Liner Notes

If you bought a download card at one of our shows, you get the album liner notes when you redeem your download. But for those of you who got our album somewhere else, here are the pretty, pretty liner notes for you to download. (They are designed to be printed on letter-size paper and folded in half. Thanks fans!

 

 

(NEW location!) Giving Birth

(THERE IS A NEW LOCATION FOR THIS EVENT! Note change below.)

After two years of love and labor, our debut album is about to premier! Unless you donated to our fundraiser, literally no one has heard this yet.. It drops Friday, July 14th. We're so excited. 

If you're in NYC, we'd love it if you celebrated with us! We're throwing a stupid big party and you're invited. Look at this lineup:

NEW LOCATION: Lovecraft Bar NYC (50 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009)
L train to 1st Ave.; F train to 2nd Ave.
Friday, July 14th, 8PM–1AM

Decibelists plus special guests!
Soli of The Machine
Cornelius Eady
Leah King Live
Brass: Brown Radicalass Burlesque
DJ ChocoDelish

Doors 8:00
Show starts 8:30
Admission: $15
21+

We did it! Thank you.

Dearest community, 

We are amazed, honored, and simultaneously humbled and emboldened (if that's possible) by the incredible support you've shown us in backing the fundraiser for Decibelists.

We set an ambitious goal and spent much of this campaign assuming we wouldn't even come close to meeting it. Instead, because of your faith in us we've exceeded our wildest expectations and come within spitting distance of our long-shot goal of $6000. You pre-ordered, donated in every amount from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, and shared, reposted and glowingly recommended our fundraiser. Thank you all.

It's about to be Shabbat, so we're officially calling it quits and reclining into the glow of our overwhelming gratitude. As you know, a portion of our overall fundraising that we will be donating to Justice Committee in honor of Daniel Majesty Sanchez. But you don't have to go through us. You can donate directly to JC at http://www.justicecommittee.org/

We hope you enjoy the free download of our first single, "Call Me Out." Stay tuned for what's next.

We love you dearly,

Emma & Leo

Call Me Out — decibelists' first single is available for free download.

We’re releasing our first single, “Call Me Out” feat. Majesty Sanchez as a free download. If you like it, please donate a few dollars to our fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Justice Committee in honor of Majesty. [Editor's note: our fundraiser is over but you can donate directly to Justice Committee at www.justicecommittee.org.].

We knew Majesty from organizing world, through his work with Justice Committee on behalf of the families of New Yorkers murdered by the police. But his brilliance as a rapper and values as a human being made us immediately gravitate toward his musical artistry. He was a dangerously skilled MC who brought humor, vulnerability, speedy wit and political rigor to his verses as a central force behind Legendary Cyphers and End of the Weak. From the moment we wrote it, we intended to ask Majesty to rap on this track. But when we first approached him, he was hesitant — he needed time to find the right creative connection to the song. He sat with the music for months and then suddenly he sent us the first perfect verse. We didn’t hear the second one until he came into record it. His words were magic — funny and personal and revealing — they transformed the song and took it to a place we never expected.

Majesty was a dear friend, a comrade in struggle and someone we were honored and lucky to work with. Emma wrote this about him after he died:

Daniel Majesty Sanchez  (June 8, 1981–October 4, 2016)

Daniel Majesty Sanchez was a musician, activist and organizer that I worked with in the Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) Purim ensemble for the last 3 years. He was also a founder of Legendary Cyphers, an outdoor Hip Hop cypher that you may have spotted in Union Square. He was a founder of End of the Weak, the longest running weekly Hip Hop open mic in NYC. And he was a member and staff organizer of the Justice Committee – working on the South Bronx Cop Watch team and offering support to families of people who have been killed by the NYPD. He was a lifelong New Yorker, and died unexpectedly this Fall, soon after relocating to Las Vegas.

When dear friends die, one of the ways I've found to keep them alive is telling stories about them to each other, and introducing them to folks who did not get to know them. So here are some things about my experiences of Danny Majesty Sanchez:

He was even better at the long goodbye than I was. After ensemble or other times we hung out we'd stand in doorways with our coats on and shoot the shit for an hour or more. We debated and shared and learned from each other, dishing about Kendrick vs. Kanye, sex, sexuality and dating, the true nature of solidarity, old NYC... He made me laugh and helped me think more deeply about things we both cared about. At his memorial I heard many people mention the ways he could talk, getting into conversations in-person and on the phone that lasted for hours and hours without you noticing.

