Lele[Speaks] and GoldieLocks – the Queens of Croydon

Croydon – not exactly a place drowning in musical heritage.  In the past two decades, the outer London eyesore has produced, well, Dane Bowers and three of the four girls from Eternal. And.. erm… the inexplicably-popular Kate Nash studied at the Brit School, which is kinda near to Croydon?  Slim pickings indeed, and that was about the sorry size of it until 2007… since when Croydon has suddenly become a hotbed for new, innovative music. 

First came dubstep, a fast beat, electronica-heavy sound dreamt up in some of the Cronx’s cooler record shops and iconised in the form of Skream, a now immensely popular and immensely busy dubstep DJ.  At the start of this year, singer and producer Frankmusik burst onto the scene with his retro electro pop. And now two mouthy, streetwise and very talented females (each a fan of the other, indeed) seem set to follow: all hail Lele[Speaks] and GoldieLocks.

Before I talk about them, a few thoughts on Croydon.  I was born and raised there, inly leaving for the bright lights of Central London three years ago, so I feel qualified to speak about the town.  It’s a place with two faces: there are some lovely ‘burbs, areas rich with greenery and posh houses, and there’s fine shopping and great transport links; on the flip side, there are plenty of estates, most fed by a Tramlink system on which it’s very easy to fare-evade, and the Home Office, meaning plenty of foreign refugees wanderinf round with nothing to do and anger to burn. But perhaps the most depressing element of Croydon is the severe lack of musical culture. Unless you want to see Engelbert Humperdinck or Mica Paris, the Fairfield Halls can’t help you for live music.  In nightlife terms, away from the two million bar-clubs peddling boring house music, 80s anthems, R’n’B blandness, cheese classics or flying Stella bottles, it’s a desert out there; you’ve got the Black Sheep bar for dubstep nights, various goth pubs and a few decent DJs in out-of-town dives. With such a scarcity of interesting music on offer, it’s a total frigging wonder that various Croydonians are producing some of today’s most exciting, innovative sounds. 

20-year-old Lele is as Sowf London as they come; speaking with the classic nasal accent, and bridling with teenage, Lady Sovereign-like attitude. Ordinarily that would be plain annoying, but translated to music it makes for belting songs strongly accented to her Croydon experiences and streetwise smarts. Away from the mike, she helps out with her sister Jackson Kid’s clothing boutique (The Sick Kids); perhaps in exchange, Jackson Kid films Lele’s videos.

Over funky electronic chirrups, synths, feedback and crackles, Lele discusses drug addiction, names and shames falling friends (“Rachel was pretty but she’s looking rough now”) in tones of total disdain, prissily stresses her own independence, and paints pictures of pals puking in the street. It all sounds a bit grime, a bit ghetto, and more than a bit catchy. Those qualities are never more evident than in stand-out track Youth Offender, where Lele derides a young rude boy (You’re so dumb, you’re so thick mate) over banging beats which just demand you wave your hands in silly shapes, while giving the hips the shake.

What’s least expected of, and thus most impressive about, Lele are the subtle touches to her tunes.  The softer Horror is underpinned by pretty piano ripples, and even finishes with a ten-second piano solo. Youth Offender’s a tough-talking, badass jam until the chorus… which uses a camp keyboard jingle.  Her style or genre is hard to pin down partly because it takes in so many influences: garage, hip hop, rap, pop, dance… These haven’t much correlation to content either; probably the chirpiest-sounding song is Volcano, and yet its lyrics are all about a drunken local slapper. It’s that very absence of predictability which makes Lele [Speaks] (I’ve no idea about square brackets’ relevance) so exciting, and important-sounding.

A few steps further down the road to fame is Lele’s fellow Croydonian, GoldieLocks. She’s older at 24, has three times as many MySpace friends (21,000), collaborates with higher-profile friends (Tinchy Strider and Little Boots) and boasts more strings to her bow – producing and DJing as well as singing.  A quarter Swedish with her three very firm quarters Croydon, GoldieLocks career highlights to date include a publishing contract with Puregroove, and her having several songs featured in the excellent film Adulthood.

GoldieLocks’ sound is different to Lele’s: she’s closer to dubstep and garage, with a slower, purring vocal delivery.  She hasn’t the distinctive accent, either, although I doubt many people will be devastated about that, and it hardly prohibits great music.  In the sumptuous Fuckabout, she drawls laconically like a dreadlocked Dizzee Rascal over thick, lazy-sounding electronica; the faster, fretting Provider is closer to dance and pop, and includes the delicious couplet “I refuse to be a bum / Especially cos I come from Croy-don” as our heroine vows not to be a Cronx cliché.  Too right.

Listening to GoldieLocks, it’s immediately obvious why she’s so far achieved greater fame than Lele. Her numbers have more sheen, more slick and more finesse; they simply sound more professional, each chorus catchy and utterly tight. This presumably is the very same mixing and polish that Lele has told me her songs are yet due.  It’s a mixed blessing, though: while GoldieLocks’ songs might carry a bit more mainstream appeal with their contemporary stylings, and are arguably easier on the ear, they lack the exciting, raw edge, and genuine feel of her fellow Croydonian’s choons.  Perhaps this is why her name is almost the exact anthesis of a Croydon facelift?

I worry the same neutering may affect Lele in future, when her music comes to be studio-lised and readied for Joe Bloggs’ ears; but let’s fervently hope that’s not the case.

GoldieLocks on MySpace
GoldieLocks’ blog

Lele[Speaks] on MySpace
Lele[Speaks]’ blog

GoldieLocks – Fuckabout (zSHARE)
Lele[Speaks] declined to provide any MP3s as her songs are yet to be mixed.  But here’s the all-new video for Volcano: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y7fkFJfeWY


~ by ripamel on 21/07/2009.

2 Responses to “Lele[Speaks] and GoldieLocks – the Queens of Croydon”

  1. I love Lele (like Goldilocks, too) but it’s disappointing she couldn’t pull it together to get you even a single track to post. Don’t make people work to hear your music–it just don’t happen like that no more. Good post, tho.

    • Thank you for the kind words – Lele assures me she’ll send an mp3 soon, so I think I’ll let her off just this once – Croydon love, and all that 🙂

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