Some singers just have a mysterious, beguiling air about them. Whether it’s down to the beautifully smooth and multi-faceted voice or bewitching stage presence, Kyla La Grange had this Friday night Thekla crowd in the palm of her hand from the moment she walked on to the very end of her hour-long set.
The Watford-born singer showed off her incredible versatility, equally adept as she is at low or uptempo dance-infused material, emotionally-charged ballads – and even at one point towards the end of proceedings, full-on rock. Her material broadly spans the pop genre, albeit predominantly of the darkside variety, but there is also a bedrock of folk in what she does, and the combination of all of this is what makes her show so special.
Her set included material from across both of her albums – 2012’s Ashes and Cut Your Teeth from 2014 – as well as new songs, including Love Harder and Violet Blue both released this year, and Justify from late 2016.
It is perhaps the Cut Your Teeth album that best signifies the sound that La Grange really excels at. Her voice fits so perfectly with the atmospheric electronica backdrop created by the genius DJ and producer Jakwob, so it’s no wonder that the show ended with the title track from that album. It was an uplifting end to a very special performance.
Kyla La Grange – Justify
It’s been a good long while since a song as beautiful as this floated into our ears. The Feeling is the work of Australian singer-songwriter Eilish Gilligan.
Although pop in essence, it’s hard to find the descriptive words to do the song justice, so take a listen, and welcome this unique track into your life.
This track appears on The Sync List 11 – listen to the full playlist on Soundcloud here.
Eilish Gilligan – The Feeling
UK singer/songwriter Mark Elliott has been quietly building a name for himself as an emerging, talented singer-songwriter since his debut release Dead End Love Affair and debut EP China Doll last year.
His first release of 2017, Good Way, is an electro-ballad that speaks of new love, growing older and changing perspectives. Stripped piano/vocal transforms through a pop-esque build-up before dropping into a falsetto chorus and hook. Inventive, engaging songwriting at its best.
Mark Elliott – Good Way
A warm, sultry Friday evening in London got even hotter in the basement environment of Birthdays in Dalston, East London. The biggest show so far by emerging soul-pop trio Rumours saw this compact venue packed out and enthralled by an hour-long set that included sublimely chilled out tunes alongside more uptempo material.
Comprising Mark Borgazzi (vocals/keyboards), Federico Bigonzetti (drums) and Marion Solheim (vocals), the band are earning a reputation for finely-crafted songs characterised by a real depth of feeling achieved through wonderful harmonies between the vocals of Borgazzi and Solheim. We’re always keen to discover whether the recorded version of this magical vocal skill can be replicated on the live stage, so it was great to hear them nail it wonderfully on the night.
The set built nicely, from a low-key but solid first half through to a much more upbeat second. So Bad, Invitations and I Do It All were particular highlights – along with new single Hunter – but there were no weak links here. It was an impressive performance for a band still in its relative early stages.
They promised an eager crowd that more new material was on the way soon. If they can create more along the lines of what’s gone before then a very bright future lies ahead… and that’s more than just a rumour.
See also: DISCOVER… Rumours
London-based Rumours is an electronic soul-pop trio made up of Mark Borgazzi, Federico Bigonzetti and Marion Solheim.
Mark and Fede come from Italy and have been making music together since childhood until they moved to London at the age of 18. There they met Norwegian student Marion and they joined forces in 2014. The band is a cosmopolitan mix of Italy, Norway and London, which somehow seems to enrich their diverse and hard-to-categorise musical style.
Blending electronic production with emotive songwriting, a key ingredient of Rumours’ sound is Mark and Marion’s intertwining male/female vocal dynamic. Their voices strike a unique balance that just works beautifully, and adds a hugely captivating edge to their music.
As we look ahead to their headline London show on 12 May, we caught up with Mark to find out more about the Rumours sound…
SYNC: Please tell us a bit about the band’s background.
MARK: Rumours came to life about two years ago. There are three of us in the band; Federico, Mark and Marion. Fede and I go way back, we grew up together in Italy, and then moved to London as soon as we turned 18. Here we met Marion, who had also moved to London from Norway and was studying at the same music school as us. We met in 2015, had an instant connection and started working together shortly after.
SYNC: How do you feel that your different nationalities/backgrounds influence your musical leanings?
MARK: We all have quite different musical backgrounds which all have a pretty strong influence on Rumours’ music. Fede, who is a producer and drummer, has always been very interested in electronic music. He follows and discovers new music from all kinds of genres and he strongly features this variety of influences in the production of our songs.
Marion’s taste and musical background is also very varied. She is currently into Neo Classical and experimental ambient music, but has a background in singing folk and soul. I think that what she brings to the table, is a more edgy and unexpected twist, especially when it comes to melodies and harmonies. My influences have been songwriters in general, but the NeoSoul and R&B artists I grew up listening to have probably shaped me more than others.
Rumours – I Do It All
SYNC: How does the band’s songwriting process work? Does one of you typically take the lead or is it a more collaborative process?
