Words by Angelika May
Photography by Nina Musumeci
A new, evocative avant-garde pop artist is emerging onto the scene. KAETO’s performance at this year's All Points East delivered a tantalising peep show of a pop star simmering just under the surface.
The Scottish-born London-based newcomer, alongside bassist Dammy Murisho, drummer Liam Toon and on keys Jazz Pope, delivered a fresh, heterogeneous sound whilst perfectly aligning with the cemented characteristics of “alt-pop”. Prior to her All Points East performance, KAETO has been feeding us slithers of her myriad world, with her release of “Good Morning” in 2022 and Instagram stories depicting BTS shots of visual conceptions for upcoming projects providing us with enticing preludes.
It’s safe to say, that our current impression of KAETO is that of conceptual artists, one that is built on the idea around play (evidenced by her attending a clowning course), identity and the multitude of faces we present to society. How does this manifest sonically? The musical arrangements, such as limiting the number of instruments on stage (Pope is only present for one song “<U R MINE3” where his keys add a sincerity to the track) and instead amplifying a higher production element add a futuristic sensibility.
A fusion of styles, Toon’s powerful rock beats poignant in “Words”, combined with Murisho’s groovy bass notes most notable in “Could Ya Do It 4 Me”, Pope’s gentle synth textures and KAETO’s unconventional vocals would each individually solidify their place within distinct genres. However, the amalgamation instead provides a harmoniously discordant cacophony which makes KAETO’s music accessible to a variety of listeners and predicts an evolutionary nature that is not restricted by strict formulas.
Introspective, thoughtful lyricism around her own relationship with her body and society complements this, the disconnection she feels within herself is mirrored sonically particularly in “Don’t Ask / Violation”. Quoting the woman herself, many of her tracks are ways to “address some of those ill feelings about myself” through developing “a character that I felt personified them” which might “enable me to dispel them.” KAETO’s set struck me for a variety of reasons, bounding onto the stage, opening with “Ceiling” in a Pippi Longstocking ’s-esq outfit, a sense of freedom and creativity radiated off of her.
There is a certain joy in witnessing new artists, warmth and coyness in these budding moments. KAETO’s presence reminded me (particularly during “Good Morning”) of some of Björk’s earliest performances with The Sugarcubes, eccentric and promising.
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