Squirrel Flower, the moniker of Ella Williams, has announced her new album Planet (i), due for release on 25th June! We couldn’t be happier to have new music from Ella so soon after the brilliant “I Was Born Swimming” was released last January. And what an album this is…
For now, we’re sharing the explosive single Hurt A Fly and its video directed by Ryan Schnackenberg. Watch here.
Ella has spoken a bit about the track’s meaning:
"‘Hurt A Fly’ is me embodying a persona of gaslighting, narcissistic soft-boy type shit. The classic ‘sorry I acted violently, I'm not mad that you got upset at me, wanna hang out next week?’. I wanted to see what it was like to be a character trying to skirt around accountability. It's an angry and unhinged song, and for the video I wanted to be inside a bubble writhing around and trying to get out. A stranger filmed me practicing choreography at a public park, submitted it to a meme page making fun of ‘influencers,’ and the video got 1,000,000 views, which in my mind is perfect thematically."
Planet (i) is the follow-up to 2020’s I Was Born Swimming, for which MOJO described her as "one of 2020’s most engaging new artists" and she was made a 'One To Watch' by The Observer. Planet (i) is a world entirely of Williams’ making. The title came first to her as a joke: it’s her made-up name for the new planet people will inevitably settle and destroy after leaving Earth, as well as the universe imagined within her music. The record is a love letter to disaster in every form imaginable - these songs fully embrace a planet in ruin. Buoyed by her steadfast vision and propelled by her burning comet of a voice, Planet (i) is at once a refuge, an act of self-healing, and a musical reflection of Squirrel Flower’s inner and outer worlds.
Williams wrote most of the songs on Planet (i) before the COVID-19 pandemic, but disaster looms large in its DNA. Susceptible to head injuries having played a lot of sports in her youth, Williams received three concussions from 2019-2020. Amidst the chaos of touring internationally during her own healing process, she began weaving threads between her physical and personal sense of ruin and her lifelong fear of the elements: of being swept up by storms, floods, and the deep ocean. "To overcome my fear of disasters", Williams says, "I had to embody them, to stare them down". This journey of decay and healing is the lifeblood of Planet (i).
Once quarantine set in, Williams began to produce demos in her room, amassing a collection of more than 30 recordings. Feeling a sense of artistic synchronicity over international phone calls with producer Ali Chant (PJ Harvey, Perfume Genius), and with newfound covid antibodies, Williams flew to Bristol, UK in the fall of 2020 to record Planet (i) at Chant’s studio, The Playpen. "We had this shared creative language", she recalls, "and the recording process was, like my demo process, very sculptural. Instead of recording live with a full band, we built this record layer by layer, experimenting, taking risks". While Williams and Chant played most of the instruments on the record, Bristol drummer Matt Brown and Portishead’s Adrian Utley also joined their sessions. When Chant suggested the idea of backup vocals, Williams, whose voice had until now stood alone in her songs, enthusiastically enlisted friends and family to join her remotely with their voices and instruments; Tenci’s Jess Shoman, Tomberlin, Katy J. Pearson, Jemima Coulter, Brooke Bentham, and her brothers Nate and Jameson Williams, as well as her father Jesse.
The songs on Planet (i) are Squirrel Flower’s instruments for connection: with the people in her life, her collaborators, audiences, and ancestors; a lineage of artists whose spirits continue to inform her art. At the heart of this record is an insistence on connection and healing in the face of catastrophe.
On Planet (i), Squirrel Flower reveals a bright and uncompromising vision, confident in her powers of self-healing and growth. No matter what the disaster ahead of or within her looks like, and no matter how she shape-shifts to meet it, Squirrel Flower will always be a world of her own, a space-rock flying down the road in flames and flat tires.
Planet (i) is available to pre-order on CD, transparent blue vinyl, Rough Trade exclusive orange vinyl + bonus CD, and digital.
The Rough Trade Exclusive bonus disc features 2 exclusive unreleased tracks from the Planet (i) album sessions plus a collection of digital singles released since I Was Born Swimming.
The Planet (i) Book is also available to pre-order from today. The book collates Ella’s lyrics, recording notes, poetry, as well as beautiful candid photography from the Bristol recording sessions. Full colour, high-quality paper stock, limited to 300. Available directly from Bandcamp (UK & Europe) and Rough Trade (worldwide).