Tag: Italians Do It Better (Page 1 of 5)


After JOON and BARK BARK DISCO from Malta along with DLINA VOLNY from Belarus, Italians Do It Better venture further east across Europe to Russia for its next long playing adventure.

Russian duo LOVE OBJECT first appeared on the 2020 compilation ‘After Dark 3’ with ‘Holodnoe Solnce’ while they also appeared on their label’s self-titled in-house collection of Madonna covers with a deadpan mechanical take on ‘Frozen’. Now as 2021 concludes, they have their debut album ‘New Flesh’. Comprising of singer / DJ Dasha Utochka and producer Danya Mu, LOVE OBJECT are about mind and control, producing electronic noir pop with a stark dancefloor friendly backbone.

An erotic overtone lingers over LOVE OBJECT, perhaps unsurprising when it is learnt that Utochka is a co-founder of a magazine entitled ‘Areola’ whose mission statement is “To help people become more liberated and freethinking!”. With an appealing allure, opening song ‘The Kill’ explores what a funkier ‘Music For The Masses’ era DEPECHE MODE might have sounded like fronted by an robotised Russian goth girl.

Appropriately, a song actually called ‘Robot’ is more KRAFTWERK-like with a vocodered presence and a colder machine mood but the catchy electroclash of ‘Abyss’ thumps wildly as its close cousin ‘Animals’ utilises octave shifts at the bottom end to recall LADYTRON.

The doomer hip-hop vibe of ‘Virus’ is rather on point and features a harsh rap of truths that comes over apocalyptic while without raising a smile, ‘Circus’ is supercharged industrial pop but still embroiled in mystery.

‘Object of Desire’ (which was the duo’s original name in Russian) deviates rhythmically into looser stuttering techno and a deep narration from Mu before Utochka takes over. Meanwhile, ‘No Smiling’ is allowed as a sombre bass sequence that could be DAF takes hold with the enigmatic vocal akin to Miss Kittin reading Cyrillic script.

Closing with the frantic ‘Transparent Woman’, this speedy slice of tech-pop burlesque is laced with an unsettling vocal presence in a contrast of ghostly and almost sweet treated deliveries. With percolating percussive metallics, overall it musically recalls Ferry Corsten in his full SYSTEM F pomp.

Like midnight undressing, ‘New Flesh’ is sinister dance music for after dark and embroiled a twisted detachment that will appeal to those who miss the gritty synthcore hedonism led by the likes of FISCHERSPOONER and TIGA just over two decades ago.

‘New Flesh’ is released by Italians Do It Better on 3rd December 2021 via the usual online platforms




Text by Chi Ming Lai
1st December 2021


The political tensions in the former Soviet republic of Belarus have created a climate where artistic expression exudes a more prominent dystopian austere than in many other places.

Leading this are Minsk post-punk trio MOLCHAT DOMA but following not far behind are DLINA VOLNY; comprising of singer Masha Zinevitch, guitarist Vad Mikutski and Ales Shishlo on keyboards, unlike their bilingual debut ‘Mechty’ from 2018, their second album ‘Dazed’ is entirely in English. Released by their second album ‘Dazed’ and Italians Do It Better, it is a cinematic Autumnal statement that sounds as if The Cold War never ended.

The songs deal with the fragile reality of life and ‘Dazed’ opens with the title track, its icy cascading mood, served with the resigned contralto delivery of Zinevitch, possessing a sparkling textural quality worthy of the Italians Do It Better house sound. ‘I’m Not Allowed’ sounds bouncy in comparison, the bright synth arpeggio sounding odd but effective within a musical backdrop resembling WHITE LIES, while ‘Do It’ features an infectious swirl of electronics as well as a simple chanty chorus.

DLINA VOLNY’s reinterpretation of Madonna’s ‘Hollywood’, which appeared on their label’s recently issued tribute collection, alternates a detached deepness with an unexpected pop register that presents the song as a harsher warning to those seeing stardom.

Closer to home, the chilling darkwave of ‘Whatever Happens Next’ acts as protest song calling for solidarity and freedom. Exploring that haunting Eastern Bloc resilience further with a dance beat, ‘Bipolar’ is outstanding and asks “what is it like being on the border?”.

