srijeda, 5. veljače 2014.

Perera Elsewhere - Everlast (2013)

Muzika kao hladni, okrutni namještaj izbušen noćnim morama.


Forged from the depths of London, eventually finding Berlin as her sanctuary, Perera Elsewhere summons lost souls and presage of tomorrow in her craft. Acting on instinct rather than mathematics, incorporating organic elements that compliment and co-exist with robotics, carefully reserving space for her haunting yet soothing vocal passes...these are the bricks and mortar of Perera's waking dreams. From the grit of dark club to the absorption of indigenous sounds & styles along her travels, Perera melds these inspirations into her own semi-acoustic, abstract and pop-tinged bliss.
Prophetic revelations put to tape. A message in a bottle delivered through cryptic vocals laid to a smoky atlas, guiding followers to a new translation of the world as we know it. These are just shadows of the sentiment that Perera Elsewhere delivers on 'Everlast', her 12-track debut LP for Friends of Friends.
Touching on topics ranging from the corruption of organized religion, gender discrimination and technological advancements leading to human over-dependance, her vision couldn't be more focused.
On "Giddy", she sings "You sway unsteady with your sword// it makes you livid, muzzle round your jaw// vivid dream that ain't got no flaws// pasting memories you can't recall..." making way for Gonjasufi to drive the chant home with his signature, emotive bars. On the lead single "Bizarre" she navigates the haunting melody flawlessly with the lyrics "its been a long time by the look of things// long time money's running everything// the same 10 families that run this show// friends with the president, friends with the pope", signing her name in the cement of her beliefs. -

Where is elsewhere? What lasts forever? Nowhere and nothing, right? Which brings us to the seeming placelessness of apocalypse: that which has not yet happened has no place. And, since Kant, space can no longer be said to exist, objectively, or be discoverable as such. We moderns are all always elsewhere, whether we like it or not.
But apocalypse is not necessarily placeless. As salvagepunker Evan Calder Williams explains: we’re living in it, more or less. Living in not-so-post-crisis catastrophe, in a “no future” that demands that we become post-apocalyptic “when we accept the present as rubbish, as undead, and as under attack… A crooked grin to break the dead air…”
It’s from this No Man’s Land (but what can a woman do with such a space?), this Kill Zone, that Sasha Perera — a.k.a. Perera Elsewhere — sings her twisted threnodies for the eternally revenant: “It’s on this weird emotional border where you feel like you’ve missed or lost something but you’re also savouring something too.”
Berlin is Perera’s present base, and there is a feeling on her first album of the ghosts of the Cold War. If in “The Gernsback Continuum” William Gibson imagined a retrofuturistic madness hallucinating Googie sci-fi, Everlast is a landscape in which Mutually Assured Destruction went acoustic cyberpunk. Meanwhile, Perera’s imagery, or more accurately her imaginary, adapts the naïve and utopian 90s graphics beloved of vaporwavers and seapunks for a more sinister end.
What other debts does Everlast owe to history? (After all, the historical debt, that Faustian bargain, is the gift that never stops taking, a gift horse that never stops talking.) Trip-hop — which, along with grunge, was one of the last stable genres before the Great Shattering and the bacterial proliferation of microgenres — ground to a halt as it eased its way slickly into downtempo wallpaper chill. Everlast, on the contrary, feels like a true heir, in the sense that it is nothing like its genre progenitor, yet at the same time, in terms of sonics, atmosphere, emotion, Weltanschauung, it could only be a lung-sprouting organism rising from the Bristol seashore’s primal goop — or, to mix a metaphor in a Darwinian cauldron, a phoenix not only rising from, but made of ashes and crumbling at the touch.
On a cursory listen, Everlast can seem appropriate as background. But it’s precisely this furniture-music-esque quality that Perera uses to smuggle in her subtly experimental nightmares and unsettlingly skewed perspectives. Her voice most closely recalls the beautiful, cold-and-cruel claustrophobia of Martina Topley-Bird’s work with Tricky, but, over the acoustic work Perera uses as thin end of the wedge, her crystalline-yet-dusty intonation also recalls Hope Sandoval. Like the early rappers who Tricky adapted, Everlast’s dystopia is one in which the experience and infliction of suffering is political as well as personal, like an incestuous tumor dripping black and addictive milk from a mutated teat.
“The Zap,” with its onomatopoeic effects, could be a deconstruction of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Comic Strip” for a cabaret in Alphaville or a jaunty self-fulfilling troubadour’s lament for Cronenberg’s Fly. Meanwhile, Perera has been involved with the Goethe Institut’s Ten Cities project (didn’t I mention Faust already?), and eerie, dissonant album standout “Ebora” (featuring Ameru and sung in Yoruba) is accompanied by an appropriately roughly-manipulated, disquieting clip of a chopped-and-screwed Lagos:
“Ọni lọ odo o ri ẹbọra..Ọni bu omi L.A. amu lo ri ẹbọra”
Translation: (The) one who goes to (the) river sees no spirit(s); (the) one who fetches from (the) pot sees spirit(s)’
Warning people against political deceit, misappropriation, corruption, bullying, inbalance, inequality, exploitation and many more.
Globalization’s discontents and its compensatory, unevenly distributed pleasures are thereby made manifest, but in digital rather than fleshy avatar.
Calder Williams suggests that, in our combined and uneven apocalypse, we live in “a world in which sections are designated not of this world.” Cities and their “bad parts of town” are both the sites of this casting-off (in developed and developing worlds) and seedbeds of the possibility of contestation — on the ground and as thought-forms of present and absent world-logics and world-orders. On Everlast, an otherworldly wordliness and world-weariness is where we both find and mourn the loss of our (post)modern Selves. - Guy Frowny

