A highlight from the producer, vocalist and movement artist’s 2021 project, Be Little Me.
Over the last few years Akiko Haruna has emerged as a unique talent, shaping a background in experimental choreography and audiovisual art into a holistic practice within which production, composition, vocal performance and movement run into and inform each other. On their breakout 2019 release for the reliably excellent Where To Now? Records, Delusions, the artist introduced us to a sound incorporating ominous low end, driving club percussion, dense electronics and vocal manipulation, sculpting an expansive sound stage populated with visceral physicality that felt inextricably body focused, a reconstructed dance music. A more angular, aggressive iteration of this sound can be heard on ‘Die and Retry,’ Haruna’s propulsive contribution to Timedance’s year-defining, 2020 compilation Sharpen, Moving, demonstrating an anthemic ear that finds its fullest expression on Be Little Me, the artist’s debut EP for Numbers. Skewing towards exploratory club pop, the project sees Haruna chasing the electronic eroticism suggested at in their previous projects, placing frenetic dance floor experiments side-by-side vocal tracks in the lineage of SOPHIE and PC Music. The most evocative – and most singular – of these is ‘Yakusoku,’ in which Haruna’s sensual vocals drift through the murky thrum and cold fizz of their production, lending a melancholy, erotic charge to an intricate volley of percussive throb and pulsing bass alchemy.
In the track’s visual accompaniment, Haruna picks out melodic lines from the track’s dense intensity with precise and fluid movement, a duality emphasised with camera work which swoops from slow and crisp to staggered and blurry. “As a director, I love working with movement and creative practitioners who want to extend their storytelling further via their own bodies,” says director Jade Ang Jackman, of art collective and publication Babes With Blades. “As a trained experimental dancer, producer and singer, Akiko becomes the embodiment of her unique sound and style. For us, at Babes with Blades, that is part of what our studio is about and it was brilliant to collaborate with an artist who takes ownership of various modes of her own expression and her British Asian heritage.” Adding yet more expressive texture to a track laden with emotional weight with their movements, Haruna’s physicality and climactic tears gesture towards the ‘promise’ of the track’s title. “I’m in this art form because I desperately want to connect with people,” the artist recently told DJ Mag and it’s this drive to connect that can be overwhelmingly felt as Haruna catches the eye of the camera between their movements, their glancing, black-toothed smile projecting outwards, their audience made complicit in the emotional surge of the music and the movement.
Director – Jade Ang Jackman
Studio – Babes with Blades
Director of Photography – Thomas English
Gaffer – Will Stuetz
Focus Puller – Sarah Tehranian
Lighting Assistant – Elise Dadourian
Producer – Emilie Bruyere
Production Assistant – Moyinoluwa Saka
Production Studio – Eden Creative
Editor – Georgie Daley
Colourist – Thierry Phung
Additional Production – Drew O’Neill
Additional Director of Photography – Laura Seward
Runner – Mbalu Kamara
Styling & Creative Supervision – An Nguyen
Make-Up – David Gillers
Costume Design – Tara Hakin
Styling & Jewellery – Guia Bertorello
BTS Photography – KT Allen
Video Commissioned – Ashley Mak