A well trained and established singer and songwriter, Krizia Bassanini, otherwise known as LaMeduza, sits among the top tiers of electronic music artists.
She’s a US-born Italian-Spaniard, currently residing in Geneva, who went to university in Liverpool and just got back from French Polynesia – where her mother lives. She’s seen and experienced all manner of cultures and lifestyles, and her catalogue of releases and vocal range are just as expansive.
Over the last decade-plus she’s put out tunes on the likes of Flexout, Pilot, Deadbeats, Metalheadz, and many more. Krizia is a true seasoned pro with a striking voice that can be adapted to any style, and she flexes this adaptability on the regular, too. Most recently, you can hear it on her new LaMeduza EP on Overview – complete with a hand-picked variety of producers in Bredren, Phase, Solace, Waeys, and GROUND, all bringing something different. Krizia goes from soulful and uplifting on Aether, to hair-raising on Vento, to mesmeric on Acqua.
This has been the plan from day one; starting in a musical household, to studying, to making a career out of it. It’s a testament to her consistency and hard work – and when you mix those together, good things happen. After being introduced by James Submotive, Goldie enlisted her to feature multiple times on their (Subjective’s) album ‘The Start of No Regret’ – the ultimate endorsement for anyone involved in this scene.
Following her first full EP on Overview, and the fantastic moments she had on Subjective’s album, UKF wanted to hear more about Krizia’s storied journey in electronic music.
Let’s start from the top – how did you first get into singing?
I’ve always wanted to do it – I didn’t want to study anything else at school, it was always just music, music, music. I focussed on that and went to university for it, and then pursued a career out of it. It’s been what I wanted to do from day one.
What did you study at university specifically?
Performing arts. I went to the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and I wanted to study musical theatre, but after doing one year of that, I realised it wasn’t something I wanted to do day in, day out. So I switched to songwriting, and in parallel I did voice training to become a vocal coach. I was trying to find any pathway to be involved in the music world.
What made you love music and singing from such an early age?
My Dad is a jazz trumpet player, and my Mum was a flamenco dancer, so that all very much influenced me. Funnily enough, if I think about my EP that just came out on Overview, it’s pretty much all influenced by my roots.
So yeah. I was lucky enough to have my Mum help me pursue this career, although my Dad was much more tentative and wanted me to do something that would be more likely to ‘pay the bills’.
What drew you to electronic music?
I’m a big Portishead and Massive Attack fan, so I came from trip-hop. It was my go-to and it still is. Also artists like Bjork and Aphex Twin, they all blew my mind and got me hooked.
And now you’re working with musicians of that ilk, like Goldie and Submotive (Subjective). How did that collaboration come about?
When Goldie heard ‘Shore To Shore’ – a track I did with Phase on his album – he started to wonder who I was. James (Submotive) gave me a call and said that they wanted me on the album. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!
What was it like working with them?
I am still dreaming. Pinching myself. It was amazing, the way they – especially Goldie – pushes you as a vocalist to do things outside the box. He’s an astounding musician and producer. He’ll just call you up and say exactly what he wants.
I can imagine they’re a bunch of characters…
Yeah – it’s such an adventure each time. The calls can be at any hour of the day and I have to be ready to drop everything to deliver the vocals in one or two days.
I have to work super quick and get the right emotion in so little time – which I can find really tricky, because sometimes, you just don’t have the right energy to give to a track.
How is it different working with those two, versus others?
Well first is the delivery time. There’s usually a lot more time and I can fine-tune things as well. Every collab is unique though, which is what I love about it. Everybody has a different way of working and a different personality or dynamic.
Do you prefer when there’s more direction – or when it’s a blank canvas?
Good question. I love both! But I have to say, I don’t like when I’m given lyrics. I find that if I’m performing or having to sing someone else’s lyrics, it just doesn’t feel natural to me. So I guess for the topline melody, I like to combine thoughts on where to go with it, but the lyrics have got to be mine.
Speaking with Sydney Bryce last year – she said lyrics will often come very last in her process, until she nails the melody and flow. Does that sound similar to your process?
Yeah, I call it yoghurt, or scatting. So that could come out first, and then I’ll put words to it. But then other times I’ll just note things down when I’m travelling, or have just a bunch of random words which I’ll link together. I like having themes also – for my Overview EP I started with a theme. It’s always a different process.
So you could start with a lyrical idea and then work backwards?
Yeah for sure. If I have a track where I really want to use specific words, like for example in the track I did with GROUND on the new EP, I had the words ‘waste’ and ‘toxic’ – and those were just two words that I worked around placing in there.
Let’s talk about that release on Overview. How did that come together?
I’d never done a release on my own, so that was something I really wanted to get into. Overview was the perfect home to be able to work with different producers and different sounds, I was able to have carte blanche and express myself.
What do you mean by ‘carte blanche’?
I mean that I could have freedom to work all these different sounds into the EP. Each producer has their own touch – you’ve got the more techy, more jungly, more rolling, liquid, stompers.
Some labels are more catered to a specific style, but Overview has that range, and I felt that was perfect. I’ve also done several releases with Peter before, so I was in good hands.
When it came to putting it together, did you have a spread of beats to pick from? Or did you pick certain producers?