'Everelast' is the tenderly downbeat, sweetly psychedelic debut solo album from Jahcoozi and Modeselektor vocalist (Sasha) Perera Elsewhere. Operating miles away from the technoid ragga party bounce of her other projects, it exposes a blue soul in twelve semi-acoustic songs blessed with a melancholic, emotional pop quality that places her close to recent efforts by Hype Williams' Dean Blunt or a faded Portishead. It's also dappled with a hazy patina of psychedelia that becomes more curious with each listen, threading just-out-of-focus sounds and instrumentation through highlights such as the Gonjasufi-starring 'Giddy' or giving the exquisite 'Bizarre' an uncanniness that's so much more than insipid coffee table music. - boomkat

#perera elsewhere  #pereraelsewhere  #FoF #HugoHolgerSchneider 
LA label Friends Of Friends continues its crusade into Berlin with another signing, this time singer-songwriter Perera Elsewhere. She's easily the label's most surprising addition yet, though her smoky atmospherics are of the mood music variety preferred by many of the crew. A member of downtempo trio Jahcoozi (alongside producers Robot Koch and Oren Gerlitz), you might otherwise recognize her sultry tones from Modeselektor's "Silikon," back when she went by given name Sasha Perera. But on Everlast, her solo debut, she mostly abandons the smooth electronica of her past in favour of a gothic atmosphere that actually kind of sounds like it was recorded in a frigid castle, her vocals echoing through chambers of cold stone.
Perera has the kind of breathy, sighing tone that complements well-groomed, trip-hoppy electronic music—the kind you'd expect to hear in the background at a public place, unobtrusive and pleasing to the ear. But laid naked on Everlast, there's a spooky and beguiling quality to it. The album opens with the bluesy strum of "Drunk Man", where her vocals are appropriately slurred so you can just barely make out the words. Her quiet voice is accompanied by steady drums and a distinctly wooden thump of a bassline—earthy sounds with sanguine accents that feel like a deliberate reaction to the perfect production of her other work. It's not very often you hear of an expat in Berlin who tries so hard to sound acoustic.
Not that the production is an afterthought; every element is touched with some level of reverb and so neatly placed that you'll wonder which are judiciously-chosen samples, and which were actually played by hand. Hard-panned multitracking and other stereo spectrum tricks makes the Gonjasufi duet "Giddy" captivating in spite of its stupor, and pitch-shifting on "Shady" lends it an ethereal feel underpinned by implacable noises that sound like guitar strings being melted and stretched like taffy. She even plays off a  ghostly, masculine version of herself on "Carousel," whose simple chorus echoes the bare desperation of Neil Young's Ditch Trilogy—it's amazing the amount of emotional mileage she can get out of merely repeating and enunciating a single word, especially when she's doing it over guitar chords that drip with anguish.
Indeed, as thoughtful as the production on Everlast might be, it's simplicity that's key. Album highlight "Dreamt That Dream" isn't much more than a few mantra-like phrases stuck together and rolled off Perera's tongue almost carelessly, but it proves intoxicating in the album's walk-in freezer of an echo chamber. It works the same magic on the heavy-handed political didactic (and first single) "Bizarre". Her lyrics ("money's running everything/ the same ten families that run the show/ friends with the president and friends with the Pope") amount to high-school-level social commentary, but set against a distant synth whine and decisive acoustic guitar, it's like a 60s protest song dressed up in modern clothes. 
Most of all, Perera Elsewhere’s debut is a defiantly quiet record in a scene of maximalism; compare it to the oversaturated landscapes of her labelmates Shlohmo or Groundislava, or the rhythmic attack of Salva, and she's an obvious outlier. But not that much of an outlier; Friends Of Friends has always had a knack for finding artists whose sense of pathos borders on maudlin but usually end up on the right side of the divide. The same goes for Everlast, where even the most earnest moments, like the baroque "Light Bulb" or the self-consciously trippy "Bongoloid", become captivating thanks to her unforgettable voice and cultivated ethereality. It’s a short but penetrating record of far-away, foggy reveries that’ll burrow its way into your consciousness until it haunts you, one breath after another. - Andrew Ryce

