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Standout Track: No. 2 on the Suburban EP, “Stop.” On this up-tempo grunge throwback, Muhsinah sheds her soulful image. James Brown–influenced drum pickups punctuate her lyrics about the difficulties of acclimating to an alien environment. “I wanted something that sounded like James Brown had a rock band and put a girl in it,” she says.
Musical Motivation: Gone, which comprises both Suburban and the Urban EP, tells the story of Muhsinah’s dual upbringing in D.C. and Virginia. The 8-bit and 808 sounds on Urban are part art, part convenience: “I’m sponsored by Moog synthesizers, so they worked perfectly in bringing out the harder, urban essence,” she says. Crafting the angsty, Hole–meets–Nine Inch Nails feel on Suburban, by contrast, was a little tough at first. “Creating an EP based in guitars and rock sounds, especially given my previous material, was really difficult, but having put myself in that box, breaking out of it was rewarding.” She even went DIY and self-produced the EP: “I actually created a sound booth in my closet. I carpeted the walls and hung my own soundproofing, and it really gave me a great sound.”
Mario’s Got Soul: “Stop & Go,” a meditative cut on Urban, bears a striking resemblance to the bleeps and bloops on the underground levels of a certain Nintendo game. Muhsinah freely admits the influence. “I grew up playing a lot of Super Mario Brothers. Using 8-bit sounds in my music isn’t progressive to me; it’s something that reminds me of what I love.”