HALCYON, the alternative-R&B project of singer-songwriter Sergio Roberts, unveils his first single of 2021, Amsterdam – a thundering, pulsating version of the track original performed by Australian group Tora. The cover presents an experimental sound for HALCYON, stepping away from his usual Blood Orange/Sampha-esque soulful indie R&B and into the world of rhythmical electronica. Amsterdam is the first new music since HALCYONs debut self-titled EP which was released on October 16th 2020.
For Sergio, Amsterdam is a song about that missing factor you yearn, that grounds you and keeps you from spiralling out of control:
“I’ve been a fan of Tora for a while now, with Amsterdam being one of my favourites songs of theirs. Not because it’s my home city, more so by the subject matter of the song: loneliness and isolation which I think everyone experiences at critical parts in their lives. During lockdown Tora asked fans to do a cover of one of their songs and it was a no brainer for me. I sent producers Lake Woozoo the track, came up with some
reference key words for the feel I was looking for and got to work. What came out was this danceable version which was seductive yet energetic. We received such good feedback (even from Tora themselves) on the track that we had no choice but to release it. If anything, I’d like people to take comfort in the message of the track and know that they’re not alone even though the world is making them feel that way in this moment in time.”
The name HALCYON originates from Greek mythology and refers to serene calmness. For Sergio it stands for nostalgia, a bit of recognition, a déjà vu to his carefree childhood spent on a snow-white sandy cove of the same name in Antigua. “It refers to something that you have felt before, but that you had forgotten. Until you are confronted with something - a voice, a song, a scent - that brings you back to that moment. That is what I also want with my music; it must bring the listener back to a certain moment or feeling."
Sergio was born in the Netherlands, to a Surinamese father and mother who comes from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. His parents met in Trinidad, moved to the Netherlands and then to Antigua. It’s on this island that Sergio comes into contact with music and singing as a boy at school. He joins the local Glee Club, teaches himself to sing by imitating international stars such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and regularly sings in church.
In his music, HALCYON looks to highlight the beautiful things of life with an eye for the purity that really make life meaningful. “I swim in melancholy and nostalgia. That can be a scent, a song, something someone said, a memory. I enjoy going back to a moment and seeing it in a different light. A kind of trip to a memory or moment. I hope that my music also gives that certain recognition to the listener. I write in a metaphorical,
poetic way, without it becoming too gimmicky. I want to tell things in a way that it's new. I like to work in contrasts, to be playful and to offer a different view of things. Call it a kind of magical realism. It’s the childlike and unrestrained essence I don’t want to lose. I'm looking for "magic and beauty in the mundane."
HALCYON made his musical debut on February 14th 2020 with the sweltering track Intermutual which was quickly followed by the soothing, intimate Tongue Tied in April. Sergio and his live band were soon invited into radio sessions for 3voor12 and 3FM. From there HALCYON was selected by Dutch publication OOR as one of the ‘Talents’ for new music tour Popronde which was due to take place in the Autumn before being rescheduled for Spring 2021. In June HALCYON released his version of the Billie Eilish track Ocean Eyes, first performed in a live session with Universal. Soon followed HALCYON performing his first live show to a sold out Cinetol in Amsterdam. Final EP single Neon Nights followed on August 21st and was accompanied by a video shot during the Amsterdam lockdown back in April. The single received high acclaim from UK online publications Ceasar Live N Loud, Reignland Magazine, Skopemagezine and Tinnitist. He has also been featured twice in Dutch LGBTQ+ lifestyle magazine WINQ.
The Art of Being Queer