Perera Elsewhere live dates !!! 25 Jan / Hannover / Germany / Café Glocksee (LIVE) 29 Jan / Paris / France / Point Éphémère (LIVE) 31 Jan / Luzern/ Switzerland / Südpol Luzern (LIVE) 04 Feb / Berlin / Germany / Creamcake /@Südblock (DJ)

Somewhere Else: An Interview with Perera Elsewhere

Andrew Darley talks to Sasha Perera about her new project Perera Elsewhere and her debut solo album Everlast.

Perera Elsewhere, Interview
(Click Images to enlarge)
Sasha Perera is stepping out on her own. To date, Sasha is best known as the energetic and enigmatic frontwoman of the electronic band Jahcoozi. After three albums together, Sasha found herself experimenting and writing songs on her own. With a second-hand guitar she found in a flea market in Marseilles, the music that emerged was of a different realm and pace than anything she had achieved before. She felt a sense of freedom in writing alone and crafting her own melodies and lyrics. Over time the songs came together into a full length album, Everlast, which sees the singer-songwriter at her most cohesive and musically ambitious. The album combines both acoustic and electronic elements to create an atmosphere that is both soothing and unsettling. This provides a backdrop to her lyrics which take on the issues important to her including gender, politics, prejudice and people’s passivity about changing their ways and the world around them. What’s most striking about Perera Elsewhere’s debut is her idea of ‘Elsewhere’ and how she now finds herself there and wants to take her listeners on the same journey. Polari caught up with Sasha to talk about the concepts behind her new music and how she finds inspiration in both the ugly and beautiful.
This isn’t your first time to release music, but it is your first solo album. Are you nervous about fronting a project on your own for the first time?
I’m not nervous about fronting the project but the idea of performing is quite a lot of pressure. It’s just different when you play music with guitars, loop them, pitch them and sing on top of it and bringing in other elements – it is a bit nerve-wracking. The live aspect of playing guitar or the keys, using pitcher pedals and singing at the same time requires me to use three parts of my brain at the same time. Some people have being doing that since they were five but I haven’t. I’ve been doing all those things separately but not together and not in front of people.
So you’ve already put a lot of thought into performing the material solo?
Yeah, I’ve thought about playing with just a laptop and doing a few things with that, but I’ve decided to play with a band. We played The Boiler Room in Berlin which I always think of as a Japanese reality show where it’s ‘Do or Die’. Everyone decides if you’re going to live or not. At the same time; no risk, no fun. With Jahcoozi, I played so much I could do it backwards with 800 vodkas inside me.
I know your surname is Perera but how did you decide on the name Perera Elsewhere for the project?
Actually I was going to call the whole thing Mother Perera after my DJ name but it’s too funny. It sounds like a spin-off of Mother Teresa! In my head, ‘Elsewhere’ rhymes with ‘Perera’ and I imagined how great it would sound said in Italian. In a way, the name is about me being somewhere else. If you’re in a band like Jahcoozi for years, people begin to typecast you and you can start to typecast yourself. This is another side of me where I’m not supposed to be or expected to be anything. I think the music does take you somewhere else because it’s quite atmospheric and sucks you in quite fast. I like to think that I’ve been taken somewhere else and so I’m taking the listener there too. It’s an idealistic concept that there is something or somewhere called ‘Elsewhere’ which has nothing to do with harsh reality.
Going in to make the album, did you have any specific ideas of what it was going to be?
I had no ideas about what I wanted it to be. The album was actually only finished in February and I sent it to Friends of Friends [her record label] and I didn’t even initially know it was going to be an album. I just recorded in my house and I bought a guitar in a flea market in Marseilles that isn’t tight on the strings which I found easy to play. Maybe if I hadn’t had that guitar in my house I wouldn’t have made this album. When I started writing, the idea of a solo album was not even a part of my thinking. I was surprised by the reaction my friends had to the songs so I kept going, without a lot of pressure on myself, then suddenly I had an album. I sent it to Gonjasufi to sing on it and he was like “Wow! We have to bring this out”. I was really flattered but also made me think that it can’t be too bad!
