Tag: Mercury Prize

Zooni · The Details

Zooni is a rapidly rising Brighton, UK-based art pop/indie rock act — Peter Martin, George Godwin, Ben Clark and Matt Glasbey — that was discovered by Mercury Prize and BRIT Award-winning producer Charlie Andrew.  Last year was a momentum changing year for the British act: they released their debut EP,  which they supported with a sold-out show at London’s The Waiting Room and a set at that year’s The Great Escape.

Zooni · Dissolve

Much like countless bands across the world, the members of Zooni hope to play shows as soon as humanly possible; in fact, they have some shows slated for the fall. But in the meantime, earlier this year, they released the critically applauded single “Dissolve,” and they’ve followed it up with their latest single, the ethereal “Details.” Centered around shimmering and angular guitars, propulsive and hypnotic drumming, atmospheric electronics, twinkling keys and plaintive vocals, the delicate yet painterly song sonically reminds me of OK Computer-era Radiohead and Forever So-era Husky — but within an expansive, prog-like song structure.

 

 

 

 

 

Brighton-based art-pop makers Zooni return today with new single ‘The Details’.  The follow up to their February single ‘Dissolve’. ‘The Details’ is a
 powerful yet fragile mix of poetic lyrics and transcendent textures. Combining hypnotic beats with delicate piano and angular guitars it is available to stream below …

 

Discovered by Mercury and Brit award winning producer Charlie Andrew (Alt J, London Gramma, Marika Hackman), Zooni – Peter Martin, George Godwin, Ben Clark, and Matt Glasbey – played a Sold-Out headline show at The Waiting Room (London) in the summer of 2019, following on from an unforgettable appearance at The Great Escape Festival in that same year – and still hope to be playing some UK shows later this year.

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases a DIY visual for Sultry and Slinky “Heroine”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, the Poitiers-born, London-based singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist has developed a reputation for a unique lyrical perspective and a powerful stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world over the past 15 years.

Beth’s solo debut, To Love Is To Live was originally slated for release  last week through Caroline Records — but the album was pushed back to June 12, 2020, as a result of Beth’s desire to support local, independent record stores by ensuring that the physical album could come out at the same time. “Record stores are where I found myself as a teenager, digging through albums that ultimately shaped who I have become,” Beth says in press notes. “To release my first ever solo album in a way that would leave them out felt wrong to me; luckily, we were able to find a date that would allow us to release the physical and digital album at the same time.”

Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, To Love Is To Live finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight as a solo artist, and collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Bartlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, IDLES’ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable, making the material a dark and cinematic meditation on the very strangeness of being alive.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles: the brooding and atmospheric “Flower,” a track that was reportedly written about a pole dancer at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room and seethes with a feverish and obsessive lust  — and “Innocence,” a dark ad sultry track that evokes the uneasy feelings of isolation, loneliness while ironically living in a big city surrounded by seemingly endless people. “Heroine,” the album’s fourth and latest single is centered around a similar, slinky off-kilter motorik groove as its immediate predecessor, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, shimmering synth arpeggios, brief blasts of horn, twinkling keys and an achingly vulnerable vocal performance from Beth, the track probes deeply into the dark recesses of her psyche with a fearless abandon.

“When I think of this song, I think of Romy from the xx strangling my neck with her hands in the studio,” Beth recalls in press notes. “She was trying to get me out of my shell lyrically, and there was so much resistance in me she lost her patience. The song was originally called Heroism, but I wasn’t happy because it was too generic. Flood was the first one to suggest to say Heroine instead of Heroism. Then I remember Johnny Hostile late at night in my hotel room in London saying ‘I don’t understand who you are singing about. Who is the Heroine? You ARE the Heroine’. The next morning, I arrived early in the studio and recorded my vocals adding ‘to be’ to the chorus line: ‘all I want is TO BE a heroine.’ Flood entered the studio at that moment and jumped in the air giving me the thumbs up through the window. I guess I’m telling this story because sometimes we look around for role models, and examples to follow, without realising that the answer can be hidden inside of us. I was afraid to be the Heroine of the song, but it took all the people around me to get me there.”

