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Born in South Florida in 1980 to Ecuadorian immigrant parents, the world-building multi-instrumentalist Roberto Carlos Lange stitches together memories, impressions, and atmospheres to make detailed dreamscapes as Helado Negro. He produces, engineers, and mixes his own songs, literally creating and populating his own sonic world. Lange has a degree in Computer Art and Animation from Savannah College of Art and Design and works extensively with video, sculpture, sound, and performance. He brings that toolbox to whatever he makes, and there’s a seeming effortlessness to the complexity. His songs are awash with vibrant melodies, sharp lyrical vignettes, and subtle, even whispered hooks. Since his 2009 debut, Awe Owe, across multiple projects and collaborations, through his breakthrough records, 2016’s Private Energy and 2019’s This Is How You Smile, and to 2021’s Far In, Lange’s work continues to move past easy genre assignments. Showcasing that interest in open-ended multidisciplinarity, in 2022, he and his wife, the artist Kristi Sword, created the multidisciplinary exhibition, Kite Symphony, with Ballroom Marfa—it was a collection of impressionistic installations, drawings and sound pieces that encourages listeners to “open their ears to the sky, the sound of cacti, and the feeling of the wind on their skin.” Lange’s ninth studio record, Phasor, picks up on that interest in the natural world but in the form of pop music. Deep, atmospheric, and meticulously executed, it’s Lange’s tightest collection to date. Lange has been awarded a United States Artist fellowship and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant. He lives in Asheville, NC.
In the depths of Marem Ladson’s music lies a profound exploration of her cross-cultural identity, intertwining her unique approach to lyrical and introspective songwriting with influences from folk, pop, and Spanish traditional music. Born in Spain and based in New York, “her sumptuous hooks and sweetly lilting vocals seem to form a language unto themselves” (Stephen Thompson, NPR Music).
Hailing from Galicia in northern Spain, Marem sought solace from an early age in the written word, penning short stories and poems that served as windows into her internal world. It was not long before she discovered the transformative power of music, teaching herself to play the guitar and transforming her literary creations into heartfelt songs. It was through music that she sought to understand herself, seeking connection and a true sense of belonging. In Galicia, she found a close-knit community of musicians at Café Torgal, a small indie music venue that birthed her artistic awakening. It was there that she immersed herself in the music of artists like Damien Jurado, Matthew E. White, and Lee Renaldo, while also stepping onto the stage for her first live performances. In 2018, she released her self-titled debut album, which led to extensive touring in Spain and Portugal, sharing stages with renowned acts like Cat Power and Laura Gibson.
Now based in New York City, Marem’s latest EP, “Baby Light,” is a significant meditation on unresolved trauma and its impact on her personal existence. Singing in both English and Spanish, it showcases a folk-pop fueled by the rawest of emotions and the duality of her bicultural heritage, thus crafting a sound that is all her own. These songs intricately weave pain, anger, loss, and hope, illuminating the brilliance that emerges amidst life’s kaleidoscope of emotions.
At the heart of “Baby Light” lies Marem Ladson’s poignant exploration of identity. Growing up, she grappled with the absence of her biological father—a Senegalese man who ventured to Spain in the 1990s, only to disappear from her life when she was just a child. This lingering void left her searching for answers, carrying with her a sense of unknowing and resentment. Through her EP, Marem embarks on a soul-searching journey, confronting her past, piecing together her story, and exposing the hidden layers of sadness that conceal a fiery undercurrent of anger. The songs of “Baby Light” serve as both a refuge and a crucible, creating a space for Marem to embrace the complexities of her diverse cultural tapestry, while endeavoring to break free from generational trauma.