Dizzy Take Us Track by Track Through Through Their Bittersweet Self-Titled Record

Katie Munshaw shares how friendships, isolation, and expectations for adult life shaped the Ontario group’s latest project, out now via Royal Mountain Records.
Track by Track

Dizzy Take Us Track by Track Through Through Their Bittersweet Self-Titled Record

Katie Munshaw shares how friendships, isolation, and expectations for adult life shaped the Ontario group’s latest project, out now via Royal Mountain Records.

Words: Mike LeSuer

Photo: Boy Wonder

August 18, 2023

There’s a brilliant simplicity to the glowing, honest alt-pop songs that comprise Dizzy’s new self-titled record which is perfectly summarized in their video for the pre-album single “Barking Dog.” “Our creative director Ryan was like, ‘What if you just punched yourself in your face for three minutes straight?’” vocalist Katie Munshaw recalls, “and I was like, “Fuck it, why not?”

While conceptually recalling that one scene from Fight Club—and in practice hewing closer to Isabelle Adjani animatedly writhing in puddles of blood and milk in Possession—the video captures the various emotions that fuel Dizzy, which often blend into a frenzy of feeling (hiding behind a Kabuki mask haunting the record’s cover) made sleek by the band’s dream-pop instrumentation and Munshaw’s cool vocals. The album’s lyrics address heartbreak and other forms of isolation about as frequently as they celebrate the power of companionship, mostly of the platonic (or canine) sort. 

All of which lends itself to a feeling of being “pink in the middle,” as Munshaw so aptly puts it—an internal rawness that may be at odds with the societal need to consistently appear composed in order to competently play the role of adulthood. It’s often a painful balancing act, but as the record reminds us, leaning into those feelings is always rewarding. “10/10,” Munshaw says, “would punch myself in the face again.”

With the record out now via Royal Mountain Records, stream along and read Munshaw’s track-by-track breakdown of Dizzy below.

1. “Barking Dog”
The “Barking Dog” video is a play on the saying “Don’t beat yourself up, kid,” which is basically the thesis of the song. Our creative director Ryan [Faist, a.k.a Boy Wonder] was like, “What if you just punched yourself in your face for three minutes straight?” and I was like, “Fuck it, why not?” We shot visuals for four songs total the day we shot the “Barking Dog” video, but we saved it for last purposely. We were both exhausted in a way that felt loopy and right. Most of the crew had gone home for the night so it was just us two in this little weird bathroom ready to rumble. We did three takes and by the end of it all I was pretty teary. I don’t know that I will ever forget being in that bathroom with my pal feeling very safe and understood while simultaneously scared of my own feelings. 10/10, would punch myself in the face again.

2. “Jaws”
“Jaws” is a song about the expectations that come along with adulthood: marriage, buying a home, having kids, white picket fences. I have to wonder if we all truly want those things or if we follow suit out of fear and peer pressure. 

3. “Birthmark”
At the start of the pandemic, Charlie and I started writing songs with the idea to pitch them to other artists. “Birthmark” was one of the songs that came out of that process. The song is from the point of view of someone I love who went through their first heartbreak last year. I remember we were laying in bed one night and they said they didn’t feel so bad until it was time to go to sleep. I thought that was so sad.

4. “Stupid for You”
“Stupid for You” is a big, fat love song! I don’t often feel inspired by happiness, so it was challenging to write about romantic love without feeling like a corndog. It’s probably why the song is so self-deprecating. 

5. “Cell Division”
“Cell Division” was Alex’s piano baby. He sent the idea to me at a really volatile time in my life. It was easy and confessional to write. We ripped the audio in the bridge from some home videos I stole from my grandma’s house. The voice you hear talking to little Katie is my Uncle Danny.

6. “Salmon Season”
I’ve sat on the “pink in the middle” lyric from “Salmon Season” for years. It exists in other Dizzy songs that won’t see the light of day. I think it’s a fitting way to describe how I’ve felt during these past few years; raw and vulnerable on the inside despite an exterior that might convey otherwise. Charlie and I produced the original demo in this super-indie, Sixpence None the Richer way until Alex wrote that wacky, circus-y-sounding keyboard part that made the song way darker. 

7. “Close”
Back in 2019 we were on tour in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when the wheel bearing on our van went kaputz on American Thanksgiving. It was a hard day, but the only thing I can really remember about it is laughing in the mechanic’s waiting room and then finding our way back to a hotel with a bottle of green room whiskey. We’ve been through a lot as a band, but we always manage to reconnect on itchy hotel beds between episodes of Family Guy. “Close” is about a lot of things, but mainly it’s about the comfort Mack, Charlie, and Alex bring me.

8. “Knock the Wind”
A few months ago I had my heart set on moving from Ontario to somewhere out east in Canada. I’ve always been really drawn to the sea, and whales in particular. My childhood bedroom was covered in ocean wallpaper, my bed sheets patterned to look like water. “Knock the Wind” is a rumination on how you can live somewhere your whole life and never really feel at home. It was the first song we recorded with our producer, David [Pramik], and it set the tone for the rest of our time together. 

9. “My Girl”
“My Girl” started as a song about how much I love my dog. I became really dependent on her during the last few years in isolation, but now it just reminds me of everyone I love so much in my life—my bandmates, my friends, my sister. It’s a love song for all “my girls.” The voice in the beginning of the song is Charlie, our drummer, telling Mack to look through a telescope at the eclipsing moon back in 2010. 

10. “Starlings”
“Starlings” was the first song we wrote for the record. Alex ripped his gnarly guitar solo at the end of the song while we were working on it in a cottage in northern Ontario. It’s the same take you hear in the track today. It’s probably the only good thing we got out of that writing trip, if I’m being honest. The song was such a pain in my ass to write lyrically—I ended up asking my friend Stefan Babcock [of PUP] for help. I really admire his ability to write dark but humorous lyrics, and he helped me get out of my writing rut.

11. “AYSOM”
“Are You Sick of Me” started as a piano ballad. It’s another one where the demo vocal was better than any other take we tried to get later on. I can hear this delicate embarrassment in my voice, because it was the first time I’d said any of those words out loud to someone. The song is about feeling guilty that the people I love have chosen to love me back. Hearing those feelings in the song helps me realize how irrational those thoughts are. 

12. “Open Up Wide”
When we started recording the album, our producer David was super conscious of cutting the fat from each song. One afternoon he encouraged us to write our parts in a simpler, more “spoonfed” fashion for easy listening, when Mack piped up cheekily, “Open up wide! Here comes the airplane!” The next morning we were all feeling a bit resentful of that mindset, and “Open Up Wide” came to be while we were having our morning coffees. It’s a tongue-in-cheek ode to a music industry we’ve never understood all that well.