The recently released video is split between footage that the Savages frontwoman and Johnny Hostile shot and edited  — including footage of her walking and vamping in a London tube station, of Beth glistening with droplets of water and in a murky pool, as well as footage of Beth as a little girl, shot by her family, which creates an eerie and intimate look into the artist and her psyche. The DIY nature of the video manages to bring the songs message of self-belief and resilience into a deeper clarity. “We couldn’t plan that the current worldwide circumstances would push us to make this video entirely ourselves at home but sometimes working with constraints is the best fuel, and it fits perfectly with the positive message of self-belief and resilience of the song, pursuing childhood dreams and destiny,” Beth explains in press notes. 

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, the Poitiers-born, London-based singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist has developed a reputation for a unique lyrical perspective and a powerful stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world over the past 15 years.

Now, as you may recall. Beth’s solo debut, To Love Is To Live was originally slated for release later this year through Caroline Records — but the album was recently pushed back to June 12, 2020, as a result of the Beth’s desire to support local, independent record stores by ensuring that the physical album could come out at the same time. “Record stores are where I found myself as a teenager, digging through albums that ultimately shaped who I have become,” Beth says in press notes. “To release my first ever solo album in a way that would leave them out felt wrong to me; luckily, we were able to find a date that would allow us to release the physical and digital album at the same time.”

Recorded in Los Angeles, London and ParisTo Love Is To Live finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight as a solo artist, while collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Bartlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, IDLES‘ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable, making the material a dark and cinematic meditation on the very strangeness of being alive.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles: the brooding and atmospheric “Flower,” a track that was reportedly written about a pole dancer at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room and seethes with a feverish and obsessive lust  — and “Innocence,” a dark ad sultry track that evokes the uneasy feelings of isolation, loneliness while ironically living in a big city surrounded by seemingly endless people. “Heroine,” the album’s fourth and latest single is centered around a similar, slinky off-kilter motorik groove as its immediate predecessor, rapid fire four-on-the-floor shimmering synth arpeggios and an achingly vulnerable vocal performance from Beth, the track probes deeply into the dark recesses of her psyche with a fearless abandon.

“When I think of this song, I think of Romy from the xx strangling my neck with her hands in the studio,” Beth recalls in press notes. “She was trying to get me out of my shell lyrically, and there was so much resistance in me she lost her patience. The song was originally called Heroism, but I wasn’t happy because it was too generic. Flood was the first one to suggest to say Heroine instead of Heroism. Then I remember Johnny Hostile late at night in my hotel room in London saying ‘I don’t understand who you are singing about. Who is the Heroine? You ARE the Heroine’. The next morning, I arrived early in the studio and recorded my vocals adding ‘to be’ to the chorus line: ‘all I want is TO BE a heroine.’ Flood entered the studio at that moment and jumped in the air giving me the thumbs up through the window. I guess I’m telling this story because sometimes we look around for role models, and examples to follow, without realising that the answer can be hidden inside of us. I was afraid to be the Heroine of the song, but it took all the people around me to get me there.”

 

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases Intimately Shot Footage of Swaggering Album Single “Innocence”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. Interestingly, as a member of Savages, the Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter has developed a reputation for a unique lyrical perspective and a stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world over the past 15 years. 

Beth’s solo debut To Love Is To Live was originally slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Caroline Records — but the album was recently pushed back to June 12, 2020, as a result of the Savages frontwoman’s desire to support local, independent record stores by ensuring that the physical album could come out at the same time. “Record stores are where I found myself as a teenager, digging through albums that ultimately shared who I have become,” Beth says in press notes. “To release my first ever solo album in a way that would leave them out felt wrong to me; luckily, we were able to find a date that would allow us to release the physical and digital album at the same time.” 

Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, To Love Is To Live finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight as a solo artist, while collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood,Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Bartlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, IDLES‘ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy.

Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable, making the material a dark and cinematic meditation on the very strangeness of being alive. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about the album’s second single “Flower,” a brooding and atmospheric track centered around a murky and tempestuous pulse, shimming synth arpeggios and Beth’s sultry cooing and crooning. The end result is a song that’s simmers with a feverish and obsessive lust. Reportedly written about a pole dance at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room, the song details the complicated and confusing depths of sexuality, desire, possession and loss. “Innosence,” To Love Is To Live’s third and latest single continues a run of dark and sultry material as its centered round an off-kilter motorik rhythm  and a swaggering yet brooding trip hop-like air, while Beth purrs, howls, struts and pouts. But at its core is an eerie and uneasy feeling of isolation, loneliness and distance — and although inspired by the very things that its creator’s has experienced and felt countless times in large cities, despite being near people all the time. Recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic, the song sounds like a prescient foresight of what would eventually happen to us right now. 

