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Interview | Jessy Lanza is the Queen of Postmodern R&B

Critically-acclaimed Canadian alt-pop creator makes old new again with her seductive sound.

Patrick Greenby Patrick Green
(Photo: Hollie Pocsai (Getty Images)

Nineties R&B may only be heard on VH-1 and retro soul stations now, but it’s alive and well in the hearts of cusp Millennial girls who grew up singing and dancing along to homemade mixtapes of Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, and Mary J. Blige (to name a few).

Jessy Lanza is one of those girls, who now that she is all grown up and making music herself, wears her nineties R&B influences on her Tommy Hilfiger jacket sleeves like a badge of honor.

Also: Interview | Nite Jewel Shines Bright on “Real High”

Like Jhené Aiko, FKA Twigs, and Nite Jewel, Lanza is a post-modern R&B artist, who creates streaming-friendly dance-pop-soul songs that young audiences can relate to an older ears can hear the influence in.

Lanza’s ability to sound familiar, yet fresh earned the Canadian electro-soul singer and producer critical-acclaim on her sophomore album, Oh No (out now on Hyperdub Records), as it made numerous “Album of the Year” lists, including Crave’s. 

I caught up with Lanza, currently on a solo tour, over email to chat about her ’90s influences, post-modern pop and R&B and her breakout year.

Crave: Your songs are very modern, but there’s a ‘90s R&B vibe flowing through it. That’s such a revered time in music right now. What about that era caught your ear as a fan and what has stayed with you as an artist? 

Jessy Lanza: Nineties R&B is another way to describe the pop music I grew up listening to. It is sentimental to me but r&b is also jazzy and I play jazz piano so I can relate to it that way as well. 

Modern pop music often gets labeled as one-dimensional. Your post-modern pop sound is upbeat and fun, yet there’s an underlying melancholy about it. How do you approach walking that fine line? 

Being a downer isn’t something I approach, but try to conceal because it’s boring to talk about it too much. The music being upbeat is a way to hide that I’m feeling shitty, but I can see i’m not fooling anyone — haha. 

“Oh No” got a lot of acclaim last year by being named to numerous Top 10 lists including Crave’s. What was the most gratifying achievement for you?

I appreciate that thanks. Touring is really great because I can see how far the music goes and that it’s relatable everywhere. 

What’s the main difference between Canadian and American fans? 

They really are the same. 

 Jessy Lanza plays at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 7pm. For tickets go HERE