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The Key Studio Sessions: Aphra

Philly’s Rebecca Way is a multifaceted artist with a lot of ambition. Over the past several years, she’s dabbled in various avenues of songwriting, from humble beginnings as a folk-leaning solo artist to a long run in art-rock ensemble Tutlie. Lately, her attention has been focused on Aphra, an alluring electronic pop project bringing all aspects of her work under a single umbrella.

Its sound is very much in line with modern pop visionaries – James Blake, Banks, Lorde, Youth Lagoon – though Way’s songwriting has a distinctly broad reach. Take “Would You,” a yearning romantic ballad recorded for this week’s Key Studio Session: its structure is very traditionally rooted in folk, in sort of the way that Conor Oberst does folk, but the delivery is pure R&B, hitting some serious Lady Gaga highs. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Slingshot Dakota at Everybody Hits, Aphra at Bourbon and Branch, The Smith Street Band at Boot and Saddle, and more…

Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com
Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com

Bethlehem indie-punk duo Slingshot Dakota released their new album Break earlier this month via Topshelf Records, and they will be throwing their Philly record release at Everybody Hits tonight. The bill will also include Petal, Hurry, and Mercury Girls. We also premiered the band’s Key Studio Session on Thursday. Tickets and more information can be found via the XPN Concert Calender. Continue reading →

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Give Me TV, Give Me Something: The melancholic intensity of Aphra’s Rebecca Way

Aphra
Aphra | photo by Megan Matuzak | courtesy of the artist

It’s 10 p.m. and Rebecca Way is crouched in fetal position in the middle of a frigid, musky Philadelphia warehouse. The spacious room is filled with an eclectic assortment of objects befitting a garage sale – an antique dinner table, a dusty sofa, a potted cactus, a stack of books, an old Epson scanner. The building releases a deep rumble every few minutes as the nearby Market-Frankford El passes by. Suddenly, Way, clad in an all-black outfit that matches the color of her hair, pops up and begins to nimbly roll her way around the cold concrete floor. She’s in the middle of rehearsing her music video for “Geranimo,” the first single from Sadness Is a Gesture – the debut EP from her one-woman project Aphra, set to be released this spring.

Way barks commands to her backup dancers, a group of three hip twenty-somethings: “Pump! Pump! Frankenstein! Frankenstein! Body roll!” But in between run-throughs she also casually ruminates on twerking with one of the dancers, asking, “Don’t you have to be able to like, vibrate?” They share a laugh, and the rehearsal continues.
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PREMIERE: Watch the new video for “Geranimo” from Aphra

Rebecca Way of Aphra | Photo by Megan Matuzak
Rebecca Way of Aphra | Photo by Megan Matuzak

The new music video for “Geranimo,” released today by Aphra, is a like a prism. If you shine light on it at the right angle, it produces a rainbow. But if you’re at the wrong angle, you just have plain white light. Much in the same way, the video begins with a mutating spectrum of colors — yellow morphs to purple then to pink — as the eerie sound of a children’s music box comes to life. Suddenly, the color dissipates, the perfect angle lost.

Throughout the rest of the video — some of which is shot in black and white — color is in short supply. Even when the camera technically is shooting in “color,” there’s little to be seen in the backdrop that consists of a brick wall coated in white paint and tables covered with white cloth. Every once in a while, though, a touch of color darts in front of the camera, a brief moment of warmth in what feels like an otherwise desolate place. Continue reading →

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Listen to Aphra’s introverted new single “Rooms”

aphra
Aphra | photo by Megan Matuzak | courtesy of the artist

The “About” section on Aphra’s Bandcamp page contains a deceptively complex message. “Moving beyond catharsis,” it reads.

This short phrase might be the unifying theme behind all of Aphra’s music. It doesn’t seek to simply express painful emotions. It actually seeks to heal.

“Rooms,” the second single from Aphra’s forthcoming EP Sadness Is a Gesture, fits this mold perfectly. The song is about vocalist Rebecca Way’s suffering following the end of a toxic relationship. “When people fall in love they tend to put each other on such a high pedestal at first (turning another into a Christ figure of sorts),” Way wrote to the Key. Continue reading →

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Listen to Kate Faust team up with Aphra for an upbeat cover of Radiohead’s “All I Need”

Kate Faust and leBeet | photo via facebook.com/iamkatefaust
Kate Faust and leBeet | photo via facebook.com/iamkatefaust

Kate Faust has teamed up with fellow soulful, electro-inspired vocalist Aphra for a unique cover of Radiohead’s “All I Need” from their 2007 release In Rainbows. Faust, who sat down with The Key earlier this month, picked a great collaborator in Aphra, as both artists share a captivating voice and clever use of electronic arrangements. The two make a natural pair, and at times their styles fuse so seamlessly it’s nearly impossible to tell their voices apart. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Aphra shares “Geranimo,” first single from her new EP

aphra
Aphra | photo by Megan Matuzak | meganmatuzak.com | courtesy of the artist

Over the last few months we’ve been getting slowly acquainted with Aphra, the solo project of Tutlie’s Rebecca Way. We were first introduced at Ortlieb’s back in July of last year when Way opened for Vita and the Woolf; crossed paths again at another Vita show this September at Johnny Brenda’s; and we picked her brain about remixing Youth Lagoon in October. Way recently picked up some steam and is now a pretty frequent name on show bills. All of that has been leading up to the release of her new EP Sadness Is a Gesture, which will be out next spring. Today we have the premiere of “Geranimo,” the album’s first offering to our ears.

Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Aphra remixes Youth Lagoon’s “The Knower,” preps debut EP

Aphra | Photo by Megan Matuzak
Aphra | Photo by Megan Matuzak

If you pay attention to Philadelphia concert listings, you’ve probably seen a strong uptick in gigs by Aphra over the past year. It seemed on the surface that the band was a side project of Tutlie’s Rebecca Way, but it’s actually the other way around; Way has been making haunting, evocative music as Aphra since before Tutlie existed, and she’s felt increasingly inspired of late to return to her original project. This summer, she parted ways with her Tutlie bandmates – no bad blood or acrimony, nothing like that, she just needed space to give the project the time it deserved.

Last month, Aphra caught the attention of a packed Johnny Brenda’s house opening for Vita and the Woolf; as our Michelle Montgomery described it, “Through loops, drum machine beats, and keys, she created a rich texture of sound filled with emotional nuances.” Way is looking to bring more of that sound to the surface as she rolls out new music this fall and winter, but as she told us over email this week, “I figured I’d get people warmed up to my sound with a remix or two.” It begins with her reworking of a track by indie scene staple Youth Lagoon – which we’re excited to bring you today. Continue reading →

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Vita and the Woolf headlines a fantastic all-Philly bill at Johnny Brenda’s

Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Johnny Brenda’s was filled with an awesome triple bill of live local music on Thursday night, capped by Vita and the Woolf‘s biggest hometown headlining appearance to date. She just wrapped up production on an EP that she plans to release in the spring, and was kicking off a short fall tour acorss the Northeast. Continue reading →