Petra Glynt knows the world is in shambles, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to stop dancing. The Montreal artist recently released her sophomore album, My Flag is a Burning Rag of Love, where she boldly talks about frustration with the patriarchy system, our dwindling water resources, and data breaches set to groovy electro-pop music creating an experience that’s intelligent and upbeat enough to get you dancing. Before heading out on tour, Glynt spoke with GID about the new album, politics and music, and providing an immersive experience with her art.
Genre is Dead: The new album is an experience; you don’t just listen to it, you feel it, you touch it – it’s almost hypnotizing. And since you handle the album artwork and do your own music videos, it seems like you’re creating an immersive experience for listeners. What kind of experience do you want people to have with this new album?
Petra Glynt: Thank you, I’m glad you feel that way! Yes, I want it to be an experience that is visceral and real. I think I’m on an exploratory path with songwriting to eventually have more of a cohesive immersive experience with the art. As for right now, with this album, I want listeners to experience a limitless nature of songwriting. Sounds are everywhere! There are no rules to what kind of sounds a producer can use to construct a song. These songs were developed on my own and other people can do it too. It takes time but it’s pure joy if you like puzzles.
GID: The music is constantly shifting song to song. There’s so much going on sonically you hear something different with each listen. How do you determine what direction to go with the music for the songs?
PG: I don’t really determine ahead of time. I trust a mood I’m feeling when I start producing. Maybe one day I’ll make a record that feels like it has a cohesive sound, but until then I’m playing around with the possibilities.
GID: You also produced the record yourself and had Alice Wilder mix it. How did you two come to work together?
PG: We met on an Austria tour in 2014 when Alice was doing live sound. She’s amazing at her job and wanted to start doing more studio work. I also want to get away from working with men in the music industry where I can because there are so many talented non-men out there I want to surround myself with.
GID: The songs on your new album tackle a lot of issues, like hacking, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and even the #MeToo movement. Is there a song that was particularly difficult to write? Did you pull from personal experience for any of the songs?
PG: Yeah for sure, some were challenging to write in a way. Making music is my way of dealing with challenging things. It helps me take something tough or emotional and turn it around into something more positive. Ultimately, my frame of mind after making a piece of music is better than where it started. There’s something that feels personally productive in tackling some larger issues like mistreatment and handling of our finite water resources. Whether I can say they have an active impact, I don’t know. They are all personal, especially the ones that are from a feminist stance like “New Growth” and “I’m Watching You.”
GID: Speaking of “I’m Watching You,” it really stood out because there’s this sense of uneasiness to it. The way you sing “I’m watching you” with the intense music playing really makes you paranoid. Can you tell me about that song?
PG: I wanted this song to feel like a threat, like an animal waiting to pounce from a bush at its prey. It’s a song to the patriarchy, to the men that aren’t listening. It talks about having hair and using it as a veil to watch the moves the men make without them noticing. As non-men, we are surveilling; we see it all. I want them to know that their actions have consequences; that they must think first because they will be held accountable. It says, “I see you, but you can’t see me. Who are you to put me here?” and talks of being on the sidelines while the men have the space. They are in the open field running free while we’re waiting for our turn to sub in. “It’s not up to you.” That reminds them that they can’t speak for us and have a say in how much space we take up in the world.
GID: I think you achieved that perfectly in the song in that it feels like a threat. The way you described how others survey men is spot on. Songs like this and your past work, show you’re not afraid to address the political climate of the world. That being said was there one incident in particular that inspired the album?
PG: This album was written across a broad timeframe. There was no big bang involved but more of a process where ideas and songs started stacking up in response to the world around. In the end, I find this record doesn’t feel like it’s from a particular time or influenced by one event. Rather it touches upon many things. One thing is for sure, my resentment and frustrations towards the patriarchy started to come out and be expressed.
GID: Music and politics go hand in hand and now it feels more important than ever to speak out on what’s happening in the world. How important is it to have these conversations in music and do you think it’s making strides towards change?
PG: I don’t feel like my music will make change. I think people will make the changes we want to see in the world. But I do think music can help, and maybe in that sense mine will. Music can support movements and inspire the people who are part of them. I truly believe that popular music can connect and join a contemporary dialogue in regards to our planet and its people. It doesn’t always have to be the most effortlessly consumed.
GID: While your lyrics deal with heavy issues, the music is usually upbeat groovy or catchy to dance to. When most people think of music and politics, it seems like they believe it’s either rap, folk, or rock speaking out. What inspired you to bring this conversation to this style of music?
PG: I’ve always identified with some kind of punk aesthetic in art and music since I started listing to straight-up punk as a teen. I liked Propagandhi a lot as a teenager because of how they just screamed political lyrics at their listeners. I thought that was cool. It’s not unusual to hear politics in punk music. Turns out this is kind of the music I produce though it’s not that classifiable in terms of genre, which is as much as a surprise to me as it is to anyone else. I call it punk because it’s an attitude but it’s also more than that because it has emotional intelligence.
It’s not just aggressive and angry, it definitely is at times, but it’s not afraid to show emotion. I want to move and dance and I want to spread good vibes with music as well as inspire with creative anger. It can be so satisfying. I can’t write music when I’m sad, but sometimes when I do it turns into songs like “It’s Not Over”, so there are exceptions. I get bored of a genre and I need to flip it. Maybe a person will only like two songs on the record, and that’s fine. I’ll make another record where they might like another two. That’s okay by me.
GID: What are some more current punk bands you’re feeling now or even just bands or artists that have that punk aesthetic you mentioned that you’re digging?
GID: I’ll have to check them out! Now, you’re preparing to launch your first headlining tour. What are you most looking forward to?
PG: I’ve never toured the U.S. before with this project, so I’m stoked! I’m mostly looking forward to getting a taste for each scene, meeting the people, and sharing what I got. The music I’ll be playing is mostly from the new record with a couple from the last. It’s high energy!
GID: Sounds like a great time! To end things off, what do you hope listeners walk away with after listening to your album?
PG: Woo, big question. I hope people feel like moving, getting up, dancing, are inspired to do their thing, make some waves, spread love, think critically. All the good stuff.
Petra Glynt is currently touring in support of her new album, My Flag is a Burning Rag of Love. The tour wraps up in Chicago, IL at The Whistler on October 14. Check out all the tour dates and pick up a copy of the album here.