Chris Hadfield recently asked Roberta Bondar where humankind should explore next, to which she somewhat predictably replied the Moon, Mars, the Arctic and the oceans. If you ask Charlie Kerr, an intrepid artistic adventurer, he’d say the next undiscovered country we need to explore is the self.
Kerr, a member of Vancouver’s JPNSGRLS, is suiting up and taking a giant step into the darkest reaches of one’s psyche on “Spacesuit”, the first single from his new solo project Matt and Sam’s Brother. Kerr says the song, like the whole of his new album, My Brain Hurts A Lot, is his way of expressing the mind’s cosmic commute between “existential dread and delusions of grandeur.”
That’s an interstellar journey I’d sign up for. The idea of exploring one’s self is fascinating and frightening. With the potential to reveal unwanted truths, it’s no wonder we don’t often look inward and explore why and how our minds can lead us to feel isolated and alone on a planet of six billion people.
In a new acoustic version of “Spacesuit”, Kerr takes a leisurely, gravity-defying space walk around the block in his mind, strolling through Depressive Cynic Crescent, Manic Egoist Street, Hopeful Romantic Road, and back around again. “The song ends where it starts,” Kerr tells me, “Nothing too profound. Such is life.” But there is a sage wisdom in knowing that this journey has no beginning or end. Through this mellow and meticulously performed live version, he captures in song what it feels like to drift without momentum or direction, find yourself suddenly hyper-aware and scared about mortality, momentarily crashing into reality before rising up and floating away again.
“Singing this song makes me feel like a frightened child,” Kerr says, “So naturally I had to decorate the room with glow-in-the-dark stickers so I didn’t get too scared.” As a child, nighttime was the right time for my brain to go into overdrive and fill me with all kinds of worry and dread, so I sympathize with him there. But adult me finds the ebb and flow of the live version of “Spacesuit” as soothing as a lullaby.