GvsB6 Spotlight: Jessy Lanza

7.10.17 ccashen

Jessy Lanza is a Canadian electronic songwriter, producer and vocalist from Hamilton, Ontario. The artist will perform at Gorilla Vs. Bear fest next month alongside headliner and famed chill-wave innovator Washed Out.

Before making a splash in the indie sphere with two excellent studio outputs, Lanza had a somewhat modest musical upbringing. She initially fostered her talents playing clarinet and piano before matriculating at Concordia University in Montreal to study jazz. After earning a music degree, Lanza worked toward a Master’s degree in musicology at McGill. This led to a brief stint as a music teacher.

Following that stint, Lanza met fellow Hamilton native Jeremy Greenspan. The two became friends almost immediately, and eventually evolved into creative partners. Greenspan offered her a gig performing background vocals for his solo project, Junior Boys. Lanza contributed crooning soprano vocals to 2011’s It’s All True. In return, Greenspan primed Lanza in all things synthesizer, which pushed the up-and-comer to find her own musical footing.

Following a handful of lauded singles, the two regularly collaborated on each other’s projects. With the help of Greenspan’s production savvy and Lanza’s alluring vocals, the singer was able to release her debut album soon thereafter. The album, titled Pull My Hair Back, intertwines R&B with bare-boned synth pop. Though it flexes an endearing reverence for R&B music, the album harnesses a deeply experimental undercurrent that twists pop and dub-heavy club music into something truly unique. Following the album’s success, Lanza’s niche approach to music began to permeate her sound.

Pull My Hair Back garnered rave critical acclaim from The Guardian, who lauded the project for its unique synthesis of musical styles. If that weren’t enough, the album ranked #4 on Resident Advisor’s Top 20 Albums of 2013 and was a shortlist nominee for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize, Canada’s most recognized music award committee.

The album serves as both an introduction and testament to Lanza’s unorthodox stylings. Her sound incorporates a plethora of musical influences, pulling inspiration from R&B, dream pop and 80s synth. The singer’s musical background cultivated her ability to deconstruct and re-contextualize pop tropes into something completely unique.

That’s really only scratching the surface of Lanza’s appeal. The singer’s jazz training and evident propensity for pop music shapes the varied contours of her sound. But really, it’s Lanza’s sense of diversity that truly distinguishes her.

Critics regularly praise Lanza for gapping a hypothetical bridge between the Cocteau Twins’ intoxicating pop bliss and Janet Jackson’s alluring swagger.

In between producing her own studio material, Lanza frequently collaborates with contemporary electronic musicians. Among these collaborations include a feature spot on Caribou’s acclaimed 2015 effort Our Love. That same year, Lanza recorded vocals for The Galleria’s debut EP Calling Card / Mezzanine.

Her second album, Oh No was released in 2016, and was as acclaimed as its predecessor.

When translated live, the singer’s powerful soprano voice and R&B leanings sound dense and exceptionally realized. Her live performances are highly regarded for creating dreamscapes of shimmering sounds that immerse listeners. This is what makes Lanza’s distant and unfamiliar sound all the more inviting.

Check out our GvsB6 playlist below and don’t miss Jessy Lanza next month! Tickets available here.