When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire

When they collided in the city of Ivry-sur-Seine, just a stone’s throw from Paris, Neysa Mae Barnett and Emile Larroche weren’t just meeting—they were igniting. It was 2013, and they aimed for their music to stand alone as a genre-bending firebrand unlike anything else. Their first album as the duo UTO, 2022’s Touch The Lock, was an auditory island that marked the arrival of a singular sound—a glitchy, polyrhythmic, trip-hop manifesto. Now, When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire, their sophomore release, channels the energy of UK dance music into a reflection on the ambivalence, balance, and raw uncertainty of human existence.

The album title is taken from a Bill Callahan lyric that speaks to both owning your essence and the weariness of mere existence. UTO dreams of transcending the fleeting warmth of being human, yearning to become the fire itself. In a release post, they described the album as dealing with “romantic frustration bedridden with a big cold” and “trying to keep valuable things in pockets with holes.” This dance of displacement and elusive satisfaction plays out throughout the album, epitomized on lyrics of tracks like “Art&Life” (“Art and life / Strangely entwined / When I’m deeply in one / The other one shouts”) and “Bredouille” (“Most of the time I come back empty handed / and I like it this way”). It’s the perpetual incompleteness that fuels their fire.

Chaos and serenity are bedfellows in this album. Larroche’s leftfield electro beats morph into evocative acoustic codas, while Barnett’s vocals swing from sparse tenderness to urgent ferocity. Tracks like “2MOONS” captures this ethos perfectly, as does “Napkin,” a song that begins as a delicate whisper before its blissful piano chords abruptly give way to a cacophonous breakbeat that marks the album’s highlight. Every tender whisper and explosive beat on the album underscores the profound power in the smallest acts.

UTO’s music is a paradox—tender yet explosive, danceable yet serene, yearning yet resigned. They are eccentrics with festival-ready anthems, blending eclectic influences into a homespun yet epic tapestry. Their chemistry isn’t just impressive; it’s a living testament to the wild, beautiful chaos where life and art merge, forever intertwined, feeding off each other in an endless, fiery dance.

Listen/buy: Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify

Cover art for the album When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire by UTO