For media installation artist Amy Raasch, thoughts and feelings always grow tendrils, spiraling outward from core concepts into wildly eclectic albums, plays, films, apps, and theatrical monologues. Amy’s latest project, Girls Get Cold, explores disconnectedness in the era of connection. It includes an album of quirky electro-pop, theatrical storytelling, and videos rife with whimsical cultural references and cultural, personal, and sexual commentary.
“If I took one away, it would be like losing a limb,” the Los Angeles-based artist says of her fluid creativity. “Two notes enliven the soul like nothing else. With writing monologues I get tricked into my subconscious and can explore from there. And live performance invigorates me—it’s scary but awesome. All of these come from the same raw materials and address the same demons, questions, and themes. It just depends on the free radicals hanging around my mind whether I channel these explorations into songs, films, or monologues.”
As a musician, Amy has garnered favorable comparisons to Imogen Heap, Laurie Anderson, Portishead, and Suzanne Vega. At its core, her music is singular for its classic folk-pop songcraft, bold production treatments, well-developed concepts and narratives, and the humor and heartbreak inherent in her lyrics. For Amy, it’s never just about an album—frequently music releases take on more epic proportions.
Music Connection Magazine has called her "One of the top unsigned artists in Los Angeles." She’s even won the esteemed G.I.N.A. Singer/Songwriter Contest.
Amy also has a background in acting, and has appeared in several productions for theater and feature film. On many levels, her most transformative role was as a folksinger in writer/director Stephen Chbosky’s (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) comedy The Four Corners Of Nowhere. Besides the career highlight of earning an official feature selection at Sundance, her role as a folksinger awakened her dormant musical gifts. Up until then, Amy’s musicality was contained within her adolescent schooling in classical flute. During the movie, inspired by her role and wanting to portray it more authentically, she started playing guitar, singing, and writing songs, and contributed music to the movie. From those formative moments, music has taken dominance over acting, though she frequently uses her talents for the theatrical in service of her wildly imaginative muse. She recently released an episodic collection of live video performances of songs-in-progress called “52 Songs in 52 Weeks.”
Girls Get Cold trades in fascinating layers. The title evokes both sadness and sexiness; the album’s production is an amalgam of earthy organic instrumentation and adventurous otherworldly electronic textures; plots and subplots rub up against each other; and the album comes to life with a clutch of videos and other media installations.
“This project has been a personal and creative epiphany in a myriad of ways because everything I do begins with asking a question,” the Los Angeles-based artist reveals. “The fundamental concept I wrestle with here is loneliness and longing for connection.”
Amy also explores expression and repression, dominance and submission, sexuality and faith, boundaries in relationships, feminism, life in the digital age, among other themes and hypotheses. Her imagery is both harrowing and humorous (cats on synthesizers in space?!), and her lyrics are brainy, poetic, and emotionally visceral. Creative touchstones include Shakespeare, Carl Jung, kitschy 1960s television shows, and YouTube cat video sensations.
“Animals metaphorically allow me to incorporate a way to deal with the world and move through it after a deep sucker punch to heart,” she confides. “Instead of falling down and giving up, I can laugh about it through creating beauty, humor, and wonder.”
The stately title track opens the album and its arrangement unfolds delicately with sublime ambience. Here, Amy introduces one of the album’s central themes: boundaries in relationships: “It’s about releasing the power and control dynamic in a relationship, and being able to say ‘you can pick me apart, let me go, but you can’t destroy me.’” The elegance of “Weight Of A Man” makes its dichotomous messaging that much more impactful. With just piano and vocals, Amy contrasts the warmth and sensuality of having your lover’s body on top of yours with the often shackling demands of relationships.
Tracks like “Straight Boys” and “Kitty Decides” lighten the mood up with jaunty musicality and hilariously sinister theatricality. “Straight Boys” is infectiously catchy with springy piano playing and a playful quandary. “That’s lighthearted,” Amy confirms. “It’s about wrestling with the dynamic where your friends with someone you also are intimate with and you’re trying to evaluate the boundaries of the different connections.” “Kitty Decides” is a revelation in absurdist humor and whimsical electro-pop.
The album’s ambitious and intrepid production aesthetic belies its charmingly ramshackle tracking methodology. Amy recorded the album at home in her apartment and built her soundscapes from a messed up piano, an old flute, a dirty electric guitar, and through hitting her radiator with a belt of nails. “That was very cathartic,” she says laughing good-naturedly. When friends were in town, she used their many talents on the album. Non-apartment contributions came via Jebin Bruni (keyboards), John “Scrapper” Sneider (trumpet), Louis Schwadron of Sky White Tiger (french horn), and Victor Indrizzo (drums).
Amy has created two stunning videos for the album tracks, “Kitty Decides” and the soulfully spectral, “Breathe My Breath.” The video for “Kitty Decides” unpacks the international obsession with feline videos with panache and campy cultural references from 1960s B movies and television shows like Batman and the original Star Trek. The video unpacks the aloofness, self-absorption, and the fantasy world cat fanatics ascribe to their felines. In the video, the cat listlessly flips through channels on the remote control. The images range from performance footage of Amy in full classic Cat Woman regalia, modern YouTube cat video classics, and images of a highly stylized 1960s trailer home in a desert reminiscent of a Russ Meyer flick. A hundred percent of all the proceeds from the video will go to benefit animal rescue efforts. The short film Cat Bird Coyote is an animated video for “Breathe my breath” and has been selected for 7 film festivals. It won Best Animation in Big Apple Film Festival and Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. It’s a stunning video that ponders the circle of life, themes of control in love, and how we often live in prisons of our own making.
If there is one thing the process of creating Girls Get Cold taught Amy, she says it’s: “To listen to myself and let myself be as weird as I want to be—to be brave without judging myself. “