The best way to describe “Spool” is by starting at its end: the song off of Thelma’s debut self-titled album finishes with one of singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Natasha Jacobs’ signature shrieks. These perfectly-timed, strangely alluring moments punctuate the eerie freak folk record that was released in March, 2017.
Based in Brooklyn, Jacobs wrote and produced every song on Thelma. After performing the atypically structured songs solo, she brought them to a band who helped to further develop the music. “We paid such close attention to the songs themselves, and little to no attention to ‘let’s make it sound like this band or that song,'” she says. “Therefore the result stayed very true to the strange moods and structures of the songs.”
“Spool” deviates from a standard verse/chorus structure. The song begins with a finger-plucked guitar and electronic glitch noises, which Jacobs creates with the arpeggiator on her H9 Eventide pedal. Like most songs on Thelma, “Spool” features a mix of percussion, with bells and xylophones in addition to a drum set. That Jacobs studies composition at a collegiate conservatory isn’t surprising, given her wide-ranging classical vocals that add to the record’s overall dark, yet playful mood.
“I do think learning ways of communicating musical ideas is the most immediately valuable thing I’ve gained [in school],” Jacobs says. “I have also started developing an ability to write for instruments I don’t play, and my knowledge of production and engineering has really blossomed.”
After channeling her energy into the music’s arrangement and production, Jacobs chose give complete creative control of the video for “Spool” to her friend Shannon Lynn Brooks, an experimental video artist.
“When listening to this song I began to make the most absurd faces,” Brooks says. Drawing from the feelings Thelma’s music conjures for her, Brooks calls the resulting music video “an experiment testing the intersection between discomfort and hysterical laughing.”
The moody, experimental video vaguely follows the rhythm of the song’s percussive elements, cycling through images of laughter, eerie shadows, and bodies intermingling.