What do you get when you combine the catchy choruses of Icona Pop, the domineering persona of Robyn and the percussive singing style of Charli XCX? A musician that at first glance sounds a lot like Conway. While I try to avoid making these definitive connections, Conway seemingly fills a slot amongst a growing group of female electro/pop musicians that have recently emerged in the indie music scene. However, while Conway may be part of this scene, her unique qualities both in her music, which is rife with dynamic vocals, lyrical honesty and explosive rhythms, and other media forms have gained her some well deserved buzz.
Los Angeles-based Kassia Conway (aka Conway) has been making music for quite some time now, but her debut EP Big Talk marks her first endeavor as a solo artist. Previously a bassist in the band All Wrong & the Plans Change, Conway left behind her indie rock background to create a completely different musical persona.
Big Talk is in some way Conway’s coming out party. Leaving behind the genre distinctions and musical confines that restricted her musical development left space for Conway to develop an EP that is both natural and liberating, making Conway a very vulnerable and therefore relatable artist. The four tracks on Big Talk, while different in character, demonstrate the various elements of Conway’s persona.
Conway has had her hands busy with a number of creative projects at one time. She produced and edited the music video for the title track, “Big Talk.” She also designs most of her own costumes (including a very awesome tiger suit). This multidimensionality has allowed Conway to take complete control over her creativity.
Big Talk may be only four tracks deep and less than fifteen minutes long, yet it makes a blunt statement about the kind of artist that Conway is striving to become as a solo artist. While all four tracks may embody different elements of her personality and may be thematically and lyrically diverse, Conway establishes her voice as a musician with certain overlying musical qualities. For such an eclectic musician, her music actually does not have that much going on. Conway’s music is melodically simple, which might be what makes it so damn catchy. Conway chooses rhythm over melody in her compositions, demonstrating various percussive elements while singing dynamic, powerful and finessed vocals over the explosive beats.
The interplay between percussive elements and vocal texture is most evident in “Hustler.” Easily the most aggressive and kick ass track on the EP, Hustler sounds more like a call to war than a song. In the music video, Conway belts “I’m a Hustler” whilst wearing a metallic silver body suit that she designed herself.
Both “Big Talk,” and “Killer” are playful and fun. Interestingly, both tracks are also the most melodic and vocally diverse songs on the EP. In both of these songs, Conway relaxed the rhythms and evidently had a bit of fun experimenting with various vocal styles/rhythmic mashups.
“Take Me Back” is easily the most vulnerable track, both lyrically and vocally. “Take me back” Conway laments, “cuz I’m your only, you were mine, I will always be the one to make you change your mind.” For the first time, Conway slips into falsettos, demonstrates subtle vibrato, and lets her voice croak at the ends of phrases, almost as if she is too exhausted to continue.
While upon first listen one might be coaxed into placing Conway amongst her peers (listed above), such comparisons are superficial. After peeling back the layers of Conway’s music and creative accomplishments, it is pretty clear just how impossible it is to compare Conway to any other musicians. In Big Talk, Conway has achieved the difficult task of creating music that instantly draws you in, but also keeps you there long after the initial catchiness wears off.
**and take my advice- blast “Hustler” on your headphones whilst walking through the streets of whatever city you live in. It will make you feel a lot cooler than you actually are.