NEW ARTIST FINDS: WESLEE
London’s Weslee’s have the hottest record in the world. And it’s their first song.
Success is a mercurial thing - shiny, attractive, seemingly solid, yet it keeps running through your fingers when you try and grasp at it, and it keep poison you and drive you mad. Despite all of the ways that technology has dismantled life as we know it, disrupting the music industry eternally and irrevocably, our myth of success remains relatively unchanged since Pop Culture was manufactured in some boardroom. The story goes - you learn to play, you write a song, you start a band, you gig and toil for years or even decades, often for no reward and maybe, just maybe, you might make it. Even then, there was no magic bullet or signifier about who could make it or who couldn’t. You play the odds and roll the dice, and likely end up on welfare, with your family deeply disappointed in you.
London’s Weslee have completely turned that trope on its head, with their lead single, “Gassed,” which got some momentum after being featured on the comedy series You’re The Worst. Things really got going when BBC DJ Mistajam and Radio 1 took an interest in their spartan, elegant beat-driven r&b/pop, naming “Gassed” the Hottest Record In The World.
WESLEE - GASSED
Weslee are clearly divining the ‘geist, tapping a current that people need, want, and crave. Perhaps it’s their anonymity, with the duo preferring to stay anonymous, making it about the music instead of joining the Cult Of Personality. It gives their music a pure, personal feeling, plus it makes you listen more closely, looking for clues, trying to suss some sense of the humans behind these hypnotic rhythms and emotional cries, courtesy of golden throated Emma. Or maybe it’s the garbled, dismantled, warbling vocals, giving just a hint of hyperreal, digital dis-ease that the avant-garde has been milking for menace, these past 5 years. Think Oneohtrix Point Never producing for Charli XCX (and please, someone, make that happen!) Or maybe it’s just the stripped-down, minimalist production, with barely a kick, snare, and a 3-note synth line. “Gassed” out-grimes grime, while still being smoother and more seductive than the most top-shelf alt-r&b. If you’ve ever wished The Weeknd were just a little less depressed and drug addicted, or if you’re waiting impatiently for new 18+ or Ibeyi records, congratulations, now you’ve got another band to frustrate and delight you.
Here at We Are: The Guard, we love Weslee’s “music before image” approach, and their refined, rarefied production ethos. Emma’s voice is going to set the underground on fire, like a subterranean oil fire, as soon as people find out about her, so definitely expect to hear this pair showing up on guest spots and features, in the very near future. Mark our words.
Weslee was discovered by We Are: The Guard curator Lennie E. Top shelf taste, mate!
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.