Finding Empathy For ‘The ID’ In Humanity With TRISHES

The debut full length album from multi-media and multi-disciplinary artist TRISHES arrives this Friday, October 22nd, The ID, and for those who have been paying attention, there’s a direct relationship between her previous EP, Ego, and this new release. The ideas between the two releases are intricately connected and the planning goes a long way back to take in and address the things about humanity that contribute to our own downfall. TRISHES handles these significant themes in a visceral, immediate, and often energetic way, encouraging us to take a harder look at things we might usually avoid and admit, in the end, that we’re all humans.

In the lead up to the album debut for The ID, TRISHES has been releasing highly polished singles and intriguing videos, like “Instant Gratification” and “Big Sunglasses” that carve further into ideas of identity and human motivations. I spoke with TRISHES about the big picture behind The ID and how the songs, individually, explore the hidden recesses of human nature.

Hannah Means-Shannon: This is a rather giant album with a lot of intricate ideas!

TRISHES: There’s a lot of spoken word in it, so it looks bigger than it is, but I’m really happy with it as an entire body of work.

HMS: It’s really clear that sequencing and the relationship between the songs has been important to you. Do you consider this a concept album?

TRISHES: The entire album is a concept project, really. I’m just a very concept-driven person. So, The ID is part of the larger TRISHES universe, really. It’s just about creating art, and spoken word, and music, and visuals, that express these ideas that I feel are important and that I am uniquely positioned to talk about.

HMS: Does the idea behind The ID album go back to Ego? Did you already know there would be a follow up?

TRISHES: I actually made the album The ID before I made Ego, which I don’t talk about much. I felt like The ID was a really special project which had crystalized a certain point in my life and I wanted to make sure that I had a platform to release it on. So I decided to make Ego to build my following and gain a little more visibility, then put out The ID.

HMS: That’s impressively forward-thinking of you. The ID seems like an album that’s very polished. When was the starting point for this?

TRISHES: The starting point was years ago. The concepts are things I’ve thought about over most of my adult life. Once I decided I was making it, we probably took four months to record it, but a lot of it was already structured from live performance.

HMS: Did you introduce these songs in live performance to see how audiences reacted?

TRISHES: Live performance is my home, so I built all of these songs out by performing them out first. That’s what came naturally to me, so it was more about how they resonated with me live.

HMS: These can be heavy subjects, dealing with human psychology, but you don’t shy away from them at all. In fact, you tend to use yourself as an example to talk about them.

TRISHES: Yes, I think so. It’s the only mind that I’m able to dive into. That was what made the most sense because I do want to speak about this idea of suppression in a greater scale. The only way that I’m really able to do that is to address it in myself and hopefully that can be an example of observing oneself. It’s not necessarily a judgement and I made a piece of art about it that doesn’t make me feel bad about the things I’m uncovering in myself. It makes me able to observe them.

HMS: Do you think that ideas of the Ego and the Id are so much a part of general culture now that it’s a good way of talking about things? I’m aware they original come from Sigmund Freud.

TRISHES: Yes, for me, it’s not so much that I particularly appreciate Freud’s work as I think the concept and his ideas are such a cultural mythology that, when naming these characters, that’s what made sense.

HMS: It seems like one of the core things about ideas of the ID and the Ego is that we tend to turn things that we are afraid of into an “other”, or an enemy. The fact that you’re willing to look at yourself really shakes things up. That’s rare.

TRISHES: That’s what I think is such a huge problem. Because there’s a negative lens that we put on certain emotions, it stops us from looking at them. Those things still exist. They don’t cease to exist because we won’t look at them. I think that’s where a lot of our problems emerge from. Around the time I started thinking about this, it was when I started getting more involved in issues of Police brutality, mass incarceration, and the idea of implicit bias.

I remember the first time that was presented to me, I realized, “This is all the same thing.” People are unable to look at these things within themselves because they are difficult, painful, and shameful to access. The unwillingness to do that is actually creating violence and perpetuating this suppression and discomfort in other people.

HMS: Do you feel, on a big scale, that everything that’s a problem with humanity is a “mind” problem?

TRISHES: One hundred percent. I have no doubt about it. The core of the human struggle is that we’re balancing community and self. I think so many issues arise from that. I think, through time, there have been so many examples of groups of people enacting violence against others and justifying it in some way that they feel is moral. I think that’s the core of every conflict.

TRISHES artwork released with “Instant Gratification”

HMS: The past few years have really shown that again. We can’t ignore these patterns. The song “Instant Gratification” is an amazing song and the video is hilarious and awesome, as well. I can’t imagine anyone not relating to this song. Do you think that the song particularly relates to “now” as well as being universal?

