Dutch-born Melbourne based folk artist Joyce Prescher releases her atmospheric single 'Sleep Now', the first single from her forthcoming sophomore album.
With carefully crafted lyrics, haunting melodies and rich, velvety vocals, Joyce Prescher is an artist that demands to be listened to.
There is an awe-inducing ethereal quality to the Dutch-born Melbourne based folk artist’s vocal performances, conjuring a dream-like trance with her stunning, transportive voice and engrossing lyricism.
With incomparable majesty and beauty, the songstress has just released ‘Sleep Now’, her first new music in five years.
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Dancing in a kaleidoscope of twinkling chimes and hypnotic melodies, the atmospheric single sees Prescher beautifully encapsulating the intoxicating mixture of affection, sadness and optimism, written during a period of grief and self-reflection, following the death of her father.
Offering an intimate and stirring journey, the raw and emotionally fuelled ballad opens with a haunting battle between cello and lap steel guitar, setting a dark and moody atmosphere, full of melodies that linger long after the track has stopped spinning.
For the duration of the three minutes and 34-second track, Prescher’s vocals continue to shift between fragility and strength whilst her layered harmonies bring a certain lightness to the song that somehow leaves the listener feeling hopeful.
Boasting a heavy, cinematic soundscape, here Prescher fuses searing honesty with romantic imagery and showcases her intricate ability to capture the delicacy of human emotion as she explores the question, ‘How much of yourself should you lose for someone else?’.
Inspirations from 70s artists like Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen flourish throughout the beautifully fingerpicked track, and while there is a meditative sadness, there is real warmth in Prescher’s melodic instincts and her ethereal vocals which are undeniably haunting as they are beautiful.
Relatable as it is purely expressive, the single release is a sheer reflection of Prescher’s unfiltered and organic songwriting process, using music as a way of addressing her emotions and baring her soul completely, gripping you tight with careful emotion while allowing listeners to make their own conclusions about the subject matter.
“I tend to write more when I feel inward or melancholic, somehow the words come easier then. I need to be in a certain headspace I think. Music is a way of truly connecting to myself, and hopefully connecting to the people who listen to the songs too. There’s something very special about having someone come up to you and telling you just how they feel about something you created,” Prescher explains.
“I draw inspiration out of my own experiences, stories from other people, songs and artists that I listen to. It can be as simple as a word or a string of words that I like, that evoke a particular mood or memory that then inspires me to write.
“Sometimes I start writing from a particular perspective and then afterwards it may not work and I end up rewriting the words. Some songs come easy, some take time. Some songs come out so fast and you just have to go with the flow and not think about it too much during that process (or you might find the moment passes). There are times I only start to figure out what a song is about after I have written it. Sometimes the feeling or meaning changes over time too, which is interesting. I love for people to have their own interpretation of my songs, so I tend to not give away too much about them.”
Reminiscent of artists like Ane Brun, Charm of Finches or even the Swedish duo First Aid Kit with its dreamlike quality and swelling production, ‘Sleep Now’ was produced by Simon Moro of Ninety Nine 100 (Vance Joy, Lanie Lane, Archie Roach, Lisa Miller) and mastered by Adam Dempsey (Angie McMahon, Jordie Lane, Courtney Barnett).
Placing Prescher’s skills for spacious melodies front and centre, the release features incredibly immersive instrumentation courtesy of a stellar cast of musicians; Daniel Farrugia on drums, Craig Newman on double bass, Lily Thornton on cello, Luke Howard on keys and Jed Pickett on lap steel.
“To be honest, I can’t believe they were willing to be part of it. Danny Farrugia, Craig Newman and Jethro Pickett played on Home too, and I decided pretty early on that I would love to have them as part of this album. Very glad they said yes!
“I watched Luke Howard play live a few times, and I just love how cinematic his music is. I played a show where he performed too and he was kind enough to play keys on a couple of my songs then. It made sense to ask him. My friend Francesca Mountfort was scheduled to record cello on the album, but the universe decided otherwise. Simon Moro (my producer) introduced me to Lily Thornton. She had just played a show with Eminem and that week I think haha. Very different to my songs. I even managed to get John Clark on some songs, who is an amazing percussionist.”
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Balancing beautiful melodies and gradual build, ‘Sleep Now’ feels like the Prescher’s most refined piece of work to date, with the songstress not allowing her inner turmoil and the storm of the past two years cast a shadow over her progression as an artist.
“A lot has happened in my life since releasing Home and I have worked very hard to get to where I am today. I have played many shows alongside incredible artists, at some of my favourite venues. I have had the privilege to work with great people who have been super supportive of my music. I think the music community here in Australia is a wonderful family, which helps too, there are so many people to learn from. I am a firm believer in supporting other artists where you can too, go watch their shows,” she says.
“I think I have certainly grown since releasing Home, as a person and as a musician. I think compared to who I was then, I am just a lot more confident now.”
The long-awaited single follows Prescher’s 2017 debut album Home, which was praised by PBS and listed in their top 10 albums upon release. However, it wasn’t long after the album release that Prescher experienced great loss, leading to the unexpected hiatus between releases.
“After releasing Home in 2017 I needed a little bit of time to myself. At the end of recording that album my father passed away and it wasn’t an easy period that followed,” Prescher explains.
“In hindsight, my grief probably led me to not releasing Home in the way it deserved either. However, it did inspire me to write new material and there was a lot of music that came out of that period.”
Having spent the last few years writing, recording and touring as part of ‘Keep the Circle Unbroken’ alongside some of Australia’s finest artists, Prescher’s single arrives ahead of her sophomore album, due to be released later this year.
Written in a period of soul searching, the 13-track album will take listeners on a cinematic, thoughtful journey and exploration of expressive new sounds, with ‘Sleep Now’ offering a bright and stunning glimpse into Prescher’s triumphant new album.
“I think Sleep Now is a good introduction to what you can expect from the upcoming album. It’s a cinematic, moody album and it’s meant to take you on a little bit of a journey. I am a big fan of concept albums actually and also of listening to albums as a whole. The instrumentation on the album is beautiful and I am quite proud of it.
“On my first album, it was maybe a bit more about the storytelling, whereas on this album I wanted to experiment with my vocals a bit more too. I am still storytelling, but I guess maybe in a more dynamic way? There are a lot of interesting sounds on the album.”
With a stunning first single in five years, a forthcoming second album and immense vulnerability, Joyce Prescher is proving to be a real artist to watch in the Americana and folk scene. Taking you back to days long gone, pouring her heart out on songs with such honesty and melancholy, you cannot help but be roped in and left mesmerised.
Witness the exquisitely ethereal quality of Joyce Prescher live Thursday, April 7, when she’ll be performing live at the George Lane in St Kilda with a full band to officially launch her new release.
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