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FIRST WORD RECORDS

First Word Records is extremely proud to welcome back Children of Zeus with their sophomore album, 'Balance'.

Following the release of their debut album 'Travel Light' in 2018 (which featured in numerous 'Album of the Year' lists), Tyler Daley and Konny Kon spent the next two years extensively touring the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

With shows on ice over the last 12 months, Children of Zeus took the time to mature their sound; 'Balance' is 50 minutes of future-classic British soul music encompassing hip hop, neo-soul, gospel and r&b. Konny's laidback flow once again merges with Tyler's unmistakable buttery vocals across a set of bass-heavy backdrops and smoothed-out keys, taking the blueprint from their debut and evolving it into a deeper, more-refined sound.

As with previous material, the album is largely produced by the duo themselves, though we also see the return of Grammy-winner Beat Butcha, whose previous production credits include Jay Z, Beyonce, Nipsey Hussle, & Griselda (one of Butcha's productions graces first single 'No Love Song'). Title track 'Balance' comes from upcoming producer & Soulection regular, cay caleb and also features the only vocal feature on the album, from rising UK soul talents Akemi Fox and Georgie Sweet.

The Children of Zeus journey began with a mutual love of 90s Manchester pirate radio; consuming hip hop and beats, r&b and street soul, lovers rock and dancehall, garage and bass music. Then followed decades of performing, creating and collaborating in different guises. Over the past few years, the hip hop soul duo have garnered props far and wide; from Jazzie B to Jazzy Jeff. They've done performances for the likes of Soulection and BBC, in addition to hosting their monthly NTS Radio show and collaborating with artists like Black Milk and Goldie.

From travelling light, to travelling nowhere, it's been a time where we've all had to reflect on the lives we lead. This album is about equilibrium; walking the thin line of life and striving to keep your footing firm at all times, ever pushing forward. Balancing the rough with the smooth and the work with the play.

The Children of Zeus sound is now fully grown. It's time to bring 'Balance' into the universe. This is unashamedly big people music to be played out of big speakers. The definitive sound of UK street soul in 2021. The story continues..

TRACK LISTING

1. Sunrise
2. No Love Song
3. I Know
4. Be Someone
5. I Need You
6. Nice & Sweet
7. Balance (feat. Akemi Fox & Georgie Sweet)
8. Cali Dreams
9. 42Long
10. The Most Humblest Of All Time, Ever
11. What I'm Seeing
12. Love Again
13: Sunset

We started First Word Records in late 2003. The core team is based in London, but our roster is comprised of artists from all over the globe. As we look ahead to our 20th anniversary, and hit our 200th release, this EP is a collaborative effort from some of our current artists.

As a label, we've often championed musicians that create sounds that fall within the cracks of more defined-genres. Our aim has always been to highlight unique talent where we find it, and ultimately find things we deem worthy of inclusion in the great mixtape of life! Quite often the links may not seem apparent, but we feel blessed to have been able to slowly build a family of artists that not only have great respect for each other, but will quite often collaborate together without any prompts from us. This collection of music is a series of examples of that. 'A Family Affair'.

For this vinyl EP, there is a heavy dancefloor vibe, with four tracks that nestle within the realms of broken beat.

Following her debut EP 'Light It Again' for us in late 2020, Allysha Joy's track 'Better' is re-visited by the don Kaidi Tatham, who reworks the track in his own inimitable way; starting on a half-tempo neo-soul vein, before switching to his trademark fusion of bruk, boogie and jazz mid-way.

After a lengthy absence we're delighted to welcome back Quiet Dawn and Sarah Williams White, with a collaborative piece between the two entitled 'One By One'. You can expect longer projects from them both later in the year, but here's a little vibe to wet your whistle. This, the 'Bruk It' version doing exactly what it says on the tin.

On the flipside, we have a delicious rub of Takuya Kuroda's 'Fade' featuring the vocals of Corey King and taken from Takuya's highly-acclaimed LP 'Fly Moon Die Soon'. The remix work on this one courtesy of a killer combo in their own rights, KEARL aka Earl Jeffers (Darkhouse Family) and K15 (Profusion).

Speaking of K15, this EP closes out with his interpretation of Teotima's 'But I Can't' originally from their 2019 album 'Weightless'. Taking elements of the original vocal from Ellie Rose Rusbridge, K15 transforms this one into a dreamy boogie-tinged groove - previously supported by Mary Anne Hobbs and the like.

Two of these tracks have never been available on vinyl before, whilst the other two are brand new tracks being released for the first time on any format.

