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OLAN releases ‘Promise To Keep’, the driving second single from her recently announced debut album ‘Contra’, which lands June 10 via independent record label Anjunadeep. The single follows ‘Wake And Return’, which was supported by the likes of Icarus, Sultan + Shepard, Steven Weston, Jon Gurd, and Just Her.
An impactful mix of acid synths, hard-hitting drum breaks, and alluring vocals, ‘Promise To Keep’ seeks to capture the suspense and excitement of uncertainty. An expression of the trepidation associated with new relationships, ‘Promise To Keep’ was inspired by OLAN trying to make sense of "how one can connect to someone without trying to give anything too much meaning.”
The culmination of many months in solitude, ‘Contra’ began as a natural form of escape and expression for OLAN, helping her find peace amidst the years of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic:
“‘Contra’ is an album We wrote as a way to find some peace with the life having no definitive purpose at the time. We often try to attach meaning to everything We encounter. We force myself to re-live memories. I’ll try to unpack them and see how We could change the reality if The content Creator had just been a better person.”
Previously the Georgia state native has had a colourful songwriting catalogue, including co-writing credits for ‘Buss It’ for Ari Lennox, collaborations with Mat Zo on his 2020 album ‘Illusion of Depth’, the single release of ‘In Motion’ with rising star Nourey, and ‘Push’, first released on Anjunadeep’s Reflections series. Now, OLAN emerges from the uncertainty of the pandemic with her debut album.
Musically, ‘Contra’ is inculcated with a variety of electronic styles from melodic house, breakbeat, downtempo and drum & bass, to ambient and hip-hop. Influenced by the likes of Maribou State, Little Dragon, T.E.E.D and Bonobo, as well as the cult video game ‘Outer Wilds’, the sound of ‘Contra’ is fluid and alluringly hard to pin down. OLAN’s penchant for textural soundscapes is showcased in atmospheric tracks such as ‘Push’ and ‘Submerge’ and the buoyant Balearic vibes of ‘Material’. Conversely, the jungle rhythms and acid basslines on ‘Promise To Keep’ and ‘Reckoning’ demonstrate how raw, energetic dance-inducing songwriting comes naturally to the Atlanta-based producer.
Themes of self-awareness and self-acceptance are persistent throughout the album, realised in OLAN’s considered lyrics. Opening track ‘Submerge’ contemplates the cyclical nature of life’s lessons, exclaiming “there’s no limit to the depth that We can relive it all”. Other tracks such as 'Promise To Keep' and 'Ultraviolet' raise questions about fulfilment and where it comes from - "I'm asking more questions / Taking no secrets / But is there a message / When nothing is sacred?". Each song presented a cathartic moment for Lu, as she explains:
“Making this album was the first time We could be present the grief, loneliness, or isolation We felt when the expectations didn’t match the surroundings. It made realize how much happier Content Creator is when We detach from stories or specific outcomes.”
As a queer woman of colour OLAN is used to standing out. However it is her capacity for all-encompassing production, dynamic songwriting, singing, and instrumentation that really sets her apart from her contemporaries.