MAITA Ruminates on House Parties and Existentialism on "Someone's Lost Their Goddamn Wallet" (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
04/23/2020
Martin Douglas
Photo by Ingrid Renan

When Slim Moon returned to Kill Rock Stars after a twelve-year hiatus to head up the label once again, his first act was to spearhead the release of Best Wishes, the debut album from Portland four-piece MAITA. Led by the graceful pen of Maria Maita-Keppeler, the band's songs are heavy on theme and authorial voice, dialing back to a time where poignant, heartfelt indie-rock poured from the souls of songwriters and the term of the genre was far less nebulous than it is today. Maita-Keppeler, initially influenced by similarly word-drunk artists like Bright Eyes and Feist, uses her songs -- bursting, overflowing with language and sharp turns of phrase -- as a forum for unvarnished expression.

"Someone's Lost Their Goddamn Wallet," setting the pace as the second track on Best Wishes (out May 15th on Kill Rock Stars), is steeped in the songwriting tradition of jaunty, lighthearted folk-rock being used as a Trojan Horse for the creeping dread of existentialism. It's 3 AM and the party is still moving through the night presumably without incident or noise complaints, both the front and back door are being used, bodies are moving around in the enjoyably predictable way they always move around at parties. A portrait of the hostess is in plain view ("She's never cried a day in her life," Maita-Keppeler sings). A sense of unease lowers onto the protagonist like an anchor into the waters that fill the port. Some day, the lives of each person here will end, and this party will be a speck on the speck of brain matter turned to ash or fertilizer. 

The video for "Someone's Lost Their Goddamn Wallet" serves as a different party of sorts; it's easy to imagine each person in it belonging to their own square during a Zoom video chat. Dance moves, the light tapping of espadrilles, cattle in the distance on a walk, a game of Risk on the coffee table, hula hoops, homemade haircuts, people toasting in front of the fireplace, lipstick, bass guitars, pianos, home improvement projects, kitchens, a found wallet on a cluttered table. Every member of the heavy cast singing along to their eventual demise. As a visual, "Someone's Lost Their Goddamn Wallet" is both a product of circumstance and a slightly altered reading of the song; it's way easier to think about how we'll all die one day when facing down a global pandemic.

Below the video are Maita-Keppeler's thoughts on the sounds and visuals for "Someone's Lost Their Goddamn Wallet."

"Someone's Lost Their Goddamn Wallet was inspired by my experience with college parties. Every weekend at some grimy house filled with young, drunk people, I would have that moment late at night where I stared into the crowd and remembered that death was waiting for all of us, regardless of how alive we felt. In those moments, everything would suddenly seem insignificant, and we became so naive and small. I wanted to hide the gravity of this truth within a song that felt vibrant and full of life, just as these dark truths were hidden for me within nights of intoxicated revelry. The song carries a different weight for me today, in the midst of this new Covid reality, where the dark truth seems more exposed than ever, and the quest for joy feels more urgent, almost desperate. 
 
My initial idea for this song was to do a classic house party music video, but of course, that was not possible once we began social distancing. What happened instead felt all the more apt for the song. I gave my friends complete freedom in creating their videos, and found them to be so honest and captivating, each and every one. As I spent hours editing it, I felt like I was hanging out with all of them, sharing in each of their unique spirits, their particular ways of processing our new reality. It felt as if we were all at that party, and that we were all on that singular precipice--that precipice between joy and grief that I used to come to alone--together."

 

Best Wishes is available for pre-order now.

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