EP Premiere: Astral Swans & Child Actress - STRANGE PRISON (Child Actress Remixes)

The Cups N Cakes Network is ecstatic to be delivering a bunch of new content from Calgary’s Astral Swans. Astral Swans is the critically acclaimed project of Matthew Swann whose previous endeavours included Hot Little Rocket, Extra Happy Ghost!!!, and GOLD. Today we are premiering an EP of remixes from his 2018 album STRANGE PRISON, which was one of our favourite albums of that year. The three remixes were done by Child Actress and include the tracks “What Are You Gonna Do With Yourself”, “Blow Away”, and “Controls”. All proceeds from the bandcamp sales of this EP will go to The Pacific Association Of First Nations Women (so please follow the link within the player to purchase these incredible tracks).

Child Actress is the musical project of Rena Kozak who has been a long-time friend and musical collaborator with Swann. When asked about their history and the work she did with his songs, Swann states:

“Rena and I have a long-standing friendship, and creative working relationship, that I cherish, and which extends over a nearly 10 year history. In 2011, I joined a band called GOLD that was fronted by Rena, and a woman named Kaelan Ohm. The rhythm section consisted of myself on bass, and Chris Reimer (the guitarist from the band Women) on drums. On Feb 21, 2012 Chris tragically passed away, a situation that affected the whole trajectory of our collective lives, both as bandmates, and friends. Following the disbanding of GOLD, Rena, and I continued to collaborate on other musical projects including touring stints in my former band Extra Happy Ghost!!!, and her project Child Actress. During the recording of STRANGE PRISON, Rena contributed vocals, and arrangements to two album tracks, “I Wanna See Something Burn”, and “What Are You Gonna Do With Yourself”. In May 2019, while working as tour manager/sound engineer for the bands Preoccupations, and Operators, Rena completed a remix project of 3 Astral Swans tracks, constructed on the road, from within the tour van. The result is these 3 beautiful interpretations from that album. I love these songs so much, and I am so proud to share her stellar reinterpretations with you. If you enjoy these remixes I strongly urge you to check out Child Actress’s own album, and live shows. She does not disappoint.”

When asked about how this project came together, Kozak explains:

“It was probably more than a year ago now that Swann posted on facebook that he was looking for collaboration on remixes. In the post he mentioned that he was prioritizing women/non-binary/POC/LGBTQ collaborators. This triggered me to want to give it a try - it sparked the notion in me that I had actually never heard of a single female remix producer, and in a way I had subconsciously assumed women just don't do that. Which on a conscious level is really foolish but on an instinctive socialized level is understandable. There was literally no reason that I couldn't fully mix a track. I have all the technical skills and tools to do it but yet had never considered it. Coincidentally I had a need to improve my skill in Abelton for work and so it was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself and learn and also maybe come up with something cool.

I chose my three favourite songs from his record and sonically tried to take the emotion I got from each and translate it in terms of coloration. They aren't typical remixes in that they're not dance remixes, they are more a reimagining of the songs, depicted by choosing the colors I saw in each and using one or two to create a new simple sonic painting.

Apparently the original facebook request for women/non-binary/POC/LGBTQ specific remixers was met with some angry opposition, which I didn't happen to see as I avoid anything that looks remotely dramatic on the internet, but honestly I'm completely appalled by. I, as someone who is not only one of the most skilled female audio engineers in Canada but one of the most skilled and experienced just in general, saw that and felt like it was something I assumed I could never do because I had NEVER seen an example of it. It's insane to me that men felt the need to defend themselves there and not acknowledge the socialized advantage they have in this field. We are at this socially regressive point where the attempts to level the playing field are being met with defence from those who've possessed the advantage and there's often no way to explain their folly to them because they refuse to see equality as involving them having to share the spaces they've historically dominated. It's imperative to create room in these spaces for those who have never realized they could be there due to systemic oppression. (If you don't believe in systemic oppression then that unquestionably means you benefit from it.) 

If Swann hadn't specifically requested women/non-binary/POC/LGBTQ etc remixers I would have scrolled past it and then we would never have these sick tracks. And frankly they fucking rule. Suck it dudes.“

Alongside the EP, we also get the honour of premiering the video for the Child Actress remix of “What Are You Gonna Do With Yourself”. Watch the video below, and dive EVEN deeper into the mind of Astral Swans by listening to our “Inside The Artists Studio” interview with Matthew Swann.