Tusks shares new single 'Body Ache' ahead of her highly anticipated new album ‘Gold’

  • 4 min read

Following two revered albums, ‘Dissolve’ in 2017 and ‘Avalanche’ in 2019, London-based electronic songwriter and producer Tusks, aka Emily Underhill, has returned with her third. ‘Gold’ is released on April 12th via One Little Independent Records.

‘Gold’ took form slowly over several months spent rewriting and reworking; half created at home in the middle of London and half during two solitary trips to Devon, where many of the songs found their inspiration. In need of some space, away from a shared house that had just been through a pandemic together as well as from a relationship that was coming to an end, she traveled to the south-west. It was here that she would get the bulk of her writing done, recognising there were some things she would have to work through alone, and in no small part it came to her in the form of a torrential storm. Bringing the album back to London, Tusks partnered with producer Tom Andrews to bring the tracks to life from studios like Ten87 in Tottenham and SS2 Recording in Southend.

New single ‘Body Ache’ perfectly encapsulates what ‘Gold’ is; a force of nature, as impactful in its quieter moments as it is when it strikes. Like the people and relationships it represents, it’s complex, with a depth and richness that’s observed within the smallest sonic eccentricity and decision. Like anything, Tusks knows that her artistic strength comes from a careful balance, a push and pull that can be felt tangibly across ‘Gold’ and its conception.

Tusks tells us; “This track was written really quickly - probably the quickest on the album. I’d just got home from being out with friends, and my partner was later than he said he was going to be coming home, so I started jamming around with a track about him and it ended up being Body Ache. It just came together super quick which was a nice change from the rest of the album - we even ended up using the demo vocals recorded in my living room. It was nice to allow myself to move into a more upbeat kind of song and let myself be inspired by more RnB - I was listening to a lot of Eliza at the time which I definitely think inspired this one.”

Synth-heavy and fuelled by emotionally charged layers of heavenly vocal harmonies, the album is densely constructed, meticulously produced and cathartic. Across ten tracks of deeply resonant electronic pop, the soundscapes crafted here sway from the blissful, ambient and thought-provoking, to slow-building ragers. Through pressure and release, ‘Gold’ explores dynamics, nuances and emotions using an array of atmospheric and kinetic textures as well as Tusks’ singular, powerful voice. 

Anyone familiar with her career to date will note that Tusks’ relationship with music as a means to communicate vulnerability is well documented. There’s a raw, exposed nature to her writing that feels authentic and intimate. She often describes the complications and subtleties of relationships in a way that’s reflective and relatable. ‘Gold’ maps various stages in the breakdown of a romance, but it also stops to consider the impact of isolation, individually and socially, as well as anxiety, mental health and the wider effects of austerity. 

“A lot of this album was inspired by contrasting experiences” Underhill explains, “Processing a breakup and then falling in love again. Being constantly surrounded by people in lockdown, then suddenly being completely alone and free. Being in the city vs being in nature. We wanted to echo these contrasts in the production of the music so constantly moved between lo-fi and hi-fi production - sampling our own drum beats, recording them through compressed tin can mics and processing through loads of analogue gear and a 404 then switching to cleaner, larger sounding kits achieved by recording with mics in back rooms and the ceiling to give the impression of space. There was a huge analogue influence on the production and mix too by using loads of analogue synths and modular, putting a lot of the stems through tape and getting to be really creative with using delay throws and feedback on the 501 Space Echo. It was such a fun process and allowed Tom and I to delve into doing exactly what we love.” 

In its production, ‘Gold’ is a musician’s album, Tusks pushed herself further during the creative process, slaving over each snare sample and the tone of each synth note. She describes LP opener ‘Wake’ as “like the orchestra tuning up”, it invites the listener in and slowly spreads itself out curiously. “The demo sounded like this folk song sung over a synth drone, which we then used as a skeleton for the track and built it up with so many layers of textures and synths. That’s kinda what the song’s about for me - the journey of the synths and playing with as much texture and sound as possible; we did stuff like include samples from the NASA website of audio recordings of the Mars Rover. It’s very exploratory, I think it’s about discovery, and about trying to figure out what’s going on in your head.” 

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