Elba is a collaboration between producer/engineer Dark Arps (Jon Bierman) and singer/songwriter amsii (Amber Sawicki). They met in Vancouver in 2018 through a mutual friend who acted as a go-between, sending rough demos recorded with a cheap cell phone. A graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Amber was already performing with bands and forging her own solo identity. He instantly recognized her immense talent as a vocalist and composer, and encouraged her to create more intricate arrangements as she delved into sequencing and production. Working together as Elba, eight dynamic tracks emerged for their eponymous debut album around the grounding force of her powerful vocals.
Sawicki’s orations elate the body and soul, while her lyrics tap into the zeitgeist of urban decay presently unfolding amidst late-stage capitalism. She possesses the introspective prowess of Erykah Badu as much as the sugary hook of Jessie Reyez. Her vision imbues Bierman’s technically sophisticated techno-tinged breakbeats with an elevated pop sensibility that would sound perfect on any genre-spanning contemporary R&B/electro/new wave playlist alongside the likes of Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) and Amy Douglas project HARD FEELINGS, or Ninja Tune producer Anz.
(words by Alan Ranta)