music | 22nd march 2017

WHIM is the solo project of songwriter Deanne Krieg, a jazz trained musician with a seriously sweet voice. Wellington-born Deanne has played and collaborated with countless acts around the country - from folk trio Ida Lune to holding down the bass with Zero Cool, and most recently as vocalist with electronic outfit Pacific Heights. WHIM sees Deanne draw from this wide range of genres to concoct her own hypnotic, intoxicating sound.

 

words: gussie larkin

photographs: harry culy

 

Back in October last year, Deanne released her debut EP 'Hiraeth' which she wrote and recorded in the basement of Newtown’s “Coromandel Mansion,” home to her collaborator Jeremy Hunter. With its high ceilings, wooden floors and all the natural light you could wish for, the house is a dream space for creative peeps looking to start something new. Deanne however, prefers the darkness of the basement. Venture below ground level and you’ll find a series of rooms which have been transformed into practice and recording studios by the flat’s musicians. With high tech sound proofing (mattresses covering each window and door) the basement is the ideal place to get in the zone - and it’s only a little bit dungeon like. Attempts at giving vibe to practices spaces like this one can be difficult – there’s only so much a few gig posters and a lava lamp can do. For Deanne though, the space is an antidote to distraction, “In my previous flat I had a really beautiful view. I’d be playing in my room and I’d just get in a daze staring out the window!” Eager to get some work done, Deanne shifted all her gear to the basement so she could write without the usual hassle of having to set everything up.  

“I’d be using all the really cool voicings of jazz but then I’d be hearing all these other melodies in there that didn’t necessarily outline changes or tick the boxes in terms of a jazz way.”

Deanne studied jazz at Victoria University, majoring in vocal performance. Having always been a songwriter and a performer, she knew that learning the jazz language would be invaluable if she wanted to pursue the erratic dream of a career in music. For four years Deanne lived and breathed jazz – and it drove her kinda crazy: “I started doing a post-graduate diploma and halfway through I was like ‘I can’t do this anymore! I’m a songwriter, I need to listen to other music,’” she says, “I was jazzed out!” At this point the WHIM sound started sneaking its way out as she started to mess with the jazz language she knew so well: “I’d be using all the really cool voicings of jazz but then I’d be hearing all these other melodies in there that didn’t necessarily outline changes or tick the boxes in terms of a jazz way.” You can hear those echoes of jazz in her WHIM recordings – although there’s always a feeling of space in the music that places it in its own undefinable genre. Full chords that drift between familiarity and dissonance underpin vocal melodies that climb unusual scales, resulting in a gentle mantra-like vibe.

“I like the blend of acoustic organic-ness with digital electronic sounds”

WHIM began like many home recording projects, with a few humble demos on GarageBand. Unsurprisingly the program just wasn’t cutting it for Deanne, so with the help of fellow jazz school graduate Jeremy Hunter, who goes by the pseudonym Doxa, WHIM was able to take shape. With his wide palette of synths, producer Jeremy took Deanne’s half-formed ideas and gave them the sound she was after. Around the same time Deanne was approached by Devin Abrams of Pacific Heights to collaborate, making for a serendipitous crossover between the genres she had been dabbling in: “I like the blend of acoustic organic-ness with digital electronic sounds,” she says, “I would never go full electronic, I’ll always have a live guitar or drumkit. I do like that those two worlds can meet.” Jeremy’s production is perfectly minimal, and doesn’t scream ‘electronic’ – instead allowing space for Deanne’s lofty vocal harmonies to soar and swell.

Deanne talks about music with an enthusiasm that is infectious and inspiring. It’s not often that New Zealand musicians are comfortable with standing up for what they create – it’s like when asked to talk about the one thing that’s truly meaningful to them, they’d quite happily crawl into a guitar amp and never return. This is not true for Deanne, who seems to pursue music unapologetically and without compromise - this desire to grow and learn is the driving force for WHIM: “I’m still developing it and I don’t feel like it’s reached that totally cohesive point yet. It’s evolving, it’s exciting.”

Links:

WHIM: Bandcamp

WHIM: Facebook

 

Grams:

WHIM: @__whim

Harry Culy: @harryculy

Gussie Larkin: @gussielarkin

 

Hashies:

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