MARK: So far we have developed a process where I will find an idea and shape it into a simple arrangement before I pass it on to Fede who will then develop and work on the production of the music. Marion writes with me at different stages of the process. Sometimes I just have a hook that I really like and we develop a song around it together, sometimes I get inspiration for a more complete song all at once and we then work on the details and make changes together. As I said before, I have always admired a well-written song. I see songwriting as a craft that you need to develop and evolve constantly. To write something simple and easy to listen to, but with a relatable meaning and expression, is not such an easy thing.
SYNC: New single Invitations has a particularly smooth and emotive vibe. What’s the story behind this track?
MARK: We hadn’t released anything for quite a long time after our debut EP Shapes last year, so we were eager to share and release something new, that would reflect our development and growth. Invitations is a very rhythmic song, where the harmonies and melodies play on the contrasting range of our voices. The song is about being inspired and we want to allow that to mean different things to different people. This track is not as easy listening, or as immediately catching as some of our other songs, but is definitely an indication of what’s to come.
Rumours – Invitations
SYNC: What can fans expect from your live shows, and what are the challenges in bringing certain elements of your studio sound to the live performance?
MARK: Our live show is probably what has developed the most since we started. The show is quite loyal to our recordings but the songs gain more energy and dynamics when performed live. We’ve got a little team of good friends that add a different dimension to our live music sets. We always work with the same sound engineer, Phil. He knows our music very well and has been such a big part of achieving the right sound when we play live. Recreating our sound live can be a challenge due to the high production level of our music. This is why we have recently added a fourth musician, our talented friend Jason. He brings a whole new dimension to our live performances allowing us to better capture our studio sound. We have also recently collaborated with Claudio, a great filmmaker, for creating some visuals for our show. We received some great feedback for this at Archspace where we played our last London gig with Soundcrash.
Rumours – So Bad (Live for Sofar Sounds)
SYNC: So what are the plans beyond your upcoming live shows? Is there an album in the pipeline, and further live dates or festival appearances?
MARK: On 12 May, we will be performing at Birthdays in Dalston, London, then the following day we will be playing The Funk & Soul Weekender Festival in Camber Sands. Also later this summer we’re heading to Croatia to play Dimension Festival. We haven’t got an album on the way just yet, but we will definitely be releasing more music before the summer so please stay tuned!
Tickets for Rumours’ London show on 12 May are available here.
New from Youngr – aka Dario Darnell – is Monsters, a characteristically uptempo electronic pop tune that will get stuck in your head on the first listen.
For the uninitiated, Youngr is a name you will get to know over the course of this summer as his superb live act is just made for creating a huge impact at festivals over the coming months, including The Great Escape, Sundown, Boardmasters and Latitude. Check out our review of his recent London show and witness his live technical brilliance in all it’s looping glory on this slick re-working of Be The One by Dua Lipa.
Youngr – Monsters
Rather liking Seasons Change, the first commercial release from Dead Lavender. The artists responsible are so far shrouded in mystery, although we do know that they are a London-based collaborative duo, consisting of vocalists and producers V & Oliver. With a second tune apparently in the final stages, hopefully there’s plenty more where this track came from.
The video was shot in Los Angeles on Christmas Day last year and was produced by the pair with a retro vibe using VCR filters and 90’s colour grading.
Dead Lavender – Seasons Change
Long before Sia became a global superstar, we were HUGE fans of her widely under-acknowledged solo material and her long-running collaboration with the superb Zero 7. If fact, we would go so far as to say her true vocal talents were way better demonstrated with some of these songs that they have been in the more recent chart-topping stuff.
For us, this beautiful song stands out as a particular favourite of her Zero 7 work though, and having chanced upon this live video recording from 15 years ago of Destiny (also featuring the equally talented Sophie Barker – whose vocal levels were not remotely turned high enough on this recording sadly), we felt a ‘Backtrack’ post coming on. So here it is for your Sunday enjoyment…
Zero 7 – Destiny (ft. Sia & Sophie Barker) [Live]
This piece of atmospheric dream pop caught out attention this week. Cyborg Girl is by Scottish group L-space and is a beautifully-crafted track that combines immersive electronic sounds with ethereal vocals.
The band comprises Lily Higham, Gordon Johnstone, Dickson Telfer and Maggie Tam. The quartet record most of the music themselves and do all of their own art, videos and graphic design. To further explore the mesmerising sonic world that they create, check out their new EP Sol 0.
L-Space – Cyborg Girl
Hailing from Newton Abbot, Devon, Alice Jemima has been developing her songwriting and musical style over a number of years now. Her self-titled debut album was released at the start of this month and has been enthusiastically greeted, not least since she has created something of a unique sound, combining impossibly soft, smooth and delicate vocals with creative pared-back beats and hook-filled tunes. The heart of the album’s appeal though is ultimately really simple – great songwriting.
As always, we were keen to see how the live performance compared to the slick recordings so headed along to catch her London headline show at The Lexington earlier this month. Her shy, super-modest between-song demeanour belies her impressive ability to deliver the songs with a beguiling, mesmerising sense of something special.
