“I’d been frustrated by a few things, particularly the queer / gay music I’d been hearing,” says Sam Vance-Law about the motivation behind his remarkably forthright debut album, HOMOTOPIA. “It seemed to focus on two themes: victimhood and pride. Thematically and musically, that seemed relatively impoverished, and the gay rights movement was moving quickly. Who cottages anymore? Who comes out in middle age? You can watch Paris is Burning and see a whole way of life that simply doesn’t exist anymore. I wanted to capture, through various narratives, some of the gay experience, as it is now, without judgement – so far as I was able – and, perhaps, controversially enough to engender interest in those narratives and ways of being.”
Not so long ago, it seemed that the world was closer than ever to acceptance of ‘non-conformist’ lifestyles. But, in just a short time, it appears the freedoms we’re used to have become more vulnerable than at any point in recent memory, with bigotry and intolerance now seemingly legitimised as acceptable forms of discourse. HOMOTOPIA, consequently, is a timely album, one which offers a series of vital, vivid and revealingly candid snapshots of life for a gay man in the 21st Century. Fearless and frank, wise and witty, it finds 30-year-old Vance-Law spinning tales of love, lust, beatings and babies against an ingeniously realised musical backdrop.
From the chamber music of ‘WANTED TO’ and the ornate balladry of ‘STAT, RAP.’ to the breathless indie of ‘PRETTYBOY’ and the charming ‘GAYBY’, via the hallucinogenic sweep of ‘I THINK WE SHOULD TAKE IT FAST’, the raging ‘FAGGOT’ and the satirical, sensitive ‘NARCISSUS 2.0’, HOMOTOPIA is a notable exercise in literate pop rooted in classicist traditions. A collection that could sit comfortably alongside the likes of John Grant, The Magnetic Fields and Father John Misty, it’s also unafraid of nodding to – among other forms – theatre, operetta and orchestral pop.
Though HOMOTOPIA’s ten songs are all delivered in the first person, Vance-Law is careful to point out that they’re “based on stories I’ve heard or read. None of the characters should necessarily be taken at his word, but part of the importance of the narratives are those truths of personal experience outside of any particular – and therefore normally contrived, and to the detriment of the other – objectivity.” HOMOTOPIA finds Vance-Law confronting, head-on, what are still seen – by some – as taboos, always sincerely, never sanctimoniously, and sometimes with tongue in cheek. It pulls no punches, and is all the better for it.
Boldly going where few dare these days, it’s as provocative as it is thoughtful, and as entertaining as it is warm-hearted. “The release,” he concludes, “is about putting issues of equality front and centre. About testing audiences and their abilities to relate to the stories I’m telling. About calling on empathy andcompassion as the first and necessary response to a person and his or her situation, not as a
luxury doled out sparingly if and when deemed fit.” Destined to galvanise, enlighten, and shock, HOMOTOPIA may even prove to be one of the most
audacious albums to come out all year.
Sam Vance-Law LIVE
Saturday, 3rd March 2018 | Doors 19:00 CET | Starts 20:00 CET
Prachtwerk | Ganghoferstr. 2 | 12043 Berlin