Phoebe Bridgers has shared three new remixes of “Kyoto,” the most propulsive track from her excellent 2020 album Punisher. The new versions come from breakout indie rocker Bartees Strange, psychedelic soul band The Marías, and hyperpop artist Glitch Gum.
Strange’s take is soaked in reverb, opening with almost no backing track except for a few sparse keyboard chords. Throughout he builds and leans back, builds and leans back, until he unleashes an avalanche of sound. “I wanted to find a way to make this song hit in a completely different way, but still retain some of the big and small moments that make the song special to me,” he said in a statement. “At first I was thinking through how I could use the stems, but the more I got into it the more I wanted to take it somewhere else entirely. Crushing tune, glad I could mess around with it.”
In the hands of The Marías, “Kyoto” glides along on the back of a syncopated bass. Unlike Strange’s remix — which is really more of a cover — the L.A. outfit has kept Bridgers’ ethereal alto, slightly slowing down the song and layering on danceable drums. “I remember seeing Phoebe years ago at an open mic here in Los Angeles, and I knew right off the bat that she was really special,” the band recalled. “Working on this remix was a sort of full circle moment for us. ‘Kyoto’ is an amazing song as-is, so with the remix we were just curious to see what it would sound like with the vocal slowed down and adding some of our favorite synth sounds behind it.”
As for Glitch Gum, he had already released a hyperpop version of “Kyoto” in 2020, and the invitation to participate in this remix series is a career-boosting co-sign. “All I know is one day, when I was in between Zoom classes last Fall, I thought, ‘Man, what if Phoebe Bridgers did hyperpop?'” he said. “That idea turned into a 30-second snippet of ‘Kyoto’, which turned into a full song, which turned into working with Phoebe and her team to make this little quarantine project come full circle in ways I could never even fathom. It was so fun deconstructing the musical realms of both Phoebe and I and combining them into something that filled the hyperpop-indie-crossover-shaped hole in my brain. I am just really happy with how it turned out and forever thankful for Phoebe, her friends, and their continuous support.”
Check out all three versions below. You can hear the original version of “Kyoto” on tour starting next month, when Bridgers hits the road. She recently shared a cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” contributed to The Killers’ Pressure Machine, and will be appearing among the bonus tracks of Taylor Swift’s upcoming Red (Taylor’s Version).