Solitude is not always lonely, nor always so sweet as splendid isolation. More often it hovers between, ambivalent yet beautifully apprehended by Hana Vu on her debut EP How Many Times Have You Driven By. Written and produced by Hana herself, the album masters the defining balance of bedroom pop: it’s warm, sparse, and whisper-intimate yet at the same time wholly radio-ready. The opening Crying on the Subway, set on the purgatorial Metro Red Line between downtown and the valley, is saturated with a mood of L.A. noir, with Hana singing to her reflection: “In my dreams I’m in that grey room. In my chest I’m feeling dark blue. Take the Red Line into downtown. I’m trying to escape you.” It was this song— or rather its accompanying video— that first tripped the sensors of Chris and Graham of Luminelle Recordings, a recent offshoot of Fat Possum. The precocious Vu, at only seventeen, had already written music for five years, self-released an album on Soundcloud featuring a collab with Willow Smith, and polished up enough new songs for a gem of an EP, which they eagerly signed, pressed, and called in Clay Jones (Modest Mouse, Sunflower Bean) to master.
Clamoring for creative outlets from an early age, she formed musical projects and played shows, though without fully clicking with her teen peers in the local D.I.Y. brat-pack. “I wouldn’t call myself a curmudgeon, but I found it hard to be friends with other young people. Instead, I found two or three key homies, then just did my own thing— socially and in my music”— partly explaining the ambition and ambiance of How Many Times Have You Driven By. On Cool, for instance, Hana drapes a lower-key, soulful melody over beats borrowed from her friend Satchy, who also chimes in for a verse as they tarry with life’s misfortunes. She follows this with Shallow, in which her calm twists into agitation and a more recognizably rock instrumentation, all played and recorded by Hana in her bedroom. The EP returns to peace with the dreamy 426— the address of a summer residence in which Hana discovered a sense of place or belonging— though fleetingly, as her friends disbanded at the season’s end. But, c’est la vie. Solitude, for all its occasional pangs, is for Hana Vu as much a condition of her independence, a little breathing room from the throng to forge her own certain future in music. As she’ll tell you, with poise and fairly pleased with things so far,“I spend most of my time alone.” - Brandon Joyce
Some artists find their calling early in life. Such is the case with breakout art-pop, multi-instrumentalist and San Diego native Jordan Cantor, who goes by the moniker Somme. After teaching herself guitar at age 6, Jordan was well on her way to writing songs only a few years later. Not content with guitar alone, she mastered drums and bass by 12 and in high school graduated to performing in a local indie-rock band Traffic Bear.
Aiming at a higher education Jordan tested the waters at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU, but opted for moving to Los Angeles to get first hand experience in the music industry with an internship at the management company Killphonic, who now look after her professional career.
Jordan's move to LA reignited her creative fire and led to the creation of her art-pop persona, Somme. Drawing inspiration from idols like Robyn, Fleetwood Mac and Lorde, Jordan entered the studio in 2017 to record her debut, self-titled EP. After a year and a half of writing and recording, she emerged, fully embracing her new identity Somme, with a stunningly beautiful record that melds mesmerizing pop hooks, soul-gripping vocals and moody electronics.
In writing her debut, Jordan peals back the layers to reveal her vulnerable side. Tapping into intimate experiences, the record's lyrics have an overarching theme about a relationship, that while brief had a lasting impact on her. Honesty pours out on tracks like "Tell Me," which is her most personal song about a friend's battle with addiction, and the LGBTQ love song "Long Time," about a short lived relationship that went nowhere and the headtrips that ensued.
While Jordan's musical seeds were planted years ago, with Somme's upcoming release they'll now see full bloom. Her debut EP will be released Spring 2018. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/sommesongs.