‘If U Must Dance’ is the debut solo single from the Los Angeles-based composer and front woman with acclaimed experimental electronic act Fol Chen, Sinosa.

‘If U Must Dance’, which is being released in the UK on Happy Robots Records on download and in a limited edition vinyl of 300 copies, combines minimal, echoing, rattling electronica with a deadpan vocal from Sinosa in which she implores her listener to “please do not dance” and then “if you must dance, dance only with your hands.” She concludes by commanding her audience to “dance only with your head” and finally “…with your hips.”

Pennyblackmusic spoke to Sinosa about ‘If U Must Dance’.

PB: ‘If U Must Dance’ seems on the surface tongue-in-cheek, but subsequent listening reveals that it is making a comment about authoritarianism and the irrepressibleness of the human spirit. Was that what you were aiming for with this?

S: I like the idea of commanding you to go against your instincts, for absolutely no reason. It sounds funny, and also puts you in a position where you have to react. It can either inspire rebellion or it can make you say, “Ok, that sounds fine. I’ll do something I don’t understand.” You pick your battles, but it’s good to notice when that happens.

PB: The video for ‘If U Must Dance’ concludes with a herd of deer running across a plain. Did you conclude with that because you wanted to make a point about freedom?

S: That’s a great read on it. Sure! Ha ha! I hesitate to pin it down too much. I gave creative license to the video’s director, Al Kamalizad (https://alkamalizad.com), whose work I love, and he delivered his own take on the song, which is part art film, part fashion editorial, part acid trip. I can’t tell you why, but when the deer show up it feels good, doesn’t it?

PB: ‘If U Must Dance’ has been released on vinyl. Why did you decide to release the single on vinyl and not CD, potentially limiting your audience?

S: The digital platforms seem to be all that matters at the moment, at least for this kind of release. The physical was, as a bonus, a chance to make something beautiful and tangible, which was most rewarding to do on vinyl. I got to work with Superfamous (https://superfamous.com) on the design which was very fun and I love how it turned out.

PB: You began your musical career as a composer at the California Institute of the Arts. How did you move into electronica?

S: At CalArts I was really into mid-century avant-garde and so came to electronic music from within that context. I loved the computer and tape pieces by James Tenney, who I studied with, and started making pieces that were all layered vocals-- playing in microtonality, looping, reversing, etc, and noise music. I went to the extreme ends of non-pop and then remembered that I also liked catchy songs, and this sort of conceptual pop electronica is what’s come out of that.

PB: You have your own studio in Los Angeles which contains just a microphone, a sampler and a midi controller. What is the main appeal to you of making music using such a minimalist setup?

S: I build around home-recorded samples and loads of vocals, so a decent mic and preamp is most important. Then everything else gets played on a midi keyboard using sound libraries and processed on laptop. I used to feel bad about using soft synths, but I got over that. I like the limitations of a simple setup, plus I’m away from home a lot, so the mobility is great.

PB: You provided vocals to about half of Fol Chen’s second album ‘The New December’ and all the vocals to their third album ‘The False Alarms’. Has that band now officially split? What do you think was the most important thing that you learned from being in them?

S: Nothing’s official, and there is more Fol Chen music on the way. That’s all I can say about that!

PB: Why did you decide to release ‘If U Must Dance’ in the UK on Happy Robots Records? What was the appeal to you of that label?

S: It’s good company, all fun tech-y electronica, with a healthy sense of humour. I especially like Hologram Teen, which sounds like a disco party horror soundtrack from Morgane Lhote of Stereolab. https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/hologram-teen

PB: What plans do you have for the future? Will there be an album? Do you also hope to tour the UK?

S: Some songs are on deck. It will be an album or smaller groupings. I love playing in the UK and will be out there later this year. See you then.

PB: Thank you.

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