Julia Kotziamani reviews Knewmi and Lil playing at The Brass Monkey on 11th October

With more electronics than a NASA launch, the set-up looks intimidating. It’s a busy evening at the Brass Monkey, and a first chance for a sparkling crowd to see and hear a new sound from St Leonards duo Knewmi and Lil. It’s nervous and excited, everyone is looking forward to seeing what all these blinking lights and shining machines can do. The cool, neon lights make everything space-age, and there’s a twittering and twinkling atmosphere as glittering as Lil’s dress. I am assured there is much new music, with original tracks and some unexpected covers. The energy is contagious. They look great, buzzing to show us what they have been up to, it’s already looking like a slick production. The stage is set, what can two people and all this technical abundance create? 

PICTURE: Alice Denny

Knewmi & Lil are an electronic duo who, according to their Facebook page are “making sounds to satisfy your monkey brain. Soulful vocals over hypnotic, robotic chunky beats recorded by the sea”. Peter Wilson has a background in electronic music and is a DJ, producer and musician from Guestling Green. Lily Kim originally hails from San Francisco and is a classically-trained singer from a more traditional background. Their taste is eclectic, focussed more on ‘moods’ than any specific genre. Their aim is to mimic the rich sounds of an orchestra with electronic drums, vocoders and live instruments. 

The first thing that bursts into the room is Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’. Her iconic voice makes everyone stop talking and listen. It’s dramatic, and as the drumbeats start and the electronic haze descends, her words metamorph to the mystic rhythm of ‘Beats and Sounds’. It’s a serious start, commanding and cool. But they aren’t too serious, or too cool. They are a bit playful, a bit sexy and a bit nerdy. We are taken through a range of different audio sensations, there’s a smorgasbord of live and triggered elements. With Pounding electro beats, eerie synthetic sounds, and the ethereal, husky vocals, they have a goofy, sci-fi appeal, coupled with some genuine emotion and lots of talent. There are live guitars and even a moment when Lily picks up a handheld drum and whacks out a thumping analogue beat. The new single ‘Blame’ is a particular highlight – emotive and catchy. These guys are a spangly, welcome addition to the live scene in Hastings and well worth a listen. 

They have two upcoming gigs in town: first at the Cactus Hound on 1st November, supporting Austrian Hip Hop Jazz band Synesthetic 2; second at the Piper on 22nd November, a special event involving a collaboration with Hastings household names in a very unusual place. 

More information can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud. Their single ‘Blame’ is available on Spotify.

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