Child Actress


For Rena Kozak, writing music is a compulsion. It’s a cathartic swell that offers a sanctuary to the overbearing nature of our emotions, crafting a liminal space where the feelings we can’t explain are expressed with limitless reverie. As Child Actress, she toes the line between a tangible reality and an infinite universe, and it’s on new album Ancestor Worship that these worlds collide to craft an iridescent collage. Shadow, light and the gauze of the inbetween are embraced with curiosity, where she asks of an existence that can amass all three.

Child Actress has been a staple of the Canadian music scene for years. While Calgary was her initial foundation, her move to Montreal in 2017 solidified her work not just as a performer and songwriter, but as a sought-out producer and mixing engineer. Her debut album Milking a Dead Cow (2017) garnered acclaim for its low-fi dreamy pop with the darkened lyrical undertones that make for a stifling, all-engrossing experience. 2020 saw the release of follow-up full-length Improv Will Not Improve You As A Person, while a plethora of EPs and singles have adorned the Child Actress discography.

Ancestor Worship is the result of unimaginable grief and the psychedelic experiences that can stem from such pain. “The process of that particular type of suffering made me often much more aware of my shortcomings as a limited human, frequently able to sense something more beyond what my five senses were able to be sure of,” she explains. Feeling untethered from the constraints of the human realm, Child Actress sought out a relationship with the incomprehensible and undefinable elements of the universe, not to seek answers but to seek a truth. The album stretches beyond the four corners of a confined reality to create a kaleidoscopic space.

While taking inspiration from an infinite realm could produce an infinite sonic universe, Child Actress was surprised to find that many of the songs on Ancestor Worship were much more simplistic, stripped-back even. “When I distill the theme down to its core it sums my whole experience up in a perfect nutshell––the infinite in the end dithers down to the head of a pin, the sound it makes when turned into music might really be nothing but sweet pop melodies,” she explains. Feeling so much at once can often lead to the self protection of feeling nothing at all, a kind of paralysis bridging the worlds of before and after. “That’s sort of what comes out in the end” suspended, ethereal, simple nothing.”

“Beloved,” the first single from the album, was inspired by those who have passed but can still interact with the living. “Toni Morrison really meshed with the way that I see spirituality,” she explains. “She’s gone but she continues to exist on another plane through her work.” Moody bass and persistent percussion mimics the ever-traveling footsteps of those passed, while Kozak’s delicate vocals soften the edges of the trip. The hazy shoegaze garage-rock of “Always Moving” details the evanescence of constant travel; of never really feeling at home despite the search for it. “Always moving, I don’t love, I don’t love,” Kozak laments.

“No Wifi” cements this disconnect between selves––the one always moving and the one staying put––but also highlights the difficulty in maintaining a bond with those you love. Child Actress decorates the sorrow of separation with mechanical drum swells and industrial electric guitar, as her almost-fragile vocals juxtapose the instrumentation. It’s a collection of selves, striving for an ever-moving spotlight.

Ancestor Worship may come with emotional weight, but Kozak is able to showcase a glimmer of optimism, especially on opener “Human Need.” Floating pop arrangements dance alongside a story of feeling that resurging pang of something you thought you lost. “in the night you’ll see, it’s not the way it has to be,” she utters, as if to herself, as saxophone and staccato horns push for a brighter new beginning.

Ancestor Worship encompasses the most difficult aspects of moving through the world, laying a relatable foundation that offers solace in the chaos. Kozak’s lo-fi arrangements mark the intimacy of this kind of exploration, while her lyrical landscape refuses to shy away from the beauty and brutality of survival.




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