Love Bites: Bedroom Pop Moments
This month's columnist reflects on Astra King's debut EP, nostalgia, and first loves in the digital age
Over lockdown I fell in love not with Astra King, but the idea she was mid-creating. Most of her music videos and livestream appearances take place in bedrooms – I think of her mute-giggling at the iridescent flickering rainbow of a CD-ROM, for example, or singing a euphoric rendition of All the Small Things while tangled in Christmas lights under a duvet. It’s the idea of 'the fangirl' becoming the artist.
Basically, she introduced herself in the setting I (and so many others) usually reside in, these days, turned back on itself: our bedrooms. Plus a laptop. While we are used to looking out at refractions of the world from within those spaces, to see the way King presents our interiors, online, comes like a startling mirror. Videos within videos, the Logic Pro X settings, the keyboard’s menu, 'bedroom producer' set to its contemporary extreme – instead of a wry look at yesteryear’s pop, King imagines right-now’s pop landscape as if it was yesteryear’s.
When I feel caught up in the overwhelm of my thoughts, TikTokified in their pace, Astra King reminds me that, actually, it’s complicated – all this nostalgia and infatuation. From the Utopian Scholastic-inspired cover art to Polachek-style breakdowns and soaring harmonies, King evokes a parasocial yearning I can’t quite put a finger on. And I don’t like to try too hard to define it: it slips away when overthought.
Even in a music culture this saturated, I don’t know music like hers – which I find a relief. Through her songs I can dance-jump to the music of an American, oceans apart – even three years since finding her music, it has the uncertain rush of a first love. Which, in its playful need to connect, the push-pull between sincerity and distance, is the kind of love the internet of this decade conjures best.