photo by Aiesha Krause-Lee
Fust is a songwriting project of Aaron Dowdy, carried out with friends Frank Meadows, Avery Sullivan, and John Wallace. It began as a home-recording attempt for Aaron in 2017, self- releasing seven four-song EPs on Bandcamp before it shifted to a live group. The four had played together in a combination of different bands for over a decade in Virginia and North Carolina. This permutation formed in 2018 in Brooklyn where they all lived at the time, meeting in Gowanus to play the lonesome, somewhat hopeless songs as quietly as possible—or as the group would call it, evilly, as it seems a violation to play gently songs of wrongdoing and despair. But Fust is also interested in these themes and moods as tropes, embracing the melodrama of country music, especially the idea that life isn’t adding up to much, or that one’s goodness isn’t being put to use. Fust—the word for the mildewy smell that lingers on unused things—is now based in Durham, North Carolina, and Evil Joy is both their record label debut and the group’s first recordings together.
Evil Joy was recorded sporadically from 2019 to 2021 in New York, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Lake Gaston, but was primarily put together in a shed in north Durham during the winter of 2020-2021. The songs were written for a record initially titled Wind and Wet and Wing after Wallace Stevens’s poetics of middle age, a failing marriage, the want to be an unfeeling “thinking stone,” and ultimately of sublimating into verse the desire to break away like a bird joining its flock. In this way, each song takes up these themes of dispossession, surrender, withdrawal, telling an a-chronological story of a relationship and its discontents. Its themes evoke a kind of temporality where days, months, years start to pass by faster and begin to feel much heavier, held together by a number of loose markers—the final days, days of leaving, days of returning, better days, and the days to come. The title of this record is Evil Joy, two words that when combined suggest a conflict, bringing together two extremely different affects in order to name the scope of pain and pleasure in a deteriorating relationship. But, as with most things in a story like this, the title is also itself an overreaction, a blowing-out-of-proportion, calling evil what is more rightly just a difficulty, one shared by most people.
releases on DLR: