2020 was most certainly a year that will go down in history for obvious reasons, but it was also a historic year for music. As a pandemic forced everyone into isolation and confusion, artists found solace and purpose in their music, and many songs that came out reflect the vulnerability, loneliness, and overwhelming emotions that everyone across the globe could feel on a personal level.
KASHKA was amongst the fray, having recently released a single, “Soft,” a song that embodies the individual experience of someone in 2020. Sound-wise, the song has a very minimal and futuristic element. The use of electronic keys with a sparse bass rhythm and light-handed symbol taps creates this otherworldly, dreamy vibe that transports you into a quiet headspace, like a painting come to life as the artist leaves gentle brushstrokes with each beat.
The song does take a slight turn from KASHKA style of past songs, which has a bit more of a present sound, though the futuristic vibe is still part of her repertoire. There’s more activity, faster rhythms, and more vocals, such as “Salmon Arms,” “Heavy Ghost,” and “Smoke It Out.” Not much like the quiet and minimal “Soft.” This interesting divergence reflects the change KASHKA experienced during a dark time, a time in which life itself became quiet and minimal.
The very simplistic instrumental layer is accompanied by Kat Burns’ (the voice behind KASHKA) sensual vocals that equally reflect the spacy, delicate mood. Together, the instruments, voice, and lyrics form the accurate image of how 2020 felt and how we tried to cope with it, especially when the colder months rolled around.
it’s dark at four o’clock
the city’s sleeping in a fever dream
my body’s so tired, I’m getting used to being lonely.
Darkness, fever dream, tiredness, loneliness…words that define last year. KASHKA describes exactly how we all felt, drifting through our days in repetition and descending into a new normalcy of nothingness.
I need some light, a crack, a splinter to get me through the winter
I feel hopeless.
In an interview, KASHKA described her personal experience during the worst times of 2020: “I was truly looking into a black hole and didn’t know what the future held. I usually turn to music in these times, but even that felt meaningless.” So many felt that same hopelessness and lack of meaning, perhaps still do into 2021, and KASHKA seeks to provide some catharsis and, potentially, a solution to the hardship:
but whenever life gets hard I just get soft
so soft, so soft.
Kind of like what Canadian poet Rupi Kaur said, “To be soft is to be powerful,” KASHKA tells us how becoming soft to hardship helps us cope with that hopelessness.
However you choose to interpret what that means, it’s great to see KASHKA come forth from the dreariness of 2020 and find some light in the darkness.