Far from the predictable center of the radio dial lies 79.5, a station that may or may not be entirely real. The soundtrack shifts smoothly, from ’70s underground disco to addictive adult contemporary to sugary sweet girl pop.
At the controls is Kate Mattison, a singer-songwriter whose talents reach far beyond the typical picture generated by that generic job description. Skillfully using sophisticated jazz harmony to support addictive R&B hooks, Mattison’s songs are anything but generic, drawing comparisons to maestros like Patrice Rushen and the Mizell brothers but ultimately resisting easy categorization. Soul and psychedelia, romance and passion, innocence and experience — it all swirls together to create the unique sound of 79.5. Breaking onto the scene in 2012, a self-released 12-inch single named “Boogie/OOO” showed their hearts lay firmly in the dancefloor tradition, while live shows demonstrated they went a lot deeper than simple grooves. Not that they didn’t have groove in spades, with The New Yorker comparing them to such icons as ESG, the Jones Girls, and Donna Summer.
The band’s long-awaited followup single “Terrorize My Heart” dropped with a seismic boom in 2016, becoming a bonafide dancefloor filler and staple of DJ sets around the world. A firm favorite of tastemakers like Gilles Peterson, Q-Tip, and Questlove, who added it to his 100 Essential Songs You Should know playlist, it remains a sureshot whose stature as a modern classic is assured. Early 2019 saw the addition of singer and rapper Lola Adanna (Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens) to the lineup, and became a bright new chapter for founding member Mattison and longtime 79.5 saxophonist and flautist, Izaak Mills. The current lineup also includes Andrew Raposo (Midnight Magic, Hess is More) on bass and Caito Sanchez (Charles Bradley, Lee Fields) on drums. 79.5’s eponymous sophomore album was released in Spring of 2023, and with wide acclaim on Brooklyn label Razor-N-Tape. Aaron Frazer (Durand Jones & The Indications) and Mattison joined forces as co-producers on the project.