Only formed in the fall of 2020, North Carolina’s Whoop has already evolved their weekly barn jams into a hugely relatable, disarmingly charming debut album. Due in September, it’s a record equally organic and tuneful, introspective and celebratory, stylistically diverse yet musically coherent - all connecting through vocalist Fal’s supple and soulful, sweet-but-street timbre.
“Whoop! is a release of every emotion than can be, is, or was bottled up,” she mulled. “It’s emotion manifested into one sonic symphony.”
A mélange of backgrounds and influences spanning indie, jazz, rock, reggae, and hip-hop, Whoop thrives by letting raw musical instinct be band leader. Nothing is over-played or over-produced; nothing is superfluous or gratuitous in their innately authentic, ego-free explorations of groove, melody – and of the everyday human condition.
“The theme [of the album] is simple,” said Fal. “Post-relationship introspection.”
Fal had previously collaborated with Whoop! bassist Nick on recordings, and he knew drummer Will from school. Completing the band’s perhaps unlikely, but all-the-more-compelling for it cocktail came Grammy-winning Canadian guitarist/producer Steve Bigas (Ziggy Marley, Taj Mahal, Daniel Lanois etc.), who was mentoring Nick in an audio engineering program.
“The chemistry between Fal, Will and I is visible,” Nick recalled. “Steve noticed it, too.”
The foursome began meeting on Friday nights in Steve’s converted barn studio in Raleigh. Moments of musical magic were captured, distilled, and tastefully shaped into complete songs.
“The boys would jam and pick ideas back and forth, while I would lug all my journals out of the woodwork,” Fal laughed. “In those moments, all I could rely on were the music, my words, and an open mind/heart.”
Whoop! is one of those rare records that channels universal emotions to the point of instant familiarity and reassuring, bonding validation. From the super-danceable, self-assured swagger of shape-shifting opener “What I Want,” to the in-your-face letting loose of “Feel Good,” it resonates through sparse instrumentation that always serves the sentiment and the song. Fal’s distinctively nuanced, remarkably versatile voice both caresses and cajoles, veering between tough-love compassion (“Demons”); finely-grained nostalgia (“Smile”); sultry, confessional contemplation (gauzy standout “Jump”); and a borderline Britpop sneer.
“The only way to grow is to look at the way you treat not only yourself, but the way you treat others,” offered the singer. “And on a lighter note, sometimes the way to get through something is to just let go and let it run its course. Things don’t last forever.”
Whoop! will be accompanied by multiple music videos, as well as highly-anticipated live shows.
“I hope that we can reach all walks of life,” Fal concluded. “Music is supposed to bring people together, shake things up, cause a ruckus … [and] leave a lasting impression in someone’s mind/heart/ears.”