In school, McLaughlan applied for electroacoustic studies, something she credits for spurring her creativity. Her first release was on a Covid-era compilation she headed up called ‘Pandemic Artifact’, featuring an array of producers from the Montreal underground. Her track, ‘Speaking Moistly’, is built from alternating tones arranged in a way that suggests a fractured lullaby, before settling into a fluttering hum anchored by an angular, rigid rhythm. It’s a far cry, vibe-wise, from her current output, but by her next releases — 2021’s ‘Brand New Flava’, quickly followed by the ‘Anti-Ego’ EP — her sound was coalescing.
For her current release, the title ‘Psychotropical’ is apt. “There’s the ‘tropical’ thing, which is the whole dub and reggae influence,” she says. “And the word ‘psychotropic’ means whatever alters your perception and your mood, and with all the music I’ve always liked, there’s been a trippiness, an otherworldliness to it. I think that’s what I’m trying to do with the music I make.”
She’s into soundsystem culture — she’s currently constructing her own system — and there’s an overlap between that culture’s concerns and that of ‘Psychotropical’. “Within the album, we’re touching some deeper subjects, like gun violence, like Babylon — the elites keeping people poor, all of that. We’re touching on all of those subjects, and it’s meant to kind of wake people up.”
At this past summer’s MUTEK, she debuted the live Honeydrip experience, with King Shadrock on the mic, Emma Forgues on live visuals, and McLaughlan herself on, among other things, “a big 16-channel parametric EQ mixer that I use to do some dubbing.”
“I’m going to take that out to festivals and hopefully be able to travel with it,” she says. “I’m going to keep building my soundsystem. And I do have to work on a remix. But otherwise, the past two years was all ‘Psychotropical,’ and now it’s like, ‘okay, I’ve satisfied that hunger.’ And I’m going to wait till I get hungry again.” We’ll be waiting as well.