Jasper Lotti is a Los Angeles-based musician whose entrancing blend of dark electronics and pop melodies is something she calls "dyspop," or "dystopian pop." On her debut EP, XOskeleton, which she released last year, the sound serves as a nearly perfect conduit for her explorations of modern love in this fraught age of technology. Over digital bleeps and huge pulsing bass on "Idea Of Me," she sums it up pretty accurately: "Loving an illusion in the simulation. I just want a real love," she sings.
Her first release of 2020, "Sword," continues on a similar path of exploration — of what human connections and connections to ourselves we may foster through a screen. On Thursday, NYLON exclusively premieres its video; directed by Lizzy Sanford and filmed two days before quarantine, it's a stunning blend of Matrix-esque aesthetics and premonitory scenes of what's now become stark reality. At one point Lotti sits in an office chair on the beach; if you squint, it could be a Zoom background.
"At this point, we're either completely plugged into the virtual world or alone in the physical world," Lotti writes of "Sword" via email. "Courtship happens virtually, so now we just have our own bodies to seduce in the old fashioned way. In this video, I wanted to explore how existing between these hyper-connected and hyper-isolated dualities effects identity, self-seduction, and perceptions of 'reality.'"
A former pre-med student and published scientist, Lotti takes a similarly learned and therapeutic approach to her music that in quarantine has manifested into voice healing and movement workshop videos posted to her Instagram. In addition to the "Sword" music video, NYLON is also sharing a performance livestream from Lotti which will benefit the Herb Mutual Aid Network, an herbal medicine drive supporting folks all over the country.
Tune into the live stream below, and read on to learn a bit more about Lotti.
Your music is described as "dystopian pop." What does dystopia mean or look like to you?
Dystopia to me is an ever-evolving concept, but ultimately at its core it means existing in an illusion. That illusion can be internal and/or external. Like right now, it feels like everyone’s realizing that we’ve been living in The Truman Show. We’re kind of waking up to our dystopian world and dismantling it.
And I love to explore dystopia through my music because illusion is fun to play into in a performative way, if you’re aware of it.
"Sword" explores human connection in the digital age. How have you noticed your methods of communication changing since the beginning of COVID-19?
A lot more Zooms ! A lot more FaceTimes. I’m forgetting what people look like. And since the movement started, I’m also definitely checking in more with people on a basal level, like are you safe, mentally and physically healthy?
We actually wrapped the video two days before lockdown started, so it’s pretty surreal to see its themes play out in reality. Just like in the video, humans are oscillating across different iterations of self in such an extreme way. COVID-19 instilled a dehumanizing fear, but the movement is re-humanizing these iterations and making us realize our truth. I have hope for humanity.
You were a former pre-med student and published scientist before getting into music. Are there any teachings you were able to roll over into your music?
Science and music are different forms of alchemy. Science and music both involve sacred geometry and divination. So I’m still a scientist, just through a different medium. Nikola Tesla said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Music is science, and vice versa.
What are some things you've been doing these days that have made you feel more human during this time?
Bare feet in the grass, meditation, sound healing — overall trying to ground myself. And looking in the mirror to remind myself I have a body.
I’ve also felt incredibly human supporting the Herbal Mutual Aid Network through this release to raise funds and encourage sign ups. HMAN (pronounced “human”) is an herbal medicine drive for Black individuals seeking support due to the ongoing crisis of racial violence and injustice, started by my friend Yves B. Golden. And at this time they are giving aid exclusively to Black trans individuals. Plant medicine has helped me immensely with my auto-immune disease, so making it accessible and free to Black folk during this hectic time is so essential. To find out how to sign up/donate check out Yves’ profile or my recent Instagram posts about "Sword."
What's a meal or snack that's been giving you joy, and how do you make it?
I squeeze an orange-flavored B12 complex gel into my mouth and then wash it down with a ginger shot that has a teaspoon of charcoal powder mixed in. Then I sit outside and undergo photosynthesis for an hour.