PREMIERE: Aphra remixes Youth Lagoon's "The Knower," preps debut EP - WXPN
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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.

Way says that in addition to Oh Land, the Boise-based Youth Lagoon (aka Trevor Powers) was one of the few artists she discovered in college that handled all the production on their own music. It was impressive and exciting for her, and she calls 2011’s The Year Of Hibernation a favorite, “one of the few [records] that get can me into a good headspace regardless of what ever crappy mood I’m in.” She’s been a devotee of Powers’ work ever since. “It’s pretty clear the guy does what he wants, how he wants it,” Way says, “and I think that’s really inspiring to independent musicians today.”

Though it’s not an official collaboration, Way views her re-version as a means of paying homage to an artist she looks up to while also exercising her mixing skill. “I’m still relatively new to Ableton, so it really challenged me to become a better producer.”

The song in its original format, found on this year’s Savage Hills Ballroom, begins on a hushed, a cappela note, with Powers singing “Oh, everybody wants to think they’re not what they ate, that their body’s great / Oh, everybody wants to think that they’re good at heart, when they’re full of hate.” Way’s version focuses on this couplet, and adds to the ferocity with new rhythms and sonic textures, all mined and recontextualized from the original.

“I could have taken a few phrases and put them on top of some ‘sick beat,'” she says. “But instead I wanted to work with the sounds that were already given to me. I wanted to keep the integrity of the original song intact as much as I could, but also give it that dark creepy feeling that I got when I listened to it for the first time.”

Listen to the Aphra remix of Youth Lagoon’s “The Knower” below, and compare it against the original, and keep your eye out for more: Way tells us that Aphra will release “Geranimo” on November 11th; it’s the first official single from the EP due out this March, which has been culminating for years. “It’s all been one great experiment for me to find my voice in a huge sea of influences and passions,” she says.

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