Despite its sinister overtones, the partly spoken ‘Redrum’ embraces a deviant sexiness like a song for the soundtrack of ‘Atomic Blonde’ where “the end is just another beginning… goodbye!”. The call for ‘Freedom’ sees stark bass guitar lines marked by harsh strums to shape a cavernous gothic grandeur.

Not a cover of their labelmate’s CHROMATICS best known song, ‘Shadow’ embraces THE CURE like a funereal paced ‘Fascination Street’ and certainly there is that air of disintegration. ‘Slowly’ is cut from a similar black cloth while the grim perspective presented on ‘Matte’ is only offset by shiny synths. Recalling ACTORS, ‘Tomorrow’ ends with the Minsk threesome’s own take on dysfunctional post-post-punk disco.

Mixed by David Lynch associate Dean Hurley, ‘Dazed’ is bleak and tense but most of the tracks have a cool appealing air of mystery.

The murky atmosphere does not forsake melody or hooks and the second language expression provides a seductive allure as the anxious suffocation of the system is countered by a profound breath of hope.

Despite the collected feelings and situations, DLINA VOLNY are less jarring than MOLCHAT DOMA so may have a broader crossover potential… yes, maybe these Belarusians do it better.

‘Dazed’ is released by Italians Do It Better on 5th November 2021, available from https://dlinavolny.bandcamp.com/ or pre-save at https://idib.ffm.to/dazed





Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd November 2021


Founded in 2006 by Johnny Jewel and Mike Simonetti, Italians Do It Better is an independent record label based in West Hollywood making music and art with a strong visual identity, emphasising the cinematic thread running through its ethos.

GLASS CANDY, the duo featuring Johnny Jewel and Ida No had released their first album ‘Love Love Love’ through Simonetti’s Troubleman Unlimited in 2002, but the pair saw potential for a platform that offered more electronically tinged night music, free of interference and scheduling. Italians Do It Better built itself initially around Johnny Jewel’s musical projects GLASS CANDY, CHROMATICS and then DESIRE whose 2009 self-titled album was to become an acclaimed favourite; the combo’s front woman Megan Louise would later become Jewel’s partner and the label’s president.

Before then CHROMATICS’ singer Ruth Radelet was romantically involved with Jewel and their evolving dynamic from the debut album ‘Night Drive’ right up to the long delayed ‘Dear Tommy’ has kept followers of both the band and label waiting… but one relationship that was unable to be maintained was with Mike Simonetti who parted ways with the label in 2014.

The profile of Italians Do It better has been boosted a number of key soundtrack inclusions; the tracks ‘Tick Of The Clock’ by CHROMATICS and ‘Under Your Spell’ by DESIRE were both used in the 2011 Ryan Gosling film ‘Drive’, while the actor’s 2014 directorial debut ‘Lost River’ featured a score composed by Johnny Jewel.

But for ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ in 2017, David Lynch handpicked CHROMATICS to perform their ethereal 2014 single ‘Shadow’ at the Roadhouse for a scene in Episode 2. Meanwhile material from Johnny Jewel’s ‘Windswept’ was included alongside new music from the original series composer Angelo Badalamenti, its sound of “time wasted” fitting in perfectly with the surrealist drama.

Over the past few years, Italians Do It Better has expanded beyond its core roster and signed a number of new acts from all around the globe. Acting like a creative director, Johnny Jewel carefully considers the label’s aesthetic, writing and producing for many of the artists, ensuring a considered continuity of ambience throughout its output.

As part of their diversification, Italians Do It Better have also released demo recordings of now well-known tracks by Fred Ventura and Julee Cruise.

The surprise signing of Swedish cult favourite Sally Shapiro following a 2016 retirement signalled wider ambitions but this news this was countered by CHROMATICS announcing they were disbanding.

