It’s a different kind of joy listening to new bands – they’re fresh, and their gigs always seem intimate. It’s not like paying a ridiculous amount and getting a seat that’s not even worth the price. (Read my previous posts on To Kill A King and Benjamin Francis Leftwich.)
Last week, I paid £3 to see San Zhi at the Dalston Servant Quarters, and I must say that it’s one of the best gigs I’ve been to in a long time. This new London-based band is not only impressive but gets infectious.
I came across San Zhi through a friend who is a friend to Suraya, the female vocalist of the duo; the other member is vocalist and guitarist Peter Howarth-Brown.
The Egyptian and English duo met during their university studies and what started as a bedroom project is now out in an EP form.
San Zhi’s music is dreamy. Their single “Ice Light” starts with drum beats which in seconds is overlapped by guitars and keyboard before Suraya and Peter’s vocals sets that dreamy mood. While Suraya’s voice is distinct, Peter’s voice is difficult to ignore – there is some sort of unparalleled harmony that works perfectly fine.
“Blakholes” also start with a distinct drum beat and a constant keyboard tune until Suraya kicks in – listening to the song, again, it’s very dreamy with a dose of heavy guitar and vocals that’ll at least keep you awake and make you realize that you’re still in San Zhi’s musical sphere.
“It struck us how many metaphors are being used to describe our music and perhaps especially those conveying the feeling of being transported into another world,” Suraya told me.
While listening to them, you can’t help but think about the influences from Aluna George and also The xx. During their session with BBC 1, Rob Da Bank says, “The xx, watch your back,” after San Zhi’s cover of Lauryn Hill’s “The Ex Factor.”
San Zhi’s music, according to Suraya is all about how they feel.
“Our main focus at this point is to make the music we feel,” she told me. “[We want] to express in lyrics the effect of cosmic and global vibrations in surreal terms whenever and wherever the mood takes us.”
San Zhi’s music has been on a loop since I’ve discovered them – it’s addictive.
I’m very much looking forward for their music in future, and hopefully a great album.
As the Guardian‘s Paul Lester puts it: “This pop duo tick all the right boxes for huge commercial success – they just need the right producer.”