Friday, April 02, 2021

MEET… Daughter

Indie-folk trio, Daughter, have been making waves in the UK alternative scene for the past decade, thanks to the uniquely ethereal atmosphere that their music creates.

The band consists of North London singer Elena Tonra, Swiss-born guitarist Igor Haefeli and French drummer Remi Aguiella. Forming in 2010, Daughter went on to release four EPs, three albums and 9 singles, the latest of which came out in 2017. 

Channeling emotion through music and lyrics is something that Elena Tonra learned at a young age, taking Irish folk influences from her Dublin-born grandfather and using her experiences of being bullied at school to create a cathartic musical outlet.

Early on in her career, Tonra was noticed by Haefeli at one of her gigs for having “this power that drew everyone in”. The singer’s tone is both haunting and fragile, making it feel as though she is sharing a dark secret with the listener. 

Tonra’s delicate vocal timbre is matched perfectly with her song lyrics, which often feel deeply personal. There is a slightly detached, melancholy feel to many of the band’s early numbers, such as The Woods or Candles -  helped, perhaps, by the theme of a childhood long-gone in 2011 EPs His Young Heart and The Wild Youth.

The band’s most successful single would arguably be Youth, characterised by its memorable three-string guitar part and fiercely nihilistic lyrics like “most of us are bitter over someone” and “setting fire to our insides for fun”. The song has since been featured in television shows such as Cold Feet, Grey’s Anatomy and Lovesick

The same, quiet rage that can be felt in Youth is echoed in another of Daughter’s 2011 songs, Landfill, which begins with almost inaudible instrumental and high, angelic vocals. Once again, the music is perfectly juxtaposed with the song’s true meaning, with lyrics like “I want you so much, but I hate your guts” and “Leave me on the tracks, to wait until the morning train arrives”. 

Daughter released their first album, If You Leave, in March 2013, charting at Number 16 in the UK. Their debut received a positive critical reception and even won Independent Album of the Year at the Independent Music Awards in London. This album exemplifies the band’s ability to create beautiful, profound music around turbulent emotional states. Songs like Human, Still and Smother deal with the heavy themes of hopelessness, hatred, desire and self-loathing. 

The band went on to support Ben Howard for a short string of US tour dates in 2015, before returning for a follow-up album, Not To Disappear, in 2016. By this time, the band had moved away from acoustic into a slightly more electric feel, with heavier drums and a more synthetic sound. Stand-out tracks from this album include Do the Right Thing, No Care and Numbers.

Daughter’s latest album to date, Music From Before the Storm, was released in 2017 as the soundtrack to video game Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. The album mostly consists of ambient instrumental tracks, although the hopeless, rage-filled single Burn It Down still features Tonra’s spellbinding vocals. 

After the band’s third album, Elena Tonra released her own breakout album Ex:Re in 2018, where she poured all the sorrow she was feeling following a painful breakup. Daughter were then set to headline a number of concerts and festivals in 2020, but these plans were put on hold due to COVID-19. Hopefully we’ll hear more from this talented trio in the near future. 

Recommended tracks: Youth, Medicine, Still, Human

Hannah McGreevy


Image: Daughter Tour Announcements 2021 & 2022 Songkick

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