And why is it that we are sometimes drawn to musical styles that we would not normally identify with?
I'll admit to not normally listening to the music of the club. House music, trance, hip-hop, electronic funk...you get where I'm at? Look, it's not that I really, really dislike it. It's just more a case of it not being a genre that I normally inhabit. If it comes on the radio, I'm usually switching over or switching off. And let's face it - I can't dance, I'm the whitest white man on the planet and you would never find me at the club gettin' it on, on the dance floor...per se.
Yet, there are occasions where I will abandon myself and my acoustic roots and surrender to the most urban of urban beats. And it is usually met with a scratching of heads from my family and wider circle of friends.
Perfect example - when I recently download and first clicked on the play button for HUNTER, a free offering by American singer/song writer Baiyu, I found myself very quickly addicted. This is an album that sits right at the core of the club experience - a highly polished, thumping recording, featuring 13 tracks of unabashed beats that would set the club on fire. I'm listening to it last week and I'm digging it. I'm totally digging it.
The tracks, a combination of hard electro-pop fused with RandB are impeccably structured, with top shelf production values that make use of the best electronic wizardry that, quite frankly, shits all over anything that Lady Gaga or Katy Perry has to offer. They are satisfyingly loud and they are sensually layered. Baiyu makes use of her vocals as an instrument and gives crisp harmonics to the songs that, from an aural standpoint, are as addictive as fuck. The title track "Hunter" is a perfect example of this. Likewise "Laws Of Attraction" boasts a powerful lyrical melody throughout that marries effortlessly with the primal urban beats and slick bass and keys to deliver a powerful and sexual punch.
But there is variation in the playlist too. It doesn't just stick to the pure dance tracks but offers more ballad like compositions that allow for listening rather than participation (ie. kicking back and listening rather than shaking your ass on the dance floor).
There is something deeper in this music that is undeniable. They are tracks that are deceptively well crafted, giving them a story and an arc that means much more than the average run of the mill pop tunes. "Lost In Lisbon" is one such track that fuses sexuality, killer lyrics with charged beats to deliver a composition that bristles with energy and style. And there's an experimental side to the tracks too, whose focus is simply on the aural experience rather than dance or ballad. "Mind Freak" is one where Baiyu's voice pairs beautiful with the keys in a sort of Vangelis-esque kind of composition that has serious imagery conjuring abilities attached to it. I, personally, was having a whole kind of, Blade Runner, thing happening on my first listen. The second track of note is "White Dove" which is a track engineered in reverse, but possesses a seductive beauty that has me coming back to it time and time again.
Man, this album is a pleasure to listen to. I recently declared it on Twitter as #Aural #Sex. A declaration that caught the attention of Baiyu herself - and she was good with it to. My serioso has no idea of course why I would be listening to her. It is my guilty pleasure.
So who is Baiyu.
Baiyu Chen is a Chinese-American singer/songwriter who has garnered an increasingly visible profile in her adoptive U.S. and who has developed a strong pedigree as a artist of substance and style since she first appeared on the scene States-side in 2010. As a model and actress, Baiyu has contributed to a number of indie film projects, the most notable of which was the 2012 release "The Illuminators: Division" in which she has a producer credit. She has turned discs as a VJ on MTVu's "The Freshman" and she is currently competing in the latest incarnation of TV talent show on CW's "The Next".
Baiyu has also developed a profile as a passionate humanitarian and in 2011, decided to donate all of the profits from her 2nd EP "B-side" to the relief effort in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami there.
As I explore more of Baiyu's music, it is becoming clearer to me just what it is about her that so attracts me to her music. There is a work ethic there that shows me that she is a dedicated artist and technician but there is also raw talent. A YouTube music video titled "Together" shows Baiyu in stripped back mode, performing with just a guitarist and herself and she delivers a performance that is intimate and beautiful. She is, in a word, the entire package.
Connect with Baiyu at her official site here.
Download Baiyu's "Hunter" here.
Interact with Baiyu here.
Coming this October.