Our new music feature Origins provides artists the platform to give unique insights into their latest track. Today, L’Rain explains the sounds of “Suck Teeth”.
Brooklyn R&B artist L’Rain is set to release her sophomore full-length, Fatigue, on June 25th via Mexican Summer. As the latest preview of the LP, the musician born Taja Cheek has shared the single “Suck Teeth”.
The track finds L’Rain exploring her feelings about motherhood, particularly what new challenges it could bring to her psyche. “I’m thinking through childhood and having children, wondering if it’s possible for someone to prevent their failures and shortcomings from getting passed on,” she explains in a statement.
If “Suck Teeth” is a meditation, it’s a woozy one, warbling guitars spiraling out over a jazzy rhythm section. That heady combination is as much an insight into L’Rain’s anxiety about becoming a mother as the lyrics themselves: “We’ll spit like swallows if you want it too,” she sings. “Poison drifting out of me into you.”
Check out “Suck Teeth” below via director Nathan Bajar’s video for the track. Then, read up on the Origins of the song — including some insight into that atypical percussion on the second verse — ahead.
Children’s Hand Games:
I wanted to reference children’s hand games to invoke a sense of play into the song, so I made up my own game with my collaborator Ben Chapoteau-Katz that I include in lieu of more traditional percussion. My childhood was defined by games that could be played with minimal materials–your body, chalk, telephone wire. My mom was insistent that I learn double dutch on my block so I could make friends, especially because I was pretty shy.
The “spit like swallows” line references a bird feeding its young. The whole song is a mediation on the difficulties of mothering. I included the hand game in this song to try to present this theme in a visceral way, separate from the lyrics.
The call and response vocal line in the verses is essentially a fictionalized conversation. There are a few imagined discussions on the album, and in this song in particular, the vocals and background vocals each respectively represent a mother and a child.
I wanted the whole song to feel a little seasick and woozy. Nearly every element of the song has two to three layers of pitch modulation. I hoped that the uncertainty of pitch could mirror the general uneasiness in the lyrics.
Sucking Your Teeth:
Real ones know: If you’re upset, annoyed, or kind of mad, this is the quickest way to communicate how you’re feeling. You might almost miss the sound entirely if someone is being cheeky, but it always somehow cuts through!