Chicago’s Brandon Markell Holmes — featured on Grammy-nominated Gorillaz album Humanz — and Rogue Vogue (Jonathan Marks) announced a new collaborative EP, Garden. Out August 27 via toucan sounds, the Garden EP is a culmination of Marks’ dedication to the crafts of production and percussion, combining elements of Afro-pop, R&B, and house with deft musicianship and Holmes’ vocal prowess.
The entire EP is full of dance floor-ready cuts that also deal with the internal struggle of the human condition. Doubling as both an engaging, contemplative listen and a useful tool for any point during a night out, Garden is deep in more ways than one. Following the title track is “Gimme Time,” where lush synth pads and ricocheting drum hits sit on top of a driving house groove, Holmes’ heartfelt vocals adding an emotional heft to the slowburning track. “I Am the Night” ups the energy, bringing a sinister edge to a song that follows the narrative of the serpent in the garden, seducing people into doing things they wouldn’t normally do through persuasion & deceit. And rounding out the EP’s original cuts is “Someone Else,” a song about self-forgiveness with stabs of saxophone layered on top of a beat that seamlessly blurs the line between Afro-pop and Chicago house.
Brandon Markell Holmes is a formally trained theatre actor, working within themes of social observation and the symbiotic relationship between art and history. He’s also a musician working his own art into history, having appeared on the Grammy-nominated Gorillaz album Humanz and the album from Joey Waronker’s (Atoms for Peace) JOMORO, Blue Marble Sky. His debut album, The Museum of R&B, re-released in 2020 by Brooklyn-based label toucan sounds, fully displays the depth of Holmes’ artistic message. Complete with visuals and live performance, the album was originally performed as an immersive experience at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In Brandon’s words, “My prayer is to always create, speak and express with an authentic understanding of what I’m saying and why I’m saying it.”
Rogue Vogue was born shortly after Jonathan’s move to Chicago, where he quickly amassed an arsenal of analog synths and drum machines while also frequenting the city’s infamous underground dance-music nights at Smart Bar and the Boom Boom Room. With inspiration and production savvy at hand, his sultry and sophisticated sound was created, gracing stages in Europe and across the United States and recordings for an array of labels, including Deep & Disco, The House of Disco, and French Express.