Category: Introducing (Page 1 of 24)

Introducing O+HER

A pact which links two subjects together in one action, one body, one vision, O+HER is the new Swedish darkwave duo comprising of Tobias Bernstrup and Erica Li Lundqvist.

Tobias Bernstrup is best known for his brand of Italo Noir as exemplified by his most recent album ‘Petrichor’ while Erica Li Lundqvist is a member of enigmatic trio ABU NEIN whose single from last year ‘Black Light’ featured the talents of fellow Swede Henric de la Cour.

O+HER is much less Italo Noir, encaspulating a much more brooding and gothic presence.

Having shared a number of stages, “It started with humble request to collaborate” the pair said, “Rather than just using our typical sound, we decided to try create some completely new. A creative process with both our voices that led to several tracks instead of just one. O+HER (pronounced ‘other’) was born as a shared vision of a dark cinematic sound landscape, beat and sequencer driven songs with inspiration from the late 80s dark wave set in a contemporary context”.

The first single is ‘Brave Bodies Burn’ which presents a tense baritone versus contralto dialectic over a foreboding electronic backdrop; “It a masterpiece!” O+HER confirmed and it comes with a striking music video filmed by photographer and visual artists Bengt Rahm. “The video is a homage to the opening scene of the 80s cult movie ‘The Hunger’ that features Bauhaus, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon among others. Apart from our own performance, we casted some profiles from the Stockholm post-punk / darkwave club scene. It’s dark, it’s sexy and it tells a story – but it’s up to the beholder to analyse its content”

Describing their creative dynamic, they said “Being alone in your creative process or being a bunch of people in a band is quite different from being a duo. We complement each other in the best of ways and the process from thought to product is much faster. We share the same goal but we have different qualities to take us there. O+HER is truly a power duo.”

O+HER have confirmed they will release a series of singles during 2022 to be followed up by a full-length album on vinyl. But in the meantime, ‘Brave Bodies Burn’ is backed with a cover of ‘Virus Meadow’, a 1985 song by cult English post-punk band AND ALSO THE TREES whose first single ‘Shantell’ and self-titled debut album was produced by Lol Tolhurst, then of THE CURE.

O+HER have spoken.

‘Brave Bodies Burn’ is released by Tonight Records and available on the usual online platforms including

Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th January 2022

Introducing PEAKES

Almost an enforced product of lockdown, Leeds based trio PEAKES recently issued their debut album ‘Peripheral Figures’.

Formed in in 2017, vocalist Molly Puckering, synth-player Maxwell Shirley and drummer Pete Redshaw had been steadily building their musical reputation with a number of standalone singles and a 2020 EP ‘Pre Invented World’. The self-produced album takes more of a direct back-to-basics approach with songs that grow within the psyche.

Moving in separate ways, the best of the bunch on ‘Peripheral Figures’ is ‘An Infinite Divide’; an infectious slice of synth laden pop that puts its emphasis on seductive vocal melodies and catchy electronic hooks, it features an impressive driving build for a dramatic transcendental uplift.

Taking in more distorted keyboard tones, ‘Day & Age’ follows a not dissimilar path to ‘An Infinite Divide’ and takes care not to overdrive the drums, a fault that could be pointed at many of PEAKES contemporaries in those acts attempts to sound hip and contemporary.

With a fine turn of vocal and crystalline backing, ‘Lately’ is Motorik guitar styled NEW ORDER but constructed primarily with synths while ‘Clouds’ possesses a quasi-hymn-like presence and significantly gets its point across without the use of drums. More rhythmically swung and layered in six string, ‘Control’ recalls the gazing abstract moods of COCTEAU TWINS although the blippy nature of ‘Nameless Machines’ recalls the more recent overtures of LONELADY. But with occasional militaristic percussive passages, ‘Fascination’ takes on a distinctly progressive approach, as does the epic album closer ‘Circular State’.

While Molly Puckering naturally looks towards the likes of GOLDFRAPP, PORTISHEAD and MOLOKO as inspirations in her vocal delivery, the most immediate reference in her vulnerable contralto comes from the much missed CHEW LIPS. ‘Peripheral Figures’ is an impressive debut album with a promise of greater things to come.

PEAKES help their cause by avoiding pretentions towards clichéd alternative rock or R ‘n’ B. Appearing at this stage to be unafraid of being a band that uses synths in a period when many a hipster still sees guitars as the only badge of acceptance for making music, it will be very interesting to see how the trio artistically progress as they gain further acclaim with their more electronic direction.

‘Peripheral Figures’ is released by Practice Music as a nectarine vinyl LP and download, available direct from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Nick Porter
14th December 2021

Introducing HATTIE COOKE

In these days of 40-something males in midlife crisis mode accumulating modulars and Moog Ones like some kind of penis extension, Hattie Cooke’s attitude is wonderfully fresh and fiercely independent.

Hattie Cooke is proudly working class and the “Brighton Synth Queen” is of the view that electronic music should not be an artform restricted by background. And with that, she writes, records and produces her music at home using just GarageBand.

Hattie Cooke’s eponymous 2016 cassette debut captured a traditional singer-songwriter with a Fender Telecaster who was partial to the occasional bit of synth assistance as on ‘Song 14’ and ‘Shut Your Mouth’. The 2019 instrumental follow-up ‘The Sleepers’ was an imaginary film soundtrack with the dystopian John Carpenter-inspired tension of ‘Evacuation’ being a particular highlight.

With echoes of folkie Laura Marling’s artier electronic duo LUMP with Mike Lindsay, Hattie Cooke’s recently issued third album ‘Bliss Land’ combines the approaches of its two predecessors and is more intentionally pop than she has ever been before.

