meta-scriptReunited Shoegaze Legends Slowdive Prove 'Everything Is Alive' | GRAMMY.com
Slowdive
Slowdive (L-R: Christian Savill, Nick Chaplin, Rachel Goswell, Simon Scott, Neil Halstead)

Photo: Ingrid Pop

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Reunited Shoegaze Legends Slowdive Prove 'Everything Is Alive'

When Slowdive returned almost a decade ago, they were in the awkward position of "heritage band." Their new album 'everything is alive' proves they remain a fruitful creative enterprise.

GRAMMYs/Sep 6, 2023 - 01:00 pm

Slowdive may occupy an odd zone in the music industry, but they're in good company. Like Dinosaur Jr. and Pixies, Slowdive arrived during the golden age of alternative music, semi-chaotically broke up, reunited in the 21st century, and then stayed together.

During their time away, Slowdive's celestial, tempestuous brand of rock music had been codified as a genre unto itself: shoegaze. Which used to be a pejorative, and was now a badge of honor.

When they returned to the game in 2014 — thinking they'd play a festival or two — they realized the world was more primed than ever to embrace them.

"I think it took us a moment to feel like we're not just the heritage band," their founding guitarist and vocalist, Neil Halstead, admits to GRAMMY.com. "We felt a bit awkward... people wanted to hear songs that we wrote 20 years ago."

For a minute, Slowdive gracefully assumed the "heritage band" role, playing beloved oldies like "Catch the Breeze," "Machine Gun" and "Dagger" for old heads and a zealous new generation. Soon, they realized their creative synergy was intact: they could be not only back, but here.

In 2017, they dropped the acclaimed Slowdive; now, they're out with everything is alive, a continuation of their long-delayed evolution that hews closely to what made them special, with a few aesthetic twists.

Diaphanous tracks like "prayer remembered," "kisses" and "the slab" could have been released in 1993, but they sound right at home in 2023.

Read on for a full interview with Halstead about the journey to everything is alive and his ripening dynamic with vocalist Rachel Goswell, guitarist Christian Savill, bassist Nick Chaplin, and drummer Simon Scott.

Slowdive

*Slowdive (L-R, clockwise from bottom left: Neil Halstead, Simon Scott, Nick Chaplin, Christian Savill, Rachel Goswell)*

This interview has been edited for clarity.

**What was the germ of everything is alive? What did the band primarily wish to communicate?**

Approaching any record, I think you  just want to enjoy the creative process. You always hope that you're gonna try and do something a little different than maybe what you've done before.

When we decided we were going to do this record I brought a bunch of stuff in for the band — electronic music I'd been working on for a couple of years;' it was no guitars — just sort of modular and kind of synth bass, minimal electronic music.

The most important thing for me is that it's a valid creative exercise. That it's fun and it's enjoyable. I never really think about where it's going to end.

What's your relationship with electronic music been like over the years?

I suppose my interest in electronic music dates back to when we were doing [1995's] Pygmalion. Up to that point, I was an indie kid, into my guitar music and stuff.

I sort of started getting into more sort of techno — Aphex Twin, Warp Records, bands like LFO. Exploring stuff like John Cage, and Stockhausen, and that more experimental side of music, opens up all those areas.

In the last, I guess, 10 years, I've sort of got much more into modular kinds of systems. Which is just really good fun. I make a lot of music that doesn't really have any outlet, you know. I really just enjoy making it. It doesn't really involve guitars.

Slowdive's drummer, Simon [Scott], is in the U.S.; all his solo stuff is sort of field music, and much more ambient kind of bass music. It's kind of granular. He likes to really explore different textures.

I think there's always been a side side of Slowdive that is more interested in the instrumentals, rather than making songs — the side that enjoys just creating textures.

After Pygmalion, certainly, my interest was more electronic music, and then it reverted to acoustic music and folk music. [Electronic music] is certainly where my head's at these days. 

[everything is alive] was really enjoyable because it kind of brought those electronic things into Slowdive world as well.

Regarding modular synths, what are you nerding out about lately? It seems like it could be a bottomless rabbit hole.

Yeah, it's a bit like guitar pedals, because you can collect these things and continue to collect them. There are always new modules coming out.

It is a massive rabbit hole and a massive waste of money, but it keeps me entertained and happy. I can lose so much time just messing around with them, and then realize I haven't actually recorded anything.