The past 18 months has seen Italians Do It Better enter one of its most prolific periods yet, while maintaining its high quality. Known for their ‘After Dark’ series of compilations, the label recently paid a 63rd birthday tribute to Madonna (who inspired the label’s name via a T-shirt slogan “Italians Do It Better” in the ‘Papa Do Preach’ video) with a collection of in-house covers.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK presents by way of a Beginner’s Guide, a selection from the Italian Do It Better catalogue, placed in yearly, then alphabetical order subject to a restriction of one track per artist moniker.

GLASS CANDY Etheric Device (2007)

Formed in Portland by Ida No and Johnny Jewel, the second GLASS CANDY album ‘B/E/A/T/B/O/X’ was among the first long players released on Italians Do It Better. Its compendium of dysfunctional electro-disco featured highlights such as ‘Beatific’. But the sharp mantric cascade of ‘Etheric Device’ saw Ida No channel a startled cross of Debbie Harry, Lene Lovich and Cyndi Lauper over bursts of rumbling synthbass. A third album ‘Body Work’ was announced in 2012 but remains unreleased.

Available on the GLASS CANDY album ‘B/E/A/T/B/O/X’


SYMMETRY Thicker Than Blood (2011)

Johnny Jewel was originally commissioned with CHROMATICS drummer and synthesist Nat Walker to provide an electronic soundtrack for ‘Drive’. But his work was not used and replaced by Cliff Martinez. So Jewel reworked the music and other abstract archive material as ‘Themes For An Imaginary Film’. Using the moniker SYMMETRY, the instrumental ‘Thicker Than Blood’ was one of the standouts Meanwhile, one track turned into a song was ‘Streets Of Fire’ which featured the vocals of Ruth Radlett.

Available on the SYMMETRY album ‘Themes For An Imaginary Film’


CHROMATICS Looking For Love (2013)

While their fourth album ‘Kill For Love’ showcased CHROMATICS cross of NEW ORDER styled indie guitar pop and synthesized grandeur, ‘Looking For Love’ was a dark slice of John Carpenter-inspired electronic disco lento at 103 BPM, with Ruth Radlett offering more of a tone of resignation rather than her trademark her wispiness. Originally, it was one of three new songs by CHROMATICS on the ‘After Dark 2’ collection featuring a selection of the Italians Do It Better roster.

Available on the CHROMATICS single bundle ‘Looking For Love’


JOHNNY JEWEL featuring SAOIRSE RONAN Tell Me (2014)

Undeterred by his frustrating experience working on ‘Drive’, Johnny Jewel agreed to provide the score for ‘Lost River’, the directorial debut of Ryan Gosling. A sparse ballad of innocence, ‘Tell Me’ was its undoubted highlight and sung in the film by Saoirse Ronan as her character Rat. The actress had never sung before and her contribution was recorded in two takes with a single microphone and no headphones. This nervous tension presented a wonderful ‘Twin Peaks’ vibe and a chilling if emotive ambience.

Available on the JOHNNY JEWEL album ‘Lost River (Original Motion Picture Score)’


TESS ROBY Catalyst (2018)

The contralto folktronica of Tess Roby was something of a departure for the Italians Do It Better stable. Born to musician parents, Roby dedicated the ‘Beacon’ album to her father and built her songs around the understated tones of a Roland Juno 106, allowing room for her vocals to take centre stage. ‘Catalyst’ was the album’s key reflective ode and provided an expansive earthy quality in its minimalism. She is also an accomplished photographer and a member of the danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN.

Available on the TESS ROBY album ‘Beacon’


DOUBLE MIXTE Romance Noire (2019)

Originally a duo comprising Thomas Maan and Clara Apolit, brooding Parisians DOUBLE MIXTE projected themselves as a modern day Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin but with a lively techno backbone that was especially evident on their debut Italians Do It Better single ‘Romance Noire’. The Gauloises flavoured film noir synergy came over in a combination of feminine Gallic prose over fat bursts of synths for a dark disco soundtrack that had decadent cool written all over it.