Well again, talking about themes, I’m a big fan of the movie The Fifth Element. I really wanted to have the theme of elements. So I contacted the producers I wanted on the EP and showed them these stones with element symbols on them – asking which element they would like to be; fire, water, and so on. I also really wanted to have strings, or have some organic instrument in there, and for the mood to be cinematic and orchestral. That’s what I gave them to sort of work around.
So I wasn’t completely ‘carte blanche’ with them (even though Pete was with me), but I really wanted to stick with these elements and themes.
Have you had the opportunity to do that before? Where you come to the producer with your idea?
I have in the trip-hop space, but not in drum & bass. That was my first time and it’s something I want to dive way more into.
Did producers enjoy the challenge and creative barriers?
The majority of them did – but one did struggle with it. It’s definitely not easy when you have someone else’s thoughts and barriers in there when you’re trying to create.
So generally, yes, but there was a track there that took more time than others. Because not everybody produces that way, you know? And for this producer, they told me it was the first time that somebody had given them a theme and a soundscape to stick to.
I even gave the producers references of classical composers to listen to – or another had some reggae references. I was quite instructive, asking them to listen to these things and think about the elements that could go with it.
Yeah – I guess some producers always want that blank canvas..
… or they want to keep their comfort blanket – their go-to process that they don’t want to change. And I get that, even for me, when Goldie was pushing me to go outside of my box – I was thinking, how am I going to do this? It’s a different way of working.
That’s stepping out of the comfort zone – and that’s usually where the best stuff gets made.
Yeah, well said. Because it is. That’s where you touch the unknown, and get challenged, and get the most fulfilment from the outcome.
Do you have a favourite style of drum & bass that you like to work with?
Well that’s a tough one because I just love them all. The answer is no I don’t – but I do want to dive more into jungle. I used to do a lot of liquid, but now I lean towards jungle or the more techy, rootsy, old school sounds.
Do you think it’s a greater challenge to sing on those types of sounds? I feel like with liquid, vocals belong on there and it makes sense – whereas jungle or neuro could be a little more difficult?
Yeah, for example on the Bredren track – which is sort of straight forward and techy – there was so much space that I felt so bare. It makes you write in a different way. And that’s what I love in collaborations, how it makes me write.
So you’ve just been on a big holiday it looks like – what drew you to Polynesia?
My mum. She lives there now and it’s the only way I can see her, because she doesn’t come back often – she loves the warmth and nature.
Do you get to go out there much?
No, I wish. I miss her a lot and I get why she moved, but at the same time I’m like, could you not have picked somewhere closer?
That’s a long way! But you’re feeling recharged after a nice break?
Yeah totally. Back now though, and everything’s full speed ahead.
Nice. So what’s coming in 2023?
A second EP, which is really cool. It’ll be similar to the first – I learnt a lot of lessons from the first – mainly with the visual aspect of things, which I would like to do again on this new one. I’m really excited for it, but I can’t give much away..
Can you tell me a little more about the visuals you do?
So I did videos, parts one, two and three for the Overview EP – and I’d like to do something similar for the next. It helps me to tie the whole thing together, rather than just four or five different tracks. Even if it’s with different producers I want them to have a unity together somehow.
I always appreciate it when there’s more thought that’s gone into a release, rather than just a collection of tunes. Sounds like you’ve got that down.
Yeah, maybe too much. I put everything into it, and sometimes producers – or mainly labels – ask me to simplify it. But I have a vision!
Usually I do all my visuals on my own, just a tripod, camera, and go. But for the Overview EP I hired two camera guys, and I ended up doing all the editing on my own. Oli (Dumas – from Overview) did the colour grading too, which was great.
So maybe for this next EP – depending on budget – I’m going to try to hire professionals to help me out. At some point I have to delegate, I can’t do it all myself.
What about performing live – are you going to be doing a lot of that in 2023?
Yeah definitely, there’s plenty of gigs coming up with Phase. We have this symbiosis, and he is also my partner, and we enjoy being on the road together. There’s also some cool Metalheadz shows coming up.
I’ve enjoyed going out in recent years and seeing more singing, vocalist type hosts for D&B nights.
Yeah for sure – and it’s a huge challenge. The audience does expect MCs, but they’re opening up more, and are more welcoming to female MCs. Even though I don’t consider myself a rapper, I sometimes dip into that world. My main approach is to just improv on melodies and hooks.
I can imagine if a DJ is moving through tunes with pace it would be tough to catch a vibe with singing?
Well, at the beginning I found it really challenging – some people mix really quickly. I couldn’t get my bars out. Your brain has to think so quickly: what do I say, what do I sing?
But the more you do it, the more it becomes a different ball game.
Alright so final question – what are your goals for your singing career? What haven’t you done yet?
Hmm. Well, there’s some collabs I’d love to do. I’m a massive fan of Ivy Lab, just putting that out there! I also love Om Unit, dBridge – there’s a lot of artists in the drum & bass world I’d still love to work with. I’m also a vocal coach, so I just want to keep coaching amazing artists and seeing where their journeys take them.
I just keep it open. Because the more I plan things, the more life goes the other way. After all we’ve been through, I’m just happy with how it’s been, and what will be.