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
We’re always on the lookout for what we consider to be a ‘Friday tune’, so you can’t even begin to imagine how happy we were to have this beauty appear before our very ears. Hold On is the brand new track from London-based producer Fabich and features the vocal talents of Josh Barry. An absolute gem.
Fabich – Hold On (ft. Josh Barry)
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
Bristol-based singer/producer Tamu Massif has revealed new track Animals, taken from his second EP Bala which is out now.
“I approach writing songs as collages” explains the Bristol-based artist, whose real name is Dave Dixon. “I usually layer up different sections and then connect them. On Bala, sampling my own voice became integral to the songwriting process and I started recording tracks purely to lay down vocals I could manipulate elsewhere.”
The places in which Bala was conceived find their way into the music, both in the lyrics and through field recordings. “Recording clips on my phone in various locations and moments over the past few years has allowed me to add a personal context to the music,” explains Dixon. “It documents where I’ve been, both mentally and physically.”
Tamu Massif has recently completed a tour support slot with The Japanese House, and can be seen performing live again at London’s Citadel Festival on 16 July. Tickets here.
Tamu Massif – Animals
LA-based producer/DJ collective Neo Noir (Bradley Allan and Greg Ogan) recently dropped this belter and we’ve decided this is the tune to kick-off our Bank Holiday weekend. Featuring the vocals of London Ellis, our advice is that it requires full volume. You’re welcome.
Neo Noir – Colours (ft. London Ellis)
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
These are exciting times for Icelandic band Vök. Not only will they figure prominently on the upcoming 10th edition of our Sync List (an honour that, let’s face it, any band would be excited about!), but they are also about to release their new album Figure on 28 April which, if there’s any justice in the world, will see them come to far greater prominence.
Since forming in 2013, their indie-electronica style has drawn comparisons with a whole host of luminaries such as The xx and Portishead, and the sound is broadly mellow, reflective, but above all, totally atmospheric. For full effect, they need to be seen and heard live – and the UK dates on their extensive month-long European tour include stop-offs in London (17 May), Salford (18) and Bristol (19) – buy tickets here.
Given how their music has been captivating us over the past few months, we were keen to catch up with saxophonist Andri Már ahead of their tour, and find out more about the band, its inspirations, and the forthcoming live dates…
SYNC: So please tell us a bit of the background to Vök, how you guys got together etc, and who’s who in the band.
ANDRI: The beginning for us was a fluke! We started the band to try out playing live and we got hooked! Me and Margrét have been friends for the last 10 years and her and Óli grew up together. We got to know Einar about the same time we started the band but it took a couple years for us to start working together! Margrét and I write most of the music and Einar being a sound tech polishes with us and then Óli is the social media expert! We are all very different individuals but we find that it works to our advantage.
Vök – Show Me
SYNC: Although of course there have been a couple of EPs, you must be very excited about the imminent album release! How long has Figure been in the planning/making?
ANDRI: Oh yes! We are ecstatic! Figure has been in the making basically since we first started playing music. We had a very steep learning curve and had to experiment with a lot of things before we felt we were able to make this album the way we wanted to make it. But I feel it has worked in our favour, as we’ve been able to lay a good foundation for this release.
SYNC: Although there are a few obvious comparisons with the likes of The xx, the album is a way more complex package than any such simple generalisation suggests.
ANDRI: Thank you! It is always fun to hear the comparisons but you are right, I don’t think that generalisation really works anymore. Our influences range from The xx and Portishead to the Arctic Monkeys and all the way back to Frank Sinatra! So it’s a very wide range of influences. There are for instance some books that have had an influence on our lyric writing, i.e. the Discworld series and Grass for His Pillow to name some.
Vök – Waiting
SYNC: You’re about to hit the road for an extensive European tour. 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?
ANDRI: We want to bring out our and your emotions and try and take you on a journey through the concert. There are very powerful chapters and there are some downlow as well so there is hopefully something for everyone.
We have always been a band that is more about the live performing than the studio and so far we have translated the live element more into the studio than vice versa. There are definitely challenges to overcome but I personally like it when musicians have the courage to deviate from the album and make some sort of unique atmosphere for those that have gone along to the shows.
Vök – Breaking Bones
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]
Although relatively little known in the UK, Australian DJ and producer Ok Sure has been making waves throughout Australasia recently. A creator of sublime downtempo electronica masterpieces, Ok Sure – a moniker that is derived from her real name Akaysha – has been honing her considerable skills for years.
A winner of multiple DJ competitions in her homeland, she is in big demand for remixes, whilst her own original material also gets plenty of airplay on many of the major Aussie radio stations.
Ok Sure also delivers big live performances consisting of downtempo, industrial, dark melodic electronica and DJ sets pulsing with techno, deep house, electronica and whatever else takes the mood. As she launches new EP Anamnesis, we caught up with her to find out more about what makes this Melbourne livewire talent tick…
SYNC: Please tell us a bit of the background, how you first started out as a DJ?
Ok Sure: I actually developed an interest in music production before i started DJ’ing. DJ’ing was a natural progression for the sound I was taking an interest in at that time. I think I was about 14 or 15 years old and I was really getting into Wet Musik, which was a Melbourne techno collective putting on parties and releasing music. One of the guys from it – Will E Tell – was running DJ’ing lessons and I signed up for a four-week course, started buying vinyl, eventually got my own decks and the rest is history!
SYNC: DJ competitions were a big part of your early development – how did those experiences shape your work now and what opportunities did they present?
Ok Sure: I was about 20 years old when I won the Pioneer Pro DJ Search. That feels like such a long time ago! It was a nice confirmation at that age, to feel like I was on the right track. I was probably a bit lost at that stage wondering what to do with my life; Should I study more? Should I travel? Should I focus on music? I ended up doing all three.
SYNC: Who and what have influenced or shaped your sound up to now?
Ok Sure: Unrequited love, relationships, boredom, friends, other artist, procrastination (when I’m meant to be doing other things is always the best time to make music), frustration, life…
SYNC: Tell us a little about the new EP Anamnesis – how have these tracks developed and how long has the EP been in the making?
Ok Sure: I have been making music for a long time under the alias ‘Ok Sure’ with no real direction as to what I was going to do with it or how I was going to release it. It really started as a side project. I was always holding off on doing official releases as I felt I made a lot of mistakes releasing stuff in the past that I ended up hating. I wanted to sit on tracks for a really long time and if I still liked them in 2-3 years then I assumed I might like them in 10…I hoped. I was approached by a label (Upside Music) who where interested in working on a release and I thought it was time I put something out. So, I had A LOT of music sitting there and basically we just went through it all and picked out what we thought was most appropriate for the first EP. I then spent ages polishing off those tracks and trying to get them to all sound coherent – I did all the mixing and mastering on the EP – as some were from four years ago and some were from last year. Obviously my production skills have gotten better so I just had to re-work a few and get them up to scratch.
SYNC: The technical construction of a track like Xylo seems really complex and yet at the same time, it has a simple atmospheric quality. What’s the typical starting point of your production process and how does the sound evolve?
Ok Sure: Oh man, Xylo is probably about three years old, I can’t even remember how that track started. I’m literally working on like ten things at a time, bag most of the ideas then start another ten. Some tracks stick and I end up going back to continue working on them. Xylo was one of those. Honestly I don’t even know how my tracks happen, it’s hours and hours of being on auto pilot at my computer, tweaking this, going through synth sounds, samples, messing around on my keyboard until something just clicks and I roll with it. Sometimes I even listen back to my stuff and I think, how did that happen?!
SYNC: Where does your creative heart lie – creating your own originals or remixing?
Ok Sure: Remixing is fun but I would say originals I’m more passionate about. I think I was doing so many remixes to get stuff out in the world while I was trying to figure out what to do with all my original material. It was a way to release something and get your name out there without having the stress of releasing your own tracks.
SYNC: Which artists have you most enjoyed working with on remixes – and is there anyone who you would particularly like to collaborate with in the future?