TRISHES: We’re living in an interesting time where our advancement has made us regress, in a way. I think there are aspects of this through all time, probably. But this is my time, and the idea of anonymity, and the degree of the anonymity the internet gives us, is something that plays a really big part in societal issues. It’s the same story told over and over, and while it’s less so on the album, it’s more so in the artwork that I’m focusing on how it appears currently. A lot of that focus is on the internet and technology.

HMS: It feels particularly relevant to how much we’ve all been on the internet in the past two years. Can you tell us about the different art pieces that go with this album? Are they themed to the different songs?

TRISHES: I had three pieces of art for each song on Ego, but Ego only had five songs. For The ID, the pieces are a collection to be seen all together, with ten pieces for the entire album. This time, it was more of a way to observe these concepts in more current spaces. On the album, for instance in “Big Sunglasses”, I refer to screens, but the visual pieces are a little bit more about current applications. I have released one image with each single.

HMS: In the video for “Instant Gratification”, I was struck by the fact that it’s not dark and heavy. It feels more neutral, even bright. And, of course, wearing white in it can connect with childhood, sugar, and things like that.

TRISHES: I think all of these concepts are so heavy that I like being this character who can make it a little less heavy. As TRISHES, I always wear white, but that can have associations of childhood, of a blank slate, but it can also represent divinity or enlightenment. The color is able to represent the different selves at the same time. This song is the least intellectual of the songs on the album, I would say. This is the ID’s chance to speak. We wanted a kooky, fun, but still slightly dark, video.

The video for “Big Sunglasses” has influences from The Stanford Prison Experiment, and for this one, we wanted to allude to The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, which like the other two experiments, has an immediate conclusion that is not quite right. Basically, with The Marshmallow Experiment, they said that children who were able to wait longer before eating the marshmallow were more going to be more successful in life.

It didn’t really factor in any socioeconomic information. Instead, it was that the kids who had a more stable lifestyle were more able to wait longer. Kids with more stable lifestyles and wealth are going to be more successful, because that is how capitalism works. We make these observations, but they are really just confirmation biases. Also, this character in the video isn’t always wrong. If your life is unstable, and you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, sometimes it makes sense for you to have the marshmallow now.

HMS: We were talking about “Big Sunglasses”, and I love the imagery in the song and the feelings the song conveys. Is this drawn from social media and presentation for you, or is it more about operating in society and how people present themselves?

TRISHES: “Big Sunglasses” was actually inspired by another study that showed that when people are wearing sunglasses, they are less likely to give unhoused people money. Sunglasses give us some sense of anonymity. That study drew on the The Stanford Prison Experiment, which was inspired by The Milgrom Experiment, which is why those fit into the video.

HMS: It’s great how you play the different characters in the video, because it reminded me that all of this could be an internal conversation that we have with ourselves about how we act and what we do. We can be our own judge, jury, and executioner, but also, we can be accountable to ourselves.

TRISHES: With that video, I also wanted to talk about how, with The Milgrom Experiment, we usually think about ourselves as the person participating. We don’t usually think of ourselves in the other two roles. We think, “I wouldn’t have shocked those other people.” But really, we are all of those things. We can all be the oppressor, the oppressed, and the bystander at some moment in time. Only when we can accept that can we hold ourselves accountable.

HMS: The song “Animal” also seems really important to the album. Is that true?

TRISHES: Yes, “Animal” is pretty much the thesis statement of the entire project.

HMS: A lot of the lyrics are really intense, like admitting, “Maybe I’m no good.” Do you think that’s something that people don’t like to consider?

TRISHES: I think some people don’t like to consider that, but I think a lot of people feel that way about themselves. I really do think that we have these wounds that make us feel that we’re bad or good, and I’m not sure that either of those things exist. “Animal” was definitely written in a space where I didn’t know if I was bad or good, and it was really me pleading with my Maker, or the Universe, or whatever brought me here.

I’m asking, “Why would you put these conflicting wants into us, into this species?” An animal can kill without remorse or guilt because that’s what they are made to do. But humans are human because of this sense of morality that we have, but we’re still animals at the same time. I think a lot of our internal conflicts that create these wounds come from our inability to accept that we’re both of those things at the same time.

HMS: It sounds like there’s a duality that we can’t reconcile, but failing to recognize that fact is an even bigger problem. I love the phrase describing humans as an “ancient artefact”.

TRISHES: I think I wrote “Animal” at a museum in Washington, D.C., maybe the Natural History Museum. I love museums. They are my favorite places. I wrote that verse in a museum.

HMS: Is there sympathy or empathy for the human animal in this song? The word “animal” can definitely be used in different ways.

TRISHES: Yes, I think there’s a lot of empathy there. It’s me learning to have empathy for myself, and I think that’s what I was trying to do with that song.

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