With an exceptional ability to catch and bloom a melody, in accompaniment to her silk-wrapped voice, French-born artist Oklou is bewitching at the very least. Growing to prominence in the early to mid-2010s through flurries of melodic social media snippets and unofficial tracks under the pseudonym Avril23, the transition to fully fledged pop star was not always an obvious one. With her debut release, the Avril EP from 2014, Oklou (then Loumar) worked with more atmospheric undercurrents and sparsely placed piano lines like on Loaded, as well as more club-oriented beats on Beamin Love.
Whilst back then Mayniel wasn’t a fan of the media circus that denoted her the ‘revelation of the 2015 scene’ – something she felt was undeserved after only one live concert –, Oklou’s Splash Tape (2015), and particularly The Rite Of May EP (2018), have built a culture around her handiwork to the point where she has fan and critical attention alike, that is undeniably justified. Following her signing to TaP records, recent collaborations with industry heavyweights Flavien Berger on Toyota, and Mura Musa on Entertnmnt – one of my favourite pop singles of the year so far – are evidence of Oklou’s ascending status and proficiency in the genre of pop that shows no signs of waning.
On July 30th, Oklou released the first of three sections comprising her 11-track Galore mixtape to finalize this pop transition, meaning there certainly is an abundance of new music to see out the year. This opening chapter features three tracks and a cinematic video for the lead single, Unearth me, where Oklou is literally excavated from the forest floor. The other two tracks, Fall and Galore, provide the complementary aspects of soft yet intricate production Mayniel has become known for.
Despite this, Mayniel had questioned whether she had a real, artistic identity until this tape, explaining that “Galore made me feel alive, which is what I was missing up to now”. With Galore, Oklou appears to have found herself and her sound amongst the noise. Conducted in the midst of quarantine, Marylou Mayniel talks to METAL about her deep-rooted nostalgia, creative automatisms and the ideal Oklou film score.