But there's something quite nice about that as well. It's very in the moment; it's very present working with that kind of technology.

Souvlaki was released when I was a year old; you guys were barely in your twenties. How would you characterize your working relationship with Slowdive as grown-ups, without the rough edges of youth? It seems like it'd be much saner.

It's definitely less hysterical. You got it right with the rough edges of youth, but some of that angst was really helpful in creating music. Souvlaki, Just For a Day — it's kind of teenage music.

That was an important part of what we did. We wouldn't have made those records if we'd not been teenagers. So, it's a different thing now, trying to make Slowdive records.

I don't know if it's a more sane experience, but it's more measured. I couldn't really conceive of making a record like Pygmalion now, because to make that record, I almost had to alienate the rest of the band. No one else was really into electronic music; I had to force my hand with that.


To their credit, they let me do it, but I think it probably broke the band up; we split up after that record. I wouldn't want to put everyone in that position. Now, I'm much more willing to compromise, and they're much more willing to find a way through, where everyone's happy with the record.

Which is probably a better way to make Slowdive records, but it does mean it takes longer to make them.For it to go on a Slowdive record, everyone has to love it. That means you lose a lot of material [chuckles] but that's just the process.

How did the material germinate past the point of electronic experiments, and bloom into a proper Slowdive album?

Purely by just taking them to the band. A lot of them we would use as the basis for a track, so we'd literally have the band play along to what was there.

Then, we started taking bits and pieces out, and seeing what we were left with — thinking Well, maybe we can record this in a different way, you know. With every track, we would approach it quite organically and just see where it went.

Maybe we would try adding a few guitars, or maybe I'd just say to Simon, "Can you try drumming along to this one." And things started to take shape, where we were kind of like, OK, that sounds cool. That's kind of interesting.

For my part, I remained really detached from the original ideas, because it had to be a Slowdive record. So, everyone had to feel like they were part of the process.

Tell me about a part of everything is alive that benefited greatly from your bandmates' touch.

There are so many moments like that. "prayer remembered" was a really nice one. It was literally just this one arpeggiating synth that I played, that created the melody and the tune. I had Simon and [guitarist] Christian [Savill] play along to this thing.

Then, we took the original modular away from the track, which sort of left this space. Simon ended up taking some of Christian's guitars and feeding them through a Max patch system — you can granulate and change the sounds.

There's this kind of choral component that flips in and out, which is this Match patch stuff that Simon worked from. It's really lovely, and it adds so much to the track. 

When Simon figured out the drums for "the slab," that was a big moment for us. I think with the track "chained to a cloud," that was a big moment as well, because originally, that had a load of choruses. Once we took the choruses away, it really simplified the whole thing, and it became this very linear journey.

It's just little moments where suddenly, things start to make sense. You start to feel like the tracks are creating their own endpoints, as they go into their own special places.

Can you speak to the production aesthetic — how you wanted the sound to impact people?

We had Shawn Everett mix the record; I went out to L.A. to mix the record with Shawn. Having him take raw stems and make them fit together really well was a big moment for us.

It definitely brought a lot of attitude to the records, particularly in terms of the drums. Making them a bit dirtier sounding and stuff like that was really important to the finished record.

When Slowdive reunited in the 2010s, what was it like to see the aesthetic of Slowdive and your contemporaries become a lodestar to aspire to?

To be honest, I wasn't really aware that shoegaze had kind of become a thing. 

There was a moment in the early 2000s, when a German label did a compilation where they had all their bands do cover versions of Slowdive songs; it was an electronic label that you really wouldn't associate with guitar music at all. 

I remember hearing that and being like, Oh, this is kind of interesting! It was weird that they'd even heard of us, let alone decided to do a whole record of Slowdive songs, coming from a completely different genre.

But it wasn't until we got back together in 2014 [to play Primavera Sound in Barcelona that] we were like, "OK, maybe we could do that." We'd been seeing each other a little bit. It was quite good timing, in terms of people feeling like they could put in a bit of time and do a festival or two.

But once we started doing the festivals, and then a few shows of our own, we realized that this shoegaze thing had taken on its own life; a whole generation of kids had found this music through the internet. I wasn't aware of that until that point. I don't think anyone else in the band was either.

