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Cone Credits: Female Vocalists to tune into this year.

With it being International Womens Day, here at Cone we feel indented to celebrate some of the fantastic women out there creating beautiful art.

2015/16 has seen the rise of a promising breed of female vocalists, who have been updating the R&B genre with their offerings of Down-tempo tracks for the after-hours. Evolving their own sound, moving fluidly between genres and producing something more homegrown and authentic, then statement or iconic. No better way to honour the passing of International Women’s Day then to credit a few ladies who have been hitting all the right spots. Here’s our handpicked list of 4 that you should be looking out for in the coming months.

Mizen: Looking For

Sultry Ethiopian born, New York resident Mizan sets the tone with her confessional Indie R&B.  Soul-stirring lyrics draw us in, are contemplatively frank about our shared human experience, yet not too insular, as to be engulfed by vigorous emotions. Her Debut EP Dark Blue released in 2015, comprises of delicately crafted exquisite songs with minimal instrumentation, sagacious narration and each one offering a small pearl of wisdom to take from it. Check out her shimmery strung serenades on “Looking for”; a subtle groove that evokes the easy breeze of warm summer afternoons, her delectable vocals harking back nostalgically to 80’s pop.


NAO: In the Morning

26 year old Hackney based Nao (pronounced Nayo) has been making plenty of waves this year, listed 3rd on  BBC’s Sound of 2016, her delectably syrupy trills and croons have enchanted many, including Radio 1 DJ: Annie Mac. Her voice is a standalone instrument in its own right; rich, varied, and so sensational. It’s able to glide sumptuously over the diverse lot, from uptempo “wonky funk” grooves, to the more darker anguish-ridden laments, like that of “In the Morning”. This track is woozily intoxicating; with gut-wrenching vocals, its synth driven skeletal texture holds up well and leaves  all the more space for NAO’s euphonious ad-libs to take flight. In the refrain, piercing syncopated choral harmonies loop over her melancholy sentiments, and you can’t help but to feel it penetrate you at the core.


 ABRA: Fruit

Also known as Darkwave Duchess, the sprightly, doe-eyed vocalist has come a long way from obscurity to full bloom with her electro laced R&B. Originally born in London, the Atlanta raised songstress has humble beginnings; starting out originally posting videos of herself strumming along to covers of Turn’t Up Rap songs. Come late 2015, she’s released two DIY albums (see the fruit of her labour Blq Velvet and Roses), as well as tagged onto Atlanta’s most progressive label to date: Awful Records. In Fruit, Abra crafts a mystical, sombre (and somewhat sparse) groove, offset by a pounding hypnotic trap bassline. Vocals are honeyed, melodious drawls; lyrics sensual and bewitching. Her flow is fluidly persistent and she teases “Eat the fruit that feeds your spirit/on your knees now baby eat it” An oh so alluring, head-bopper (booty-shaker) .


Smerz: Because 

The dynamic duo from Norway are rounding things off with their late night glitter disco banger “Because”, intended to get those shoulders swaying and feet shuffling.  Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt have self-produced a tantalising dance record; warped wispy vocals float above its sparse textural dimension. The track’s instant break into a slowed down trance beat, is matched by a chompy swung bassline, as both ladies sultry, yet nonchalant echo in their empowered ultimatum: “Care for me ’cause I’m thinking bout leaving/ Got your baby, do you got me baby?”  The two’s abilities as producers have not yet been cemented, with only two tracks so far under their alias, (their earlier release  “Move”,  a more subdued R&B track, is paired with the two silhouetted in a live performance with soft trip visuals). Record wise, there’s not much to go by, but these ladies are already stirring up glimmers of excitement in their array of notable appearances at festivals including Roskilde. Just be sure to keep you eye’s peeled..

Soundcloud: Smerz

Words by Leah Abraham 


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