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The Friday Dispatch
Baby Queen, Sen Morimoto, Bronski, Cindy Lee, and COUCOU CHLOE
“It’s a traumatising experience,” laughs Arabella Latham with despair. We’re digging into her demons one song at a time as we discuss her debut album Quarter Life Crisis. “I just keep saying to people, I don’t know how people do this, make albums. If you really care about it, how do you know?”
Since moving to London at the age of eighteen, Latham has tested countless paths to breaking into the music industry, from knocking on label doors to taking a job at Rough Trade East. Despite losing her way at times, she funnelled her pain into perseverance and doubled down on her dream.
She built Baby Queen as a character, a magnetic pessimist with nihilistic tendencies who’s always the life and soul of any party. But it was also a way to fake confidence and create a protective barrier that kept the world at bay. As Latham matured, so did her writing, and it became more difficult to keep the two exclusive. “I think Baby Queen is what I always wanted to be and slowly but surely I’m being able to step into that person and that’s amazing,” she says. “The lines do get blurred and it’s very confusing sometimes.”
Balancing the need for authenticity with the character she’s constructed is a fine art that’s played out on Quarter Life Crisis. From the opening monologue of “We Can Be Anything” to the aching lament of “Obvious,” Latham pulls from her past, her multiple streaks of identity, and softens with hope. “I feel like this music, there are some really snarky, satirical songs on this album but I think moving forwards it’s going to be really interesting to uncover who Baby Queen is as I grow up and am less bratty,” she laughs.
Originally from Durban, Latham grew up surrounded by music. On her mum’s side, her great-uncle was Grahame Beggs, an esteemed music producer in South Africa who held the market’s rights to ABBA and formed the band Clout. Her dad was a huge music fan and would make genre-specific mixtapes as a hobby. “I remember this one, Sonic Seven, was his journey through psychedelic rock. We had a limbo lounge at our house and he would DJ all the time,” she smiles.
While things might have been richly musical in the limbo lounge, Latham found the scene around her to be quite limiting. “It’s very hard to make music in South Africa that has a global reach,” she explains. “I was very lucky growing up, but it is quite reserved and everyone behaves in the same way. I guess I felt slightly trapped in that I couldn’t express these extreme parts of myself that were there. I didn’t have a vehicle for it because I couldn’t stray from the confines of what you’re taught that you should be.”
Quarter Life Crisis is out on November 10. Read the full interview now over on Best Fit.
“My first two records were really solitary efforts,” says Sen Morimoto. Talking to me from his home in Chicago, he battles to calm his two rescue cats, Rosa and Gracie, paranoid they’ll make too much noise during the course of our conversation.
Releasing new album Diagnosis, it may be his third record but it’s his first allowing those around him into the creative process. It’s also his first working with City Slang, the previous two released solely via Sooper Records, the Chicago label he co-runs. “I made them all alone in my room so it even sounds insular, in a way. All the lyrics are so introspective, it’s so much about trying to figure myself out,” he says. “This record is so much more about trying to figure the world out, turning the lens around and taking that same approach to even the sonic elements of it.”
Morimoto picked up the saxophone from a long lineup of activities at the age of ten after being inspired by Lisa Simpson. Part self-taught, he also took lessons with Grammy Award-winning RnB and jazz musician Charles Neville who lived nearby. Once he started high school, a world of music opened up to him. Morimoto joined punk bands and started to make his own beats.
After years of touring the US and Japan, helping to build a musical community in Chicago and collaborating constantly with an array of like-minded artists, on Diagnosis, Morimoto gave in and accepted a little help from his friends. The result is a breathtaking collection of music. “Inviting band mates to come in and play the music, writing with other folks and producing with my band mates and our engineer was huge, totally shifted my perspective on making music,” he says. “Letting other inputs just naturally shift it into something larger than myself.”
Witnessing live music is a thrill like no other, a feeling if you could bottle you could sell for millions. However, seeing the same show every single night like clockwork meant monotony trickled through to Bronski’s mind, and sparking a fire to reimagine the performances he was seeing over and over. His enduring love story with music began in his teens, as a self-proclaimed "punk rock kid who would basically go to every show" that he could find, from Brixton's Astoria to The Barfly in Camden, "I was that teenager that couldn't stop thinking about music when I should have been thinking about school,” he says with a smirk over the phone.
