Tag: Kate Bush (Page 1 of 3)

ZAINE GRIFF Interview

Born in Auckland to Danish parents, Zaine Griff possesses a musical CV that is impressive, reading like a Who’s Who of popular music.

First a bassist and vocalist with Kiwi rock band THE HUMAN INSTINCT, he left in 1975 and moved to London where he had stints in BABY FACE and SCREEMER before going on to study mime under Lindsay Kemp alongside Kate Bush. As a result, he joined Kemp’s production of a play written by Jean Genet called ‘Flowers’.

In 1979, Zaine Griff launched his solo career with future film music composer Hans Zimmer and ULTRAVOX drummer Warren Cann among the members of his backing band for an appearance at the Reading Festival.

With his Aladdin Sane-inspired persona, he was soon signed by Automatic Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros who brought in Tony Visconti to produce his debut solo album ‘Ashes & Diamonds’. It spawned the 1980 single ‘Tonight’ but it peaked at No54 in the UK Singles Chart, partly due to an already recorded appearance on ‘Top Of The Pops’ not being shown due to a Musicians Union strike.

It was during these recording sessions for ‘Ashes & Diamonds’ that David Bowie walked in to visit Visconti and was slightly taken aback by the resemblance between himself and Griff. Despite this, Bowie invited Griff be part of the band to record three new versions of his songs for an upcoming appearance on the 1979 Kenny Everett New Year Show.

One of them was ‘Space Oddity’ which later surfaced as the flipside to ‘Alabama Song’ while another was ‘Panic In Detroit’ that later appeared as a bonus track on the Ryko CD reissue of the ’Scary Monsters’ album; the re-recording of ‘Rebel Rebel’ has yet to see the light of day.

The second Zaine Griff album ‘Figvres’ was released in 1982 and saw Hans Zimmer stepping up to the producer role.

It ultimately laid the groundwork for the German musician’s eventual career in Hollywood. Also featuring on the album were Kate Bush and Yukihiro Takahashi from YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Around this time, Griff held an art exhibition of his drawings in London’s Ebury Galley, to which his friend and contemporary artist Mark Wardel also contributed.

Meanwhile in 1983, Griff collaborated on six songs for Hans Zimmer and Warren Cann’s ambitious HELDEN album ‘Spies’ which despite the independently released duet with Linda Allan titled ‘Holding On’ being issued as a single in advance, remains officially unreleased. After recording with Midge Ure and Gary Numan, Griff returned to New Zealand in 1984.

In 2011, Zaine Griff made a comeback with his third album ‘Child Who Wants The Moon’ and returned to the live stage. While he has continued releasing albums and touring regularly, his music was being discovered by a cool young audience, thanks to American rockers MGMT covering ‘Ashes & Diamonds’ during their concerts in 2018.

Then recently, there came the surprise announcement that Zaine Griff was to join Rusty Egan and ‘Fade To Grey’ co-writer Chris Payne to perform the songs of VISAGE in an audio-visual presentation at W-Festival in Belgium and the Human Traffic Live & The Pioneers of Electronica showcase in London this Summer.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of VISAGE, founder members Midge Ure and Rusty Egan had deliberated for months as to who could take on guitar and lead vocals in a four man line-up with a nod to their original inspiration KRAFTWERK, eschewing the format of a lead singer fronting a band. With Ure committed to his own ‘1980’ tour performing VISAGE and ULTRAVOX songs, the role was offered to Zaine Griff.

While Steve Strange was undoubtedly the flamboyant face of VISAGE and played a vital role in the collective’s international visual profile, the many layers of backing vocals on the recordings were by Midge Ure and Rusty Egan, providing a crucial musicality to support Strange’s more monotone lead voice.

Meanwhile, a fair number of tracks like ‘The Dancer’, ‘Moon Over Moscow’, ‘Whispers’ and the dance mix of ‘Frequency 7’ were instrumentals.

So as an associate of the New Romantic movement with connections to many key figures of the period, Zaine Griff is just the man for the job. He kindly spoke to The Electricity Club from his home in New Zealand to talk about his music career and the upcoming VISAGE 1980 x 2020 shows.

