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Post-punk powerhouse Interlay returns with “Androgynous”

Alexandria Ortgiesen taps into something big as the band around her shifts.
Interlay performs at James Madison Park as part of WSUM’s Party In The Park 2022 event. Photo by Steven Spoerl.

Alexandria Ortgiesen taps into something big as the band around her shifts.

A few months ago, Interlay played a spirited set as part of WSUM’s Party In The Park event in James Madison Park. Towards the end, the post-punk quartet dusted off a convincing cover of Deftones’ 1997 hit single “Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away),” which felt naturally in keeping with the band’s darkly energetic aesthetic. The set also featured some new material that further highlighted Deftones’ influence on Interlay, including a song called “Androgynous.” Now, following a short series of lineup shifts that cement guitarist/vocalist Alexandria Ortgiesen as the band’s only continuous member, Interlay has given the fiery single a proper release.

“Androgynous” serves as both a warning of the potency of the band’s newest material and as an end-stage exclamation point following another round of artistic growth. Interlay has continued to naturally refine the edges of their work, continuing the pattern of tightening an understanding of songwriting—one that was similarly evident in the jump between their first two EPs, 2018’s Ritual and 2020’s Cicada. On “Androgynous,” Interlay’s music sounds more forceful, pointed, and bigger than it ever has, suggesting the band’s on the doorstep of unlocking a truly unavoidable presence.

Interlay’s confidence is apparent from the opening seconds of “Androgynous.” A swell of feedback puts listeners on alert, a drastic pan right isolates Ortgiesen’s cutting rhythm guitar figure, and then a few powerful snare hits signal the band’s full arrival. Those scant few opening seconds, while subtle, are critical in establishing the song’s tone and atmosphere.  From there, “Androgynous” unveils its ace in the hole via a piercing lead guitar part that shreds its way through the mix as a blazing vocal point before naturally coalescing into the song’s psych-tinted chorus. All the while, “Androgynous” remains a battering ram of gothic post-punk.

Beyond the head-turning musicality inherent to “Androgynous,” Ortgiesen’s lyrics stick to a mold that’s proven to be both familiar and winsome—truncated, haunting, and occasionally shrouded in an opaque veneer. All aspects of that dynamic are present in the chorus of “Androgynous,” with Ortgiesen repeatedly proclaiming, “I want to be / Androgynous / I want to feel / Visible.”  This refrain could just as readily be an exactingly honest line about navigating body dysmorphia as it could be a sardonic take on the impulse to be the center of attention. Maybe it’s a combination, to some degree, of both. In any case, it’s a killer.

While the lineup on the recording is credited as the band that Interlay had assembled for Cicada—Ortgiesen alongside bassist Nathan Hahn, drummer Alex Kaiser, and guitarist Indigo Smith-Oles—there’s been a palpable shift of energy in the band’s live show. A lot of that can likely be attributed to a new lineup: Ortgiesen with guitarist Sam Eklund, bassist Vincent Mossotti, and drummer Henry Ptacek. Each of those new members are more than up to the task of honoring the parts of their predecessors while pushing Interlay forward, while Interlay’s former trio exits on a scintillating high. At this point, few bands in Madison seem as primed for a breakout.

“Androgynous” is being released by emergent label Nature Intended The Abstract (N.I.T.A.). The song was produced and engineered by local mainstays Logan Severson and Isaac DeBroux-Slone, and it can currently be purchased for $2 on Interlay’s Bandcamp

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