From his east-London home studio, JJ Draper has been preparing to release his debut single, ‘Zero-Sum’. Earlier this week it was finally unveiled. The track itself has echoes of newly crowned Mercury Prize winner Sampha about it and takes on a similarly expansive, emotionally resonant feel. At the bottom lies widescreen piano which cascades and flows like rain, accompanied by funk-tinged bass and with a frilled synth line electronically augmenting the genre-defying piece. It’s a song that defies classification, and Draper’s claimed influences like Radiohead and Jeff Buckley can be recognised within.
The track succeeds in painting its vulnerable, bear-faced emotional picture with the help of Draper’s voice and lyricism. His falsetto soars willingly, while his harmonies thicken the sound with an underlying complexity.
The track itself is liquid, flowing in and out of genre, while its accompanying video, directed by Joshua Bareham, has Draper and model Holly Horne submerged in inky black water. The song, according to Draper is ‘about emotional dislocation, regret and apology’, with the underwater motif of the video highlighting the ‘confusing emotions of a relationship ending’, and Draper’s inability to come to terms with them at the time.
Draper is a multi-instrumentalist and producer from east-London and, having released his debut this week, has plans for a UK tour later this year. If the rest of his work follows suit, it’s going to be a big year for the Londoner, and we can’t wait to find out what’s next.
Words by Ben Kitto