Sky Ferreira is a promising artist still searching for a voice that will separate her from the pack. Unknown Mortal Orchestra have found their voice, but it’s unclear where they go from here. Their confluence on this remix offers a glimpse of possible futures for both.
Ferreira, the latest indie-ish pop chanteuse to bubble up has been grinding since her early teens. Her earliest public work was posted to MySpace, where she was “discovered” and ushered into the studio. Since then, she’s worked with notable producer Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West, Best Coast) and Garbage front woman Shirley Mason, and attracted media attention for a drug possession arrest. It’s been an upward climb to an opening slot (along with Icona Pop) on Miley Cyrus’ world tour.
Really, Sky? I get the appeal ($$$$) but somehow I don’t think that’s where your fan base lies. Her future just isn’t as a tween-facing pop star.
Rather, it’s as an indie darling with mainstream vocal abilities. The original “Everything Is Embarrassing” is cowritten and produced by Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange (formerly Lightspeed Champion). Basically, it’s a Blood Orange song, in construction and lyrical progression, sung by Ferreira, who could have easily been swapped out for Solange without missing a beat. And it’s her most popular song to date. Coincidence? I think not.
Enter Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the intensely weird future lo-fi project from multi-instrumentalist Reuben Nielson. Their albums and remixes are tied together by a sense of a detached intensity and intricate lyricism. Their sound is unmistakable: ambling guitar plucks and fuzzed-out cymbals and muted bass.
This remix is the best of all worlds. Ferreira sings in Hynes’ nu-R&B repetitive styling over a classically meandering UMO instrumental, which almost sounds like it’s broadcasting through an old radio from miles away. Nielson’s voice is unique, surely, and well suited to UMO’s sound, but, as a huge fan, I hope to hear some feature vocals on new material. The production is so good that it can elevate any singer, pushing him or her out of their natural habitat and into the woozy world of UMO.