Five need-to-know acts, decked out in the season's best emerging designers
Ella Fitzgerald and Björk might sound like unlikely role models for an artist whose iTunes genre is “glitter trap.” But one listen to SZA’s extraordinary voice and it makes sense. That voice earned the New Jersey native a spot as the first R&B artist (and female) on Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment label – a signing SZA claims happened organically. She brings the same unpretentious attitude to her music: candid lyrics, heartfelt vocals, and beats that do, in fact, sparkle.
Remember the days when gifting mixtapes was the definitive romantic gesture? Pete Lawrie Winfield does. This Cardiff native, who just wrapped his first North American tour supporting Lorde, was inspired by the act of playing a cassette until the ribbon breaks. People have called his productions "avant-R&B," but don’t let that fool you – his music is haunting and decidedly honest. For a kid who grew up dreaming of galaxies and outer space, it’s no surprise his EP, A Taste of Silver, is full of futuristic, cosmic beats.
From bedroom jams to club-ready bangers, Ian Isiah's productions have one thing in common: soul. Rhythm runs in the man’s family. His grandmother was a singer, his father plays the steel pan, and Isiah spent his youth honing his chops singing in church. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Isiah is a creative consultant for Hood by Air and a member of NYC’s GHE20 G0TH1K crew. His debut effort, The Love Champion, dropped last week on UNO NYC - home of Mykki Blanco.
You might recognize Hamilton, Ontario’s Jessy Lanza from her recent collaboration with Ikonika: her melismatic vocals appear on "Beach Mode." But don’t pigeonhole her as just a singer. Despite classical training in jazz piano, Lanza prefers to be known as both a songwriter and producer – titles she earned fair and square on her debut album Pull My Hair Back, produced in tandem with Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan. Hear her take on club-ready R&B in the mix she edited for us this week.
Loft party music: the phrase conjures up the kind of dark synthpop familiar to anyone who’s ever walked into a smoke-filled afterhours at 4 A.M. It’s a milieu familiar to Prince Innocence, the electronic project of Josh McIntyre and Talvi Faustmann. The couple split their time between Toronto and Montreal – both cities with no shortage of lofts or parties – and composed their first EP, Lapse, with nightlife in mind. Think chilly vocals, spare Italo synths, and moods only conjured after dark.
Beauty & Styling Andrew Ly @ Agence l'Éloi using La Biosthetique
When classical and jazz training and a love of R&B come together, the result is some seriously good singing. Add songwriting and production to match, and good becomes unstoppable. Jessy Lanza first caught everyone’s attention after crooning the memorable “Baby, keep it simple” hook on SSENSE favorite Ikonika’s single “Beach Mode,” but the Hamilton, Ontario resident is quickly advancing to the center of the spotlight. With a taste for 90s club music and vintage synthesizers alike, Lanza balances the tight song structures honed during her musical education with Italo-tinged house rhythms and her own breathless vocals. She enlisted producer (and fellow Hamilton native) Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys for his dance music background on her debut album Pull My Hair Back, and the results are appropriately infectious. In fact, we liked them so much that we’re also featuring the recent Hyperdub signee in this week’s profile of rising fashion and music talent – see her modeling J.W. Anderson and Yang Li here.
Lanza’s dance-ready mix features tracks from Le1f, CVNT, and labelmate Ikonika.
Aux 88 Parallel Universe
Carmen Time to Move
Ikonika Mr. Cake
Legowelt Teen Romance
KIT My Bad Bitch
CVNT Sheer Organza
Kelela Guns and Synths
We’re still waiting on the jetpacks and flying cars that the 1960s thought the future would bring, but one thing the era did get right was the ladylike Mod look. The clean silhouette pioneered by the designers of the day remains as influential as ever. A paneled wool and tulle turtleneck by Cedric Charlier harkens back to the Space Age designs of Pierre Cardin, and Chloe Sevigny, in her ongoing collaboration with Opening Ceremony, brings the same A-line miniskirt Mary Quant started a fashion revolution with up to date in futuristic coated tweed. Accessories with simple, graphic lines are a proper pairing: lace up Alexander Wang derby heels, a streamlined lizard 3.1 Phillip Lim clutch, and a black velvet hair bow from Simone Rocha. For a final layer, IRO’s modified motorcycle jacket softens its rough edges with a round shearling collar. Suitable for any era from the 60s onward.
See last week's women's Essentials:
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