Your debut solo album ‘Ashes & Diamonds’ was produced by Tony Visconti, how did that come about?

Tony Visconti was brought in to produce my debut album ‘Ashes and Diamonds’ by my record company MD Nick Mobbs at Automatic Records which was part of Warner Bros. When Tony heard my demos, he wanted to work with me.

It was during the recording of the ‘Ashes & Diamonds’ album that you were introduced to David Bowie and he had a proposal?

I was introduced to David Bowie by Tony at Good Earth studios. David had just returned from recording the Berlin trilogy and was wanting Tony to produce some tracks for a TV show. He had heard what I was doing and asked me if we could back him.

How did you run into Hans Zimmer and his batcave of synths?

Colin Thurston introduced me to Hans Zimmer when Colin brought Hans into Utopia studios to play keyboards on some demos I was recording there. Everything from that session onwards, Hans played on. As Hans said to me only last year: “I was your keyboard player”.

In fact, he was much more than that. All the live work, studio work, Hans was with me, as I was with him during his HELDEN project.

You were frequenting The Blitz Club, what appealed to you about its atmosphere and how did you find the characters you met there?

I met Steve Strange at Legends night club. My manager Campbell Palmer owned Legends. I met so many amazing artists at Legends, we would dance and hangout till day break, often we would go to The Blitz Club or The Embassy. Everyone seemed to know each other and were supportive of each other. This is how I met Rusty Egan and Midge Ure, Boy George, Marilyn and so on.

Did it take much to persuade Rusty Egan to appear in your ‘Ashes & Diamonds’ video for the single?

I wanted at the time for Rusty to drum for me and Gary Tibbs to play bass. Well, they performed in the video of ‘Ashes & Diamonds’ and then they both were doing other projects. I tried!!

How do you feel about the American indie rock band MGMT covering ‘Ashes & Diamonds’ on their 2018 live tour?

Fantastic! I would love to meet them one day. It’s so cool when a younger generation plays your music in respect of the song and the composition. I was thrilled to say the least, I have followed them ever since.

Hans Zimmer had moved up to the producer role on ‘Figvres’ and it was to prove inspiring for his later soundtrack career?

I had to convince Nick Mobbs of Automatic Records to allow Hans Zimmer to produce my second album ‘Figvres’. So much so that Nick allowed Hans to co-produce and Nick would allow us to complete the album based on the first two weeks of recording. He loved what he heard and gave us his blessing to finish.

Up until then, Hans had only produced a single for THE DAMNED. ‘Figvres’ was his first album production. And indeed he is entitled to a full production credit for everything he put into ‘Figvres’ and of course Steve Rance, Hans’ engineer… what a team!

You had a good friendship with Warren Cann from ULTRAVOX who played drums on the ‘Figvres’ album too?

I heard ULTRAVOX on the John Peel show. I went out and brought ‘Systems Of Romance’ only because of the drummer. I had to meet this guy and work with him.

I wanted Warren so much, I called Island Records, got his number, went to his flat and convinced him to play at the Reading Festival with me, and that’s how Hans and Warren met in rehearsal for Reading Festival.

The song ‘Flowers’ was dedicated to the late Lindsay Kemp and had Kate Bush singing backing vocals, what was it like working with her?

Working with Kate Bush was beautiful. She and I had studied under Lindsay Kemp, so it was easy for her to understand the ‘Flowers’ song and the emotion of the composition.

‘Flowers’ the show was a massive inspiration. Nothing comes near ‘Flowers’. So powerful, so dramatic and a huge inspiration to us both.

Hans Zimmer and Warren Cann formed HELDEN and you sang on the single ‘Holding On’, but the album on which you sang another five songs has never had an official release, do you consider it to be a lost classic?

I spent a whole year, most days and nights with Hans and Warren on the HELDEN project mainly at Snake Ranch Studios. I did a radio promotional tour with Hans. By then he was swept off his feet by film directors. Alas Hollywood.

What was the idea behind you recording a cover of ULTRAVOX’s ‘Passionate Reply’ with Midge Ure?

