The tracks on Dig a Pit take listeners through the arc of an emotionally abusive relationship and its painful aftermath. The industrial, techno-inspired opening song, "Desire to Learn," narrates how abusers can use the get-to-know-you phase of the relationship to learn how to manipulate someone's weaknesses ("You were studying me too / But you were looking for openings, open wounds"). "Gloves are Off," with a funky bass line and elemental drum roll, starts with the rage-inducing realization of having been manipulated and ends with the affirmation that one can only heal oneself.
Later, on "Exorcism," Carter's songwriting gets surreal. Singing in a pitch-shifted voice so deep it's practically subterranean, they take on the perspective of someone who takes advantage of others. "I found someone who likes me / How long do I have before I hurt her?" Wizard Apprentice growls demonically. "I think she really likes me. I find her willingness useful."
Carter's stripped-down bedroom pop—music for sensitive introverts and self-help enthusiasts—is sometimes uncomfortably transparent in its introspection, like a therapy session set to synth loops. In their music and on U.R.L. G.U.R.L., Carter probes the intricacies of their relationships and self-image, always with the goal of becoming more emotionally intelligent and self-aware.
While the artist has long bared their soul in their work, it took them over a year to figure out how to talk about what happened to them. They say sharing has been healing. "I need to do that for my own sense of recovery from it, and even feeling more safe in the world," Carter says. "How are we supposed to build communities if people don't know this is a thing or how to engage with it?"
Performing the new tracks from Dig a Pit has been affirming for Carter. The artist says that audience members have come up to them and told them about similar experiences. They want to have open conversations about what healthy relationships look like, and how to spot the signs of emotional abuse, to help other survivors see the signs before they get too deep into a toxic relationship.
"What's missing is ways of understanding the complexities of these types of relationships," Carter says, "and how anybody could discern what's happening."
Wizard Apprentice performs at Elbo Room Oakland on May 16. Details here.