Photo by Angie Smith
I started the “Last Night On Earth” podcast with a desire to discover the music that means most to some of the people in music who inspire me. The first was by producer Eric Lau, and after a long absence, the next is by Robin Hannibal. Robin’s face and name may not be the most familiar, but he produces for Quadron, Boomclap Bachelors, Owusu and Hannibal, Louie and most recently the internet conquering Rhye (amongst other projects).
In my opinion Robin is one of the most talented emerging artists in the world right now and we’re lucky enough to catch him on the cusp of huge things, and I’m so glad because this mix is a glorious combination of subtle Scandinavians, deeply intelligent composers and the ultimate in soulful pop music – a true reflection of Robin’s own work. Even the R.Kelly track.
I asked talented LA based photographer Angie Smith to meet up with Robin to take these photos, and she captured a wistful gaze at sunset I think really helps set the mood. – AI
Welcome to my selection of songs that I couldn’t live without. They all have a special place in my heart for different reasons. Some inspire, some touch me, some make me jealous. – RH
[Full tracklist and description after the jump.]
It’s been almost a year since I first mentioned Kwabena Adjepong, and from what I hear (still relatively little) he is in the process of writing and recording some original material. I can only imagine having to be objective when confronted with such an obscenely beautiful voice – he could quite literally sing the phone book and move me to tears. The song above is the most recent of a couple now up on his Youtube channel, and it certainly sounds as though he’s aiming himself firmly at beautiful.
It’s hard not to anticipate the almost inevitable part-compliment, part- music journo withering insult “throwback soul” being thrown in Kwabs’ direction (unless Disclosure produce him, which would be depressing, have you heard Sam Smith singing “Latch” accompanied by strings and piano?? At least 20,000 of those views were me, legs crossed à la Urban Hang Suite. ).
The exciting thing is that this slightly snide description seems to have done very little harm to Lianne La Havas and Michael Kiwanuka, and there is an ever growing interest in (let’s face it), black singer songwriters with that rich, stirring and yes, soulful tone to their voices that was so deeply uncool for so many years in this country. I have high hopes that frustrating argument *it’s ok for Adele and Amy but not [insert person with significantly more melanin here]* may be peacefully laid to rest by the end of 2013 – for how long, who knows.
Another burgeoning singer songwriter with a beautiful, soulful tone I’ve been listening to of late is Jacob Banks. It’s perhaps a little unfair to combine his music in the same post as Kwabs because it may lead to comparison, when really the point is how spoiled we are to have voices like these emerging in the UK and being heard. Banks has just released “The Monologue” EP on Soundcloud, and I get the impression that much like Laura Mvula, his music will be more resonant live than recorded. This cover is genuinely lovely, especially considering the sea of slightly desperate, almost mandatory “quirky cover” Youtube fodder my inbox is drowning in presently.
Anna Meredith is a force of nature. In person she’s a lovely, hilarious and self-deprecating joy of a woman. On stage she is also all of those things, until the music starts, whereupon she’s an absolute beast. A rising experimental star in the classical music world (she did a Prom this year), she also makes exceptionally brilliant electronic music, and her new EP Black Prince Fury is one of the most exciting I’ve stumbled across in years. The single Nautilus is such a huge piece of music, it’s totally overwhelming live, and watching it at the Royal Festival Hall last week was a challenge – no photos or dancing allowed. The live show involved several incredible musicians, an assortement of childrens toys through the ages, space cats and an alligator wearing a NASA vest, live drawing and the best Celine Dion remix you will ever hear.
I took a step back from electronic music in general a couple of years ago because I often didn’t have the patience to sift through and find artists who were making genuinely unique and original music that wasn’t something I could only listen to in a club, something that resonated somewhere a bit deeper. When I first saw Anna live I felt much the same way I did when I first saw Flying Lotus, and promptly invited her to play on my line up at Soundwave Festival in Croatia – I think before introducing myself. She may not be striving for anonymity, have too many vowels in her name, and only have a vague (but growing) awareness of who J.Dilla is, but I would hope her talent would somewhat balance those shortcomings out…
Remember when I got all excited about Tinashé a few years ago? Well around about the same time Island Records scooped up another talent of equal measure with a slew of great songs named Josephine Oniyama. Despite being the label who brought us artists like Bob Marley, Grace Jones and Baaba Maal, it seems that when Chris Blackwell left the company much of his vision, taste and flair for breaking artists who didn’t fit a pre-existing mould disappeared with him.
I first stumbled across Josephine’s brilliant and ridiculously catchy song A Freek A two years ago through Dom Servini, so I was very excited to discover that she has been working on an album with Ed Harcourt and Seb Rochford entitled “Portrait” due out on October 8th on Rubyworks/Ark Recordings. The new single “What A Day” is every bit as infectious as “A Freek A” and will be released on 20th August. I suggest watching the video below by way of brief introduction -
By rights the likes of Josephine and Tinashé (and many others you can find on this blog such as Tawiah, Tanya Auclair, Joshua Idehen, L.A. Salaami, Rahel, Ghostpoet and ESKA), are a new generation of homegrown singer-songwriters who probably grew up with The Smiths and Joni Mitchell as much as King Sunny Ade or Michael Jackson, as well as the artists Chris Blackwell worked with. The originality and richness of their music is the result, but so far it seems to be proving somewhat of a challenge for much of the industry to wrap their heads around (what some of us see as a no-brainer). Happily things change much faster now than ever before, and what with the quality of her voice and songwriting Josephine is undoubtedly about to make some serious headway. We will be supporting her with the very fibre of our beings.
Support: “What A Day” will be released on 20th August 2012.
Purchase: Sonnymoon “Sonnymoon” LP