Colin Caulfield (of DIIV), Hana Vu
901 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Jamie Isaac is a 21-year-old artist from south east London; leaving school alongside longtime collaborator and housemate Archy Marshall (aka King Krule), he gained notoriety through a string of low-key EP releases, performances, remixes & features. Since 2014’s ‘Blue Break EP’ he has been locked away harnessing the sound that has taken this classically trained vocalist and pianist into the hazy no-mans-land between jazz, R&B, soul, hip hop and electronica. ‘Couch Baby’ is the stunning summation of the young talent’s journey so far.
As a self-sufficient producer and composer he describes his own music as “brooding, cinematic and minimalist.” This soundscape, which sways from ambient melody to head bopping grooves has already won him many fans in high places like Zane Lowe, Pitchfork and Huw Stephens. The debut record, with its ear worm crooning, and emotive depth and palette, sounds as natural next to the trippy jazz of Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat as it does the spacious atmospherics of The xx.
Three years in the making, ‘Couch Baby’ has been a “calming outlet” for Jamie. It’s the latest in a string of releases from him and his friends in the SE LDN crew that have collectively defined the areas new sonic trademarks, “Other artists say they’re from south London, but they haven’t got the south London sound. There’s a certain feeling that you have to get with it, it’s a certain mellowness.” As well as Jamie and Archy, the extended family now also counts the likes of rappers Rejjie Snow, Jesse James Solomon and Jadasea amongst their ranks, as well as producers Black Mack and Mr Malarky.
The tight-knit crew has been hanging around with each other since they were 13, Jamie credits their symbiotic nature with developing his tastes, “We sit round each others, we smoke together, we play video games together, we talk, we debate. All of this stuff, it helps mould the sound. You can’t get a sound, you can’t start a collective without actually knowing each other inside & out.”
As with previous releases, ‘Couch Baby’ leans heavily on jazz, ambient soundscapes, and the classic artists Jamie holds dear, Marvin Gaye (“always”), Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, Nancy Wilson, Blossom Dearie, what he calls the “west coast, late 50s / early 60s golden era of jazz.”
However, the progression from Jamie’s previous work was in his determination to make something more succinct, “a lost less ambient,” to draw from more contemporary, pop-driven influences, “early 00s R&B… Usher, Omarion” and most importantly to stick his head above the parapet in a world where electronic music is constantly on the rise and average bedroom producers are endlessly tinkering with their Soundcloud loops, “I wanted it to be a good album I could perform live. I wanted to hone in on the lyrics more.. I’m growing up now, I’m sure about what I wanna say, I’m not nervous about it, I think the sound has matured in that way.“
The process of creating the album wasn’t rushed. The weight of the debut always heavy on his mind, each song was completely mapped before he made it to the studio to complete this self-produced collection, what he calls, “My first extended art piece.” And as with every other song he’s written, it all began at home, “I always start at the piano, & then I work some beats over it, I end with the vocals.”
Songs such as ‘All My Days’, ‘Know U Like Me’ and ‘CNT U SEE’ form the foundation of the album, but they were written 3 years ago, more recent compositions such as ‘Last Drip’ perfectly envisage the wide spanning spectrum of influences and styles present in this body of work. A unique sound reflective of the SE collective he’s born from, in his own words, “It’s something you can’t quite put your finger on. Other people try and recreate it, and it just sounds shit.”
Upon completion of the album Jamie invited friends from his prolific collective to remix his efforts into what would become the ‘Loose Grip Mixtape’. A stellar cast, including King Krule, Rejjie Snow, Jesse James, Jadasea, Rago Foot, MC PINTY & Mr Malarky feature & it was launched with a riotous, dance floor caving Boiler Room – the first time the SE collective have all appeared on the same bill
In reflection Jamie describes the night as the biggest milestone of his career so far, a Boiler Room alongside all the mates he grew up with, on his own terms, in his own area, streamed live to thousands, “We used to get told that we were just lazy stoners, that nothing would amount, now look. We’re still lazy stoners, but now we’ve defined an area with our sound. We need to keep on going, we can’t leave it up to anyone else to takeover.”
Jamie Isaac’s debut album, ‘Couch Baby’ is released 8th July via Marathon Artists, it is preceded by 2 EPs - 2013’s ‘I Will Be Cold Soon’ & 2014’s ‘Blue Break’, & the 2016 ‘Loose Grip Mixtape’ - for now a stream only release that will be exclusively available as a free accompaniment to ‘Couch Baby’.
Colin Caulfield (of DIIV)
Solitude is not always lonely, nor always so sweet as splendid isolation. More often it hovers between, ambivalent yet beautifully apprehended by Hana Vu on her debut EP How Many Times Have You Driven By. Written and produced by Hana herself, the album masters the defining balance of bedroom pop: it’s warm, sparse, and whisper-intimate yet at the same time wholly radio-ready. The opening Crying on the Subway, set on the purgatorial Metro Red Line between downtown and the valley, is saturated with a mood of L.A. noir, with Hana singing to her reflection: “In my dreams I’m in that grey room. In my chest I’m feeling dark blue. Take the Red Line into downtown. I’m trying to escape you.” It was this song— or rather its accompanying video— that first tripped the sensors of Chris and Graham of Luminelle Recordings, a recent offshoot of Fat Possum. The precocious Vu, at only seventeen, had already written music for five years, self-released an album on Soundcloud featuring a collab with Willow Smith, and polished up enough new songs for a gem of an EP, which they eagerly signed, pressed, and called in Clay Jones (Modest Mouse, Sunflower Bean) to master.
Clamoring for creative outlets from an early age, she formed musical projects and played shows, though without fully clicking with her teen peers in the local D.I.Y. brat-pack. “I wouldn’t call myself a curmudgeon, but I found it hard to be friends with other young people. Instead, I found two or three key homies, then just did my own thing— socially and in my music”— partly explaining the ambition and ambiance of How Many Times Have You Driven By. On Cool, for instance, Hana drapes a lower-key, soulful melody over beats borrowed from her friend Satchy, who also chimes in for a verse as they tarry with life’s misfortunes. She follows this with Shallow, in which her calm twists into agitation and a more recognizably rock instrumentation, all played and recorded by Hana in her bedroom. The EP returns to peace with the dreamy 426— the address of a summer residence in which Hana discovered a sense of place or belonging— though fleetingly, as her friends disbanded at the season’s end. But, c’est la vie. Solitude, for all its occasional pangs, is for Hana Vu as much a condition of her independence, a little breathing room from the throng to forge her own certain future in music. As she’ll tell you, with poise and fairly pleased with things so far, “I spend most of my time alone.”