Photo: Jade Sadler

spill tab

If you take a trip through spill tab’s discography, it is evident that her artistic vision was clear and concise from the very beginning. Songs like “Name,” “Decompose,” and “Calvaire,” the latter sung in her native French, are worthy companion pieces to her latest material. Funky bass lines, experimental vocal production highlighting intricate harmonic layers, and tangible alt-pop hooks have been, and are, elements of nearly every spill tab song up until this point. On her ambitious new EP KLEPTO, out now, she raises the bar, successfully utilizing the things that brought her to the dance while updating her sound in unexpected yet tasteful ways.

The Scene 

spill tab emerged alongside a handful of other indie/alt-pop singer-songwriters such as Wallice, Ethan Tasch, Claud, Boyish, and Ritt Momney over the last few years. The group is nothing if not internally supportive, consistently collaborating on each other’s projects. “I think COVID created space for a lot of newer artists,” she said. “A lot of these major acts weren’t dropping their albums and holding back their tours, so this kind of ripe-for-newness landscape created a space in which new music was being consumed a lot more. It’s just really cool to see how people have evolved and developed since then.”

KLEPTO 

Clocking in at just shy of 12 minutes, KLEPTO hits like a bank heist giving no warning, no time for questions, and no time to react. This isn’t new for the multi-instrumentalist, who has always delivered compact yet fully fleshed out ideas and concepts, such as “Grade A” with indie darling JAWNY, which clocks in at 1:46 yet still packs every integral piece of a song in. “I have such an effed up manic way to listen to music,” she said. “I’ll just go through all my songs and just skip when I’m over it. After the first verse and chorus, if I’m over it, I’m just one to the next one. So I feel like because I listen to music that way, I make music that way too. When stuff is more straightforward, I like to keep it short and sweet.”

All five songs on the project are the perfect mix of poppy and cinematic. They typically start off light and airy before breaking off into abrasive yet contained spurts of distorted guitars and manic drums. She flips the script on the overtly experimental “CRÈME BRULEE!,” which contains elements of hyper-pop. It spits into overdrive from the first beat, before a covert switch-up occurs on the back half: “You are so extreme, you are so supreme / Shot me right in the head with a laser beam / I don’t wanna be dark like that / Carve your name, eat you like crème brulee.”

There are also touches of neo-soul in spill tab’s vocal delivery, as she dives deep into her rich lower register and fully rounds out the sound as layered vocal harmonies swirl around her. This is most reflected in “Splinter,” as she easily descends to the pits of her natural contralto: “I’m not gonna brave the winter / And wear us thin to say we did (we did, we did) / But I don’t wann push a splinter into your skin / So I’ll leave it (leave it, leave it.)”

“I’m a huge Sylvan Esso fan and I think, because I’ve been that for so long, I deeply respect that really tight, dry vocal,” she said, shouting out Moses Sumney as well. “For the big stuff, I’ve just started listening to more rock. I really got into Interpol… I was listening to a lot of Talking Heads. I really love the dichotomy of the softness of a vocal with the harshness of a distorted instrument. I think it’s a really challenging place to find balance in.”

“Window”

On “Window,” the highlight of the record, spill tab talks of wanting to appreciate what she has in front of her: “I’ll push away like I did when I had you clear / It’s the crux of my nature to crave what is not near / I think I’m done… I think I’m done / Having to hold your hand and keep you over the water.” “I think what I’m striving for is to be less wanting of the grass on the other side and be content with what I have,” she said. “I’ve never not lived in a major city… I feel like when you live in a big city you’re always butted up against someone who is doing the exact same thing as you. It’s so easy to compare yourself to everyone else all the time. Even in relationships… it’s so easy to forget that what you have, even if it’s flawed, is special, unique, and worth it. Just for being what it is. I think I’m trying to inject a little more of that into my life.”

A Place of Truth 

Conceptually, these songs are spill tab’s best attempt at convincing herself that she has the assertiveness to take control of the situations around her, despite knowing that that’s probably not the case right now. It starts with “fetish,” on which she plays off the subject’s negative perceptions: “You think I’m deadly / Then hand it over, hand it over / Convince yourself… convince yourself of what you need to / Even if it’s just not true.” “I think I was just in a certain headspace during that time, and I made a lot of these songs within that headspace,” she said, leaning into a “What if I did?” kind of concept writing. “It’s way easier for me to write from a place of truth. I think a lot of that comes from saying the things that are, as of that time, unsaid, because that triggers the most emotion.”

“I’m just trying to remember that the times I’m having the most fun making music is when I’m challenging myself,” she said on moving forward from what is, undoubtedly, a win from top to bottom with KLEPTO. “I’m trying to find new ways to do that.”

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