The Chicago-based pop artist and singer-songwriter NÆ gives us our dose of "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)" in a comedic new music video.
A multimedia performance artist and teacher, NÆ promises to leave her audience with a prominent message in each release, comical or not. Her sound is both satire and performance art, bringing something new and fresh to the entertainment industry.
Recently releasing her debut album, 'Push Button Future,' NÆ is excited to announce the release of her new and amusing music video for "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)."
Expanding on her music video for "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)," the visuals feature composer, musician, and producer Ryan Black (Blizzle), with direction from Kris Trgovich and direction of photography from Kraze Videography.
Hitting play on the music video for "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)," the scene opens with barista Blizzle and aerobics dance instructor NÆ at their local coffee shop. The instant NÆ begins singing; we can tell something is different with this video, as she goes into detail regarding the exhilarating feeling of getting her dose of "Sugar Pumps" with her daily coffees.
The sonics, created by Chicago-based producer Justin James Dumar, give the song an uplifting and fun-loving edge, which is all the more perfect for this satirical music video. Blizzle then goes into a comedic rap while pumping sugar into NÆ's cup. Later, NÆ makes her appearance as an aerobics instructor straight out of the 80s, serving many innuendos towards her love for those addicting "Sugar Pumps." This music video truly resembles that of a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit, as NÆ gives us heavy Kate McKinnon vibes from beginning to end.
Get a belly laugh from NÆ's latest music video, "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)," now available to watch on YouTube.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, NÆ. You've truly given us a good laugh with the release of your recent music video, "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)." What inspired the comical song itself surrounding an overworked barista and spiraling aerobics instructor?
Hey BuzzMusic! Thank you so much for the interview opportunity, and for supporting independent artists! It makes me so happy that you had a good laugh with the music video for "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)" - my caffeine-driven mission has been accomplished! On a more serious note, there are a few levels of inspiration for the track and the music video. The song itself was inspired by the many times in which I have ordered iced coffee drinks just black… and end up getting a super sweet sugar-infused drink I never asked for. This happened several times at a couple of fast-casual cafés on a road trip I was on with my songwriting partner, Ryan Black (aka Blizzle), and we started writing the song in the car while getting a little sugar high while sipping our road coffee drinks. It is important to mention that having worked in the foodservice industry myself for over a decade, I’m not the type of person to send back a drink if it isn’t quite right. I understand there are honest mistakes, and I now understand that America runs on the assumption that people crave sugar pumps in their coffee drinks. It is our country’s latent addiction to sugar. As my persona NÆ, I write many of my songs as the voice of a certain caricature of a person - always women. In “Sugar Pumps”, I am singing as the caricature of Leah. Leah teaches Zumba classes, but often cancels out all the calories burned with sugary sweet coffee drinks from the massive strip mall Starbucks next door to the fitness center where she teaches. Leah’s experience speaks to a broader critique of consumerism - how the way we consume and present ourselves can define who we are. Think about athleisure attire. High-end leggings, well-fitted sports bras, etc - presenting oneself with these consumables says, “I work out. I do yoga. Fitness is important to me.” The #fitnessmodel posts on Instagram, coupled with top-down photographs of fancy coffee drinks, are a form of currency and display of one’s personal values as they present to the world. I am trying to push at the core of consumerism - how it affects women, and specifically millennial women (now the largest consuming demographic), and consider what this means in our current cultural moment.
Regarding your music video for "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)," what was your collaborative experience like creating and shooting the video with Ryan Black? Do the two of you work together often?
