Hear First: Primer’s Novelty

Stream the debut album and read an essay by Primer, aka Alyssa Midcalf, herself.

Hear First is Talkhouse’s series of album premieres. Along with streams of upcoming albums—today’s is Primer’s Novelty—we publish statements from artists and their peers about the mindsets and impressions that go into, or come out of reflection on, a record. Here, Primer, aka Alyssa Midcalf, writes about how creating beauty in reaction to trauma resulted in her first album with the project, which you can listen to right here.
—Annie Fell, Associate Editor, Talkhouse

Life is traumatic. We’re here alone on a spinning ball in space with no answers and it could end at any time. Not to say there isn’t beauty in life, but we create beauty in reaction to the trauma. Beauty is manmade, trauma is inherent. It’s a simple belief: Existing is traumatic and everyone, whether consciously or not, is trying to cope with that. Everyone is desperately seeking relief from the trauma, the lack of answers.

My coping mechanism is to write songs. It’s magic! It converts trauma into something that serves a purpose. I take my trauma and I dress it up in sounds and rhythms and paint it with melodies and turn it into something beautiful. And that’s how I wrote Novelty. The opener “Anesthetized” is a song about my fear that my country will continue to deteriorate into a corporate oligarchy that causes suffering to the powerless, but you can sing along to it. “Concrete Walls” is about my childhood friend who unintentionally killed her infant daughter, but the strings are heavenly. And “TVI” is a song about child abuse, but it’s fun to dance to.

Novelty is a diary. I started writing some of these songs when I was 18, but it feels like I’ve been writing them my whole life. I had to let them go and move on just as I have to do with everything in life. However when I first started writing songs I believed nothing could be shared with anyone until it was perfect. With this record, my first record, I understand now that the perfection I was working towards will never come. Nothing about Novelty is perfect, but it’s the truth. And all I can really hope for is that if I tell the truth, I can be healed from the trauma.

—Alyssa Midcalf

(Photo Credit: left, Nicholas Alcock)

Primer is the alias and creative project of vocalist/producer Alyssa Midcalf. Originally from Palm Springs, California, she now lives and creates music in Detroit, Michigan.

(Photo Credit: Nicholas Alcock)