Available on the DOUBLE MIXTE EP ‘Romance Noire’


HEAVEN Truth Or Dare (2019)

The mysterious HEAVEN first came to wider attention with the ‘Lonesome Town’ EP featuring the hauntingly breathy ‘It’s Not Enough’ and a funereal paced cover of the Ricky Nelson title ballad that captured the fragility of the broken heart. Fronted by the enigmatic allure of singer and keyboardist Aja, the brilliant ‘Truth Or Dare’ sounded like CHROMATICS but with more synths and drum machine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, closer scrutiny revealed that HEAVEN was another project helmed by the ubiquitous Johnny Jewel.

Available on the HEAVEN single bundle ‘Truth Or Dare’


ORION I Want You So Bad (2020)

Inspired by Cyberpunk and Giallo cinema, ORION are the enigmatic Rhode Island duo of Orion Dommisse and John-Paul Sullivan. Their second single ‘I Want You So Bad’ was a wonderful Italo-inspired slice of “Cybernetic Noir” produced by Johnny Jewel where the breathy inter-galactic desire was so hot that “I flew from space to love you”. The follow-up single ‘Higher’ was another noteworthy Eurocentric offering with an airy and alluring feminine disposition.

Available on the ORION single bundle ‘I Want You So Bad’


CAUSEWAY We Were Never Lost (2020)

Also produced by Johnny Jewel, West Coast synthwave duo CAUSEWAY are Allison Rae and Marshall Watson. With a deep vocal resignation augmented by the tick of the clock and a foggy electronic disposition, ‘We Were Never Lost’ premiered on the ‘After Dark 3’ compilation. The duo kept up the standard with its more dreampop-laden follow-up ‘Hide & Seek’ while their most recent singular offering was a cover of NEW ORDER’s ‘Your Silent Face’.

Available on the compilation ‘After Dark 3’ (V/A)


DESIRE Escape (2020)

The brazen and provocative sass of DESIRE fronted by Megan Louise presents the more playful side of Italians Do It Better compared with the ice maiden persona of Ruth Radlett. This was more than demonstrated on a saucy if faithful cover of NEW ORDER’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’. But crossing the Italo-influenced electronic pop of Manchester’s finest with BANANARAMA, the charming follow-up single ‘Escape’ did as its title suggested, offering delightful escapism for the dancefloor.

Available on the DESIRE single ‘Escape’


BARK BARK DISCO Get Up & Run (2021)

If PET SHOP BOYS had remixed THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN, then it might have sounded a bit like BARK BARK DISCO. Maltese producer Ian Schranz is the man behind the glitterball canine moniker and ‘Get Up & Run’ was an optimistic rallying call to overcome lockdown fatigue where “You’ve gotta get back to the other side”. As well as recording his own material, BARK BARK DISCO is also an occasional collaborator of label mate and neighbour JOON.

Available on the BARK BARK DISCO single ‘Get Up & Run’


JORJA CHALMERS I’ll Be Waiting (2021)

If there is an artist that encapsulates the nocturnal cinematic aesthetic of Italians Do It Better, then it is Australian multi-instrumentalist Jorja Chalmers. Her debut album ‘Human Again’ captured a lonely hotel room comedown but the second long player ‘Midnight Train’ presented more refinement, structure and vocals. Driven by a drum mantra in the vein of Bill Ward from BLACK SABBATH with expressive sax straight out of ‘Neuköln’, she captured a decadent European chill on the wonderfully windswept ‘I’ll Be Waiting’.

Available on the JORJA CHALMERS album ‘Midnight Train’


DLINA VOLNY Bipolar (2021)

Inspired by the spectre of the former Soviet Union, Minsk trio DLINA VOLNY explore post-punk with a dance beat not unlike NEW ORDER. Having already had two albums already under their belt and singing in English with an inherent Eastern Bloc gloom in Masha Zinevitch’s vocals throughout their Italians Do It Better period, their fifth single for the label ‘Bipolar’ was dark disco with plenty of synth and mystery that asked “But what is it like being on the border?”.

Available on the DLINA VOLNY single ‘Bipolar’


GLÜME Get Low (2021)

If Lana Del Rey is the “Gangster Nancy Sinatra”, then Los Angeles-born GLÜME is the self-styled “Walmart Marilyn Monroe”. ‘Get Low’ was an intriguing slice of accessible avant pop about the high of falling for someone and how brain chemistry and nervous systems are affected. Applying some rumbling electronic bass, stabbing vintage synths and simple but prominent digital drum beats, ‘Get Close’ sounded not unlike an experimental hybrid of OMD and LADYTRON!

