When I first heard about Swahili Blonde I thought to myself, “oh great another LA band who is trying to do something experimental.” Not surprisingly, I judged too quickly and came to discover something that was much greater than I had ever anticipated, with a lineup of musicians that could never make bad music when put in a room together.
The band was founded by former WEAVE! drummer and vocalist Nicole Turley, violin and bassist Laena Myers-Ionita, John Taylor from Duran Duran, Stella Mozgawa, and Michael Quinn. They also have John Frusciante former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist play in the band’s recordings.
“Deities In Decline” is the group’s newest EP that they have released. Although the EP consists of only four songs, it still feels like an album because the musicality and message that comes with it makes it feel like you have been through a whole album experience. Turley on this EP takes a look at the unrealistic idealization of people in our lives, and the delusional temples that we build for them. A concept that is hard to swallow, but of course backed by music that is fun and joyful.
The opening track, “With Love and A Bullet” opens with a looping drum track, crooning vocals and bended guitars. “Spinning round and round in this world you’re caught” with undertones of classical violin. Hearing the synthesizers next to a classical instrument like a violin is at first a bit difficult, but once you realize that they use these electronic beats as a tool to enhance the other instruments it becomes interesting to listen to them play with each other.
“Discover Aurora” is a tune that Turley wrote for her goddaughter encouraging her to discover herself, and be the best person that she can be. It’s a song of hope with shining vocals, glimmering violin parts, and has a psychedelic sound going on throughout. “Always look fear in the eye” a phrase that every young kid should hear, and try to always remember. Although we may be scared at times through our life, we can always do our best to face and tackle them.
On “Three In the Tree” Turley’s voice reminds me a bit of Annie Clark(St. Vincent). They are sweet, but still have a slight bad ass sound to them. The beat is consistent throughout the song, with a simple drum beat, an occasional hitting of symbols and vocals that are slow and soothing.
The song feels like a bit of a dream at times, because of it’s hazy demeanor. “Magdalene” has twinkling synths backed Turley’s innocent and sweet voice. “Love is dependable/Love is insatiable/Love is the people/Bring fire to your soul.” Turley sings of the very common thought that love is amazing, yet can be so painful. Love is the most amazing emotion a person can experience, but with love they will experience at times pain that is indescribable.
All in all, Swahili Blonde is a band that is filled with musicians who are talented beyond words, and have messages to tell that many do not talk about. They combine pop, with some afrobeat, a little Motown and a plethora of other genres to make a sound that is truly unique to them and is instantly recognizable.
The most respectable thing of it all is that Turley herself recorded, wrote and mixed all of these songs, and then released it on her own label. She’s one of the many artists showing us that we truly do not need labels anymore, with the access that we have now. We’ve entered a wonderful new phase of music where everything is much more personal and more intimate, and we feel as though we are getting to know the artist as a friend.