Miss Red announces new album ‘K.O.’ produced entirely by The Bug and shares first single ‘Dagga’
Pre-order – here
Miss Red ‘K.O.’ released via Pressure 13th July
The blueprint for a futuristic new dancehall style is laid out on this debut full-length release from Miss Red, produced by close collaborator Kevin Martin aka the Bug.
‘K.O.’ is a fully realised and precision tooled longplayer that sits in an outernational beat continuum alongside the likes of Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, Canada’s Seekersinternational and Portugal’s Principe crew.
Miss Red’s fierce flow rides roughshod over warped bashment anthems like ‘Shock Out’ and ‘One Shot Killer’, but the album also showcases her ability to adapt to different flavours, with the addition of ethereal harmonies to the psyched-out arcade blips of ‘Memorial Day’ or the plaintive dystopian lament of ‘War’. Similarly, the Bug’s riddims are a masterclass in restraint, retaining his trademark heaviness but taking a step back from the atmospheric ambience of his recent work with Burial and Earth. Instead this is an example of the dexterity with which Martin can deploy a minimal arrangement, taking a bassline, beat, FX and vocal and sharpening those elements for maximum dancefloor devastation.
The Bug first encountered Miss Red whilst DJing in Tel Aviv in 2011, an impromptu DJ session in a rammed underground club enlivened when he reluctantly let a persistent audience member get on the mic, blown away to discover not just an inebriated chancer but someone who could perfectly compliment his black wax attack with her rub-a-dub delivery and a tone pitched in perfect contrast to the deep low-end of his acid ragga style tunes. Born to Israeli Moroccan and Polish parents as Sharon Stern, early experiences of growing up in an immigrant family and their resulting persecution have informed the writing of the album: “My polish grandparents were the only people from their family to survive the holocaust, and In Morocco my family were getting shit cause they were Jewish but then in Israel they were also getting shit for being North African. As newcomers and pioneers of new villages, they had nothing at the start of their life in Israel and had to build everything from nothing”. Significantly, the album cover features a picture of Sharon’s grandfather, Asher Assraf, from her French mother’s side of the family, who sadly passed away whilst the album was being recorded. Asher had been a competitive boxer and full time “ass kicker” who had used fighting to rid himself of the frustrations of social stress, and developed that fighting spirit psychologically to cope with the battles of everyday life.
Since moving away from Israel due to the claustrophobia, corruption and constant state of war, the Miss Red persona has developed over time spent in London and Berlin, and as a regular member of the Bug’s touring line-up alongside fellow MCs Flowdan, Daddy Freddy, Warrior Queen and Riko Dan. From before she left Tel Aviv she was magnetically attracted to the sound, style and fashion of the reggae scene in Jamaica: “Nicodemus really influenced me, but as a girl, it wasn’t my voice, and it was listening to those 80s dancehall gyals that I gravitated towards, because they were chatting as proud girls, and from a female perspective, so it was vocalists like Sister Nancy and Lady Ann that really made the biggest impression on me”.
In 2015 she dropped her first solo mixtape, ‘Murder’, with The Bug’s beats supplemented with contributions from producers Mark Pritchard, Mumdance and Andy Stott. Subsequent singles on her own Red label and the in-house imprint of iconic London record shop Sounds Of The Universe have sold out straight away, and she has received acclaim for her collaborations with Warp Records artist Gaika.
On ‘K.O.’ specifically she comments: “I had no interest in making a record that sounds like everybody else, those types of record disappoint me every time, I wanted to make something totally fresh on my terms. What attracted me to old school reggae was the sound of newness, of the future, and then to follow that genre and check its development, and then to find myself in 2018 wanting to evolve a new voice for a new style. For me reggae is the foundation of this record, but the album’s movement is freer. It mirrors my need to move and keep challenging myself. As a white Israeli girl working as an MC in the music industry, and in particular as a singer, it’s a BIG battle to be taken seriously, and as a woman in the music industry, I am in an obvious minority, the situation is clear, the MAN is still in control – that has got to be addressed, and changed.”
The Bug comments: “When Sharon and I discussed the album we wanted to make, we both knew we wanted it to stand out from the sea of poptastic blandness, and seek liberation sonically from the mass of mediocrity that surrounds us everywhere in the blander than bland music world we are being suffocated by. Seeing dancehall reduced to throwaway candy was killing us, and we felt that we lived in fucked up times, and needed to mirror that with this f**ked up soundtrack. We knew it needed maximum impact and total intensity, and that was our aim throughout the two years of making the album here in Berlin. And the album was undoubtedly influenced by the punk as f**k adrenalin rush of our louder than loud live shows, where we seek to generate maximum electricity.”