Nyssa feels like a blast from the past and a traveler from the future all at once. Weaving 80s synths, country-esque storytelling elements, and vocals akin to a punk version of Madonna. The Toronto singer has managed to create a vastly diverse, impactful, and anthemic debut EP with her release Champion of Love. Catchy hooks meet biting lyrics saturated in tongue-in-cheek honesty (“everything I told you is a lie,” “was I drunk or was I just bored?”). While unabashedly pop in nature, her songs are anything but surface level, delving into personal topics like the quest for true intimacy (or ditching that for lust) while invigorating listeners to reject mundanity in favor of living a more electric life. In anticipation for her show this Thursday with Heavy Birds and Miranda and the Beat, Nyssa shares a few of her favorite videos, podcasts, and pieces of poetry.
1. Elvis —“Return To Sender”
Talk about a tall glass of water! Peak King charm & beauty & moves.
2. Everything Is Stories Podcast
A beautifully produced podcast that gives powerful and necessary airtime to the chronically under-seen and under-told. The “Marble Faun” episode is one of the best stories I’ve come across in ages.
3. River’s Edge
There was a lot of real-life darkness going on in Northern California in the mid-to-late-80s—this film’s response to that—via deeply apathetic, troubled teens—is an unsung classic. It somehow occupies the simultaneously unnerving and exhilarating middle ground between Stand By Me and Twin Peaks.
4. Otis @ Monterey
Beautiful, independent women in all their 60s glory cut along to the lyrics of one of the best songs ever written, performed by one of the greatest performers who ever lived, in one of the all-time great performances—pure exultation.
5. “Green Screen: The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why it Matters” by Vanessa Veselka
“A man on the road is solitary. A woman on the road is alone.”
A massive inspiration for a feminized approach to narrative in songwriting—specifically road-narratives—while also serving as an impetus to achieving true subjecthood as a woman, no matter the story or its setting.
6. Stevie Nicks — “Wild Heart” (Dressing Room Footage)
The pure joy Stevie gets from singing her own beautiful song, hair in rollers, make-up artist dancing in front of her—life-affirming!
7. Carolyn Baxter’s Prison Poetry
Keeping in theme with the unsung and under-told, the poems of Carolyn Baxter, a poet/ex-con from NY, are a real punch to the gut:
“Joining the moon singing do you know the way to San Jose.
In two part cruelty.”
8. Dougie Wallace — “Harrodsburg”
Paparazzi-style photos of the hyper-wealthy looking hyper-disgusting. Eat the rich!
9. Skid Row — “I Remember You” Live @ Wembley 1991
If ever the genre of hair-metal achieved a state of grace, this is it.
Very valuable resource for producers.
11. Frank O’Hara — “Meditations in an Emergency”
“All I want is boundless love.”
12. E.M. Forster — “The Machine Stops”
E.M. Forster predicting the cold and brutal reality of social media and our modern condition in 1909 (!!!!). Genuinely mind-blowing.
13. Jessica Simpson & Jewel — “Who Will Save Your Soul”
The competitive spirit here is wiiiiiiild. Specifically when they both hold that one note for one hundred years and also when they try to out-seductive each other on the lines, “homeless have their homes”, and, “you got social security but that won’t pay your bills”. A performance for the ages.
14. “Smile Back At Me”
This is a real thing that happened: the Prime Minister of Canada’s wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, performed an off-key a-cappella rendition of a song she “wrote” for her infant daughter (telling her to SMILE, no less), as a tribute to Martin Luther King. Never forget.