"All anyone wants to be is what they can."
In an era when networked access to information is nearly universal and wearing influences on
your sleeve is normalised, it often feels like everything's been done. Which begs the
questions: What's the point of creating? Does the world need another still life of fruit?
Another film about love? Does the world need another melody?
On Raw Honey, his second album as Drugdealer, Michael Collins colours these existential
conundrums with lush arrangements, memetic melodies, and a vulnerable tunefulness that
tries to make sense of self-doubt and connected loneliness in our shared simulacra.
Collins, who never played an instrument, let alone received musical training in any formal
capacity, began experimenting with sounds in 2009 after traversing the US on freight trains.
After a few years crafting abstract sampledelia, he decided to forgo his experimental
exercises in favor of teaching himself how to write the traditional song. In doing so, he made
the decision to approach songwriting from the perspective of a listener, rather than a
In 2013, Collins headed west and enmeshed himself in the Los Angeles underground scene. It
was then that he began collaborating with players in the orbit of Ariel Pink, slowly over time
crafting what would become Drugdealer's debut album, The End of Comedy, a collection
of sunlit songs as indebted to Laurel Canyon psych pop as it is Bacharian orchestration.
Raw Honey continues where The End of Comedy left off, with Collins once again leading an
ace crew of collaborators to coalesce the spirit of Drugdealer's classically modern pop.
Built on the foundation of a creative partnership between Collins, Sasha Winn (vocals) and
Shags Chamberlain (bass, production), Drugdealer is more a collective than band. Raw
Honey features contributions of Josh Da Costa (drums), Jackson MacIntosh (guitar), Danny
Garcia (guitar), Michael Long (lead guitar), and Benjamin Schwab (backing vocals, guitar,
organ, piano, wurlitzer), as well as guest vocalists like country balladeer Dougie Poole ("Wild
Motion"), Harley Hill-Richmond ("Lonely"), and frequent collaborator Natalie Mering (Weyes
Blood) whose dulcet tones sing low before soaring on "Honey," a track as silky as the nectar
Throughout Raw Honey, Collins and crew display their influences as a new tapestry, one
woven with the recycled fibers from thousands of tapestries that have coloured our
collective listening histories. As evidenced throughout Raw Honey, Collins has an ear for
penning numbers that would sound as at home on Classic Rock radio as they would at
Zebulon in Los Angeles, where any of the contributors to Raw Honey could, perhaps, be
found on any night of the week, on stage, or in the audience supporting another Angelino's
modern pop aspirations.
Rather than hiding behind a curtain or casually sidestepping AOR tropes, Raw Honey adheres
to a modern kind of creation - one that cultivates influences and espouses reverence. An
honest totem, Raw Honey isn't tangled up in social norms, with Collins preferring to air his
self-doubt as a northern star to guide like-minded people wherever they need to go.