Seattle-bred 8-bit electro-dance artist Leeni is about as charming as her name sounds. With three full-length albums to her catalog, Stephen Colbert’s surprising endorsement of Leeni as his official “Colbert Girl” during his 2009 presidential run in (Google it) and the summer swells of Toro Y Moi and Baths chillwave hitting our shores, the Kat Dennings-Betty-Boop-Beep-Boop hybrid’s off-beat on-MIDI sound is more relevant than ever.
Using only an old Gameboy, sequencer and drum machine, Leeni’s able to craft simple glitchy borderline clunky songs that are more enchanting than a Pacman meets Pacgirl interlude. Balanced against her breathy ethereal vocals (think Robyn or Chinatown’s own Aly Ishikuni of ALT/AIR), it comes as no surprise then that Leeni’s able to make each album exponentially more complex and danceable than the next–all without the frustration of having to whack a Nintendo cartridge against her leg to make it work, or in this case, sing. As virtual beat after beat trickles down like Tetris blocks song after song, Leeni’s gift lies in maneuvering them into familiar places on the physical dance floor.
Her latest, The Only Now, is a nine-track album that should translate well on stage since it’s dripping in synth and bass-heavy percussion. Standouts include “N.Y.M.” and “Spotless Mind,” though the most <3333 worthy be “Awake,” which we’ll consider to be the equivalent of a “Boss Stage” track here. Sheʻs sure to mix it up with previous albums like Labyrinth, which takes it cues from gothic games like The Legend of Zelda and Castlevania, so feel free to get lost in the disco arcade of Leeni’s sonic mazes.
By mixing up mainland artists like Leeni with other under-the-radar local acts, the wizards at Jet Setter continue to keep Broadcast at an exciting, innovative and balanced edge over other produced gig sets in Honolulu; this will easily be the weekly live music event to keep your eye on all fall. Just make sure you have enough lives. –Matthew DeKneef