TRACK LISTING

1. Allysha Joy - Better (Kaidi Tatham Remix)
2. Quiet Dawn & Sarah Williams White - One By One (Bruk It Version)
3. Takuya Kuroda - Fade (KEARL Remix)
4. Teotima - But I Can't (K15 Remix)

'An Insight To All Minds' is Kaidi's 3rd solo album under his own name, following several EPs and two albums for First Word; 2018's acclaimed 'It's A World Before You' and the re-press of his seminal 2008 sophomore album 'In Search Of Hope' last year.

For those that don't know, Kaidi Tatham is a legendary multi-instrumentalist. Once dubbed "the UK's Herbie Hancock" by Benji B, he's a virtuoso on the keys and a true innovator in sound production as one of the original creators of the Broken Beat sound. Over the years his musical prowess has blessed numerous projects, initially with the likes of Bugz In The Attic and The Herbaliser, and more recently with DJ Jazzy Jeff (through the PLAYlist projects), Andrew Ashong (on the acclaimed 'Sankofa Season' EP last year) and with longtime accomplice, Dego. This in addition to session work for artists such as Mulatu Astatke, Slum Village, Amy Winehouse, Soul II Soul and Leroy Burgess, along with First Word label mates such as Eric Lau, Children of Zeus and Darkhouse Family. Kaidi is also a revered DJ known for rocking parties globally, whilst his solo catalogue spans tons of EPs and releases for labels such as 2000 Black, Eglo and Theo Parrish's Sound Signature.

On 'An Insight To All Minds', Kaidi says it's "not about a destination, but a process. It's about how you drive, not where you're going. Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts… We are all going through it. We can all feel what the next person is feeling, believe it or not. It's learning how to tap into it".

The album is comprised of an assortment of Kaidi's unique flavours - uptempo jazz-funk bruk, laced with rhodes, flutes, live bass and delicious percussion. Using that blueprint he moves effortlessly through latin and samba, half-step, deep afro house and a sprinkle of curveballs, all presented in Kaidi's inimitable way.

'Intergalactic Relations' brings with it some 110bpm synthed-out spacey electro-breaks, 'Could It Be' sets off sounding like a Morricone film score, whilst 'Rodney' is some serious heads-down business; stark and punchy off-kilter broken beat and vocal stabs. There are a few guests too - 'Chungo' sees the return of Uhmeer (who previously appeared on 'Cupid' on the album 'It's A World Before You'); here the young Philly MC deftly rides a 9/4 time signature beat. Meanwhile 'Stro Kyat' invites in another supreme talent, Stro Elliot (The Roots), who provides a suitably crisp & crunchy riddim to accompany Kaidi's key play over a mind-bending 5/4 time signature.

With this new album, Kaidi Tatham adds further to his already impressive catalogue, a body of work that falls within the cracks of jazz and dance music, exemplifying modern British black brilliance once again; uncompromising, innovative, groundbreaking, intricately sophisticated and deeply funky. His fanbase expands on every release and it's no surprise that that fanbase includes peers such as Madlib ("ahead of his time"), Gilles Peterson ("a key part of an entire movement"), K15 ("a limitless source of inspiration"), Alexander Nut ("a true virtuoso") and Kyle Hall.

'An Insight To All Minds' is released on double vinyl & digital via First Word Records, April 2nd 2021.

TRACK LISTING

1. Try N Follow
2. Intergalactic Relations
3. Interlude
4. Carry It Mongo Man
5. Chungo (feat. Uhmeer)
6. Insight To All Minds
7. Nah Top Yuh Noise
8. DSXSWC
9. Rodney
10. Rain
11. Could It Be
12. Interlude 2
13. Stro Kyat (feat. Stro Elliot)
14. Tek Care
15. Enjoy Life

Olivier St.Louis

M.O.T.H. (Matters Of The Heartless)

Following on from a series of singles, 'Runnin' Wild', 'Confliction' and 'Jump The Line', First Word Records is very pleased to present a full-length EP from alt-soul artist Olivier St.Louis, produced by Oddisee - 'M.O.T.H. (Matters Of The Heartless)'

Olivier was born in Washington DC of Haitian and Cameroon heritage, but spent his teens studying in the UK. As a teenager, his CD and tape collection would encompass a wide range of genres, from hip hop and r&b to garage and British alternative rock. A bio-science student, Olivier couldn't suppress his true passion of music. After graduating, he took on a "Jekyll and Hyde" lifestyle; working as a scientist in the day, and a musician at night.

His work as a recording artist eventually lead to his debut release in 2011, 'The Mr. Saint Louis EP', released under the moniker Olivier Daysoul and produced by longtime collaborator and fellow Washingtonian, Oddisee, a revered hip hop producer / artist in his own right. From here on, Olivier began laying down vocals, collaborating and touring with a wide-range of artists over the following years, including Hudson Mohawke, C2C, Laura Mvula and German rockers, AnnenMayKantereit.

