OCTOBER: Switchblade [EP]
New Zealand's music scene is glowing, and growing at an astronomical rate - with great thanks to the internet. Exciting young artists like Lontalius, Totems, Montell2099, and Zen Mantra are exploring new sounds and are redefining what it is to make "NZ Music". You can now add singer-songwriter Emma Logan (aka October) to that list of local musicians pushing boundaries with their latest projects. Switchblade is her debut EP under Universal Music, and marks a couple of years of experimentation and crafting her sound to perfection. She's certainly hit the sweet spot with this release, managing to create memorable hooks and moments while still engineering a sound which is progressive instrumentally. Where the 19 year old Blenheimite (yup) really shines is through her impressive vocal phrasing and range. The way she commands the tracks with such conviction certainly helps carry the messages of the songs, while giving them some pop sensibility.
The title-track contains lead synths which steer the song round, while October delivers confident, commanding vocals on top of delayed and reverberated percussion.
Come and test me and I'll show you what I'm really made of - Switchblade
Perhaps the only thing more impressive than Emma's vocals on the EP is the fact that she produced the whole thing herself. Oh, and she also directs her own music videos. This is what we're guessing makes the whole project so cohesive. Having total control, or at least a hand in every touch of the creative process allows her to express her thoughts and ideas more clearly, and effectively to her audience.
Emma says she is influenced by a wide range of artists and bands ranging anywhere from Pink Floyd, FKA Twigs, and King Krule to Death Grips. The Death Grips influence is perhaps best heard on tracks like Warm Blood and 750ml where she uses distorted and abrasive sounds to create slightly off kilter loops and percussion.
In an interview with Oyster Mag Emma mentioned that she chose the name October because she wanted something which was androgynous, so that people couldn't dismiss her or her music before they'd even given it a listen:
I want people to recognise me as not only a songwriter but as a producer, which seems to be a very male-dominated field. I want to prove to people that I can do this, and that I am good
Each song on the EP stands strongly by itself and could be considered single-worthy in its own right. In its essence Switchblade is a collection of well-written, dark pop songs which if stripped back we're sure would still be enjoyable to listen to acoustically. It'll be interesting to see how much growth October can attain this year with backing from Universal Music, not to mention her fellow artists from within the local community.
Stream it on Spotify (below), Apple Music, or cop it on iTunes