“There are records that are immediately arresting. This is one of them” - Collected Sounds (about The Opposite Of)
“Cologne produces music that is majestic and dramatic, painted in stunning, bold strokes on an over-sized canvas.” - Heard Magazine (Australia)
(ASCAP) Multi-instrumentalist Renee Cologne first trained classically at the University of North Carolina in Greenville, N.C. before transferring and graduating magna cum laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston with a degree in Music Production and Engineering. She parlayed that knowledge and experience into creating music that she calls “soundscapes” - aural rooms with layer upon layer of texture that intend to offer a listener surprise and reward upon repeated listens.
Since taking NY by storm many years ago, she has been a featured performer at most of the Songwriting Circles and at top venues including Joe’s Pub (at the Public Theater), The Cutting Room, Mercury Lounge and Southpaw, to name a few. In 1994 the New York Foundation for the Arts awarded her their prestigious Artists’ Fellowship grant for Music Composition. This enabled her to start her own independent record label called Backdoor Records, release her debut CD entitled Aromatherapy, and build her first home studio. She has toured in promotion for her own music, as the drummer in the all-girl all-star band Big Panty, and as a background singer and guitar player for the inimitable MeatLoaf. These travels have taken her all over the country and to exotic places like Slovenia, Mexico and performing with MeatLoaf for the UK’s “Party in the Park” in Hyde Park, before 100,000 people - a career highlight.
As a composer and singer, she has written or performed for stage, dance and film. And her collection of a cappella choral pieces entitled Hymns to a Hungry Planet was a nod to her passion for the Bulgarian Women’s Choirs. But it was Cologne’s second release, The Opposite Of (2004), that finally brought together all of her influences into a tidy, powerful package. Playing many of the instruments herself, and honing her skills as a programmer and producer, The Opposite Of was a beautiful, complex and densely orchestrated record, featuring strings, horns, industrial beats and soaring melodies.
Her newest record, Rock & Roll Housewife, deals with what to do with the FedEx man, buying appliances at Sears and how best to lick the salt off the edge of a margarita. Though on first glance the album title and some of the song lyrics have a humorous bent, there is depth and heartbreak just below the surface. In particular, the song “Not Enough” is about losing a child, “Not for all the money in the world, in the Boreal not for all the trees, in the seven seas there’s a river wide, there’s a hole inside, without you love, it’s so Not Enough”.
Renee Cologne was chosen as THE ARTISTS FORUM “Artist of the Year 2007, and Rock & Roll Housewife was included on KGRL’s List of Influential CD’s 2007. With her tongue planted firmly in her cheek and her heart on her sleeve, this artist is one not to be missed.
Renee Cologne - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar, Laptop
Mike Stanzilis - Bass
Mary Wooten - Cello
Renee Cologne, Rock & Roll Housewife, 2007 Backdoor Records
Renee Cologne, The Opposite Of, 2003 Backdoor Records
Renee Cologne, Aromatherapy, 1994 Backdoor Records
Renee Cologne, Hymns for a Hungry Planet, 1998 - Collection of luscious, sensual neo-classical choral pieces inspired by the Bulgarian Women's Choirs
Michelle Lewis, Little Leviathon, 1999 Warner Brothers - Guest vocalist and co-writer "Ground Zero" on this debut release by pop artist and songwriting powerhouse Michelle Lewis
Big Panty - They were Big Panty, TBA Hooker's Union - To be released. Featuring "Secretary", "Lick Trip" and "Welcome to my World (Ode to Jodie Foster)"
Renee Cologne's Deep Pop
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There is surprising depth to Renee Cologne's glossy pop; she dishes out full compositions laced with...There is surprising depth to Renee Cologne's glossy pop; she dishes out full compositions laced with Eastern melodies and jazzy instrumentation. Indeed, The Opposite Of offers an overdriven take on mainstream pop, layering lush vocals amid a forest of trumpets, violins and cellos. The sophisticated compositions showcase Cologne's skills as a multi-instrumentalist -- she's responsible for almost all of the album's string arrangements, drum programming, keyboard, bass and guitar playing. Oh, and she manhandles the lion's share of the backing vocals, in addition to her lead-vocal duties.
Eastern melodies offer persistent and exotic nuances. For example, album opener "Tired" quietly stomps through a subdued verse and a swelling chorus to arrive at Turkish-sounding reed licks, anachronistic strings and industrial thumps. All the while, an ethereal keyboard line tremolos on the periphery. The effect is fresh and smart.
But Cologne's most intriguing efforts are those structured around electro beats, which rear their heads in a number of tracks, including the relatively straightforward "Sylvia Says" and "Mad Hatter". The latter number is the closest thing the record has to a big rocker, though in Cologne's vernacular that means the guitars compete with strings and layers upon layers of gorgeous vocal harmonies.
The record's most compelling song is "Nap", whose dry humor and IDM foundation combine to draw the listener into its tiny world of nursery-rhyme keys and sultry singing.
Of course, the album's bedrock is always straight pop, coating Cologne's experimentation with enough sugar to make almost all of the songs sweet, approaching unique. Indeed, Cologne's forays into electro and IDM are more of a sampling than a real fixation on those styles -- but fans of more progressive pop will be rewarded time and time again, listening to The Opposite Of and plumbing the depths of its intricate production.
Ink 19 Web-Zine
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On The Opposite Of pop vocalist Renee Cologne sings in front of an intriguing blend of drum programm...On The Opposite Of pop vocalist Renee Cologne sings in front of an intriguing blend of drum programming, a string section and horns. Matching these big, electronic beats to the synthesized and acoustic instruments gives a trip hop quality and smoky, after-hours feel to the music. What all this adds up to is the dramatic and theatric. It is no wonder that a promising singer-songwriter and producer that lists David Bowie and Freddie Mercury among her influences should produce music that is majestic and dramatic, painted in stunning, bold strokes on an over-sized canvas. (4 out of 5)
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There are records that are immediately arresting. This is one of them. Renee Cologne has a wide scre...There are records that are immediately arresting. This is one of them. Renee Cologne has a wide screen, luminous sound. Her second CD is a masterful work.
The opener "Tired" is a minor symphony with lush strings surrounding Cologne's vivid vocals. The cinematic feel continues with "Roses". The song strays into Portishead territory with big dramatic beats and an undulating melody. The laidback "Sylvia Says" is an evocative pop song. "Let Myself Alone" is bluesy and sinuous. Cologne has a grittier vocal delivery here. She seems to enjoy taking common blues phrases and doing her own spin on them. Techno-ish beats adorn "Nap" and make it a memorable song.
The Opposite Of is an inspired and complex record.
UK Issue 29
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Renee Cologne describes herself as "orchestral, electronic pop." I'd say that was doing herself down...Renee Cologne describes herself as "orchestral, electronic pop." I'd say that was doing herself down as the sound she has created on her debut album is far grander than that title suggests. Using both computer technology and live musicians, she has created ten stylistically diverse, anthemic pop songs.
She lists a huge number of influences from Björk to U2 to Jane Silberry to PJ Harvey to Bulgarian Women's Choirs (and that is quite a condensed list!). The most obvious influences come from Bjork and PJ Harvey in the grandiose arrangements and occasionally Renee manages to sound like the singer from Whale (in a good way).
Lyrically the album is crammed full of bitterness, carefully hidden under sweetly sung vocals. This only adds to the number of levels on which you can listen to this album - depending on how much attention you are paying to its different aspects it could make you feel happy, heartbroken, relaxed or just angry. It's all very theatrical (which is apparently something she plays on in her live shows) and very carefully constructed - both musically and lyrically.
Regular readers will probably be aware of my generally low opinion of things that arrive on my doorstep from US indie labels, which should only further drive home what an important and special album this is. 4/5 (AM)
Know I Said
Say She Sucks
One & Only
Color My World
What are you doing the rest of your life?
Both Sides Now
Truly Scrumptious (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
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