Available on the GLÜME album ‘The Internet’


JOON ET (2021)

JOON is the artist formally known as YEWS and the musical vehicle of Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis. With many voices in her head, the blippy avant pop ‘ET’ comes over like an oddball variant on Berlin-based Nordic duo ULTRAFLEX; with wonderfully eerie Theremin tones that make the concoction creepy yet fun, this inviting lo-fi number was used in a digital fashion show for the Nintendo simulation game ‘Animal Crossing’, adding to its aural surrealism.

Available on the JOON album ‘Dream Again’



Angelica Ranåsen and Jacob Fagerstål are Berlin-based Swedish duo JUNO FRANCIS who had released several synthpop singles on Finland’s Solina Records. But on teaming up with Venezuelan producer Alejandro Molinari, they became much more danceable and ‘Symmetry’ offered a sensual electro-funkiness that fitted in with the international disco aspirations of Italian Do It Better. Glamorous, hypnotic and decadent, the video was filmed in the notorious KitKatClub located in the Mitte suburb of the former Mauerstadt.

Available on the JUNO FRANCIS & ALEJANDRO MOLINARI single ‘Symmetry’


MOTHERMARY Pray (2021)

Inspired by the Prayer of the Blessed Virgin, the strikingly photogenic twins Elyse and Larena are like real-life ‘Twin Peaks’ characters, the backstory being that they escaped their strict Mormon family in remote Montana and uprooted to Brooklyn. Sounding a bit like Anglo-German art pop duo KALEIDA but with an acid house squelch, ‘Pray’ was their most provocative offering to date with gritty references to a “sacrificial offering” and confirmation that “We’ll pray for you…”

Available on the MOTHERMARY single ‘Pray’


RAMXES Bibliotech Virus (2021)

Another diversion for Italians Do It Better, RAMXES is a producer based in Texas with a background in hip-hop and rap who favours using Sequential Prophet Rev2 and Prophet 12 synths. The self-proclaimed “Dystopic Cowboy” combines house and glitch from within a video game mindset, a combination that is in its fullest flow with the sinister but infectious ‘Bibliotech Virus’. The parent album ‘Deep Crimson’ contained another 11 pieces of relentless electronic drive.

Available on the RAMXES album ‘Deep Crimson’


With special thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

The Madonna tribute album ‘Italians Do It Better’ featuring 20 covers by 19 artists is now available via all the usual online platforms






ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s IDIB playlist ‘GLI ITALIANI LO FANNO MEGLIO’ can be streamed at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6HPhf1yptwaN6UiHDqzFI6

Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th August 2021

JOON Interview

Behind the dreamy world of JOON is Yasmin Kuymizakis. Growing up in Malta, she made music as the more traditionally minded YEWS but a sound production course in London set her on the path of becoming JOON.

However, when she returned to her home island, Kuymizakis found she had no female role models for making electronic music.

Inspired by the Yorkshire Sound Women Network, she co-founded the Malta Sound Women Network with composer and academic Jess Rymer to bring like-minded women together.

Her positivity after a life-changing car accident helped clarify her musical ambitions and a pointer to her take on life comes via her playful cover versions of pop classics ‘Cruel Summer’ and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’.

Recently releasing her appropriately titled debut album ‘Dream Again’ on Italians Do It Better, the 12 track collection co-produced by Johnny Jewel ranges from bouncy blippy numbers to more introspective personal songs which although tinged with melancholy, are ultimately positive.

The music of JOON is an optimistic dose of inspiration and a universal message for everyone as to how to overcome. With the release of another single ‘Whisper’ from the album, she spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about why now is the right time to ‘Dream Again’.

So how and why did YEWS end and JOON start?

I had been meaning to change my artist name for a few years actually. When I joined Italians Do It Better it felt like the right time for a fresh start. Out with the old, in with the new.

Did using technology lead you to writing songs in a different way than you had before?

