The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to learn new things about ourselves and our mental health. We are in unknown territory; experiencing a global tragedy for the very first time, and not having the tools to navigate it.
Melbourne experienced one of the harshest and most restrictive lockdowns in the entire world last year. D’arcy Spiller was one of those stuck inside without access to friends, family or the simpler joys of life. During this period, her anxiety manifested into a series of empathically driven dreams. One night, she dreamt her mother had drowned. Disturbed by it, she rang her the next day for some peace of mind. Turns out, her mother had been experiencing issues with her home’s water supply.
From there, ‘Disarray’ was born.
“Being locked down with myself, without having things to distract you and people around, things start to rise, especially in your sleep. So, I think I just decided during lockdown to dig a little deeper and discover something I didn’t know about myself.”
With only four tracks, she deconstructs her inner thoughts and her ‘shadow self’; learning to become in touch with her inner subconscious. Through this, she learnt there was a lot of darkness.
‘Disarray’ opens with Wolf Blood, a dark-pop blues-infused tracked. “I got wolf blood, I’m just better off alone. I’ve got wolf blood, running through my veins, lit by a vein that I can’t explain” she sings in each chorus, exploring how she is embracing what she is learning about herself. The production is dark and mysterious, yet holds an alluring and hopeful edge. With its introspective message and dark-pop/alt-rock production, this track sums up the themes and tones of the EP perfectly.
Dark synths and tinny drums open In Another Life, a track exploring the feeling you get when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve met them before. “Have you ever felt, like you should be somewhere else? In a different life, in a different plane? Because I know I feel this way and I can’t explain it”. The song is fairly minimalistic in its production, driven by quick-paced gentle drums. Flute is also featured, adding to the textures of the track. These aspects combine to give the song jazzy, café band undertones. Hauntingly beautiful violins float over the top of her vocals, plucked in the bridge, adding a unique texture. “Oh, am I just crazy. I hear things in the night”. The song strips away as she sings “Once upon a time in another life, oh I could love, but now I’m broken”. The strings play sweetly overhead before vocal harmonies are introduced and the full instrumental returns for her final choruses.
Inspired by trying to help her sister through a depressive mood, Forgot Your Meds explores the themes of struggling with mental health and reminding yourself that it is okay to hurt. “Nothing comes easy and if it does, there’s a price… there’s always a price” she sings in every chorus. Each time it hits, more harmonies are added; like she is starting an emotional revolution. “Get up and stop your complaining” she sings in the bridge, building on the harmonies, creating the same effect. With the song, she aimed to normalise speaking about mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, and how these issues affect most of us. It explores they can always be moved past. The production is somewhat off-kilter and disorienting, with wordier and more rhythmic melodies. A highlight of the record.
K Karma closes the record, beginning with harsh drums and a driving bass melody. The song conveys the selfishness of humanity and our treatment of the planet, and how COVID may have been a way or the planet to restore itself. It was co-written by Ali Barter and Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson, who’s influences impact the grungier aspect of the song compared to the rest of the project. “K karma’s coming for us. We’ve gone and fucked everything up. K karma’s coming for us. We’re running but she’s catching up”. Spiller uses ‘she’ to represent mother nature, personifying her and her backlash on humanity.
As far as pandemic projects go, D’arcy Spiller approached this EP with a unique perspective. Although there have been lots of downsides to the pandemic, an ironic downside to bettering public health, it’s projects like this that prove there is value in hardship. D’arcy explores her inner self, as many of us probably have over the past year. ‘Disarray’ is a reminder to take what you can and learn what you can from the unknown situation we are in; to come out better on the other side.
‘Disarray’ is available now on all platforms.
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With thanks to Mushroom Group + 100s + 1000s