Ladi6 is the group project of vocalist Ladi and an overabundantly talented trio of accomplished producers in the shape of her partner Parks, drummer Julie Dyne and keyboard player Brandon Haru. Currently touring internationally with long time compadres Fat Freddy’s Drop, Ladi6 are primed to release the next chapter in their spellbinding story with the new single Diagonals. Another bold step forward Diagonals celebrates all that is skewed, uncommon and twisted, which could almost be a mission statement for a group that rarely takes the easy road or path of least resistance. With mesmerising vocal and synth interplay, Kraftwerk-esque modular flourishes and a singular, infectious, afro soul bounce – Diagonals is sure to build on the foundations of 2017s award winning, ground breaking triumph, the Royal Blue 3000 EP.
Born and raised in Christchurch, it was a year long family move to Tanzania that initially awoke Ladi’s songwriting and performance talents. That led onto the formation of her first outfit, ferocious femme-cees Sheelahroc, at the turn of the century. Short lived but truly incandescent, Sheelahroc lit the fuse for a move to Auckland and the formation of live hip hop ensemble Verse Two. Here Ladi’s creative partnership with Parks and Julien Dyne began to truly blossom, giving an inkling of the musical majesty that was yet to come. Co-produced by Fat Freddy’s Drop Mu and celebrating its 10th anniversary, Time Is Not Much, the debut Ladi6 album, introduced a series of future soul classics to the NZ vernacular. Along the way it smashed the NZ album charts Top 5 and made a serious impression in Europe after being swiftly picked up by leading London indie BBE. Despite its success leading to amazing opportunities, including supporting late legend Gil Scott-Heron, there was never any question of making the same record twice. The Liberation Of… released in 2010 saw Parks collaborating with Blumentopf’s Sebastian Weiss to make a bolder album, that added vivid colours to the mix, most notably on platinum selling single and certified NZ classic Like Water. Upping the game again in 2013 Ladi and Parks decamped to Detroit’s Studio A, where they joined Platinum Pied Piper and J Dilla associate Wajeed to journey deeper into the heart of the funk, making Automatic, a labyrinthine LP fronted by the fiery fascinations of Ikarus.
Maintaining standards that demand they push their creativity, coupled with an unwillingness to rest on what could otherwise be considered rather impressive laurels – Ladi’s Awards cabinet requires regular upsizing – are amongst the essential ingredients for what became the Alpha Sessions in 2015. Re-imagining the studio in a live context, and then fully improvising the performance without any kind of sonic safety net, is certainly not for the faint hearted. However for Ladi6 it has become a vital component in the songwriting process, clearly transporting them to higher heights on 2017s Royal Blue 3000 EP with disruptive delights like Guru, and the gobsmacking glory of Royal Blue.
In batshit crazy 2018 Diagonals is advocating for the unconventional and riding for the non-conformers. It is truly nextest business and the opening salvo in a series of three singles that will lead up to the fourth, full length Ladi6 album, which is currently scheduled for September 2019. Next February the audience will once again get a chance hear, see, and be, part of that process when the group head out for the Alpha Sessions 2019, utilising invention and refinement, with a bonus helping of simultaneous road testing, to create something truly unique and special.
Ladi6, vive la difference.