James Blake is perhaps the most established artist in the genre of post-step. Although he himself is of Caucasian descent, his music filters music of Black origins, with dub, dubstep and the tinkering snares of drum and bass which can all be found woven into his late night music. It’s a style that feels born from the Internet generation, transcending genres and particularly race, blurring the lines between groups and influences. Today’s recommendation is an exciting Black solo artist, but when we completed a short phone interview with her this week we asked her who her influences were. Her answer? James Blake. A circle doesn’t get any more complete than that, and in her exceptional music you too will be able to trace the influences.
Having spoken to her we can confirm that this very new artist has a refreshing determination not to simply mimic her influences, but to ameliorate them. Lulu James is a name to remember, as she’s not only testing new boundaries, but brave and driven enough to try and create something fresh from the new ground. At just 21 years old her attitude shows us someone who has a clear path mapped out and at the end of it is a sign with ‘success’ written upon it. The Recommender’s been handed her work as an exclusive first step upon that path, as we have the privilege of showing off her tunes to the Internet for the first time ever.
Her styled voice has strengths beyond her years, reminding us of everyone from Mary J Blige, to Morcheeba‘s Skye Edwards, to any number of soulful female vocals that adorn electronic music. It’s not that she doesn’t stand out, she does, but her smooth, clear voice is born to flow over synthesized, button-made music in a wonderful juxtaposition. The initial two songs on offer show this off delightfully, with Rope Mirage being a particularly strong showcase. It creeps in late at night, as Lulu calls out in refrains, rather than the typical verses and choruses normally on offer, in an unusual structure that works well over the fried beats. It’s a synthetic shuffle that never succumbs to the temptation to build up into something more rounded or pop-esque, rather selecting to keep things minimal and refrained. This is the sound of taut restraint, softened with a silk voice.
It’s live that we imagine these tunes will really shine. The man now acting as her manager first heard her earlier in the year and immediately booked her to perform a support slot for Ghost Poet at The Other Rooms in Newcastle back in October. This was her first official live performance as a solo artist, but it was enough to secure a manager who’s connections within the music industry stretch far and wide. One month on and she’s taking the first tentative steps into the blog world, introducing her as an artist to the Internet. This is followed up by a showcase launch event on December 2nd, once again in Newcastle’s The Other Rooms, where she will be fully unveiled as the live hit she’s born to be. This is the kind of music that is destined to hypnotize it’s audience. Expect a succession of additional live sets to be booked for next year.
Another song available to us, The End, keeps the same well-produced, minimal, night-vision once again. This is the kind of atmospheric mood music that was born to be remixed by Jamie XX, another influence she was keen to mention. We suggested to her that her vocals might also suit a heavier dubstep bassline, or a racier pace of a drum and bass beat, elements of which she assures us is on the way with future tunes. Quite frankly, that prospect has us salivating onto our keyboards. Her producer, Domzilla, works with her in the studio to design the background in a way that allows Lulu to impress in the foreground. She’s sung professionally for two years, and it shows, even though this is her first work as a solo artist. The pair have banked three tunes to date and another batch are being readied for an album or EP which should see the light of day at some point during 2012. This is music perfectly made for today’s crossover Internet generation and her wide appeal, paired up with her exceptional skills, will ensure that Lulu James is a name to remember. This is a proud moment where The Recommender can definitely state that you heard it here first. (MB)
LULU JAMES – ROPE MIRAGE
LULU JAMES – THE END