Xenia Rubinos, the New York City artist who’s been revered for her bewildering voice and maze-like knack for melody, shares a new single and video “Cógelo Suave” today. Animated by Stephen Smith, the video features a psychedelic conglomeration of coquis in a joyful and inquisitive visualization of the song. ‘It’s a gibberish spaceship ride, high-speed chase, birds and stars whirling around your head at the end of a cartoon fight,’ Rubinos says about the track.
Birthed from a bass line she would often play during soundcheck, the song responds to the question that so many lately find impossible to answer: “how are you?’’ After looping through an electric, chaos-containing melody, the song resolves on the repeated phrase ‘just work it out,’ making it all seem possible. The track was recorded in the height of quarantine (Spring 2020), when the world was slipping into a deep kind of chaos, Xenia’s mom had an experience with covid, and it was generally hard to tell which way was up, the process of making the track provided a cloak of resilience. ‘The more I think about it, the more I realize that the world was totally burning down around us while we were producing this track and in the song, I guess I’m saying ‘I’m fine. THIS IS FINE,’ says Xenia.
The stylistic specificity of Cógelo Suave is the result of vocal play that has evolved from Xenia’s childhood when she would spend hours emulating idols such as Judy Garland and Billie Holiday. In crafting this song, she set to the limitless exploration of her voice, playing with its different colors and allowing it to guide her to the people hiding within her.
The main character in the song is a jazz singer from the future- set in the hotel lobby bar of the movie The 5th Element, her and her backup singers play as the night grows long. The song, produced with her longtime collaborator and drummer Marco Buccelli, is full of color- drawing much of its multichromatic sound from the bright colors of pop art, which Xenia was immersed in during the writing process. As the song tapers into its final moments, a vintage-sounding radio dialogue floats in saying ‘Penetrando Los Misterios Del Universo,’ which is part of a taped radio show that Xenia found digging through her dad’s old cassettes- a sweet and inquisitive ending to a song that embodies joy in a less-than-sweet time.
Cógelo Suave is Xenia Rubinos’ second release of the year, with much more to come. She’s collaborated and toured with the likes of Helado Negro, Battles, Deerhoof, Man Man, and Tune-yards, and is renowned for wielding a sound that is wholeheartedly her own. “I think my sound is a collage of different music coming together on a visceral level, connecting the dots with my voice and imagination,” she says.
“Cógelo Suave” is out now on Anti- Records.