Pitchfork Music Festival makes its London Debut this winter. Find out the full line-up and get tickets here: www.pitchforkmusicfestival.co.uk
For Moses Boyd, it’s been a remarkable journey already. A multi-award winning drummer, producer, composer and BBC 1Xtra resident, fiercely independent and powered by a vast array of influences and experiences, he’s ready to step up onto another plane altogether.
Growing up in Catford in south London, Moses’s childhood was soundtracked by his parents’ collection of gospel, soul, funk, reggae – as well as Bjork, Debussy and Youssou N’Dour. At the time, he says, this eclectic selection seemed normal, “but now I think about it, that’s quite a range for a first generation West Indian woman”.
His first CD was a gift his older brother brought back from a school band trip to Canada (musical talent runs in the family). That CD would “set the tone” for his teens: it was Fly or Die by N.E.R.D. “It’s my favourite record ever. Here’s this black skateboarding punk band, and I was an aspiring skater too.”Moses fell in love with southern hip hop like Outkast and Master P, as well as Tupac, Nas and Jay-Z – and he was also growing up immersed in the uniquely London sound of Grime. “I was surrounded by it. It was normal, because my friends and I were making beats and swapping them via bluetooth, using the ringtone composer on the Nokia 3310, or cheap software like FruityLoops. It was a lived culture, it was right in front of me,” Moses says.
Nilüfer Yanya is a London based singer-songwriter whose debut album “Miss Universe” was named one of the best albums of 2019 by Pitchfork, Billboard, The Guardian, MTV, Noisey, The Independent, Dazed, and many more. Since the release of Miss Universe, she has performed an incredible Tiny Desk concert for NPR, on Later with Jools Holland, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel as well as headlining London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire and selling out shows across Europe, Australia, Japan and the USA. Pitchfork – who raved about Nilüfer’s latest Feeling Lucky? EP – wrote “Nilüfer Yanya’s melodies have a pull so strong they almost necessitate their own law of physics”.
Bandleader, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Emma-Jean Thackray was born and raised in Yorkshire but is today a resident of Catford, south-east London. Her 2020 EPs Um Yang 음 양 and Rain Dance marked Thackray out as standard-bearer of a spiritually-minded, dancefloor-angled take on jazz that stood at a slight remove from the broader UK scene. But Yellow – released on Thackray’s own Warp Records-affiliated imprint, Movementt – feels like a further step into a fresh and distinct space. Its 14 tracks bloom with brass and strings, choral segments and ecstatic chants. But this deeper, richer sound is not at the expense of immediacy. “The groove is the most important thing,” says Thackray. “Even if it’s a tune that’s really mad and free, all kinds of crazy shit happening, there’s usually a groove there – an anchor, locking it down.”
Cktrl has a tune for every occasion: as content making beats by himself at home in Lewisham as he is amongst this generation’s fashion and cultural vanguards. Music has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember: from clarinet lessons throughout his school life to fond memories from his NTS days, to his highly regarded masterpiece Robyn which has led to props from; Vogue, Dazed, and I.D.
Though he uses ancient computing systems – all his production software is housed within a now-vintage Windows XP computer from his secondary school, his sound is far from it. With a catalogue straddling everything from freestyle contemporary-classic duets to electronic R&B to dark, moody instrumentals, his approach to creation is decidedly renaissance. In fact, where sonic descriptions might fail to encompass the breadth of cktrl’s scope, three words surface when he unpacks his musical aims: freedom, range and feeling.