Majesty's booming voice and incredible command of an audience was a powerful tool he used in many contexts. In our Purim shpil, in his Hip Hop crews, hustling for cash by West 4thSt., in the occupied territories of Palestine, leading rallies and marches in the streets of NYC. Last year, when Justice Committee organized a sleep-out on the steps of the Department of Justice to put pressure around the Ramarley Graham case (a Black teenager who was killed by the NYPD in his own home in the Bronx,) Majesty brought out the whole Legendary Cyphers crew, who held down an epic cypher on the steps of the DOJ late into the night.

If you were friends with him he would always have your back. When people talk about how we need accomplices, not allies, I think of Majesty. He taught me a lot about how to live that. And he told me specifically that we need white people to be accomplices to People of Color. I only hope to be able to live up to his call, to use his example of love and care and risk and showing up and creativity as a guiding light.

End of the Weak

Legendary Cyphers

Justice Committee


Call Me Out feat. Majesty Sanchez
Lyrics by Emma Alabaster, Leo Ferguson and Daniel Sanchez
Produced by Leo Ferguson
© 2016 Emma Alabaster & Leo Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Plurality & Duplicity: Artwork by Chanel Kennebrew

 Stay Woke: 24”x 24” Mixed Media Analog Collage, acrylic, on paper and Wood

Stay Woke: 24”x 24” Mixed Media Analog Collage, acrylic, on paper and Wood

On Monday morning, we got an incredibly exciting email: the first drafts of designs for our band artwork and tee-shirts from the extraordinary Chanel Kennebrew! While we struggle to choose between all of Chanel's brilliant ideas, we thought we'd introduce you to her work, so you can salivate along with us. You can pre-order a tee shirt with Chanel's art, along with our upcoming album here.

Chanel works in textiles and collage, photography and illustration and her work ranges all over the place but has an immediately identifiable look to it and a consistent sent of concerns. Describing her work in an interview, Chanel says:

My work addresses plurality and spotlights societal duplicity. Those topics are pretty complex and I feel like my style relates to the themes. For example, racism is complex - it’s a stacked type of hate that can be camouflaged into exoticism, singular historic perspectives, and a hierarchy of feelings about those things. Stacking allows me to dive into many aspects of this, in a literal and abstract way.

She continues, 

"I think in America the second a member of a marginalized group speaks via art, music, or anything else, it's inevitable that they will actively engage in pushing the envelope, whether that is or isn't the intention. The opportunity and platform to tell a story and share a perspective that isn't the status quo causes a shift.

"To me, art is supposed to move you, tickle your spirit, knock you off kilter. My work is deliberately visually appealing and loaded with content that is often not discussed or not discussed from this perspective. I'm attempting to light a flame, spark imagination, and propose possibilities.

 LADIES OF SOUL:44″ x64″ Mixed Media Photo Illustration. Part of the “No Original” edition In an edition of 50.

LADIES OF SOUL:44″ x64″ Mixed Media Photo Illustration. Part of the “No Original” edition In an edition of 50.

We couldn't be more honored to have Chanel creating something original and beautiful for us to visually represent this music we've been working on for so long. To get your own piece of original Chanel Kennebrew decibelists artwork, pre-order a tee-shirt along with our album today!

 Hyphenated Part 1 Study 2; Size: 20″x24″ Medium: Mixed media Acrylic/Collage on Wood

Hyphenated Part 1 Study 2; Size: 20″x24″ Medium: Mixed media Acrylic/Collage on Wood

Low Tide Origins

This weekend was The People's Climate March, today is May Day! We want to share something with you that feels relevant in this moment. If you came to our show at Rubulad, you heard a version of this story about our song, “Low Tide.” The song is up on our website, decibelists.com. If you like it, please share with folks you think want to hear it. And if you want to have it for yourself, pre-order our album here.

