Kristeen Young (Photo courtesy Tell All Your Friends PR)
Art-rock provocateur Kristeen Young recently released “American Landfill,” a reimagining of a song she recorded with David Bowie.
“It’s a reproduction of ‘Saviour,’ a song I wrote in the aughts intended to be a duet between David Bowie and myself. And it surprisingly happened,” Kristeen said of the midtempo indie-pop song. It was produced by Tony Visconti, a frequent Bowie collaborator, and appeared on her third album, 2003’s Breasticles. (Her self-released last album, 2019’s The SubSet, was her tenth full-length.)
On Record Store Day Oct. 24, Kristeen drops a reimagining of that single (that she co-produced with Justin Raisen), potently renamed “American Landfill” (KRO Records/Sony). A panorama of the culture around us, it oscillates between stark, Throbbing Gristle cacophony and gorgeous synth-and-strings soundscapes, capturing the cognitive dissonance we cannot escape.
The video for American Landfill was directed, shot, and edited by Kristeen Young in New York City in late March/April of 2020 (utilizing whatever was available in the early shelter-in-place-corona virus-lockdown time period)– which now seems longer ago than the aughts.
Watch the official music video for “American Landfill” by Kristeen Young on YouTube:
Kristeen grew up a foster kid (later adopted by her foster parents) in St. Louis. She worked round-the-clock restaurant shifts to afford a move to the East Coast, where very soon after arriving she met Tony Visconti (after she sent him her 2nd album, Enemy). He brought David Bowie to one of her NYC shows. “I was thrilled when Bowie heard ‘Saviour’ and wanted to record it with me. But, after we recorded it and played it for various industry people we got such strange reactions. At best, some said the song was ‘cinematic,’ and didn’t know what to do with it. But most would say things like, “We’ve already got a girl on our roster.” And “Why is Bowie still even making records? He is irrelevant,” she said, incredulously. “I say this to point out how time truly changes perspective.”
“Toward the end of 2019, I decided it was ridiculous that so few people had heard this song. It deserved a real release and a better platform for it.” Kristeen kept the vocals — that otherworldly push-and-pull between her elastic Callas soprano and Bowie’s unique full baritone — but has changed everything else. She played the piano; her signature percussive piano punches and Monk style angularity are evident. Co-producer and mixer Justin Raisen (who produced Kim Gordon’s phenomenal 2019 debut solo album, No Home Record) created the guitar noise and synths, while recording engineer Anthony Paul Lopez took on drums.