Sabrina Fuentes checks her computer for examples of what she listened to for her Fringe and Underground music class. She wants to send me some songs and ends up choosing the 1999 record by Japanese avant-pop artist Takako Minekawa. Fun 9, as well as a dizzying video clip from the rock band Paddywak, the side project of his friend and bandmate Orazio Argentero. The course is part of her curriculum at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is enrolled in the school’s contemporary music program. It’s all really in his wheelhouse, given his own musical background: Fuentes has led New York-based rock band Pretty Sick as bassist, singer, and North Star since he was 13.
The quartet makes God-honest rock music that is energizing and sad in a way that runs through your heart with every listen. They recently released their latest EP, Divine deep, on Dirty Hit, a collection of seven songs that have followed Fuentes over the past decade. Some were written in her early teens (like the gnarly, heavy “Undressed” she wrote when she was 12), while more recent pieces deliver fresher punch. Over them she spreads her robust voice in howls of command, making Divine deepThe earworm hooks on complacency, self-destruction, falling in love and growing up in New York resonate with everyone.
On FaceTime, Fuentes’ iPhone camera offers a glimpse of his life in London. Its walls are dotted with photos and posters and outside its window the lush English trees still look lush green despite the end of October. It’s peaceful compared to its hectic party summer in New York City, an environment that Fuentes said was a bit too auspicious.
“It’s just too comfortable there, you know, for me sometimes. I’m going back to those old habits and old cycles, ”she says, playing with a sparkling heart-shaped ring. “They get harder and harder to break the more I spoil them. As much as I love New York, it’s nice to take a break from time to time under a blue moon.
Fuentes, now 20, grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but you’d be forgiven for thinking her home port was 60 blocks from downtown, more or less long term, in the Lower East Side. The neighborhood became her staple ground and the foundation of Pretty Sick, which she started with her childhood best friends Ella Moore and Eva Kaufman. The band’s downtown presence solidified over the years with regular gigs, and when Moore and Kaufman eventually moved to different states for college, they did so by encouraging Fuentes to keep Pretty Sick. desire.
The current iteration of Pretty Sick has come together in the loyal New York City way of friends of friends and fortuitous events. Fuentes met guitarist Wade Oates through filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern, and the two began performing together with a drum machine. (Moonlight fuentes as a model through downtown management of the day No agency, for whom Kern performs frequently.) One night after the opening act for experimental jazz band Onyx Collective, drummer Austin Williamson approached Fuentes and Oates to offer to join the band. Soon after, Fuentes met Argentero as classmates at Goldsmiths, and their quick friendship led him to join Pretty Sick as a second bassist.
Fuentes lights up as he talks about his band mates, Oates’ ability to turn anything into a catchy chorus, Williamson’s drumming talent, Argentero’s vast knowledge of punk history and rock. “Everyone brings so much,” she says. “It’s such a collaborative process and it would be so different without any members. They all have such a smart sensibility when it comes to music that it’s really fun and exciting to work with them all the time.
To listen Divine deepIt can be seen that Biblical references tend to creep into Fuentes’ songwriting, an unintended side effect of her attending a Catholic school for girls growing up. “Superstar”, with its melancholy bassline and longing for puppy love, flirts with praise and devotion, before soaring into an ethereal guitar solo. While the gritty single “Angel Landing” finds Fuentes lamenting through the guitar fuzz: “I speak in psalms but I’m trying to learn / A modern vernacular for my health.” The hook for the song was also originally intended to include a line about a Guardian Angel landing on his shoulder, but Fuentes gave up on the idea when the line proved too difficult to sing live. The group seems rather compromised with accessories of angel costumes in lo-fi music video directed by Maggie Lee.
“I’m so programmed to think [in religious references], “she said.” Even the songs that I write now, I thought it was going to be something that I would get past. And I was always like, ‘Hey, I have to use all these Bible references and then finally move on. before you beat that horse to death. ”But it keeps happening.
Fuentes is also a great romantic, as predicted by her astrological sign, Pisces. Divine deep is full of moments where she transforms otherwise mundane details into interactions worthy of a daydream. For “Undressed,” Fuentes transforms the idea of healing someone’s wounds (“It’s really romantic,” she adds, “Not literally, but it’s poetic”) into its final form and more sexy from to undress someone new. On “Telephone”, a fundamental question is dramatized by Fuentes’s rising voice. “I just want to know that you’re happy with him?” / Are you happy with him? she sings, beckoning for a response. It’s the only track written exclusively by Oates that says it’s a friend, but Fuentes has his own theories. “I like to imagine it’s more romantic,” she says with a smile.
Fuentes has long made peace with the fact that Divine deep falls at a time with no promise of live entertainment. Her favorite way to listen to music is on a walk, after all, and she hopes the record will soundtrack to some soulful walks in the months to come. Maybe even on the Lower East Side, where EP’s raucous, bittersweet ode to the neighborhood, “Allen Street”, has its real origins. “Nothing is going to last forever!” Fuentes yells at the hook as the song descends into a nail-sharp guitar scream. For a few minutes, this makes the generally unsettling notion of everything, everyone, everywhere that ends up not seeming so scary. It’s pretty sick if you think about it.