Music

The Anime R&B of Baltimore’s :3LON

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:3LON Battle (pronounced Elon) was born for this. His natal planet of Mars is in Gemini, and his Moon is in Cancer. Perhaps that’s why his music is so dreamy. His breathy voice pairs well with the heavy industrial beats throughout his debut EP Ronin. Lead single “Many Moons” shifts from an sleepy aura of gently falling cherry blossom leaves to an underground warehouse rave where two familiar strangers embrace. There’s a story behind it, he says: “Basically, this Samurai meets this person he grew up with up, after like, years of turmoil and being torn apart, they’re meeting back up to reunite.”

:3LON will be premiering the much anticipated music video for “Many Moons” this Sunday at DEN$E, as part of MoMA PS1’s Sunday Sessions. He loves New York and can’t wait to play here. “You know like, when you waiting for the train and the last one pulls up and it’s covered in graffiti, you don’t see that in a lot of places. I like the busyness and the lights and the crowds.” Eventually he plans to move here for good.

In the meantime he’s focusing on his output. Ronin, which is now available on Tidal, has an anime-meets-R&B aesthetic. “A ronin is a samurai without a master. I totally relate,” he says. “I’m not trained in martial arts, but I definitely feel like a fighter, and no one is making me conform”. 3lon is tall, bald, the color of honey, and sports piercings in his nose, lips, teeth and ears. He’s a black goth, born, bred and based in Baltimore. Most nights he’s doing the Baltimore two-step at The Crown, a popular nightclub, in thick-soled Doc Martens and incredibly long T-shirts. He was raised on Anita Baker and as a teen, he found himself in Hot Topic every other day, listening at home to the likes of Korn, Fall Out Boy, and Avenged Sevenfold. In his music he crosses these boundaries to blend them.

His creativity attracted the attention of ATM (At the Moment), a Philadelphia arts collective, which is curating DEN$E. The show will include live musical performances, DJ sets, interactive performance, and hardware noise sets, all accompanied by live and pre-recorded visuals. “As a whole, the members of ATM seem to be actively self-historicizing a narrative of queer, brown club music in [the Northeast],” says PS1 curatorial assistant Taja Cheek. “But, they’re also writing a narrative of dance and electronic music that is simultaneously hyper-local and global. ”

:3LON, for his part, hopes that the underground scene of New York City will come out in full force for the show. “I know New York has a cool ass, freaky ass, underground scene. So I’d like to see people who would make me feel I’m not the only freak in the room.”

The DEN$E Sunday Session takes place November 13 at MoMA PS1.