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Radio 3's featured new artist: Bernice

Louise Burns

This week, Radio 3's featured new artist is Bernice, the Toronto-based experimental art-pop project lead by vocalist Robin Dann. Dann has recently signed with Arts & Crafts and shared a new song called “St. Lucia,” a pulsing revelation of deconstructed dream pop.

Dann studied voice at the University of Toronto and has a masters in music. Her parents are a symphony harpist and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s former principal violist, which might explain the highly complex yet restrained arrangements that make her music so unique. Her voice is reminiscent of Portishead's Beth Gibbons or Sade, which she tastefully threads over minimal production, compliments of Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Lucius), Matt Smith (Owen Pallett) and her band, which includes members of DIANA, Bahamas and Owen Pallett. Case in point is “St. Lucia”, the lead single off her upcoming album. Named after her great aunt, who's middle name is Lucia, the song is an homage to her matriarchal lineage.

“As much as I'm me, I'm also them, and so everything I do is part them too; body language, bone structure, spacey brain... sense of self, identity,” says Dann. “We can let ourselves off the hook a bit. Even though we can't escape our worries, we can still be good to ourselves, because we need it.”

Bernice is stretching and molding the shape of pop music to come by turning melodies into 3D soundscapes. If "St. Lucia" is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to from Dann and company in 2017.