NYC-based postpunk duo Frenchy and the Punk present ‘Temple of Sleep’, a slow, dark, atmospheric track from their new ‘Zen Ghost’ album. Pitting emotional angst against sleep, the song squirms with the uneasy yet seductive pull of altered states of rest. The video, shot entirely in upstate New York, captures the autumnal feel and mood of the song.
Frenchy and the Punk is vocalist, percussionist and lyricist Samantha Stephenson and guitarist-composer Scott Helland, who co-founded Outpatients and Deep Wound (with Dinosaur Jr.‘s J Mascis and Lou Barlow). The duo profess a vivid blend of post-punk and dark folk music.
Not long ago, the duo revealed ‘If The World Doesn’t End First’, a love song wrapped in an impending apocalyptic scenario inspired by current events, past fears and the knowledge that, in the end, the things that don’t matter pass and the one thing that does remains.
Earlier, they released the high energy singles ‘Mon Souvenir’ and Siouxsie-esque ‘Come In and Play’, their shadowy sound taking an even darker turn towards the pair’s previously unexplored personal planes and interpretations of the insanity of our increasingly tumultuous age. Dark times make for dark songs.
“When I wrote the lyrics to ‘Temple of Sleep’, I was literally having trouble sleeping. Sleep used to come easily to me, except perhaps as a teenager when I was afraid to succumb to it because of recurring nightmares and sleep paralysis. But during these last few years, sleep has often evaded me. I also think about what it must be like to be in your early 20s at this time, trying to make plans and dreaming of the future and how it is probably so different than when I was that age. There is a dystopian cloud that seems to hover over everything these days. The everyday of life can be poisonous and make restful sleep hard to attain, which is so instrumental to a healthy life,” says Samantha Stephenson.
“I have always found that the return to nature for nurture and the calming of the waters of the heart and mind are essential to well being; an anecdote. I find the allure of the dream state to be very seductive and a welcome escape. The theme of sleep felt like the perfect subject for Scott’s beautifully lugubrious riff progression on this tune.”
Tapped as one of the Top 25 duos in the US by Yahoo! Music, the freewheeling pair has released numerous recordings, including the acclaimed albums ‘Happy Madness’ (2010), ‘Hey Hey Cabaret’ (2012), ‘Elephant Uproar’ (2013), ‘Cartwheels’ (2014), ‘Bonjour Batfrog’ (2014) and ‘Hooray Beret’ (2019).
French-born, but raised in the UK and USA, Stephenson’s study of piano and dance ignited her eventual rejection of corporate conformity and fueled a quest to lead a truly autonomous life through art and music. A son of jazz-loving teachers, Helland grew up in Western Massachusetts and was a vital player on the region’s fertile early hardcore punk scene.
Helland and Stephenson met in NYC in 1998, when Stephenson spontaneously jumped on stage to accompany Helland during his solo guitar performance. The artistic union was immediate, powerful and undeniable. The two began to tour with fevered zeal, turning heads with their striking aesthetic, steadily building fervent fans on the mystical-folk/steampunk festival, coffeehouse, convention, and club circuits with their boisterous, revival-like live shows.
Over the years, they’ve performed live with Dead Can Dance’s Peter Ulrich and Dresden Dolls’ Brian Viglione, and opened for Thomas Dolby, Dinosaur Jr., The World Inferno Friendship Society, Rasputina, Cruxshadows, Hurray For The Riff Raff and The Young Dubliners.
The ‘Zen Ghost’ LP is out now via EA Recordings and can be found across fine digital outlets, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. It is also available on CD via the band’s website.
All songs written by Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland
Samantha Stephenson – lyrics, lead vocal, percussion, keyboard
Scott Helland – guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals
Jason Sarubbi – upright bass on ‘Church of Sound’
Braxton Bellew – additional electric bass on ‘Church of Sound’
Recorded & mixed by Jason Sarubbi at Split Rock Studios, New Paltz, NY
Mastered at The Cage, Coventry UK by Martin Bowes
Cover photo by Alice Teeple
Pen and ink drawings by Scott Helland
Album cover design by Scott Helland and Samantha Stephenson
Feb 4/5 Manchester, CT – Stupid Cupid Steampunk Festival
Feb 18/19 Gettsyburg, PA – MythiCon Festival
April 01 Galveston, TX – Galveston Steampunk Festival
April 8-9 Baltimore, MD – Between The Worlds
April 15/16 Chicago, IL – Chicago Steampunk Expo
April 22/23 Apex, NC – Festival of Legends
“Explosive, subdued, confrontational, soothing, spikey, and accessible, an incredible blend of alt-rock shade and alt-folk light” ~ Big Takeover Magazine
“Vibrant and danceable. Who says dark can’t also be fun? Zen Ghost, which may be among the year’s best albums to date, is a highly recommended listen” ~ The Spill Magazine
“Penetrating psych-soaked post-punk… Brimming with their signature cinematic drama and that unforgettable voice” ~ Global Texan Chronicles
“Bombastic… a happy medium between the sonic atmosphere and thoughtful melancholy of post-punk music and the unmistakable drama of cabaret… as beautifully manic as some of the finest artists on America’s early punk’ scene” ~ Amplify Music Magazine
“An inspiriting slice of post punk hued, new wave nurtured rock ‘n’ roll… under the skin and hungrily stirring the imagination in a flash” ~ Ringmaster Review
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