Chris O’Donnell suggested I do some recording with Midge. He played me ‘Passionate Reply’ on an acoustic, I had not heard it before and I just loved it. We recorded in his Chiswick studio. We recorded enough material for an album and the masters were stored at Rock City Studios with Gary Numan’s mum.

I loved working with Midge. I had known Midge from when he was in SLIK. The band I was playing with at the time were the support to SLIK. I knew then just how good he was. Looking back, we were so naive to it all. ULTRAVOX was managed by Chris O’Donnell and Chris Morrison, they were my production management company and production company to VISAGE. See how close knit we all were? And of course they managed THIN LIZZY.

There was that TV appearance performing ‘Passionate Reply’ on ‘The Freddie Starr Show’? What can you remember about that?

I was told I was to go to Manchester and do this show. All I wanted to do was not do it. Hated the whole tacky production. Still I stood up there alone and did it.

You recorded ‘This Strange Obsession’ with Yukihiro Takahashi and Ronny, that’s quite an international combination?

I had worked with Ronny on one of my songs ‘It’s A Sin’ with Hans producing her and Yukihiro approached me to write for him. I asked Ronny to join us. That was amazing working with Yukihiro. The translation barrier was understood with music.

Although you never recorded together, there’s a photo of you with Steve Strange and Mick Karn, what was the occasion?

That photo of Mick, Steve and I was at my art exhibition at the Ebury Gallery Victoria.

Gary Numan invited you to duet with him on ‘The Secret’ from ‘Berserker’, it has a good chemistry, how did you find working in the studio with him?

Gary Numan called me asked me to work on ‘Berserker’ just out of the blue. He was great to work with, I remember him doing takes faster than what I was used to; if he liked that take, that was it. Midge was like that as well. They knew what they wanted.

You returned with your third album ‘Child Who Wants The Moon’ in 2011, what was behind what appeared to be a lengthy hiatus?

It was a lengthy hiatus because I was burnt out, exhausted, not well, I had to go. I was not in a great space. I decided to try and get well again and stop wanting the moon… you know wanting the impossible.

You’ve released the albums ‘The Visitor’ and ‘Mood Swings’ since then and have returned to performing live again. Was that aspect something you’d missed over the years?

My problem is I cannot stop composing. I recorded ‘The Visitor’ and ‘Mood Swings’ purely for composition fulfilment. In the liner notes of ‘Mood Swings’, you can see the album is dedicated to Steve Strange.

How did the upcoming VISAGE 1980 x 2020 gigs with Rusty Egan and Chris Payne come about?

I had a call from Rusty late last year. He had spoken to Midge and Chris Payne, and asked if I would be interested in the VISAGE 1980 x 2020 shows. I find this an honour and a privilege. This project is about the music of VISAGE, not the front man or side man, it is about the music VISAGE produced and created.

These VISAGE shows from my perspective are a celebration of 40 years since the VISAGE debut was released. For me, it will also be a 40 years celebration of my debut album ‘Ashes & Diamonds’. It is also a celebration to Steve’s life, Rusty, Midge, Chris and everyone involved in the making of VISAGE and all their incredible fans and followers.

Which are your own favourite VISAGE songs?

Songs like ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ are classic compositions of that time. Again, I love the energy they put in the studio, I don’t believe they ever performed live. I have spoken to Chris but I haven’t seen him since I sang on Gary Numan’s ‘Berserker’ album… I can’t wait to work with Chris and Rusty again.

What are your plans after these VISAGE 1980 x 2020 dates?

I will be doing some live shows later this year in London.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Zaine Griff

Special thanks to Rusty Egan

‘Ashes & Diamonds’ and ‘Figvres’ are still available via Mig Music on the usual digital platforms

Zaine Griff, Rusty Egan and Chris Payne perform the music of VISAGE 1980 x 2020 at W-Festival in Belgium on Friday 22nd May 2020 – tickets are available from https://w-festival.com/en/

There will also be a performance as part of Human Traffic Live & The Pioneers of Electronica on Thursday 4th June 2020 at London Printworks which will also feature DJ sets from William Orbit and Wolfgang Flür – tickets are available from https://www.alostweekend.com/event/04-06-20

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
13th February 2020

MOLINA Vanilla Shell

Originally signed to the Danish label No3, Danish Chilean vocalist Rebecca Molina released her debut EP ‘Corpus’ in 2017 and has since put out a series of singles on Tambourhinoceros in 2018-2019.

