story / Jordan Blakeman
photos / Red Bull Content Pool
Earlier in the month I got a sneak peek at performance group Youthquaker, a collaboration between vocalist Phlo Finister and Grammy Award-winning producer Illangelo of The Weeknd fame. Launched on BitTorrent, the artists side-stepped the traditional EP approach in favor of offering listeners an immersive experience composed of audio, photographic, and video content. At the time of this posting, their debut has amassed nearly a million downloads in less than a week. Not bad for a first impression. Despite the quick spread of their digital content, they urge you to catch their live act first to receive their intended experience. Following their Los Angeles debut, the duo plan to take their performance in London and New York. “It was a multimedia marketing plan that we had because people are on the internet and it’s kind of hard to get that live content. Everybody’s on the internet, it’s all digital now and we wanted to give that real effect. I feel like performance art is a lost medium,” Phlo explained after their show.
Prior to their collaboration, Phlo had been working on a series of various small releases. Her mixtape, Crown Gold, consisted of 60’s styles rock and roll mixed with 90’s hip hop beats she felt represented her style sonically and visually. Illangelo began piano lessons from a young age where he began to write songs but didn’t find his stride until moving to Toronto and linking up with Abel Tesfaye from The Weeknd. After providing vocals for Illangelo’s song Clockwork via an internet collaboration set up by their shared manager, the two met after Wireless Festival in London and the rest was history. “We kept working every day, writing and talking. It was a really great connection that we had,” Illangelo shared. They collaborated on the song Plasticity and from there created Youthquaker.
“Youthquaker is very youth-spirited, very particular with the aesthetic as you see here. This look is super Velvet Underground. And then you have the classic Serge Gainsbourg thing going on here. It’s very styled. Musically, the same,” Phlo described their project, named after the moniker given to the free-spirited 60’s movement led by Diana Vreeland, Jean Shrimpton, and Andy Warhol muses. The duo look like they could have stepped out of the same decade, her dressed in a thrift-found vintage white tuxedo fashioned after Patrick Bateman and him in a custom tailored High Society suit. Fun fact: High Society is the same company who created Ryan Gosling’s coveted scorpion jacket in Drive. The two clearly have great fashion sense and a developed look to their name.
Their debut EP, Projections, is a series of songs based on Phlo’s real life and the beautiful projections they display in their performance which imbues an almost haunting quality when combined with Phlo’s keening vocals. The project is very inspired by the triphop movement which hit its peak in the UK. “I don’t feel like anybody has really progressed it as much. I feel like we’re doing what we’d like to hear,” Illangelo discussed when speaking about the inspiration behind their sound. “Also with the messages of the songs as well. With the songs today, people aren’t really talking about much. I feel like it’s more of an art piece than music. A lot of people, when they’re creating music, it’s not really real. It’s kind of constructed whereas this is actually, literally who we are.”
Download the bundle HERE to snag the first three songs off their upcoming album, polaroids, and footage from their Los Angeles debut at Red Bull Studios.