FEATURES Tirzah Finds Joy on “Colourgrade” By Alex Westfall · September 16, 2021
Photography by Lillie Eiger

Colourgrade was produced between the birth of Tirzah’s two children, whom she lovingly calls her “bubbas.” “You got me/ I got you/ We made life/ It’s beating,” she sings. Those lines crystallize the project’s core ideas: that the everyday is magnificent. But Tirzah is quick to assure that the reverse is also true—a life experience as monumental as motherhood consists primarily of the mundane. When asked about the music she’s enjoyed recently, she draws a blank. “Too busy wiping bums, to be honest,” she says.

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As with her 2018 debut Devotion, Colourgrade marks a collaboration with longtime friend and acclaimed producer Mica Levi (aka Micachu), who composed scores for films like Janicza Bravo’s Zola (2021) and Pablo Larraín’s Jackie (2016). The two met as kids at England’s Purcell School of Music, where Tirzah studied the Celtic harp. In the years since the two have teamed up on club-ready dance singles, albums, and impromptu DJ sets for Boiler Room and their friends’s basements. “As you get older, each of your experiences change and that can either bring you closer or further apart. Having that thread of creating something together—that is the glue with Meeks,” she says.

Of the making of Colourgrade, she says: “We like to take a carefree, not careless, approach, you know? Seemingly something is improvised, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was slap-dash. It all got given a lot of love and attention. Every track had their moment under the microscope,” she says. Close and careful listeners will hear the click of a computer mouse on the centerpiece, “Crepuscular Rays,” or Tirzah clearing her throat on “Beating.” It’s moments like these that bring listeners into the shared space Tirzah and her friends create together. “These sonic moments bring a phrasing, structural, or percussive element to it. You can’t plan for those things. I think a lot of the album is based in loops or repetition. Those kinds of sounds highlight the structure in a track,” she says. It’s this effortless push-and-pull and spontaneity that makes Colourgrade a marvel.

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“After many different versions of Colourgrade where things pinged across backwards and forwards, the final one boiled down to two sonic worlds,” she says, referring to the ultra-low, brassier drones that shape tracks like “Recipe,” versus the hypnotic, stripped-back synths heard on tracks like “Sink In.” On “Crepuscular Rays,” Tirzah’s shimmering voice strolls up and down various scales. “We were adamant that we needed [“Crepuscular Rays”] as the seventh track; that blew the [structure] out of the water. It all came together quite quickly after that realization,” she says. Over the synthetic drums of “Tectonic,” she brings to life images of individual bodies moving at a geological pace: “When you touch me I’m out my body/ Instinct takes place/ Techno to tectonic plates,” she sings. Around the halfway mark, the track drifts away from wordplay and rhyming, and Tirzah’s vocals dissolve into an ad-lib melody.

“I like to think of Colourgrade as an organism,” Tirzah says. Rightfully so—Colourgrade is alive and kicking. “Live performances breathe life to the track in a different way. It’s just another limb to the album,” she says. This is evident in how Tirzah thinks of her creative trajectory, too—which, at its core, is a love for making music. “Sometimes, opportunities get handed to you, and before you know it, you’re on a particular path. I suppose somewhere along the way, music became my occupation, though sometimes it feels weird to call it that, ’cause it’s a real joy.”

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