Photo by Jules Tatham
South Carolina indie pop artist Ahomari released their 2019 EP Girl Kiss at the culmination of a transformational time. “I wrote these songs last year in a dark but uplifting place,” they wrote in the project’s Bandcamp description. “It helped me get back to who I was. This is a tribute to my Black queer experience.” And while those three songs stand on their own, they’re also part of a larger continuity–one that will be made whole with the upcoming release of Girl Kiss II. The lead single, “Crush,” is out now, and it’s our first sweet taste of the more ambitious follow-up.
“I knew when I made the first EP that it would be in parts. It was supposed to be separated by pronouns, but it didn’t feel like I was ready,” says Ahomari. “Hopefully with the last installment I could be more political. It’s a post-apocalyptic trip.” “Crush” is the album’s playfully poppy first song, and it follows Ahomari taking ownership of their sexuality, but they say the track started in a much darker place.
“It was originally called “Depression Fantasy” and it was more sinister,” they say. “It had originally been about coping with depression using sex with strangers, but after some time working through my own stuff, I decided to make it more about this crush I had on one of my friends.” The track also features an appearance by Brooklyn rapper Taphari, who reached out after Ahomari posted an early demo of “Crush” to social media in 2018.
“He said he wanted to hop on it, and I was shook,” says Ahomari. “It took us a while to even make this happen. It wasn’t until this year when things picked up. I sent a new version with auto tuned vocals and he got on it really fast. To be honest, I was shocked someone so talented wanted to even collaborate with me. I’m just some weird artist from the south.”
But, in keeping with its lyrical themes of intimacy and connection, collaboration is a key part of the story on Girl Kiss II. It features a larger cast of team-ups than the original, which was all self-written and self-produced. Take “CLOSECLOSECLOSE,” with vocals and co-writing by Eric Fury and additional mixing by Chris Wenner to round it out as the album’s heartfelt, confessional finale.
Ahomari is no longer in the dark place that spawned the songs, and though you can still hear its influence in some of the album’s more troubled soundscapes, other tracks hint at their newer ideas and more positive musical impulses.
“You can hear through the lyrics of the first EP that I cared too much–way more than I should have. Most of these songs on this project were written at the same time as the others, so there’s still that sense of darkness. There’s only two new written songs, ‘Femme On Femme’ and ‘My Vibe,’ which are directions I’m pulling towards. More fun.”
While you wait for the full, epic project, you can stream “Crush” now as a tantalizing trailer for its lo-fi crunch and its gooey emotional center. Girl Crush II will be available September 25 digitally and as a cassette via Quiet Year Records.