Katie Deys’ Songs to Relieve Chronic Nerve Pain

With her new LP mydata out today, Dey lists off ten tracks that soothe her soul.

Remember those commercials for 5 Gum where they, like, pelted a guy with velvet-covered ping-pong balls launched by his returned-from-war brother while his toes, placed in a bucket of water, got sucked by carp, or any other number of inane, vaguely sensually pleasing concepts meant to illustrate how it feels to consume their product? Maybe I’m conflating this with a Jan Švankmajer movie, but this is the best analogy I can come up with to explain what it feels like to listen to Katie Dey’s music, which massages certain parts of the brain you never knew needed treatment.

Just over a year after dropping her Run for Cover debut solipsisters, Dey is giving us another full LP of glitched-out, increasingly morphous pop songs that detail the songwriter’s own experience in the less-pleasant 5 Gum chamber that is being online. While mydata is currently my go-to online-sourced pain-relief record, we asked Dey to provide some titles she looks to for comfort, providing ten singles which tend to do the trick.

Listen to her playlist below and read on for some commentary. mydata is out today via RFC, and you can order it here.

LustSickPuppy, “Goatmeal”

Pain relief songs generally fall into two camps: sublime, gorgeous songs that gently tease my brain into releasing endorphins, or heavily distorted hell songs that obliterate my sense of feeling entirely. “Goatmeal” is a perfect example of the latter. “Do you ever fantasize about being killed?” Yeah. Hell yeah, I do. Let’s go.

Girls Rituals, “Elevator Out of the Catacombs”

The most obnoxiously, inadvisably stupid song from one of the most obnoxiously, inadvisably stupid people I’ve ever met. Someday I will put a stop to this bitch.

Backxwash, “Spells”

This song is a pretty good sonic representation of what it’s like to be hurting constantly in endless dreadful burning pain. “I don’t know what to think or say / Mind and soul are slipping out out out out…” Feel that.

Lomelda, “Wonder”

Repeating encouraging phrases to yourself is a great way to distract yourself from the horror of being alive. Even if they don’t work, it keeps your brain occupied. And sometimes it’s nice to be nice to yourself, and remind yourself that even when things are bad, it really could be a lot worse and you still have the capacity for goodness. “You got a lot / Give it your all!”

Ichiko Aoba, “Onigashiwa”

This is an example of a sublime sort of pain relief song. The way the chorus effortlessly changes key, and the melody almost floats away at the end of sentences…it soothes my soul directly. It gets all up in there.

Dijon, “hunni”

Another sublime one…this album is tragically underrated. “Could you put your hands tight around my neck and never let me go?” Who hasn’t thought that at some point or another…just choke my ass out, but lovingly.

Perfume Genius, “Nothing at All”

Pretty self-explanatory. “Soul on fire, baby say my name, yeah yeah yeah.” I feel that in my bones. Perfectly simple and beautiful song, with tiny flairs of virtuosity that could only be crafted by a Genius

Christelle Bofale, “Miles”

Another deeply underrated track. Beautiful and caring singing. “Seems like nobody’s scared enough / Seems like nobody cares enough.” True as hell.

Oomori Seiko, “Kimoi Kawa”

This song makes me cry without fail, and sometimes when you’re in pain all you wanna do is cry and cry… Roughly translated the lyrics are like, “The doctors can’t save me, the police can’t protect me / I can’t save myself, help meee” etc, and all manner of depressingly real shit. But then the repeated “disgusting is cute”… I truly hope to believe in that phrase with all my life.

Hiroshi Yoshimura, “FEET”

This album is sacred to me. Deeply healing. Nothing to say. Feet time. 

Side note: the “heal” song from the Ico videogame soundtrack is possibly my most-listened-to piece of audio ever and it’s literally a twenty-second loop. I hear new things in it every time I listen. It’s not on Spotify, though—you gotta get the one-hour loop video on YouTube.


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