The single is accompanied by live video footage filmed at rehearsals for Beth’s now-critically applauded, incendiary live show, which debuted at the BBC 6 Music Festival earlier this year. Naturally, the video gives the viewer a sense of her live show’s energy with a you-are-there intimacy. 

Along with the release of her solo debut, the acclaimed French-born, British-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress will be releasing her first book, a collection of erotic short stories paired with photography from her longtime collaborator and bandmate Johnny Hostile. Slated for a June 11, 2020 release through White Rabbit, Crimes Against Love Manifesto (C.A.L.M.) will help to establish Beth and Hostile as two of the most provocative and forward-thinking voices in contemporary fiction and erotic art.

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases a Feverish and Sensual Visual for “Flower”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, Beth has developed a unique lyrical perspective and stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world for the better part of the past 15 years or so. 

Interestingly, Beth’s solo debut To Love Is To Live, which is slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Caroline Records finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight. Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, the album finds Beth collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Barlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft,IDLES’ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Reportedly, the album is ad ark and cinematic meditation on the strangeness of being alive. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable. 

To Love Is To Live’s second and latest single “Flower” is a brooding and atmospheric track centered around a murky and tempestuous pulse, shimming synth arpeggios and Beth’s sultry cooing and crooning. The end result is a song that’s simmers with a feverish and obsessive lust. Reportedly written about a pole dance at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room, the song details the complicated and confusing depths of sexuality, desire, possession and loss. 

Directed by Peaky Blinders’ Anthony Byrne, the recently released video for “Flower” continues an ongoing collaboration with the acclaimed director. Shot in a gorgeously cinematic black and white, the video — fittingly enough — is a fever dream that captures the intersection of fantasy, desire, longing and loss. 

Along with the release of her solo debut, the acclaimed French-born, British-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress will be releasing her first book, a collection of erotic short stories paired with photography from her longtime collaborator and bandmate Johnny Hostile. Slated for a June 11, 2020 release through White Rabbit, Crimes Against Love Manifesto (C.A.L.M.) will help to establish Beth and Hostile as two of the most provocative and forward-thinking voices in contemporary fiction and erotic art. 

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic. I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records. By 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being critically applauded and named a heavy favorite to win. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase.

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album.

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-co-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particular, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist.

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.”

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode.

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world.

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Khan’s fifth album Lost Girls was released last fall through AWAL Recordings, and the album continues a run of concept albums: in this case, the material was centered around an off-kilter coming of age film, in which bands of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The female characters throughout are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — most notably, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. The album’s main character Nikki Pink, was one of the album’s central Lost Girls. And at its core, the album thematically is a loving and romantic homage to all things Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s and the films that influenced Khan. Sonically, the album found Khan mixing sounds she’s long loved — heavy bass lines, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading chorus which help evoke an achingly wistful air.

Khan recently released a four song live EP recorded at London-based venue EartH that features a stripped down versions of “Daniel,” “Desert Man” and “The Hunger” off Lost Girls featuring Khan accompanying herself on piano and organ. The EP’s first official single is a slow-burning,  stripped down, atmospheric cover of Don Henley‘s “The Boys of Summer” centered around twinkling keys and Khan’s expressive vocals.  Khan’s Bat for Lashes cover retains the song’s awareness of the passing of time, the end of youthful innocence — of a darker, more uncertain adult world just over the horizon.

Interestingly, the EP comes just before Khan embarks on a Winter North American tour — and it serves as a taste of what fans should expect: intimate renditions of the material off Lost Girls, as well as never performed songs and some surprises.

 

New Video: Bat For Lashes Release a Cinematic and Wistful Visual for “Kids in the Dark”

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic, I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records — and by 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being a named a heavy favorite to win — and being critically applauded. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase. 

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album. 

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particularly, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist. 

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” 

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode. 

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world. 

