Victoria, BC-based folk-rocker Kele Fleming connects two separate concepts with the same name to examine humans’ relationships to technology in her newly remastered, cyberpunk-tinged single “Carrier Hotel.”
But first, a carrier hotel is a facility where servers and other computing equipment owned by multiple enterprises share space (although each company’s equipment is physically secured in its own space). The concept, obviously, takes its name from the long-established model of a hotel. And, of course, hotels are often places of secrets and intrigue, a break from the humdrum of the everyday – a place for one-night stands, affairs, being on the lam, or simply cloaking oneself in a shroud of incognito and anonymity.
In “Carrier Hotel,” which blends traditional folk-pop with synthwave, darkwave, and cyberpunk all in the same song, Kele imagines the carrier hotel as a setting in a hard-boiled detective story.
“It’s about shifting identity in the cloud and becoming someone else for convenience and fantasy,” she explained. In other words, the sort of stuff people do on the internet every day, but Kele makes it sexy and futuristic film-noir.
The juxtaposition of the folk elements with the electronic elements allows for a further marrying of the two concepts, and Kele serves up dark, swirling atmosphere overlaid by a cleverly deceptive sunniness.
Cowritten with longtime collaborator Ron Yamauchi, “Carrier Hotel” initially appeared on Kele’s 2016 album No Static, and this version is the 2023 remaster. A corresponding music video with John Flatman as videographer depicts a lone, anonymous female backpacker getting into an Uber and wandering a city, finally settling on a hotel for the night.
The song is meant to explore the realities of reality itself, as well as anonymity and image management on the internet.
Since the pandemic, Kele has been collaborating with DJs and, as a result, her music has taken an unexpected change in direction. Her original songs are intelligent, conscious, and often challenging, documenting her thoughts on the environment, society, and politics. With Neko Case’s tenacity and Lucinda Williams’ grit, Kele’s songs are now fused with electronic beats for an extremely unique sound.