Savan DePaul takes on a new persona, Ishtar Sr., to explore queer identity on Post-Descent Inanna
Although Savan DePaul has been releasing music for years under their own name, they have now donned an entirely new persona—Ishtar Sr.—on their latest EP, Post-Descent Inanna. As Ishtar Sr., DePaul creates a futuristic sonic landscape, rooted in hip-hop production and pop hooks (described by DePaul as “interplanetary hip pop”), which explores themes of love, sex, and queer identity from the perspective of an ancient being.
DePaul posted the following on Bandcamp to describe the themes of the project:
As Ishtar Sr. I write and compose songs about love, sex, identity, autonomy, and conflict in a futuristic age. Reclamations of life from oppressive structures. Dissolution of norms that seek to confine and strangle. Plus they’re bops 🙂
I am embarking on a new journey outside of my given name. A journey of discovery and expression, a journey of the exploration of mythology. A journey that embraces every corner of my sexuality and queer identity. A journey that explores with liberation & autonomy in mind.
It’s impossible to discuss this project further without demystifying the more cosmic elements. Innana and Ishtar generally refer to the same deity in ancient Mesopotamia; a goddess of love, sex, and power. The project’s title, Post-Descent Inanna, refers to Inanna’s katabasis—her journey into the underworld—and subsequent return. Throughout the entire EP, DePaul uses these oblique, mythological references to ground the otherwise otherworldly music in something simultaneously primal and distant.
The references to queer identity and usage of sexual metaphors dominate most of of the lyrical content. Notably, opening track “Nocturnal Love” contains the mind-bending verse “Tryna make a fuckshack work / Which one of us acts jerk? / Who’s gonna bust that work? / Who’s gonna bust back first? / Who’s gonna bust back first? / Thrust back, thrust back, thrust back, woah / Thrust back, thrust back, thrust back, woah.”
Later, on “Sheets,” DePaul raps “Everyone needs thugs, queers, and nerds in their life / Plurality of experience forms the word of my life / Forms the word of my life.” This set of bars quickly sums up the project: we all move through world in different ways, and one of the few common experiences which informs the human condition is the inherent uniqueness of every person.
Although most of the project features spacey, heavily reverberated synth tones and alien drum beats, “NeedUUU” (ft. Asteri & Tribe Down South) showcases a menacing bass guitar and piercing, higher-pitched, guitars in the chorus. While the song is certainly a sonic outlier, thematically, it remains consistent with the rest of the project as DePaul and Asteri growl and plead “I need you, I need you / Curse desire, Curse desire.”
Overall, Post-Descent Inanna is a fascinating exploration of love, sex, and identity propelled by a hyper-chillwave aesthetic. The heavy use of mythological references elevates the project by reminding the listener that these themes, despite being framed in a futuristic sonic environment, have been a relevant ground of exploration for eons.
Purchase Ishtar Sr.’s Post-Descent Inannahere, and stream it below.