Did you find yourself feeling more creative or free writing on your own compared to being in the band?
It’s weird the way I recorded this time. I would just go to the microphone and sing. On ‘Drunk Man’, I went to sing not knowing what I was going to come out, played the keys and the line “I just want to keep up with me” came out. I couldn’t have done something like that if there were other people in the room. It was the first time I was alone in controlling the melodies. I found that if you’re responsible for the vocal and the melody, you can write nicer songs rather than asking someone to make a key change into F minor as you’re trying to sing.
Perera Elsewhere, Interview
Taking a few steps back, did you have a moment when you knew you must become an artist?
When I was younger I used to dance and sing a lot. My sister and I used to sing and harmonize in the back of the car. So I’ve always been musical but nobody was ever like “Here’s a 4-Track!”. It was more of a hobby and my parents saw it that way too. They viewed it as a one-way ticket to unemployment. Now they think what I’ve achieved is cool, they support me and see what I do as different. It’s classic second generation speech. I was like “Fuck it, this is what I want”, whereas they didn’t have the freedom to do that. My mother is actually quite musical but she is a dentist and it would have been unthinkable for her to become an artist. I was brought up in London which encourages you to be a bit of an egomaniac and more individualistic and they didn’t.
Now that the album is done, do you think it has any main themes?
I think there’s obvious stuff like ‘Bizarre’ which is about me saying how shit the world is but not doing anything about it and you could call it political. But there’s a whole range of stuff on there that’s more abstract. The music isn’t entirely sad but it isn’t happy either. It’s on this weird emotional border where you feel like you’ve missed or lost something but you’re also savouring something too. That’s where I think its themes are. It goes back to the idea of ‘Elsewhere’; you’re yearning for something else and thinking “This can’t be it!”. It can’t just be the Internet and everything we’re doing now… it cannot be the be-all and end-all. It’s looking at greyer issues and in a way it is kind of political because it’s looking at us and how we feel in the world.
Sometimes there can be a negative response from listeners when musicians take on big issues like politics. Often there is a feeling that the two shouldn’t be mixed. Did you have any apprehension about taking on these big issues?
Not with ‘Bizarre’, I didn’t have that at all. It just came about with my boyfriend playing acoustic bass that I bought for him. He played it in the kitchen and I recorded the vocals in our living room. But I have had apprehensions with the stuff I wrote in Jahcoozi which was mostly political. Most of the music I listen to isn’t political. To be honest, I don’t want to be reminded of how shit the world is. I want to escape.
Political music is super important but there are catches to it. Firstly, it can get dated. Secondly, you can get typecast as an artist who writes about political stuff. You can’t just sit down and write a song because you’re moved by a melody and that’s the whole approach of Perera Elsewhere. I want to write music when I’m moved by something and feel it. I don’t want to think “Who should I represent in a song?”.
Would you describe yourself as an artist who wants to push boundaries?
Not for the sake of pushing boundaries. I am exposed to music that is a bit oddball. I don’t want to say fresh but you do stop and think “I’ve never heard that before”. If I like music like that, I also want to make music like that. I don’t want to make stuff that is super exchangable. My own tastes dictates what I want to do and what I want to make. There’s a beautiful element to Perera Elsewhere but there’s also a dystopian element in the way I pitch my voice; I don’t pitch them perfect. I could sing those harmonies but I don’t want to because I like that they’re odd-sounding. It sounds right and it sounds wrong.
And that was one of my next questions. Listening to the album, there’s very soft and gentle moments with sweet melodies, yet there’s always something more sinister bubbling under the surface. Was this intentional?
That for me was really important. I’m not a fan of Coldplay or Morcheeba, it’s too straight and sweet for me. It’s like you’re programmed how to feel listening to it. When I listen to music, read a book, watch films; I want to interpret them for myself and I enjoy incoherent and conflicting messages. I love the beautiful and the ugly.