After taking a hiatus from feature work, Olivier decided to concentrate on nurturing his own sound. Embracing a newfound love for blues, rock and funk, a series of late night sessions saw him engulfed in new soundscapes, and reverting back to his birth name, Olivier St.Louis. This saw him release two critically-acclaimed EPs with Berlin-based label, Jakarta, and the release of 'The Serious EP' with Bibio on Warp Records.

Following world tours with many of the afore-mentioned, Olivier has been working on all-new material, which is now set to be unleashed upon the world via Worldwide Award-winning London label, First Word Records.

The 'M.O.T.H.' EP begins with the downtempo bump of 'Jump The Line' before the adrenaline-racing rhythm of 'Runnin Wild' steps up the pace. Next is second single 'Confliction'; a considerably moodier affair, with Oddisee on assist on the bars as well as on the boards. The flipside begins on a similar vein as the first with the smoothed-out soul of 'All In Love', before we head into the slightly jazzier tinged 'Quit'. 'Serotonin' follows next with a groove and bassline reminiscent of Sly Stone, before we close out with the feel-good uptempo boogie stepper, 'Steady'. With Oddisee on the boards throughout, this EP exemplifies Olivier's unique take on alternative soul.

Comparisons have already been made to something between D'Angelo and Shuggie Otis - big boots to fill, though easy to believe once you've seen and heard this man do his thing. This EP is essentially a classically-structured selection of soul-funk with a rock edge, and a touch of jazz. Each track is laced with Olivier's sweet harmonies and fuzzed-out guitar licks throughout, and mixed down with a little 2020 boom bap thump. A prime example of Olivier's unique talents and a set of quality contemporary alt-soul.

When asked his thoughts on his artistry, Olivier St. Louis simply states "no punches pulled, no compromises, just me".

TRACK LISTING

1. Jump The Line
2. Runnin' Wild (Extended Version)
3. Confliction (feat. Oddisee)
4. All In Love
5. Quit
6. Serotonin
7. Steady

Well versed in poetry and performance, Allysha Joy's potent lyricism, unique musicianship and killer vocals have garnered legions of attentive fans the world over. She's an integral member of the Melbourne soul jazz scene, known as part of the acclaimed 30/70 Collective and for her own equally revered solo work.

'Light It Again' is a 4-part expedition across a variety of grooves and deep lyricism that marks a defiant statement of intimacy and hope. Produced and engineered by twice Grammy nominated artist Clever Austin, the EP features accompaniment from an all-star set of Melbourne artists; Horatio Luna, Ziggy Zeitgeist, Danika Smith and Josh Kelly. This EP marks a new sound for the young artist, transmitting her honest and raw expression through the signature crunch and sonic landscape of Clever Austin.

Allysha is already well established across Europe, performing on the live circuit alongside the likes of Sampa the Great, Matthew Halsall, Ezra Collective, Bradley Zero and Children of Zeus, as well as currently hosting two regular radio shows, on Worldwide FM and Reform Radio in Manchester respectively.

Her 2018 debut album 'Acadie : Raw' on Gondwana Records won 'Best Soul Album' at the Music Victoria Awards, was nominated for a Worldwide Award, and featured in many an end-of-year list, including Bandcamp's Top Soul Albums, whilst she's also featured on releases on UK labels such as Rhythm Section, Total Refreshment Centre and now an EP for First Word, 'Light It Again'.

The EP touches on love, shame, mental health, grief & spirituality. 'Watercolours' sets off on a mid-tempo neo-soul jazz tip. Allysha says "I wrote this in the hope that maybe we could all feel the beauty that is present in the every day - in nature, in art, in each one of us mirroring each other so intrinsically. Then maybe we'd all start to live out a message of love."

'Better' follows on an uptempo vibe influenced musically by The Senegambian Jazz Band, who Allysha would watch regularly at Bar Oussou in Melbourne. Lyrically the song explores the external and internal struggles that occur trying to create a more inclusive and compassionate world. "It's about catching myself pointing the finger outwards to challenge social / political systems and certain individuals, then coming to the realisation that I must turn that finger back on myself to ask, "how can I do better, how can I know better?"

Lead track 'Light It Again' begins with Allysha's keys gliding a steppa-like rhythm - head-snap snares and punchy bass accompany ethereal harmonies and delicate vibes on an ever-evolving groove before switching entirely mid-track. This time the subject matter is mental health and "the cycle of addiction and pain, the coping mechanisms that hold us back from reaching our true potential".