It's great that shoegaze has taken ahold of its own name, and affirmed that, in a way. When the term was coined, it was obviously not meant in a particularly nice way. It's great that that term has been regained, and it's a proper genre now, which I think is kind of cool.

My hunch is that neither Slowdive nor your contemporaries thought you were making any codified style of music. Rather, it seems like you all were just trying to make rock music with dreaminess and beauty to it.

I think you're right. Originally, it was just a bunch of bands that wanted to make guitar music that sounded different — that wasn't necessarily going to sound right on the radio.

That wasn't the thing anyone was really thinking about. It was more like, I want to make a record as beautiful as Cocteau Twins, or as massive-sounding as My Bloody Valentine, or as ridiculous as Loop.

I think they didn't just want to make a pop song that sounds decent on the radio. There was something else going on there.

Bobbie Gentry

Bobbie Gentry

Photo: NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

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Lady Legends And Newcomers Join Mercury Rev On Bobbie Gentry Tribute Album

Mercury Rev revisits Gentry's classic sophomore album with female guest vocalists who shine. Catch the album out Feb. 8

GRAMMYs/Nov 15, 2018 - 05:34 am

Indie band Mercury Rev have announced their next album, a tribute to Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited, will be available on Feb. 8.

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The album features an array of guest voices. Mercury Rev's incredible selection of guest vocalists on the tracks kicks off with Norah Jones performing "Okolona River Bottom Band." Others lending their voices to the effort are Phoebe Bridgers, Vashti Bunyan, Rachel Goswell, Marissa Nadler, Beth Orton, Lætitia Sadier, Hope Sandoval, Kaela Sinclair, Susanne Sundfør, Carice van Houten, and Lucinda Williams, whose rendition of "Ode To Billie Joe" was added to the original album's tracklist.

"Bobbie is iconic, original, eloquent and timeless," said singer Margo Price, whose guest vocals are featured on "Sermon." "She has remained a strong voice and an eternal spirit of the delta, wrapped in mystery, yet forever here."

The Delta Sweete was Gentry's 1968 follow up to her debut Ode To Billie Joe, for which she won three GRAMMYs at the 10th GRAMMY Awards.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">NEWS: <a href="https://twitter.com/mercuryrevvd?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@mercuryrevvd</a> have announced the release of Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited! The album is a re-imagining of Bobbie Gentry’s forgotten masterpiece and features an incredible cast list of guest vocalists. More info here... <a href="https://t.co/ctfOtZ9kGb">https://t.co/ctfOtZ9kGb</a> <a href="https://t.co/TFfyaYdSVa">pic.twitter.com/TFfyaYdSVa</a></p>&mdash; bella union (@bellaunion) <a href="https://twitter.com/bellaunion/status/1062726053943300096?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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For the full track list and additional details see Bella Union's announcement and Pitchfork. Mercury Rev recently concluded their 2018 U.S. tour and will be playing across Britain in Dec.

Lucinda Williams Plots 'Car Wheels On A Gravel Road' 20th Anniversary Tour

Robert Smith of the Cure on stage

Robert Smith

Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images

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The Cure Announce All-Star Lineup For 40th-Anniversary Celebration

Interpol, Goldfrapp, Slowdive, and more to join the British dream-rockers in London next July celebrating four decades as a band

GRAMMYs/Dec 13, 2017 - 06:29 am

Next year, the Cure will celebrate 40 years as a band with a celebration concert at London's BST Hyde Park on July 7, 2018, and they're bringing along some very talented friends.

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Interpol, Goldfrapp, Slowdive, Editors, Twilight Sad, and Ride will join the Cure, along with additional performers to be announced at a later date, according to Rolling Stone.

Led by emotive frontman Robert Smith, the Cure have provided the soundtrack for a generation with their dreamy rock sound and impassioned, crafty songwriting. From the refreshingly melancholic anthems of the 1980s on such landmark albums as Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Disintegration, to their chart-topping GRAMMY-nominated 1992 album Wish, to their pair of solid releases in the 2000s, including 2004's The Cure and 2008's 4:13 Dream, the Cure have continued to influence new bands and win new fans. Last year, they played a string of U.S. tour dates and even debuted two new songs live in New Orleans.

Presale for the 40th-anniversary celebration show starts Dec. 12 with tickets going on-sale to the general public starting Dec. 15. More information is available via the Cure's website.

Florence Welch Hosts 40th Anniversary Of David Bowie's "Heroes"

Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award
Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award

Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy

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Recording Academy Renames Best Song For Social Change Award In Honor Of Harry Belafonte

Submissions for the newly renamed Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award, which honors songwriters and message-driven music that address a timely social issue and promote peace-building, are open now through Friday, Aug. 30.

GRAMMYs/Jul 17, 2024 - 01:59 pm

The Recording Academy has renamed and recategorized its annual Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award to the Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award in honor of the late entertainment industry icon who was a powerful voice for social justice throughout his illustrious career. Originally established in 2022, the award will continue to honor songwriters of message-driven music that speaks to the social issues of our time and has demonstrated and inspired positive global impact.

Formerly a Special Merit Award, the Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award will now be categorized as a CEO's Merit Award; finalists and the recipients will be selected annually by a Committee composed of a community of peers dedicated to artistic expression, the craft of songwriting, and the power of songs to effect social change.

The submission period for the current cycle of the Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award is Wednesday, July 17 — Friday, Aug. 30. The inaugural Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award will be presented during the 2025 GRAMMY Awards season.

Read the Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award guidelines and make a submission here. Learn more about the award and see all of the past recipients.

Read More: Remembering Harry Belafonte’s Monumental Legacy: A Life In Music, A Passion For Activism

From his debut in the 1950s until his passing in 2023, Belafonte's artistic career progressed in parallel with his work as a trailblazing activist. An important friend of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and advisor, organizer and funder of the Civil Rights Movement, Belafonte helped organize the 1961 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and contributed to the 1961 Freedom Rides and the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. Belafonte was outspoken throughout his career about American political elections; he performed at President John F. Kennedy's inaugural ball and was later named as a cultural advisor to the Peace Corps by Kennedy.

Creating the gold record standard in the music industry, Belafonte's 1956 RCA album CALYPSO made him the first artist in history to sell over 1 million albums. An advocate for global humanitarian causes including the Anti-Apartheid Movement and USA for Africa, Belafonte, in 1985, was the key organizer for the benefit single "We Are The World," which raised money for famine relief in Africa and ultimately won four GRAMMY Awards; it remains one of the best-selling physical singles of all time. As well, Belafonte became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1987 and traveled internationally to raise awareness for the needs of children across sub-Saharan Africa.

A two-time GRAMMY winner and 11-time GRAMMY nominee, Belafonte received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Three of Belafonte's recordings are inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame: Belafonte At Carnegie Hall (inducted in 1999), "Banana Boat (Day-O)" (inducted in 2009), and Calypso (inducted in 2015).

Read More: Fight The Power: 11 Powerful Protest Songs Advocating For Racial Justice

"The greatness of Harry Belafonte's artistic legacy is matched by his profound impact of furthering social justice for all," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. "We are honored to recognize his lasting influence with the Harry Belafonte Best Song for Social Change Award and to continue celebrating works that have inspired global communities towards social impact."

"The Belafonte estate is deeply honored and thrilled that the Recording Academy's Best Song For Social Change Award will now be named the Harry Belafonte Best Song For Social Change Award," Belafonte's living family members and Belafonte estate representatives Adrienne, Shari, Gina, and Pamela Belafonte said in a statement. "This recognition not only celebrates Harry Belafonte's enduring legacy in music and activism, but also inspires future generations to continue using their voices and art for justice and positive change."

The original Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award debuted at the 2023 GRAMMYs. The inaugural award, presented by First Lady Jill Biden, went to "Baraye" by Iranian singer/songwriter Shervin Hajipour. At the 2024 GRAMMYs, the award went to "Refugee" by K'naan, Steve McEwan, and Gerald Eaton. "The words [K'naan] wrote for the song resonate with me like not many songs do," McEwan said about "Refugee" in an interview featured in the 2024 GRAMMYs program book.

Read More About Harry Belafonte

Get To Know J-Pop Vocaloid Star Ado
Ado

Photo: Universal Music/Geffen Records

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Get To Know Ado, The J-Pop Vocaloid Star Condemning Conformity

No one has ever seen her face or knows her true identity, but Japanese pop artist Ado has made waves for her honest, emotive songs. Before diving into her new album, 'Zanmu,' here's everything to know about the elusive singer.

