image by Chiara Cappetta
Every month, Donna Arendse of Lekker Collective curates a playlist of eight soulful tracks by, or featuring, female artists. For February, the selection has a bit of a darker undertone. It’s winter in Berlin, and we tend to look inside ourselves for strength, longing for summer and some vitamin D! This playlist is a reflection of those introspective winter feelings, and a means to cope while still wallowing shamelessly in seasonal depression.
Bailey Wiley – Take It From Me (Prod. by Ben Esser)
Bailey Wiley is a singer and songwriter from New Zealand, who teamed up with Berlin based producer Ben Esser on “Take It From Me”, the first track from her 2015 EP S.O.M.M. As with many tracks in this particular playlist, the track is older, but still a firm favourite.
Bailey’s choppy RnB verses and golden voice filtering neo-soul classicism throughout the choruses are wonderfully juxtaposed with the floating synths, and modern, pulsating beats which make up Esser’s production.
Hugh – Direction
London based 4-piece Hugh caught my attention about two years ago, with debut single “I Can’t Figure You Out”. Their unique brand of spoken-word-influenced-RnB is something which immediately stood out amongst the thousands of tracks which we rifle through on a weekly basis.
“Direction” is “a song about losing faith” – a slow burning, steady build of downtempo electronica, singer-songwriter sensibilities, and inherent soulfulness. The narrative created around the music is purposeful and heart wrenchingly beautiful, as vocalists Josh and Izzy question the trappings of religion, and the lack of acceptance of “all kinds of love, or just the ones you understand?”
luhx.– no rush.
Male and female vocals sharing the same spaces can be so beautiful if done right. In “no rush.” by Boston based Soul-Synth luhx., it is. The two core songwriters are backed by an additional two members who make up their live act, creating haunting, ambient soundscapes over which melancholy lyrics weave. “no rush.” possesses a gentle groove in its guitar melodies and throbbing synths, while still managing to include unapologetic guitar riffs, and powerful vocal crescendos to garner the entire sphere of their emotional spectrum.
Wilde – Temple
Giselle Mapp, Brandon Merenick and Olutobi ‘Nyra’ Akinwumi are WILDE. The trio from Toronto, Canada create downtempo electronic RnB, delivered to your ears with flawless production, and the perfect vocal stylings of Giselle Mapp, who has now moved to Berlin.
Temple is from their debut EP Flashlight, which takes the listener on a journey through enthralling melodies, sultry vocals, dark samples, warm synths, downtempo percussion, and 808’s. I’m particularly drawn to the how big the production is in “Temple”, with every element melding effortlessly, from Mapp’s haunting, soulful vocal, to the intricate melodies and beats forming the basis of the production.
April + VISTA – If Light Escapes
Comprised of singer-songwriter, violinist and pianist April George, and producer and composer Matthew Thompson, April + VISTA are an American duo who are quietly making some of the nicest experimental RnB to be found on SoundCloud at the moment.
The magical “If Light Escapes” is the first single taken from their debut 6-track EP Lanterns, characterised by crisp, industrial production, dreamy guitar riffs, and an impossibly sultry, stirring female vocal. The pair take sultry RnB to a whole new level, on par with acts like Little Dragon, Sorceress, and The Seshen.
Denai Moore – Hours (FKA Twigs Cover)
Denai Moore is one of my favorite folk/soul artists from the UK. She covered “Hours” by FKA Twigs last year, and I have been obsessed with the track ever since.
For this cover, the UK songstress takes the originally edgy, relatively industrial track and softens it with her reverb laden vocals, strummed guitar and well-placed, soulful harmonies, resulting in a wonderful interpretation which embodies entirely her own sound.
Szjerdene – Faded
The ethereal, soulful sounds of Szjerdene’s “Faded” is a captivating listen. Resplendent with haunting lyrics and melodies, her Little Dragon-inspired vocal licks, alongside grimy synths and xylophone sounds, create a dreamlike soundscape, ebbing and flowing with a mix of both industrial and natural sounds. Co-produced with Full Crate, there is an interesting energy as the song progresses, despite the relative downtempo nature of it.
The Londoner, now residing in Amsterdam, has had a slew of accolades to her name, most notably performing and writing with Bonobo on his 2013 North Borders, and now his new Migration Tour, which passed through Berlin last week.
Roseau – Alright
You may recognise the vocals in Roseau as Kerry Latham – the same as you would have heard from Lapalux’s “Without You“, and also ultra cute duo “Peter and Kerry” whose last output was over 4 years ago.
Now the London based musician and producer has been reborn in the form of her solo project Roseau, and “Alright” will remain a staple in any playlist I create. The track is a spacious offering, awash with watery, ambient production which samples sounds captured from an abandoned warehouse in Latham’s hometown, and her signature lush vocal.
To listen to the full playlist “women and soul” go here: http://bit.ly/womenandsoul