“Be sure to pick up the LP, there are bangers all over it” - WAX POETICS
“The most promising English soul voice” – LES INROCKS
“Formidable... an ambitious project where Harleighblu shines brightly” - 4 STARS – BLUES & SOUL
“If Gil Melle did soul it may sound like this” - 8.5/10 - DJ MAG
“Captivating and thrumming with future soul” – CRACK MAG
“A very current sound... the ease in mixing hip hop and soul is impressive” - ALBUM OF THE MONTH – FIP
“Save Me” is the second single to be lifted from the much-praised ‘Amorine’, a sci-fi film in album form by Harleighblu X Starkiller, released in November '17. This inspired collaborative project catches rising UK singer Harleighblu joining forces with LA duo Starkiller (the production outfit of C.E. Garcia & Alfredo E. Fratti, members of Adrian Younge’s Venice Dawn.
A dystopian future love story, ‘Amorine’ sees high drama colliding with a cool, clean, sci-fi atmosphere, via a hip hop sensibility and musical references from psychedelic funk to DJ Shadow to Portishead. “Save Me” brings a snapshot of thisheart-rending tale (which can be read in full overleaf); Harleighblu’s adventurous vocals and opening plea to “Break me from these shackles” cut to the quick, while an undercurrent of teasingly laid-back hip hop beats and ominous guitar conspires with a sci-fi synth-scape to slyly threaten the apocalypse.
“Live Fast, Die Young (Phrāim Chicago Remix)” ups the off-kilter hip hop factor while tapping into the cinematic world of the original; “CE and Alfredo are big-time aficionados of great cinema like myself, and Amorine is essentially one big scoring, so I approached it like bonus material or an alternate take of a Director's Cut”, says Phrāim, a regular on Chicago’s improvisational beat-making scene. “I decided to flip it inside out and use the song elements as much as possible.” This reverential remix also tips a hat to a hero: “I knew the duo had recently been sampled by DJ Premier via Venice Dawn. I've long been a fan and default student of Primo so I wanted to pay homage while still pursuing my signature production style.”
The futuristic Harleighblu X Starkiller project aptly follows Harleighblu’s ‘Futurespective’ releases which found the young singer eyeing the horizon, working with cutting edge electronic producers to forge a new sound. On hearing her music, Garcia was struck by Harleighblu’s ability to combine an accomplished, classic soul voice and fresh, future beats; “I’d been playing with this idea of making an album that sounded like the future somehow, and I thought 'well this is it – this is the person to work with'”, he affirms.
With his love of film, sci-fi and graphic novels, and his tendency to go all in on a project, Garcia was soon envisioning an entire album set in the future, and concocting the ‘Amorine’ story which was heavily inspired by two sources in particular: the comic book “The Incal” by French artist Mœbius, and the 1971 George Lucas film THX 1138.
A hyperactive visionary producer and a classically-trained wunderkind, respectively, Garcia & Fratti met their match in Harleighblu. Her response to their initial instrumental sketches boasted emphatic hooks and multi-textured harmonies - the perfect foil to their lavish guitars, synths and growling bass. An intriguing creative process followed, which saw the LP crafted across continents (it wasn’t until June 2016, after its completion, that the two parties finally met, when Harleighblu was gigging in LA – a milestone that builds on UK and European success). “We’d go back and forth, surprising each other, pushing the other to think differently”, says Harleighblu, who was encouraged via this process to unlock yet more layers of range and expression in her notably versatile voice: “Sometimes I couldn't believe how far, how out-there, I'd taken it.”
Key in orchestrating this union between the young Nottingham-based singer and the LA musical dons was Adrian Younge, having initially been approached by Harleighblu to express her love of his work and her wish to collaborate. Unable to commit due to his constantly evolving schedule, Younge recommended Starkiller as members of his extended musical family. Playing in venerable producer Younge’s Venice Dawn, Garcia & Fratti have contributed to records including the Black Dynamite OST, and worked with many of their own musical heroes (such as Ghostface Killah, RZA, the Delfonics’ William Hart, Souls Of Mischief, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of ATCQ).