Mixed Feelings and Resident Present


Jess Kent, Nick Leng

Sat · June 2, 2018

8:00 pm

$10.00 - $15.00

This event is 21 and over

It's easy to make assumptions based on first impressions. Everyone does it. With alternative pop trio Bahari (singer/keyboardist Ruby Carr, singer/bassist Natalia Panzarella, and singer/guitarist Sidney Sartini), you could assume by their golden locks and Southern California stomping grounds that they live a charmed and carefree life.

You could also assume that after meeting in the studio courtesy of the hit-makers behind Eminem, Selena Gomez, and Ellie Goulding that they're one of those manufactured bands. You might even assume that at the young age of 22, they couldn't possibly have much to say.

You could assume all that.... but you'd be wrong.

You see, the trio's 2016 debut EP, Dancing on the Sun, written at young ages of 16 for Interscope Records, sparkled with the bright and dreamy SoCal sounds and uplifting lyrics that symbolized all that is good in the world. Nylon described Bahari's last album as "beachy-pop" that "ebbs and flows like tides and carries with it the idea that anything is possible under the sun."

You may know the name Bahari, which means “ocean” in Ruby’s native African language, from their fan favorites “Wild Ones” and “I Miss You”, both of which have over 40 million streams each. Or, you might recall them as the angelic voices on Zedd's 2015 single, "Addicted to a Memory".

But, that was then and this is now. The band that someone once described as coming from a very unaffected place has been affected. And, for young songwriters finding their musical voice, that's a good thing. A very good thing.

"When we wrote our first record, I think we were aiming to write positive uplifting songs to make everyone happy," explains Natalia. "And that is an honest side of us. But, life isn't always that happy all the time. We've gone through a lot since our first record — we went from strangers to signing with a major label and touring with Selena Gomez in a short amount of time, and then finding ourselves label-free, and also dealing with love, loss, heartbreaks, and the growing pains of, well, growing up, and it's made our songwriting more authentic. It's not all happy and shiny, but it's real."

But, fans need not worry. The band hasn't done a complete 180. "We're still those happy girls, but there's more to us than that," adds Sidney. "Our new music shows more emotions — good and bad. We're 22 years old now — we curse, we drink, we have sex, we get heart-broken, we fuck up — and now we can write about it. We realized it's not our job to make people feel good or just happy through our music. It's our job to make them feel something and connect."

"Kurt Cobain once said, 'Thank you for the tragedy. I need it for my art,'" interjects Ruby. "We've gained a lot of life experience and gone though a lot of ups and downs together, and the down side has only made us better writers who can connect deeper with ourselves and others."

With their newfound musical independence, Bahari has found the space to experiment musically and lyrically and truly figure out who they are as a band. "We're just writing for ourselves right now and because of that we're not holding back any more. We're not afraid to say what we want and be who want to be. And, we're not giving in to anyone's idea of what we're supposed to be. When anything goes, it gives you the space to truly grow," says Ruby.

Take their recent single, "Fucked Up," for instance. This is no happy love song. "It's about being with someone you know you shouldn't be with but doing it anyway. Whether it's someone who's not good for you or just not the right situation, but you realized, hey, I'm fucked up, you're fucked up, let's be fucked up together," explains Natalia, who wrote the chorus in just 15 minutes.

The threesome, known for their rich harmonies, has an uncanny knack for being able to write about each other's struggles and emotions. "We know each other so well and we feel each other's pain and happiness and it's sometimes easier to write about someone else than your self. It's nice to have two people who understand the way you felt and be able to articulate it for you. We do that a lot with our songs," says Ruby. Adds Sidney, "It makes us connect with each other even more, and it makes us a stronger band."

Touring with the likes of Birdy and Selena Gomez have also made Bahari a stronger band. "We hadn't been on tour when we wrote our first EP so we didn't know how things would translate from the studio to live. But now, we're writing with how to perform the songs live in mind. We're more aware of writing in those quiet moments a song needs and it's given our music a more dynamic sound and feel. It's made us better musicians too," says Ruby.

