New York-based composer, choreographer, multi-disciplinary artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Sarah Kinlaw may be best known for their multimedia-based productions and collaborations with the likes of Devonte Hynes (a.k.a Blood Orange), Caroline Polacheck, SOPHIE, Dan Deacon and others that feature as many as 200 performers. She was aslo the co-founder of acclaimed JOVM mainstay act Softspot.
Kinlaw stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist with her solo recording project Kinlaw. Last year, saw the release of the New York-based artist’s full-length debut, The Tipping Scale, which found Kinlaw showcasing their work in a new light.
Initially writing material with a goal of finding entry points that felt honest and authentic to their work, Kinlaw frequently saw their music directly relating to motion: “I would start with a gesture and let it build into something until a memory attached itself to it,” the New York-based artist explained in press notes. “The memory would become a story and the story would reveal itself as something important that needed to be expressed in this album.”
Lyrically, the album’s material bridges the universal with the deeply personal as Kinlaw explores loss, empathy, regret, confusion, strength, identity, hope, power, and change among other things. Sonically, the album’s songs are centered around slick electronic production and a refined compositional sensibility with ornate flourishes paired with the New York based artist’s expressive and gorgeous vocals.
In the lead-up to The Tipping Point‘s release, I managed to write about three of the album’s singles:
- “Blindspot,” a slow-burning and dramatic track featuring Kinalw’s yearning and ethereal crooning paired with shimmering synth arpeggios and stuttering beats.
- “Permissions” a track inspired by physical movement that evokes a rapidly vacillating array of emotional states including confusion, heartache, self-flagellation and despair as its narrator seemingly is in the middle of a difficult conversation with themselves.
- “Haircut,” a deeply intimate monologue of a song that reveals its narrator’s inner world with an uncomfortable and unvarnished honesty that was centered around reverb-drenched, ethereal production featuring glistening synth apreggios and bells.
Kinlaw begins 2022 with the release of a remix EP titled TTS Extended — and The Tipping Point‘s fourth single, album opening track, the Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel-like “The Mechanic,” a single, which features an expansive, cinematic production and arrangement of glistening and twinkling synth arpeggios, skittering castanet-like percussion, angular guitar and bass paired with a soaring hook and Kinlaw’s achingly expressive vocals. The song’s narrator discusses their feelings about a relationship that’s rooted in a weird and uneven power dynamic; but the song also touches upon regret, self-doubt and confusion simultaneously.
Created by with New York-based artist and creator Dance Lawyer over the course of several months, the recently released video for “The Mechanic” sees Kinlaw attempting to bridge the gap between video recording and live performance, while pushing the idea of movement being deeply musical — and sound is an intricate dance.
Kinlaw’s interest in psychoacoustics and cinematic sound design led her to recruit sound designer Colin Alexander, who weaves in sound effects with Kinlaw’s choreography, giving the video’s dance sequence and added musical quality.
“The remixes are playful. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still exploratory,” Kinlaw says. “Video brought new life into these recordings initially, so I worked with Colin Alexander to weave SFX with the choreography, turning the dance into this added musical element within the track.”