In today’s age, technology has flooded our lives with content. Caught in the mire are modern musicians who champion an art form that’s more widely distributed than any other throughout human history. And we, more often than not, overlook the music created by unfamiliar faces because it’s challenging. We’d rather have an easy listen, a known quantity to skim through while we think about something else.
Hearing is easy, but listening is difficult. Welcome to “Why We Like It”, where we rebuke the trends in favor of thoughtful analysis and underknown sounds.
“Imagination” — Kai Straw
How We Found It
This is a submission from our CentralSauce Submithub page. “Imagination” is from Kai Straw’s ongoing project, Through The Dark There Screamed a Guillotine as I Fed It Those I Love. Straw wrote and sang all the vocals himself, but the song was beautifully co-produced with his longtime collaborator James The Bear. Each single for Straw’s new themed project is coupled with artwork depicting a skull. The piece for “Imagination” depicts a skull made from the negative space between tree branches, and was created by artist Hailey Badovinac.
Why We Like It
This a place for our better days, just me and you in our imagination / It’s a place we can forever stay” – Kai Straw, “Imagination” (2020)
This sentiment feels nostalgic yet also immediate. Straw’s lyric describes a transportation to childhood innocence and wonder, to cope with a relationship that has ended, as it no longer provides joy. His music communicates holding on to the feeling that good memories provide. Straw also knows it to be an impossible task when the eventual outcome of hurt is attached to those memories. To counteract that blockage, he therapeutically suggests separating those experiences from a memory, and transferring them into an unattached imaginary world. In the lovers’ imaginations, they only exist in the moments where everything felt right and worth being in a partnership for. There is something about this concept that is very adult, but also very Mr. Rogers. Sometimes thinking like a child, uninhibited and creatively, is exactly what we need to progress. The simple yet clear melody Straw uses to deliver these lyrics feels exactly right.
Straw is not alone in his composing: “I co-produce everything with my longtime collaborator James The Bear. I view us as a dynamic duo on that front; similar to a pair like The Neptunes.” As The Neptunes are known for their signature drums, it’s funny that the song has no percussive elements until about ¾ of the way through. The track stays reflective, suggestive, and contemplative. This represents the space one needs to heal from a love that at one point grew you, but you have now outgrown. Then when the ethereal, yet momentous, drums finally hit, the tone switches from melancholy to proactive. You hear and feel Straw lifting out of his sadness and into his next phase. The moment is cathartic, as is the overarching journey of the song. During this time in the world perhaps it’s good to have an anthem to listen to by yourself. Straw has made just that.
From Kai Straw
This was a contemplation to me. A eulogy. And in the end, when the drums finally do come in, it’s some kinda bittersweet celebration. The whole thing is me trying to emotionally navigate something heartbreaking, trying to find the joy through the dark. To me, this was love and loss expressed at the same time.” – Kai Straw for CentralSauce (2020)
More From Kai Straw
Recently, Kai Straw was selected by Taco Bell for their annual Feed The Beat lineup (alum including FINNEAS). He won 1st Place in The International Songwriting Competition for Best Unsigned, announced early May 2020. His discography continues to get heavy rotation without the support of a label or placement on editorial playlists, having accrued millions of streams independently across all major streaming services. If you want to follow him or listen to more go to Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, or Youtube. My favorite of the other tracks on his current ongoing project is “Brighter Me.”
More to Discover
Subscribe to the CentralSauce mailing list so you never miss out on the freshest sauce. Check out this continuously updated playlist of songs Miki has added to our Discovery section! Each track or artist has been featured in our “Why We Like It” section, so be sure to check out the page here on the site.