Triana is a singer-songwriter hailing from Brixton and began singing at an early age, influenced by the diverse sights and sounds around her. In 2007, she featured on the hugely popular Reset EP produced by hip hop pioneer Flying Lotus, with Tea Leaf Dancers showcasing her hypnotic voice to perfection. She has since collaborated with the likes of Mr Scruff on tracks including the infectious Here We Go and Bonobo (British producer, musician and DJ Simon Green) on the Black Sands album.
Her acclaimed debut album Lost Where I Belong, released in 2010, was produced by Bonobo and features the two working with live musicians and samples to create a classic yet contemporary sound. Fellow Ninja Tune singer and songwriter Fink (British singer, songwriter and producer Fin Greenall) co-wrote two tracks for the album – Lost Where I Belong and Far Closer. It is a charmingly raw and honest piece of music fusing a number of influences including soul and jazz and should feature on any self-respecting music fan’s playlist.
I discovered Triana at the monumental Jazz FM Love Supreme festival in July and have been listening on repeat ever since. So it was in the smoky, intimate space at XOYO that I had the chance to hear her live again. There was anticipated chatter in the air as the cool but amiable crowd nodded along to Mirror Signal, Triana’s accomplished support act, who made waiting for the main lady very painless indeed.
At 9.15 pm sharp the lights suddenly lowered and in a flash she appeared, eyes closed, that unmistakably sultry voice singing her upcoming single Best is Yet to Come, so clearly, so melodically that the crowd were momentarily stunned into respectful silence. ‘London!‘ she addressed the crowd boldly with her husky London accent and breaking the stillness, ‘You gorgeous people!’ and the gorgeous people laughed and held on to her every note.
On stage, Triana is charming and ebullient. Despite possessing a talent that surpasses anything else in the room, she makes you feel as though she is your best mate, someone you could genuinely hang out with and have a glass of wine or three. Two songs in, she declared with a cheeky grin that it was ‘the time of the show where the shoes come off! I thought I’d last longer but I didn’t…’ and I admired her candour and self-deprecation, as I wiggled my toes in uncomfortably high boots.
Triana has a unique style and strong creative identity and she illuminated the stage in a colourful marble print trouser suit from Topshop and print shirt from ASOS, paired with a huge orange ring. Her website finely exhibits that inimitable style – prints, beautifully opulent oversized necklaces, striking colours – as well as musical influences. Style and personality aside though, it is the music that enthrals. As resonant guitar chords opened the largely acoustic Changing Shapes of Love you could hear raw emotion and the intensity of her voice live is compelling. She dedicated Everything You Never Had to her Mum and affirmed her extensive vocal range, including a captivating subtlety that transforms her songs into something profoundly personal.
The set list seamlessly intertwined the old with the new including Not Today with a thumping drum beat and Lost Where I Belong, a personal favourite of mine, and clearly the crowd’s too given the excited reaction it received. This is a stunning track, with an instantly recognisable and infectious chorus and the audience joined in eagerly, substitute backing singers to her lead vocal. Even a colossal great crunch of ice from the bar couldn’t spoil the moment; the unwanted disruption was handled with the typical charm and poise that Triana exudes at her live shows.
She performs with a loop pedal on stage to enhance and densely layer her vocals, used to amplifying effect on her cover of Sweet Dreams, and with strong vocal hooks, catchy guitar riffs, and reggae-influenced baselines her performance was a celebration of brilliant music.
Far too quickly, it was time for her to leave the stage but no, we did not want it to end thank you very much. We demanded an encore, stomped our feet and clapped our hands in thunderous protest. Fortunately, she was teasing us as the best was yet to come. On her Lost Where I Belong album opener Draw the Stars, Triana was at her melodic best, with accompanying acoustic guitar and twinkling xylophone. Her cover of Alicia Keys’ Not Even the King mesmerised the audience into gratified silence. ‘It kills me’ she said about the song and its emotive lyrics as couples smooched and potential couples sidestepped a bit closer, exchanging covert smiles. As she ended triumphantly with Far Closer, this was a job well and truly done. I got to meet the great lady at the end of the show and she was as beguiling, engaging and lovely in person as she is on stage.
Triana is currently preparing new material for her second album (and potentially a preceding EP), much of which she has been previewing at her recent shows. Leaving XOYO and stepping out into the cool night air, I felt just like I did after seeing her perform at Love Supreme – excited to discover more of her material and keen to shout out about this talented, home-grown rising star.
So, now I’m shouting loudly. Go listen.https://soundcloud.com/andreyatriana http://andreyatriana.tumblr.com http://www.jazzfm.com/ Vote here for Love Supreme Festival at the UK Festival Awards 2013