“I woke up and was just like, I need to write all this stuff down that I’m seeing in my head for this song,” singer, self-described soul-pop artist and member of the Milwaukee-based DIY collective, NAN (New Age Narcissism), Lex Allen says as he thinks back on the beginning stages of creating the visuals for his newest video, “Cream and Sugar”. Allen teamed up with filmmakers and now regular NAN collaborators, Damien Klaven and Cody LaPlant, who have worked on the videos for Lex Allen and Lorde Freddee’s “This is Our Year” and WebsterX’s “doomsday”. His newest video features cameos by various NAN members, and a verse by WebsterX.
“I think I was actually in a car and someone said ‘your cream and sugar, all in one,’ and I was just like, [sings in melody] my cream and sugar all in one,” Allen recalls. The phrase stuck with him so much that he promptly texted fellow NAN member and producer, Q The Sun, with a voice memo recording of him singing what is now part of the chorus. “We were driving around and I just thought I [had] to send this one off to Q.” Allen and Q worked together diligently for almost four months to write and produce the song last summer.
Throughout “Cream and Sugar”, Allen lyrically and visually touches topics such as sexual fluidity, free expression, and desire. The opening scenes feature a number of flirtatious exchanges between Allen and his friends in an airy and elegant dream-like state, but the video then takes a slightly darker turn. He adds that the video reflects human beings and their experiences with duality, specifically the intersections of lightness and darkness. “You get the sweet and sugary in the front, that’s the surface. And then it’s like, oh shit, there’s your dark side,” he says. “I’m hoping people will see themselves in it and see the restrictions that they put on themselves for the world…for the show of the world really. And I wanna put on a show of me. That’s my biggest statement for this year—showing truly me.”
The single is part of a larger-scale project that Allen plans to launch later this year, which will feature a remix of “Cream and Sugar,” more sonic experimentation, and a move into what he and Q refer to as “grimy territory.” Allen mentions that his next release will likely be a ballad dedicated to his mother. “It’s a song that I wrote about her and I’m going to put it out on her birthday. That’s pretty much my next track. And after that it’s just pushing…and working, writing, recording, getting everything lined up.”
Watch the video for “Cream and Sugar” above, and then revisit Nayeli Portillo’s feature on the collective Allen belongs to, Blurring Boundaries and Uniting Communities with New Age Narcissism.