Not only are female-fronted bands back but also within the last five or so years, the music industry has seen an increase in fabulously creative and inventive female artists. Artists that take complete artistic control over the content they produce — content that is wholly original. This type of artist is rare in today’s music world, but the following five female solo artists have managed to break through.
Singer-songwriter Emilie Autumn is so much more than an amazing performer; she is also a highly talented poet, actress, violinist and author of the somewhat autobiographical novel The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. With a beautiful theatrical operatic voice reminiscent of Kate Bush, Autumn has self-classified her style as fairy pop and ‘victoriandustrial’ — a unique combination of dark cabaret, electronica and new age. Novels, poetry, and the Victorian era as well as the Renaissance period heavily influence Autumn. She adopts a stage persona that relies heavily on theatrics steeped in glam rock and detailed characterizations of imprisoned asylum patients and oppressed young women. Once a backup singer for Courtney Love, Autumn began as a classical music student at Indiana University where she was studying to become a world-class violinist. She later left the university to pursue a solo classical music career and produce vocal albums. The violin is a large component in all of her lyrical productions as seen in her debut vocal album Enchant released in 2003, Opheliac released in the U.S. in 2009 and her third and latest Fight Like A Girl in 2012.
Welsh singer Marina Lambrini Diamandis, aka Marina and The Diamonds, has described herself as an ‘indie artist with pop goals.’ Those contrasting genres come together masterfully in her music, which can be classified as indie pop meets new wave meets electro and synth pop. Marina initially gained notoriety from an impressive second place ranking on the BBC-orchestrated Sound of 2010 poll for her debut album,The Family Jewels, released that year. The Family Jewels was met with great reviews, coming in fifth on the UK albums chart. Marina quickly became known for not only her inventive theatrical modes of song writing but also for her ability to capture the complexities of human behavior and relationship dynamics. Her second album, Electra Heart, was met with even greater success, starting her on a path of exciting themed albums as it detailed the thoughts and ideals of the fictional persona Electra Heart. Her third and most recent album Froot was released earlier this year, breaking into the top ten U.S. Billboard 200. Froot, a wonderfully colorful collection of songs that are as emotionally evocative as they are fun, draws directly from 1970’s synth pop and disco.
Natalia Kills, aka Teddy Sinclair as of July this year, hails from Bradford, England and first stunned listeners with her debut album Perfectionist in 2011. Though Perfectionist was popular with her audience, that popularity didn’t reach the critics and wouldn’t until her second album, Trouble, released in 2013. Trouble made headway with the critics as it presented a clear definitive style and unique brand of musicality that was lacking in her debut album. The tragedies of her home life as a child and adolescent are explored in Trouble, creating a body of work that was much more artistically representative than her debut project. Kills expanded and sharpened her indie-electro pop sound in Trouble and further impressed listeners with her commanding, strong voice — a commanding voice she softens with seductive, sensual undertones comparable to Joan Jett and Pat Benatar.
Cleveland native Alina Baraz has been singing and writing music for years, but it wasn’t until recently that the young songstress landed on the map with her collaboration with electronicist Galimatias, highlighting and displaying her talent in an entirely new way. Baraz enchanted listeners with her single ‘Drift’ from the Urban Flora EP with Galimatias released earlier this year. Baraz’s highly successful EP with Galimatias presented gorgeously remixed editions of Galimatias’ previous work with Baraz’s lyrics and vocals, creating a unique combination of downtempo electronica and electro-R&B. Listeners will find excellently crafted trip hop-accented soundscapes and traditional R&B drum beats. Trip hop and electro-pop and R&B are so popular in music today, but Baraz pairs them perfectly with her vocals and the overall tone of the music’s content.
Often known for her high profile romantic relationship, FKA twigs is so much more than tabloid fodder. The focus is so rarely on her musical talent and the quality content she’s releasing, which is an ethereal experimental, indietronica, alternative R&B mixture. The level of involvement FKA twigs has in all aspects of her music’s production is explicitly apparent through the highly inventive and original style she presents. This level of artistry is reminiscent of older acts when the music wholly represented the artist, and the artist represented the music’s quality. One would expect nothing less from a director, producer, writer and dancer; FKA twigs publicly debuted her own productions with her two extended plays EP1 released in 2012 and EP2 released in 2013. FKA twigs captured both listeners and the critics with the release of both EPs and later with her debut album LP1, released last year. Audiences were given another dose of the Gloucestershire native’s lulling, delicate vocals in her third EP, M3LL155X, released August of this year.