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Hey, what's up! Just like I said on Snapchat AND Facebook, the acquisition and total absorption of Musiczone by the morally flawless and incredibly smart investors at our new parent company did not mean I would no longer be allowed to write the beloved Musiczone Daily newsletter. I think everyone who reacted to that press release with "the sky is falling" nonsense needs to take a hard look at themselves. There's no amount of whining on Glassdoor by sour-grapes staff laid off and allegedly violently hauled out of the building and beaten in the street with truncheons that justifies all this weirdness. Comments are turned off until this cools down.
Anyway! Today, to celebrate their 29th birthday, we're gonna do an overview of the incredible career of DJ Miserykill, born Jessifer Laurence Splablum. Often referred to by both fans and jealous haters as "the official goth edgelord of Manchester," DJ Miserykill has released over 140 hours of music to date, and I'm here to sift through it and take you on a guided tour of their best stuff.
"Pull Hates" (2007)
When DJ Miserykill was only 13, they were admitted to the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris in Paris, France. The Conservatoire had never before admitted someone so young to their undergraduate program, but the story goes that DJ Miserykill played an original piano composition for the director that brought him to his knees sobbing, muttering incoherently in French about unprecedented beauty. A year later, Miserykill reportedly fell in love with another student, a 17 year old American named Claire Ravenbride who charmed them with her immaculate black metal inspired makeup looks and elaborate, hand-sewn black lace dresses. In an attempt to impress her, they made "Pull Hates", a 27-minute dark ambient remix of "Pull Shapes" by the Pipettes.
"Pull Hates" incorporates unsettling ambient soundscapes, an original string melody that Miserykill recorded themself on a standing bass, and distorted vocal samples that a lawsuit alleged was the 911 call where the plaintiff's father was stabbed to death by his ex-wife. (The lawsuit was settled out of court for undisclosed terms.) It's no surprise that such an early masterpiece impressed Ms. Ravenbride so much she encouraged Miserykill to post it on Soundcloud, nor is it a surprise that its incredible success there brought it to the attention of hateful old fogeys who don't appreciate art. Unfortunately, many of the hateful fogeys were donors to and alumni of the Conservatoire, and Miserykill was expelled in disgrace.
"The Shrieking Sessions IV: How Could She Do This?" (2010)
Disowned by their parents and couch surfing in the Parisian goth edgelord community, DJ Miserykill worked odd jobs at various croissant bakeries and cigarette rolling shops to get by. When they arrived home to their current couch, before crying themself to sleep they would record and release an EP of 3-5 songs expressing their pain. Most of them were kind of trite strings-and-piano nonsense, but fans agree unanimously that The Shrieking Sessions is the highlight and turning point.
After an argument with their host's visiting grandmother over who would win the World Cup, their baby grand piano and violin collection were smashed to splinters by the enraged old woman with her bare hands. Left only with a year-old Thinkpad and a full-size 88-key MIDI keyboard, DJ Miserykill turned to samples, synthesizers, and their own wails of sorrow. When they awoke the next afternoon, they had been offered a record deal by seventeen different major labels. Fourteen of them said it was this fourth track that convinced them, a nine-minute a cappella piece that layered Miserykill's wails and sniffles into a caco-symphony of hashtag-relatable despair.
By 2013, DJ Miserykill had it all. Their debut album Slapping And Kicking The Void Until It Learns Its Lesson had gone so many times platinum that Val-U Records had to upgrade their accounting department's computers so they could process bigger numbers. Their penthouse in Paris overlooking the Eiffel Tower was simultaneously considered the number one place in the world to party, have your art displayed, and/or break down crying. Critics loved them and their work so universally that forty-one lesser musicians filed a class-action suit alleging industrywide critical bias, and a federal judge dismissed it with a single-page written opinion that suggested they "fucking wish they could make music that good and are coping poorly with how much they goddamn suck in comparison." But they weren't happy.
DJ Miserykill never wrote any music about it, concerned it would come off as incredibly weird and pushy, but they never forgot Claire Ravenbride. They'd lost touch when they were expelled from the Conservatoire, and they kept hoping they'd meet again someday. One night their closest friend and confidante, asexual agender anarchist fashion designer Vespertine Fatal, brought over a newspaper clipping. It was the wedding announcement between Claire and Fuffy Pipperington Slovenelle O'Dietrich the Fifth, another Conservatoire graduate and the crown prince of the Northwestern Amniotic Federation, a micronation located two hours from Paris by car in any direction.
DJ Miserykill released "Departure", a 14-minute instrumental single, to announce that they were having their penthouse relocated by helicopter to Manchester in the UK so they could be closer to Vespertine and Vespertine could be closer to Vespertine's polycule's commune across the street from the new location of the penthouse. "Departure" is the first of Miserykill's works to have no vocal samples at all, not even spoken word poetry readings or movie dialogue exchanges, and that definitely enhanced the feeling of cold sadness and resignation. Radio stations that played the song always prefaced it with a message about the suicide hotline, which was a bizarre misread since most fans describe hearing the song for the first time as a life-changing personal epiphany where they realized that even if things never got better, they were strong enough to be this miserable for as long as necessary, even for eternity.