Jemima seemed genuinely thrilled to have virtually filled the venue’s sizable if intimate-feeling space. It was a Monday night too which somehow always seems to make an impressive turnout even more satisfying for an artist. We caught up with her after the show to find out a bit more about an artist whose star is very much on the rise…
SYNC: So tell us a bit of the background to the Alice Jemima story and how your musical passion first developed?
ALICE JEMIMA: When I was younger my mum played violin in a tango band, so from a very young age I went to a lot of festivals and gigs with her.
I’d tried playing a few instruments myself before picking up the guitar when I was 8. Nothing else had really taken my interest, but as soon as I learnt the guitar, that was it – I haven’t really stopped playing since! Then a few years later I started writing and singing.
SYNC: Having discovered your musical path at a young age, how has your musical style – and own music tastes – evolved? Which other artists have played a part in that?
AJ: When I started songwriting I was listening to a lot of singer songwriters like KT Tunstall, Jack Johnson, Nerina Pallot, Corinne Bailey Rae. Then as I got older I started listening to a lot more electronic/indie-pop music like The XX, Flume, Lana Del Rey. Maybe it hasn’t changed all that much, possibly more the production side has.
Alice Jemima – Electric
SYNC: How did the cover of No Diggity come about? It seems such an unlikely-yet-inspired song to do in that style.
AJ: It was after hearing Chet Faker’s stripped-back version of it, which I instantly loved. Although I hadn’t planned to record a cover of it, I was just playing around with some chords and beats on Logic and then started singing No Diggity over the top of it. It wasn’t supposed to be that, but it worked, and now it’s officially out in the world!
Alice Jemima – No Diggity
SYNC: How would you describe your own songwriting process? What are the elements that enable your songs to convey such emotion and feeling?
AJ: It depends really, sometimes I’ll just pick up an acoustic guitar and write something straight away, and other times it’s a slightly slower process where I’ll produce a more beat-driven track and write over the top. I suppose the more ’emotional’ songs I tend to write on the guitar, possibly because I’m singing whatever’s on my mind or what I’m feeling, right there and then.
Alice Jemima – Liquorice (live)
SYNC: How long has the album been in development – and how does it feel for you now that it’s out there for the world to hear?
AJ: I guess you could say this first album has been in development since the day I started writing! Some of the tracks on this album are ones I wrote when I was a bit younger. I spent a few years trying to find the sound I wanted, so the ones I wrote when I was younger have definitely come on a bit of a journey – and evolved.
It almost feels like a weight has lifted now it’s out there! That may be a funny thing to say, but some of these songs I’ve wanted to put out into the world since the day I wrote them, so it’s a great feeling now they’re all there for people to hear. And now I can start writing another!
SYNC: What are the plans for the rest of 2017 – are there more live dates and perhaps festivals in the diary?
AJ: I’ve just been out to the US to play SXSW, which was so exciting, and I played three shows out there. On 5 April I’ll be playing a headline show in Paris at Pop-Up du Label. I have more festivals and shows coming up – but they’ve yet to be announced. So, more news soon!
Out on Friday 3 March, new single Halfway is from the forthcoming debut EP by Galway singer LAOISE (pronounced Leesha).
It’s a sleek piece of subtle electro-pop from the hotly-tipped Irish 20-year-old who grew up playing the violin and piano before teaching herself the guitar at 11 and progressing to writing her own songs aged 15. More recently adding an electronic edge to her sound, we’re looking forward to hearing a lot more from her this year.
LAOISE – Halfway
Now here’s a grower if ever there was one. Dirty Bass is new from LORIS, a three-piece, female-fronted electro-pop trio from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Part pop, part dance, this track is the latest release from a band that have been doing their thing since 2013, picking up plenty of favourable reviews through the likes of BBC Introducing and radio stations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
LORIS – Dirty Bass
South London duo Alpines are currently touring their second album Another River and were in Bristol last night midway through a run of dates across the UK and Europe.
Singer-songwriter Catherine Pockson and producer Bob Matthews have put together a striking album full of emotive lyrics and experimental sounds. Transferring this to the live show was never going to be easy given the highly polished nature of the songs they have created, but bolstered on stage by a drummer and guitarist, they manage to bring the album to life beautifully.
We’ve written a full review of the show for Bristol’s leading events website 365Bristol.com so do have a read. In the meantime, here are a few shots from the gig…
There’s something unusual and pretty special about this alt-pop track from Swedish singer-songwriter Skott. Glitter & Gloss meanders and intrigues but the whole effect is overwhelmingly pleasing.
The track has been deservedly getting plenty of radio airplay and we expect plenty more material along these lines from her over the coming months. You can also catch her live over the coming months on a number of European and US tour dates that include London (7 March) and Brighton’s Great Escape (20 May).
Skott – Glitter & Gloss
A supremely chilled out track to start the week, this is Twenty by UK producer Marble Empire (Matt Berry).
The 20-year-old Guildford-based artist – who started out as a producer in 2015 before moving on to performing his own tracks live with a full band – takes inspiration from the likes of Jungle and Nao and you can spot these influences among the many elements going on in this tune. We love it and hope you will too.
Marble Empire – Twenty