All photography by Jody Brand, courtesy of PR

Angel-Ho Makes Genuinely Radical Electronic Music

Ahead of debut album, 'Death Becomes Her', we're premiering the Cape Town artist's new Gaika- and Bon-produced track and video, “Pose”.

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29 January 2019, 11:00am

All photography by Jody Brand, courtesy of PR

Angel-Ho has just finished shopping in Cape Town. She’s bought a Chanel jumpsuit, which is absolutely covered in the designer’s logo. Her mornings are always quite busy, she tells me. She starts by going to the gym before eating porridge, berries and honey. Then she’ll have a few meetings with choreographers, artists, or whoever she’s collaborating with. After that, it’s chill. She might have a glass of wine at home and dance around to some music. By the time I ring her, it’s 4PM – that latter half of the day.

We’re speaking because the singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist is on the cusp of releasing her debut album, Death Becomes Her, due out on 1 March via Hyperdub (she's just been signed to the prolific UK label.) You may have heard her name before, though. She co-founded NON Worldwide – a collective slash "utopian virtual space“ giving power to marginalised voices – alongside Nkisi and Chino Amobi (although when I bring that up, she says she’d rather not focus on it right now.)

She’s also released a bunch of mixtapes, EPs and stand-alone tracks in the past, like the brilliant, hyper-visceral electronic EP Ascension in 2015. But that was different to what she’s currently doing. “The stuff I released before was mostly soundscapes, quite theatrical, quite offsetting,” Angel explains, continuing: “Whereas now I’m engaging with music melodically, I’m engaging with it from a pop star perspective, from a vocalist perspective, from a songwriting perspective, and with a musicality that I love.”

Although her new music is obviously "poppier" – you can hear the influence of artists like Missy Elliott, Grace Jones and even Kanye West, for example – it is still intrinsically, supernaturally radical. New track “Pose”, which we’re premiering below, is built from sparse, warped electronic beats and punchy bars. “My music is pop, meets the death of pop, meets the death of identity, death of politics, death of everything,” Angel says, laughing. “It’s just a big funeral. It’s [also] the metal rocker chick in me. Metal and rock is so emotional and poetic, and I wanted to bring that sense of poetry into my album.”

It makes sense that “Pose” sounds so fresh and special. Not only do we get hear more of Angel's vocal, but it was also produced by duo Bon and our very own Brixton-based Gaika, who draws on the legacies of dancehall, trap, and all sorts of other borderless genres, and who we've profiled in the past. “We'd been sending music to each other, and then we put it to rest for a while,” Angel says. “Then I returned to the music while putting together my new album. I felt this urging need to freestyle on that track.” It's weird, I say, how perfectly their sounds fit together like a jigsaw. “Definitely. We circulate in similar families and worlds... we drink the same water.”

The video itself, directed by regular collaborator Chris Kets, is gorgeous and powerful. Full of hot pinks, futuristic graphics and angular choreography, the visual is otherworldly and spectacular, hard to place but also fitting with the song. “I really wanted the dancing to be fierce and pungent, and direct, like the track,” Angel says. “I wanted to incorporate dance because it accentuates and extends the visual. My whole live set is dancing with my dancers. We put on a big choreographed show, which is quite theatrical... it's quite a display.”

I tell her I wish I could see that show, it sounds like something I'd love. “Well, you will be able to!” she tells me, explaining how once the record is released she'll be touring about the place, including over here in the UK. As for the immediate future, though, after our chat she's just going to pour that glass of wine and find something new to dance to. Is there anything else she needs to tell me, I ask? Anything else she really wants to say? Something that people should hear? There's a beat that lasts half a second. “I want people to know that I am going to come for their wigs.”

Death Becomes Her is due out on Friday 1 March via Hyperdub.

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