Kathy Yaeji Lees’ ever more crowded live appearances have become famous, among other things, for the way in which the artist picks up the mic and sings over the tracks she is playing. It isn’t a session, nor a pop concert, but a hybrid format that, against all odds, works. The method is also applied to her recordings, in which the non-singers English and Korean whispers, rhythmic and on the edge of rap, fly over the club sounds, without ever being completely integrated into the mix. In some ways, Yaeji has tumbled upon the musical translation of a childhood that took her from the United States to South Korea, before being able to grow roots in either of the cultures. She has turned this fascinating lack of belonging into an infinite source of fascination.
It’s a common trope these days that some of the best “new” artists have been working behind the scenes years prior to their own debut, or writing for others before experimenting with personal output.
Compton’s Channel Tres, the latest signing from Godmode, is following in those footsteps, albeit with a completely different style of music. Having worked as a songwriter and producer for artists such as Kehlani and Duckwrth, Channel Tres honed his talents through the voice of others.
Recently signed to Godmode, Tres worked extensively with the pair that runs the label: songwriter Nick Sylvester and former major A&R Talya Elitzer. These two know how to help push an artist to the next level, having previously done so with both Shamir and New York City via Seoul producer and singer Yaeji. With Tres’ debut song, “Controller,” the polish the pair applied to their previous work is abundantly clear, and so is Tres’ experience.
At long last Sónar is back, this time celebrating its 25th year, with more than 140 performances scheduled. And as has become tradition, it kicks off the first day with Sónar by Day at the Fira de Montjuïc with a line-up that includes the return of one of the most-anticipated acts in the history of the festival, which has left audiences wanting more every year since it started up in 2014. It’s DESPACIO, the club experience from James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) and brothers David and Stephen Dewaele (2manydjs) at the decks. Along with a spectacular sound system, they’ll play only vinyls in three six-hour DJ sets, one on each day of Sónar by Day. The first day of the festival, highlights also include the session ‘Laurent plays Garnier’, where renowned French DJ Laurent Garnier closes out the day with a session that sees him reviewing his whole career behind the turntables; Francisco Contreras (Niño de Elche) and flamenco dancer Israel Galván, with a show they’ve created for the first time together and which makes its debut at Sónar; Norwegian artist Jenny Hval and her extravagant, provocative and avant-garde spirit; the precise melodies of British artist George FitzGerald, who presents his second album, ‘All That Must Be’ (2018); Little Simz, a project from young vocalist, actress and rapper Simbiatu Ajikawo from London by way of Nigerian parents; emerging Korean DJ, singer and producer Yaeji; Kode9 presents a show inspired by video games, with visuals by legendary anime artist Koji Morimoto; composers Yuzo Koshiro & Motohiro Kawashima put on a show inspired by classic games such as Streets of Rage; iconic DJ and leader of the New Jersey garage sound Tony Humphrieshas a set house lined up that’s inspired by the golden age of radio in New York; urban beats from Valencia’s Mueveloreina; and Putochinomaricón, an electro pop project from Chenta Tsai, who’s from Madrid with Chinese roots.