Singer-songwriter and producer Rookes has launched a new YouTube series called #popnotpop that explores her volatile and complex relationship with pop music.
As well as this, the YouTube series chronicles the creation of Rookes’ debut album, allowing viewers a glimpse into the creative and technical process of making a record.
Rookes explained: “As well as seeing me reveal my secrets as a pop artist who doesn’t in fact always love pop music, you’ll be able to watch me make a pop record in real-time. The reality is that I write the pop music that I want to hear but can’t find and there’s a reason for that: the pop music market is flooded with the same old stuff. I’m excessively bored with it.
“I read an interview yesterday that Grimes did for Rolling Stone, where she spoke about how polarised things had become and how now was not the time for nuance, but I disagree. I want to bring nuance back, along with paradox, if you please. I write music because I don’t like pop music – both can be true. I could have just got on with quietly making my LP, but I decided to do this instead.”
In episode one, Rookes ponders her past relationship with pop from initial engagement as a kid through an off-and-on relationship through her teens, then into adult life and the realisation that for all her resistance over the years, she’s become a ‘pop’ artist herself.
Rookes constructs and explores the making of the first song on her album, named ‘Bad Code’, in episodes one and two.
Rookes described the new track and its creation: “Bad Code is a song about Feminism. In the two episodes I dedicated to this song, I decided to focus on describing the systems of oppression in our society and who they affect, which is – in reality – everybody, to a greater or lesser extent. I needed to make a song about this problem to express how it affected me, especially within this industry.
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“The first of these two episodes breaks down some of the lyrical content because I still think lyrics matter. Have you ever seen anyone deliver Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ as a poem rather than a song? It’s ridiculous and hilarious, but I want to steer away from that kind of hyper-simplicity if I can.
“Also, thanks to my recent immersion in the world of music tech while working as a consultant, I was feeling loaded with tech imagery and I wanted to pair that with the production of the song. Consequently, the song has a heavy, industrial feel to the percussive and synth bass elements, as well as a strong dystopian sci-fi vibe carried along by the remarkable MPE sound packs and hardware provided by ROLI.”
You can view the first three episodes below: