3 Questions: Dresage

Since arriving in 2017 with her debut self-titled EP, LA-based electronic artist Dresage (Keeley Bumford) has quietly issued track after track of disarmingly emotional modern synthpop music full of the crystalline melodies that get all but the most hard-hearted synth heads excited accompanied by introspective, poetic wordplay. Keeley is also one half of the electronic unit More Giraffes with Mark Hadley, which they view as a place to experiment freely within the confines of pop.

Her most recent single, ‘Therapy’, a collaboration with fellow electronic chanteuse G. Smith, was released in April 2019, and a second Dresage EP is being worked on right now. A new More Giraffes collaboration with Brooklyn’s Sweater Beats (Antonio Cuna), ‘Playground’, is officially released on June 14.

What is your earliest memory?

I grew up in the mountains of Washington State, between Seattle and Vancouver in Canada. I remember always hiking and backpacking with my parents as a toddler around Mount Baker. Even as a tiny human only a couple feet tall, I can still recall the view I had from so close to the ground as I marched up and over ridges, snow patches and past glacial lakes. The damp ground, dark green trees and crystal blue skies of the Pacific Northwest are deeply engrained geography in my being. I feel very grateful for that.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s given you?

My friend Connie, who goes by the artist name MILCK, always drops massive knowledge when I spend time with her. She told me once that “clarity is kindness.” I’ve always been deeply afraid of confrontation in all aspects of my life, but when I try and practice setting clear boundaries for myself, I find it to be the kindest thing you can do in any situation, as opposed to being unclear and inefficient in communication because I’m afraid to be harsh, judged, or thought of as rude. This is something I try to apply to my professional life all the time. It’s a work in progress, but I think I’m getting better.

When are you most productive or inspired?

I’m most productive or inspired when I feel empowered by myself. It’s a cat-and-mouse game I play with my psyche, but when I’m kindest to me, I tend to do my best work. Speaking, looking, thinking with self-love goes a long way as opposed to an inner dialogue of anger, fear or self deprecation. Also candles, incense and meditation always help me get to a better place. This is also a constant work in progress: I start back at square one with every morning.

Therapy by Dresage and G. Smith is out now. Listen to Therapy at Spotify. Playground by More Giraffes and Sweater Beats is released June 14. Listen to Playground at Spotify.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

3 Questions: FRUM

FRUM

FRUM is the electronic pop project of Jenny Augustudóttir Kragesteen. Hailing from the Faroe Islands, an archipelago of nearly twenty islands between Iceland and Norway in the Atlantic, Kragesteen has quietly issued a handful of singles over the past couple of years that highlight her dreamy, gently heartfelt approach to pop.

Her latest single, ‘Ocean’, follows on from last year’s anthem to defiant individualism, ‘Beat’, a song that played with the rhythms and textures of R&B and hip-hop intersected by a buzzing synth riff and deceptively uplifting chorus. ‘Ocean’ finds FRUM racing headlong into euphoric territory again, blending springy electronics, chunky beats and a carefree, swirling vocal together in a mesmerising displaying of summery, emotional pop songwriting prowess.

FRUM’s debut album is expected to land in 2020.

What is your earliest memory?

I sometimes feel like I can remember when I was in my mother’s womb but I know that’s not true – I just wish it was. It’s actually probably when I was two or three years old, sleeping on my mother’s chest or maybe sitting outside on a swing, looking at the blue sky.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s given you?

Be honest.

When are you most productive or inspired?

Definitely when I’m out in open nature. I get overwhelmed by a powerful feeling that everything is a part of everything and that I am somehow connected to it. I’m also quite productive when I’m sad and when I feel lonely. Being creative always makes me feel better.

‘Ocean’ is out now on hfn music. Listen to ‘Ocean’ at Spotify.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

3 Questions: Niki Kand

Electronic pop singer-songwriter Niki Kand was born in Tehran but is now based in Liverpool.

Kand released two singles in 2018 and has just issued ‘Naughty Boy’, a subversive, slick track produced with Sweden’s Summer Heart (David Alexander Lomelino) that documents the messy collapse of a relationship thanks to infidelity.

Niki Kand will release her debut EP, Pinkish, later this year. While she continues prepping the songs for the EP, we subjected her to a handful of searching questions as part of our new 3 Questions micro-feature series.

What is your earliest memory?

I’ve got two sisters and I vividly remember the day my youngest sister was born. My aunt was looking after us and she was supposed to take us to the hospital to see my mum and my sister. I remember I cried all the way to the hospital just because I wasn’t happy with the way my poor aunt had done my hair. Now, when I look back, I can’t imagine how annoying I had been as a kid!

What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s given you?

My dad always tells me to do my best but forget about the result. I like that state of having no expectations.

When are you most productive or inspired?

Inspiration comes from everywhere for me, but I’m mostly inspired when I meet and talk to people I don’t know. My productivity drops when I’m hungry, my phone isn’t silent and my workload is overwhelming – any one of those would be enough to affect me.

Listen to ‘Naughty Boy’ at Spotify.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Further. : Quarterly Report Q1 2019 & Playlist

Further. launched in January 2019. Its objective was to create a place where I could review things that caught my attention but which didn’t ‘fit’ Documentary Evidence, or where I didn’t get to cover that particular release for Electronic Sound.

During the first quarter of the year I reviewed 15 albums or singles, published one interview, and included a guest review written by Erasure’s Vince Clarke. It was a modest start to the blog, a testing of the water if you will. I will try harder during the second quarter.

Below is the full list of content published during the first quarter. There’s also an accompanying Spotify playlist including tracks from each record (where available on that platform), along with ‘Gallery’ by Californian electronic pop artist Dresage which completely passed me by at the time.

Reviews

Kaada – ZombieLars (Soundtrack) (Mirakel Recordings)
Kamaal Williams – New Heights / Snitches Brew (Black Focus Records)
The Silver Field – Rooms (O Genesis)
TOTM – Bliss / Blurred (Flickering Lights)
Karolina Rose – Invicta (Violet Sunset Records)
Neu Gestalt – Controlled Substances (Alex Tronic Records)
Lucy Mason – Flashback Romance (self-released)
Hugh Marsh – Violinvocations (Western Vinyl)
Bayonne – Drastic Measures (City Slang)
Modular Project – 1981 (hfn music)
Evelyn Glennie/ Roly Porter – One Day Band 17 (Trestle Records)
Maja S. K. Ratkje – Sult (Rune Grammofon)
d’Voxx- Télégraphe (DiN) – reviewed by Vince Clarke
Kilchhofer / Anklin – Moto Perpetuo (Marionette)
Jonteknik – Electricity (The People’s Electric)

Interview
The Silver Field

Playlist
Spotify

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Bayonne – Drastic Measures

Echo can be a troublesome thing.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a track on Austin-based Roger Sellers’ second Bayonne album that isn’t drenched in shimmering reverb. The ten tracks here are all complex, painstakingly-wrought, many-layered affairs achieved in a manner not dissimilar to the way Brian Wilson developed the distinctive sound of Pet Sounds; but the final layer throughout is an impenetrable fog of echo, and the effect is to give even the most upbeat moments here – the mesmerising piano-led ‘Uncertainty Deranged’ or the densely percussive title track – an uncertain, awkward, unfathomable quality.

Sellers wrote the album in a relatively dissociative frame of mind amid the relentless gigging that accompanied his debut; a feeling of arriving but never staying. That gives Drastic Measures a dynamic of constantly moving, never once still, even its most tranquil moments containing a propulsive restlessness.

From the tender, resigned balladry of the haunting ‘Bothering’ to the insistent drama of ‘I Know’, Drastic Measures is an album that can’t help but leave an indelible mark on you – you just won’t be able to tell if you feel better or more confused about yourself when it’s all over.

You can thank that pesky echo for that.

Drastic Measures is released by City Slang on February 22 2019.

Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.

Lucy Mason – Flashback Romance

Think of Flashback Romance as hotly-tipped singer Lucy Mason concluding some unfinished business: four of the nine tracks on Mason’s debut LP appeared last year, including her fragile re-rendering of Radiohead’s ‘High And Dry’ and the sparse, dreamy, glacial build of ‘Out Of The Blue’ that achingly opens the record.

Produced with Jess Ellen, Mason might have perfect pop poise – a voice that could melt the heart of even the stoniest disposition and songs that nod to both soulful quarters and the casually anthemic – but her conceit is to wrap emotional outpourings like the mournful ‘3am’ in delicate arrangements enriched by vintage analogue synth warmth, hazy reverb and atypical rhythms.

‘Sunday’ is a profound highlight at the album’s centre. Here, Mason’s voice carries a flat, regretful quality draped with echoing piano and a barely-there architecture of beats that opens out unexpectedly into a buzzing electronic pop conclusion blessed by an irrepressible, muted rapture. The album concludes with ‘Kids That Night’, the curious highlight of the tracks that appeared last year. The song is beautifully, cruelly, affecting, offering a wistful view back into carefree days of innocence before life got in the way and heaped unwanted responsibilities on your callow shoulders.

Flashback Romance by Lucy Mason is self-released on February 15 2019.

Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.

Karolina Rose – Invicta

invicta-ep-high-res

Brooklynite Karolina Rose’s route to electronic pop isn’t exactly a common one: having graduated from Philly’s prestigious Wharton School, Rose wound up in New York’s financial heartland before giving it all up to focus on the somewhat more perilous business of being a singer-songwriter.

Invicta was trailed by last year’s ‘Going To Berlin’, a buzzing track filled with crisp beats and a rapidfire bassline, its lyrics showcasing an artist unafraid to deal with erudite lyrical concepts many times removed from the usual concerns of the pop scene. On Invicta, Rose develops those sensibilities further, with tracks like ‘Crystal Gem’ taking the club-infused, sharply-rendered synth gestures of ‘Going To Berlin’ and adding a bold, defiant lyric and a bassline that nods to Talk Talk’s similarly resolute ‘It’s My Life’. The urgent closing track ‘Move With Me’ adopts a distinctly 80s production panache, containing all manner of sinewy electronics and icy, melodic hooks.

Elsewhere, the tender ‘Goodnight, Mr. Moon’ has the kind of happy-sad textural fabric that belongs on the end credits of an indie film, while the heartfelt chorus on ‘Downhill’ and towering, anthemic build suggests that Karolina Rose studied the pop playbook just as hard as she did business studies.

Invicta by Karolina Rose is released by Violet Sunset Records on February 1st.

Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.