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INsiders Guide: Miynt, Shenna, Polartropica, Dysplay, Elyse Saunders, Cloe Wilder, James Vickery, Anna Akana, WESLEY, Troi Irons, Axel Mansoor

(Photo Credit: Andreas Ohman)

Stockholm artist Miynt has released her highly anticipated new EP titled, Stay On Your Mind. The EP is out now via B3SCI Records. Miynt produced much of the EP herself, with the majority of the mixing handled by Jake Aaron (Snail Mail, A$AP Rocky, Grizzly Bear, Solange).

Stay On Your Mind is an artful exploration of human psychology, a field Miynt has studied herself at Stockholm University. The title references the concept of wondering whose mind one stays on (or not) through the curious, complex moments of life. 

Describing the EP further, Miynt told Billboard, “I felt kind of free making this release…I guess my intent was to have no intent in a way. I knew I wanted to go away from the electronic sound and make/produce music more as I did when I started. I just didn’t want to force anything and I wanted to do it myself…I’ve studied psychology during the time I made most of the songs and I guess the weirdness of existence is a big inspiration for this album.”

Miynt’s 2019 output marks her official return to the spotlight since her 2016 debut EP. She kicked things off with “Vacation with Bond in south of France part 2,” a track soundtracking a James Bond movie that was never made, which drew love from outlets like Flaunt and KALTBLUT Mag.  “Peaches”followed, further drawing love from the likes of L’Officiel and Refinery29, who named it among their ‘New Music To Know.’ Single “Lucy In Disguise” later prompted The Line of Best Fit to proclaim that Miynt does, “a better job of creating a world in the mind of the listener in a sentence than many musicians achieve on an entire album.”

The EP has received KCRW radio support on Jason Bentley’s ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’ with “Peaches” making it onto the Top Ten list, as well as adds on SiriusXMU’s ‘Discovery’ and Spotify playlists such as Fresh Finds and All New Indie. Miynt’s unique blend of psych rock and grunge pop has captivated fans and critics since her 2016 debut project, Ep no. 1, which solidified her place among the top new artists to watch. The release boasted standout singles including “The Strangest Game,” “After The Gold Rush,” and “Cool,” which prompted love from outlets like The FADER, Stereogum, and SPIN and saw radio support from the likes of KCRWand Zane Lowe / Beats 1. Touting the EP, DIY described its tracklist as “glitter-flecked pop songs that blaze a completely different trail.” 

Since her debut EP, Miynt has stayed occupied in the Stockholm arts scene, playing various live shows and notably assembling a 4-piece band for the Miynt project whom she now plays with live. She has also delved into the world of analog production, which is present on much of the upcoming EP, boasting mostly live recorded instrumentals. Much of the upcoming EP is also self-produced, a skill that Miynt continues to hone. Fun fact: The building where the studio where much of the EP was written and produced was once used in the early 19th century as a radon-room for medical testing.

R&B/Pop sensation and multihyphenate Shenna is back with an empowering self-love anthem “Confident”.

Confident is an anthem I wanted to create for everyone– tall, short, skinny, curvy, and people of all different backgrounds. I used to listen to a lot of fun songs by Gwen Stefani and Fergie and my alter ego came out when I heard this beat. I knew right away I wanted to give it that type of fun feel and vibe. Imagine this as your theme song while going out on a Friday night.” – Shenna

Shenna is set to debut new music from her forthcoming EP with her live band at Mellrose Ballroom in New York on Wednesday, August 14. Shenna will also be performing at this year’s All Things Go Fall Classic in DC October 12-13.

Whimsical pop artist Polartropica is back with a brand new visual, which was just released via Billboard entitled ‘In Another Life’. The video depicts how true love has no boundaries, told in the narrative of the movie Grease, but in the modern day and defying gender norms. 

In the LGBTQ world, a popular slogan we use is “Love is Love” and I wanted to take a deeper dive into that.  I’ve always felt that, as humans we are all so interconnected, and sometimes we can even feel or have a bond with someone that we’ve never met before or come from a completely different religion, culture or upbringing”. 

Polartropica was just named ‘best indie pop artist’ by LA Weekly.

(Photo Credit: Gordon Yould/Julien Rubat)

Dysplay is comprised of Eric Scullin and Devin Hoffman, two young, accomplished musicians. Hoffman is a film and TV composer and former touring bassist for the likes of Awolnation. Scullin – vocalist for Dysplay – has co-produced and co-written with names like RZA (Wu Tang Clan, Kanye West) and Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons). Together, Dysplay creates an infectious and unique blend of 80’s sounds in the vein of George Michael, sprinkled with modern day alt-pop akin to Empire of the Sun.

