Yesterday Today Tomorrow
The French Connect
Pursuit Grooves is the alias of Vanese Smith, a Toronto-based producer, vocalist, graphic designer, and video artist whose genre-blurring music constantly explores unconventional sounds and rhythms.
Evolving from the abstract hip-hop of her early productions, releases such as 2011's Frantically Hopeful showcase her unique approach to building rhythms as well as her thoughtful lyrics.
Raised in the Washington, D.C. area and later based in Brooklyn, Smith started releasing instrumental hip-hop CD-Rs under the name Pursuit Grooves (an extension of her previous MC moniker, Pursuit) on her own What Rules imprint in 2006. Her off-kilter beats began attracting international attention, and soon tracks of hers appeared on compilations released by labels including Rush Hour and Brownswood. Dubstep DJ/producer Pinch signed Pursuit Grooves to his Tectonic label, and released the Fox Trot Mannerisms EP in 2010, followed by the full-length Frantically Hopeful in 2011. Both releases showcased Smith's forward-thinking production skills as well as her rapped and sung vocals touching on lyrical themes of technology, awareness, and consciousness, and explored a gray area between abstract hip-hop, post-dubstep, neo-soul, and left-field house. The releases were well-received by publications such as FACT Magazine and Resident Advisor, and received support from Hyperdub founder Kode9. In 2012, Smith released two EPs of cinematic ambient dub under her experimental alias 91 Fellows, in tribute to her late grandfather.
Following her relocation to Toronto, she began teaching music production classes specifically geared toward female students. She continued to self-release digital EPs and full-lengths, and completed remixes for the Knife and Planningtorock in 2013. Following 2015's Mythico, she took some time off from music-making in order to focus on graphic design work. She returned in 2018 with Felt Armour, which was followed by 2019's Bess, an album dedicated to the life and career of Bessie Coleman, the first black American female pilot. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi