From a very young age, Trixie Whitley nurtured a singular creative spirit, springing from her restless inner directive. At the age of 3, she made her onstage debut alongside her father, the internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Chris Whitley. Never resting on her lineage, Trixie set out to craft a unique personal and artistic identity. She started playing drums when she was 10. At age 11, she became the youngest resident DJ in Belgium spinning underground electronica, free jazz, ambient instrumentals, and hip-hop at raves and modern art museums. And by her early teens she was touring with several avant-garde theater and dance collectives throughout Europe (including Les Ballets C de la B, with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui).
Throughout all of this, she developed an affinity for punk rock’s nonconformist and DIY ethics that permeated her fearless genre-bending and daring life choices. After a nomadic transatlantic existence, growing up between New York and Belgium, she quit high school at age 17 and took a job slinging burgers at a NY dive while steadily advancing her music career. One of her early efforts impressed the iconic producer Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, U2). He enlisted her to front his own band, Black Dub, with modern jazz drummer Brian Blade and legendary New Orleans bassist Daryl Johnson.
Since 2013, Trixie has emerged as a compelling solo artist with three EPs, three full-length studio albums, and a collection of outtakes and live-show recordings entitled SWAY (which was released a year after Porta Bohemica). Fourth Corner, her full-length debut, co-produced by Thomas Bartlett (The National, Sufjan Stevens, Anna Calvi) and engineer/producer Pat Dillett (David Byrne, St. Vincent, The Notorious B.I.G.) garnered acclaim from MOJO, Interview, ELLE, Vogue, Relix, The Village Voice, NPR and The New York Times, among many other publications. In Belgium, the album went gold in its first week of sales and earned her a MIA (Music Industry Award) for Best Female Solo Artist.
Her second album Porta Bohemica was released in 2016 to critical reviews and has won her the award for best writer/arranger at the 2016 MIA awards. Written mostly in Mexico or while on the road, Porta Bohemica was recorded throughout a journey from New York to Tennessee to Los Angeles to Europe, which also lends to a particular variety of influences at the intersection of each moment and any given surrounding. Porta Bohemica cribs its name from a defunct European railroad: its songs wind through landscapes of absolute subconscious that she learned to trust by largely self-producing the album with contributions from Gus Seyffert (Beck, The Black Keys) and Joey Waronker (Atoms For Peace, Roger Waters).
2019 was marked by the release of her third full album, Lacuna. Created in conjunction with Run The Jewels producer Little Shalimar, the forthcoming record sees Trixie pulling classic soul into a future world through a fascinating, heady blend of hi-fi electronic sounds, hypnotic rhythms, and her trademark vocals with gut-punching lyrics. Now, one year later Whitley releases Lacuna (Re-Imagined).
“For this Lacuna (Re-Imagined) project I decided to commit to just a few key ingredients, stripping the production away in service of finding out what I was left to work with. I committed to the following: all tracks had to be based on a full live one-take recorded in my kitchen, with no edits made to the take. Leaving room for all the raw imperfections, I have a general rule of three takes for any recorded live performance, and I willfully chose to perform the bulk of these without a click.” Single track “Touch (Re-Imagined)” was released on Friday 25th of September 2020. EP Lacuna (Re-Imagined) will be available on Friday 13th of November 2020.
Driven by an innate curiosity and a desire to explore and experiment, Trixie frequently collaborates with other artists. She has performed and recorded with Robert Plant, Marianne Faithful, Meshell Ndegeocello, Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade, Daryl Johnson, Emmylou Harris, Marc Ribot, Joe Henry, Bill Frisell, Kenny Wollesen, Sam Cohen, Antibalas, Yuka Honda, Nels Cline, Mark Kelley, Joey Waronker, Mark Guiliana, Sam Amidon, Laurie Anderson, Chris Vatalaro and many more.
With Eric San a.k.a. Kid Koala, she collaborated on Music To Draw To: Io, a 70-minute-long sonic space that taps into the story of Io, an unwilling lover to Zeus. Trixie provided vocals on 6 of the 18 songs. Billboard recently premiered their first joint track “All For You” here.
“We spoke briefly about the narrative of the album before recording,” San recalls. “She was able to make each of the song’s characters her own, giving them a voice to a level that surpassed anything I could have ever imagined. Her singing can be sweet and nurturing, bold and powerful, or chilling and sinister, but it’s always Trixie Whitley. The emotional range she achieves on these tracks is just awe inspiring to me.“
Renown choreographer and theatre and film director Wim Vandekeybus invited Trixie Whitley to create the soundtracks for both TrapTown and TRACES. In TrapTown, Trixie also took on the role of Themis, one of the leading roles in the movie within the live performance.
TrapTown is a dazzling mixed media performance that evokes the limitless and obscure cosmos of the ancient souls, using dance, film, text and music to conceive a new modern-day mythology. Trixie delivered part of the soundtrack and also appears in the film. In TRACES, Wim Vandekeybus follows the traces he has left. He looks back on the intuitions from whence his search began: to the drama of impulses and instincts; to the game of energies and intensities. In the overwhelming Romanian nature, with Europe’s last primeval forests, Vandekeybus searches for traces that are older than man and his memory . . . for the “inner story” . . . for the story that unfolds before or beyond language and can only be told in the pulses of dance and music.