Since the time of their studio introductions, Bahari felt that they had just the right mix of musical similarities, and differences, to make their sound complete. They've all been writing songs since they could put pen to paper and picked up their respective instruments at very young ages. The studio introduction was simply meant to be.

"We just clicked right away," recalls Ruby. "Sidney was wearing a T-shirt with a pentagram on it and I liked her instantly for it. I knew she was like me, more of a rebel. Unlike other girls we've met trying to do what we do, we all actually wanted to talk about music and work on our craft together."

Ruby is the old soul raised on whatever records tourists would give her while visiting her small island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya, where she was raised before moving to Manhattan Beach, California, where Natalia and Sidney were based. Bob Dylan was, and still is, her favorite classic artist, with Ben Howard and Lana Del Rey being current influences.

Natalia's penchant for Dolly Parton's songwriting prowess and Johnny Cash's intensity was a product of being born in Nashville to a country singing mom, though, she has a classic rock side to her as well with her love of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. While the mix of classic rock and country informs her music, the bullying she suffered in her Manhattan Beach high school for having some early success fuels her drive and tenacity.

Sidney, also from Manhattan Beach, grew up the sporty girl with a fondness for Led Zeppelin's intricate musical compositions and classic rock guitar licks, though she's currently enjoying R&B singer SZA's lyrical bluntness. "We come from such different places, but it just works. We feel like we're musical soul mates. And we wanted the same thing from the beginning — not to be some girl group with dance moves, but to be a real band who writes their songs and plays their instruments," she says.

Mission accomplished!
Jess Kent
Jess Kent
In the music of 22-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist Jess Kent, so many distinct elements come together to create an undeniable sound all her own. An England-born artist who has played guitar since age seven and spent her childhood busking with her brother, she’s also a self-taught producer with a natural skill for crafting boldly nuanced electronic music. Now based in Sydney, Kent’s mastered a potent approach to rapping that pairs her rapid-fire flow with lyrics both defiant and vulnerable. And in her breakout hit “Get Down,” Kent brings her melodic ingenuity and edgy sensibilities to a reggae-infused piece of alt-dance-pop that’s unforgettably vital.

The lead single from her forthcoming debut EP My Name Is Jess Kent, “Get Down” recently emerged as the most frequently played song on national Australian radio station triple j and won the adoration of such superstars as and Coldplay. With a brash energy born from her lifelong love of bands like Blondie and the Clash, “Get Down” also shows the emotional complexity of Kent’s artistry. “It’s one of those songs that’s an accumulation of a lifetime of thoughts,” says Kent of “Get Down,” which she began writing as a teenager in Adelaide. “Most of the lyrics are written from a place of feeling nostalgic and missing my friends, and thinking about all the fun we used to have just kicking around.”

Just as the sound of My Name Is Jess Kent gracefully fuses hip-hop and alt-pop and beat-heavy electronic music, the EP embodies an irresistibly powerful range of feeling. “The Sweet Spot,” for one, matches reggae-inspired rhythms with Kent’s reflections on holding true to her dreams, while “Low Key” channels her soulful vocals into a breezy meditation on love and expectation. Switching gears for a moment of pure escapism, “Bass So Low” is a futuristic party anthem that pays brilliant tribute to Missy Elliott. And on “Trolls,” Kent offsets the song’s dreamy synth with her gutsy stance against the destructive side of social media. “That song came from thinking about how my generation feels this need to share everything all the time, and how the online world can become quite dark very quickly,” she explains. “It’s meant to be a little self-remedy—like saying, ‘Who cares?’, and reminding yourself that that’s not real life. It took me ages to figure that out for myself, so if I can get that message out to someone who might have struggled otherwise, then that makes me happy.”

In her lyrics, Kent reveals a candidness that owes much to the journal-like process at the heart of her songwriting. “A lot of times I’ll start writing and just keep going without even thinking about what I’m putting down,” she says. “That’s how I keep the songs coming right from the heart.” In shaping that stream-of-consciousness writing into her sharp and lucid lyrics, Kent mines a great deal of inspiration from the confessional spirit of classic singer/songwriters. “To me James Taylor is the ultimate in songwriting, because he can just play a song on acoustic guitar and it’s still so spellbinding,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be anything outlandish; it can just be something so true, and that in itself is what’s captivating.”

