Album of the Week: Leslie Winer | When I Hit You — You’ll Feel It

“Terence McKenna said that language gave us our first chance to lie.” Leslie Winer

When I Hit You — You’ll Feel It is a 16-track anthology of the music of Leslie Winer, beginning with selections from Witch originally released in 1990. Until I listened then quickly purchased When I Hit You — You’ll Feel It, Leslie Winer was unknown to me but after just a few listens through, I feel we’re old friends.

OK, that a lie.

If you read an interview with Winer, or pay attention to her lyrics, or look at photos, you’ll find someone who speakers their mind with no holds barred. I find her directness refreshing. From an interview in The Quietus:

Even NME was once moved to describe her, perhaps less than flatteringly, as “the grandmother of trip hop”. It’s a claim of which Winer herself debates the authenticity.

“I’m not sure I even know what trip hop is even now,” she insists during one of the first interviews she’s done in many years. “As far as I know that term didn’t arise until later, one of those things that critics make up in order to better organise their record collections. As we were making Witch, a lot of cassettes with different mixes were circulating around London. It’s possible they heard some of these. I probably heard Massive in 1990 when Witch was already recorded. Of course, it’s always possible that I was influenced by them, but at the time I was more likely to be listening to Dancehall and Scientist, or singers like Vera Hall, Iris DeMent and The Carter Family, or Bakoya Pygmy music. And I haven’t been accused of being influenced by June Carter or the Pygmies yet.”

If you peer into Winer’s past, you’ll see collaborations and friendships with the likes of William S. Burroughs, Pierre & Gilles, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Renegade Soundwave’s Karl Bonnie, Vincent Gallo, she lived with Jean Michel Basquiat for a while, and so on. Winer has worked as a model, designer Jean-Paul Gaultier described her as “the first androgynous model”, and in addition to music, Winer is also a writer and poet. About which she had this to say (from the same Quietus interview):

“Who the fuck reads poetry?” she says in a typically self-deprecating fashion. “A bunch of other poets, that’s who. Picture me humming as I lovingly rearrange my life’s work shelf. Feather duster. Oooh! Irish Wristwatch written by me! Looking good!”

Here’s some praise for When I Hit You — You’ll Feel It:

“The definition of a hidden gem” – John Peel

“The world seems finally to be catching up to Leslie Winer, whose startling intelligence and singular vision shine through her copious recording life.” – Max Richter

“She might just be the coolest woman on the planet!” – Boy George

We have Light In The Attic to thank for this collection that offers over an hour’s worth of Winer’s music. I find it startling intelligent, O-so cool, and a hidden gem if ever there was one. I think you will too, and I’m sure you’ll hear bits of this and that, depending on your musical history, but in the end her singular vision shines through (yea, I was at a loss to find my own words).

cover art for “Witch” by Jean Michel Basquiat

When I Hit You — You’ll Feel It is mysterious, compelling, beautiful, coarse, and kinda scary. Some of my favorite music ingredients.