Recorded over the past three years, across the creative trinity of Berlin, Brooklyn and the sleepy hollow town of Hamilton, near Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, New Look’s self-titled debut album is a feverishly anticipated affair. The Canadian future pop duo of Sarah Ruba and Adam Pavao first emerged in 2008, landing in Europe with a self-released EP of pitch perfect, experimental pop entitled, “How’s My Hair?”. This was accompanied by a masterfully stripped back yet soulful reworking of close friend and polymath producer, artist and photographer Jimmy Edgar’s anthemically androgynous smash single, “Function of Your Love”. The couple’s undeniable creative synergy translated directly to the stage, where the stunning, synth-playing chanteuse and former model, 25-year-old Ruba (previously shot by the likes of cult fashion provocateur Bruce Weber) and multi-instrumentalist, 31-year-old producer Pavao played a series of hypnotising live shows across the UK and Europe, with early support from the UK’s premiere music and style press, including an upfront spread in Dazed & Confused magazine.
“We’ve since developed a lot more and now fully realise what we have always wanted to do,” introduces Pavao, speaking from their home studio in a converted Victorian house in Hamilton, Ontario. “What’s most important to us is that every song has to sound super new to our ears. That feeling of unpredictability within every second of each song,” says Ruba. “We’ll never re-do a vibe and that’s the whole basis of what everything jumps off from.” There is a confidence and wit to their songwriting, coupled with a sublime subtlety in the cosmic tweaks and soft synths underpinning their future pop aesthetic. It’s controlled yet wistful pop perfectionism. “We try not to keep anything superfluous in our songs. We’re always conscious of the negative space in our music and that’s a constant theme,” explains Pavao, their trademark sparse 80s snap dynamically lifting Ruba’s crisp, siren-esque vocals and synth driven melodies.
Signed to !K7, certified home to Jimmy Edgar, Chromeo and the classic DJ-Kicks series, the first single to be released from their debut full length is “The Ballad”, a magical synth pop record, perfectly aligned to introduce New Look’s soaring ambition. “We recorded the song four different times, the vision of this was so strong and clear in our minds that it took us so many times to get it how we knew it should be,” Ruba explains. “We attempted it twice in Berlin, once in New York and finally got it in Canada. The song is a message to someone we know and even though it’s a fleeting message to them, we would never want them to find out. It’s too personal.”
“The Ballad” is set to a psychedelic music video directed by celebrated Australian fashion photographer and filmmaker Will Davidson. “It’s so beautiful, I can’t wait until it’s out,” enthuses Ruba. “I can really hear the energy of the different cities that we recorded in,” adds Pavao. “When we first got to Berlin and it was Spring and we felt so free, and then also moving back to New York, it definitely translates to the music.”
The self-titled album is also the inspired sound of a personal uprising for New Look, whose initial plan was to move to Berlin for nine months to finish the record amidst the critical acclaim surrounding their self-released EP that was followed by a sold out European tour supporting The xx. “We moved to Berlin to get a flow going, to focus just on music,” reminisces Ruba. “But last Fall it felt like absolutely nothing was happening. All these plans never came to fruition and we were really frustrated and felt like shit. So I wrote this song with super inspirational and motivational lyrics and – however cheesy it may sound – it actually somehow created a new hope. It’s called “A Light” and somehow actually manifested itself.”
New Look will be returning to the UK and Europe this Summer with their debut album and headlining tour which will see Sarah Ruba’s mesmerising vocals and melodic keys front Adam Pavao’s live analogue synths, drums and visuals performance. “It’s been three years and for us the album is hard to put into words, concludes Ruba. “We’re still super perfectionists and whilst some of the record is New Look pop, there are tracks that are pretty badass and serious. But it all reflects our grand vision.”