Rare DM’s New Single “Hotel Jacuzzi”, Sounds Like The Darkwave Equivalent Of Art-Pop
The Brooklyn-based artist’s latest single is a luscious, hedonistic take on an idealised life with a sinister edge.
What does it take to build atmosphere in a track? For Brooklyn-based Erin Hoagg, also known as Rare DM, the answer is a complex combination of unique aesthetic influences that has seen her increasingly rise to fame since her first LP, Vanta Black. Now she has returned with the startling new single “Hotel Jacuzzi” which showcases these in a more upfront and straightforward way, creating a lusciously hedonistic look at an idealised life that still leaves room for acknowledging its dark side.
There isn’t really a word for the kind of darkwave that Hoagg is making with “Hotel Jacuzzi”. Her previous releases, including some of the body of Vanta Black, are keen to investigate the darkness inherent in modern life. “Hotel Jacuzzi” does this too, but instead of pointing out the turbulent emotion of tracks like the previous release “Send Nudes”, it boldly draws the listener in with temptation whilst simultaneously questioning what it’s all about.
What’s surprising about the track, is that you will get from it something different based on your own relationship to the lifestyle depicted. The cryptic lyrics that operate almost like spoken word poetry also mark a deviation. There is bold, playful, luscious freedom to the music – if art-pop had a darkwave equivalent, this would be it. Likewise, Hoagg has a knack for making her vocals and beats intertwine, creating an atmosphere perfectly poised to keep you hooked. Lyrically too, she is great at playing with the listener. “Hotel Jacuzzi” subtly tips the lifestyle described over the edge, leaving you questioning whether the glitz and glamour of the things described are really all they are cracked up to be.
In terms of broader creativity, Hoagg is a force to be reckoned with. In her recent releases “Naomi” and “Rolex” she takes the high-tech aesthetics of alternative electronic music and combines them with a vintage sophistication that adds a sinister yet sweet layer to her visuals. There is an element of method acting to her work, and perhaps it is this which saw a clip from “Rolex” take TikTok by storm. At the same time, it is unquestionably the fragmented reality of the 21st century that fuels a lot of her lyrics – and no less so in “Hotel Jacuzzi”. Through this, Hoagg settles herself firmly in the present yet manages to deconstruct its dark side with a post-modern cocktail of different inspirations.
One quirk about Rare DM is that in her live shows, she works entirely with analog equipment including the Octatrack and the variety of hardware synths that she is commonly seen performing with. Previous shows at the likes of Verboden festival and SXSW saw this refreshing commitment to repurposing modern conventions. Now an upcoming tour across Europe followed by another in Mexico over May supporting Drab Majesty promises to be just as dynamic and immersive. On the recording too, it’s this heavy use of analog that adds delicious warmth and darkness to “Hotel Jacuzzi”, giving it an oomph that keeps the stakes and emotions high.
Hoagg has been successful in creating a fresh take on the gothic elements of darkwave as well. With some of its evolution stemming from post-punk and goth, there’s no doubt that the scene does have a tendency to play with the mystical. “Hotel Jacuzzi” is more down to earth than “Naomi”, where a dream world and reality blur in the passions of clandestine relationships. Yet the gothic still lingers in the music and in Hoagg’s inspiration of manifesting an ideal lifestyle, keeping you questioning the possibilities of the universe while making this relatable with seductive yet self-aware materialism. The juxtaposition, especially with universal themes like the relentless pressure to keep up appearances in “Rolex”, makes for a powerful combination
With “Hotel Jacuzzi”, Rare DM has managed to pinpoint and fine-tune her signature sound by combining things that you might not necessarily expect to go together. Vintage and modern, the spiritual and the human, with this track she offers another choice. It’s not an easy task to leave seeds of doubt in a track that is so overtly glamorous. Yet, her subtle vocal abilities say more than can be put into lyrics. Like the way she has slipped in and out of personas in other work, here, there is a hint of both lust and desperation in her melody.
All in all, “Hotel Jacuzzi” is a track that hits differently depending on your mood. Still, it’s also a very listenable just as a catchy and boundary-pushing piece of darkwave. It’s got riches, ambition, glamour, and hedonism galore. Yet it also explores the anticlimax that can happen when enough is never enough – and it’s Hoagg’s ability to mix and match beats and aesthetics that inject a new form of meaning into the disaffection of modern living and its push for more.
Rare DM (US)
Featured Image by Liz Mooney