By Christopher Treacy & zannie
NYC-based zannie doesn’t consider themselves much of a country artist, and neither do we. But we chose their single “For a While” as our Song of the Week in the new CQ Roundup because it has some cool country flourishes going on. Described as a ‘midi-medieval country song,’ it merges a two-steppin’ trot and meandering pedal steel with an overall indie-pop wash, and the results are quite striking. zannie’s sci-fi country tune can definitely hang with the other sorts of songs that have been coming across the desks at CQ in recent months.
We got to ask zannie about the song, which is also rife with curious images that allude to a sense of persecution. Childhood memories are woven through adult perceptions… and there’s a Dream Dragon that turns up toward the song’s end. So, what’s it all about? In the end, our chat with zannie begs more questions than we had going in, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping the air of mystery intact.
“For a While” seems like it’s full of snapshots – little vignettes, taken from over a substantial period of time, that all refer back to the same thing. Is that at all accurate?
Yes! It was largely about the feeling of visiting my hometown, New Bern, NC. The place retains a lot of the same psychic energy and memories—I’ve grown up, but the pine trees in my old backyard still appear the same.
It reads like there’s antagonism and maybe some persecution involved. You keep moving, experiencing respites, but something is gaining on you and you’ve got to push forward to keep it at bay. Does the song relate to queerness at all?
Surely, the lyrics are kind of alluding to the dissonance of being in a place that’s physically very beautiful but socially has a lot of haunted energy. It does relate to my own personal journey with queerness—cracking open a beer, looking back at old pictures and having a chuckle because I feel like my childhood friend’s dad now.
Every now and then my mind wanders back to a briefcase in one of the closets at my parents house that contains bratz dolls I transformed in fifth grade with scissors and super glue. I gave them really cool body hair. The dysphoria in the song does transcend gender too though, me thinks. Is it the time and the place? The fleshe suit? Wrong star system? I think everyone has felt a bit of that at some point. And the reaching for my body through the toxic lagoon part could definitely be about creepy men, but is also about the state, and personally approaching a sort of feral energy in response (enter dream dragon).
There are so many different sonic/musical textures used throughout your album, but this song got a very specific, Americana-tinged treatment. What about doing that made sense to you – does it match the narrative? It’s also striking how, even though it has that Americana feel, it retains elements of indie and electronica as well… unusual hybrid.
I’m not really a country artist which is probably why it has a wonky fusion thing going on. It was really my first specific attempt at a country song in order to set the scene and pay homage to North Cackalackie.
Tell us what you can about the Dream Dragon.
Dream Dragon has broken through the constraints of time and flies free, gazing over all of us with a uniquely frightening sort of objectivity. I can feel the warmth of their fiery breath on the back of my neck as we speak.
How does “For a While” fit into the context of your album?
This one definitely has some personal mythology involved, but with the hopes of a dolly zoom effect; trying to focus in and out simultaneously. Sometimes one must chew on the past like a piece of old bubble gum and blow a strange bubble that will maybe detach and, glob willing, float into a brighter future.
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Waitsfield, VT.