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Baker's Dozen

By The Numbers: Loraine James' Favourite Music
Jennifer Lucy Allan , June 9th, 2021 08:31

Loraine James tells Jennifer Lucy Allan about her favourite albums, digging into math rock and Mid west emo, as well as slept-on electronica

Photo by Suleika Müller

A few years ago, I ducked my head into the final half-hour of a gig in a brewery under some railway arches in Hackney. Inside, Loraine James was tearing it up, dressed in an orange Hawaiian shirt and shredding Beyoncé into rhythmic mouthfuls of high-energy rhythms. The small crowd whooped with joy, and screamed for more when she finished.

Soon after, she released her first album for Hyperdub, For You And I. It was tQ's album of the year for 2019 and made many other end-of-year lists. It boasted a fresh sound made by magpie ears, from bubbling glottal beats on 'Glitch Bitch' to jagged breaks on 'So Scared' and rolling ambient sounds on 'Sick 9', flecked with glitched-out vocal samples sung, spoken and spat. James has an instinct for building a palette of sounds, as in the crunchy arrhythmic kicks, blooming synths and C-3PO whistle of 'Hand Drops', a track about the fear of showing affection with her girlfriend in public. The album was more broadly about James' experience as a queer woman in London navigating a new relationship. 

2020 should have been a year of touring that record, playing live (which she loves), but then the pandemic hit. Instead, she spent the year building on its success by recording and releasing new and excavated material, and continuing to do remixes (she has remixed artists including Jessy Lanza, Max De Wardener, and one of her Baker's Dozen favourites, Lusine, over the last year or so). In March 2020, she released an album that had previously been canned, bundled with demos from For You And I, followed by Hmm in July, "another random EP" of entirely coherent boxed-in bleeps and paintbox bloops. Later in the year, she released Nothing, an EP on Hyperdub that featured rave stabs and wonky bedroom synth-pop in collaborations with Uruguayan singer and producer Lila Tirdo a Violeta, Farsi language rapper Tardast and HTRK's Jonnine Standish. Her latest album, Reflection, is perhaps most indebted to the sound of her older labelmates on Hyperdub, with heads-down club-facing electronica tracks like 'Simple Stuff'.

Loraine James grew up in Enfield, London, and started making music as a teenager. She'd played piano and keyboard since the age of six, and her mother – who played in a steel band on weekends – filled their flat with music. James studied for a degree in Commercial Music at Westminster, where she fell in love with playing live and met future collaborators including Le3 bLACK. Her first release was Settle Down in 2015, followed by a run of short albums and EPs, where she was finding her sound, which she has only fairly recently uploaded to Bandcamp. Her break came after appearing on Rinse FM on DJ and producer object blue's show, who tweeted Hyperdub and told them to sign her. They did.

Ahead of the release of Reflection, tQ sat down with James to talk about the music that has shaped her, a collection of emo and math rock, along with ambient and moody electronica. It's music for headphones, music for teenage bedrooms, music that reflects our angst, before we head back to our computers to hunt for more.

Reflection is out now on Hyperdub. Click the portrait below to begin reading Loraine James' Baker's Dozen selections