The commercial, dance-friendly world of electronic music has often overlooked its darker-minded, more experimental cousins in the underground. Where the Chainsmokers and David Guetta rule there’s traditionally been little room for the brooding, often genuine terrifying overtures of Aphex Twin or the delicate minimalism of Björk, however in recent years that’s begun to change. With electronic music’s increased profile more commercial artists have found room to experiment and the charts are starting to sound a little weirder.
One of the artists at the forefront of this crossover is Charli XCX, who’s been working with PC Music’s A.G Cook and SOPHIE to make a breed of ironic hyper pop that’s equal parts bubblegum and brutalism. The deeper you dive into XCX’s current crew, the more the list of talent grows and case and point is Esther Joy. A member of Charli’s band and an artist in her own right, Joy has been forging leftfield, club-ready music for a minute now and is getting ready to release her first EP later this year.
Drawing more on early Crystal Castles and 80s new wave than the ultra-modern stylings of her peers, Joy is setting down a darker path with the EP’s lead single ‘Samgel.’ Named after a dark presence that lingered over Joy’s adolescence and early 20s it’s a track that sees her embrace music as a form of therapy, working through the troubles of her youth with howling vocals and hammering synths. Speaking about the track Joy said: “Samgel is the name I use for the dark presence I experience and write about a lot in my music. It is a part of me that has overwhelmed me so much in my life and been the root to most of my darkest moments. I named this track after it because as soon as I wrote that first synth line (the big intense one at the beginning), it was like I had found Samgel.” Listen to ‘Samgel’ below.