Kelly Lee Owens is one of few artists that can make bold stylistic leaps with each record.
Now based in London, the Welsh-born singer, writer and producer honed a fresh take on shrouded pop with last year’s ‘Lucid’, having contributed vocals and writing to Daniel Avery’s excellent debut album Drone Logic in 2014. Earlier this year Owens dropped ‘1 of 3’, an atmospheric number that further showcased her knack for captivating songwriting, and found her house-indebted tribute to Arthur Russell soundtracking Alexander McQueen’s AW16 show.
Later this month she’ll be stepping out on Smalltown Supersound for the first time with the Oleic EP. Its four tracks take in more club-focused sensibilities, drawing on minimal techno and gauzy electronica for music that moves confidently on and off the dancefloor. For an idea of what you can hear on the EP, released October 21, listen to Owens’ hypnotic take on Norwegian artist Jenny Hval’s ‘Kingsize‘, or the pulsating technoid force of ‘CBM‘.
Intrigued as to what inspired the EP, we called upon Owens to share five things that have contributed to Oleic in some way. It offers insight into her manipulation of sound sources – everything from Tibetan singing bowls to her own footsteps – and her admiration for Jenny Hval.
1. Fela Kuti: Teacher Don’t Teach Me No Nonsense
You can hear my love of Afro-inspired rhythms towards the end of ‘C.B.M’.
2. Matthew Herbert: Anything Can Be Music
To sneak my own sound samples in to my tracks is my favourite thing to do, which is why I connect so much with the idea of what Matthew Herbert is about – that there is music in every day sounds. At the start of one of the EP tracks you can hear a 4/4 crunch sound – that’s me sampling myself walking downstairs with a mic in my coat pocket. I based the BPM of the track around how fast I was walking.
3. Tibetan bowls
Relating to one of the tracks from my new EP – I sampled real Tibetan singing bowls and then fucked them up a bit with effects.
4. Jenny Hval : Kingsize
Of course I had to include this. The original track ( before I reworked it ) had no music at all – just vocals, which is why I created a rework not a remix. I love her lyrics and respect Jenny so much, she is a true artist and visionary.
5. Rodhad remix of Daniel Avery’s ‘Drone Logic’
The connection is obvious here in some ways, but when I first heard this I loved how hard it sounded. His production is immense, and it was cool of him to use my voice in a more abstract way.
Oleic is out October 21 on Smalltown Supersound. Pre-order it here.
Featured image: Kim Hiorthøy