Ryan Black aka Blizzle is my creative partner and primary collaborator for all things NÆ. Not only did he edit and mix the production of the musical track, but is also featured as his persona, Blizzle, in the second verse of the song! For the music video, we knew we wanted to film “Sugar Pumps” in a café setting, and with the pandemic resulting in many of these locations having pretty severe restrictions, we decided to start brainstorming together, and with Music Video Director, Kris Trgovich, on a solution. I always start pre-production by drawing out storyboards, looking at reference material from many different decades, and just writing long lists of ideas on paper on how to make visual pieces like this. My primary background is in visual art (I teach Digital Imaging and Photography at DePaul University here in Chicago), and so the visual presentation is of utmost importance to me for the NÆ universe. It was actually our Director, Kris Trgovich, who came up with the idea of building an entire café set in a large warehouse and setting up LED walls to create the imaginative “dream space” of the highly caffeinated mental state that NÆ spirals into over the course of the music video. Kris worked with a décor company to assemble materials, and whitewashed brick wall set pieces by hand. Ryan and I took many trips to Goodwill getting props together, and I put together the costumes for us. Luckily, Kris had a broken industrial espresso machine that we incorporated into the café as well! It took several weekends of brainstorming, building props, and drinking a lot of coffee, but we pulled it off! Ryan Black and I have been collaborators for almost 4 or 5 years now. I started working with him and his micro record label, REB Records, by playing synthesizers as a part of his brainchild project that brings together art, music, and interactive original video games, Black’s Backbone. He worked with me on the single and music video for “Dacron Duvet” (released in early 2020), and produced, composed, and performed on NÆ’s debut album, Push Button Future. During the global health crisis, we have been live-streaming an interactive show called, Saturnae: Orbital Ice Cream where we perform as NÆ & Blizzle on a mission from the International Ice Cream Consortium (The IICC) on Earth to collect intergalactic ice cream recipes and thus revitalize the retail industry on Earth. A fun fact about the music video for “Sugar Pumps feat. Blizzle” is that in the NÆ universe the café is owned by the IICC, and operated by the International Iced Coffee Consortium (a branch of the International Ice Cream Consortium). Look closely at the cups and you’ll see the IICC logo! The IICC is the capitalistic entity in the NÆ universe.
When taking a look at your recent music video for "Sugar Pumps (feat. Blizzle)," we truly believe that it's viral material. Would you ever consider taking these videos to a platform like TikTok, where comedy like yours is often sought?
Well, thank you! I love that you are fully on board with the comedy and ridiculousness we are serving up in the music video! I am definitely planning on getting on board with TikTok at some point this year, but using it as a platform for silly side stories and experiences that happen in the NÆ universe. Space unicorns, ridiculous coffee drinks, recipes, and completely useless how-to crafting videos might end up as a part of the content. I am still pushing myself to get more comfortable with short-form content like TikTok - so much of my experience is wrapped up in creating longer form, more involved projects, and I am looking forward to pushing myself in this new dimension!
Within your recent album, 'Push Button Future,' do you deliver more satire rather than honest lyrical topics? Is there a running theme or concept throughout the album?
This is an excellent question! First off, I think that satire can be honest lyrical content, even if it isn’t directly based on personal experience. In my music and art, I am investigating cultural landscapes, idiosyncrasies in consumer culture, and want to unpack those larger concepts with shorter narratives, comedy, music, and specific experiences that point back to this. Whether it is ordering very expensive sugary coffee drinks, going all-in on a luxury unicorn-themed party, moving into a brand-new modern apartment complex (even if the construction is sub-par), or texting disingenuous photographs to a potential romantic partner on a dating app… these are all actions that point back to a larger cultural problem. Allowing the way we consume to define who we are. That is the concept of the album, 'Push Button Future.'
I often describe the album as “music about aspirational lifestyles” - the life we aspire to, getting there through material means. I personally struggle with this, and I definitely think it is a massive distraction and problem for middle-class America, women, white women, and those individuals who have to become self-aware and untether themselves from the distractions of our capitalist society in order to approach and care about larger cultural and systemic problems. I want my music to speak to this, and add to the conversation at a larger level. To say, “Let’s take a step back and actually talk about how much money gets spent on venti lattés, and is that daily expense giving one’s life an actual return on the investment?” I (JaNae) am not immune to the problems of consumerism, capitalism, shopping, and posting on Instagram… but, I try to be critical about it, and bring these issues to light by speaking openly about them. Honestly, I love shopping, finding interesting vintage fashion, and a good cold iced matcha latté with oat milk! Seriously, going on trips to my mom at The Mall of America was a vital part of my formative years! But, there is also a balance between consumerism as a distraction and being able to take that important step back and recognize latent addictions, the way we spend our time and money, and then the self-awareness needed to engage in culture, and change the culture for the better.