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize. 

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through AWAL Recordings, Khan’s forthcoming album Lost Girls continues a run of concept albums in which she creates an off-kilter coming of age film in which fans of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The women characters are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — particularly, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. In this case, the album’s main character is Nikki Pink, one of the album’s Lost Girls. Thematically, the album is a romantic album that pays homage to Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s, and to the films that touched and changed her life. 

Sonically, the album finds Khan mixing sounds she’s always loved — heavy bass line, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading choruses. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Kids in the Dark,” is a hazy bit of 80s inspired synth pop centered around shimmering synths, reverb-drenched blasts of guitar, a soaring hook, stuttering beats and Khan’s ethereal vocals, and interestingly enough, the track bears an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstay ACES, as it possesses an achingly wistful air. 

Directed by Natasha Khan, the recently released video for “Kids in the Dark” was shot against the Los Angeles hills with the eerie and gorgeous waning of dusk casting shadows — and it emphasizes the song’s wistful air, as it features the Lost Girls and two star-crossed lovers. The video hints at how its protagonist Nikki Pink became a Lost Girl. 

Live Footage: James Blake Performs “I’ll Come Too” on KRCW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”

Born the son of musician James Litherland, James Blake is an acclaimed London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who showed an interest and aptitude in music at a very young age: he received classical piano training as a child, eventually attending Goldsmith, University of London, where he received a degree in Popular Music. While attending Goldsmith, Blake and a friends hosted a series of Bass Society music nights that featured British artists like Distance, Skream and Benga. 

Blake first received recognition for a series of EPs in 2010 — CMYK EP and Klavierwerke and his 2011 self-titled debut, all which were released to critical praise. His sophomore effort, 2013’s Overgrown won that year’s Mercury Prize and a Best New Artist Grammy nomination. 2016’s The Colour in Anything further established Blake’s unique sound and approach, which draws from electronic music, electro pop, R&B and blue-eyed soul. 

Throughout his career, Blake has managed to collaborate with a wide and eclectic variety of contemporary artists including Mount Kimbie, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, Vince Staples, Rosalia, Jay-Z, Oneohtrix Point Never and Frank Ocean — and for his remixes under the moniker Harmonimix. His most recent album, the critically applauded Assume Form finds Blake collaborating with Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, Andre 3000, Moses Sumney, and Rosalia.

Recently, Blake was invited to perform the first-ever live session at KCRW’s brand-new Annenberg Performance Studio. The session aired on KRCW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic hosted by the station’s Musical Director, Jason Bentley.  Joined by his bandmates Rob McAndrews and Ben Assiter, Blake performed material from Assume Form, including the album’s title track, “Barefoot In The Park,” “I’ll Come Too,” and “Don’t Miss It,” as well as a live version of his song “Retrograde” and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” “I’ll Come Too” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around Blake’s ethereal and plaintive vocals, shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a soaring hook — and while   bearing an uncanny resemblance to classical music, the track finds Blake expressing an achingly passionate yearning and vulnerability. 

Currently comprised of founding members Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, along with Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, and Felix Martin, the critically applauded, Grammy Award-nominated, London-based electro pop act Hot Chip can trace its origins back to when its founding duo of Taylor and Goddard met while studying at Elliot School, Putney. Bonding over a shared love of R&B and house music, Hot Chip’s founding duo started collaborating together musically as early as 1998.

After releasing 2001’s Mexico EP, 2002’s San Frandisco EP and a handful of other material through small labels and independently, the act caught the attention of Moshi Moshi Records, who signed the band in 2003 and subsequently released their full-length debut, 2004’s Coming on Strong. Interestingly around this time, the project expanded to a full-fledged band with the additions of Owen Clarke, Felix Martin and Al Doyle. And with their new lineup, the act began working on their sophomore album The Warning while signing a UK and US record deal with DFA Records and EMI Records, which resulted in Astralwerks releasing their full-length debut in the States in 2005.

Released in 2006, The Warning earned the band a more mainstream following while being critically applauded — the album featured two UK Top 40 singles  “Over and Over” and “Boy from School,” before eventually being shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize and Mixmag‘s Album of the Year. Adding to a growing national profile. “Over and Over” was named the best single of that year by NME.

