The Secretly Canadian Newsletter

New Song “Whatever Fits Together” Out Now

Singer songwriter Helen Ballentine – who records as Skullcrusher – has released the first track from her eagerly anticipated debut album Quiet the Room (to be released October 14 on Secretly Canadian). The track, “Whatever Fits Together” finds a retrospective Ballentine – pondering her desires with her signature plaintive vocals laid over folky guitar. The release is Skullcrusher’s first new music since her lauded Storm In Summer  EP was released in April 2021. Skullcrusher kicks off a run of North American shows at Newport Folk Festival on July 23rd and the newly added fall dates include stops in New York City, Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco and Seattle. General onsale begins July 22 at 10am local, get tickets at Skullcrusher online.

In describing the song’s impetus, Ballentine says, “I wrote “Whatever Fits Together” while reflecting on my past and wondering how I might begin to explain it to someone. I viewed my younger self through a wash of emotions: anger, sadness, pity, confusion, all reaching for a kind of compassion. I tried to capture the contradictions that comprise my past and define who I am now. As I looked back, I saw my life in pieces: some moments blacked out, some extremely vivid, some leading nowhere. Through the song I attempt to piece it together in some non-linear form and accept my disparate story.

 “Whatever Fits Together” comes accompanied by a beguiling video, for which creative director Silken Weinberg says, “The video for “Whatever Fits Together” is a nightmare of phantasmagoria, taking inspiration from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and one of my favorite silent films, Shoes.  We felt this song needed a darker atmosphere in order to shed light on its essential message: to address the monsters that exist in the shadows.  Aiming to keep it simple, we created a black void and Angela Ricciardi filmed on black and white super 8.  In the end, it became a series of confrontations.

Watch the video for “Whatever Fits Together” 

The framework for Quiet the Room was laid two years ago, when Ballentine wrote and recorded a song of the same name. Unlike most other Skullcrusher songs, it was written on piano, her childhood instrument.  While writing the rest of the album in the summer of 2021, visions of Ballentine’s youth flocked like bats from the attic as she wandered her Los Angeles apartment in the sticky, sweltering heat. The image of a house emerged as she merged the interior world of her songs with the exterior rooms that contained her. She was thinking of her childhood in Mount Vernon, NY, which she calls the biggest inspiration for the record.

It’s like layers of tracing paper, like someone is trying to make a drawing and you’re seeing the entire process,” Ballentine says of the album’s construction. Looking back through home videos, she became struck by seemingly benign shots captured through the window—her at the piano or walking in the yard. There was a weight that extended beyond the edges of the frame, a darkness hovering just out of view: her parents were fighting, on the road to divorce. The house was failing to contain them all. What she set out to capture on Quiet the Room was not the innocence of childhood, as it is so often portrayed, but the intense complexity of it. The result is a stunning and quietly moving work that reflects the journeys we take through the physical and spiritual realms of ourselves in order to show up for the world. 

Pre-Order Quiet the Room

Tracklist in Full:

  1. They Quiet the Room 
  2. Building a Swing 
  3. Whatever Fits Together 
  4. Whistle of the Dead 
  5. Lullaby in February 
  6. Pass Through Me 
  7. Could it be the way I look at everything? 
  8. Outside, playing 
  9. It’s Like a Secret 
  10. Sticker 
  11. Window Somewhere
  12. (secret instrumental)
  13. Quiet the Room  
  14. You are my House 

SKULLCRUSHER ON TOUR 

SHARON VAN ETTEN, ANGEL OLSEN AND JULIEN BAKER

July 23, 2022 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival

July 26, 2022 – Portsmouth, NH – 3S Artspace

July 27, 2022 – Allston, MA – O’Briens Pub

July 28, 2022 – Winooski, VT – Winooski Methodist Church 

August 6, 2022 – Peekskill, NY – The Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre 

August 31, 2022 – London, UK – Omeara

September 2, 2022 – Salisbury, UK – End of the Road Festival 

September 3, 2022 – Manchester, UK – Manchester Psych Fest 

October 17, 2022 – Los Angeles, CA – Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

November 11, 2022 – Washington, DC – DC9

November 12, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s

November 13, 2022 – Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere

November 15, 2022 – Kingston, NY – Tubby’s

November 16, 2022 – Montréal, QC – Bar Le ‘Ritz’ P.D.B.

November 17, 2022 – Toronto, ON – The Garrison 

November 19, 2022 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop 

November 20, 2022 – Chicago, IL – Sleeping Village

November 30, 2022 – San Francisco, CA – Cafe Du Nord

December 2, 2022 – Seattle, WA – Barboza

December 3, 2022 – Portland, OR – Polaris Hall

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