Not telling people that our special guest was Jessy Lanza was about as hard as it is not to move to Jessy Lanza beats. Since she appeared on fellow Hyperdub artist Ikonika’s song Beach Mode, and released her album in August, she’s been making waves.
We’ve seen a lot of artists recently finding a well timed marriage between RnB and electronic: Drake, How to Dress Well, Miguel – many of them sampling, layering or imitating female vocals and falsettos. Yet much of the electronic music scene remains a male-dominated world, and female producers are hard to come by. It’s formidable for me to talk about Jessy without championing her minority placement as a female in this emerging genre, her album Pull My Hair Back bringing a feminine virtuosity to the arena with a fuck you attitude. She’s not afraid to join a boy-dominated genre and make it her own.
Co-produced and written with Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, the album harkens Junior Boys’ crisp electropop aesthetic but threads it with Jessy’s sensual and deep undertones and nuances. There is a sad nostalgia to Jessy, emerging from the decade-crossing genres, as she slowly massages out the kinks and edges. I abstain from calling her melodies sweet, since her crafted dreamy atmospheres border on haunted. Her voice echoes sultry Allyiah-like, with 80s and 90s RnB vibes, but layers them on top of warm heartbeats and surging Italio- house, disco and techno vibes.
Her voice and skilled lyrics provide a narrative, which may label her into a purgatorial category that many a female artist has historically seen themselves sanctioned off into: another singer songwriter. Many were quick to assume that because Jeremy Greenspan worked with her on the album, he produced and she sat subservient to his production needs providing helpful hums and moral support. But no –this is Jessy’s album, she produced it and that should garner her much deserved respect.
As a trained classical and jazz pianist, her songs are precise and calculated, with a mature controlled experimentation that only can arise from virtuosity. While a monster of a freshman album has left many doing a double take and figuring out what synth-hole she emerged from, she manages to maintain a childlike modesty – the album is a 23-year-old’s coming of age tale, filled with ups and downs, moments of immense movement and stillness. Her songs, and the album, weave and jump effortlessly across the musical spectrum with a refreshing reflexivity of her influences. Her songs are polyphonic collages, each one carefully placed and teasing, controlled but breathing, contemplative and aware. Her songs pair viscous pitched down vocals and honed synths with insistent high hats pittering away, syncopation, and crunchy drums and bass. This whole album comprises a whole lot of oxymorons, but so is a novice coming out of nowhere with such a staggeringly strong album.
Adding Jessy to our line up didn’t come out of nowhere. We’ve had to keep this a secret for a while, but it will be well worth the wait. We couldn't announce her because she's on tour with Cut Copy, and you'll want to catch her again April 1st opening for them. Get ready to move your body in as many directions as her music brings you to, like an all-nighter dance warehouse where you took some peyote-like drug that braids your night through unpredictable arousing pleasure tinged with a gratifying sadness. I swear. It feels so good.