Introducing… Broken Twin

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Simplicity can be deceptive. Broken Twin’s music may be largely made up of piano, strings and Majke Voss Romme’s haunting vocals, but the debut album ‘May’ is a work of depth and beauty. Simplicity is key to its name, too. “I was looking for a title that was simple, and not giving too much away, reflecting the songs,” says the Danish auteur. “Also it represents a time of year that seems to fit the songs. Spring is a time when everything is changing. It’s a hopeful season.”

Though compromising just 10 songs, ‘May’ is compiled from more than three years of intensive songwriting and based on over 200 sketches recorded on laptops and phones. “I’m very compulsive when I’m working on songs,” says Majke. “Mostly I begin by improvising on piano or guitar, singing random words. It sounds like English but it’s not. I’m writing and recording all the time at the moment.”

‘May’ is very much one artist’s labour, an intensely personal album that adheres to a singular vision. “I wanted to get back to basics, seeking a sound that was warm and lo-fi; minimal and spacious and focused on the songs,” says Majke. “I’m a new artist – I need to be sure about what I want to do before I can let anybody else in. It’s a very personal record.” In that spirit, it’s an album that refuses to hand the listener everything on a plate. Asked what the theme of her music is, she says “relations” and “emotional patterns”, and refuses to be drawn further. “I want people to find whatever they want in the songs.” Broken Twin songs are intended to live in the mind of the listener.

Now 25, Majke’s first experiences of music were playing with her father, an amateur musician and occasional piano teacher, in northern Jutland. Together they’d play Beatles songs and pop standards at the family piano, something Majke remembers as being “some of my best musical memories”. Having been exposed to music at a young age, Majke harboured secret dreams of being a musician that were suppressed by crushing adolescent shyness. “As a child I was really outgoing, but something happened when I got to being a teenager,” she says. “It was a big change, I was very introverted. I was writing music and singing but people I went to school with didn’t know anything about it.” She also felt that being a musician was beyond the reach of a girl from small town Denmark. “It’s something I always really wanted to do but I didn’t really think it was an opportunity that was available. I was in the real world, people who did music were somewhere else.”

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Introducing… Irma

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So we all binge-watch our favourite series from time to time, but how about binge-listening? Imagine listening to the thirteen songs on Faces and never wanting to stop. Each song is like a little episode, and each song will soon have its own video coproduced by Irma. She’s an artist who has grown up in the digital age and deeply understands how technology can help culture. In this, the age of internet, sounds cannot exist without images, and vice-versa – their dialogue is a new language. Faces is a musical vision, a view of the world enlightened by sharp melodies, shaken by powerful, telluric rhythms and carried by the frank, intensely precise voice of Irma.

Just 25 years old, she conceived this, her second album, from A to Z, deciding to write it during an 18-month stay in New York, alone. As she explains, “With my first album Letter To The Lord, everything happened so quickly. After the tour – which was amazing, mind-blowing – I felt the need to be alone for a while. I didn’t want to rest on my laurels and go all soft. I hate feeling secure. I had to get away.” OK, but why New York? “Because it’s a city where people go when they’re looking for something, trying to find a dream.” Holed up in a tiny studio in the East Village, she started an astonishing writing process, bought a small camera, walked around the city a lot, filmed anything that inspired her: “The leaves, the trees, red lights, passers-by…” What interested her the most was people, anonymous individuals, chance encounters – talking to them, filming them, listening to their stories. Every evening she went back and looked at her films, transcribed what had been said, filling notebook after notebook… And then, finally, she would pick up her guitar and put the words to music. “I was already thinking about playing concerts. An album should be performed, you have to feel the physicality – you have to breathe life into the songs.”

 

Once the writing was done, Irma started handled the recording as both engineer and artisan, playing all the instruments, beating out the rhythms and getting deeply involved in the programming. “I like to do everything to the max,” she explains. The result is a visceral, demanding, buoyant body of work with incredible maturity. For “Hear Me Out”, the first video from the album, she chose director Raf Reyntjens who created Stromae’s video for “Papaoutai”, and the next video will take her back to her native Cameroon, something she’s delighted about. Continue reading

Introducing… Ramona Lisa

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Ramona Lisa is the side project/alter ego of Chairlift keyboardist and vocalist Caroline Polacheck. Taking on the dark, brooding persona of her Ramona Lisa alter ego, Polacheck sings and plays all of the music in the band. Focusing on laptop recording with MIDI instrumentation,

Polacheck’s music as Ramona Lisa has a stark, ambient quality influenced by the film soundtracks of ’70s horror director Dario Argento. In 2014, Polacheck released Ramona Lisa’s debut album, Arcadia, on Terrible Records.

 

Introducing… SZA

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SZA envelopes your soul at first listen. Coveting a special innocence about her, the Maplewood native laces her music with soul-quenching traces of seductive allure. It’s truly the subtleties that make a difference though; the floral imagery, the small touches on her production, her concise yet intense songwriting. It all molds together to form this beautiful package.

“I was raised on a lot of John Coltrane, Satchmo, Miles Davis, Billy Holiday, and Björk with an adult obsession of all things Wu-Tang,” says SZA. ” The one thing I’ve always admired is their ability to paint scenes with their sounds. When I write I usually let the beat saturate my mood and head space; that determines every scene and set design for any song, the rest is all secondary.” Continue reading

Introducing… Kelela

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Alternative R&B vocalist and songwriter Kelela was raised in suburban Maryland and didn’t have aspirations as a singer until she started studying jazz. Subsequent obsessions with Amel Larrieux and Little Dragon helped push her toward finding her own style — one she found after she moved to Los Angeles. She connected with Teengirl Fantasy and contributed to the duo’sTracer album on the song “EFX.”

 

This led to meeting the Fade to Mind label’s Prince William, who exposed her to his associates’ lean yet sharp and deep productions. Knocked out by what she heard, she provided vocals forKingdom’s August 2013 single “Bank Head” (taken from the Vertical XL EP). With contributions from Fade to Mind and Night Slugs producers such asKingdom, Bok Bok, Girl Unit, Jam City, and Nguzunguzu, Kelela sought to make a mixtape of tracks that sounded like remixes. The release, titled Cut 4 Me, was issued in October 2013 as a free download through Fade to Mind. It was one of the year’s more striking debuts.

Introducing… Lucy Mason

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Born in Australia but spending her teenage years in Weybridge, Surrey, Lucy fell in love with London’s music scene. Influenced by No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cranberries and Radiohead and learning the guitar aged 13, Lucy knew she wanted to be a songwriter. After heading back to Australia to study, she visited the UK five years later and within four weeks of arriving she was offered a support slot with Jamie Cullum at the HMV Forum where Q Magazine described her as a ‘gifted performer in the making.”

Deciding to make London her home, she packed up her life in Australia and moved over in the summer of 2012, with a body of work that defined her style. With plans already in place to release an EP she was thrilled to be invited to support Matt Corby on his UK Tour in November and December 2012. This year Lucy has supported Josh Kumra, completed a 20 date UK university tour alongside Coffee house sessions, was invited to perform at West End Live in trafalgar square and came first place in the UK Songwriting Contest for her song ‘Sirens’. Lucy’s songs were composed on guitar, in her bedroom, and are deeply personal, inspired by different experiences in her life.  Continue reading