Who: Toni Hill (vocals), Colin Luba (producer).
Sounds like: A neo-soul space opera.
For fans of: Little Dragon, Kid Cudi, Natasha Kmeto, Deltron 3030.
Why you care: Toni Hill's voice is a versatile instrument. In the decade-plus she's been singing in Portland, her plush alto has pillowed hip-hop records, soul records, jazz records—even a commercial for a Conair hair-coloring device. But until Colin Luba sent her beats for his new project, she'd never sang over anything that could be considered "electronic music." A longtime DJ and producer around town, Luba had been a fan of Hill's from her days performing with Seattle rap crew Oldominion and the duo Siren's Echo. He'd begun dabbling in spacier production and wanted "an amazing voice" to go over it. After getting over her initial hesitation, Hill got a babysitter for her three kids and decamped to Luba's studio in Mount Angel, Ore. "For me, the reason why I took it is it forced me out of my comfort zone," she says. Haunted Spaceships' introductory EP, Running 2 the Future, came together just about on the fly. Hill's breathy, ethereal coo lends a floating quality to Luba's cosmic blips and bloops, neon synths and hip-hop drums, creating a kind of weightless, galaxial R&B. With a full album forthcoming, what started as a one-off experiment has congealed into a real group. With a diverse résumé to her name, Hill is prepared to make the push. "There's a lot of things, in terms of a leap of faith or sacrifice, that I don't have to worry about, because I've done all that crap," Hill says. "So it's like, 'Let's just go for it.' The fear, or the unknown parts, are not discouraging to me anymore."
SEE IT: Haunted Spaceship plays Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash St., with Purr Gato and Analog Mistress, on Friday, June 13. 9:30 pm. $6. 21+.