Née: Aura Micaela
Raíces: Providence, Rhode Island
Sounds like: Azealia Banks’ self-produced hip-hop heir apparent
You should listen to Iris Creamer because: The producer and vocalist makes assertive club R&B whose lyrics arm you against scrubs and inner complacency.
Iris Creamer sang and produced the vast majority of the original songs on her debut album Denim. The 20-year-old Dominican producer also handles all her own administration, from management to graphic design. That her first big project has come together in such an admirable cohesion is the mark of an artist who is ready for her music to take hold in fans’ inner monologues.
Those in search of bossy vocalists will find much to love on Denim. “I wanted it to be how my soul felt,” Iris explains. “This is how I felt [when I started working on the album], how my feelings were, where I was mentally.” Two years have gone by since she wrote this collection of tracks, but they are the starting point that Iris has chosen for her relationship with fans. (She has also released several singles, including the soothingly positive “It’s Always Sunny In Vagina.”) “I’ve advanced so much more,” she says of this curation. “But I want everyone to start out knowing me as an artist with the oldest of my stuff.” That careful meting of material is impressive given her claim that she’s laid down enough material in Providence studios to fill three EPs.
“Lemme See” is Denim’s most provocative, club-strung hip-hop track. “Pink Pistol” sets the album’s tone of healthy messaging with an anti-materialist cautionary tale to those who would wave their wrist in a woman’s face before catering to her mind. “I’m not going to hop up on your dick because you’re rich,” Iris advises in the lyrics. (“We need to get back to basics,” she offers later in explication. “Taking care of ourselves and each other and loving each other for our hearts and personalities, not because we have on all the latest gear.”)
Other tracks serve as vessels for this wisdom; “Fish in the Tank” is a meditation on perspective and ambition; “Villains” featuring fellow Providence emcee Rosé Petal, an ode to independence. “Electricity” is a low vibrational, tender love song laced with hushed jazz horns, Iris waxing romantic about a boo who’s “take me to the top/tell me she’ll forget me not/because I’m the one she’s been dreaming of.” Wistful interlude “La Luna” is a brief but weighted snippet of Iris singing a lullaby to the sky.
Denim shares the lessons that Iris has learned; it’s also a tribute to one of the people who taught them to her. Aura’s father, with whom she’s lived since she was 14, passed away earlier this year after a battle with lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the immune system. “His neverending support and belief in me is definitely the inspiration for me chasing this dream,” she says.
She gives praise to other artists chasing their goals in Providence’s healthy music scene; fellow singers like Lily Rayne, punk group Hairspray Queen, and Downtown Boys’ guitarist Joey DeFrancesco’s solo project La Neve. “Everyone wants to work together, everyone is an artist,” she says. “Now you can go to a show three times a week. We have all different kinds of music; the hip-hop scene, we have the rock scene, we have the electronic scene.”
When asked about her musical influences — the people whose path she can see her own career following — she opts for vocalists blazing paths across a variety of genres; ATL clique Awful Records’ Tommy Genesis and the Darkwave Duchess Abra, in addition to Canadians Jessy Lanza and Jessie Reyez, and Phlo Fhinister, who recently reincarnated as the risqué Iconika X Rated. What’s clear is that Iris sees herself as part of a chorus with many stories to tell.