"Time Loop Iteration #EX7751 (Beth's Theme)" (2018)
Though many huge gamer nerds who never go outside assumed that "Departure" was inspired by Alan Wake, an Xbox 360 game where a writer calls his book that or something, DJ Miserykill did not play Alan Wake for the first time until 2016, when they played the developer's back catalog after getting really into Quantum Break on the Xbox One. Miserykill ended up becoming personal friends with Sam Lake, the writer of these boring nerd games, and apparently even performed an original DJ set at three of his birthday parties in the following years. This made DJ Miserykill the natural choice to compose the soundtrack for 2018's apparently most anticipated game, Quantum Break: The Paradox.
This song was the big single promoting the collaboration, and it released alongside a music video where actress and guest vocalist Courtney Hope sang the lyrics while doing Matrix-y slow motion stunts and shooting a bunch of guys. I am, as you might assume from my disparaging but completely correct remarks on gamer nerds, not a huge fan of video games. The soundtrack did slap though and I watched a V-tuber called Yoji-sama play through both Quantum Break games last month and I have a lot of appreciation for the writing and sound design, both of the games themselves and Yoji-sama's elaborate meta narrative where she has to play these games for an audience to teach lessons/morals about human society to her brood of adorable demon toddlers.
"Untitled VIII" (2020)
The pandemic did a real number on the Northwestern Amniotic Federation. During the riots, Claire Ravenbride fled the royal palace and began living at the Brazilian embassy in London. God-Emperor O'Dietrich V denied the allegations of corruption, mismanagement, and being a huge goddamn weirdo, but actions speak louder than words, and he was definitely sending hired goons to the embassy every day to yell creatively surreal but unambiguously threatening limericks at the front gate.
DJ Miserykill had no idea about any of this until Claire approached them at the embassy bar after they'd performed a set there to fundraise for a Brazilian orphanage. They reconnected immediately, and a week later Miserykill and Vespertine had set up a recording studio in the embassy, where the three of them produced an untitled album to raise awareness of how much of a dumb asshole Claire's ex was. Spanning three hours, the album was wildly experimental yet an unprecedented crossover hit between the classical jazz guitar, witch house, and haute couture scenes.
"Untitled VIII", the third track of eighty-seven, was the biggest success. It was all over the radio, licensed in many films and TV shows, and even played during runway shows in the 2021 New York Fashion Week. It was at one such show where paparazzi took the iconic photo of DJ Miserykill and Ms. Ravenbride kissing in the audience. As a series of androgynous but totally shredded bodybuilder models showed off Vespertine's "Beautiful Violence" line of mechanized combat exoskeletons, and Ms. Ravenbride's own jazz guitar stylings intertwined with DJ Miserykill's vocal fry growlshrieks and sick synthesizer beats on the speakers, DJ Miserykill was clearly happy for the first time in their life.
"The Undoing Pt. 1 (feat. The Lonely Island, Roger Waters, & Daft Punk)" (2022)
Many musicians who make music about how sad they are become stagnant when they stop being so sad. DJ Miserykill's fans have been hoping since their wedding in January on Vespertine's orbital battlestation that they would be a rare exception. This first single, a 12-minute work of aural genius that critics are calling "as close to an ascension to godhood as a mortal could hope to achieve," suggests that our hopes will be realized. The album drops in three weeks, exclusively here on Musiczone and in your favorite Linux package managers. Pre-order now!
Sarah Veabe is Musiczone.com's editor-in-chief of newsletter content. She is 34 and lives in Pittsburgh with her four cats, who are all named Fredd, with two D's. You can follow her on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr, Linktree, Carrd.co, Wordpress, Reddit, Mastodon, her personal site, her portfolio site, and Instagram, but the Instagram is cat pictures only.
Vespertine Fatal prefers that when the press writes about Vespertine they either use Vespertine's correct pronouns or no pronouns at all, and Vespertine's preferred pronouns are visual symbols that cannot be embedded in text without installing The Fatal System, a customized Linux distribution for making digital art, and cannot be embedded as an inline image without violating Vespertine's intellectual property licenses, which are intentionally byzantine and restrictive for commercial use, as an intentional artistic statement. ↩︎
If you were wondering why just over a third of currently active users on Twitter have that photo as their avatar, including DJ Miserykill and Claire Ravenbride themselves, now you have that context. It's a lovely moment. ↩︎
It should also be noted that if you see a twitter account claiming to be Vespertine Fatal, with or without that photo as the avatar, it is an imposter. Vespertine's only social media presence since 2019 has been writing messages on the moon with an erasable laser beam. ↩︎