Recommended Listening \\ Live painter Dora the Drawer

8th November 2018

If you spot Dora the Drawer at a London show, paintbrush in hand, patiently waiting for inspiration, it’s a confirmation that you’ve picked a good show to come to. Dora’s taste in live music is mirrored by her ear and eye for expression. As a live painter, she begins and completes canvesses during live sets.

Artists are fans of her work as much as she is a fan of theirs. Dora’s paintings have been photographed with Nubya Garcia and Sons of Kemet amongst others. She exhibits some online, but often, they’re sold to an audience member who’s fallen for her work there and then. We asked Dora the Drawer to recommend seven tracks that she’s hooked on.

Kokoroko \\ ‘Abusey Junction’ (Brownswood)

I couldn’t stop listening to this when I escaped London in the Summer, and it was the perfect soundtrack to the raw, euro-tropicana landscape. An impossibly dreamy track with a series of aural winding roads peppered perfectly with percussion and lush harmonies. Afrobeat never sounded this cathartic. Oh, and the band are amazing live, too. I have gotten to paint them several times and the atmosphere they create is always popping.

Kansas Smitty’s \\ ‘The Valley’ (Kansas Smitty’s Records)

Off the band’s latest EP Autumn, ‘The Valley’ draws you in with an addictive old town bluesy riff, it picks you up, plays with you, riles you up, then leaves you wanting more. This band somehow always strikes the balance between the past and the contemporary, the rough and the smooth, but always with a precision playfulness. They simply have an appeal that you can’t quite pin down. Witnessing this track was a highlight when I had the pleasure of painting the band performing in their tent at the Good Life festival this year and yes, it’s even better live.

Sons of Kemet \\ ‘My Queen Is Anna Julia Cooper’ (Impulse Records)

This puts me in a rhythmic trance. I’m always in awe of this band, watching Shabaka Hutchings and Theon Cross who are masters at their craft and watching the solid, primal rhythm section. I just love the relentless regularity of the backbeat on this track, and then it’s outspoken brass, switching from undercurrent to scream like it’s talking to you; in fact the whole album does this, and when it’s screaming at you, somehow it’s the type of scream you want to stick around and listen to. I was so happy to see this band get nominated for the Mercury Prize. They’re not only talented but they have urgent things to say. I’ll never forget one of the gigs where I painted this band; the entire room was vibrating with sweaty energy probably the runniest painting I’ve produced so far!

Nubya Garcia \\ ‘Lost Kingdoms’ (Jazz refreshed)

I love when a dissonant melody works its way into your mind and sneaks up on you when least expect. This track flits between the bold and the lithe, matching crunchy melody with with sensitive, soulful grooves, it reminds me of some Freddie Hubbard tracks that I love. I always like to see women on stage doing their thing. I’m never short of inspiration when I get to paint Nubya.

Freddie Hubbard \\ ‘One of Another Kind’ (Pausa Records)

This track is a favourite that I always come back to. A trademark of Hubbard’s, it starts off sleepy and atmospheric, then the trumpets break in loud and proud with an irresistible hook which you can’t wait to hear again. The snake charmer section suddenly takes you to some other planet completely. It’s rare that I would find myself describing jazz as anthemic, but to me, Hubbard brings this. ‘Povo’, another track he composed, is one of my all time favourites. I heart Freddie. I’ll stop now.

Cymande \\ ‘Genevieve’ (Cherry Red Records Ltd.)

I’m also not so secretly (really) into funk. Cymande I discovered recently through vinyl even though they’re from the seventies. You know those tracks with a hot bass so funky it drags you to the dancefloor of your mind immediately. This is it. It’s got calypso, funky brass, shit loads of soul and, what do you know, space! This track epitomises everything great about fusion, everything great about the melting pot that is the UK and everything magical that happened in the seventies, sometimes we forget how much all those cats paved the way for what’s happening in the scene today. It’s for times when you just want to submit to pure joy.

Joomanji \\ Impediment (Self release)

A track which makes my head bop involuntarily every time. Mixing a deep groove, layering it with distant trumpet melodies and bossa style vocals and dub, it’s all a bit of wizardry and it works. It’s just too short! This is one of those tracks I don’t even know how I found, but it’s one I don’t forget.

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