Perera Elsewhere, Interview
In terms of production, would you say the album has a ‘less is more’ approach?
Definitely! ‘Dimmed Down’ was one of the first songs I made and literally didn’t put anything on it. Stuff like ‘Carousel’ particularly has got more beats on it. It wasn’t a conceptual thing; it was just I could make more beats by that stage of making the album. Overall, the album certainly has a ‘less is more’ aesthetic. That’s probably a reaction to how I worked in Jahcoozi and we always played in clubs which were high-end and intense. When there’s a lot of room in a song, I can do a lot more with my vocals. Somehow the vocal will make you feel more if it’s not competing with a hundred other sounds.
You have lived and travelled in various parts of the world. Do you think these experiences and cultures have fed into your sound and outlook on life?
People often ask me that, and I’m not sure it actually does. You could be a kid in a village right now and just be on the Internet a lot. If you’ve got a good eye or a hunger for stuff, you will absorb a lot of information. Even someone who lives in London will be exposed to more than someone who lives in smaller cities. I find it easy to chuck stuff together. That doesn’t mean everything I throw together sounds good but I have a willingness to do it. If you listen to three or four songs of Perera Elsewhere, people will say “Sasha has made an indie album”. But then they’ll hear things like ‘Bongoloid’ or ‘Ebora’ and be totally thrown again. There’s also a lot of other artists who haven’t lived in as many placed who are making mixed-up and mashed-up music.
Perera Elsewhere, Interview
Can you tell me about the cover art and visuals you’ve created to go with the music?
I worked with one of my best friends, Hugo Holger Schneider. I’ve known him for ten years, he cuts my hair and makes clothes and he’s a big music fan. I own all the clothing on the cover. The hat I wore is not just one hat but four placed on top of each other. One of them is a Muslim hat from Nigeria with cane, one is a baseball cap and another is a tiara from H&M. It’s a collage like the music. Hugo is just multi-talented and homey so when we work together, we just play around in my wardrobe and laugh. Your earlier question about travelling is quite fair because ‘Ebora’ was made in Nigeria and ‘Lazy’ was made in Sri Lanka when I was on a music exchange project. So when I do go to these places, I love buying all weird stuff like men’s Muslim hats. Shameless cultural mash-ups! 
Would you say the visuals are important to the music and how its communicated?
There are so many artists out there who make great music but have got awful press pictures. The visuals really do speak to people. I’m lucky enough where I’ve got Hugo who I can bounce ideas off. You can’t have shit music and nice pictures. I want to make a persona want to go with the music. Also, I want it to be different from Jahcoozi which was always gaudy and in your face. I want my image to be futuristic but with a sense of history. I think the visuals will be important too for the live show because it’s a slow set.
Perera Elsewhere, Interview
As a new artist, are you concerned by how the album will be received critically, by Jahcoozi fans or the public in general?
Not right now. Unless I get some slating reviews, Andrew! You can’t be too concerned and obviously it hurts. If you got hung up on that stuff, you’d get scared and not release anything. You have to develop a thick skin and not sit around reading your own press. I think it’s a good album, probably the most consistent album I’ve ever made.
Are you expecting any comparisons or have any been made yet?
There’s been an early Tricky comparison which doesn’t bother me because his stuff is amazing. Also, some have said it sounds like a female Gonjasufi album but I don’t know if that’s just because he’s a feature on the album. I took that as a compliment because maybe people hear a similar approach in that that it’s quite lo-fi and there’s so many influences that it’s hard to pin-point it.
Ultimately, what kind of artist do you want to become?
That’s such a scary question! Quite genuinely, I just want to live by making music. I live comfortably in Berlin; I don’t own a car, I have a bike. I’m happy like that. I want to go from strength to strength and not become stagnant or complacent. The idea of dominating the airwaves doesn’t equate happiness to me either. When I finished university, I was just like “I don’t want to be a recruitment consultant or in advertising”. For me, getting by with making stuff I love is the ultimate goal. -