The nostalgic ‘Youth’ captivates via an introspective but accessible vibe reflecting on the excitement and urgency of those formative years; it’s a remembrance that many may have felt in these pandemic times with their understandable anxiousness about the future.

An intimate gravitas comes with the expanded electronic texturing on ‘Bliss Land’ and this is undoubtedly stamped on its opening pair of songs. The hypnotic ‘I Get By’ is superb with ringing hooks, sweeping soundscapes and airy understated vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Italians Do It Better ‘After Dark’ compilation. Continuing that oblique aural connection, the darker “echo chambers” of ‘Mistaken’ are reminiscent of IDIB family member Tess Roby via her more danceable side project DAWN TO DAWN.

Droning with an impending doom, ‘Invisible Lines’ exposes Hattie Cooke’s forlorn vulnerability while the delightful instrumental ‘Fantasies’ expands on the cinematic moods of ‘The Sleepers’ to reveal the origins of ‘Bliss Land’ as music for a label specialising in film soundtracks. However, guitars have not completely disappeared with ‘Cars’, not a cover of the Gary Numan No1 but Cooke’s own take on indie synth with elements of THE CURE creeping in.

Born out of hushed anticipation and anxiety, ‘Bliss Land’ is a largely beautiful set of personal songs that capture the confined surroundings of its creation with hope and trepidation, embracing the fear embroiled in a now-changed world…

‘Bliss Land’ is released by Castles In Space and available as a CD, red vinyl LP and digital download direct from

Hattie Cooke will be opening for Alice Hubble at London Hackney Folklore on Thursday 7th October 2021

Hattie Cooke’s Patreon is at

Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Adam Cresswell
Photo by Chris Standley
25th September 2021

Introducing DAWN TO DAWN

Born to musician parents, Canadian singer songwriter Tess Roby dedicated her 2018 debut album ‘Beacon’ to her late father.

Building her songs around the understated tones of a Roland Juno 106, there was room for her reflective vocals to take centre stage for an earthy brand of folktronica that was a departure for the Italians Do It Better label. But adding mechanised the beats of a Roland TR808, Tess Roby has a new project in the danceable dreampop of DAWN TO DAWN. Completing the line-up are Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee who bring their Minimoog, Roland System 100, Roland Juno 60, Korg 700s, Korg MS20, Roland SH101 and ARP Solina along to the party.

Based in Montreal, the trio met just after Roby had released ‘Beacon’. Their best song to date is the recently released ’Care’ which was written on a cold winter’s night. Nocturnal yet rhythmic, with an alluring folk-tinged vocal to offset the understated synthetic overtures, there are enigmatic skatted vocals in the vein of Dot Allison for the first two minutes before Roby presents her more coherent contralto over its hypnotic bassline and crisp rhythmic construction.

Directed by Tess Roby, the visual accompaniment to ‘Care’ is a touching ode to summer nights with friends and losing track of time through collective enjoyment. Containing in-car and studio footage, the video is enhanced by its impressionistic quality, thanks to being shot on Kodak 16mm film by Hugo Bernier.

The first DAWN TO DAWN single ‘Meridian’ was more ethereal and sedate in comparison with ‘Care’, although it retained a drifting nocturnal quality with a fabulous multi-faceted vocal arrangement. But the previous single ‘A Colour Named By You’ was much sparser and devoid of drum machine, coming over more audibly reminiscent of Tess Roby’s own forlorn soundscapes as showcased on her solo long player.

DAWN TO DAWN themselves are due to release their own full length album in 2022.

‘Care’ is available as a download single from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th August 2021

Introducing JOON

It is time soon for more ‘Good Times’ and JOON, the electronic solo project from Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis does her best to remember them.

Written and produced by Kuymizakis with the ubiquitous Italians Do It Better head honcho Johnny Jewel, ‘Good Times’ captures a charming innocence in a dreamy Mediterranean take on Japanese Citypop about more carefree pre-pandemic times with fewer responsibilities.

The song comes from the upcoming debut album by JOON which comprises of both fun upbeat tracks and more personal songs composed over the past 10 years.

In a similar epiphany that Brian Eno had with ambient music, Kuymizakis was involved in a car accident and while recuperating, she appreciated how precious life was. So she taught herself how to use audio software and synths as her form of self-expression. Her experiences led her to co-found the Malta Sound Women Network to bring like-minded women together on the island.

In a self-directed and edited video filmed by Neo Borg Bonaci, a floodlit tennis court acts as the setting for JOON to consider the love of her life as she reflects on “The way you sing your songs and make me dance, the way you take a chance on a little romance” before affirming “You remind me of the good times”.

Previous singles from JOON have included the quirky lo-fi hypnotism of ‘ET’ which was used in a digital fashion show for the Nintendo simulation game ‘Animal Crossing’, a NEW ORDER meets MARSHEAUX styled cover of BANANARAMA’s ‘Cruel Summer’ and ‘Watch The Sky’, an electro-funky nod to Róisín Murphy. Meanwhile, there have been regular collaborations with her compatriot BARK BARK DISCO on tracks such as ‘Til The End’ and ‘Another Play’.

Coming soon from JOON is ‘Orqod’, her first composition in Maltese. Having gained some forward momentum in the past year or so, the future looks bright for the artist formally known as YEWS as she settles into the Italians Do It Better family.

‘Good Times’ is released by Italians Do It Better via the usual digital platforms

JOON perfroms live at Spazju Kreattiv Theatre in Malta on 26th June 2021, the event will be streamed live, more information at

Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Maria Galea
17th June 2021

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