Yes definitely! There’s so much you can do with technology. Sonically it’s limitless and it gives me plenty of room to experiment

Who were the acts that influenced the JOON sound?


How did the Italians Do It Better connection come about?

I emailed them with a link to ‘ET’ on April Fools Day 2020 thinking they would never reply. They did that same day… we even had a phone call a few hours later. For the next 2 weeks, I kept thinking someone was playing an April Fools joke on me.

What did Johnny Jewel’s role on ‘Dream Again’ entail?

Johnny put a lot of thought and love into my songs. I sent him stems and he just made it all sound better by working on the structures and re-playing some parts using his amazing synth collection. He recorded new lines on some songs and created beats too. He produced the backing track for ‘Wait’ from scratch and it went from being the weakest song to one of the strongest. He really elevated all the tracks!

The bouncy avant pop of ‘ET’ ended up on the ‘Animal Crossing’ digital fashion show which was surreally fitting and it features this amazing Theremin-like sound on it, how did you produce that in the studio?

I wrote ‘ET’ very quickly, in a few minutes. I had used Ableton and created that simple bassline without thinking much and just kept building from there. The vocals were most fun. I was just really letting go and having fun with it.

‘Good Times’ was most welcome with the onset of lockdown fatigue but what was the original inspiration behind this song?

I wrote that after a day at my 9-to-5. I guess I was feeling nostalgic and was remembering about the times when it was all easier to go out, flirt and have some fun.

The comparatively abstract instrumental ‘I.You’ displays your musical diversity, are soundtracks an area you would like to pursue in the future?

Oh yeah! I love soundtracks! I have done quite a few for short films, video games, theatre etc. In a variety of genres too. Always happy to do more.

‘Orqod’ is a gently waltzing ballad sung in Maltese, did you feel it was important for you to make an artistic statement in your own language?

It actually wasn’t intentional at all. I always found it hard to write and sing in Maltese. But somehow I was very in the moment and ‘Orqod’ just came to me very naturally. I was going through a hard time and I was living in London at the time. I would love to write more in my native language but when I force it, it just doesn’t work.

‘Watch The Sky’ is a wonderfully quirky big beat disco number, how did it come together?

The original ‘Watch the Sky’ that I wrote years ago was quite rocky actually! It had guitars on it. When I was going through it to make it work with this album, I was struggling. Luckily my friend and frequent collaborator Ian Schranz from BARK BARK DISCO was there to save the day. He wrote that funky bassline and co-produced the song to make sense with my sound today.

You have released a number of collaborations with BARK BARK DISCO, so how does your approach to composing change when you are working with him?

It’s interesting working with Ian. He writes fun catchy songs so easily, he never ceases to amaze me. We challenge each other quite a bit and I’ve learnt that I can be quite a control freak but luckily we always agree in the end. I love working with him and hope we find time to start a fun crazy side project together. We already have a stage name. All we need is time!

What inspired you to include a cover of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’?

It was a last minute decision actually! Johnny came up with the idea. That song brings so much joy and I feel that’s my mission in life… so we just went for it.

Although not featuring on the ‘Dream Again’ album, you released a cover of BANANARAMA’s ‘Cruel Summer’, or was it the ACE OF BASE version that you heard first?

BANANARAMA forever!!

‘Dream Again’ is a very varied album but which tracks resonate the most with you?

‘Home’ and ‘Me & My Sea’ resonate a lot with me! Every time I hear them I can somehow tap into the exact emotions I was feeling when I wrote them.

You played your first gig as JOON recently, do you think it went ok and are there more planned?

My first live performance was amazing! I got some of my favourite local musicians to join me on stage and it was such a joy. I have some solo gigs planned now, in Malta and Europe.

How is the Malta Sound Women Network progressing, are there still many more things to achieve?

There’s always many things to achieve with MSWN! Right now we’re actually on hold for a bit due to Covid-19… trying to find our feet again at the moment. But we will get back to giving workshops and organising events soon.

What’s next for you?

Perform and write again and again.

Any hopes or fears for the future?

