by Sarah Goh
Newly released on March 18, 2022, Nic Masangkay’s “Mothers” explores the unlearning of possessive love and how to better honor our matriarchs. The song was inspired by 2000s R&B music and was released with a new music video filmed in Washington’s Deception Pass.
“Mothers” is the second single to Masangkay’s larger project, We Came of Age as Love Was Changing, which will be a prose poetry book, music album, and multimedia performance.
Based in Seattle and an artist of many mediums, Masangkay is a musician, poet, multimedia cultural worker, and storyteller. Their expansive work draws from their own identity as a queer and trans Filipino-American.
Diagnosed with PTSD and fibromyalgia, Masangkay took some time away from performing public art during the pandemic. After receiving a grant from the Arc Artist Fellowship, Masangkay invested into two analog synthesizers. “Mothers” was the first song they wrote on their new equipment.
The name of the song stems from Masangkay wanting to expand the definition of “mother.”
“A mother doesn’t need to be someone birthing someone,” Masangkay says, “But it can be defined by the type of care you provide, feminine wisdom, strength, or matriarchal leadership.”
Masangkay points to ballroom houses, safe communities, and chosen families for LGBTQ+ Black, Latinx, and trans people. The mothers of these houses aren’t biologically related to their house “children” — queer or trans young people who may have been rejected from their own biological families — but their nurturing and care is just as real. As a result, Masangkay is including more of these definitions of mothers and matriarchs in “Mothers.”
The song itself is Masangkay’s own self-reflection on their past loves with other women and matriarchs. They hope “Mothers” resonates with others who have been through similar intense romantic periods.
“I was thinking about why we love certain people with a savior complex,” Masangkay says.
Every time I see you
You say he fucked you up
Makes me wanna take you away
And fix you up
I see my mother’s pain in your eyes
I wanna remove the violence from between your thighs
“Oftentimes, people love others to heal themselves,” Masangkay says. “And sometimes it can be in a way that’s consuming or codependent.”
“Love is not trying to possess someone else’s journey in a way to heal our own personal trauma,” Masankay writes.
But it’s not fair to fix you
I’m just being selfish
You’re your own woman
I’m not attracted on purpose
I just know of your struggle
Masangkay says that many pop songs and romantic movies perpetuate a type of romance that can be damaging. Media uplifts grand acts of saving and intense rescuing of partners that can be dangerous to them.
“What would a pop song look like if I undid that?” Masangkay says. “But one that you could still vibe with.”
As a result, Masangkay blended their heavier lyrics with a warm synth-pop tone and a mid-tempo soul track.
“My music used to be more dark and morbid,” Masangkay says, “And now I want parents and children to hear it … I’m releasing a clean version of the song too.”
To honor their Filipino heritage and the Indigenous communities that lived before them in Washington, Masangkay filmed the music video in Deception Pass.
“Connection with lands of the Coast Salish, Swinomish, and Samish helps me retrace my own Filipino Indigeneity,” Masangkay says.
In addition to a reconnection to heritage, Masangkay is trying to redefine what gender looks like through the style choices they made and the appearance they chose.
“I identify as a matriarch in my own community,” Masangkay says. “There are people who look to me for certain types of wisdom and mentorship, and my choices in wardrobe — my chest being exposed — is trying to [clarify] who gets to be a mother.”
From an exploration of identity to a reclaiming of what healing and love looks like, “Mothers” is a song that wants to challenge the mainstream. Masangkay hopes that listeners will push against outdated versions of romance and be open to a new age and evolution of love.
Listen to “Mothers” on all platforms, including Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Watch the music video on Youtube, iTunes Video, Tidal Video, Amazon Video, Facebook Video, and UMA Video. Stay up-to-date with Nic Masangkay and their works at their website.
Sarah Goh is a Singaporean American journalist who graduated from the University of Washington with a dual-degree in biology and journalism. At the intersection of community, science, and humanities, she hopes to elevate marginalized voices and explore the overlooked and unexpected through her writing. Find her at sarahsgoh.com or on Twitter @sarahsgoh.
📸 Featured Image: Nic Masangkay is a Seattle-based musician, poet, multimedia cultural worker, and storyteller. (Photo: Jessica Foxblood)
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