Red Ribbon, the project of LA-based songwriter Emma Danner, today announced her new album and debut for Danger Collective Records, Planet X, will be released on June 11th, 2021. First single “Renegade,” a softly pulsing slow burn, is out now alongside its surreal, vibrant video. Largely produced by Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Sunn O))), Shame, Pallbearer) and featuring Danner’s talented cadre of multi-instrumentalists (Shahzad Ismaily, Monika Khot, Abbey Blackwell, and Veronica Dye), Planet X is a collection of Red Ribbon’s most touching songs to date, and the sound of a band pushed to the outer reaches of their creative comfort zones.
“‘Renegade’ is about how you’re your own worst enemy and you can’t escape yourself, no matter how far you travel,” Danner explains. Of the accompanying clip, director Amber Navarro adds, “I wanted to create a story about someone running away from society or leaving a situation, only to keep being discovered and ending up having to fight off whatever it was they were originally hiding from. Emma and I both seem to be into a desert style—being from Texas, I’m always searching for my little home away from home desert spots in LA that look like Westerns.”
Planet X warns of the urgency to find meaning in life before it’s too late, and ultimately sees Danner embrace her creativity and purpose in the face of life’s frightening fragility. “Every little mortality check brings more meaning to life,” says Danner of the attitude shaping the album. “We all inevitably face our own unique pain. No one is removed from that. I use my music to cope, and I make it as experiential as possible to remind myself that each performance or song is an opportunity to do something once without ever repeating it. So, I can understand my traumas in a similar way. Music turns my pain into a process. There is peace and healing to be found in the process.”
Touching upon everything from the frivolity of material desires and the inevitable pain of chasing pleasure, to the severities of grief and the global climate crisis, Planet X explores the joys, tragedies and perils that come with being alive and searching for meaning in an at once beautiful and crumbling world.
“I started working on Planet X shortly after I finished recording my first album while living in Seattle, and was writing these songs up until the moment we were in the booth recording them,” says Danner, who created the album with her band at five studios in three cities over the course of a year (Tornillo, TX’s Sonic Ranch, Seattle’s Dandelion Gold, and Brooklyn’s Figure 8, Circular Ruin, and Strange Weather Studios). The album’s thematic centerpoint “Way” evolved slowly over time and—like many of the tracks on Planet X—gradually took shape through each iteration she created. “Lyrically, that song is about the last night on earth you spend with those closest to you.”
While Danner’s voice as a songwriter has been informed by American folk music and early 20th century performers like Billie Holiday, Red Ribbon is her vehicle for constant sonic experimentation. Openness and flexibility are integral to the band’s sound, which changes shape and intention depending on the setting and musical arrangement Danner finds herself in. With aesthetically varied instrumentation and a trove of multi-layered lyrics, the album continues to expand and transform with every listen. Although pain and hardship are inseparable from the songs and the time spent making them, Danner here is able to offer an unbridled hopefulness through the stories she tells.