FADER Mix: Perera Elsewhere

London-born, Berlin-based Perera Elsewhere emerged this fall as a solo artist after years with Jahcoozi, releasing a downtempo single, “Bizarre,” and an odd music video to justify the track’s name. Her debut LP, Everlast, comes out October 28th via Friends of Friends, and its up for preorder now. To get pumped up, light some incense, download this exclusive mix and read an interview with Perera about teaching producers in Bangladesh, playing Boiler Room and cooking fresh coconut sambal.
Download: Perera Elsewhere’s FADER Mix

What were you doing before Everlast? Living in Berlin (for over a decade). Touring lots with my band Jahcoozi (me, Robot Koch and Oren Gerlitz), We’ve done five continents and have made four albums together. I also DJ. I live in Kreuzberg and have good friends in my hood. I speak German fluently, thus feel very comfortable in the city.
How was Bangladesh? You were just there helping people learn Ableton? Yes, it was part of a project called SoundLab, which was initiated by a blog called Border Movement, which profiles electronic music from South Asia. I was a mentor/instructor for a group of four guys. Some of them have been producing on FruityLoops for years while others were pretty new to production. In four days i showed them how I make tunes and record external sound sources using Ableton. They each made a tune with Ableton, and then I helped them prepare their track to perform live using controllers and triggering loops etc. Long hours and actually quite a lot of pressure as some of them have never performed live. At the party in Dhaka at the end they performed their tracks and I DJed. I’ve been involved in music exchange projects in a few places—Nairobi or Lagos—where I collaborated with people. But this ‘teaching’ thing is more stressful as I feel like I have to take more responsibility than just being an artist…
And then, judging by Instagram, you went to Sri Lanka? What did you do there? I’m having a quickie on the way back from Gangbangladesh, just seeing the few members of my family who didnt leave during the 30 years of turmoil. Getting some beach time to decompress and tanking up new energy for Perera Elsewhere Live on Boiler Room next week. It is only our third gig! It’s an unsequenced live band, i.e. no backbone beat for safety. I feel much more naked with Perera Elsewhere than I do with Jahcoozi, as I’m not able to hide behind massive basses and clubby production. More concentration and less Vodka is required!
Describe where you are right now as you’re typing this. Blue skies, big waves, proper curries, Perera signs everywhere (it’s my mum’s surname, as common as the name Smith in the UK—my dad’s is far more exotic and unpronouncably non-colonial)… dictatorial shitty government, high inflation. It’s a bit like Switzerland in comparison to Bangladesh though.

What type of food do you like to cook, and how do you make it? My mother is known for being a bad cook, so I made my own shizzle from an early age. i cook with fresh herbs and ingredients… coriander, basil, fresh fennel, pumpkin, loads of garlic, lemon grass, ginger, parsnips, sunflower seeds, nuts etc. Fish and vegetarian stuff is my thing, and occasionally some meat. I’m not a big fan of butter or fatty stuff when I cook. I also cook Sri Lankan food, especially fresh coconut sambal that requires using a coconut grater—looks like an old school pencil sharpener that you clamp to a table. It gets physical. Lime, chilli, fresh coconut. Yuummmmmm. -

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