Portland's signature brand of melancholic indie rock marries the distinctive vocals of Jente Pironet and Sarah Pepels with dreamy electronic soundscapes in perfect harmony.
Sometime during the misty autumn of 2015, Jente collected a huge amount of song material, without a specific goal. Over the years, the songs were refreshed, adapted, rewritten and eventually gathered together then poured into a new creative receptacle by the name of Portland — a nod to the home of the late Elliot Smith. After a short period of experimentation, Portland gradually began to patent their dreamy, melancholic sound.
While Jente was completing his studies as a singer and songwriter at the PXL Music college in Hasselt, first-year student Sarah wandered down those same corridors one fateful day. The two shared the same student house but more importantly they shared the same interests and ideas about music. The "musical soulmates" found eachother and Portland soon became a duo. The song material was revisited and it quickly became clear that Jente and Sarah’s voices were a wonderful match. Along with Gill Princen on electronics and Arno De Bock on drums, the uniqueness of the duo's voices intertwines with the electronic elements.
The group had big ambitions from the start and set the bar high. They took part in Humo’s Rock Rally in 2016 and two years later they signed up for De Nieuwe Lichting. This Belgian radio competition run by Studio Brussels allowed the band to take a big step forward. They were crowned one of the three winners and their debut single "Pouring Rain" became an unexpected success on streaming platforms. The next records "Lucky Clover" and "Expectations" showed that Portland meant business — rich in dynamics and melody, with Jente and Sarah’s voices in harmony. A club tour followed and, in the summer of 2019, Portland was able to cross both Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop off their bucket list.
Over the rest of the summer, the band worked on their debut album with producer David Poltrock. While yet another heatwave raged outside, sweat was literally dripping from the walls in Poltrock Palladium (Poltrock’s own studio in Brussels) and in the DAFT studio in Malmedy too. More than 100 songs and separate ideas were carefully weighed up. There was plenty of experimentation with rhythms, types of sound and structure, as some songs were split up and then put together again.
Your Colours Will Stain, Portland's debut album, brings together 11 tunes that demonstrate perfectly who Portland is — from stylishly arranged and dreamy indie rock ("Lady Moon," "Ally Ally") to funky, danceable electropop ("You Misread Me") to pure piano ballads ("Pearls"). From grand and epic ("Expectations") to shamelessly poppy ("Killer’s Mind") to fragile and intimate ("Moonlit"), and sometimes all-encompassing (the overwhelming "Deadlines"), every song features these two voices — two incredible voices that pull on all the heartstrings. With Your Colours Will Stain, Portland has created a mature and confident album, one that ticks all the boxes and shows a band that's ready for the bigger stages.
Photo: Zeb Coune