As the first musician signed to Vibe Over Method, the label launched by six-time Grammy nominated producer Damian Taylor(Bjork, The Killers, Arcade Fire), Petra Glynt (a.k.a. visual artist Alexandra Mackenzie) had an action-packed 2017. Alongside earning praise from Pitchfork, NOISEY, THUMP, FADER, Bandcamp, CBC, and BBC6, she toured with EMA, The Blow, and Doldrums, and made headlines following her detainment at the UK border in a high-security immigration removal centre. After being sent back to Canada, Mackenzie miraculously raised donations from a GoFundMe campaign in less than 24 hours to complete her European tour.
Returning home electrified by her harrowing experiences in detainment, which she describes as “a crack in the world where people are kept,” Mackenzie immediately completed the album’s recording in her Montreal apartment before collaborating on its mixes with acclaimed engineer Alice Wilder. The album shatters the scope of Petra Glynt’s previous musical visions with 13 songs shifting from driving, danceable rhythms to intensely pummeling alien raves and softly shimmering eco-goth ballads. Auxiliary percussion propels squelching electronic productions while her powerful, operatically trained vocals guide the listener like a foghorn blaring against a jagged coast.
Mackenzie began the Petra Glynt project in 2012 with her first EP, Of This Land, inspired by the organized resistance of the Occupy Movement. Performing at pipeline protests with the community of Toronto artists that included Polaris Prize winner Lido Pimienta, her songs on This Trip rallied against racism, sexism, and environmental devastation. The themes of her latest album are no less politically charged, with lyrics about governments and corporations valuing wealth over health, such as the lack of response to Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water (“Health”), and a tongue-in-cheek retaliation to the profits driving private information collection like Facebook’s data hack scandal (“Surveillance”), as she watches the watchers. “No Consequences” welcomes those who fear change or inclusivity to join her on the dancefloor, while its most powerful vision of the future arrives with “New Growth”, which she describes as a feminist anthem of empowerment in the wake of #MeToo.
“Progress is being made and we’re stripping away the layers of patriarchal oppression that we’ve been conditioned to accept,” says Mackenzie. “Women have realized that we don’t have to take that anymore, so it’s a new growth. When I sing ‘keep the feed flowing and watch us blow up,’ that explosion is about a viral spread of information or watching us grow bigger and stronger.”
As she continues to focus on a lifelong visual art practice, directing videos and creating the intricate illustrations for her album covers, Mackenzie has also moved into composing scores for films such as the cult documentary The Devil’s Trap. These overlapping efforts arrive at the intersection of unfiltered experimentation and fiercely motivated beliefs dating back to her previous musical life. M.I.A. remains a beacon of inspiration, but she approaches the process of creative expression with the ethos of Crass.