In this latest edition of Promising Pop, I’m introducing you to three supremely talented new acts I’ve recently become aware of, and RE-INTRODUCING you to an artist I’ve previous featured. First, the newbies—we’ve got London singer Lizbet Sempa, a Toronto-based pop newcomer called RALPH, and London-based trio—SÄLEN. My RE-introduction is of a London-based artist I previously featured in an earlier edition of Promising Pop by way of a BRILLIANT remix by Tobtox. Well, the artist in question, Tiggi Hawke has put out an even MORE brilliant song out that I just couldn’t say no to.
The first time I played “Deep Inside,” I was instantly captivated by its singer, Lizbet Sempa‘s stunning voice and smoky-rich tone. Then, about a minute in—the song’s tempo changes, transforming it into a euphoric piece of pulsating, heart and soul-infused pop. “By the river is where I’ll be / I’ll be waiting for you here / Time is calling for you dear / mind is thinking that you’re near,” she sings confidently, her voice flowing along with the song’s synth-lead current, never letting the production overpower her. “Came here looking for your pride, and I found it deep inside, / let it wash away, wash away, wash away,” she continues, her confidence unwavering. In listening to her sing, it’s easy to compare Lizbet Sempa to her more well-known contemporaries, such as Adele and Laura Mvula, but she’s very much her own artist with her own artistic identity. The 20-year-old London-based singer/songwriter premiered “Deep Inside” (out now) on Nylon, and described it as being about “how ego can stop beautiful things from happening” and the concept of “waiting for love but it never coming.” Listen to “Deep Inside” below and become smitten with Lizbet Sempa‘s undeniable talent.
DIY had the privilege of premiering “Cold To The Touch,” a new 80s-inspired gem from Toronto-based pop newcomer, RALPH (AKA Raffa Weyman). I don’t know a lot about her, aside from what I read in the press release, but I have to say, I’m completely head over heels for this track and ready for more RALPH! The song is drenched in 80s nostalgia—something I never really knew I needed in my life, until Carly Rae Jepsen dropped her flawless masterpiece of a sophomore album, E•MO•TION, which was practically dripping with 80s influence. Like with Jepsen’s sound, RALPH doesn’t lose herself in retro pop cliches—rather she customizes and tweaks it a bit, mixing in some other vibes to create something fresh and contemporary that would play nicely in today’s pop landscape. According to RALPH, the song is about “the imbalance that often exists between two people in a casual fling,” —that theme evident in the song’s chorus; “Not looking for love / Hate to say it but its time you gave it up / Just trying to be honest I’m not what you wanted / Not looking for love / You leave my body cold to the touch.” OUCH. With “Cold To The Touch,” RALPH offers listeners a nice little tease of what’s to come—I’m TOTALLY here for it, and I think you should be to. Listen to “Cold To The Touch” below.
There are a few words that make me cringe and slightly queasy—moist for instance, and catheter… shudder …am I alone with that one? ANOTHER word that was very nearly added to that list— “diseasey“—a word…I don’t even think is a real word. Well, THANKS to an emerging East London electronic pop trio by the name of SÄLEN, I can now associate the “word” diseasey with the sort of quality pop song that made me want to start writing this Promising Pop feature in the first place! The very start of “Diseasey” recalls (for me anyway) the beginning of Chairlift‘s “Moth To The Flame,” but i-d astutely identifies as the “clinky-clonky Hans Zimmer True Romance intro” (is that true?). SÄLEN‘s female vocalist sings in, a sort of colorful monotone, about a regrettable encounter of a sexual nature. Despite the song’s dark theme, the production is surprisingly light, its sugary synths complementing the sweet sadness of the vocal. “And I want to say honestly / You need to let go of me / What’s coming over me? / Why I am in bed with you? / I’m into your sickness,” she sings in the chorus.
The mysterious trio known as SÄLEN really only began as a group last year, at a house party no less! This spawned their breakout viral hit, “IILWMBF” (I’m In Love With My Best Friend) and the threesome has been busy writing ever since. “Diseasey” premiered on Annie Mac‘s BBC Radio 1 show last month, which is pretty impressive considering how unknown they are at this point. The song is out now via Machine Records and you can catch SÄLEN play their first headlining gig at Birthday’s in London on June 29th. Listen to “Diseasey” below.
Normally, when I write a Promising Pop feature about a new artist, it marks their Music Is My King Size Bed debut. Should that artist go and release an equally share-worthy follow-up, I’ll tag it in one of my LISTEN TO THIS spotlights, but for Tiggi Hawke, I feel like she’s deserving of a second Promising Pop write-up. The first time I wrote about the British singer/songwriter, all she had out was a Tobtox remix of an as-yet-unreleased song. While the remix alone was worth posting, I was waiting to hear more from Tiggi Hawke—something more raw and un-remixed—something exactly like her new song, “Burn Notice.” Co-written with Bruce Fielder (AKA Sigala) and Marli Harwood (Olly Murs, KYGO), “Burn Notice” offers a vastly superior showcase for Tiggi’s talent, highlighting the ethereal quality in her voice, which ebbs and flows with the song’s emotionally-charged current. In talking about her songwriting process, Tiggi explains why there will always be, at least a hint of darkness or sadness in her music. “None of my music is ever going to be 100% happy because I don’t feel like that reflects life, she says. That’s just a rose-tinted version of life, that we maybe see on Instagram. I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be like that. So all of my lyrics, all of my stories, are from things I’ve been through, and that I’ve experienced.”
I was excited about Tiggi Hawke before, but now that I’ve heard what she can do on her own, without the aid of a remixer’s raucous beats, I’m even more excited to hear what comes next. Now, that being said—I wouldn’t mind a BANGIN‘ “Burn Notice” remix. In the meantime, give the original version of the track a listen, down below.