Leucrocuta: A Maverick Pop Innovator of Mythic Proportions

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The music of Leucrocuta sounds uncanny in the sense that it feels familiar yet mysterious and arcane. You could describe it as ‘synth-pop’ or ‘darkwave’ but that wouldn’t do justice to the unorthodox production and vocal styles that distinguish it from standard synth pop fare. On when all the animals are deadthe first proper release from the Toronto-based solo artist, Leucrocuta emerges from the ether to tell strange tales of worlds long forgotten (or to come?).

On the off-kilter and entrancing title track, Leucrocuta delivers veiled messages in her eerie but elegant vocal style as if returning to Earth from a fantastical realm to warn us of our doomed future. Throughout the album, she acts as a storyteller, speaking in allegory while balancing her avant electro production and innovative pop vocals in the mix. So, when the album concludes with her interpolation of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and the familiar lyrics mingle with moody, downtempo atmospherics, the uncanny rears its head and for a moment, it feels as though we’ve entered a parallel universe.

In advance of her performance alongside JFM, YlangYlang & NPNP at Handlebar this Sunday, you can learn more about the inspiration behind Leucrocuta’s music and listen to some of her tracks below:

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What is your musical background? Did you always want to be a musician or was there something that inspired you to start a project?

I studied classical clarinet – I played in orchestras and woodwind ensembles. It mostly sucked. I started making electronic music because I failed so often at auditions and disliked working all the time with others, both made me extremely anxious. Sitting alone in a practice room, recording loops with my clarinet and voice was a therapeutic escape.  

I have always been just as interested in films and books as music. I studied film scoring, and scored some short and feature films.  I’m not really sure I’ve always wanted to be anything, or if this is what I am. I would like to make short films and videos in the future.

I’m not going to lie…I started producing and writing songs a little bit out of misanthropy, a little bit out of spite, and a little bit to impress someone.  But I learned to love sounds, and I grew out of all of that.

A Leucrocuta is a mythological creature, where does your interest in mythology stem from and how does it inform your music?

I have always loved fantasy and science fiction – LEUCROCUTA is a reference to one of my favorite books: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell.  It’s a gorgeous thousand page novel by Susanna Clarke – it took her ten years to write.  The book has all these detailed footnotes of imagined fairytales, fanciful anecdotes etc. It has such a depth and humor to it.  To me, the book is fundamentally about the ways in which men step over, ignore, and take advantage of women and people of color, and as a result, lives are ruined.  My name is really more of an homage to this work, and doesn’t stem from an interest in mythology. I do, however, think it is pretty cool that the creature lures in prey by imitating the human voice.

What does it mean to be subversive?

Hmm…I don’t know, maybe being subversive is about trying to avoid the paths of least resistance?

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Photo credit: Kristel Jax

Catch Leucrocuta this Sunday at Handlebar. Click here for more info.

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