Dutch-born singer Annelotte de Graaf, who goes by the stage moniker Amber Arcades, has recently announced her signing to Heavenly Recordings. She has already revealed two singles, ‘Turning Light’ and ‘Right Now’, ahead of her debut album release. The unusual yet cohesive blend of shimmering folk and subtle synthpop is brought together on both singles, and both are a taste of the singer’s debut LP ‘Fading Lines’, which will be out in June. De Graaf’s unorthodox sound is only one aspect of her appeal: her non-music exploits are equally interesting. When she isn’t writing and recording music, De Graaf can be found pursuing humanitarian work, including working with the UN to aid people who have fled Syria. De Graaf began writing back in 2010 and released her first EP in 2012. For her debut LP, she teamed up with producer Ben Greenberg (who has worked with Brooklyn-based Beach Fossils and The Men, among other acts), flying out to New York last year to record with Greenberg in Brooklyn’s Strange Weather studio.
Amber Arcades’ sound is fresh and iridescent, with an elegant and unassuming style that has a lasting impact and will be stuck in your head long after you hear the tracks. While Amber Arcades is De Graaf’s alias as a solo artist, she recorded her debut with a band, comprising of Shane Butler and Keven Lareau of Quilt, and Jackson Pollis of Real Estate on guitar, bass and drums respectively. This collaboration, along with Greenberg’s production, has resulted in an ethereal and lofty couple of tracks, which have set a precedent for one highly anticipated LP.
Both previously unveiled songs ‘Turning Light’ and ‘Right Now’ are tantalising, pairing De Graaf’s gentle, dreamy vocals with hypnotising rhythms. Each track offers something different, yet taps into the unique signature sound that Amber Arcades embodies. ‘Turning Light’ is a mesmerising track, layered with a harmony of otherworldly sounds. The lyrics “when all is quiet / I’m inside turning light” show the simple yet introspective nature of the song. There’s a gentle, dreaminess to the track, which makes sense, considering it was dreamed up in the early hours of the morning. The steady thump of the drumbeat along with De Graaf’s serene voice creates a ghostliness amplified by the subtle synth static and trippy guitars that accompany it.
‘Right Now’ opens boldly with the crisp jangling of a guitar, which sounds at first like it might be better suited to a country number, or at the beginning of a Magnetic Fields song. The folky riff, playing off of the refined, ethereal nature of De Graaf’s vocals, as well as the steady beat of drums, all draw together to make something that sounds like it probably shouldn’t work but really does. The chorus is as catchy as it is poignant: there’s a beautiful simplicity to the song, sounding like it’s been forged out of pure sunlight. De Graaf has created a sound that is a mixture of subtle melancholy and glittering energy.
Amber Arcades’ debut album ‘Fading Lines’ is scheduled for release on Heavenly Recordings on the 3rd of June. She appeared at SXSW 2016 last month in Austin. She has a number of upcoming dates scheduled around the UK and Europe, including The Great Escape in Brighton, Green Man Festival in Wales, and Amsterdam Woods Festival.