Fusilier Takes Us Through His Radical “Treason” EP Track by Track

Blake Fusilier’s latest project is out now via Ba Da Bing Records.
Track by Track

Fusilier Takes Us Through His Radical Treason EP Track by Track

Blake Fusilier’s latest project is out now via Ba Da Bing Records.

Words: Mike LeSuer

Photo: Elliott Jerome Brown

August 15, 2022

The fact that Blake Fusilier’s music is equally inspired by Nine Inch Nails and Fela Kuti speaks less to the way it sounds and more to the incredibly broad range of sounds that make their way into his music. Previously releasing a series of EPs through Brassland Records—who also recently took a chance on the equally unclassifiably mellifluous Bartees Strange—Fusilier returned last Friday with his first EP for Ba Da Bing Records, which takes his previously established formula further with a newfound sense of radicalization evident in both his lyrics and instrumentals.

Treason is about leaving behind what’s expected of you in order to discover your true self,” he explains of the project. “It hypothesizes that the only road to true freedom of the spirit is through radicalization and reimagining. Tressie McMillan Cottom says of her success as a Black woman in America, ‘My success is always limited by how well other people can imagine the possibility of me.’ This idea begs the question, ‘How can I exist given that the size of my imagination of me as I am doesn’t yet fit into the ways I am seen?’”

The EP weaves through a broad range of emotions and corresponding sounds, with shades of Young Fathers providing a constant throughline as the near-ambient opener feels far removed from the penultimate track, which gives a taste of Trent Reznor’s influence. Yet as Fusilier explains, the EP’s contrasts are more thematic in nature: “The EP is divided into two sections,” he details. “Tracks one through three deal with self-imagination and projection while tracks four through six deal with how I do or might move through the world. To further elaborate on the idea of a splintered self, Treason functions as six love letters to the genres of music that shape most of my sound.”

For a deeper look into the record, check out Fusilier’s track-by-track breakdown of the EP below. Treason is out now—you can stream and purchase it here.

1. “Peace”

“Peace” came about from me listening to my friend Monochrome Sweatsuit’s Microwaves & Airplanes. I got to track eight, and thought it sounded like air feeding a fire. I quickly wrote “Peace” about a suicide bomber. I remember watching cable news and hearing someone rhetorically ask how anyone could commit such horrific acts of so-called terror abroad as if they don’t spend every night listing off the reasons in a heartless monotone. I thought, ‘How could one not give their life in service of a day when their children can play peacefully in a field without the risk of becoming the trampled grass?’ The song represents the peace that comes with a beautiful, purposeful death—the ultimate act of love.

2. “No Words”

“No Words” starts as a sequence of mantras. They’re our little ways of taking the trauma of the past with us. The verses give power to a distant, disinterested protagonist whose attention and adoration I’m obsessed with winning over sung atop a dry, machine-like percussion of self-diminishment. I wanted the beginning to sound like shedding skin on rocks, and the end to sound like a new, beautiful shiny coat. 

3. “Lost” 

“Lost” is how I feel while walking through the world gently. It’s my most autobiographical work. It starts dissonant, hesitant and syncopated as I recount what it was like in school in the closet and facing the realities of being Black in Boston. It was important that this song function as a kind of confessional at its climax and then shrink  into a dense, calm clarity. I think that’s how a confessional goes. They’re moments of heat followed by a quiet knowing that your cards are all on the table. In this case, I have a little more to say about what I’m willing to tolerate going forward. I encourage people to study it before contacting me for some bullshit. 

4. & 5. “…Eversafe” / “1000 Words”

“…Eversafe” into “1000 Words” is a piece that was mostly written in two hours in my head after having a pretty strong edible. Musically, it’s my chance to do something a little classical in instrumentation with organ and strings and then heavy with lots of distortion. My 14-year-old self would freak out if he heard it. Lyrically, it’s about the loss of the romanticism of what it means to be an artist. My 14-year-old self would be very sad to hear that I moved to the big, bright city to make art and discovered what everyone does: that the city doesn’t care about me and I have to eat. I got a job waiting tables and holding my tongue. A pandemic happens and I realize that my routine was a cage. “…Eversafe” opens with a phone recording of the summer of 2020 when fireworks would go off in Bed-Stuy until 2 a.m. Everything felt wide open, but nothing felt safe. 

In “1000 Words,” I use that experience as a metaphor for the relationship of labor to capital. The safe life is keeping your head down and consenting to a system built on your subjugation and commodification. Any real growth, I find, comes from meeting the world with the same ferocity and thinly veiled hostility that it has for me. But such violence and aggression can be dangerous, especially for people with my phenotype. Our society likes its animals in pens.

6. “KTA” 

“KTA,” or “Kill Them All,” is a tongue-in-cheek ode to reconciliation and redemption. It warns of the dangers of making enemies of potential friends in a context where we’re all beholden to algorithms over our internal sense of compassion. It’s depressing, I’m sure—I started it when I was depressed and never intended on anyone hearing it, but I’m deciding on throwing caution to the wind, which is what Treason ultimately represents for me. The song ends with opening notes of “Peace.” It asks, “At which point does understanding and empathy become self-effacing? When does ‘time to listen’ become ‘time to act’? When is betrayal of your conditioning in your self interest?”