Klein’s music is mad. She is a real force of nature and like no other artist she is pushing boundaries, becoming a new role model for black female producers. And I bet she’s also the most unconventional character you’ve come across recently.
The singer and producer from London is a rising star in the indie electronic music scene but she doesn’t feel like she fits in that world because her favorite artists are Brandy and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Nonetheless, Björk personally listed her as one of the groundbreaking artists to follow last year.
Her music is a complex collage of weird sound flows that she draws from the most bizarre musical and nonmusical contexts – doors closing, ambient noises, broken chords recorded on a smartphone – why not! It’s very abstract but somehow familiar, quirky but sophisticated. What makes it different is certainly her voice, pitched and stretched into various forms, it blends perfectly with the spaced out layered sounds. Each song is made of a mixture of the influences that marked Klein’s personal story and artistic development, from Kim Burrell’s singing, to Luciano Pavarotti’s opera, to musicals.
After a long correspondence, I had the pleasure to meet Klein a few months ago at her 1 Silver Road gig with her best friend Jacob Samuel in Lewisham, London. To say the least, I was struck but her genuineness and friendliness, not to mention her hypnotising performance. But what impressed me even more, was the peculiar venue, a round former steel water tank, and the special guests, the wonderful Tirzah, an incredible harpist and a sublime opera singer that almost made me cry.
And the audience: experienced, aware, engaged – industry experts and music gurus literally in awe of her avant-gardist talent.
Talking to Klein I also had the chance to dispel the many myths around her personal story. According to some articles, she was tricked into a fake holiday to Nigeria by her parents where she lived for years till they eventually moved back to London. Well, apparently the whole story was massively exaggerated and isn’t actually true.
Her track Marks of Worship, from the album Only released in 2015 by Bristol-based-label Howling Howl, is the only explicit reference to her cultural background which she fabulously laughs off in the breathtaking video. The clip, directed with film maker and radio presenter Akinola Davies JR., is so powerful it makes you feel dazed, thanks to the strong colours and an amazing photography that carry a particular tension throughout the enigmatic scenes.
Klein is an artist that just stands out and in 2016 she nailed it again self-releasing her new record Lagata on her Bandcamp profile. For this project she took inspiration – and samples – from Saworoide, one of her favourite films in Yoruba language in which a fake hero tries to conquer a crooked country.
But the south-London based producer is not just about music. Recently, she has been working on a very peculiar new project, a musical that will be part of New Music Biennial, the festival showcasing composers and music makers who are pushing the boundaries of music in the UK. Her piece is about love, youth and death, a playful composition that features samples of dark Nigerian b-movies clattered into distorted beats, vocals and piano loops. Having seen Klein live, it sounds like absolutely unmissable experience and if you’re in London on 7 July you can attend for free at Southbank Centre.
At the gig at 1 Silver road, I heard a woman in the audience saying how inspiring Klein is and how important her music is for black female producers who want to stand out and escape the industry’s dogmi. I totally agree. Unconventional, daring, beautifully true, Klein really does what nobody else is doing.
Book your free ticket to see Klein’s musical here.
All Images | via facebook/Klein
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