Fusilier's newest single “Upstream” highlights themes that have run through his art for years. Having spent much of 2019 wrestling with depression, the Brooklyn-based, Atlanta-born Fusilier explains of the title track: “‘Upstream’ is ‘a song for the next day.’ I decided it’s okay to enjoy the taste of eggs in the morning, and to have nothing else to smile about. It’s okay to treat the streetlamp like the sun when you need light at 3am. I’ll find light.”
In the video for the single, a long-established relationship with masks (2018’s Duty EP features a Shibori mask themed cover art) peeks through. Fusilier “checks in on himself” over FaceTime then offers personalized portraits of isolation ending with a shot of himself masked, sun-soaked, on a fire escape. The self-directed effort was shot on an iPhone in and around his apartment while under quarantine in Brooklyn. He says of his relationship to the symbols in the video: “Masks hide intent. Masks breed mystery. Mystery is a possibility.”
And possibility is what drew him to the Motown classic “Dancing in the Street”. The Marvin Gaye, Mickey Stevenson and Ivy Joe Hunter-penned song was originally recorded by Martha and The Vandellas and has been famously covered by The Mamas and the Papas, The Kinks and, most recently, as a fondly remembered duet by Mick Jagger & David Bowie. But Blake hears it as a protest song for his generation and added his own third verse to make it so. In his words: “I enjoy how this global situation has challenged everyone’s assumption of the possible. Structural change is hard, but the few moments where it seems possible are magic.”
Fusilier—the mononym of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Blake Fusilier—was recently described by The Creative Independent as “an Atlanta native who moved to New York to make a name for himself by crafting his own decidedly queer hybrid of indie rock and experimental R&B.” The music of Upstream shows that he is now ok making the kind of music he wants to make. It’s the beautiful, chaotic, punk revelry of a rebellion and the small victory of taking a long shower after being too sad to move for days.
Image by D’Angelo Lovell Williams