Jessy Lanza music Toronto

Break Out Toronto Bands: Jessy Lanza

Breakout Toronto Bands features local artists that we think you should give a listen to.

Who is she?

Jessy Lanza just seems like a sensible person to me. When she inherited a set of incredible synthesizers from her late father, she learned how to play them instead of selling them on Kijiji. When she found that completing her Masters degree in music theory was actually distracting her from making music, she put it to the side. When she hears an R&B song she likes, she doesn't just sing it at karaoke — she learns all of its respective chords. Most sensible of all though, for her debut record she partnered with ex-pat Hamilton pal Jeremy Greenspan (of Junior Boys).

The duo first met when Lanza lent her vocals to assist in the making of Junior Boys "It's All True," leaving such an impression on Greenspan that he encouraged her to pursue a solo career. The spoils of their electronic kinship can now be gleamed on her recently debuted album Pull My Hair Back released by London-based label Hyperdub.

Filled with rudimentary synths, stark futuristic sounds, soulful melodies and Lanza's slick vocals, the album provokes the feeling of being in a speakeasy lounge if prohibition were to take place in the year 2117. On display across her nine unique tracks is a spectral diversity of sparse electro pop perfectly suited for sultry swaying. While the single "Keep Moving" delivers a throbbing dance floor ready disco groove, it's tracks like "5785021" and "Kathy Lee" (be sure to check its beautifully shot accompanying video starring David Lynch-esque dancer Jed) that really build an intimate space for Lanza's dreamy vocals to explore.

She sounds like...

These are songs for after the club, but before the party's over. Her unabashed reverence for R&B shines through with pitched-down grooves and the requisite mournful moans that differentiate Lanza's voice from others floating around the world of electronic music. This is an intriguing and confident debut that delivers listeners the closest thing to a set of modern slow jams that I can imagine. So whether listening to her suggestive whispers makes you want to bump or grind, the undeniable fact of the matter is you will be moved.

Hear her/see her

Eschewing the generic trappings of other more stale electronic live acts, Lanza brings an immersive live act to the stage with the help of her pheromone inducing synths, a delay pedal, and Ableton. You can experience it for yourself when she stops in at The Garrison for show on November 2nd.


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