‘Vanilla Shell’ neatly rounds up all of these alongside additional tracks ‘Fastfood Widow’ and the EP’s eponymous title work. Citing a wide range of influences from APHEX TWIN and KRAFTWERK through to KATE BUSH and COCTEAU TWINS, ‘Vanilla Shell’ takes the listener on a trip though MOLINA’s eclectic psyche and is anything but a predictable listen…

In today’s pervading climate of overproduced and overmastered pop, the beat less ‘Vanilla Shell’ bravely starts off in acapella mode (“I’m like mermaid with a special tail”) before inviting the listener on an eclectic musical ride, taking in FM electric piano arpeggios, pastoral acoustic guitar and flute along the way. ‘Vanilla Shell’ makes for an intriguing EP start, showcasing MOLINA’s mixing of electronics and real instrumentation and in places being reminiscent of GOLDFRAPP.

‘Mike’ starts with a vintage pentatonic synth riff before launching into a cheekily recreated drum pattern from CHINA CRISIS’ ‘Wishful Thinking’ whilst melding it with the vocal stylings/oblique track structuring of early KATE BUSH and THOMAS DOLBY. In a tale about a “messy shoe wearing” character who’s a bit clueless, the middle of ‘Mike’ sees a return to the intro acapella, but with subtle vocoder layering before a fully produced outro brings the track to its conclusion.

‘Parásito’ is a blissed-out track sung entirely in Spanish and with its main hook “Soy un parásito” (I’m a parasite), the song’s lyrical content counterpoints the dreamy Balearic usage of acoustic guitar throughout.

In her press bio, MOLINA explains: “I feel Spanish amplifies my message. The drama in the language makes it easier and more natural for me to be extrovert and emotional”.

Menacing string breaks punctuate the track and listeners will let the song wash over them before hastily reaching for the repeat button to luxuriate it in again…

‘Hey Kids’ starts with a gritty lo-fi drum machine loop and a hazy BOARDS OF CANADA aesthetic and features the hookiest chorus vocal here, one which will lodge in the brain after the track has concluded.

All of the songs on ‘Vanilla Shell’ keep the listener on their toes and the curveball here is a wonderful multi-layered vocal breakdown with choral parts and sampled voices merging together seamlessly. ‘Fastfood Widow’ is the only real filler track on the EP, but is still worthy of a listen if only for the way that Rebecca Molina phrases the word “widow” as “weirdo”…

The centrepiece of ‘Vanilla Shell’ is however ‘Venus’, a truly stunning piece of songwriting with a chorus that evokes some of the COCTEAU TWINS very finest work. In many ways ‘Venus’ is a distant counterpart of KATE BUSH’s ‘Breathing’ which was a song presented from the perspective of a child in a post-apocalyptic era in the womb.

‘Venus’ though is sung from the mother’s perspective as “I feel, it growing inside me. A big life. On the other side. A hall of fluids. Thick skin, underneath, the opening”. The Shoegazey elements here are beautifully combined with deep synthesizer bass frequencies and if there was any wish with regards to ‘Venus’, it would be to hear a Spanish language interpretation of it.

Just as she did with her previous EP ‘Corpus’, Rebecca Molina and her collaborators here (notably including Luke Smith who did programming on DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Sounds Of The Universe’) have crafted a body of work which is unique and definitely more than the sum of its component parts and influences.

One can only hope that this EP will help MOLINA reach a wider audience outside of Denmark and still shows that when it comes to vibrant, original and well-crafted electronic music, the Scandinavians are still the ones to beat. Very highly recommended.


