Foxa Riot’s latest single Feed The Dog explores dark alt-pop sound

There are people out there who really don’t mind kicking you when you’re down but are quick to call when they need something from you,” says Rhys Oaks as he releases his latest single under his alias, Foxa Riot. And Feed The Dog, the aforementioned track is one that delves into themes of self-worth, boundary-setting, and the toxicity of narcissistic relationships while drenched in moody 80s electronic melodies.

“Feed The Dog’ is about realising your worth and walking away from self-aggrandisers who abuse your boundaries,” he added. “I don’t like to throw the term ‘narcissist’ around too often, but the song definitely deals with an individual who lacks empathy and struggles to keep their emotions in check, so the message is basically a farewell to their behaviours.”

From the second you press play, Feed The Dog fosters a haunting bass-driven atmosphere that brings with it a sense of anxiety with its off-kilter beat. It boasts a more melancholic tone to previous releases like Letdown (Everything I Ask For) and Best Friend, with Rhys having developed a knack for duality in his records – a master of creating bright, synthpop soundscapes for his witty, yet often dark lyrical content.

With lines like “I just give up convincing you / I can see under the surface” Rhys’ catchy songwriting prowess is emotionally intelligent and draws on a sense of accountability and clarity.

He told The Leopheard: “We all say stupid stuff from time to time but when you go out of your way with an intent to hurt someone with your words, it’s a different story, and I really despise people who consciously do it. Intent is everything, and I’ve been at the wrong end of it enough times to figure the only solution is to cut these people off completely, and not ‘feed the dog’… which is just a metaphor for the misery they’re adding to an already depressive state. 

“I actually love dogs, and I’d never refuse to feed one… just to be clear.”

The unpredictable melody and sinister hook mirrors the sense of instability of such characters – a deliberate and calculated decision from the multi-instrumentalist, the pulsating synths conjuring a sense of urgency throughout the record.

What really sets this track apart though is that there ‘isn’t a single piece of MIDI in this track’, with everything – including bass, guitars, drums and synth – having been recorded through analogue devices or samples by hand.

“I almost had to sell my Roland Juno-X at the end of last year when I was struggling to make ends meet, but since my luck turned round with production work and videography, fairly recently, I was able to keep it, and in my gratitude I’m really making a point of utilising the luxuries I have in the (bedroom) studio,” he added. 

The meticulous attention to detail is evident in the production, and despite a departure from his usual upbeat poppy hooks, it retains something of a signature Foxa Riot stamp (particularly with the Deano’s Decaff advert heard at the end of the record) that makes it a brilliant slice of lo fi bedroom alt pop.

Catch Foxa Riot live at Captain’s Bar on May 4 as part of the Your City x Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID Piccadilly Party, and give Feed the Dog – released April 12 – a spin here:

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