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“I wish we had a smoke machine” Klein muses as I walk into the eccentrically decorated ex-council flat that’s serving as today’s shoot location. The “accidental” experimental musician moves effortlessly between looks, channelling glam aunty meets X-Files for the Tumblr generation: pink wraparound sunglasses, jewel-toned satin shirts and a table of (imitation) diamonds on standby.

Right now she’s wearing a floor length robe the colour of a Cadbury’s Roses toffee wrapper and holding a cup of tea. Klein was raised in South London, and although much of the commentary around her has focused on her Pentecostal Nigerian upbringing, she’s ready for a change of narrative. “I’m kind of over people constantly referring to my Nigerian heritage,” she tells me. ‘I’m more British than fucking James Blake and I don’t hear people talking about where he’s from. Can the angle just be that I’m sick?”

 

Klein started making music almost by accident. Acting on an interest in field recording, she would layer sounds recorded on her phone then distort them beyond recognition. Since then she’s inadvertently gatecrashed the experimental electronic music scene with her fiercely weird sound and her unusual artwork. Although she laughs at the fact that her music is technically not electronic at all. “I layer it up and finalise it on a computer but most of the sounds themselves are recordings of me playing instruments and making samples from that,” she explains. “I’ve never used a preset in my life, that’s all I’m saying.”

In fact it’s only recently that Klein has even accepted herself as a musician. “I was in so much denial about the fact that I was making music. I used to cuss my friend Jacob [Samuel] and be like ‘Jacob you luuuurrrvve making music, you’re such a neek’. Then suddenly one day about three months ago I was like, wait, I love making music!”

 

Does she see any correlation between her music and her style? “I’d say that nothing seems real,” she says. “Especially with my music anyway: elements of it seem classical but also not, parts of it are like, off, and it’s the same with me. On the recent [Lagata] EP, where I’m singing I follow the formula of writing a pop song but then layer it with something that’s maybe more dark.” With the Porta Lewis project, the “ultimate girl group” that Klein recruited via Facebook, this process is laid bare. On their yeah we’re about release, the trio’s crooning harmonies and chatter are chopped up, distorted and refined into a sublime and queasy collage. “My music has all these elements that mean you can’t really pinpoint why you like it,” Klein says,“and I think it’s the same with my look.”

There’s a regal feel to Klein’s style, and she says she’s really into “classical 18th century looks fused with modern stuff” at the moment. Though when it comes to style icons, Brandy, Britney and Christina are the names that roll off her tongue. “I like that they distinguish between how they dress for shows and music videos and how they dress for themselves. I can relate to that because I feel like me on an everyday basis is very low-key and casual but with Klein and doing shows, I wouldn’t say it’s super out-there but it’s more dramatic, more glam, more ethereal.”

With confidence and a taste for glamour, not only is Klein sure she’s headed for the Grammy’s – “it’s not if I get nominated, it’s when” – she’s already got her outfit planned too. “I’d keep it really simple: fitted ball gown, boob tube, nice diamond choker, hair slicked across the eye so I can’t see anyone that’s pissing me off.”

Photography: Dexter Lander
Styling: Victoria Higgs
Hair: Virginie P Moreira
Make Up: Riona O’Sullivan
Photographer’s Assistants: Wilbert Lati + Léo D’oriano
Stylist’s Assistant: Geri Doherty
Words: Niloufar Haidari

klein1997.bandcamp.com