S the Supplicant & the world of Mechanicalville

Just when we thought our own collective reality was already completely surreal, Secret Lover's Sally Horowitz launches the conceptual performance pop universe of S the Supplicant. Releasing the first EP Sex in Mechanicalville through the viciously DIY vanguard imprint—Nicey Music—the NYC based star has created an fictional origin story, hand in hand with an entire dystopian metropolis titled Mechanicalville introduced in the following press release/prologue:

In the human simulation there is a large city called Mechanicalville. Mechanicalville represents the dreadful height of humanity; every emotion is made extreme here, it is a place of violence and ecstasy. The Creators watch it closely.
At the center of the city is the demonic Club Supplication. Each night, the Supplicant is brought to the club and placed upon a crystalline stage. Sing, Supplicant, Sing. She wishes to stop the performance but is propelled forward by invisible hands. Sex in Mechanicalville is a record of the Supplicant’s final performance. In The Creator’s world it is also called The Supplicant, The Disco and The End of Times.

Welcome to the Supplicant's realm of the sensuous and strange, where you become immersed into the first episode of an ongoing sensational oneiric electro opera. Mixing dashes of the dramatic from the post-disco pop queens of Diana Ross to Madonna's most earth shaking moments of artistic evolution—S the Supplicant is the star attraction of the sordid Club Supplication in a seedy and unstable world on the brink of utter collapse. In a parallel predicament that echoes our own erratic civic and social realities; Horowitz opens up the multiverse dimension portal entrance on the disco belle du jour of "Mirror" that crashes the reflective looking glass vanities. The pace is accelerated on the bubble-bop of "Runnin" that leads to the grand lounge pop sequence "Summer Lovin'" (think Breathless Mahoney in Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy) that takes the extravagant nature of the show biz to the outer limits of existence. Then the big single "Aphrodite's School" closes the EP out with the kind of style guaranteed to re-write the art history books of future and past that intoxicates with an academic edge that adheres to the tenets of the Greek goddess (complete with a bonus remix track of the single provided by Savannah, Georgia sound-stylist C Powers). All together, Sex in Mechanicalville sees Sally spinning the danger and dramatics of a Cabaret-esque musical event that is updated with the urgency and lusty carnal cataclysms to resemble a more bizarre take on both our present day society and the impending uncertain futures.

NYC's latest pop provocateur S the Supplicant, aka Sally Horowitz; photographed by Anastasia Caras.

NYC's latest pop provocateur S the Supplicant, aka Sally Horowitz; photographed by Anastasia Caras.

Sally Horowitz provided a privy view into the world of S the Supplicant, the manifestation of Mechanicalville and other insights:

Origins of how S the Supplicant drama serial was inspired and created.

Form really created meaning in this project.

It was my first performance as S. The Supplicant and I planned on just singing disco-ish pop songs to a backing track. I’d never performed with a backing track before, and I realized too late that I had placed the songs too quickly in succession.  It felt like a train about to go off the tracks. To make the set work (at least for myself!) I invented the story of a character who was trapped in a nightclub and forced into a never-ending performance. A Disco Sisyphus. This was just a narrative in my head, it took me a few months to realize that I could actually tell the story as part of my set.

Tell us more about the inception of the ultra-extreme concept of Mechanicalville and how it was developed.

Mechanicalville is the Supplicant’s Gotham. I like music to be a soundtrack to a place—the city, the country, the suburbs, the internet...most music only sounds right when you listen to it in the right setting. So the Supplicant needed a place to live where her music and character would make sense. So I invented Mechanicalville. It’s a simulated city—an incredibly debaucherous one. Only through extreme passion can the people there lose that creeping feeling that they are not quite real. Mechanicalville also came about right at the time when I got my first smartphone (very late to the game) and was basically dismayed to see how quickly the brain and body become oriented towards new technology.

S the Supplicant, as portrayed by Sally Horowitz; photographed by Rachel Duarte.

S the Supplicant, as portrayed by Sally Horowitz; photographed by Rachel Duarte.

Notes on the jump from Secret Lover to S the Supplicant.

Every Secret Lover song had a story. Most venues for underground rock music have pretty wonky sound, so it was difficult to be heard and understood. I over-compensated by extreme movements, trying to act out the stories physically. Now I don’t have to worry about loud guitars and crashing drums, just a mic and backing track. I’m free to speak and sing audibly. But both Secret Lover and The Supplicant are basically musical theater (woops!). Secret Lover actually made a movie-musical, which will be out next year.

Reflections on the creation of the song cycle Sex in Mechanicalville and how you were able to channel multidisciplinary approaches to performance art into an album.

Sex in Mechanicalville is meant to be listened to as a soundtrack to the Supplicant story and also as a regular album of pop songs, outside of the context of the narrative. I hope it works—to be the thing and not the thing at the same time. We’ll see!

Interested to hear more about the conceptual framework that would built the single and minimalist DIY visual for "Aphrodite's School".

I was trying to make pornography—boot fetish and smoking fetish. Some of the most entertaining DIY stuff, in my opinion, is amateur pornography. People pay to watch a 3 minute video of someone smoking, so I thought I could use that idea and put a song over it.

Insights on how the move to NYC has inspired you creatively and personally.

NYC informed the idea of Mechanicalville as well. It can be difficult to believe in the reality of this place. I grew up outside of NYC, in a world whose economy was fueled by the city. The rules of life are so different and particular here, as a kid I could never really figure out how anything was actually done. Everything was too fast and too professional for me to see the structure behind it. When I was 17 I went to New England and stayed there for 10 years. In that slower-paced environment I learned how to actually do things; how to work, how to get ideas off the ground, how to start bands, etc. I need to do things wrong many, many times before I can do them right. New York forces you to put a polish on your art, performance, identity. It forces you to take yourself seriously, which is a really good thing. But I’m glad that I had time somewhere else to fail over and over in relative peace, which is figuring yourself out.

Thoughts on how performance and new mediums and media can create a constructive difference in our societies, communities and collective cultures.

The thing that I'm really looking for in art, is to be reminded that I’m not real—what I think and say and tell myself is, in a way, a lie. Once I realize that I’m lying I can actually get somewhere. Believing less in yourself can be a good thing. It can make you see yourself as less separate. Because separation is what causes jealousy, and in some way I think that jealousy is even more destructive—even more the cause of hate—than fear. Also, it’s good to see how we are all being lied to. Our culture lies and our politics and our sayings and our speech...everything. The most honest thing you can do, I believe, is to admit that you lie—or perform. I think that art is transcendent when it is an obvious lie. Some people call it camp.

Spotlight on the artists, provocateurs and activists that matter in your world.

For this album I was inspired by the extended version of Diana Ross’s song “Love Hangover” (written by two women, Pamela Sawyer and Marilyn Mcleaod, and which makes me see visions of a descent into Nightmareland) And also Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s drama World on Wire.

S the Supplicant's Sex in Mechanicalville is available now via Nicey Music.