South London songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Plumm has been slow-cooking her soulful, sultry and altogether genre-less hybrid of sounds and sauces for over a decade now.
Plumm's solo musical ventures have seen her record and produce her debut E.P 'The Shed,' along with recent single release 'Who Knows.' Her group endeavours have included singing mystical vocals for the groundbreaking Levitation Orchestra, an artistic ensemble that has recently taken the London jazz scene by quiet spiritual storm. Plumm has stated that she's been heavily influenced by the likes of Robert Plant, Nina Simone and Massive Attack, music is her way of life and since day 1, there has been no other motive.
Plumm's Solo EP, 'the Shed' was released back in 2018, a first attempt to bring her sound world to life and create something that captured a snapshot of her transition from adolescence to womanhood. Most of the vocals and sax were recorded in through an iPhone. The Shed is her safety bubble, music studio and escape from reality.
The EP itself captures a sense of divine femininity, weaving between jazz and clean-cut blues with a powerful ease. Co-produced and mixed by Bienvenue, it was fully recorded, art-worked and released from the Shed's four walls; an ethos very in line with her artistic intentions. This powerful live rendition of 'Bitter' will leave you yearning and wonder whether Plumm has been speaking to the spirit of Joplin herself.
Check two other collaborations from 2018 with Ra and AKIN KØLE below...
I was myself blessed to cross paths with Plumm at Brainchild festival 2019, where she would be performing her own solo show and collaborating in leading a number of the organic and spiritual jam sessions that help make Brainchild a very special place...
Plumm's solo set would see a hauntingly powerful rendition of ‘The Rain Song,’ her vocals cascading and shimmering across what is one of Led Zeppelin’s most exceptional tunes. While Solo track ‘Bitter’ was reimagined in a creepy blues style, capturing something entirely apart from the original recording released on the Shed. The rest of the set teased us with hints of the sounds and sauces she had been cooking up since - it did not disappoint. A flowing hybrid of enchanting vocals and rhythms were interspersed with solo releases and unreleased live only material - at times sounding as tortured and soulful as Billie Holiday, at others as searingly romantic as Robert Plant.
Speaking on the difference between recorded and live performance, Plumm prefers usually to keep them ‘quite separate, like they are two different species of music.’ The ability to make each moment of live performance a new opportunity for artistic creation, for pure improvisation, is a big part of this and means that you don’t want to miss seeing her live.
Check out a rare example below 'Closed Delights,' captured live @ The Windmill / Brixton...
Plumm plays tabla, gamelan, drums and piano - though her voice has long been her instrument of choice. One of the techniques she has picked up and explored extensively as a vocalist is the 'scat.' A jazz vocal technique derived from solo vocal improvisation that harnesses a complete presence and awareness of the musical moment. This ability to feel its potential and then respond instantaneously to it is no mean feat and comes from a desire to freely experiment with her vocal capabilities from a young age.
Check her out in action, scatting and looping, in the Shed below...
Plumm mentions early experiences studying at the BRIT school as aiding her in her musical quest and especially in laying a diverse musical foundation. Time at SOAS university would take this further, where she spent 3 years exploring the expressive power of musical styles across the world. Now an ethnomusicology graduate specialising in North Indian music, she recalls her time there as stimulating - the vibrancy inspiring her to transcend an increasingly restrictive western bubble of styles and help her appreciate that ‘all music is world music.’
Single 'Who Knows' was released in late 2019, a slice of neo-soul and electronica full of Plumm's distinctive and strikingly jazzy vocals. To quote the brilliant girlsneedmusic blog:
"Compared to the clear-cut jazzy blues of ‘The Shed,’ this track is a blend of neo-soul with textures of experimental electronica and ambience. The ‘Boards of Canada’ styled beats, and the smooth extended vocals by Plumm flow throughout, providing a calming aura that will make you irresistibly sway."
Co-written and produced by the talented Bienvenue and with pianist queen Madeleine Jones supporting on keys, feel free to calm your ears below...
Shortly after the release of 'Who Knows' Plumm was invited to play a live set at BBC Maida Vale Studios with Moses Boyd for BBC 1Xtra, along with playing with Taylor Mcferrin at Oslo in Hackney. These performances have created a buzz across the ever growing London jazz scene, which is no surprise.
With a fascination of the great female jazz and blues artists of the past; the sporadic but measured phrasing and tone of Nina Simone and husky, gritty timbre of Janis Joplin, Plumm’s inspiration from these heroes is reflected through a married theme of eclecticism in production and musical styles, creating eccentric and rich sounds. Plumm is coming at you with grit and soul, pure and true.
Her intensely perceptive hybrid of styles has already begun to transcend any kind of objective musical label. Her deep rooted appreciation for the cultural and spiritual legacy of music captures an essence both reminiscent and at once clairvoyant. A desire for pure expression only takes this further.
The last year has seen the rise of Levitation Orchestra, a mystical 13 (sometimes 14) piece jazz ensemble. Formed by Cykada trumpeter Axel Kaner-Lidstrom, the group features an array of musicians both well-established and coming up through the London jazz scene. Their debut album Inexpressible Infinity was released only a few months ago, a hybrid extravaganza of spiritual and meditative grooves that harness jazz, folk and fusion influences.
Telling stories with sound on vocals is none other than Plumm, who describes the experience as:
"very expressive, a completely new ball game with how far we as a collective can take an idea and run with it. The band are just the most insane group of musicians - I’m honoured to be a part of it."
Check a short teaser, along with ‘Clairvoyance' and ‘Mystical Yang’ below...
Other current projects see Plumm as part of trio Digital Nomads a heavily experimental electronic complex that uses movement, art and sound to create immersive performances. Along with disco band Bienvenue who specialize in electro funk, disco and soul top liner grooves.
Leading up-to the outbreak of Covid-19, Plumm was preparing for her debut headline show at London’s iconic Jazz Cafe. While lockdown may have placed a hold upon this, she has not let that break her stride. If anything this time has allowed her to focus in, playing lots of tabla and shredding in the shed while tirelessly working on solo material, honing her production skills and getting ready for another upcoming Plumm release.
Check out this brief teaser of what can be expected from her Jazz cafe headline show...
Plumm has kept busy with Instagram live gigs and performing on the JAZZNEWBLOOD youtube live stream, check out a full performance and Plumm in conversation below... #lockdownjazz. Along with her feature on the brilliant series Women within the music industry episode #1 - Plumm,
Created by Marian Naranjo...
A collaboration with fellow Levitation member and harpist extraordinaire Maria Osuchowska is also coming our way soon. So are vocals on a new album from talented duo Zardeep. This is all alongside a delicious Levitation Orchestra album that is simmering on the burner.
With new solo sounds soon to come and her headline debut at Camden’s jazz cafe just around the lockdown corner - Plumm is ready to pick up right where she left off.
Keep your ears to the ground, you do not want to miss her...
Find Plumm's sounds and keep up to date with gigs and releases below:
~ Psychic Garden