Let’s talk about Dopamine for second, Debbie Dopamine that is. Their debut single, “Eat Cake,” came out very recently along with a pink frosting music video directed by FTA contributor Jeanette D. Moses, with the help of several members of local bands who contributed to the creative process, but we’re here to talk about Debbie.
Debbie Dopamine is the songwriting project of Katie Ortiz (vocals/guitar/synth) who self-describes as “a marriage of indie pop sensibilities and grungey guitars, constantly teetering on the edge of a breakdown.” The three piece band is rounded out (or triangulated about) by Dylan LaPointe (bass) and Zach Rescignano (drums) and set to release their debut EP, Pets, in July.
Those familiar with Ortiz’s other projects (Mean Siders, batsbatsbats ghostghostghost, The Senior Year, etc) already know she has a keen understanding of melody and astute execution of infectious hooks often landing not quite where you’d expect. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Katie in the past, so I have witnessed firsthand her ability to expertly craft lyrical quirk and embrace playful song structure that zigs and zags perfectly.
“Eat Cake” (artwork by Dylan LaPointe)
“Eat Cake” delivers on all the levels a pop song should, due much in fact to the talent of its members, but also the organic nature of the project itself. The Debbie character, a longtime figment of Ortiz’s imagination, was just waiting for the perfect catalyst of pent up creativity and to cross paths with equal measures of vulnerability, frustration, and fear. Ortiz saying via a press release: “The video is about exploring the whimsical and disorienting world of an unstable, dissociated mind. Written in the midst of lockdown, the track explores the terrifying and magical world of extreme isolation exacerbated by emotional instability. You might feel that it’s safest to stay inside, only to find that all your most persistent monsters are inside your own candy-colored mind.”
The real strength here though are in the places you can feel the nuance. It’s subtle, but there’s a real honesty between the breaths and the empty spaces. Powerfully disarming, it leaves you completely exposed those complex highs and lows of an almost Liz Phair “fuck it” style sadness. But not without wrapping the whole thing up in a sugar sour indie-pop tune that lands somewhere between Exile in Guyville and Whitechocolatespaceegg.
Watch the video for “Eat Cake”