Though each day of 2020 seems to bombard our eyes and ears with new and terrible information, we must not forget to devote our attention to the little miracles happening right under our noses. I’m speaking, of course, of the wellspring of creative output and community support carried out by Denver’s artists and musicians.
Thus, let April 3 go down in history as the day the tantalizing and talented pseudonymous songstress Bunny Blake released her new single, “VIP Death Squad.” It’s the first song she’s released since taking a trip to London in the fall of 2019 to work with a new team of hit-makers. This particular track is co-written by her, Kelly Rutledge and Will Simms. The latter helped write and produce The Pussycat Dolls’ 2020 single, “React.”
“VIP Death Squad” is an anthemic thumper with a coyly super-villainous tone. A listener could easily assume that it’s part of the soundtrack for this year’s DC Comics-inspired film, Birds of Prey. Part of its edginess stems from Bunny Blake’s desire to incorporate some prog-rock and metal sensibilities into her new projects. Though her voice lends itself well to pop with an R&B twinge, as her previous work demonstrates, listening to grittier genres was what first inspired her to make music.
During an earlier conversation with Bunny Blake in December, she reflected on more initial days in her career: “I remember being mad at myself because I couldn’t get my voice to sound like a rock chick voice … as for the music I’m creating now, I’m really excited to bring a little bit of that rock element back into it, and get a little dark with it again.”
Consider “VIP Death Squad” as a fulfillment of that goal. The guitar solo by Denver’s own Jay Rydel, who accompanied Bunny Blake to London to record with her, is but the icing on the cake — and truly, you’ll want to sink your teeth into this song.
As its title may allude, the track’s central ideas are the inevitability of death and the meaninglessness of earthly glory, as if it were a modern Memento Mori. These time-honored concerns have unintentionally become rather topical, and its lyrics (“ain’t no VIPs on the other side”) now carry some added weight.
Though Bunny Blake scheduled the date of its release months in advance, the mounting severity of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. over the past few weeks caused her to second-guess putting her song out at this time. Even during the song’s incubation period in the studio, however, she was aware of the social commentary embedded in it. Now, listeners will likely map its message onto one specific context, and Bunny Blake isn’t averse to leaning into it.
“I think of it as a political song,” she revealed, and went on to delicately say that “the way certain politicians, celebrities and corporations [are reacting] now is just revealing a problem that’s been there from the start.” Still, she’d rather the song act as a mirror for the listener than try to overlay her own vision onto it for them. “Who you think this song is about says a lot about your beliefs and biases. I think the world would benefit from people getting acquainted with their own confirmation bias.”
Unlike Madonna, Bunny Blake did not take the fact that the pandemic can touch anyone to mean that coronavirus itself is the great equalizer. (Also unlike Madonna, she did not pontificate this point while sitting in a milky bathtub strewn with rose petals.)
As a full-time gigging musician, Bunny Blake’s livelihood is directly impacted by Colorado’s venue closures and stay-at-home order. Quick to adapt to these new conditions, she created a Patreon on March 31, where she’ll post exclusive live performance videos, guitar tutorials and yet-to-be-released songs.