Photo: Anastasia Lebedeva

Lindsay Kay Reflects on Toxic Masculinity in “How Much” (premiere)

Ahead of her debut album, For the Feminine, By the Feminine's, release, Lindsay Kay asks "How Much" of a man she needs men to be.

Out on 5 October, singer-songwriter Lindsay Kay’s debut LP, For the Feminine, By the Feminine, was crafted from the bottom-up entirely by a team of women and female-identifying professionals. Across the album, Kay blends her gentle, lilting vocals with a melange of soft-spoken instruments. Kay and company’s efforts produce something strikingly vulnerable and sincere, opening up on ruminations regarding women and the expectations that a heteronormative society unfairly places on their shoulders. The songs are individually and collectively poignant, having been written following Kay’s return from a French artist residency in 2016 just as the Women’s Marches and #MeToo movement began to emerge from the fires of political disarray.

Ahead of the full release of For the Feminine, By the Feminine, Kay is premiering her newest single, “How Much”, with PopMatters. Throughout the song, Kay’s ethereal vocals nimbly navigate an atmospheric melody while she reflects on what she is looking for in relationships as she moves forward. It’s a subdued arrangement with plenty of room for Kay’s vocals to stand front-and-center as piano, classical guitar, upright bass, accordion, and a horn section subtly wrap around them.

Kay tells PopMatters, “I wrote the bulk of ‘How Much’ in a tiny studio apartment above a garage nestled in Laurel Canyon in May or maybe June of 2016. I spent around two mornings working on it, with some small lyric re-writes here and there later in the year, and it was a song that I tried unsuccessfully to write several times before. I was renting the apartment for eight or ten days shortly before moving to LA permanently, and I was feeling the magical vibe that artists have credited to Laurel Canyon historically. I had just gotten back from an artist residency in France, and because I had just gotten back from a very disciplined, regimented three months of writing music there, the habits were still intact, and I continued my morning writing routine on my trip.”

“While I was in France, I had been thinking a lot about masculinity and the characteristics I have been taught to value in a man. I was making lists of all of the attributes I thought I wanted in partners – the things I had been shown to desire my whole life. Physical strength, a dominating personality, protective (or possessive), financially in charge. Experience had taught me these things not only didn’t make me happy but sometimes made me feel very unseen and unhappy with men. They really weren’t what I wanted, and yet when they were gone, I missed them. What did this mean? How much of a man did I need men to be, really?”

“The fact that the song, like every song on the album, was recorded entirely by a team of female musicians and engineers, feels all the more poignant and important in delivering it properly. I felt quite nervous about recording this song because of how simple it is. It has a vulnerable sparseness to it, which I was scared we wouldn’t get right. I knew that only a team of women who could understand the things I was singing about could perform the song in this very simple but specific way. The song is, at least to my ear, completely free of the dominating masculine energy I am singing about and questioning my need for.”