The EP closes out with the beautiful 'Mardi'; deep Rhodes, sax and synths build ahead of deliciously slushy percussion and jilted drums. Named for her grandmother, 'Mardi' is a tribute to the spiritual connection they shared before her passing. Allysha writes, "it's about the connective forces of the matriarchal lineage and the drive to step into my own sense of self, in all the beauty and pain which that entails".

Allysha's lyrics weave together a heartfelt mix of love, power, desire, wonder, anger, faith and hope for change. An artist that presents a palette of intricate grace and optimism, whilst unafraid of adding uncomfortable truths. Allysha is an incredibly powerful live performer; her husky vocals sonically synced with her formidable Fender Rhodes playing, whilst her influences are a solid base of jazz, hip hop and R&B; all glazed with the unique special sauce the Melbourne soul scene has become known for globally. A gloriously meditative, raw soul, we are delighted to be able to share her music with you.

TRACK LISTING

1. Watercolours
2. Better
3. Light It Again
4. Mardi

Produced with award winning Australian bassist & long time musical collaborator Ross McHenry and featuring a plethora of New Zealand and Australia's finest young instrumentalists, 'A Love Requited' is as much a musical journey as it is an attempt to process, work through and come to terms with the life around him.

"The music on this record was written often as a place of psychological refuge from the tensions of an ultimately failed relationship at home, as well as an attempt to come to grips with thought patterns and personal history that caused an often problematic relationship to music itself. Meditating on themes of love, fear, family, anger, death, ego and acceptance has helped create a narrative arc that grounds the album as well as a mode of therapy to begin working through these issues for myself.

'A Love Requited' is easily my most personal work to date and my hope is that beyond the music itself it may be of help to others, if only to say that your not alone in your struggle to make sense of the world".

This album also features the stellar talents of APRA award winning NYC based pianist Matthew Sheens (John Pattitucci, Cecil McBee, Ross McHenry Trio), alto saxophonist Jake Baxendale (Antipodes, The Jac), trumpeter Ben Harrison (Dave Douglas, Horns Of Leroy), trombonist James Macaulay (The Lagerphones, Epic Brass), multi-reedist Jason McMahon (The Shaolin Afronauts), flautist Adam Page (NZSO, John Psathas, Noel Gallagher), guitarist Django Rowe (Wizard Tone Records) as well as additional keyboard contributions by longtime collaborator Mark de Clive-Lowe (Ropeadope Records, Mashibeats), Brenton Foster and Jack Strempel.

Where Manzanza's debut album 'One' presented his ability as a producer / beatmaker, and his sophomore album 'OnePointOne' showcased his live performance and band leader prowess, 'A Love Requited' puts Manzanza's skills as a composer to the fore.

"Over the last few years I've really enjoyed the process of getting away from music software tools and just sitting at a piano with some manuscript paper and a cup of coffee and seeing what comes of it. I'm a very amateur pianist and my music theory knowledge is fairly limited, but in some ways that's an advantage as I'd be starting with a basic barometer of "does this sound good to me?", without too much consideration for formal rules and structure. From there, developing the arrangements to present to musicians forced me to get a better understanding of melody, harmony and orchestration and to really hone in on refining my ideas to a point where I now feel as much satisfaction and confidence putting myself out on the world stage as a composer as I do playing the drums."

TRACK LISTING

1. Ritual
2. Family Dynamics
3. Itaru's Phone Booth
4. Mortality
5. Big Deal
6. Madrid
7. A Love Requited

Following up 'The Power of Same', the first single off 14KT's new project, featuring Muhsinah, and remixed by Kaidi Tatham, 'For My Sanity' is a "freedom project", an album rooted in free creation, without being tied down by bars, patterns, scenes, and sequences. The intention behind this long-player is clearly stated all throughout the 12 tracks: releasing the angst of the current climate we are facing through collective artistic means.

"I made all the music really late at night after my day-to-day work, as an escape from "what I normally do". Paired with the everyday struggles of being an artist, it was very stressful hearing about so many deaths––especially due to law enforcement. Making "For My Sanity" was how I was trying to find peace of mind every night so I could go to sleep." says 14KT.

The themes of the album sway gracefully from personal philosophies and creeds, to burning social matters and celebration of the importance of family and genuine, fruitful friendships. If we were to classify this in a genre, we would say For My Sanity is a jazz record, at its core, but elements of hip hop, soul, r'n'b and latin music are easily recognisable and at home on the album.

"I challenged myself to create a jazz album, primarily using Native Instruments Maschine. 85% of the album was created on there. The rest was my amazing friends and myself playing instruments." KT continues.