Bronski and his TAWBOX co-founder Amber Rimell and have been responsible for creating some of the most memorable live performances in British music in recent years: from Stormzy’s 2019 Glastonbury headline set to Dave’s 2020 BRIT performance. TAWBOX's impressive curriculum vitae now features long term relationships alongside one time projects, spanning the likes of Stormzy, Dave, AJ Tracy, Weezer, Olivia Rodrigo and boygenius. One of their present credits is Fall Out Boy’s So Much (For) Stardust world tour, which has been in motion throughout 2023 since the album of the same name’s release in March, with shows coming to the UK this October and November.
For the So Much (For) Stardust world tour, TAWBOX worked incredibly close with Fall Out Boy’s leading mastermind, bassist and lyricist Pete Wentz, “Pete is a creative guru himself,” Bronski says emphatically, “he really loves the process, he's really involved, more so than a lot of artists to be honest with you. It’s brilliant.”
So Much (For) Stardust as an album is convulsing with dramatism, with the cyclicality of life a driving narrative of Wentz’s lyricism. Bronski tells me that “there was a desire to be really quite theatrical with the show”. In light of the theatricality, TAWBOX built the band their own theater proscenium that could work in amphitheaters and stadiums in the USA, as well as arenas in Europe and the UK. It’s an aesthetic that proved a stark contrast to the band’s recent post-hiatus tours, which have until now been heavily reliant on large video screens.
Wentz also wanted a day and night theme, which aptly echoes the album’s material, “one side is night and it's whimsical and larger than life,” Brosnki says, “then our way of doing day is to be old school with rock lighting. The one thing with tungsten lighting is it's like the same colour temperature as the sun. Those big tungsten bulbs that burn your retinas was the key thing of being the day….”
Piecing together the two parts of the stage led TAWBOX to create one of the most fun parts of the tour, and one that will surely go down in Fall Out Boy lore for decades to come. A circle screen (the only one in the show) sits atop the stage, and joins day and night together by switching from moon to sun. But in exploring many other ideas of what they could do with a circle, the magic 8 ball concept was conceived, and facilitates every die hard fans dream: a chance to hear Fall Out Boy play a song selected from the depths of their archives (recent magic 8 ball songs have included tracks the band wrote over fifteen years ago but have never played live). The idea has now been so pertinent to Fall Out Boy that Bronski tells me he’s seen fans getting tattoos of it, alongside more non-committal appreciation of 8 ball emojis in their social media handles.
Three things to get excited about this week
The album: At the end of last month, French singer and actress Adèle Castillon released her debut solo project: Plaisir Risque Dépendance. At just 21 years old, Castillon’s career has already covered a lot of ground. In 2018, she formed the cult-favourite Euro-pop duo Videoclub with her then-boyfriend Matthieu Raymond. But their first album, 2021’s Euphories, would also be their last, with the couple announcing their breakup before the project even dropped. Castillon’s new project, however, covers exciting and expansive new ground. Though still featuring the 80s Euro elements that made Videoclub popular, Castillon’s new work makes use of updated and more mature production techniques, with “Sensations” in particular presenting a darkwave-tinged standout. Thematically, the project handles heavy subject matter, covering Castillon’s drug addiction and subsequent recovery. For any fans of acts like Angèle, Clara Luciani, or popheads in general, the project is worth a listen and Castillon is one to watch.
The speaker: Trading style for sound is never a decision an audiophile wants to make. And with the Small Transparent Speaker, they won’t have to. Conceived by Stockholm trio Per Brickstad, Magnus Wilberg, and Martin Willers Transparent is a company committed to living up to its name in both design and principle. The founders are on a mission to create “the first circular tech brand,” and all their products are completely upgradable. What this means is that as new tech hits the market, you won’t have to throw out your Transparent equipment. Rather, you can modify it to make it compatible with any new audio innovation. The small speaker itself fits seamlessly in any room — but is perfect for a desktop or bookshelf — and has a remarkable audio power for its size. Striking the right blend of environmental consciousness, cutting edge technology, and sleek aesthetics, Transparent is a company we can’t get enough of.
