Loraine James' 'For You and I' Glitches and Queers the Spaces of IDM and London

Photo: Jase Cooper / Courtesy of Hyperdub Records

On For You and I, Loraine James rightfully claims the title "Glitch Bitch" to explore what it means to be queer in the spaces of IDM and one of its places of origin, London.

For You and I
Loraine James


20 September 2019

For so many of us, the history of IDM (intelligent dance music) is conflicting, something cherished but also problematic. On the one hand, the genre's origin story is soundly tethered to some of the most influential electronic artists since the 1990s, including the likes of Aphex Twin and Autechre. On the other hand, the name "intelligent dance music" pompously asserts elitism. Both the aforementioned artists have criticized the acronym for misrepresenting the complexities of other electronic styles. "It's basically saying 'this is intelligent and everything else is STUPID.' It's really nasty to everyone else's music" Aphex Twin told Jason Gross.

But most of all, there is a deeper cultural issue with the dominant narrative of IDM as it majorly pedestalizes white male artists. IDM, by its name, detaches from and devalues its predecessors. Their claim to "intelligent", then, disregards the many Othered people of color and genders who also pushed the intellectual boundaries of electronic music, such as the African American artists who pioneered Detroit techno, or now, the queer people who deconstruct club music.

As such, artists like Loraine James are here to glitch and queer the narrative. On her second full length For You and I, she rightfully claims the title "Glitch Bitch" to explore what it means to be queer in the spaces of IDM and one of its places of origin, London.

For You and I is noticeably inspired by IDM, but it certainly glitches for a different purpose. In "Queering the Borderlands", Emma Pérez intimates about dominant narratives, "all of these and more must be reinterpreted with a decolonial queer gaze so we may interrogate representations". Coincidentally, the act of distorting the dominant gaze resembles one of IDM's main techniques, glitching. And for James, glitching creates schisms in normative structures, creating spaces in which new expressions can emerge.

So, For You and I declaratively begins with "Glitch Bitch". As the distorted fray of percussions flickers and builds, wet synths spin endlessly. Then, James' girlfriend joins in affirming, "Bitch step it up bitch / Bitch level up bitch." Together, they make sense of the surrounding mess. They intimately share sounds and word of queer love in a genre and about a city that has built histories of heteronormativity. In moments like these, James doesn't only glitch sounds but also the spaces of IDM and London.

Even so, For You and I still struggles with the many "ups and downs that come with that", as James words it. Her girlfriend returns on "So Scared" to convey such downs. "You're over there, so fucking scared," she says. To heighten this paranoia, militaristic drums become increasingly violent, but even more, they embody a swelling reaction to violence. "I only feel fully comfortable in a few places, and that's not fair. I shit myself just holding my partner's hand for five seconds in public; afraid someone's going to beat us up or something", James told Bandcamp Daily. So, in music, she creates and finds safe spaces, combating the violent realities of living as a queer person in London. In music, she can wholly represent herself without intimidation, and in music communities, she can truly express herself with embrace.

Then in a space of her own, with her girlfriend and community, James conceives For You and I as a candid representation of her reality and a proud expression of her identities. On "London Ting / Dark As Fuck", the featured Le3 bLACK spits over the abrasive industrial beat, "Look at my skin / Dark as fuck", addressing racism and police brutality. While on "Sensual", the featured Theo softly croons over torpid glitches, finding moments in which queer love still flourishes amid oppression. Such moments of collaborative, unbound expressions help expand James' personal narrative further, contextualizing the majorly instrumental album with personal stories and intersectional theories.

The album art for For You and I depicts James holding a 10-year-old photo of her old flat in front of the real, present flat. It is the same setting, but of course, it is not the same space. For, it is not the structures, even as daunting as they are, but the people who ultimately determine the culture. "I started making music in those flats. News of my Dad and Uncle passing away happened in that flat. I came out to my mum crying in that flat," James explained. And, through glitching, she inserts these intimate moments in opposition to the oppressive structures.





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.