"It reflected my cold dead eyes," Ladan Hussein said, explaining to me over the phone her reasoning for choosing her stage name.
Cold Specks is originally a phrase from James Joyce's behemoth of a novel, "Ulysses," which is an expansive, fragmentary and sometimes unintelligible masterpiece of high Modernism.
While the new Cold Specks album, "Fool's Paradise," owes something to Joyce in its approach -- "It’s about detaching in order to care in this crumbling world ... Songs on the record deal with a number of themes: love lost, diaspora dreaming, apathy during the apocalypse," Hussein said -- its unification comes from a more personal set of preoccupations with identity.
Hussein was born in Canada after her family fled Mogadishu, Somalia, so she's "always dancing between [cultures]."
"I’m now 29 years old, so I’ve learned to dance that dance pretty well. I am who I am," she said.
And her music reflects that dance. Critics and fans have billed her as "doom soul," and according to her, that summarizes her sound best. Her influences range from David Bowie to Grace Jones, and she performs as a session musician with Massive Attack, so I can't say I disagree.
Hussein performs as Cold Specks on Monday, Nov. 13, at Soda Bar. Get tickets here.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford poet-neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. Whoops. He now fronts the Lulls, plays lead guitar in LA band Velvet and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Instagram and Twitter (@RArosenborg), add him on Facebook or contact him directly.