The fab people over at Crown Ruler have been bringing us the best underground soul we never knew we needed for about a minute now and in that spirit have wrangled this delightful lineup to play some intimate shows around Oz.
From Melbourne, Silentjay is a multi-instrumentalist you have probably seen or heard by now. He’s been winning over the underground dance scene down south with his soulful vocals and rich layered textures that border jazz, house and dub. He’s also fairly fresh from backup crooning with Haitus Kaiyote and opening for the likes of Thundercat and Flying Lotus. Jay, with longtime collaborator and talented lyricist Jace XL, took the stage first up to mellow out the vibe.
Following this with some more magic was L.A.-based singer/songwriter Joyce Wrice. After building a burgeoning following via her YouTube covers, she took up hook duties for a few L.A. artists and caught the attention of Stones Throw producer Mndsgn. She released her first EP Stay Around in 2016 and has been throwing a lush twist on classic R&B with each release since. This was her first time rolling through the country and my first time hearing her honey-coated harmonies and I was digging every second, and so was the crowd. Her finesse was undeniable and her glittering personality so infectious as she interacted with the audience one-on-one in between songs.
Feeling pretty toasty by this stage and enter Ivan Ave, a Norwegian MC who has been producing some of the smoothest, most acutely on-point hip-hop since ever. I discovered his first solo project Low Jams upon its release amongst a slew of Soundcloud artists, and it’s been on an infinite loop in my psyche ever since. That EP has been placed on the same true school tier as Nas‘ Illmatic and the last time you heard flow that fluent was on some Rakim record. But those comparisons are as close as you’ll come to describing what it is Ave does because his style is really his own.
Since that 2014 release he has produced a steady flow of projects with a staunch list of collaborators, including Fredfades, Kaytranada, and Mndsgn who also produced Low Jams and Ave’s debut LP Helping Hands. His second album Every Eye dropped at the end of last year to round out some climactic times with some of his most complex musings yet.
Back in Sydney, his live set didn’t disappoint either. Ave’s attention and energy were unwavering from the first moment, and were only galvanised by the banter and humour that he peppered throughout. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been so elated by a live performance before. I’m biased though. He eased out of his set by sliding into an hour-long funk fest courtesy of the man himself, Mndsgn.
Silentjay & Jace XL
Joyce Wrice & Benedek
Ivan Ave & MNDSGN
Photos: Dani Hansen/Howl & Echoes