Leslie Winer – a pioneer of trip-hop and a much-admired songwriter by artists such as Grace Jones and Boy George – is to be celebrated by the Light In The Attic label with a new compilation

Courtesy of John Maybury

Leslie Winer is an enigmatic artist and cultural icon and now gets the appropriate treatment from Light In The Attic – a compilation nine years in the making. Winer is often cited as the grandmother of trip-hop, as well as the first androgynous super model. Her music, writing and poetry is groundbreaking and evident on the forthcoming selection – When I Hit You – You’ll Feel It.

Winer’s songs have been recorded by everyone from Grace Jones to Boy George, she was a close friend of William Burroughs and Jean-Michel Basquiat, she’s the final voice you hear on Sinead O’Connor’s debut album and the executor of the estate of Beat writer Herbert Huncke. Clearly an icon, with those connections, but music was Winer’s true passion. Check out Skin to trace the artists pioneering approach and influence on ’90s culture and beyond.

About 20 years ago, Winer moved to France to raise her five daughters as a single mum.

On her debut, Witch (1993), Winer blended the sampling of early hip-hop with dancehall basslines and programmed beats, while weaving effortless spoken-word vocals into the ambience. The album was a bold experiment and enlisted a number of talented musicians in the sessions, including Culture Club’s Helen Terry, Karl Bonnie of Renegade Soundwave, former Public Image Ltd. bassist Jah Wobble, and Kevin Mooney, as well as Marco Pirroni and Matthew Ashman (both of Adam and the Ants, among other acts).

Courtesy of Francois Dymant

Born to a teenage mother and sold for $10,000 in a black-market adoption when she was just hours old, Winer has always lived an unique life. She grew up in Boston with embracing the city’s lively jazz and folk scene in the ‘70s. She moved to New York for art school and gravitated towards a vibrant crowd of intellectuals, artists and radical thinkers.

During this time, Winer formed an unlikely friendship with writer and artist, William S. Burroughs and lived on-and-off with Basquiat. In London, she was a regular at Leigh Bowery’s underground club Taboo, where she met many of her collaborators, including filmmaker John Maybury, Kevin Mooney (of Adam and the Ants), and Boy George, who once declared that Winer “might just be the coolest woman on the planet!”

Spring Summer 2014, Leslie Winer, courtesy of Juergen Telle.

Winer’s striking looks also attracted fashion designers and photographers. Throughout the early ‘80s, she was an in-demand model and appeared in campaigns for Valentino, Christian Dior, and Yohji Yamamoto, also serving as a muse for a young Jean-Paul Gaultier, who later dubbed Winer “the first androgynous model.” She also posed for Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, and Pierre et Gilles, while gracing the covers of The Face, French and Italian editions of Vogue, and Mademoiselle.

Award-winning composer Max Richter provided the following thoughts to Wyndham Wallace for his compilation liner notes: “The world seems finally to be catching up to Leslie Winer, whose startling intelligence and singular vision shine through her copious recording life. A visionary commentator on the relationship between individuals and society in the mould of Blake or Woolf, Leslie Winer knows things that the culture at large just doesn’t understand yet, and she has never been afraid to let us know that.”

The 2-LP version is available in three special editions: standard (pressed on black wax), Light in the Attic 20th Anniversary Colour Edition (pressed on pink moon phase wax and available exclusively at LightInTheAttic.net), and a special colour edition (pressed on cloudy clear light blue wax and available at record stores).

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