Jessy Lanza played one of her first headlining shows in New York City Sunday night at Santos House Party. She sauntered over to her equipment, in a dark, baggy hoodie and tiny white Keds looking particularly intimidating. Maybe not intimidating, but definitely imposing. It’s how her Hyperdub debut Pull My Hair Back feels, a steady flow of kinetically dynamic vocals and dance rhythms erratic with alluring trepidation. After her brief introductory number, though, Lanza takes a few moments (which stretch to minutes) shifting gears for the next track. When she apologizes to the crowd her voice is meek and weary, a stark juxtaposition from the tenacious sexual force imbued on her first release. The audience was more than accepting of her modest persona, reciprocating her shyness with wild hoots and hollers of encouragement. It was the one and only obvious misstep of the night.
While performing, though, Hamilton, Ontario based artist-producer Jessy Lanza feeds into the provocative mythology one can imagine surrounds her particular brand of turbulent, hush-toned R&B. Her music sounds bigger on stage, less faithful to all the heliocentric soundscapes and astral oddities adorned on Pull My Hair Back with the help of co-producer Jeremy Greesnpan (of Junior Boys), but obviously more visceral and tactile on tracks like “5785021” and “Kathy Lee.”
Lanza sandwiched her set between two songs that do not appear on her debut, a collaboration with another electronic producer and a new unreleased track by Lanza that delved further into the terrestrial unknown with spiralling synths and roiling vocal hooks. Her most frenetic number was “As If,” a tense build-up of electronic programming that soars to dizzying heights before floating back to a lethargic, hip-jerking groove. Jessy Lanza was at her most volatile state during the motivating catalyst “Keep on Moving,” her vocals working double time to parry all the syncopated madness jutting from her fingertips. After a brief departure from the stage, she returned for an encore performance with her salient album closer “Strange Emotion.”
Photos by Angel Fraden; posted on CMJ [here]