'For My Sanity' features an array of fellow visionaries - Jimetta Rose, Masego, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Muhsinah, James Poyser, Stro Elliot, Rasheeda Ali, Farnell Newton, Kris Johnson, Magestik Legend –– who help deliver the message and further relay the essence of what the album stands for.

The journey of this release is a story in itself, as the primary thought wasn't for it to be released, especially with a label. But when this landed in DJ Gilla's inbox, and then shared with the First Word team, it was clear that the music was right up First Word's street.


TRACK LISTING

1 Advent
2 Down The Street From Peace (feat. Masego)
3 Mainstream
4 The Power Of Same (feat. Muhsinah, James Poyser & Stro Elliot)
5 Sunday's Yellow (feat. Masego & Farnell Newton)
6 An Empty Vessel (feat. Rasheeda Ali)
7 Fourteen Missing (feat. Jimetta Rose & Kris Johnson)
8 Moonwinder
9 The Late Bird (feat. Mark De Clive-Lowe)
10 Nothing To Lose But Our Chains (feat. Masego)
11 Purple Flame (feat. Magestik Legend)
12 For My Sanity

It's been a long road leading to this album for Tyler Daley and Konny Kon.

They first embarked on their expedition into the music game two decades back - Tyler entered the scene as a songwriter, producer and vocalist, originally under the moniker Hoodman, whilst Konny began MCing, DJing and beat-making for hip hop crews The Microdisiacs and Broke'n'£nglish, along with DRS & Strategy.

To date, Children of Zeus have released three sell-out singles on First Word ('Still Standing', 'I Can't Wait' and 'Slow Down') and a compilation EP comprised of tracks made by the duo over the last decade entitled 'The Story So Far…'.

Children of Zeus are finally at the stage where they are releasing their debut album proper; the over-riding ethos of which is about keeping their eyes on the road ahead, whilst shedding the baggage they've accumulated over the years - 'Travel Light'.

Features mainly come from Manny family; [ K S R ], LayFullStop, Metrodome (Levelz) and former Broke 'n' £nglish spar DRS. Guest production comes in the form of Switzerland's Sebb Bash, Nottingham's Juga-Naut, and London's Beat Butcha, and there's your favourite DJ's favourite DJ,

Mr Thing, slicing up the turntables on two tracks too. There's a few extra special ingredients on this album, along with their trademark sub-heavy, rhodes-laden hip hop soul hybrid. Reggae music has always been an integral piece of the CoZ sound-system ethic, so we see Tyler putting on his lover's rock hat for 'Hard Work', and they invite soul queen Terri Walker to join them on the fierce 'Sling Shot Riddim', while the album closes with the epic K15-produced jazz-bruk opus, 'Vibrations', on which Konny breaks it down quite simply: "high frequency means that you travel light, so get lifted yo, we'll live gifted".

Long as the journey has been, the time for looking back is over. This is about the present and future of Children of Zeus. A shining light in Manchester's now-school, and rightly heralded by many as the best new act to emerge in British soul music in the past decade. Aside from the above features, this project is written, performed and produced entirely by Tyler and Konny. Since the crew first took flight, the end destination has never changed, the aim remains the same - to create timeless music, in their own unique style, without compromise, irrespective of industry and life distractions. The moral being this - travel light.

STAFF COMMENTS

says: Are Children Of Zeus the most important thing to happen to Northwest hip-hop for the last ten years? Sorry, inabit everyone else! A homecoming triumph for these superstars...

TRACK LISTING

LP Tracklist:

1 The Story So Far...
2 All On You (feat. [ K S R ] & DRS)
3 360°
4 Slow Down
5 Hoodman2Manhood
6 Kintsugi
7 The Heart Beat
8 Fear Of A Flat Planet (feat. LayFullStop)
9 Hard Work
10 Sling Shot Riddim (feat. Terri Walker)
11 Respect Mine
12 Daddy's Car
13 Vibrations (Divine Signature)

CD Tracklist:

1 The Story So Far...
2 All On You (feat. [ K S R ] & DRS)
3 360°
4 Slow Down
5 Hoodman2Manhood
6 Kintsugi
7 The Heart Beat
8 Fear Of A Flat Planet (feat. LayFullStop)
9 Hard Work
10 Sling Shot Riddim (feat. Terri Walker)
11 Respect Mine
12 Daddy's Car
13 Vibrations (Divine Signature)
14 Still Standing
15 Smoke With Me
16 Crown
17 Don't Say A Word
18 I Can't Wait
19 No Strings Attached
20 No Sunshine Tomorrow
21 Push On
22 Elevate
23 Happiness
24 Rock You Internally
25 I Want You



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