The exhibit: Set to open their doors in 2023, the V&A East have announced the museum’s debut exhibition: The Music Is Black. Spanning 1900 to the present day (over 125 years), the exhibition will feature long-overdue stories behind early 20th Century pioneers, international music tastemakers and today’s groundbreaking artists, including Stormzy, Sampha, Little Simz, Jorja Smith, Ezra Collective and more. It will take visitors into the heart of music making, from Carnival to basements, dancefloors, and club nights, recording studios and record shops, MC battles, festivals, and more. The project will set out to reveal how Black British music has shaped British culture – as well as its global impact – to tell a long-overdue story of Black excellence, struggle, resilience, and joy.
January sees the return of the ninth edition of the Five Day Forecast, our annual festival showcasing the very best in new music. The 2024 line-up will be announced on Tuesday, 7th November at 10am.
Previous acts to perform include Self Esteem, Black Country New Road, Squid and debut UK performances from international acts such as Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, and Faye Webster.
Follow Best Fit on Instagram for the latest news.
Something Old, Something New
Every week, one of our writers or editors share their recommendations of two records they love - one from the past, one from the present. This week, Callum Foulds on Cindy Lee’s What’s Tonight to Eternity (2020) and FEVER DREAM by COUCOU CHLOE (2023).
Cindy Lee’s What’s Tonight to Eternity has long been a quiet favourite of mine. I was first attracted to the beautifully gothic album art, but soon became completely enraptured by Lee’s banshee-like vocals and unsettlingly jovial instrumentals. Take “I Want You to Suffer”, the first quarter of the track jumps around like a haunted Neil Sedaka song, before breaking down into a screaming match of distorted guitars and melancholy organs. The juxtaposition of moods really drew me in and is what ultimately made me fall in love with the record. It is a masterwork of using sound to create mood and “Just for Loving You I Pay the Price” is a perfect example of this. It’s a cinematic slow burn. Fuzzy synths and booming guitars give it an atmosphere of bleak romanticism, reminiscent of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack. As I said before, there is an unsettling quality to the record, as if the listener is being led into a false sense of security. The 1950s and 60s style of song is familiar; however, just as you begin to feel you know where it’s going, a song will lose all sense of sonic tropes and sensibility, and become almost unlistenable. This is why I love this release – I highly recommend it if you’re looking for uncanny vibes created by familiar sounds turned on their heads; a spectral Karen Carpenter crooning from beyond the veil.
A full-length project from COUCOU CHLOE has been a long time coming, and since FEVER DREAM’s release earlier this month, it's been on heavy rotation in my house. I discovered COUCOU CHLOE when searching for fellow French artist Oklou on Spotify and misspelling her name. I still enjoy Oklou today, but the former has taken up a long-term residency inside my head. Her music is wonderfully textural, with beats that thump and bass that squeezes its way out. A producer first, CHLOE came up alongside collective mates, Shygirl and Sega Bodega—and why she sounds remarkably similar to both. This is not a sore point, as these three are making some of the most forward-thinking electronic music today. My hopes and dreams for CHLOE’s debut have been exceeded. The production on “DRIFT” is perfectly disparate, the kick sounding like it’s coming from behind you; “POKERFACE” goes hard (despite not being a Lady Gaga cover), and plays like an ASMR enthusiast’s heaven; and “KICK IT IN” is the soundtrack to the most sinister club night, especially when aided by Eartheater’s ethereal vocals. However, what makes this record really fun is the way COUCOU CHLOE doesn’t take herself too seriously: at points, you can barely hear what she is saying, whether it be grumbling or twisted moans, and the album art is a perfect reflection of the snarky vibes evoked across all ten tracks. This release really is everything you would want from a young, progressive producer – I cannot recommend it enough.
Dropping at midnight every Thursday, follow our 20-track playlist for a taste of the best new music from the most exciting breaking artists.
These are the songs our editors and writers have on repeat right now, taken from the hundreds of tracks released in the last seven days. Leading the selection this week are cuts from JayO, ammar, Unflirt, Mellisa, The Last Dinner Party, and coverstar Hannah Thurlow.
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