Composer and playwright Klein’s distinct artistic vision has propelled her to become one of the UK’s most intriguing and uncategorisable producers and performers. Using chopped-up and warped mobile phone recordings of her own voice, piano, and guitar playing, day-to-day sounds, and samples from Nigerian B movies, Klein’s ruminating assemblages feel at times architectural in their ambition. Her sonic collages touch on influences spanning mythology, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Pavarotti and reality television.
The South London native wrote poetry before moving to production as a hobby, receiving early encouragement from fellow musicians Mica Levi, Bjork and Arca, among others. After independently releasing the projects ONLY and Lagata in 2016, she garnered a cult audience and critical acclaim. Klein’s early works demonstrated her inquisitiveness and effervescent sense of humour, with embedded samples of TV scenes and references to her favourite singer, Brandy.
Raised in London, with a brief stint in Nigeria, Klein was an only child with a passion for musical theatre. Gospel icons like Kim Burrell and Fred Hammond were an important part of her childhood and cultivated her growth as a singer. Her work has been described by FACT as “grainy pop collages,” with elements like heavily manipulated audio samples, R&B-inspired vocals, metallic drones, and a distinctive use of sonic artefacts induced by time-stretching and pitch shifting.
Klein released Tommy with the UK label Hyperdub in 2017, delving yet deeper into her musical imagination. Tommy, a 25-minute EP is constructed not unlike an album, opening with the sounds of Klein jovially conversing in a room with her collaborators. Much of the project comprises Klein’s voice alongside the piano, but she makes the combination sound remarkably unfamiliar. More recently, her inclination for operatic soundscapes has found life in the form of musicals. In 2018 she directed and scored Care, a fantasy musical inspired by Disney princesses and the UK care system; it premiered at London’s ICA in February 2018.
In collaboration with Serpentine Park Nights, fashion retailer COS presents an off-site Park Night with Klein, featuring a specially conceived performance from the artist. The event will be hosted at the store’s Coal Drops Yard site in Kings Cross on Wednesday 18 September 2019 – keep an eye out for tickets dropping later this month.
Feature image: Klein (via Qu Junktions)