In 1999, the year Erika de Casier was born, R&B hits like “No Scrubs” by TLC, “Bills Bills Bills” by Destiny’s Child and “The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy & Monica topped the charts. At the same time, the British garage has infiltrated the mainstream thanks to tracks like ‘Re-Rewind’ by Artful Dodger and Craig David and ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ by Shanks & Bigfoot, while the trance has reached the peak of its popular wave. 22 years later, de Casier, born in Portugal and raised in Denmark, is channeling each of these sounds – to varying degrees – onto her aptly titled new album, a stimulating collection of pop perfect for a new generation.
The dominant influence is R&B, the music Casier grew up listening to. The child of a Belgian mother and a Cape Verdean father, she was, along with her brother, one of only two black pupils at her school in the town of Ribe, Denmark. In an interview with Loud and silent, she explained how “MTV was the only place I saw other black people grow up.” By the time she finished school and left the family home, de Casier was producing her own beats, singing her accompanying lyrics softly, almost in a whisper, due to the paper thin walls of her roommate.
These influences and techniques are honed into fine art on ‘Sensational’; tracks like “Polite”, “Make My Day” and “All You Talk About” confront the clichés and complications of romance, from crude dates and chatter lines to materialism, with a velvet balance and sophisticated melodies. Despite their delicate delivery, de Casier’s confidence in these tracks is palpable, featuring an artist in charge of her creative path.
Now based in Copenhagen, de Casier is no stranger to a club banger either. Affiliated with the Regelbau collective from Århus, she co-produced her debut 2019 album “Essentials” alongside DJ Central, aka Natal Zaks, with whom she also collaborated on the ethereal cut and breaks-y house ‘Drive’. by Regelbau DJ Sports UKG Remix has amassed nearly a quarter of a million views on YouTube alone. She also covered Sovereign’s 1998 UKG classic, ‘Really’, bringing a cosmic flavor to the gentle two-step rebound of the original. De Casier ‘Sensational’ bookend with two cuts that achieved an equally sensual stride.
“Drama” – for which she also directed and edited the video – opens the album with a golden garage beat, as her smoky vocal flow reflects a romantic argument. On ‘Busy’, the album’s penultimate dreamlike track, Casier paints a picture not only of his own determination and growing status, but also of the nonstop nature of millennial life (lists of things to do, skin care routines, vitamins, endless tidying up), all set to crisp UKG beat and a lush melody and bass organ combo.
A cinematic sensation weaves its way into the tracks of ‘Sensational’, in the triptych of ‘Someone To Chill With’, ‘Acceptance (intermezzo)’ and ‘Better Than That’, which mixes euphoric trance melodies, classical strings and silky rhythms with his lyrics exploring casual relationships and romantic independence.
The album ends with the marvelous ‘Call Me Anytime’, a track that nestles on an incredibly subtle drum & bass beat – it calls for a club remix – and which testifies to de Casier’s flair for genre mergers from great taste and heartbreaking vocal delivery.
‘Sensational’ is a gripping album, an evolutionary step for an artist for whom this is only the beginning. Having found fans like Dua Lipa, Shygirl and Clairo, Erika de Casier is carving her own niche in the pop music world. With a knack for crossover dance music, she’ll have no trouble dominating the dancefloors as well as the charts.