I thought I knew at least a little bit about Summer Fry, aka Gurli Octavia, but like Benny Hill (anyone still remember him?) I’m ‘learning all the time.’
I know she’s had a bit of a reputation, let’s say for ‘knowing how to live’ as Oscar Wilde once said of the ladies in his life before he ended up in the gutter staring up at the stars but you could have knocked me down there alongside him with a feather when I read the back story to this song.
To start off, and coming initially from a hippie background where money had less consequence, she laments that it is expensive to be poor, as the poor always find out to their cost but at the same time that there is freedom in being able to afford to choose, to afford to have time. And many rich people are not happy, but it is arrogant to say that money does not mean anything to the joy of life when you live in a capitalist society where everything costs a fortune.
“It amazes me that we don’t learn about money in school” she says, because it further increases economic inequality so that those who start life without money often also start adult life without a financial understanding.
So ‘money can’t buy me love’ is her starting point as it was with The Beatles back in 1964 and they knew a thing or two about a thing or two. But it can buy her freedom, which is the mantra on which the song hangs.
The second part of the back story relates a time in her life when she engaged and indulged in Ayahusaca ceremonies (a brew made from the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub along with the stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine), still used in places like the Amazonian jungle and which can cause hallucinations and ‘altered states of consciousness’ as well as physical effects like crapping yourself.
Blimey, and I used to think she just liked an occasional Carlsberg and a crafty ciggie; perhaps the odd magic mushroom.
But seriously these ceremonies did cause ructions with partners, family and labels, not to mention the knock-on effect of associated self destructive behaviour such as alcohol and drug abuse, which was only cured by a spell in the Swedish forest living on ‘jungle medicine.’ I’ll leave that one to your imagination.
In revealing that much now it is easier to understand just where she was coming from immediately prior to her debut album ‘I could be blossoming instead’ a few years ago.
But the story didn’t end there as she suffered an injury that left her staggering about “like Quasimodo” when she could walk at all and rendered it impossible to make the music that “has always been completely existential for me” and hence with the money problems the song had ironically hinted at.
The saving grace has been the ‘good people’ in her life and the video here has become a declaration of love for those friendships.
And so to the song, and the video. You know, I thought I’d got to grips by now with Summer/Gurli and nothing she could do would surprise me any longer but once again she’s blindsided me. You never know quite what direction she’ll take.
In this instance she starts off by gravitating in the direction of hip hop and by the end she’s almost rapping her way through it.
In between she starts channeling Lydmor musically, the only other Danish artist I can think of, off hand, who is working at this manically imaginative level.
It is lyrically where she reveals her ambition to be able to laugh her way through life with or without the benefit of ‘coin,’ (and to ‘make it’ in the business if she can, and big style).
Some of her lyrics demand you root for her:
“Praise my inner entrepreneur/pissing 96’ Latour/ I’m gonna rise out of nothing…”
“I’m gonna ride the wind/Grammys stacked on my shelf/Zane Lowe sunset interview/about my LA record/I’ll be a giant”
Those lyrics are at such odds with the painful majority on ‘I could be blossoming instead’ that no comparison can be made. For example:
“and they say spring is on its way/but it’s getting darker here/each day”
“You’re probably wondering how I’ve been/I wish I had better news/but to be honest/I’m not doing great”.
The song is as chaotic as the life she lives.
And in a strange sort of way I hope things stay that way. Just as the newspapers of Utopia would be too boring to read, the songs of a settled, husband and two kids, Majorca vacationing, suburban housewife, soccer mom Summer Fry would have nothing like the same impact.
For the moment, let’s just say that she’s done the ‘gutter’ bit; now it’s time to reach the stars.
‘Can’t buy me love’ is out on 19th May on eighteighteightyeight records, which I do believe is her birthdate and where the Latin ‘Octavia’ comes from).
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