GRAMMYs/Jul 17, 2024 - 01:57 pm

"Understanding the latest trends, checking the stock market on the way to work, joining a company with pure spirit/ these are the obvious rules for us workers. Huh?/ Shut the f— up," J-pop star Ado screams on "Usseewa."

Released in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the blatant rejection of societal expectations and conformity on "Usseewa" felt like a cathartic scream breaking out of a body crammed with frustrations. Ado, then just 18 years old, pulled no punches on the track, diving straight into spitfire delivery set against an equally powerful, urgent electronic beat. Her voice swung between controlled rage, disparaging sneers, and periodic screams betraying her frustrations with the adult world. 

No one had ever seen Ado’s face at this point — no one still has — but listeners felt her vitriolic anger. The visceral anguish struck a nerve with a young population breaking under the weight of uncertainty, mental turmoil, and the pressure of compliance. As she told Billboard in 2023, "It was a rebellion against adults and this society, and I really wanted to win."

"Usseewa" reached 100 million plays in 17 weeks (the sixth-fastest song in Japanese history to do do), and Ado became the youngest artist to hit that metric. Eventually, it hit the top spot on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart, Oricon Digital Singles Chart, Oricon Streaming Chart, and the Spotify Viral 50 chart in Japan – all without ever having had a physical release. The term "Usseewa"’ was among the winning buzzwords of 2021 in Japan, and there were also calls of banning the song from schools citing its negative effects on children.  

The song’s popularity signaled a shift in the Japanese music landscape, which is heavily dominated by physical releases. Additionally, it championed the ethos of Vocaloid subculture. Often used as a blanket term for what has become a genre of its own, Vocaloid originally refers to a synthesizing software which allows users to input lyrics and melodies and create songs. The introduction of platforms like Nico Nico Douga — also known as Niconico — propelled it into becoming a thriving creative playground, with many artists eventually crossing over and becoming mainstays on J-pop charts. 

Unlike numerous Vocaloid artists who had given up their monikers or anonymity after transitioning into the mainstream, Ado remained represented by an animated high school girl with a blue rose. That didn’t deter her upward climb; she soon delivered her first full-length album, Kyougen, and provided vocals for the character Uta in the massively successful anime movie One Piece Film Red. 

Ado’s recently released album, Zanmu, marks the crucial point in her artistic journey. Here, she reckons with identity, fame, and her dreams from a more mature perspective than ever. As you dive into Zanmu, here is everything you need to know before getting into the elusive Japanese superstar.  

Ado’s Roots Are In Vocaloid Culture

While it thrived on the periphery of mainstream J-pop for years, Vocaloid has become a phenomenon shaping contemporary Japanese music, with Billboard Japan launching their Nico Nico Vocaloid Chart in 2022. 

Ado — who refers to Niconico as a "childhood home" – was just 5 years old when she first discovered Vocaloid and was immediately taken with virtual popstar Hatsune Miku. There was an "air of mystery" around the music, and Ado wanted to unravel it. "I wanted to understand what was behind that strangeness. I couldn’t understand whether it was anime or a human being, or who made the music," she recalled in an interview with the Guardian in 2024

She started uploading covers of her songs on the platform, rising in popularity thanks to her covers of BIN and Syudou, the latter of whom later wrote and produced "Usseewa." Despite her mainstream breakthrough, she’s never let go of her utaite (a term typically used for cover artists who got their start on Niconico) roots. As she told NME, "Vocaloid really is who I am. It’s all of me. I would say that Vocaloid’s existence is one and only. It’s so unique. There’s nothing that comes close to it."  

Ado Loves Her Anonymity

Despite being a massive star, Ado has gone to great lengths to keep her identity under wraps. Her public identity is an animated character and she assiduously avoids appearing in videos or photos. At a meet-and-greet event, the singer shook hands with fans through an opening in a box. At her live shows, the introverted artist appears as a silhouette against a brightly lit screen. At times, her darkened form is also situated in a cage.  

Some fans speculate that the cage is an added layer of protection for identity to dissuade any stray photos or videos of the star. In fact, according to a TV Asahi interview, no one knows she is Ado except for a few close friends: "I haven’t told my classmates or anyone else, except for only my close friends."  

