Anatomy of an Album: JD Samson & MEN

Anatomy of an Album: JD Samson & MEN

Labor, the new release from electropop outfit MEN, is primarily the brainchild of singer–producer JD Samson, an ex–Le Tigre member who’s recently found herself preoccupied with house, disco, and the tug-of-war between her stage and real-life personas. “I really felt like there was a disconnect,” she says, “but I recognized the separation, who I truly am, through writing this record.” Here, her inspirations for the album.

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Love Committee,
“Law and Order”

“I heard the 12-inch in a music shop somewhere and ended up buying it on vinyl on eBay, the only place I could find it. Then I sent it to my bandmates with the intention of building on it.”


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Lucy R. Lippard,
I See/You Mean

“She’s a 1970s and ’80s feminist writer, and this is somewhere between psychoanalysis and fiction. It made me think more experimentally about narrative structure and work less literally lyrically.”


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“Listening to her helped remind me what I’m doing as a musician: creating a narrative and a soundscape and still maintaining my political stance, personal truths, and sincerity as a human. I consider her a sister in the music world.”



Gerald Alper, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Patient
“This book got me thinking about the psychoanalysis of an artist and what I wanted to do with my work. The Labor song ‘Neon Poles’ is the perfect example: It’s totally a pop song, but the content is a complete psychoanalysis of myself.”



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Nigerian and South African Dance Music
“I spent a few weeks only listening to ’70s Nigerian disco funk—like the Sahara All Stars and T-Fire—and South African house, like Survivor’s ‘Stjwetla,’ trying to cleanse my ears of the standard American rhythm and tone.”



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Caster Semenya
Samson wrote Labor’s “Semenya” from the South African runner’s perspective: “She was questioned about being a man and had to take a test to prove she was a woman. It must have been so scary and embarrassing. I felt really connected to this story—I pass as a man, but I’m a woman.”


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