“For me, ‘Knife’ is about a frustrating co-dependent relationship with an ex from years ago — one of those long stories best told with a stiff drink in a dimly lit bar.”
Get ready for this one, folks. Vehlinggo is proud to premiere “Knife,” the new single from Brooklyn-based Nola Wren and new collaborator Kill Dave.
Like last year’s Wren single “Venom,” this new synthpop/”grit-pop” number has bite and beauty. It pairs a big, catchy Wren/Kill Dave arrangement with Wren’s poignant vocals (and a face-melting guitar solo by The Space 9). The lyrics, as with “Venom,” showcase the storyteller’s resilience in the face of challenging obstacles.
Wren tells Vehlinggo that she met Kill Dave through a mutual friend and fellow songwriter named Nisha. Dave had been working on some pop music projects and TV commercials.
“We hit it off — particularly over a shared love for Crystal Castles and the Drive Soundtrack — and decided to try working on a song together,” Wren says. (Fun fact: If you didn’t know already, in 2014 Wren teamed up with Drive artist College for the single “Save the Day.”)
“There was zero pretense involved in this collaboration, and that’s probably why it worked out so well,” Wren continues. “We just followed our guts and gave it our best shot, and created something we’re genuinely excited to share.”
Kill Dave says there was something about Wren’s voice and lyrics that connected with him.
“Nola’s style of writing felt like a breath of fresh air to me,” he said. “When she first brought me the vocal idea for ‘Knife,’ I knew it was something worth working on. When we bashed out the idea for the chorus during our first session together, I knew the song needed to be finished.”
The lyrics on “Knife” are inspired by the case involving convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner.
“I wrote the first verse to ‘Knife’ the same day I read [Turner’s] sexual assault victim’s letter that she read to him in court,” Wren says. “So you can imagine my state of mind.”
At that point, the song didn’t have a title, nor was it really even a song, she says.
“Once we got into the studio, things continued to develop and the core of its meaning took on something more personal,” Wren says. “For me, ‘Knife’ is about a frustrating co-dependent relationship with an ex from years ago — one of those long stories best told with a stiff drink in a dimly lit bar. It might mean something different to Dave.”
Wren hasn’t released anything new since 2015’s “Dancing on the Roof,” and in the meantime has had to deal with the soul-crushing experience of losing all her music files in a computer crash.
“This past May, my computer had a meltdown and I lost pretty much everything on my hard drive. Six months of work on my EP, suddenly gone,” she says. “Lesson learned: Always back up to the cloud! Don’t buy sketchy laptop chargers off eBay that fry your motherboard!”
But the universe had something in store for her: That same week she had her first session with Dave.
“The world works in mysterious ways, I guess,” she says.
Also notable, aside from the catchy excellence of the music of “Knife,” is the single’s art. Wren designed it herself. She’s a visual artist and recently got into graphic design.
“The artwork for ‘Knife’ involved me setting up a scene in which I destroyed a banana with glitter, paint, and liquid candy,” she says. “I documented the poor fruit’s sticky demise, then worked from there in Photoshop and Illustrator to create the final design.”
“The creepy, classic R.L. Stine Goosebumps book covers from my childhood were definitely a big source of inspiration,” she continues.
After a hundred listens to “Knife,” Wren’s fans will want more like it. It’s a truly engaging cut, after all. So check this: There’s good news in that department.
“We’re continuing to collaborate on more music,” Wren says, “so stay tuned.”
As for that killer guitar solo?
“I’m a 90s baby through and through,” she says, “but let there be no mistake: That rock guitar solo at the end is an all-caps love letter to the 80s.”
You can buy the cut on iTunes and other places on Friday, Oct. 7.
(Editor’s Note: Updated to include some Kill Dave quotes.)