Stuart Cullen is a composer, songwriter, and producer from the West of England who is best known for his Pilote project. Texan expat Jonathan Brown is also known as Dusty Stray, an alt-folk-noir music project that has been a labor of love for him since 2009. Known together as VeldHans—an Englishman and an American in Amsterdam—they mine the musical riches of their respective countries with unusual musical landscapes and an eye for natural groove, exotic instruments, and hummable melody.
Our Editor's Pick for this month's contest—the title track from their latest release "The Becalming"—is built on a percussive shuffle and a washed-out vocal sample. This epic and ethereal opus covers a lot of aesthetic ground, as this enigmatic and creative duo incorporates skipping vinyl, flying saucers, and East Asian pipes into a dynamic musical experience that is unmistakably their own. VeldHans is inspired by musical greats like The Books and Penguin Café Orchestra, as well as early folk music from the 1920s and 30s. "The Becalming" delivers a soothing melodic respite along with a sense of spiritual awakening, and features the kind of inspiration and brightness that is rare in a world of mainstream copycats.
We are proud to feature VeldHans as the first Editor's Pick winner of our song contest in 2021.