Serpentwithfeet and Terence Nance on How to Achieve #RelationshipGoals

Serpentwithfeet and Terence Nance on How to Achieve #RelationshipGoals

Serpentwithfeet. Photographs by Braylen Dion.

Having ascended the ranks of indie music stardom in 2018 together with his debut album soil, for his sophomore report, Josiah Clever had massive footwear to fill. His personal. The newly launched DEACON—which Clever recorded underneath his moniker serpentwithfeet—eschews the experimental artist’s personal worn footwear fully, choosing the heat of a lover’s, luxuriating in intimacy’s sluggish construct. That course of is made literal within the album’s lead single “Same Size Shoe,” during which he sings, “Me and my boo put on the identical measurement shoe/Boy, you bought my belief ’trigger I’m such as you.” It’s an ode to the platonic particulars of Black homosexual love, and the comfy cocoon that’s reciprocity. As he tells the filmmaker and artist Terence Nance, that’s the true #relationshipgoals. —SARAH NECHAMKIN


TERENCE NANCE: I simply bumped into Bridget [Botchway, the producer of the “Same Size Shoe” video.] She informed me y’all simply shot the “Same Size Shoe” video

SERPENTWITHFEET: Yeah, we did. I’m excited. 

NANCE: Are you able to inform me what it’s about? 

SERPENTWITHFEET: It’s type of an extension of the “Fellowship” video. It’s simply me being in an intimate house with the man who’s paying my associate, love curiosity, and we simply wished every part to really feel actually heat and comfy and a little bit home. It’s actually heat and comfy, which I’m actually excited to do, as a result of I haven’t accomplished that a lot. That’s type of the house I’m in proper now. 

NANCE: That’s a re-brand, as a result of the serpent model, if I have been to explain it earlier than this second, is epic. It’s operatic. It’s ancestral and astral. Whenever you first performed me that tune—I feel it was a couple of year-and-a-half in the past…

SERPENTWITHFEET: Earlier than quarantine.

NANCE: And the primary time I heard it, the best way you described it was noticing the footwear by the door, that they have been the identical measurement of this associate who you have been courting on the time. And it was so revelatory to me. You reside in a home the place you’re taking your footwear off on the door, which is a sure sort of family, you already know what I imply?


NANCE: However then it’s the opposite factor of like, okay, we might perhaps swap footwear. After which I began feeling what it’s like, to place anyone else’s footwear on, and it feels good, as a result of it’s anyone else’s heat in your toes. You constructed that tune with these observations that really feel actually on a regular basis, so small you wouldn’t discover them, however they’re every part. What’s your observing course of?

SERPENTWITHFEET: Effectively, thanks for all of your assessments. I wished to give attention to the on a regular basis, pedestrian ideas, the issues that perhaps don’t appear so profound, and simply discover the marvel in that. As a result of I feel with a number of my favourite work and a number of my favourite artists, they take these regular concepts, after which make it one thing sensible. I wished to strive to do this. Like, I’ve a tune on that album referred to as “Previous & Superb,” and I simply favored it as a twist on the concept of “I wish to get previous and ugly with anyone.” It’s like truly, I wish to get previous and superb with you. I feel there’s one thing to be mentioned about work that feels accessible and work that seems like you’ll be able to take it with you. I don’t suppose it’s dumbing down. I feel it’s type of slicing some issues right down to measurement a little bit bit, simply to make it a little bit extra rapid. 

NANCE: I keep in mind this dialog the place you informed me about the way you make scents out of those essences which are actually particular.

SERPENTWITHFEET: I do my very own important oil fragrances. 

NANCE: The on a regular basis is the entry level. The quilt of the album gave me “white occasion” vibes. 

SERPENTWITHFEET: I’m so glad you bought that. White events are such an enormous deal. Like, I take into consideration the aunties with the gold enamel who drink the darkish soda and the darkish liquor and smoke a cigarette, and I wished to seize that sartorially. I wished to seize that sonically as finest as I might. It’s by no means a factor of me making an attempt to carry out another person or be another person, nevertheless it’s simply making an attempt to refine my fashion. 

NANCE: You appear so grown in your perspective on the album. 

