Mykki Blanco has dropped their first new music of 2022 with new song “Family Ties,” featuring an appearance from Michael Stipe. The single follows last year’s Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep, and is expected to be included on Blanco’s upcoming new project.
The song’s accompanying black-and-white visual, directed by Kit Monteith and Krishna Muthurangu, traces a father and son’s contentious relationship, with Blanco playing the role of the son’s love interest. The couple is shown both comforting each other and arguing.
“‘Cause I hate to see you so low/I hate to see you all fucked up,” Blanco sings on the chorus. “I hate to see you so numb/These family ties tend to suck.”
Stipe appears on a TV screen the father is watching as he joins Blanco’s chorus and sings his own verse. “I know you tried to let things go/I’m here to fix everything, try to save everything,” the former R.E.M. frontman sings. “Keep it up, don’t ever fold.”
Blanco said the song details the need for compassion in the midst of feeling helpless. “‘Family Ties’ is the first song where I sonically found my voice and I mean that in a very literal way,” the 35-year-old California native said in a statement. “It’s the first song in my entire career where I am singing, I don’t rap.
“I wrote this song about the relationship between my ex-boyfriend and his father that has had bouts of mental illness,” they continued. “When the person you love is going through a situation that you can’t alter in any way, or help or be active in trying to correct it not only hurts them but it hurts you.”
A fan of R.E.M., Blanco said they and producer FaltyDL “took a shot at the moon” by sending Stipe the song “because it felt as if in some alternate universe Michael Stipe had already created it. His willingness to perform and be a part of this meant the world to me.”
The admiration is mutual; Stipe praised Blanco’s singing. “Mykki has a gorgeous voice, resolute and strong. I’m thrilled to have worked on ‘Family Ties’ — I love how the song turned out,” Stipe said in a statement.