(Photo Credit: Raven Kyle Photography)

Elyse Saunders is an independent, alt-country/pop recording artist who blends her small-town Ontario roots with the bright lights of Toronto and Nashville – captivating crowds with powerhouse vocals, a dynamic presence, and an interactive charm. Growing up, country music always felt like home for Elyse and with the support of her family early on, she found Cyril Rawson, a hit songwriter/producer (Keith Urban, Gretchen Wilson) from her
hometown. After recording her debut 2008 self-titled album with him in Nashville, she released a string of singles to Canadian radio and showcased her music during an opening spot for ACM artist Deric Ruttan in front of 10,000 attendees.

Over the next five years, Elyse would become an awards contender with a 2012 Toronto Independent Music Award nomination for Best Country Artist, five 2014 Country Music Association of Ontario Award nominations,
and a growing list of performance dates that has since grown to over 350 live shows that have included showcases at Canadian Music Week, Indie Week, and Canadian Country Music Week. Next, she teamed up with three-time CCMA/JUNO award winner Joel Feeney at the acclaimed Orange Lounge Studio for her second
album, 2015’s I’m On My Way. After more radio singles, an East Coast tour, and back-to-back MARTY (Mississauga Arts Awards) Nominations in 2015 and 2016, Elyse was inspired by the story of Equestrian Olympic medalist Jessica Phoenix and co-wrote her next radio single, “RISE” in 2017. Inviting listeners
to be unstoppable in their dreams, the single crossed-borders when Elyse was invited to perform it during the
pre-ESPY Awards Show in Los Angeles and it was picked up for televised placement during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

When it caught the ear of Toronto’s DJ Danny D, he created a remix that cracked the Canadian Hit 20
Countdown for 10 weeks and reached 60,000 streams on Spotify. A socially-conscious person by nature, Elyse Saunders has used her burgeoning career to bring attention to causes that matter to her. “Warm Coats, Warm Hearts – Coat Drive & Concert” – an annual benefit concert that has collected and distributed thousands of coats and cash donations to agencies that provide to children, men & women in need during the cold winter months. In 2016, The Keg Spirit Foundation recognized Elyse’s ongoing charitable efforts by presenting her with the Chairman Award.

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, Elyse wrote and personally financed the recording, the music video, and
the release of her 2018 single, “Me Too”. Using lyrical potency mixed with an equally gritty and elegant delivery,
the song continues to provide a voice for those with a personal struggle and a need to speak out – regardless of
gender, race or age. Since that time, Elyse has been busy writing and recording new music – beginning with 2019’s summer single “Feel You Leaving”, which will blaze the path for her boldest and mot liberated group of songs yet.

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 newest single, “I Don’t Wanna”.

Meet South London’s James Vickery who is the new face of UK R&B. With his COLORS video catching the attention of 13 million people in the first year as well as his partners of TH3RD BRAIN and Roc Nation. JV sold out the Jazz Cafe in London, had a peak slot at Glastonbury and has yet to even debut his live show in the US.

He is now thrilled to release his new single, “Something Good.” “Something Good is the first release in over a year, produced and written with Maths Time Joy (Mahalia, Gallant, Sinead Harnett). While JV makes the finishing touches to his debut album, JV wanted to give fans a song that echoes the sentiment for everything else he has in store – “You know we’re onto Something Good”. The track showcases Vickery’s soulful vocals and complex layered harmonies, on a smooth and sultry production which crescendos into a powerful finish.”

James says, “Something Good is a song that’s very personal to me, and written about a past relationship of mine.” It’s about that point in a relationship where everything feels really good, but you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what it is.”

Working on his debut album with everybody from Kenny Beats, Nate Fox, Pomo, NAO, SG Lewis and more, JV is going to hit the ground running with timeless, soulful R&B tunes that will ‘make you feel something’. JV’s unmistakeable voice and look combined with his incredible vision for how his voice fits into a song allows for a completely unique take on R&B despite being born deaf in his left ear, and landed him as one of Complex’s British R&B/Soul Artists to watch out for in 2019.

Creating consistent content including the new ‘LIVE From London series’ in which JV performs his songs with a full band in unique locations across his hometown, expect more content around his videos and his creation process.

Emmy nominated actress, producer, filmmaker, writer and musician, Anna Akana, has released another new song “Not My Proudest Moment” from her forthcoming album, expected later this year.   The track is out now and the music video is featured exclusively on Just Jared. “Not My Proudest Moment” is the fourth single she has released along with “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry,”“Alone Together” and “Intervention.”

Anna says, “This song was inspired by the time I woke up at 1am and somehow knew my boyfriend was cheating on me. So I biked over to his house and sure enough, I was right. Always listen to your intuition”

On her debut album, 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—Akanaturns all that pain into a message of strength and self-empowerment.

