“Words Like Daggers” by The Angel featuring Jhelisa
Video directed by Mark Pellington, Sergio Pinheiro and Sweeten
“Words Like Daggers” is the first new artist recording from downtempo iconoclast, The Angel, in nearly a decade. The acclaimed record producer and film/TV composer has been known for pioneering a progressive dubtronic fusion of sounds on her records and in her film and TV score throughout her career.
Recently, The Angel was requested by her cousin, Rain Phoenix, to contribute a song to the LaunchLeft “Launched Artists Digital Singles Series” honoring her brother, River, for what would have been his 50th birthday. The contemplative lush electronic “Words Like Daggers,” written and produced by The Angel is the submission, and features longtime collaborator, vocalist, songwriter and producer Jhelisa (“Friendly Pressure”).
Of this inspired collaboration, Angel reveals,”Jhelisa and I have become close friends over the years.” Explaining how the seeds of collaboration grew holistically, “There’s a lot of sisterly love and mutual respect between us, so Jhelisa already understood the mournful weight of the track
before I asked to feature her. I’m always grateful that she’s willing to experiment with me because it’s not something she does lightly. Jhelisa beautifully channels the essence of whatever emotion needs to come through in the most evocative and visceral way.”
Jhelisa offers this insight about the song, “You wave goodbye from the edge of the shore, wish them the best, and love them forever. The word ‘Goodbye’ is a dagger wound you can eventually heal from through love and compassion.” The Angel continues, “I wanted the song to sound like a memory, like you’ve entered someone else’s dream space…The emotion is contained, very internal, so I juxtaposed a vocal vulnerability against a driving, incessant rhythm, where you can feel the underlying tension at the same time as experiencing the gentle plea, ‘Where’s my shelter…?’”
Rain’s LaunchLeft podcast and label are an alliance and space for eclectic artists and famed creatives. She especially curated a selection of music premieres including this anticipated release from The Angel. All artists selected have a special connection to River. The “Launched Artists Digital Singles Series” conclude on River’s birthday, August 23, with two previously unreleased songs from his band, Aleka’s Attic.
“I’m incredibly proud of my cousin as an activist and artist,” exclaims The Angel on contributing to the LaunchLeft Singles Series and Rain’s vision. She continues, “Rain’s solo album, ‘River’ is a brave and beautiful tribute to her brother and I wanted to be by her side as she took this next step to celebrate River’s 50th via this special singles series. The spirit of LaunchLeft, as an alliance of left-of-center artists who support and uplift each other, is something that River not only lived by, but is exactly the kind of alliance he would have championed. This is something we need more of in our industry and in the world.”
The Angel wrapped a video for “Words Like Daggers” with award-winning director and friend, Mark Pellington (Prolific Film Content), premiering via LaunchLeft’s partnership with Flood Magazine. Directed by Mark Pellington, Sergio Pinheiro and Sweeten, the video is a collaboration between Pellington, his editor and FX artist/director Pinheiro and film collage artist Sweeten. The three joined forces with The Angel, Jhelisa and cinematographers Alfeo
Dixon in Atlanta and Eve M Cohen in L.A. to create this emotional nocturnal collage. Mark acknowledges, “The Angel is a great artist. I loved the track and brought in some colleagues to make it happen. I understood her personal expressionism and intention and felt I could help the creative effort.”
The Angel adds, “Mark and I go way back to his MTV ‘Buzz’ days. He, Jhelisa and I all lived in ’90’s London, forging our individual artistic paths. Bringing us together for this video added some historic synergy to the mix. I’ve always loved Mark’s visual aesthetic. I’m grateful for his
emotional creativity, his artist-to-artist and human-to human approach. He challenged and encouraged me to write an internal dialogue that was separate from the lyrics, to use as the framework for my voiceover. I added newly created music beds, that now make up the intro and outro. After many years of working to picture, it was inspiring to reverse engineer the bookends of the video, and treat them like film in this way.”
The Angel and Pellington pulled the vision and team together fast, with Pellington overseeing the live action shooting, then Pinheiro and Sweeten adding their layers of image and visual FX. Angel adds, “Mark has an innate ability to tap into the underlying meaning of a song, then translate that into a poignant visual feast.”
Describing the feeling, Angel says, “The ‘Words Like Daggers’ video is centered on Jhelisa, the evocative messenger who draws us into self reflection, unleashing demons, showing us what it feels like to maintain both power and empathy in the face of adversity.”
Being able to celebrate River in 2020 with a new song and production makes this release even more meaningful to The Angel. “’Words Like Daggers’ is an exploration of loss… the agonizing breakdown of a deep connection, merged with other poignant losses, like the loss of my bass player and spiritual brother, Robert Russell, who plays on the record… all life experiences I would have shared with River.” The Angel adds, “Thanks to Rain, celebrating River in 2020 has become an unexpected and important part of my healing process…a touching reminder that the process is ongoing. I Ioved River dearly.”
The Angel hails from Brooklyn and is based in Los Angeles via an extended, inspired stay in the U.K. She has produced and released many acclaimed
works since the 90s under additional monikers, 60 Channels and Jaz Klash. She is also one of a handful of women film/TV composers, having scored
features including, Boiler Room, Gridlock’d and KiDULTHOOD as well as Ava DuVernay’s pilot “For Justice” for CBS among others. The Angel has
produced, remixed, and collaborated with Monday Michiru, The Brand New Heavies, Bay Area rapper/singer, Mystic, The Pharcyde’s Tre “SLIMKID3”
Hardson, Delicious Vinyl Records, Spearhead, Ninja Tune, London jungle o.g., MC Navigator, and Bristol’s More Rockers/Smith & Mighty.
Jhelisa launched her career out of the UK Acid Jazz music revolution of the 90s. She has produced numerous solo albums including the revered classic,Galactica Rush. Jhelisa is a musical maverick whose many collaborations have included work with Bjork, Massive Attack, Soul Family Sensation, Bryan Ferry and Chaka Khan.