Arca is known for her harsh synths and distorted beats, which can be heard on her Grammy-nominated 2020 album Kick I. But with her new nine-minute single “Madre,” the producer forgoes her drum pad in favor of a more stripped-down effect.
The song appeared in the recent special episode of HBO’s Euphoria, which centered around the character Jules as she talks through her troubles with a therapist. Arca said she originally wrote the song years ago but felt collaborating with composer Oliver Coates took it to the next level.
“I wrote ‘Madre’ years ago, and I did ‘Madreviolo’ playing the cello myself, before working with Oliver. After recording ‘Madreviolo,’ I destroyed the cello I bought specifically for this. It had to be like a one-time thing for the version where I pitched up my vocal to castrati registers. But the original version with my unprocessed vocals, which felt a necessary version to share alongside Madreviolo, needed an arrangement that I could envision but couldn’t hear. When I shared the acapella version with Oliver there was an insane resonance and chemistry; where he took it felt like the place I dreamed of but couldn’t reach without him.”
Coates touched on how he reworked the single: “I worked on it for about 9 days, playing very softly against it over and over in improvised strokes until a harmony and rhythm started to present itself, like a ghost orchestra at the back of a cathedral, barely raising above a whisper but also enveloping in terms of space and density.”
Listen to Arca’s “Madre” with Oliver Coates above.