Love: the endorphin high you feel when you see photos of Rihanna’s Met Gala dress, when enough people fav your selfie, when GrubHub texts you to let you know your burrito is on the way. Love Dream is the first EP from Vancouver based producer and Hot Sugar affiliate Nancy Leticia. It’s a sexy album for people who understand sex primarily as a focal point for critical theory, a love album for people who regularly tweet about not being able to feel anything, a mixtape for your crush in an anime dating simulator.
Love Dream is the first official release on Hot Sugar’s Noise Collector label, which, according to a Geocities-esque manifesto page designed by Molly Soda, intends to showcase “Associative Music,” or, compositions that play with emotions by subtly integrating samples of familiar sounds that trigger specific feelings. (If you think this isn’t a thing, check out the Museum of Endangered Sounds and monitor your emotional response to the AIM notification or Tetris music.)
Associative Music invokes sound from IRL and URL sources, but the affect Love Dream seems to be concerned with manifesting is squarely URL affect. There’s optimism, nostalgia, longing, flirting and crushing and swooning, all rendered in the sonic language of smooth jazz, glo-fi, PC music era pop.
This vaporwave aesthetic is also present throughout Leticia’s visual art: a ring with the word ‘xanax’ on the front in bejeweled cursive, a serene girl in a chrome hazmat-esque jumpsuit eating McDonalds, a series of uncanny valley nudes. The production of the art matches the production of the music—everything is airbrushed, glossy, too blurry or else oddly angled, as when rushing a 3D model sketch of an organic shape.
But internet feels are real feels and it’s easy to connect to the dreamy ebbs of “Bitches” or the synth strut of “Ur Pocket Mirror is Too Big”, or the haunting “I Like Your Fake Rose Tattoo”.
Leticia is classically trained, she studied jazz and classical piano and has expressed an affinity for Beethoven and Bach, but is also deeply internet based and has stated that her inspiration comes largely from the net. By using the tools of classical piano (perhaps the most readily legible form of verified high art) to articulate affect born on the internet (still evolving and therefore still read as ambiguous, dark, and illegitimate), Leticia stakes a claim for URL as valid lived experience, as relevant and romantic as IRL, and perhaps not all that different.