The ArchAndroid: The extended interview with Kevin Barnes

With so much of The ArchAndroid coming out of Janelle Monáe’s own Wondaland Arts Society, there’s one song, “Make the Bus,” that stands out as a little bit different. The song is the brainchild of Kevin Barnes, founder of the indie pop band Of Montreal, and a free-wheeling ode to the creative partnership that existed between Of Montreal and Monáe’s inner circle in the lead up to The ArchAndroid’s release. 

The ArchAndroid: The posthuman, the utopia, the conclusion

ALYSSA FAVREAU, AUTHOR OF JANELLE MONÁE’S THE ARCHANDROID, ON THE POSTHUMAN SUBJECT One of my favorite things about this book is that it gave me the opportunity to put The ArchAndroid into conversation with a wide range of ideas and thinkers. The album is not only a musical masterpiece, it also lends itself very well to being read like a work of literature. In the book, I talk about how Monáe’s persona, Cindi Mayweather, is a perfect example of the cyborg as conceptualized by Donna Haraway in her “Cyborg Manifesto,”…

The ArchAndroid: Cindi Mayweather before The ArchAndroid

ALYSSA FAVREAU, AUTHOR OF JANELLE MONÁE’S THE ARCHANDROID, ON WHAT INSPIRED HER 33 1/3 It was Cindi’s story that first fascinated me. I loved Janelle Monáe, of course, loved her music and style, and the obvious passion she brought to everything she touched. But it was Cindi Mayweather—the runaway android, the citizen of twenty-eighth-century Metropolis, the cybersoul superstar, the messianic ArchAndroid—who really got to me, stayed with me, and made me want to write a book about her. The story of Cindi Mayweather, sprawling as it does across several albums,…

The ArchAndroid: The intro and companion playlist

Trying to fit all of the musical, literary, and cinematic influences that came together to create Janelle Monáe’s concept album The ArchAndroid into one 33 1/3 has been a fascinating, if difficult, project. The story of Cindi Mayweather—runaway android wanted for the crime of loving a human and destined for messianic greatness as the ArchAndroid—is rich in a way that defies distillation. The story can unfurl itself in a thousand configurations, coming to mean something different to every listener.

ANNOUNCING THE NEWEST 33 1/3S

Today’s the day! We are thrilled to announce the next batch of 12 books for the 33 1/3 series. From Little Richard to Dolly Parton to Cardi B, we have a variety of new artists and albums to add to the series lineup. We look forward to seeing what our brilliant authors have to say about their music.  We received many outstanding proposals, which we delighted in reading and discussing. As always, it was difficult to select just 12. We are continually impressed by your dedication to music and honored…

Introducing “Genre: A 33 1/3 Series”

Calling all music nerds! We are thrilled to announce our new series, Genre: A 33 1/3 Series. Here are some answers to your most pressing questions: What’s the new series all about? Genre: A 33 1/3 Series is a series of short books that guide you through the musical sub-genres that have intrigued, perplexed, or provoked you. Like the original, critically-acclaimed 33 1/3 series, every book in the Genre series takes a unique approach and the series collectively offers a host of new perspectives, song recommendations, little-known tidbits, personal stories,…

712 Live Show, July 17, 2021 (Osaka, Japan)

Forty years of Shonen Knife—it’s an astonishing testament to the band, their music, and their fans. Other bands they’ve been connected with or compared to including the Beatles (ten years), Ramones (twenty-two years), and Nirvana (seven years) don’t even come close to Shonen Knife’s staying power in terms of touring and making music. I

Talking Food with Naoko (July 23, 2021)

There is no question that the members of Shonen Knife love food; this is obvious from their banter at live shows about food, their book Shonen Knife Land. I explored the band’s relationship with food in Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour: Food, Gender, Rock and Roll. For that book, I had a chance to interview Naoko about the 1998 album, its creation, and her insights about music. I feel honored to communicate with her again via email for part of this blog series. This time, the conversation focused on food. I’ve provided Naoko’s responses in English translation (any mistakes are shortcomings on my part). Many thanks to Naoko and Manager Shibata Atsushi for their help and kindness. 

Talking Tasty in Japan

In my previous post I outlined some of the ways food permeates Japanese food and popular culture. In this one, I dig a little deeper into the connections between food and the Japanese language itself. As I mention in my book Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour: Food, Gender, Rock and Roll, rice has historically been considered central to the Japanese diet and as a food it is loaded with cultural meaning. Indeed, the word for cooked rice, gohan (ご飯), is synonymous with meal. 

Food and Japanese Popular Culture

Most fans can agree on two facts about Shonen Knife: first, it’s impossible to be sad while listening to them; second, it’s equally impossible to not get hungry. Ranging from songs about savory ramen to sweet candies, Shonen Knife’s tunes work a synethesial magic on listeners’ tummies. Their forty-plus songs about food give new meaning to the phrase “musical taste.” But why does Shonen Knife have so many songs about food? I develop a couple of answers to this question in Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour: Food, Gender, Rock and Roll; one explanation is that food is a topic that all humans can relate to and take pleasure in, but that is not the only one.