Warning: explicit lyrics.
Francy Graham didn’t mean to create an homage to Kendrick Lamar with “My Vibe,” a previously unreleased track from her now-defunct punk band, Dudes. But that’s kind of what she did.
Graham, who also plays in Chain & the Gang, says she probably heard Lamar’s 2012 track “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” at some point — but she didn’t really take the time to listen to it until deciding to release this track from her band.
“Of course I’ve like, been at a party, and heard it and stuff, but I’d never really sat down and listened to it. And so I did,” says Graham. “I mean, [Dudes’ version is] pretty similar. I just think it’s adapted to my lifestyle, I guess.”
At their core, both songs are about self-preservation in the face of undesirable forces, but the Dudes track is a stripped down punk anthem, with Graham’s slightly sardonic vocals topping a bare-bones bass line (played by Luke Reddick, who usually handled drums) and beat (from Laurie Spector, who usually played bass). Graham says she wrote the lyrics during a chill jam session; she remembers Reddick saying “bitch, don’t kill my vibe” and she decided to run with it.
“In my head I was like ‘Wow, my vibe, I just got this great idea that no one’s ever come up with,'” Graham says. “But, like, everyone’s done that.”
Graham’s lyrics bring a different sensibility to her band’s song, too. There are not-so-subtle digs at that kind of art-school, too-cool culture: “Sea punk, art school, goth you’re so lost/I don’t care, just don’t kill my vibe.”
Graham says she wrote the lyrics while beginning college at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. “Moving to Baltimore was kind of a shock for me because there were all these people who were trying to figure themselves out and who were so happy to be out of their parents’ house,” Graham writes in an email. They “were trying to act all crazy, and I just felt more independent, and less of a need to be like, ‘Waaaghhhh, lets be crazy!'”
The musician would prefer that those people not, you know, kill her vibe.
“My Vibe” remained unreleased for a variety of reasons, including the disintegration of Dudes itself (“We’re kind of all in different places right now,” Graham says) and fear of negative reactions to the song. Eventually, Graham realized she couldn’t do anything about potential backlash, and she liked the song too much to let it disappear.
Dudes recorded the track in April 2014, in the basement studio of Coup Sauvage and The Snips‘ Jason Barnett. For a while, Graham thought of an alternative way of releasing “My Vibe” — she had a feeling it might make a good match for a vibrator commercial, and she even considered contacting a pleasure-piece manufacturer. She hasn’t yet, but there’s still time.