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INsiders Guide: Anna Akana, Sixteen Scandals, Laraw, Swimming with Bears, Cloe Wilder, Ragers, Rainer + Grimm, Mike Riley, Missing Words

On her debut music material, Anna Akana takes an unapologetic and uncompromising look at all the battles she’s faced throughout her life, from depression to abuse to toxic relationships. But with the same unstoppable spirit and magnetic presence she’s shown in her self-driven career as an actress, producer, filmmaker, and writer—as well as a social media superstar whose YouTube channel boasts over 2.5 million subscribers—Akana turns all that pain into a message of strength and self-empowerment.

With no limits to her artistry, she’s honed her sophisticated musicality while forging an astoundingly multifaceted career in nearly all corners of the entertainment industry. In 2011, she started a YouTube channel featuring her semi-autobiographical short films and sketches, and soon found breakout success as writer and star of the digital series Riley Rewind. Along with appearing in blockbuster movies like Ant-Man, she’s also landed recurring roles on shows like Comedy Central’s Corporate, launched a second digital series (Miss 2059), and served as the star and executive producer for YouTube Red’s Emmy nominated, Youth & Consequences. In addition, Akana made her debut as an author with the 2017 book So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters To My Little Sister, a Random House/Ballantine title now in development with Warner Bros. for series adaptation.

Sixteen Scandals is a loud, cheeky, and infectious three piece from Toronto, Canada. Their live performance can be summed up as “…a chaotic blast of catchy hooks that frequently spills off the stage, and tells a lot of dad jokes”. Since their debut in 2012, they have released 3 EP’s, a cassingle, and are set to release their second full length this fall.

Their new single “Middle C” is a loud, hooky, uptempo track.

“At the end of the day, the people you love will always matter more than money.

After losing my job, I decided to help out the family business. Never letting an opportunity go to waste, the visuals for my brand new track – “Pretty Necklace” – double as a makeshift commercial for my dad’s garage. I’m deeply passionate about fashion, and model occasionally for some of my favourite local brands. Up-and-coming designer @ray.anh.tuan custom-makes all of my outfits, including those worn in the “Pretty Necklace” video.

Thank you for taking the time to check out “Pretty Necklace.” I’ll be releasing my debut EP this fall, and playing more shows. Follow me on InstagramTwitter & Facebook for updates”. —LARAW

Pop n Roll,Austin based four-piece, Swimming with Bears, are thrilled to announce their new self-titled EP, to be released on September 13th via Cinematic Music Group/Bear Creek Records. To celebrate they have released the first single, “Don’t Think About it” is out now.

The band says, “‘Don’t think About’ it is definitely our feel good head banger that makes you want to stomp your feet and pump your arms. We just wanted to capture that feeling of being a kid in a bedroom, rocking out to your favorite song, and secretly wanting to show it off to the world.  You know…  that moment when the tennis racket you are strumming becomes a real guitar.”

On their new self-titled EP, Swimming With Bears deliver a batch of five songs that showcase the next chapter as a band: truth and escapism. But beneath the vulnerability and personal lyrics are upbeat and fun tracks that everyone can relate to.  It marks a period of major growth for Swimming With Bears, who spent the better part of the last year honing their craft in the writing room as well as on tour, highlighted by press like Nylon who praised them as “Swimming With Bears knows this and turned it into a glistening alt. rock anthem. Oh la la, indeed.” In bringing the new EP to life, they worked closely with producer Ryan Hadlock (produced for Lumineers, Vance Joy, Brandi Carlile), immersing themselves in a more thorough recording process than they ever attempted before.

Ryan says, “Swimming With Bears inspired me with great pop hooks and authentic rock vibes. A REAL band which is rare in the current musical climate, with a front man you just have to see live.”

Swimming With Bears are of Joe Perry (lead vocals/bass), Alec Conte (guitar/vocals), Jon Kerr (guitar/vocals) and Ryan Hannasch (drums/vocals).

Photo Credit: Nathan Groff

Dark/Pop’s newest powerhouse, Cloe Wilder, is a force to be reckoned with. Armed with incredibly powerful songwriting skills, in addition to a voice beyond her years, 13-year-old songstress Cloe crafts melancholic, yet fiercely relatable songs that touch the deepest parts of the human psyche. Championing the concept of accepting one’s mental health issues and embracing imperfection, she is set to become a revolution in her time, starting with her flawless debut, “Overthinking”, and carrying the torch with her brand single, “I Don’t Wanna”.

Art Credit: Jean Frederic

“We aren’t just a party. We can make poignant pop songs. This is one of them.💯 Stream “Billy Ocean” through your preferred platform. Watch our new “Billy Ocean” video on YouTube. 💯

On point flow + our trademark catchy hooks & melodies are on full display here.

We’ll be dropping tons of new tracks this year and touring big time, so make sure you stay in the know”.


Rainer + Grimm have been described as Toronto’s contemporary dance music response to the alternative R&B sound the city is known for. With industry credits for the likes of Drake, The Weeknd, French Montana, Swae Lee, and Allan Rayman, the duo are poised to push their unique sound to the masses like never before.

Their latest single, “All For You,” is a fun summer track about young love, blessed with the vocal talents of Kayla Diamond. You can stream and share on Spotify or SoundCloud now.

Mike Riley is a songwriter fond of big dogs and bigger guitars. He hasn’t let being born with a club foot in a small – shitty one store town or a divorce stop him from pursuing his passion for music. Early on, Riley picked up the guitar when all his friends were skateboarding – music was his way into the crowd. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Riley was a natural songwriter and soon dropped the Dashboard Confessional covers and started writing and recording in his high school bedroom.

His upcoming album Divorce is a collection of songs chronicling home-town reunions, marriage nuptials and their eventual demise. The songs are what come when you mix your own stories with the made-up bits you imagined could have been instead. The lead single “Drug Dealer” is written from the heart, dealing with the trials and tribulations of life and love. The genuine lyrics fit well over the folk-inspired rock track.

Missing Words has created a nine track album featuring a sea of pulsating synth melodies, lush guitar tones and hard hitting percussion. Entitled Moment To Moment, lead singer James Meays sings about overcoming struggles, lost love and addiction, as well as changing for a better purpose. The album is a true journey of self reflection and Missing Words paints the picture of someone who can find peace within. 

The process of recording Moment To Moment was no easy task with multiple recording sessions, and late nights spent in James’ studio. Mixing and mastering along with additional production with John Kunkel (The New Division) as well as Israel Medina at John’s studio in Los Angeles, created a true collaborative effort. The result is an ambitious synth-wave album full of an amalgamation of feelings from loss, conquering fears, love, depression, and change.

What do you think?

Written by Neill Frazer

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