Born in Derby, England, Kent got her start in music thanks largely to her dad, a blues-rock guitarist. “Some of my earliest memories are of going to gigs or the nights when my dad’s friends would come over to rehearse,” she says. “They’d all be playing in the kitchen, and I’d drop in to make some toast and listen. There was always music in our house.” First learning from her dad at age seven, Kent soon moved on to studying guitar at school and—once her family had relocated to Adelaide, Australia—began busking with her older brother, who played drums. “We’d busk all the time and started scoring gigs at pubs and parties and fairs—anywhere we could, just to try to keep the ball rolling,” says Kent, who also began writing songs before the age of 10.

After high school, Kent headed off to college to study communications, but quickly had a change of heart. “I realized that if I wanted to make something happen with music then I really had to give it a shot, so I packed up and moved to Sydney with just my guitar and a suitcase,” she recalls. Once in Sydney, the then-18-year-old balanced busking and booking gigs in local bars with building up her original material and working a day job in retail. “I was super-broke—all I did was work and practice and try to write songs,” says Kent. “I didn’t have any specific plan, but I knew that if I kept playing music and putting myself out there, it might eventually go somewhere.”

Making smart use of her limited resources, Kent steadily refined her voice as a songwriter and musician. “I was in this room with just a bed and a chair and guitar, so I’d just jam out and tell all these stories about what I was observing and experiencing,” she says. Once she’d carved out a selection of songs, the industrious Kent began posting snippets of her self-recorded tracks as videos on Instagram. Those videos caught the attention of veteran music producer/executive, Andrew Klippel, and Kent soon began working on a batch of demos that included “Get Down,” cultivating a rhythm-centric musicality that blended naturally with her hip-hop-inspired vocal approach.

Within days of uploading “Get Down” to triple j Unearthed (a digital radio station and platform for discovering and sharing new music), Kent had her first major success when the track was thrown into full rotation on triple j. “Get Down” also won the triple j Unearthed competition, which landed Kent a spot on the lineup for Field Day 2016 (a New Year’s Day festival featuring the likes of Disclosure and Pusha T). In the meantime, Kent landed a deal with Capitol Records and continued work on her debut EP, collaborating with producer Nicky Night Time.

Naming her festival-closing appearance with Flume at last July’s Splendour In The Grass as a personal career highlight, Kent’s carved out a high-energy live show that finds her accompanied by a female drummer. “Coming up in the industry, it felt very much like a boys club, so it’s really cool now to be able to be around a community that’s both boys and girls,” she notes. And in her music and songwriting, Kent aims to build a greater sense of unity by tapping into her own eclectic background. “I feel like all these little jigsaw puzzle pieces have combined to make who I am now as an artist—like all the things that were always different about me, I’m now choosing to embrace,” she says. “I’ve been able to find so much freedom in not worrying about what people think, and I want to spread that message to as many people as I possibly can.”
Nick Leng
Nick Leng
A Northern California native with his childhood spent in South Africa, Nick Leng now produces and writes music in Los Angeles. Having trained as a classical pianist for over a decade, Nick’s music is the result of efforts to fuse his technical knowledge of music with a penchant for crafting colorful, evocative records filled with sonic color and texture.

Leng first gained online notice with his electronic production, “Crawled out of The Sea,” and in the time since received attention from outlets like Noisey, Thump, Stereogum, Teen Vogue, C-Heads, and Yours Truly and tapped for various video productions including projects by Nowness and Christian Dior. Throughout his two EP's Tunnels and Planes & Drivers, Hype Machine number one singles, secret viral side projects, and production/writing credits for artists that span multiple genres on major labels, Nick’s sound is both hard to pin down, and instantly recognizable.Wielding an aesthetic all his own, and a songwriting knack for uniquely powerful yet vulnerable records, Leng’s work has quickly propelled him out of obscurity, and into studios with some of the best in the world.
Venue Information:
428 S Hewitt Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90013