Ok Sure: I think my favourite remix I’ve done is the Habits one (Gerger). I was a bit nervous with that one as I’m such a fan of their music and I thought, can I do it justice? But it came out really well and they were happy with it so that was great. Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Arca – imagine collaborating with him… a girl can dream.
SYNC: What’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2017? Are there live shows in the diary – or any plans for UK/Europe?
Ok Sure: I have a few live shows this month in Melbourne, working on the next EP which will be a bit different to Anamnesis as I’m collaborating with other vocalists. Unfortunately, there are no plans just yet for UK or Europe but I would love to organise something!
Ok Sure / oksurewhatever.com
We’re finding ourselves still listening to this beauty from Melbourne duo Two People (Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough) having first heard it a couple of months back. If We Have Time has so many wonderful qualities, not least Lou’s understated yet wonderful vocals.
Two People – If We Have Time
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
As if we were not already looking forward to Joe Goddard‘s forthcoming solo album (Electric Lines, out on 21 April) enough already, he went and dropped this. Ever the creative genius, he throws several genres at new track Home, weaving and splicing it all together beautifully.
Is there anyone out there constructing more comprehensively inventive music than this right now? Doubtful.
Joe Goddard – Home
DRGM are a trio from East London who create a unique blend of commercial beats and electronica that puts them in and amongst categorisation with the likes of Rufus, The XX and Disclosure. Out on Thursday (16/3) EP Etc somehow manages to be powerful, energetic and morose all at the same time.
The band will be putting on a handful of dates this month to support the release of the EP. You can catch their launch parties in London (16 March), Portsmouth (24) and Brighton (31). But before they hit the road for those, we caught up with the band to find out a bit more about their intriguing sound…
SYNC: Please tell us a bit of the background to DRGM, including how you guys got together… and the attributes that each of you brings to the group!
GREG: Goosey and I met touring as session players and started producing a few tracks together, just for fun. A sort of side project. He knew Ellen from the scene and we thought her voice might sound good on one of our mixes. It did! We put out a little mixtape, just over a year ago, to see what the reaction was. We managed to get quite a lot of airtime from that record and from there we decided to knuckle down and get a solid EP recorded. We produce all of our own media: mixes, masters, photos, graphics, music videos, live sessions etc. so it’s a lot of work to get from an idea to a fully fledged launch, but we hope it’s been worth it.
SYNC: Websites like ours love to categorise bands but it’s pretty hard to ‘allocate’ your sound to a narrow genre. How would you like to be described, and who/what has influenced you to develop to where you are now?
GOOSE: It’s hard to really pin down who our main influences have been. Everything from electronic sounding bands like Rufus to jazzers like Miles Davis. Our sound is pretty layered and we’ve tried to make each part as unique as possible. I write beats which can be quite linear and angular, which tend to complement the guitar sound Greg’s coming out with. Ellen’s got a real jazz voice, so we try to bring that out in the chords. There’s definitely an emphasis on modern electronic sounds, like Disclosure or, to an extent, The XX, but we hope we’ve managed to make something new with this record.
SYNC: How has the EP come together? Has it been a long time in the making?
ELLEN: We’ve probably been working on the project for around nine months. We work differently from other bands in that none of the writing is really done together. Greg writes the music and then he and Goose tweak the project before adding drums. They then send me over demos and then the tracks sit with me for a while whilst I write the lyrics. EP Etc is four tracks, but we must have written at least twelve over the summer – some which worked, some which didn’t. We ended up choosing four tracks which we really felt complemented one another. We wanted the EP to feel like one piece with direction, as opposed to four seperate tracks, and we’re really pleased with the outcome.
SYNC: What are the plans for live dates, and what can people expect when they come to see you?
ELLEN: We’re hosting a series of launch parties, the first being in a Dalston basement on the day of the EP release – 16th March. We’re following up the launch with parties in Portsmouth and Brighton. We wanted the launch parties to have a relaxed feel, and this is how Greg has designed the set. It’s meant to be a fluid 40 minutes of entertainment where we take you through our EP, some other original tracks and some covers of artists who we admire, in our own style of course! We have a couple of other surprises to share at the parties, but the main emphasis is on having as much fun as possible.
DRGM – Felt