Over the past year, I’ve been finishing off my PhD but lots of collaborative music has been bubbling along and bursting out into the atmosphere!
GAIKA: ‘Neophyte’ Spaghetto, Warp Records
I met Gaika a few years back and was immediately struck by his flow and lyrics. Now he’s signed to Warp and doing great things, both musically and culturally. Two of my homies, Alex Morris and Yoshee Windrich of Briggs Studios, London also produced this track. Check out a teaser for “Neophyte” on Warp Records here.
Part-improv, part powerpop, part digital hardcore, the Miz’Ries is the funnest band of all time to play in and always gets a wild response from the audience when we play live. We have recorded more ambient tracks on this recording with techno crazytronica and drones from Jeff Snyder on analog synth and gritty noise, vintage voice and opera samples and effects from Quinn Collins and kraut rhythms from me on drumpad, with poetry and punk political lyrics from me. All in all a great time.
LIFE STATION, LIFE STATION
Leila Adu (vox/piano), Daniel Carter (horns), Jeff Henderson (sax), Jeff Snyder (analog synth), Federico Ughi (drums).
I love the spirit, creative and political nature of the act improvisation and I deeply value the global community around it — this album has some of my favorite people and musicians in the world. Jeff Henderson has been my buddy, mentor and collaborator for too many years to count. He’s an amazing musician and I was excited to organize a recording session for him when he hit New York from NZ. I enlisted Federico Ughi, who I met 9 years ago when I lived in Rome. We both happened to live in Brooklyn after Italy we’ve collaborated ever since. Luckily, through Federico, I met the lovely, living legend, Daniel Carter, and he agreed to come down and play. The final person in this group is my genius analog synth master friend, Jeff Snyder… Thus, LIFE STATION was born.
CAVE CRICLES, Apricity, “HOUSEKEEPING feat. Black Rainbow”(/aka Leila Adu)
Cave Circles is one of the brainchilds of drummer-producer-composer, Riki Gooch. Riki played drums on my second album years ago, and I’ve always been struck by his rhythmic strength and sensitivity. He has always prolifically produced and composed electronic music and now the world is lucky that he has suddenly started releasing it, under different monikers. This vinyl was put out by the lovely people at Wonderful Noise, Japan and you can check out more of Cave Circles on bandcamp.
The Mystic Hour with Pulitzer Prize winning composers Caroline Shaw and Du Yun. Shaw’s “This might also be a form of dreaming” World Premiere performed by ICE and Roomful of Teeth, Yun’s “An Empty Garlic” played by Claire Chase and Leila Adu’s Alyssum performed by the Calder Quartet with ICE harpist, Bridget Kibbey.
Ojai 2016 Festival Artistic Director Peter Sellars with composers Caroline Shaw, Leila Adu and Du Yun.
Morning Ojai Extra with the Calder Quartet. Leila Adu’s “if the stars align…” with features works by Christine Southworth and Caroline Shaw.
Prominent guest panelists moderated by Peter Sellars and distinguished musicologist Susan McClary with Leila Adu and Carla Kihlstedt.
Leila Adu Songs & Improvisations, solo grand piano and voice.
“Scary Love Monster” presents us with six unpredictable tracks (that’s a trendy adjective in these Trumpish days, isn’t it?), fluctuating between pop, weird jazz, dark lyrics and brainy experimentation at times reminiscent of Brian Eno’s early records… —NYC Deli
She’s making music that stands alongside the great work from the likes of PJ Harvey, Arthur Russell, Kate Bush and Bjork. I truly believe that. That’s not to say she sounds like any of them – but it’s that sort of vision, that determination, the willingness to be out on your own and making music that you believe in first and foremost…
You’ll hear some of the best pop melodies too. As it just so happens. But you’ll hear music from the Gamelan and classical worlds, from jazz and the worlds of dance and theatre as much as music.– The Dominion Post
Where Scary Love Monster warns of the perils of love in Grimm’s fashion, Love Cells speaks from the mundane 9-5 romantic love to the most abstract forms of love. The title track Love Cells signifies that we are all created out of vibration, light and love: “love yourself, each sacred atom of the world is connected to you.” From the intimate laptop recording moments of a cappella Je T’aime… to afrofuturist The City and the Voodoo Lady, a tribute to the city of New York and Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady… to the perverse post-colonial love of Horror in Black and White: “Did I bomb your village? Could I set you free?”
Love Cells EP new release on all major digital stores through Belts and Whistles — out May 20
Limited CD reversible edition of Scary Love Monster EP/Love Cells EP and web portal — The Love EPs — out May 20
The video to Leila Adu’s new single, Oriental Finger Trap’ is a dance film directed by choreographer and performer, Katelyn Halpern. The two recently collaborated as part of K A T E S (Katelyn Halpern and pianist, Kate Campbell), composing music for “Two Voices” with text by Halpern and a score for the Dan Trueman’s new software keyboard instrument, the bitKlavier by Adu. K A T E S will perform “Two Voices” at Switchboard Festival in San Francisco on April 8. “Oriental Finger Trap” is the second video single from Leila Adu’s Scary Love Monster EP, out now on Belts and Whistles.