WESLEY is Anthony Anderson. An electropop artist from the frozen state of Minnesota, he moved to Los Angeles in 2014, to develop his musical style and songwriting. After years of juggling a 9-5 job with his passion for music, WESLEY realized that working in a corporation was not going to fulfill his drive to create and made the decision to focus solely on his music.

WESLEY’s music explores explosive 808’s and vibrant synths, hoping to bring back 90’s pop vocals by fusing it with new trap-pop and future bass style beats. Growing up listening to everything from Earth, Wind & Fire, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, and vintage rock’n’roll, WESLEY was inspired to create music covering a variety of different genres. 

Combining a raspy pop vocal with sampled, textured instrumentals, WESLEY crafts a place for others that lets them connect to the words and melodies. His songs are heavily driven by the inspiration of movement. WESLEY states, “I’ve always been someone who likes to move around and explore. I once had an acting coach tell me that I needed to make my car a mobile meditation center, so I just ‘meditated’ on good music and realized that some songs on a road brought out certain feelings that you can’t get anywhere else”.

WESLEY’s two new singles ‘Phantom Feeling’ and ‘Long Way Home’ are a collaboration with artist and producer Denny White (Julia Michaels, Tiesto, Ryan Tedder, Lukas Graham). The unique, fresh and bold sound takes listeners on a ride of emotion through passionate guitar riffs and melodic vocals. Thematically the new music comes from the feelings that WESLEY obtained during a new relationship, after his big shift to Los Angeles and step away from the 9-5 lifestyle. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Bazzi, Justin Timberlake, Post Malone and Khalid, WESLEY’s beats are packed with diverse samples to accompany his mellifluous voice and soundscapes. WESLEY reveals, “I think that these songs capture the time and headspace that I was in while I experienced that. Phantom Feeling truly captures the feeling of having something or someone so close to you that you feel like they/it are/is always there.”  

With the goal to encourage others to take a chance WESLEY advocates, “You really never know what will come of it. I think it’s a testament to words in the songs, the people I’ve been able to work with and meet that if you just take a chance you might surprise yourself”. ‘Phantom Feeling’ and ‘Long Way Home’ are slated for release summer 2019. 

Edgy rock musician Troi Irons new single, “Hold On To Your Heart” is out now via Veni Vidi Vici Sounds/ Platoon.

Troi says, “I think as a culture, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to succeed.  We achieve one thing and then immediately focus on the next. Or we work ourselves to the bone getting the thing and by the time we get it, we’re too mentally/emotionally exhausted to enjoy it. So HO2YH is about not losing the moment, whether you’re dreaming or achieving. Young or old – don’t lose heart at any moment because it’s not worth it.”

Keep a look out for more music throughout the year.

Emmy-nominated singer/songwriter Axel Mansoor has lived in five countries across four continents but currently calls Los Angeles home. His music features themes of transformation, self-love and self-compassion, as well as an underlying message that one need not rely on others to feel validated.

Growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community, combined with Mansoor’s diverse heritage, the musician has crafted a unique sound which showcases his colorful background. Despite his music sonically bursting with feel-good energy, the theme sparks a much deeper meaning, portraying the hardships of life, acknowledging the struggles and maintaining a glimmer of hope. Mansoor confides, “As a kid I had a really, really tough time and it was basically drilled into me that I was never enough. I spent most of my life hating myself, wishing I was someone else, and wishing I was different. I make the music I do because I want to give people all over the world the unconditional love and compassion I never got”.

Leading single ‘Paradise’ emphasizes the importance of looking up and being present. The uplifting track portrays how we all spend too much time chasing happiness and success without realizing it’s right in front of you. Mansoor has recently found a surge of creative energy and tranquility through meditation and mindfulness. This daily practice has impacted his life in so many positive ways and ‘Paradise’ is the perfect reminder to stay present. Featuring sun-soaked melodies, silky vocals and funky electronic soundscapes, the summer anthem is reminiscent of Rex Orange County,

Whereas ‘London Grey’ takes a polar opposite style, narrating the feeling of wanting to run back home and escape to somewhere where you don’t have to try so hard to be someone or something. Emitting a softer, darker mood with mellow guitars and yearning lyricism, ‘London Grey’ sets a melancholy tone.

Mansoor has seen success with his previous single “Wasted My Love” reaching #5 on Spotify’s US Viral 50 chart, receiving radio play from KCRW and garnering praise from several influential music blogs. “Talk To Me” was accompanied by an innovative vertical music video premiered by BuzzFeed on Snapchat to over 7 million viewers. Most notably, Mansoor was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of ‘Best Original Song in a Drama’ for his work on ABC’s General Hospital.

Song by song, the LA-based artist is showing listeners that it’s okay to make genuine and emotion-driven music without having to slap a label on it.

What do you think?

Written by Neill Frazer

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