by piano, Perfume Genius sings dark, beautiful ballads about sexuality, domestic abuse, the dangers of being a gay man in a contemporary society, and his struggle with Crohn’s Disease.
Perfume Genius’ debut album, Learning, has a lo-fi production and simplistic melodies that add more intimacy to the album’s tracks, making for some incredibly personal music.
Genius’ sophomore album, Put Your Back N 2 It, addresses more of a personal look into drug addiction and physical abuse, with an overall theme of finding light in the darkness. It’s almost like a continuation of Learning, and it’s filled with underlying similarities to Sufjan Stevens.
The one-man band’s most recent release, Too Bright, portrays a new step and sound for Perfume Genius, as the songs are less about victimization and more about feeling powerful and standing up in situations that would usually make one uncomfortable
Seattle music is everywhere, and it can hit anyone by surprise—it sure did to me, in this case. Unexpectedly finding music and new artists to listen to is the best feeling ever. You can check out Perfume Genius’ music here.
CELENE KOLLER | P.S I stopped watching Rob & Chyna after that commercial | KXSU Music Reporter
* Banner Photo by Celene Koller