 Photo by Peter Eliscu

Photo by Peter Eliscu

In the strangely warm winter of 2014, I gathered with two dear friends — Ariana and Rachel — over tea. Speaking around a kitchen table, Ariana let us know she was pregnant. She and her partner had talked a lot about global warming before conceiving — what would it mean to bring a child into an unknown future, a world that is literally falling apart? 

Over the Spring we spoke on the phone regularly, about her pregnancy but everything else too. Her fears about our warming, decaying world, she said, were the main thing that gave her pause before deciding to have the baby. She was getting a PhD, working at a clinic, and caring for her changing body. I was juggling about seven teaching jobs and working on my music but somehow we always found time to talk. 

That summer I went to Riis beach as much as possible, a cheap way to go on vacation (but only go as far as Queens) and spend the day sunbathing with topless queers. That summer, however, Williams Transco company was building a fracking pipeline from the sea through the dunes and into the city. While we waded in the surf, we could see the pipeline in the ocean, ominous and real, a snaking machine jutting out of the waves like a strange gothic monster.

Rachel was doing climate justice organizing in NYC. We talked about her work at the beach and as we met up to make presents for the baby on the way. Climate change had always seemed so theoretical and far-off to me. I had felt that there were more urgent threats to the people I loved, like gentrification displacing them from their homes, or being targeted by racist police or transphobic violence. 

Then in July, Eric Garner was killed by the NYPD — strangled to death on Staten Island near my home. The Ferguson Uprising started in August, after a teenage Mike Brown was shot by the police in Missouri and left in the street to die. The country erupted in protests, and all three of us joined some of them. 

Ariana’s due date was around this time, and when we spoke we asked these questions again: What did it mean to bring a child into a world like this — a world rife with white supremacy and state violence? What does it mean to be a white parent in a country that kills Black children? Who among us is able to plan for the future? 

One night I found myself writing these questions into a song. It wasn’t something that I had planned — it just came out. The next morning I woke to the news that Ariana  had been in labor at home through the night with 2 midwives, a doula, her mother and her partner. As I was writing “Low Tide” on the opposite coast, Ariana’s child, Tenaz Natan, had been born. 

I sent her a recording of “Low Tide” that same day. When my friend breastfed, she said my song would run through her head. Sometimes she would play it for her baby. I came to visit when he was five weeks old and I sang it to him as I rocked him to sleep. 

This year we watched the Standing Rock Sioux's fight against a pipeline in North Dakota that would run through their sacred land. A group of Native midwives set up a tent at the Standing Rock encampment. The first baby born there was named Mni Wiconi, “water is life.” After the election, the protesters were evicted and pipeline construction continues.

What does it mean to bring a child into an unknown future, a world that is literally falling apart? When is a new life an act of resistance to its own demise?  When everything is eroding, who gets cared for and who gets left behind? How do we plan for a future that is disappearing before our very eyes? — Emma Alabaster, May 2017


Low Tide
by Emma Alabaster

it’s the drop that’ll get you
out of character, gentle
it’s the rock that’ll move you
keep you, make you stay

oh my baby is a low tide
a holding you at bay
oh my country goes to war
seems most every single day

you can sit right down and take it
back and forth behind the screen
it’s so easy just to stay there
and pretend you’ve never seen

oh the coastline looks so different
without its usual insistence
see the pipeline in the ocean
just out of swimming distance

who can feel the temperature now?
who, who, who?
same low folks are always hit
always caught up in the tide

oh i thought the rains a notion
a far off possibility
oh you pushed this infant out
into the waters of inevitability

so hush baby meet the ocean
as it kisses ‘cross the sky
your tiny body on the line
rockin’ here next to mine

it’s the tide that’ll get us
pull us in, then let us out

it’s the rhythm that’ll move us
into the streets, onto the boats
dance on the boardwalk, batten down the hatches
up on the rooftop, building a new raft
bury the anchor, sail out beside us
flip on the searchlight, honor the sunlight
carry the cradle, long as you’re able
dust off the compass, grow a new garden
wishing and praying, gather the children
speak the new language, follow the low lead
lay down beside me, protect this baby
all of us screaming, this is a family
screaming is singing, listen so closely
pick the tender weeds, here everyone feeds
learning all the knots, draw where the war stops
march to the leaders, now they are just us
ride this one out

(Photo by Peter Eliscu)