The eloquent outsider EJ Marais debuts with an LP of contemporary compositions addressing the artist’s everyday explorations of life in the early 2020s. His Instagram description reads Folk / Dubstep / Country which speaks to his postmodern approach to traditional genres, cherry picking elements of bedroom RnB, northern indie and balearic breakbeat, held together with EJ’s unpretentious English accent. Simply titled CUTS, the album is a melodramatic debut from a vocalist, songwriter and producer equally as eloquent with his use of organic instruments, vaporwave synths and tasteful autotune.
The lead single from the album, ‘Love.mp3 b/w Better’ – was originally distributed digitally by TWIN before La Castanya gave it a physical release, attracting international attention to the name of EJ Marais. The double A side contained a pair of understated anthems to end an evening at the club, or soundtrack an afternoon lazed away. Blessed with the rich Mediterranean aesthetic of co-producer Ekhi Lopetegi (Delorean), ‘Love.mp3’ is a lo-fi ballad, a reserved salute to a brand new bae that could have been penned by Homeshake, whilst ‘Better’ recalls the stoned sway of a Channel Orange-era Frank Ocean: 808s, crestfallen digital vocals, an acoustic guitar loop, a touch of the otherworldly pads and samples so unmistakably Delorean.
EJ Marais was born in Brighton and currently lives in Barcelona, where he has begun to carve out his career and the crew of collaborators that feature on CUTS. Basque saxophonist Haizea Martiartu appears as a Kenny G to EJ’s Kanye on ‘Bedroom RnB’ and percussionist Ander Agudo adds joyful tambourine and tribal bongos to ‘Discotheque’, one of the certified bangers of the LP. CUTS concludes on an ecstatic high with ‘Feng Shui’, an ideal road trip tune featuring the backing vocals and co-production of Elsa de Alfonso.
CUTS is an album that fits the youth of our times perfectly. The album’s opener ‘Glamour Professional’ is a lounge-funk track about the excesses of the night and emotional reliance on apps, EJ adopting the croon of a junior Destroyer, and ‘Smthng About That Style’, a track that has drawn comparisons to MorMor, describes a crush wearing thrifted trench coats on cramped budget airlines. The ambient interlude ‘wetransfer-2sf’ presents the testimony of a victim of online bullying who overcame her tormentors.
La Castanya are proud to present the first full length album by EJ Marais: an outsider artist with a whole set of fresh takes on the modern condition.