The acclaimed London-based electro pop act’s third, full-length album, 2008’s Made in the Dark featured “Ready for the Floor,” which peaked at #6 on the UK charts. Building upon the buzz the single received, the band made appearances on Friday Night with Jonathan RossJimmy Kimmel Live! and Last Call with Carson Daly — with the song receiving a Grammy nod for “Best Dance Recording,” eventually losing out to Daft Punk’s “Harder Better, Faster, Stronger (Alive 2007).

After completing a lengthy world tour to support Made in the Dark, the members of Hot Chip returned to London and began writing and recording their fourth full-length album, 2010’s disco and early house music influenced One Life Stand, which found the band collaborating with This Heat‘s and Camberwell Now’s Charles Hayward, The Invisible’s Leo Taylor and Trinidadian steel panist Fimber Bravo.

Since then the band released two more albums: their fifth album, 2012’s In Our Heads, an album that the band’s Alexis Taylor said was written and recorded in a speedier fashion with less pressure and more fun — and 2015’s Why Make Sense, which featured album single “Huarache Lights.”

Hot Chip’s seventh full-length album A Bath Full of Ecstasy is slated for a June 21, 2019 release through Domino Records — and while being their third album for Domino, the album reportedly finds the band firmly cementing the sound they’ve been celebrated for — bringing euphoria and melancholy with breezy and colorful melodies, plaintive vocals and propulsive beats. Interestingly, the album which was recorded in Paris and London finds the act opening themselves up to a more adventurous and collaborative songwriting process, choosing to work with outside producers for the first time in their history —Cassius‘ Philippe Zdar, who has worked with Phoenix and Rodaidh McDonald, who has worked with the likes of The xx, David Byrne, Sampha and others.

Clocking in at 6 minutes, the album’s first single  “Hungry Child” is centered around glistening synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, finger snaps, plaintive vocals, an anthemic hook and a motorik-like groove — and while clearly being indebted to classic house and sultry French electronica, the track also subtly recalls JOVM mainstay Beacon. And as a result, it has a bittersweet air; the sort that comes from the recognition that joy is often paired with pain.
2019 will also see the members of Hot Chip embarking on what may arguably be the biggest tour of their entire history with a number of club shows during the Spring across Europe and North America, including a sold out April 29, 2019 stop at Elsewhere — before making stops across the European festival circuit. They return to New York in the fall with two dates — September 3, 2019 and September 4, 2019 at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates
4/4 – London @ Village Underground SOLD OUT
4/5 – Brighton @ Concorde 2 SOLD OUT
4/6 – Bristol @ Trinity SOLD OUT
4/8 – Paris @ Trabendo SOLD OUT
4/9 – Brussels @ Botanique Orangerie SOLD OUT
4/11 – Cologne @ Luxor SOLD OUT
4/12 – Hamburg @ Mojo SOLD OUT
4/13 – Berlin @ Columbia Theatre SOLD OUT
4/14 – Amsterdam @ Paradiso Noord SOLD OUT
4/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere SOLD OUT
5/1 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre SOLD OUT
5/2 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet’s SOLD OUT
5/4 –  San Francisco, CA @ August Hall SOLD OUT
5/24 – London @ All Points East Festival
6/1 – Egeskov Castle, Denmark @ Heartland Festival
6/8 – Helsinki, Finland @ Sideways Festival
6/14 – 6/18 – Mannheim, Germany @ Maifeld Derby Festival
6/28 – 6/30 – Somerset @ Glastonbury Festival
6/4 – Catalonia Spain @ Vida Festival
6/5 – Six-Fours-les-Plages, France @ Pointu Festival
6/11 – Lisbon, Portugal @ NOS Alive Festival
6/11 – 6/13 – Bilbao, Spain @ Bilbao Live Festival
6/19 – 6/21 – Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield @ Bluedot Festival
6/19 – 6/21 – Biarritz, France @ Biarritz en été Festival
6/26 – Aulnoye-Aimeries, France @ Les Nuits Secrètes Festival
8/2 – 8/4 – Waterford, Ireland @ All Together Now Festival
8/4 – Glasgow @ Playground of Sound Festival
8/16 – St Malo, France @ La Route du Rock Festival
8/16 – 8/18 – Hasselt, Belgium @ Pukkelpop Festival
8/30 – Vlieland, Netherlands @ Into The Great Wide Open Festival
Autumn 2019 headline tour
9/3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
9/4 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel,
9/7 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
9/9 – Boston, MA @ Royale
9/10 – Montreal, QC @ MTELUS
9/12 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
9/13 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
9/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
9/17 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
9/18 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
9/19 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
9/20 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater,
9/24 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
9/25 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
9/27 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Auditorium
10/17 – Dublin @ Olympia
10/18 – Birmingham @ O2 Institute 1
10/21 – Bristol @ O2 Academy
10/22 – Nottingham @ Rock City
10/24 – Norwich @ LCR
11/30 – Milan @ Alcatraz
12/2 – Amsterdam @ Melkweg
12/3 – Berlin @ Columbiahalle
12/4 – Luxembourg @ den Atelier
12/5 – Lausanne @ Les Docks
12/7 – Paris, @ Elysée Montmartre
12/11- Hamburg @ Docks
12/14 – Stockholm @ Vasateatern
12/15 – Oslo @ Rockefeller

