“It’s true love technically but relatively it doesn’t matter” is one of the many mantras stuck with you after listening to the dreamy and trippy debut album by Lover Buffet. It is an estranged reflection on the fade out of a romantic relationship, one of the key themes that helped Just Fantasy take shape back in 2020. Now, the self-produced artist released said album a little more than two years after actually starting to write songs as they told me. “Ever since I was a young child I’ve loved music. I listened to it most of the time all my life, and I always wanted to become a musician and perform,” explains Lover Buffet. It wasn’t until 2020 when they finally began to learn how to compose and produce that the dream started to actually come true. The painful heartbreak, a raging pandemic, and the deep desire to find a creative outlet to process these emotions lead to this very special release.

Just Fantasy delivers eight sensual tracks between tropical melancholia, synthpop sensibility, and hazy psychedelic moments while also not shying away from catchy melodies. According to the artist, it were emotion-rich singers like Etta James, Cesária Évora, and Brenda Lee that inspired them just as 90s pop producers like Max Martin, classical composers like Eric Satie, and contemporary heroes like Blood Orange, Hector Gachan, and Diamond Café did.

“At the beginning of 2020 I was especially inspired by Okay Kaya’s “Dance Like U”, and “Le Soleil dans le monde” by Dominique Dumont. I would go to various libraries around Cape Town and sit there for hours and hours, analysing when each instrument came and went, finding out the BPM, the key, everything. All the technicalities of song-making were new to me, so I was starting from scratch and felt like I was learning a whole new language I already had an accent for.”

One crucial element that helped shape that blissful electronic sound of Just Fantasy was the Yamaha PSR 350 synth, the beloved favorite synth of Lover Buffet. “In the summer of 2019, I found it on eBay Kleinanzeigen for 20 Euros,” they explain. “I wasn’t bothered at all by how heavy it was to take home because it was my very first keyboard. The sounds that come out of there take me back to my childhood and generally have a nostalgic element of 80s and 90s music to them. I especially love the natural drama of the violin voice and the choir one, which you’ll hear often on the album. It also has MIDI output, so – don’t tell them – but I’ll be using that to explore digital instruments in a move towards a new soundscape.”

Mini Parties of Melancholia

As a fellow child of the 80s and 90s, I can totally sense that nostalgic element they are talking about. Just Fantasy pushes the right buttons, but the Berlin-based musician treats these sounds and moments with dignity in an honest attempt to transport the raw emotional power that lies within these songs. I had the pleasure of experiencing them live and it’s a truly joyful show that feels like a mini party, one that celebrates all the hard work Lover Buffet put into it as they explain: “When other people are celebrating or are moved by it and that energy is tangible – I feel incredibly lucky to experience that in real life. To feel like a deep part of you is being understood in the moment.”

With their special sound, Lover Buffet perfectly fits to the restless underground scene of Berlin district Neukölln, building around labels like Mansions & Millions and INTRNT EXPLRR (where Just Fantasy was released on) and places like the Tennis Bar which is also one of the artist’s favorite spots.

“It’s been truly heart-warming to have been welcomed with open arms into the DIY underground Neukölln music scene. I don’t know everyone but everyone I’ve met is generous with their sweetness and admiration. I think that’s really special in the art world where there’s often rather a want to be cool than kind.”

I recently went to a crowded Ultraflex gig at the packed basement of the Tennis Bar and I can tell you the love here for good pop is very much alive. It’s something we took for granted before the pandemic and should definitely not forget to appreciate even in an age of crises. “I think people realized during lockdown and this pandemic just how great it is to be able to go certain places,” Lover Buffet continues to reflect. “And right now I see it thriving with a new passionate force – a big comeback – with so many incredible acts to see perform, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”

Just Fantasy is out now on INTRNT EXPLRR and the perfect record to celebrate these moments.

Every Monday, the NBHAP staff brings an exciting new artist to your attention along with a 30-track-strong Introducing Playlist over on Spotify. Feel invited to follow the playlist and give these talents a spin.

This week’s picks include brand new music from artists like Okay Kaya, Dandy Deniz, Aka Kelzz.