Hear And Now: Radclyffe Hall emerge from the synth-pop shadows on new album ‘Ghosts’
When we last hyped a video from electronic-pop group Radclyffe Hall, frontwoman and songwriter Dhy Berry was seen riding a scooter around Boston after dark. Our city lit only by moonlight and street lamps was a fitting backdrop for the dark, moody track, and in addition to aligning with the song’s somber lyrical tone (about a friend of Berry’s who passed away), it also showed an electronic band navigating through the Boston shadows, a fitting metaphor for this sometimes crusty rock and roll town.
Last week, Radclyffe Hall emerged from the shadows with the release of the video for “Rather Be”, the first track off their debut album, Ghosts, which drops today via Cleopatra Records and is celebrated tonight at Great Scott in Allston on a bill with Day Wave and usLights. The video is bright and vibrant, showing multiple Berrys performing the jagged, post-punk-leaning single, and is more than a metaphorical spotlight on one of Boston’s best musical minds.
“Radclyffe Hall the project is very much an idea and concept that is very much me,” Berry tells Vanyaland. “I guess the music video for ‘Rather Be’ shows that by having me perform everything, it is my way of raising my hand like ‘I made dis.'”
Those in Boston have waited a bit for some new Radclyffe Hall music, especially after breaking onto the scene with a devastatingly gorgeous EP in 2014 that was as smart as it was sinister. But the creative process is a tricky mistress, as Berry tells us.
“I have always wanted to release a full length album, but I never thought it would happen, especially under my own project,” she says. “I have always been a part of other artist’s projects as a side musician, but to actually have my own record, where I have a say in every aspect of its creation, is nuts! To me, the record took way longer than two years, the drum beat for ‘OMG’ I came up with at least three years before that song came about. Same with ‘Don’t Wait (It’s Now or Never),’ that track I had for a couple years before RAINE, a.k.a. Jaqui Rae Stewart, came about and helped throw her lyrical magic on top of it. Some songs like, ‘Rather Be’ just came about in a week. Creativity is funny like that, some songs need time and nourishment, others just are born full-blown adults.”
There’s a bit of timelessness to Berry’s compositions, and though they are cradled in modern sounds and technique, they draw from personal inspiration not far from her creative core. There’s experimentation, but it often skillfully orbits a pop center. Whether this is by design is more for others to determine.
“With songwriting, I have never been one to keep up with the times, musically,” Berry says. “And I think my songs reflect that. There is always a mix of influences from all over that makes the music a bit ‘off’ and that’s appealing. I believe with my songs I have to be true to the idea that is the strongest and serves the purpose of the song. Kind of makes me think of the character of Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, which is also one of my favorite novels.”
Watch the video for “Rather Be” below. Added show details for tonight are on the flyer.