UK-based soulful indie pop duo Karamelien present their debut single ‘Ascension Heights’, a laid-back and groovy summer tune inspired by and featuring Top Topham‘s track of the same name. While technically a new project, this soaring perfect pop offering actually has a rich and touching backstory.
Based in East Grinstead, Karamelien is made up of singer-songwriter Léanie Kaleido and guitarist Mark Foster – two long-time friends. The breezy heartened video, created by Eveshka Ghost, perfectly captures the elevated spirit of this song and its creators.
‘Ascension Heights’ samples the track of the same name by Léanie’s father Top Topham, the original founding guitarist of The Yardbirds before Eric Clapton assumed his place. After all, while he may have been ahead of his years musically, he was actually just 15 and his parents wanted him to finish his Art studies. Topham would eventually sign to Mike Vernon’s Blue Horizon record label as a solo artist. Much later, he also re-joined The Yardbirds for part of their 50th anniversary tour, which took place several years ago.
Produced by RIDE frontman Mark Gardener at OX4 Sound near Oxford, this song features an appearance by a special guest bassist – Mo Pleasure, formerly of Earth, Wind & Fire, whose CV also includes performances with Ray Charles, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, among others.
“I met Mark Foster in my twenties through a mutual friend, when he started to play my songs live with me. My first album’s title ‘Karamelien’ was made up as an anagram of both of our names’. I also like it as an artist name, so decided to go with it as Mark and I are now back playing together again,” says Léanie Kaleido.
“We took my quirky but melodic songwriting style and introduced a more bass and beats-driven sound á la Morcheeba, Portishead, Massive Attack, etc. I’m just focusing on having fun with my songs now and drawing on my influences from both indie and hip hop, but always influenced by classic songwriters. such as Elton John and Joan Armatrading.”
Indeed, this project brings Léanie Kaleido’s music into new exciting territory. More firmly in singer-songwriter territory was her 2021 critically acclaimed album ‘How To Weigh A Whale Without A Scale’, also produced by Mark Gardener at OX4 Sound.
“Ascension Heights’ is a really moving Father / Daughter work of beauty. A total pleasure and honour to work on… A hot tune for the hot summer for sure,” says Mark Gardener.
With guidance from Paul Statham (Dido, Simple Minds, Kylie Minogue, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Rachel Stevens, Natalie Imbruglia) in sampling her father’s track, Kaleido performed the pre-production work on this song from home, saying this “was a great feeling and allowed me more room to experiment with hip-hop beats”.
Written by Léanie Kaleido
Léanie Kaleido – vocals, piano, keys, programming, arrangements
Guitar and intro sample (with permission from Blue Horizon Records) from Top Topham’s ‘Ascension Heights’
Mark Foster – guitars
Mo Pleasure – bass
Recorded and produced by Mark Gardener at OX4 Sound
Additional production by Joolz Dunkley
Mastered by Turan Audio
Top Topham sample permitted by Blue Horizon Records.
Video and artist photography by Eveshka Ghost
”One of the best singles so far in 2022, this is a true work of beauty and professionalism, taking you to your very own ascension heights” ~ Amplify Music Magazine