Ki: Theory, I Am Strikes, The U.S. Americans
Ki:Theory is American recording artist and producer Joel Burleson. He has spent the span of his career crafting his own style of dark electronic rock music, landing him on blockbuster TV shows and movies such as Ghost In The Shell, Brick Mansions, CSI, and The Following.
Ki:Theory's latest full-length album, Silence, takes his cinematic approach further, showcasing his dexterity as an arranger and vocalist with haunting re-imaginations of "Enjoy The Silence" and "Walkin' After Midnight." Burleson's own songwriting holds up remarkably well against the two iconic tracks, creating a cohesive album highlighted by "If You Don't Care / Fake It" and "Bringing Me Down" featuring Ruelle.
Silence marks the 5th LP of a prolific recording career that includes multiple iTunes Electronic and Alternative chart #1s and commissioned remixes for Daft Punk, ODESZA, Cypress Hill, Rob Zombie and Queens Of The Stone Age, among others. Not one to rest on the strength of his studio output, Ki:Theory's electrifying live show has been recruited by the likes of Purity Ring, Phantogram, Passion Pit, DJ Shadow, Sparta, and Baths for tour support.
There's a lot to be said about the steadfast commitment to honesty. However, it's no secret that some thoughts are too heavy to exist outside our own sphere of awareness. Enter I Am Strikes, an emerging indie-alternative artist from Sacramento, CA with a lot to say and very little room for shame or discretion.
"Vapidity makes me want to rip my face off," says I Am Strikes when asked what inspired her to start the project. "The man at the checkout counter asks you how you're doing. Maybe it's the worst day of your life. But you always answer.. 'Good.' 'Fine.' As if invalidating your feelings for a moment ceases their existence. We live in a world of small talk and meaningless interaction." It's a relatable sentiment, to say the least.
So how does I Am Strikes exist in a society devoted to keeping one's hinges in place? "I've committed to fighting that grain tooth and nail. For the sake of my own sanity. For the sake of anybody else who can relate. If I need to say it, I sing it. All honesty. There's absolutely no censorship."
Such is seen in her song titles: "Whatever Makes You Want to Die Less," "Bitches," and "Love is Just a Way to Die," where she cloaks intense messages in powerful melody.
While I Am Strikes neither starts nor ends with cynicism, (despite what some song names may suggest), a sense of honest self-depreciation litters her music: "I may be a loser, but tell me I've won you over" -- the opening lyrics to her peppy piano ballad 'Loser.' "I may be stressed, or maybe I am depressed/but I know I'm moving on to the life you kept me from" -- the chorus lyrics to her anthem 'Out of Breath,' dedicated to "the pill-popping kids" and "the mind-numbing youth" whom she advises to "stop hiding [their] wrists." Suffice it to say, there's a hopeful undertone that contrasts the inherent darkness of her persona and her music.
While it's impossible to ignore her compelling vocal style and content, I Am Strikes is more of a musician than most. At the age of 15, she began teaching herself to play the guitar. "I didn't know anything about it," she says. "My family didn't play. My friends didn't play. I didn't grow up around much music at all. I was kind of just sick of being a teenager and finally gave myself a valid excuse to lock myself in my room." These hours of solitude lead to an undeniable proficiency of her instrument; the guitar seems an extension of her fingers.
Maybe she's a walking contronym, as her name would suggest. Maybe she straddles the line between centered and unstable. Or maybe she's the embodiment of a generation tired of shaming pain and stigmatizing madness. It's no secret that I Am Strikes is far from the tail-end of her career.
So what exactly happened to I Am Strikes to elicit such an explosive and creative response? "It's simple. I got my heart broken. Badly. Heavily. And it changed my perspective on everything."