Hope to get to tour and meet all the lovely people I’ve gotten to know this past year and half from JOON. No fears as such… maybe that this pandemic will make it all a little harder.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to JOON

Special thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

‘Dream Again’ is released by Italians Do It Better and available via the usual online platforms






Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Maria Galea
14th August 2021

JOON Dream Again

JOON is the artist formally known as YEWS and the musical vehicle of Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis.

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 and decided to make music her vocation.

She opted for synths as her tools of self-expression, buying a Stylophone, Moog Sub Phatty and a Korg Poly800 while also teaching herself how to use recording software and VSTs, with the Novation MiniNova being the most recent addition to her armoury.

Without any electronic music role models locally to look up to, Kuymizakis co-founded the Malta Sound Women Network with composer and academic Jess Rymer in 2017 to bring like-minded women together on the island.

This brought focus to JOON and the attracted the attention of Italians Do It Better, home to CHROMATICS, DESIRE and GLÜME. While there was a considered approach to her music, Kuymizakis also had a sense of fun as exemplified by her NEW ORDER meets MARSHEAUX styled cover of BANANARAMA’s ‘Cruel Summer’.

So the debut JOON long player ‘Dream Again’ arrives after a 10 year musical journey, capturing a shimmering stream of consciousness towards escape and self-fulfilment with a template of mostly angelic vocals and otherworldly auras.

With many voices in her head, the blippy avant pop ‘ET’ comes over like an oddball variant on Berlin-based Nordic duo ULTRAFLEX; with wonderfully eerie Theremin tones that make the concoction creepy yet fun, this inviting lo-fi number was used in a digital fashion show for the Nintendo simulation game ‘Animal Crossing’, adding to its aural surrealism.

The electro-funky ‘Watch The Sky’ is a bouncy club tune inspired by Róisín Murphy and its ending kicks courtesy of a wonderful distorted synth solo accompanied by a burst of cowbells. However, while JOON’s sense of fun and escapism comes over in a girly cover of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, apart from putting more cash into the bank account of Vince Clarke, it seems an unnecessary inclusion on ‘Dream Again’ when she has quality material of her own.

There’s a charming innocence to ‘Good Times’ with a wonderful Mediterranean take on Japanese city pop about more carefree pre-pandemic times with fewer responsibilities, but with a gentle canter, ‘Whisper’ is classic Italians Do It Better and has the vulnerable air of label mate GLÜME looming on this wonderfully atmospheric set piece with a hypnotic arpeggio.

Built around a waltzing church organ, the Bjork-like ‘Meaningful Life’ provides the Gospel of St Joon but featuring almost screaming monologues with our heroine sounding rather cocooned, ‘Wait’ captures an uneasy tension, although relief is provided by the sung chorus for a hybrid of shade and light.

‘Home’ recalls Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ being dropped into The Bang Bang Bar from ‘Twin Peaks’, while sung in Maltese and meaning “sleep”, the gentle lullaby of ‘Orqod’ is gorgeous and reflects on the need to let go but just as the ethereal mood is about induce near sleep, the darker consciousness acts as a reminder of harsh realities.

A quirky rhythmic percolation shapes the instrumental ‘I.You’, showing JOON’s diverse musicality with gliding portamento hooks and drones provide a suitably gothic soundtrack that could easily work in film.

The nautical jaunt of ‘Me & My Sea’ comes with an artful allure but then takes an unsettling turn with layers of pitch shifted vocals in the manner of FEVER RAY as seagulls swoop by. Closing with the blurry Julee Cruise inspired ‘Feathers’, a wispy falsetto and crystalline textures capture a South East Asian winter rather than a Mediterranean summer.

Melancholic but ultimately positive with a mix of upbeat tracks and more personal songs, JOON looks hopefully forward without forgetting the lessons of the past. ‘Dream Again’ is an optimistic dose of inspiration and a universal message for everyone as to how to overcome. As Yasmin Kuymizakis herself says “Even if I’m sad or heartbroken, I remain optimistic. I want to grow old with no regrets”

Yes, the time is now right to be able to ‘Dream Again’.

‘Dream Again’ is released by Italians Do It Better on the usual online platforms






Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Maria Galea
16th July 2021

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