Pisha's Lament

Artist Pisha (Madeline Kassen, genre:unclassified) released her newest album January 20, 2021. The album, titled Threnody—a word that implies lament or mourning—will reflect not on death so much as on the themes of rebirth and transformation. 

During Threnody’s making, Kassen underwent a personal transformation. She described the album as an “audible growing pain,” in which she is “lamenting the death of a past self.” Listening to the previously-released single, “Home,” those sounds are definitely present. There is a hallowed howl and a wilting wail in Pisha’s voice that packs emotional power as bright as the burning light of a funeral pyre. 

Photos by Riley Halliday, instagram @riley_halliday

The atmosphere of Pisha’s music could as easily be the soundtrack to a Tim Burton movie as it could accompany you on a psychotropic journey. While her music could be categorized as avant-pop or hypnagogic pop (descriptors her friends dreamt up), there is something new-wave about it. This makes sense, as Pisha lists among her influences The Cure, Alison Goldfrapp, and New Order. 

“I feel it has some goth-pop elements and rock influences, sometimes some industrial elements,” Pisha said. “I’d call the genre ‘shit show’...I try to take it song by song. Hopefully a cosmic melody of yore flows through.”

The talk of yore and gothic elements calls back to Pisha’s namesake, a cannibal character from the video game Vampire Masquerade Bloodlines. It’s exactly the persona one envisions when listening to her music. 

Aside from her musical work as Pisha and in the band Tada! Kassen is a mutli-media artist. “My philosophy is everything is art,” she said. “I feel that if I did not make other forms of art, my music would suffer and maybe even vice versa. It is instrumental in me decongesting and getting over myself.” 

Her artistic sensibilities can be seen in her music videos and promotional art, which she’s done in collaboration with artist-friends Riley Halliday, Nate Buckley, and Stefan Bucchieri to name just a few. The incredible visual elements of Pisha’s work are key in cementing the musical and performative role of Pisha. 

“Pisha is just me with less inhibitions,” Kessen said. Uninhibited turns out to be a perfect way to describe Pisha’s music. Give it a listen, and maybe let go of a few of your own inhibitions. 

Follow Madeline on Instagram @madelinekassen and check out the album on Spotify by searching Threnody or Pisha. You can buy a tape of the album from Cult Love Sound Tapes by visiting their bandcamp.