‘Vanilla Shell’ is released Tambourhinoceros on 24th January 2020 via the usual digital platforms or direct from https://corpusmolina.bandcamp.com/album/vanilla-shell

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Text by Paul Boddy
Photo by Sarah Liisborg
22nd January 2020

GAZELLE TWIN Pastoral

As innocent and idyllic as the new album title from GAZELLE TWIN sounds, those who are well familiar with Elizabeth Bernholz’s previous output, won’t be fooled.

The queen of all things weird and wonderful is back after the highly acclaimed ‘Unflesh’.

‘Pastoral’ should be glorifying her new found life in the depths of Old England, a move amidst other life changing events; instead, it “exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present”.

No matter what century we live in, the evil, greed and consumption have gone full circle, no matter “What species is this? What century? What atmosphere? What government?”, as questioned with choral voices in the opening ‘Folly’, with the intro like DEPECHE MODE’s ‘The Great Outdoors’ played backwards.

If things were indeed ‘Better In My Day’, which is proposed in a house / rave notion with the additional twists from frenzied electronics, then “the world with jobs, no foreigners, no locked doors and kids full of respect” was “much better in my day”.

The tribal sounds of what promised to be lovely and cuddly in ‘Little Lambs’ is nothing of the kind. Almost ritualistic, the mantric rhythm sounds scary, and the “little lambs” are us: the little island dwellers, fed lies and distractions to keep us away from the bigger picture. “Save yourselves” the synthesised voice warns, before ‘Old Thorn’ ushers the “multi-gender voices, in vernaculars old and new” as if.

‘Dieu Et Mon Droit’, sung with a KATE BUSH poise, crown the otherwise sad state of affairs described here. Bernholz’s vocal goes male on ‘Throne’ in monophonic rhythm, spitting out words with disgust: “Scratching, Picking, The wound, Bleeds, Pus, Flows, Sticks, Stinks”.

‘Mongrel’ describes a new breed of humans and the new behaviours which are ridden with self-assurance, opinionated yet easily offended over nothing, but it suits them. The opening questions from ‘Folly’ return, “What species is this? What century?”

The glorious Old England won’t come back as in ‘Glory’, delivered in the style of ZOLA JESUS goes mediaeval.

The Wiccan imaginary beaten out of the drum ritual sees new found sounds and experiences Eastern influences in the plethora of styles, each as distant from each other, as they are close.

The meeting in the good Old English ‘Tea Rooms’ won’t bring the illusion of “pastoral picture”; the reality is far uglier than the idyllically drawn “hedgerows and steeples” or “cattle, tearooms”, because there’s also the “roadkill” and the village square sees executions as well as happy country summer fetes.

‘Jerusalem’ mocks the “ideal citizen”, with the sneer from the riddler, while ‘Dance Of Peddlers’ utilises early instrumentation in the form of recorders intertwined with courtly jester music, spitting out the truth at once: “It’s the Middle Ages, But with lesser wages”.

The first single from ‘Pastoral’, ‘Hobby Horse’ is as deranged and as mysterious as any work of GAZELLE TWIN, but this time she spells it out: “Pack on the loose but I can’t let them in here, My fears are growing, My wounds are showing, My time is up I want to get the f*ck out of here NOW”. She mocks ‘Ye Olde’ and ‘The Everyman’ of the English cliché, brandishing a sneer and a hobby horse.

Certainly not the ‘Sunny Stories’ expected by the title, it’s “All your history’s happened now”, mystically performed with a compelling, eerie vocal, whistling in the country winds and reverberating in the darker skies, with no stars present. Darkness, just darkness out there…

Maybe a better life lies ‘Over The Hills’, a happy country song delivered while riding and we are back to the “good old days”, where “King George commands and we obey”, and there are still “Flanders, Portugal and Spain”, even if they’re getting further and further.

Elizabeth Bernholz hasn’t disappointed in the “deranged, absurd reflection of deranged and absurd times”. Her village square isn’t a source of empty joys, her country cottage isn’t the perfect, magical place and her Old English neighbours aren’t the friendly country folk, ready to help in need.

No, there is horror in every idyll, and danger lurking beyond the ‘quaint’ and she’s not fooled. She will sit there in her red 21st century jester outfit on and make you laugh!

