The Internet has definitely taken a hold of most of our lives, and ultimately it’s up to us to decide if we’re going to let it rule our lives, or embrace it and let it work for us. The latter is certainly the case for Unintended Strangers, an indie/folk duo comprising Robert Griffin in the US, and Chloe Danz, of New Zealand, who after a chance meeting online back in November 2017 decided to join forces as a musical project.
They discovered they had a musical chemistry, and a shared love of acoustic, pared back and honest music, so although still living in their respective countries, they started making music together, via emails, home recordings, voice notes and Skype.
Moving on they set on a new challenge: with each taking to a local studio, Unintentional Strangers started recording and sending tracks back and forth, until they had put together a complete body of work. Their debut single, ‘Beautiful Disaster’, was released on December 7, 2018, with their self titled first EP out on January 25 this year.
‘Nothing Is Forever’, from their EP, is a gentle folky track, featuring acoustic guitar, violin, and Chloe’s crisp clear vocals, supported by Robert. There’s a vibe of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper singing ‘Shallow’ – it’s a deeply emotive track, which tears at your heart strings as they sing of making the best of it, because nothing is forever – it’s a picture of a doomed relationship – there’s been hurt on both sides, but they’re going to give it a go “just for one night”. The violin adds even more melancholy to the track, and if you weren’t bawling already you will be when you reach the last third of the song, when the violin trembles and – as much as it’s possible for an instrument to do so – actually sounds like it’s crying.
Title track, ‘Beautiful Disaster’, is piano led, and no less moving than ‘Nothing Is Forever’, and that’s credit to Chloe and Robert’s incredible musical talents. The tremulous violin returns, and the duo’s vocals stir up every single emotion possible, as they tell the story of a woman who despite being beautiful and seemingly having it all, is nonetheless a disaster; lines about pills laying about, and you get the clear idea that she’s not wanting to deal with the pain anymore. Pictures on the wall tell the story of what had been before, but evidently, it’s no longer all joy. Stunning, sad, and sobering, it’s easy to forget that this has not been recorded with both artists together in the studio, but rather in completely different parts of the world. Incredible.
Unintended Strangers’ most recent single, ‘All I Do’, released on May 31 this year, is tinged with country as well as folk, with the vocals providing as much an instrumentation as the instruments themselves. The sadness is still there, but this time joined by anger at having to give and give and give with not so much returned. No less intense emotionally than the other tracks, ‘All I Do’ finishes with a note of exasperation and hopelessness, which leaves the listener wanting to know what happens next.
‘Forget’, also from the ‘Beautiful Disaster’ EP, comes with a lyric video, featuring a simple black and white landscape photo (we presume taken in Chloe Danz’s native New Zealand), over which the lyrics roll by, superimposed. Chloe’s and Robert’s vocals coalesce with the gentle acoustic guitar, as they sing of the struggle to forget a broken relationship – first love even – which “they say is hard to forget / but I want too forget you”
‘Forget’ is a gorgeous song, the melancholic vibe suited to Chloe’s vocals, and once again, a testimony to their talents.
In a slight change of direction, Unintended Strangers have also covered Dodie Clark’s song, ‘Human’, which she originally released in September last year. They’ve put their own spin on the track however; in Dodie’s original the instrumentation is more electric, while in the hands of Unintended Strangers it’s been given a more stripped back treatment, and comes with a beautiful video, in which we see a masked couple who find a bond in the things they have in common, rather than those which make them different. It’s the perfect analogy for Unintended Strangers, as two people from two completely different parts of the world have come together to make stunning music. Interspersed with the story are clips of Chloe and Robert in their independent studios, recording their individual parts. Seeing their faces is reflected at the end of the clip where the pair remove their masks and accept each other for who they are; the virtual masks which separate Chloe and Robert are taken off and we see they are united in their common musical bond.