Jessy Lanza‘s sultry voice ricochets from the depths of Hamilton’s underground karaoke pubs, and bounces its way to the limelight of Toronto’s club scene. The fading style of her voice that peels away as the notes progress, the electrified mourns that hiccup like skipping frames on a record, and the whispering howl of her minimalist range all hinges towards the new era of sound: electronic R&B.
Lanza’s style might sound complex — because it does mix both soul and electronic sounds, which is hard to explain without hearing the music — but when heard, it acts as a musical narcotic that doesn’t allow for any serious decryption; in truth, you become warped in a hypnotic trance, or rather knocked-out by the psychedelic nuances of her futuristic sound and fabled R&B overtones. There is a subtle quality of originality to her musical art, but Lanza got most of her talents from the people closest to her, and to the musical influences that generously aided her growth.
She inherited a set of synthesizer from her late father, which she could have easily thrown in the garbage, or sold online. Alongside her classical piano and vocal training, she eventually decided to venture into the academic sphere of music; later realizing how distracting it was becoming, she put the theory aside and pursed the practical — making music.
Pull My Hair Back, Lanza’s debut album produced under London-based label Hyperdub, and with a little added assistance from local collaborator and friend, Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, was forged with the idea of objectivity in mind and allowed the album to establish its own value, sonically. Lanza experiments with her level of involvement within the album, and gives the record room to breathe. Lessening her vocal influence within the record, and inserting only the right amount of lyrical context for support creates a spectral atmosphere for vast interpretation. It was Lanza’s restraint towards the bubonic plague of musical congestion that was palpable within the spacial realm of rudimentary synthesis, and echoing funk. On the lead single, “Kathy Lee” is strung out with a basic collection of snaps and hollow rifts, which hiccup alongside Lanza’s breathy vocals. With songs like “Giddy,” you’re taken on an extraterrestrial voyage through the introspective mind of a character who wants her man to stay; the album’s sonic peak is “Keep Moving,” which is the purveyor of Pull My Hair Back‘s vision for ultra-funk and distorted simplicity highly valued in the 80’s era of techno.
Despite her avant garde approach to a departing style of music, a shift towards more collaborations could potential sway people in the direction of her sound, but it seems she will never jeopardize her musical style for a mere 15 minutes of relevance. This homegrown Canadian is a symbol of musical artistry, which extents beyond the mainstream box, and into a state of ethereal projection; I believe there is more to her spacey sound that we haven’t been graced with yet. Watch out world because Lanza is going to pull your hair back to a time of electro-funk, and futuristic motifs.
Lanza’s upcoming show is in Le Divan Orange, Montreal on Jan. 15, 2014, which gives you enough time to purchase her album Pull My Hair Hair on iTunes, and get a bus ticket down there.
Here is Jessy Lanza’s music video for “Kathy Lee.”