SERPENTWITHFEET: For this mission, I felt extra seasoned. I like being in my 30s. I’m actually having fun with myself. I really feel like I’ve lived many lives. I’m not even speaking about previous lives—on this life on Earth, I’ve lived. So, I simply wished to seize that sense of figuring out, that sense of grounded-ness, the place I’m strolling with weight. I’m calling the album DEACON, as a result of I used to be serious about the deacons within the church who’re so calm and have a lot restraint, and I like that about them. I’ve by no means seen the deacons of the church elevate their voice or go above a stage six, as a result of they aren’t moved by the issues round them. Who’re these deacons outdoors of the church setting? Who has deacon vitality? I thought of Overton in Residing Single and the way he was the ballast for his or her condo advanced. He was at all times there to make things better. I like Queen Sugar. I thought of Hollywood and Remy, and even Prosper, these guys who by no means actually get indignant, however they act because the backbone for that neighborhood. It doesn’t imply that these males are sterile and stoic. They only have a way of composure that I wished to discover this time round. 

NANCE: It’s expertise. No matter it’s, you could have a humorousness about it. Are you able to discuss a little bit bit in regards to the Atlanta references? You could have so many particular pictures in there that simply really feel so acquainted, so well-worn to me.  

SERPENTWITHFEET: As I’m positive some of us know, I’m undoubtedly nonetheless a church boy at coronary heart. Each time I am going to Atlanta, it seems like a hug. I do know it’s been documented by others in movie and music and in any other case, however for my very own catalog, I wished to doc that feeling of going to homosexual golf equipment down South. The heat is simply totally different. There’s simply this welcoming that occurs. Earlier than I began going to Atlanta, I assumed it was going to be an odd expertise. To see Black homosexual love on show like that’s simply actually stunning. Clearly, I like courting Black males, so to be in an area the place that’s celebrated, it’s simply actually highly effective to me. I feel down South, what I seen is that Black males on the golf equipment simply, there’s a sure magnetism that you just don’t actually discover somewhere else. My mates hear me discuss in regards to the golf equipment down South on a regular basis. However I used to be at all times saying, “I must put this right into a tune.”

NANCE: It’s so vivid. You wish to have fun Black males loving Black males. That line the place you’re like, “I haven’t heard reality come out of skinny lips.” It’s like I might scent the tune. I like that. I simply felt very gratified, very invited. And I feel that was actually refreshing, as a result of it simply achieves what you have been getting down to do, on the finish of the day, which is at all times the toughest factor with artwork of any variety. Inform me about “Amir.” I had by no means actually heard a lot eros derived from this invocation of kindness. 

SERPENTWITHFEET: We jammed on an thought, and got here up with the sonic palate for it. And the very first thing that I heard, I’m like, this appears like assembly anyone for the primary time. One thing that I’ve skilled generally is assembly anyone who’s variety and nearly second-guessing it, simply nearly feeling like, what’s happening right here? Wanting it, undoubtedly being completely happy to expertise it, but additionally feeling like, what’s the catch? There’s this sense of reservation. So you could have that line like, “You so variety, you so heat. Rattling, I might shed a tear.” It actually seems like that. I feel as I grow old, I echo a number of issues that I’ve heard mature of us say, which is that they don’t pursue the quick, sizzling, fiery relationship any extra. They need one thing cool and calm. Perhaps in my youthful years, I wished one thing quick, sizzling, and large, and now I’m identical to, can we preserve it cool, cute, and calm? That’s the place I’m at now. You’re 5 minutes into assembly anyone, and also you’re being like, rattling, I like the best way you stand. I like your voice. Are we going to get married? Maintain on. Can we go to lunch? I don’t know should you’ve accomplished that throughout the first 5 minutes. You’re confused, but additionally excited. 

NANCE: Who made us this distrustful of kindness? 


NANCE: It’s the everlasting query. What occurred, and the way do I heal it? It’s at all times the moderation factor. Hold your head cool. Try for that moderated vitality. The place can we discover the center? You’ll be able to’t even know the place it’s till you fell off the sting at the least 4 or 5 instances. You bought to fall off the seesaw at the least 4 or 5 instances to have the ability to hit that center stability vibration, particularly with different individuals who went by that trauma. There was a line, one thing associated to, “Our love will keep hallowed, if we keep humble.” 

SERPENTWITHFEET: Yeah, “Sailor’s Superstition.” 

NANCE: That was a very therapeutic factor, as a result of for me, usually the large lesson is pursuing moderation and humility. 