I’m sorry, did I say laugh!? No, she’ll make you reflect and cry over the state of affairs, but only if you choose to see it.


‘Pastoral’ is released on 21st September 2018 by Anti-Ghost Moon Ray as a red vinyl LP, CD and download available from https://gazelletwin.tstor.es

GAZELLE TWIN 2018 live dates include:

Gent Vooruit (20th September), Station Narva Festival (22nd September), Warsaw New Theatre (3rd October – ‘Kingdom Come’ performance), Manchester Soup Kitchen (5th October), Brighton Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (11th October), London Somerset House Lancaster Rooms (16th November)

http://www.gazelletwin.com/

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Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
18th September 2018

IONNALEE + MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Live at Heaven

IONNALEE made her London live debut appropriately at Heaven and like her recorded work, it was a full-on audio / visual experience.

The vehicle of the mysterious Swedish singer / songwriter / producer / filmmaker Jonna Lee, the memorable presentation comprised of a powerful electronic soundtrack, engaging performance art and striking but unimposing visuals.

IONNALEE is both a new start and the continuation of a story that began with IAMAMIWHOAMI, her previous project with producer Claes Björklund which produced three enticing bodies of work in ‘Bounty’, ‘Kin’ and ‘Blue’. And although Björklund has been involved behind the mixing desk under his BARBELLE moniker for the acclaimed ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’, it is Lee’s debut long player as a solo artist.

But before the main act, the eager audience were treated to a fine half hour set from MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY, the stage name of Welshman Ryan James. Operating in not dissimilar sonic territory to MAPS, his last album ‘Maximum Entropy’ was in 2015.

However, the new single ‘Remember the Bad Things’ has acted as an enticing trailer for a new body of work ‘Infinity Mirror’ to be released in the Autumn.

Combining a mastery of synth, guitar and drums, James’ set also included the percussive cacophony of ‘Entropy’, the dreamy but urgent ‘Puppets’ from his 2012 album ‘Foe’ and an excellent rendition of ‘Sordid Affair’, his wonderful collaboration with RÖYKSOPP from their last opus ‘The Inevitable End’.

No stranger to collaborating with RÖYKSOPP herself, Lee began her show with the frantic oddball drama of ‘Work’ and ‘Not Human’, an electro-Eurovision tune that could be best described as ABBA’s ‘Summer Night City’ on acid!

Delightfully odd in her white catsuit with many kooky exaggerated mime movements supported by a similarly attired girl / boy dance duo, the show enjoyably came over rather like Kate Bush at a rave, meeting The Man Who Fell To Earth.

A section of the IAMAMIWHOAMI catalogue was delivered via the widescreen air of ‘Fountain’, the moody ‘Chasing Kites’ and the rigid arty synthpop of ‘T’, each making fine use of Lee’s characteristic Scandifolk vocal style.

Meanwhile ‘Play’ from ‘Kin’ offered some enigmatic downtempo weirdness as an interlude to the space age discothèque format of the evening.

With IONNALEE being more upfront and less abstract than IAMAMIWHOAMI, guest contributions have been a feature of ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ with TR/ST and Jamie McDermott of THE IRREPRESSIBLES both figuring.

Quietly charismatic, McDermott quietly took to the Heaven stage to add his dulcet tones for the glorious duet ‘Dunes of Sand’ and after Lee’s Nordic rap on ‘Samaritan’, returned to join her on the ‘Bounty’ track ‘Y’.

For the well-deserved encore, the CHVRCHES-like ‘Gone’ and the meditative wash of ‘Blue Blue’ marked the journey home before a brilliant funked up update of ‘Goods’, one of the highlights from ‘Kin’ with its classic swirling synth attack.

All-in-all, it was a terrific and unforgettable night of dynamic electronic pop presented as colourful and dramatic theatre.

And with change left over from twenty of your English pounds, IONNALEE is the perfect escapist tonic in these slightly more turbulent socio-economic times as the hottest value-for-money ticket of 2018.


‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ is released by To Whom It May Concern via the usual digital platforms and direct from https://ionnalee.bandcamp.com

The physical formats of the IONNALLE and IAMAMIWHOAMI back catalogue are available from https://shop.towhomitmayconcern.cc

The ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ tour continues throughout 2018, dates include:

Copenhagen Lille Vega (18 May), Stockholm Slaktkyrkan (19 May), Moscow Red Club (9 June),
Saint Petersburg Stereoleto (10 June), Cardiff Festival of Voice (16 June), São Paulo Cine Joia (23 August), Rio de Janeiro Queremos! Festival (25 August), Göteborg Statement Festival (31 August), Kiev Bel Letage (12 October), Prague Meet Factory (13 October), Berlin Berghain Club (17 October)

https://ionnalee.com

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https://twitter.com/ionnalee

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https://manwithout.country/

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Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
11th May 2018

SARAH P. Who Am I

KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS was the first project Sarah Anna Psalti was involved with, accompanied by the mysteriously named producer and musician RΠЯ.

After the release of their debut long player ‘At Home’ featuring the magnificent ‘Oostende’, SARAH P. decided to relocate to Berlin, where she desperately needed a new start.

Indeed, her first EP ‘Free’ “a couple of years that have been rough and weird”, seeing Sarah “shyly and slowly moving from the ultimate darkness towards the light”.

As the songstress admits, “when I’m writing and recording my own music or working on a feature, I do it all my way. I’ll put together the sounds I like, I’ll play the melodies that I think they fit”.

Now with ‘Who Am I’, Sarah finally unveils the long awaited gem she’d been talking about, “There is a whole concept behind it and I am very much looking forward to sharing it, although I’ve got to hold back and wait!”

Produced together with George Priniotakis, ‘Who Am I’ is “a pop record that is different, an ode to the humanly deep need of security and love”.

Sarah certainly doesn’t shy from the experimentation, sounding exquisitely like Kate Bush on the title track, asking the existential questions over a sparse beat, which flourishes into a house inspired climax.

It’s a perfect description of “humanity, the world we live in and our importance (or unimportance) as individuals and / or as a whole”.

The minimalistic approach permeates throughout the production and is mirrored in the magnificent ‘A Letter From Urban Street’, with its ringing sounds and ethereal vocals, reminiscing a hybrid of Bush / Goldfrapp / Fraser / Scattergood.

‘Away From Me’ borrows ideas from GAZELLE TWIN, paired with the feel of a grown-up nursery rhyme, while ‘Berlin During Winter’ is certainly far colder than sunny Athens, with its Nordic aura. The metallic, scattered sounds vibrate over the urgent build-up of the vocal, culminating in a plethora of voices, at times quite animal sounding in a leaf taken from Alison Goldfrapp’s book.

‘ForgetRegret’ ushers in some dramatic sound play, with fascinating synth textures and captivating voices paving the way for a new style of mature electronica.

The shouting male voices on ‘Instead Of You’ could be the ones from DEPECHE MODE’s vintage B-side ‘Flexible’, but the melody and that gentle, yet powerful female vocal, creates a hedonistic vision of dreamlike state realities, which SARAH P. seems to excel in.

‘LoveStory’ could have featured on the ‘Twin Peaks’ soundtrack, contrary to a faster paced’Millennial Girl’ which capture a sci-fi vision of synthpopia.

‘Summer Prince’ fabulously is a reminder of the Canadian synth queen GRIMES’ style and ‘To You’ toys with the gentility of Sarah’s voice and timid sound manipulation which is rather pleasant on the ear.

What she sets out, she achieves. ‘Who Am I’ is sophisticated, cultured and synthtastic. SARAH P. certainly stands for high quality recordings, originally produced and sophistically executed.

“There’s no right and there’s no wrong, but there’s hope” says Sarah, “And while we’re feeling defeated, even during those dark hours, there’s hope we can do better. And we will.”

She did…


‘Who Am I’ is released as a download album by EraseRestart, available direct from https://sarahpofficial.bandcamp.com/

http://sarahpofficial.com/

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Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photos by Christoph Neumann
5th May 2017

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