Artists You Should Know: Dorthia Cottrell Recreates A Southern Gothic World On “Family Annihilator”

Dorthia Cottrell
Dorthia Cottrell by Richard Howard

Singer/songwriter Dorthia Cottrell has shared an ominously alluring new single from her forthcoming album Death Folk Country, releasing the song “Family Annihilator” as well as a music video for the track. As both the song and album title might suggest, death occupies a reverent space in her music, both melodically and thematically. To Cottrell, making music is an act of creation and love that serves as our best remedy for agonizing over our own mortality and strife.

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Inspired by the innate beauty and gothic wonder of the American south, Cottrell’s music appears often as a spaciously detailed attempt to conjure the environs she grew up in. “Family Annihilator,” with its foreboding title and heavy melodic swells, is representative of that descent into the past. Which at times is as dually disorienting as it is haunting. Part of the macabre energy comes from the song’s inspiration: although she actually wrote it over a decade prior, its meaning didn’t find relevancy until fairly recently.

Hailing from King George, Virginia, the song started to take shape as being representative of her own anxiety and desperation in regard to the increasingly Conservative powers in office. This caused Cottrell to think of her own relatives who’d be voting in those places and about the words of her grandfather, who once told her, “If a crop is diseased, you have to burn the whole crop.” Delivered via Cottrell’s ethereal cries the song is a powerful affirmation of what’s at stake when such places become infected by hate and ignorance.


The music video for “Family Annihilator,” directed by Richard Francisco Howard and Jonathan Howard, elevates the already captivating atmosphere of the song by rendering them into bewitching scenes. From a bloody guitar being strummed to the image of Cottrell playing under candlelight in a smokey room, the video fully envelops you in the imagined gothic world that she creates in her music. Or when she appears sickle-in-hand and a strange mask on her face, wandering through the fall leaves of a small town — and in one shot, appearing terrifyingly in the background as a man plays with their child. The film captures all the brooding and unsettling portents alluded to in the song.

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Death Folk Country the new album from Dorthia Cottrell is out on Apr. 21 via Relapse Records, pre-order it here.

Visit Dorthia Cottrell on their Bandcamp and Instagram to stay updated on new releases and tour announcements.

Words: Steven Ward

Watch the music video for “Family Annihilator” the new single from Dorthia Cottrell below!

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