SERPENTWITHFEET: That’s such a phrase. 

NANCE: And that pursuit, I had by no means actually heard it invoked as one thing that two folks can pursue a couple of connection. {That a} connection is sentient. It’s not you or me. It’s this factor that’s grown between us. It might get too massive for its britches, however it could keep in god’s favor, as they are saying, if it stays humble. What taught you that?

DEACON album artwork.

SERPENTWITHFEET: I like this phrase that’s developing for you repeatedly: moderation. I feel this mission is loads about that. It’s about figuring out that I might use 40 colours, however selecting to make use of seven. It’s all about simply turning down the amount a little bit bit, and I feel with “Sailors’ Superstition,” there’s a number of issues I used to be serious about. The very first thing was that poem, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” that there’s this half the place there’s an albatross following the ship, and the sailor shoots the albatross, after which that complete saying of carrying the albatross across the neck, as a result of it was unhealthy luck. It was thought of a sailors’ superstition. One of many sailors’ superstitions was don’t kill the albatross that’s following the ship, as a result of it’s thought of good luck. 

Then I began serious about the myriad of sailors’ superstitions, and a type of is to not whistle on the ship, as a result of it’s thought that should you whistle on the ship, you’ll be difficult the winds, and also you’re encouraging the storms to come back, and also you’re asking for disaster. And so then I assumed, okay, nicely, what different ships must you not whistle on? Relationships. And I take into consideration how usually once we do resolve to stroll in love with anyone, such as you mentioned, we predict we’re the one ones, that we’re the very best ones that ever did it. Otherwise you begin to do ‘relationship objectives’ posts or ‘bae objectives,’ which I’m not shitting on anyone doing that. I perceive it, and to be trustworthy, I feel I’ve undoubtedly been boastful generally prior to now. However I feel that once you do this, you do announce your self in a sure form of approach, and I really feel like the entire spirits and the oldsters on the opposite aspect are like, “Cool, you suppose you bought one thing good? You suppose you’re the one ones? We’re about to problem it.” You’re inviting the wind. So I used to be simply considering, “Hey boo, let’s simply attempt to preserve it cute for the primary yr. I can meet your loved ones. You’ll be able to meet my household. We will maintain fingers. This ain’t some within the closet shit. We will be out and affectionate. However we don’t should be boastful. We don’t must broadcast our creation story on social media.” The primary line [of the song] is, “Heard the primary couple stopped smiling after the primary yr.” Let’s simply keep humble, after which the rascals and gods of the air will honor it and say, “Okay, we’ll allow you to preserve this.” 

NANCE: It jogs my memory of one thing I examine organized marriages, the place they have been making an attempt to clarify it within the Western context of free will. They have been like, “Effectively, we consider that we will’t begin a relationship on the idea of romantic love, as a result of you must begin as strangers.” And folks have been like, “What?” They usually have been like, “The rationale behind that’s as a result of should you begin with romantic love, then you definitely’re beginning on prime of a mountain, and should you begin on prime of a mountain, then there’s nowhere to go. You gonna go down. And should you simply begin wherever you at, then you definitely climb the mountain collectively. You go on the journey collectively. And in some unspecified time in the future 40 years in, you’ll be in love.” Not that everybody ought to do this, however you’ll be able to’t evangelize what you suppose could be working so that you can anybody else. It’s simply such a unknowable magic that makes a factor work at any second. You bought to whisper round it, for positive.

SERPENTWITHFEET: I like that concept of coming right into a relationship as strangers. Even in friendships, I don’t suppose anybody ought to ever get too comfy, as a result of the particular person you’re with is at all times going to be evolving and reworking, and also you’re at all times going to be evolving and reworking. And I feel should you at all times strategy it as, “I wish to get to know you once more in the present day. I wish to strive once more in the present day,” you’ll be able to belief that vitality greater than, “I do know you. We in love. We did it.” As a result of then it’s like, will we not should make an effort any extra? I would like us to decide to rising collectively. I don’t know that you just’re going to love the identical meals subsequent week, so I’m going to ask you once more subsequent week. “Do you continue to like turkey? Since you may not be into turkey.” It may appear pedantic for some, nevertheless it’s a follow that I actually get pleasure from, and whether or not it’s six months or eight months or three years, issues can change. Issues can change. 

NANCE: And then you definitely be in your #relationshipgoals. 


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