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Underground dance music styles such as techno and footwork, along with field recordings, chamber music, and an out-of-joint approach to pop-flavored R&B, inform the sound of Smerz. The Copenhagen-based duo established their shapeshifting sound with two EPs before making their full-length debut with Believer in 2021.
Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt were involved with music as youngsters and attended high school together in their native Oslo, Norway, but they didn’t collaborate with one another until they relocated to Denmark to attend the University of Copenhagen. They became so focused on music — teaching themselves how to use Ableton for music production, and falling for music by the likes of DJ Rashad and Jessy Lanza — that they opted to suspend their studies. Within a couple years, they made their recorded debut with the woozy, nearly indecipherable “Because” (2016). Eight months after that, the track appeared beside six similarly atmospheric numbers for Okey (also 2016), an EP released on the Escho label. The larger XL Recordings signed Stoltenberg and Motzfeldt, digitally reissued the EP, and set the musicians up in their New York City-based XL Studios. A second short batch of warped tunes, Have Fun (2018), was completed shortly thereafter. The duo performed at festivals such as Moogfest and Mutek, and presented a selection of classical, folk, and ambient music on their monthly NTS Radio program. Several singles trickled out in 2020, and the duo’s full-length debut, Believer, appeared in 2021. ~ Andy Kellman