Over the years, the singer has also stated that her anonymity is a means to remove background noise and help people focus on the music: "When I perform live, it’s about what can be expressed purely through the songs, the lighting and my silhouette," she told the Guardian in an interview earlier this year. 

Ado Doesn't Like Watching Playbacks 

The singer has affirmed in multiple interviews that she’s not a fan of watching anything that remotely shows her form or silhouette. "It’s really uncomfortable for me. I really don’t like seeing myself in [any] media form — concerts, photos, video footage. Even if there’s a slight shadow of myself or a flicker, I just want to shut down the computer or turn it around so I don’t have to see it," she told Billboard

With fame and public appearances becoming such an integral part of her life, Ado admits she's become much better with handling recordings of herself — however vague.  

While watching a recording of herself performing "Odo" earlier this year, the singer could be heard screaming and cringing periodically. When asked about it in an interview later on, she confessed: "I am not good at looking at what captures my movements… like photos and videos. But recently, probably because of my improved performance, I have become able to see a little bit of it." 

She Hasn't Always Loved Herself, And That's OK

Ado’s anonymity at times protected her from her "personal complexes." As a teenager, the singer feared that she would never be able to do anything substantial. "I was never good at studying or exercising and I felt like I was useless," she said in a 2021 interview: "I developed a pretty big complex about it because I wasn’t confident about anything, I wasn’t an especially popular or interesting person in class, and it all compounded. You could say I was a very, very, very gloomy person."

The anonymous world of utaite was appealing to the budding singer. "Utaite don’t reveal their faces or their real names — people don’t know where they live or what they do — they’re really active on the Internet and lots of people pay attention to their work," Ado said in 2021. "That alone seemed so alluring to me." 

Despite experiencing the immense love of her fans first-hand, Ado confessed in a 2022 Billboard interview that how she viewed herself was leagues apart from how her fans revered her. 

"I would really love to be able to look at the footage or photos of myself and think it’s all great and really appreciate myself. See myself the way the fans see me. I think that would make everything much more fun, but I’m not quite there yet," she said. 

Parts of this internal struggle — particularly the dissonance between Ado the artist and Ado the person — have often bled through in her work. Yet Ado has hinted at long-awaited closure on Zanmu. Ado released a number of handwritten notes on social media, one of which detailed the aftermath of a lengthy emotional struggle and relief thereafter: "I had a dream where I fought against myself. It was more of a struggle or conflict, but I truly fought myself. A version of me that looked like a hero stood before me, and I lost to it. It was just a dream, but it really hurt and was tough. However, I felt a bit lighter in my heart. I want to be helped again." 

Some Of Her Early Songs Were Recorded In A Closet 

In a 2020 Real Sound interview, the singer revealed that a lot of her early work was recorded inside a closet in her home. "That was the only recording space I had. I'd go in like ‘Guess I'll record’ and slam it shut."

Interestingly, this particular holdover from her utaite days seems to have persisted well beyond her major label debut. In a 2022 NME interview discussing her role in One Piece Film Red, she revealed that her recording sessions often comprise just her and a recording engineer since it helps her relax. "I feel like I’m at home, and I can focus. It’s my own time."  

"Dreams" Are A Core Aspect Of Her Artistry 

On Zanmu, her second original album, Ado hurls listeners into a phantasmagorical dreamscape of chaos and introspection. Throughout, Ado’s deepest fears and concerns come out to play, juxtaposing the listener's own inner dialogue. 

"'Zanmu' is a real word, meaning an unfulfilled dream. A dream that lingers even after waking up. I’ve always liked this word and thought it represented the dreams I’ve fulfilled in my life, as well as the youth that didn’t come true," Ado explained in a press release. But this isn’t the first or only time that the singer has dwelt on dreams — the concept is a cornerstone of her artistry.  

In a 2022 stream titled "To Everyone Who Was Born in 2002," where Ado mulled over turning 20, the singer explained that the blue rose on her persona represented dreams coming true. Since they do not exist naturally, blue roses have canonically symbolized impossibility and the unattainable. However, in 2002, scientists created a genetically modified blue rose with the artificial blue pigment Delphinidin. Since then, interpretations of the meaning of a blue rose began to reflect the possibility of the impossible — literally, dreams coming true. 

Ado thought it was meant to be: "That message really appealed to me. So I thought: ‘I’ll use this motif’. That’s why I wear the blue rose on my chest, near my heart." 

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