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Photograph: Matt Fry

It’s worth noting the symbiosis that exists between L.A. singer-songwriter Kelela and the experimental-dance labels Night Slugs and Fade to Mind. Night Slugs cofounder Bok Bok explained to FACT TV that he’d wanted to work with a vocalist but had struggled to find the right one. His stripped-down aesthetic was open terrain for a singer, yet its twisted, unpredictable landscape wasn’t for the faint of heart.

Enter Kelela. When Fade to Mind’s Prince William presented her with 50 tracks from the labels’ catalogs, she knew instantly where to go. And her instincts proved spot-on: Her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, shows her shimmering coo drifting naturally in the empty space, augmented with a playful hide-and-seek vibrato, as if her melodies were resting on turbulent air. Kelela’s emotive, organic vocals granted the works a newfound pop appeal.

With her debut album now in the works, Kelela hits Brooklyn on her first headlining tour. If she continues to seek such transfixing tunes, it should be the first of many.—Kristen Zwicker

Follow Kristen Zwicker on Twitter: @djdopeshoes

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