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OLAN (real name Luzana Flores) is proud to release her debut album ‘Contra’, out now via independent record label Anjunadeep. The release follows three powerful singles: ‘Wake And Return’, ‘Promise To Keep’, and ‘Ultraviolet’ which have garnered support from the likes of KCRW, Jody Wisternoff, Dosem, Eelke Kleijn, Made In Paris, Steven Weston, and Braxton to name a few.
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.”
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.
This songwriting versatility is also showcased in OLAN’s colourful catalogue, which includes co-writing credits for ‘Bussit’ with 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.
In ‘Contra’, the aforementioned themes of self-awareness and self-acceptance are persistent throughout and 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.”
Given she learnt her craft as a classical musician between orchestra classes and worship bands, OLAN prominently incorporated her own live instrumentation and vocals whilst recording the album. Suitably, she will be taking ‘Contra’ on tour live this year, with previous performances at Beyond Wonderland, Ultra, and Ben Böhmer’s North American tour, and upcoming shows at The Gorge Weekender, and a soon to be announced album tour.
As a queer woman of colour OLAN is used to standing out. However, it is her capacity for creative production, dynamic songwriting, singing and instrumentation that really sets her apart from her contemporaries.