Earlier this week, I wrote about Sammy Jay, who’s a Southern Wales-born Los Angeles-based, Mercury Prize-nominated electronic music producer, best known as SJae (pronounced Ess Jay). Now, as you may recall, the Welsh-born producer is a graduate of the BRIT School and upon graduation, Def Jam Records gave her first professional production gig on Terri Walker‘s Untitled album. Since then, the Welsh-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music producer has become of the first female music producers from the UK to have been hailed Stateside as one of the best in the best in the business by many of her peers, including some of the world’s superstar producers; in fact, during the course of her 20 year career, she has collaborated with the likes of The Roots, Ricki-Lee, Booty Luv, Terri Walker, Mis-teeq, Mark Morrison, The Pussycat Dolls, EXO, Rod Stewart and others.  She has composed music for a number of TV shows, including MTV’s Ridiculous, FOX’s Lethal Weapon and Netflix’s After Party starring KYLE and French Montana, and she has had had her own material appear on Fox’s Empire, CBS’ Flashpoint and others, as well in promos for FOX Sports, the NBA and Reelz TV. She is also currently the executive producer for Howling Music, Nashville working on music for the global ad campaigns for Hyundai and Ford. And before I forget, she also has produced logo music for a number of top radio stations including RTL, Bayern 3 and 94.7FMThe Wave.

Throughout her career, Sammy Jay has been an ardent proponent and prominent representative for women producers. Interestingly, her debut EP FIRST is slated for a March 22, 2019 release and the EP is intended as the beginning of a series of EPs that will feature collaborations with acclaimed songwriters, producers and EDM artists — with FIRST featuring guest spots from Raphael Saadiq, Sam Sparro and Dria Thornton. “The purpose of my project is to show woman can produce records, create more content and more visibility for us, so we can encourage other women to enter into the field,” Sammy Jay says of her EP series. “There are very few female record producers out there; in fact , I just gave an interview for a USC study funded by Spotify about why there are so few female producers in the industry. I believe we are haven’t been encouraged to be technical within the creative industry. The assumption is that women exist only as performers, singers and songwriters, the introduction of a women who produces music, ‘makes beats’ etc is met with surprise and a sometimes not so subtle air of disbelief, followed by much questioning on tech – ‘What software do you use?’ “Do you really know how to mix a really fat kick drum?’ etc.”

She continues, “I believe that if you don’t see yourself represented out there in the public media, you internalize the idea that you don’t belong there, or that there is no opportunity for you in that arena. I want to change that.”

The Avenue,” the EP’s first single was built around a soulful guest spot from Sam Sparro and a slick, 80s synth funk-inspired production centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths, thumping beats and a razor sharp hook. And while sonically, indebted to “Ain’t Nobody” and I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan and Quiet Storm-era soul, the song manages to feel like a subtly contemporary and self-assured take on a familiar and beloved sound. “All I Think About” the EP’s second and latest single is a sensual, 90s house music-inspired track centered around a slick production featuring lush layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous hook and vocals by the imitable Raphael Saadiq. And while club friendly, SJae’s latest track reveals an incredibly dexterous producer, who can effortlessly bounce back and forth between several different genres with a self-assured touch.