Before starting work on the self-produced album, Owens, a 28-year old Londoner, turned her keen ear towards dance music after working with techno producer Daniel Avery in a London record store. Her voice and contributions can be heard on Avery’s Drone Logic. Since then, she self-released two white label 12”s, with the “Oleic” EP to follow.
Her debut solo album is first and foremost Owens’ vision, a record that exudes a startling level of intimacy even in its largest-sounding moments – such as “Arthur,” a percolating mixture of looped vocals and rustling rhythms that rides on a perpetual near-crescendo. The song is a tribute to the late iconoclastic musician and kindred spirit Arthur Russell. “He wrote music and stayed true to his vision up until the day he died, ” Owens explains. “He didn’t compromise as an artist, and those are the kind of people I look up to – people who know what they want.” On S/T Owens translates that self-assertiveness into a record that explores a variety of moods – sadness, anxiety, darkly shaded ecstasy – with a trippy-eyed clarity and confidence that only bodes well for the future.
In addition to Avery, who has a co-write credit on Kelly Lee Owens’ ghostly “Keep Walking,” Jenny Hval also appears on the album’s lead single, “Anxi.” It’s a track that shifts from drifting tones and distant vocals to warm squelches and tunnel-vision club beats. “It has been my most freeing and open collaboration so far, and my first time working with a female,” Owens says of working with Hval. “”It was a very powerful experience for me, I felt she brought something strange and quite beautiful.