“Between pop, weird jazz, dark lyrics and brainy experimentation at times reminiscent of Brian Eno’s early records…” — NYC Deli
Belts and Whistles proudly presents the release of Scary Love Monster, the brand new EP from Leila Adu. Scary Love Monster is an EP of global urban and suburban romantic ensnarement, impressionist avant- tronica written and recorded in Rome out of a suitcase and houses in Rome, London, Wellington and New York. With sound worlds of Grimm’s fairytales and Toni Morrison, these dark tales hint at moments of light and love.
After four studio releases, this EP is intimate, mostly self-produced, with the help of gear from friends and extra production from London dance producer Alex Morris in London and New Zealand drummer/producer, Riki Gooch and final-mixing in New Zealand. The first video from the EP is Bluebeards and Monsters. NYC Deli‘s New York EP Release Show review says:
Here at The Deli we like to reward unconventinal artists – although unconventionality must be matched by talent – and New Zealand composer/musician/producer Leila Adu definitely belongs to this category. Her new EP “Scary Love Monsters” presents us with six unpredictable tracks (that’s a trendy adjective in these Trumpish days, isn’t it?), fluctuating between pop, weird jazz, dark lyrics and brainy experimentation at times reminiscent of Brian Eno’s early records…
On June 20, 2015, Leila Adu, sang her orchestral piece, Rain as Blessings Fall, written as Orchestra Wellington’s Emerging-Composer-In-Residence-2014, to a packed house of sixteen hundred people at Wellington’s historic Michael Fowler Center. Listen to ‘Rain as Blessings Fall,’ Orchestra Wellington with Leila Adu from the live broadcast on Radio New Zealand.
She stands pretty motionless, expressionless, yet seeming totally self-possessed and confident. I’m sure her demeanour persuaded most of the audience that we were going to hear something unusual and significant, and there’s no doubt about the forces of personality and character that work in her favour in any role she chooses to adopt.
Her voice arrived first and for a moment seemed to dominate the orchestra, even though it appeared not to be amplified: it’s an engaging voice that switches several times into a surprising falsetto which was presumably to reflect the spirituality of the words. After a little while, the shape of the piece emerged: limited amount of melodic material, mostly consisting of descending scales in a rhythm that might be described as part-time jazzy, related more to the idiom of the mid-century American musical than to jazz itself. The words sometimes sounded as if being forced into existing musical patterns…
One had the feeling in the end, trying to weigh the music, assess its value, characterise it, that given its base in Buddhist philosophy and morality, the standards that are applied to western music were irrelevant. That it’s not meant to be judged as we might judge a sonata or an opera, but perhaps rather, a madrigal or a protest song, where the message or the spirit is more important than the artistic clothing in which it’s dressed. Read more: Review by Lindis Taylor in ‘Middle C’
The thread, always, is her voice. And Blessings featured a Buddhist text by Kalu Rinpoche and revised by Chime Shore (an early meeting with Shore had been a formative experience in Adu’s life) with Leila singing against the rise and fall of the orchestra. It was mesmerising as the voice became a mantra when singing of mantras, as the strings and horns moved around in a constantly modulating piece, tempo shifting, keys changing, it had busyness but never bluster.
Read more: Review by Simon Sweetman in ‘Off the Tracks’
This year I am honored to be part of Musicambia, a project teaching music to inmates at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York. I am teaching music theory and vocal techniques along with fellow composer, Elliot Cole; instrument lessons are given by jazz pianist John Chin, brass by trumpet player Thomas Bergeron and strings by viola player and founder of Musicambia, Nate Schram. We have been working hard to create a comprehensive music curriculum at Sing Sing Prison alongside composer Daniel Levy and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. It is a life changing project for us and for all the incarcerated people we work with.
We have been raising funds through Kickstarter, as well as Musicambia’s Faculty Concerts, the first of which ias at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC on Sunday December 14. Musicambia is a charitable trust and is only made possible through your continuing generous support.
Leila Adu received a (PIIRS) Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies grant towards a visit to Accra, Ghana, for her PhD research on electronic music and hip-hop producers. Leila’s father is London-based a Ghanaian poet, playwright and musician and she is keen to reconnect with her culture on her first visit in fifteen years.
Republic has weekly live performances on Wednesdays curated by Omon Blanks, as well as DJs at the weekend, curated by, Akwaaba Music’s Benjamin Le Brave. French/American, Le Brave founded Akwaaba Music in San Francisco, and moved the label to Accra three years ago; Akwaaba (“welcome” in Ashanti Twi) is dedicated to making African music easier to access worldwide through releasing, distributing, licensing and growing an online presence in a way that is fair for the artists.
Leila is collaborating with Accra artists and has recorded two tracks at 2 1 Entertainment with Ghanaian poet, Kwame Write.