Released: 25 Jun 2021

Label: Tru Thoughts

‘Yemaya’ is the long-awaited new album and Tru Thoughts debut from future soul and electronica duo Anushka; released on limited edition, hand numbered, transparent double vinyl, CD and digital.

Victoria Port and Max Wheeler have spent the past few years letting go of expectations and settling into a sound they feel truly represents them. ‘Yemaya’ sees the band carving a new path through the realm of future soul and electronica as they push themselves to a new sound, celebrating their progression and those who have helped them on the way. Fuelled by their respect for the UK’s rich heritage of breakbeat culture, Anushka transcend the UK jazz-electronic scene, melding hypnotic rhythms with a sweet melody, carried by entrancing female vocals. The LP takes its name from the Orisha Yemaya – the Goddess of the Sea, protector of women and the Eternal Mother in the Santeria/Yoruba religion. It is believed in Santeria that Yemaya guides and supports her children, helping them to grow; as explored with the reference to the life-giving essence of water in the song “Bad Weather”. Celebrating their progression and those who have helped them on the way, the title expresses the oneness that the duo felt making the record.

This growth is explored on album opener “So Far Journey”. Written by Victoria Port (singer/songwriter) as a “call to the ancestors” with astrally charged synths from Max Wheeler (producer), it sits alongside the cosmic love story of “You My Love” and the luminous “Serenity”. Utilising the power of raw emotion and honesty on tracks “You Mine” and “Did I Wake You?” Anushka shift away from the mythological nature of relationships. Instead, the pair recognise the importance of looking at the difficulties and hardships that come with the togetherness and growth that underpins the album, both lyrically and musically. There is no regret or uncertainty, only peace with our choices and trust in the guidance of our ancestors – a concept explored through the teachings of Sartre on “Free Will”. Channelling the French philosopher’s existential teachings into a piano sequence reminiscent of a 70s film soundtrack, Wheeler showcases his versatility as a producer by creating an ethereal backdrop for Port’s rumination into the idea that we have all control and no control.

From existentialism to rebellion, “Go” was built from a session between Wheeler and Ebi Soda’s Will Heaton. Ambivalent chords sit with trombone harmonies to form a base for beats, bass and synths. Upon hearing the track, Port wrote the lyrics on the spot; “It’s a track against the patriarchy, against racism, against homophobia, against misogyny… It’s about letting go of all the expectations and limitations we and others place on ourselves, especially as women”.

This fight and faith filters through into the closing track of the LP, “We Live In Hope”. With its musical roots in a beat created by Wheeler in a Youth Homelessness project between teaching music workshops, the lyrics of the track were written by Port after the murder of Eric Garner. “I wanted to believe that in those final moments there was some kind of calm for him”, she explains. “I believe that in death we all get to return home. There is a freedom in that and there is a freedom in death. I feel like as Black people we have no choice but to live in hope that things will get better”.