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October 16, 2016

Feather
to fire

Feather
to fire

Sabina Fratila
CONCERT REVIEWS

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Fjer*, this strikingly young singer, songwriter and producer – born in Aarhus but reinvented in New York – took the stage way before her Low-Fi concert had even started.

Fjer*, this strikingly young singer, songwriter and producer – born in Aarhus but reinvented in New York – took the stage way before her Low-Fi concert had even started.

IShe strode back and forth, a vision in white, all eyes following her like in a high-stakes tennis match. I sensed a conflicting vibe in her, where the attention she attracted seemed to give her a special glow and energy, but at the same time made her fearful and defensive. Later I would understand that we were actually witnessing an intangible confrontation between Maja and her musical alter ego, which was about to take over.

Once Fjer emerged from her delicate figure, we were all taken aback. Without any introduction of her own, she pressed play on her Mac and a rugged, reverberated beat filled the room. 10 seconds later, Fjer’s voice came as an even greater surprise. It was powerful and incisive, arresting all movement in the room. She had decided to kick off with “Long Nights”, a track from her first EP, “A New Start”. It built on that rugged beat and a looping guitar sample that set the melancholic tone of her lyrics. Fjer sang about hazy memories of nights lived by a self that was long gone, but longed for.

She strode back and forth, a vision in white, all eyes following her like in a high-stakes tennis match. I sensed a conflicting vibe in her, where the attention she attracted seemed to give her a special glow and energy, but at the same time made her fearful and defensive. Later I would understand that we were actually witnessing an intangible confrontation between Maja and her musical alter ego, which was about to take over.

Once Fjer emerged from her delicate figure, we were all taken aback. Without any introduction of her own, she pressed play on her Mac and a rugged, reverberated beat filled the room. 10 seconds later, Fjer’s voice came as an even greater surprise. It was powerful and incisive, arresting all movement in the room. She had decided to kick off with “Long Nights”, a track from her first EP, “A New Start”. It built on that rugged beat and a looping guitar sample that set the melancholic tone of her lyrics. Fjer sang about hazy memories of nights lived by a self that was long gone, but longed for.

Only after the song had ended did she introduce herself, switching characters once again. Her confident voice now sounded muted and humbled by the subtle grandeur of both venue and audience. As she later admitted, this was her first ever sold-out show. 

Fjer fooled us once again when she opened her second track with a syncopated piano melody that sounded like the start of a lullaby. Her telling us it was called “Children” didn’t help either. But as the song progressed, it took us all to darker places. Our young years aren’t all that innocent and safe after all, you know? They leave scars on your body and holes in your heart. And if the reminiscence is guided by a thumping, deep baseline and hiccuping samples that, with a different arrangement, could very well serve as the soundtrack of a thriller, it gets pretty chilly.

"No matter how dark or bold her lyrics, synths and loops – even dance moves – got, her eyes remained shy and full of wonder."
"No matter how dark or bold her lyrics, synths and loops – even dance moves – got, her eyes remained shy and full of wonder."

Her voice was, once again, the main act. She could comfortably inhabit the R&B or soul genre, but she decided to mix in some electro, envelop her voice in reverb and play with beats, synths and samples. I’m guessing this is how trip-hop sounds nowadays, and I’m not mad at all.

The shift between Fjer’s two personas repeated throughout the concert, which helped in keeping an aura of mystery over her identity. Her entire discography is, indeed, a puzzling mix of sweet and bitter tunes, such as the tender “Beautiful Home” versus the fiery “Wrong Time”. Or the sad and mellow “You again”, in which she looped our finger snapping to serve as the song’s rhythm section, versus the feisty “Her Turn”, where jagged synths and voice effects accompanied her elegantly hostile social commentary on women’s place in the music industry. But really the most puzzling aspect of it all was that, no matter how dark or bold her lyrics, synths and loops – even dance moves – got, her eyes remained shy and full of wonder. However, it didn’t feel like she tried to hide her introversion under a daring artistic identity, she just seemed comfortable enough to reveal both her sides – and her story. She is a young woman on a quest to find herself in her challenges, her lyrics and her music. And from the sound of it, she’s really onto something. You shouldn’t take my word for it, though. Instead, go ahead and listen to her stories on SpotifyBandcamp and Soundcloud. You might also enjoy reading our Low-Fi interview with Fjer. And if you happen to be in NYC, you should hurry up and book her for a home concert on Low-Fi.

I’ll leave you with some pictures from the concert and a selection of my favourite Fjer tracks, because, well, I’m kind of obsessed with her now; there’s a good chance you’ll be too:

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Bonus, this pretty awesome collaboration with Danish rapper Erik; it’s quite different from her usual style, but such a nice, positive tune:

*fjer {en} = feather {noun}

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