deadoceans.com | NYC’s Cassandra Jenkins Releases Third Single “Petco” Watch Video Directed by Cassandra - deadoceans.com

NYC’s Cassandra Jenkins Releases Third Single “Petco” Watch Video Directed by Cassandra

Posted on 06/05/2024

Notions of “light” and “destruction” might seem like ideological opposites at first glance, and My Light, My Destroyer is indeed consumed with the theme of duality. Witness the crunch of “Petco,” in which Jenkins’ “landlord pink” walls seem to cave in as she looks through a window at “two doves wrapped up in filthy and true love”—before the script flips, (literally) caught in the “sideways gaze of a lizard” encased in the titular pet store.

Cassandra muses about “Petco:”

Petco is about looking for connection & coming up a little short. Writing from a pointedly angsty and existential place allowed me to be more playful with songwriting. I needed a space to explore the lizard brain, and deep down the song stems from the sincere belief that we are wired, on the most basic instinctual level, to love and to be loved.

I wanted to capture the sense of uncanny malaise inherent to a place that puts a price tag on nature – simultaneously granting us access to the natural world while distancing us from it, all with the promise of companionship.

I come back to the same ideas again and again in my songs, and Petco throws a new lens on a familiar thought: the further we distance ourselves from the natural world, the harder it is to find our way back. It’s easy to wonder if we’ve gone too far, and despite my anxieties, I can’t help but see the humanity in all of it.

And describes the video:

The video is staged in three distinct locations: an NYC apartment with a window to the outside world, a pet store, and lastly, the dance floor– where the video provides a sense of closure that the song never gives us.

The song features: Andrew Lappin’s production & percussion, El Kempner’s (Palehound) and Lilah Larson’s guitar playing, Katie Von Schleicher vocals, rhythm section Zoë Brecher and Jesse French, and keys by Michael Coleman.
Like the night sky itself, My Light, My Destroyer is always expanding. Cassandra Jenkins’ third full-length, out July 12 via Dead Oceans, cracks open the promise of reaching the edge of the new with a wider sonic palette than ever before– encompassing guitar-driven indie rock, new age, sophistipop, and jazz. At the center of it all is Jenkin’s curiosity towards the quarks and quasars that make up her universe, as she blends field recordings with poetic lyricism that is at turns allusive, humorous, devastating and confessional– an alchemical gesture that further deepens the richness of My Light, My Destroyer’s 13 songs.
Jenkins suffuses My Light, My Destroyer with an easy confidence, which betrays the simple truth that the road here was not without difficulty. Referring to the 2021 breakout An Overview on Phenomenal Nature as her “intended swan song,” she explains that she was prepared to hang it up when it came to touring and releasing her own music. “I was channeling what I knew in that moment– feeling lost,” she recalls. “When that record came out, and people started to respond to what I had written, my plans to quit were foiled in the most unexpected, wonderful, and gracious way. Ready or not, it reinvigorated me.”
With her closest musical co-conspirators reassembled, and producer, engineer, and mixer Andrew Lappin (L’Rain, Slauson Malone 1) behind the board, Jenkins began constructing My Light, My Destroyer from the ashes of a false start she had made while “running on fumes” after two years of touring An Overview. “When we listened back in the control room the first day, I could see a space on my record shelf start to open up, because the songs immediately felt like they were finding their home.” That spark informed the blueprint for the rest of the album, and its completion, propelled by a newfound momentum.
Even as My Light, My Destroyer was developed over the course of a year, some of the songs had been incubating in Jenkins’ notebooks for much longer. There were sonic reference points in her mind during the album’s creation: Tom Petty’s deceptively breezy folk-rock classicism, the work of songwriters like Annie Lennox and Neil Young, Robert Ashley’s Automatic Writing, her “high school CD wallet” (Radiohead’s The Bends, the Breeders, PJ Harvey, and Pavement), and David Bowie’s final gesture Blackstar; along with lyrical influences from writers like Anne Carson, Maggie Nelson, Rebecca Solnit, and the ever present work of the late David Berman.

Cassandra shares, “I became even more interested in words, translation, and the malleability of language. I’m becoming better at letting myself explore ideas before self-editing; while I was writing, I wasn’t afraid to laugh at my own jokes, which makes the process of sharing these songs that much more free and fun.”
Above all and as ever, Jenkins is drawing inspiration from the chattering electricity of the world around her, squinting through radio static with the desire to gain a greater understanding. Deftly weaving field recording, found sound, and ancillary audio (like train sounds & flight attendants) she brings attention to stranger-than-fiction moments that bring the listener in. “I feel most energized when I’m out in the world, in the mix of things,” she says. “Coming back home to New York, being with my close friends and community, riding the subway, and going to live shows made me want to channel the palpable feeling of the electricity in a room full of people— I need to be fully immersed in my environment. New York City is endlessly stimulating, and I’m very impressionable.”

Joining her in this immersion is a cast of friends pulled from across the modern indie rock spectrum, as My Light, My Destroyer far more represents a group effort than the largely solitary pursuits of its predecessor. Cassandra’s main collaborator and producer, Andrew Lappin, Palehound’s El Kempner, Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy, Isaac Eiger (formerly of Strange Ranger), Katie Von Schleicher, Zoë Brecher (Hushpuppy), Daniel McDowell (Amen Dunes), producer Stephanie Marziano (Hayley Williams, Bartees Strange), and Jenkins’ friend, director/actor/journalist Hailey Benton Gates, who jokingly suggested the title for album’s meditative coda “Hayley” when Jenkins’ didn’t come up with a follow-up to An Overview’s “Hailey.”

Jenkins bent towards natural & supernatural phenomena alike appears throughout (the Earth’s atmosphere, lizards, flowers, the galaxy, lab grown strawberries, etc) only to bring us back to the core parts of ourselves. “The record poses questions about our instinct for companionship and looks for that heartbeat, that connection, everywhere, ultimately finding it exists in a place somewhere between us and the other side of the glass.”
The pivotal point on My Light, My Destroyer is the nocturnal “Betelgeuse,” in which Jenkins, in her words, reaches the zenith of her exploration in “trying to maintain a sense of curiosity as a way of staying connected with myself and nature.” Soft piano and a dialogue between two sylvan-sounding horns accompany a field recording of Cassandra and her mother, Sandra, stargazing in the illuminated night. “She is in touch with curiosity like no one else,” Jenkins says of her mother, a life-long science teacher. “I caught her in one of her many teaching moments, which reminded me that learning the night sky will take a lifetime, or more– and that’s just from the vantage point of Earth.”
Even amidst such widescreen wonder, however, there remain the earthly concerns of hardship. The lush “Only One,” reminiscent of the city-street textures of legendary pop group the Blue Nile, finds Jenkins face-to-face with Sisyphus himself—or, at least, a stick-figure drawing of the eternally burdened mythical figure. She explained this is her way of “poking fun at heartbreak’s myopic worldview–an inability to see anything but itself, and a need to wallow in the illusion of permanence. Long after I saw that sign in the window, Sisyphus reminded me that we always have the choice to see beauty in the world around us, even when it’s burning.”

Ceaseless curiosity defines My Light, My Destroyer, and it’s under that context that Jenkins decodes opposing forces contained with the album title—emphasizing the power of a straight-ahead gaze into futures, possibilities, and great unknowns in spite of how they may shake our core beings. “Staying in touch with a sense of awe is in some ways a muscle, a practice; but it’s also built into our wiring, as a function of nature- to help us remember to pause and appreciate our time on Earth, for all its chaos and beauty.”