Shut Up, Get Happy – DEMONDICE is back with a brutally, admirably honest new EP

You may recall that a while back we looked at the music of DEMONDICE, an American rapper, singer, animator and music video producer who lives in Japan. At the time that article was written, she hadn’t been overly active for some time, primarily due to a certain other job that she’s been working.

Now she’s back — and she’s rather wisely using her DEMONDICE Karen identity as a means of blowing off steam from her stressful “waitressing” job elsewhere online. Her new EP Shut Up, Get Happy is not only a collection of absolutely banging tunes, but also very, very obviously a wonderful outlet that allows her to express herself in ways that it’s simply not possible to do at the “restaurant” in which she works.

If you’re confused by the “waitress” and “restaurant” terminology, by the way, I recommend watching the livestream she did recently in which, using those euphemisms, she talks quite candidly about what has been a fairly rough time for her, both as DEMONDICE and as her “other self”.

It’s clear that as much as she wants to entertain with Shut Up, Get Happy, it’s also a means of catharsis for her — and those who are familiar with the situation will doubtless not blame her in the slightest for wanting to take on a project like this!

Anyway, we’re not here for Internet drama, so don’t ask; we’re here to celebrate the triumphant return of DEMONDICE to the music scene, so let’s enjoy the four tracks of Shut Up, Get Happy in their entirety!

wanting, getting, wanting

The first track on the EP sets the tone for what to expect immediately: an outright admission that she needs an outlet right now — along with an acknowledgement that some might look on what she’s about to do as a prime example of “success is a bitch”.

“Why complain that your luck ain’t the best / When you’re rich and you’re famous and you’re fuckin’ depressed?” she asks. “I’m still a fuckin’ basket-case, I say I’ll keep on truckin’, but the fact is cars don’t run in space / I’m feeling angsty and thankless and like I fell from grace / In zero gravity, having me thinking like I got no place / I’m fading, the crowd is waiting / But my internal rating is, well, kinda shady.”

These are the words of someone who has absolutely seen the harsh side of popularity, and how people can seemingly turn on you for no reason other than the fact that you are popular. Despite all that, one cannot help but keep wanting more; the grind never ends, and there’s no end goal — you just have to keep trying your best to survive and hope that it doesn’t overwhelm you completely.

The whole song is a shot right through the heart, and I sincerely hope that both writing it and performing it was a cathartic experience for our Karen.

take the bait

As is probably abundantly clear from the title, this piece is pretty much a direct response to the aforementioned Internet drama that Karen was dealing with in her “other job” a little while back. It’s an unabashed, furious response at the conventions of today’s online culture, where people assume that it’s just fine to hurl abuse at people just because they’re “famous” — and that the only response to those who are suffering as a result of such abuse and harassment is that they shouldn’t “take the bait”; they shouldn’t respond to it.

“Losin’ marbles over Twitter talk ’cause you got annoyed / That I got a voice / That I made a dumb fucking choice / Thumb-sucking little boys gettin’ bored with their toys / No, I am not your daughter / Your wife or your role model / You aren’t my boss, or my mom or my dad / And you’ve gotta reassess if the shit make you sad.”

I think that sums things up pretty aptly. However “close” you might feel to people on the Internet for one reason or another, the relationship an audience has with an online entertainer is very different from the relationship one has with a close friend, family member or lover — and a lot of people forget that these days.

In Karen’s own words:

Track number 2’s the vent track. It’s the hardest hitting one, I would say. Says a lot of things that a lot of creators are thinking about. This isn’t just quote-unquote ‘famous’ people, nothing to do with that. … Even if you have five fucking viewers, the three people that are chatting are having a great time, and then one idiot comes like “fucking kill yourself haha idiot.” Sucks. Fuckin’ sucks! And like people expect you to be “professional” and pretend like it doesn’t suck.

…It’s rough. It’s not easy shit and I’m sick of pretending like it’s easy to manage, because it’s fucking not. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like “it’s no big deal,” “I’m so cool,” “I’m so above it all,” “I don’t have feelings, I don’t have emotions, I just sit here and do my job, being famous every day, look at me. Just sit here and do my job every day.” Fuck that shit. Fuck it. Fuck it! Like actually, fuck that shit. Y’know, we’re fucking human beings that have feelings. Anyone who creates shit and gets hate on, has fucking feelings.

…Honestly, I don’t care if you’re someone that has 20k concurrent viewers, or 5 concurrent viewers, if you’re dealing with creator stress, fuck yeah dude, a lot of us do. It’s normal. You shouldn’t be held up to like some godly standard, it’s bullshit. But that’s people for ya. That’s just how it is.”

DEMONDICE Karen, 2/2/22 (Transcribed by genius.com)

dark hour

The third track, dark hour, is, in Karen’s words, “coming down from the freaking out” represented by take the bait. “You calm down a little bit,” she explains. “You start to be introspective. You start to kind of break down a little bit. But not like in an explosive way. It’s like a slow comedown, where you sit back for a minute and take it all in.”

It’s definitely a different direction for DEMONDICE, emphasising sung vocals over rapping — though rapping is still present — but the audience has responded well to it, with some even picking it out as their standout favourite during the livestream. “In the beginning I thought it was the weakest,” Karen admitted, “but the more that I thought about it, the more I thought ‘wow, okay, this is a really interesting new direction that I’ve never really gone through with my music.'”

It’s not hard to see why it resonated with people; as she emphasised in her comments about take the bait, Karen recognises that these feelings aren’t unique to people who are “famous” — and dark hour on the whole feels like an oddly calm reflection on how one feels when in the midst of depression; it can sometimes feel like, as she puts it in the song, one is “paused / Suspended like an apparition / Without a ‘moving on’ condition”.

At the same time, though, it would be foolish to deny that fame has no impact on the situation — and the song acknowledges this. “Fame is a muzzle and I cannot fight back,” she explains. “I’ll strike a little match to watch the flame flicker / And pray that my rise finally dies, or ends quicker / A gun to my chest, but it’s not for me / Trigger finger towards the mess I made mentally / I take a shot, put the glass down, descend in a dream / Where every minute of my time ain’t behind a screen.”

fake ass gold

Shut Up, Get Happy isn’t a directionless whine from DEMONDICE about people being mean to her on the Internet, though. The first three tracks represent some important attempts at expressing herself, while the third brings their respective messages together and looks forward to the future.

As Karen puts it, “it’s another song about moving onward, moving forward, onward and upward, but it’s a little less dream-like and optimistic. It’s got a realistic take to it. It’s from the perspective of somebody that’s seen more and been through more than in ‘You’re an Ace, Kid’. I think that what I’ve seen and what I’ve been through kind of accumulated into this sequel. So it’s a little bit more of a realistic take on being a creator and looking forward.”

There’s definitely a more positive feel to this track; Karen herself sounds significantly happy and more light-hearted at the outset of the track, and it’s obvious that a great weight has been lifted from her shoulders.

“Thrive, survive, you are alive,” the song runs. “And there will be mistakes / and there will be days of sorrow / Know we’ll be knowing better / There will be a tomorrow / No road is loaded with silver and gold / It’s just the treasure that you make for you.”

The message is pretty clear, I’d say.


Shut Up, Get Happy is available on DEMONDICE’s YouTube channel as the lyric videos seen above. You can also stream it on Spotify or buy a copy on Bandcamp. Karen can be found on Twitter here.

Pete Davison
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