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INsiders Guide: Léolo, Raquel Lily, Dougie F, Raz, Burning Pools, Fox Jackson, Ramiro Fauve, Phil., Abigail Ory, Harry Jay-Steele, Ransom FA, Erick Beau, Skyler Cocco, Serena Ryder

Léolo is the solo project of Léo Hamel, a musician active in the Montreal music scene since 2017 as a backing vocalist and arranger for various projects such as Heart streets, the Cirque du Soleil and Nicolet. His debut EP “Dreamroom” was released last December. Autonomously arranged and produced, the short album invites the listener into an introspective and colorful universe, which channels multiple genres such as jazz, electronica, pop and contemporary music. Showcasing rich arrangements and skillful vocal performances, the EP also draws its strength from its musicians, such as Misc and the Esca Quartet. Léolo is now working on his first full length album.

Born in the Philippines, raised in New York and currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Raquel Lily is an independent singer, songwriter, producer, guitarist and online personality. She streams music performance and a variety of content, including live vlogging (IRL Streaming), Just Chatting, Social Eating, gaming and cooking on Twitch. Graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, Raquel left the medical field and dove head first into her creative pursuit in music and began online streaming in 2017.
 

Her upcoming debut, full-length concept album, I’m Leaving, features eight songs, narrating a coming of age story about someone going through their 20’s. Raquel confides, “Everyone’s been broken from something. You smoke some weed, you fall in love, they turn out to be a fuckboy, you’re with someone shitty, you break up, you ghost them, you still love them, you resign, you meet someone new and there’s hope again.”

Raquel confesses how her songwriting is a cathartic, emotional purge. With the simple objective to guide listeners through an impassioned ride, her songs are driven by genuine experiences from an introspective and honest place. Inspired by the likes of Whitney Houston and old school R&B, Raquel wanted to capture a similar essence of synth-heavy, soul soaked music. Her love for old soul groups and classics, including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, also shines brightly throughout her music. 

After releasing part one of his long-awaited EP Without a Smile, this past Friday, acclaimed multi-millioned streamed rapper Dougie F unveils the official video to “Training Day.” For the lead single to his new EP, Without A Smile, Dougie pays homage to Denzel Washington’s classic role in ‘Training Day’ on what happens to be the film’s 19th anniversary, giving the streets a new anthem for the fall & beyond to “f**k up the spot” with.

On the new visual Dougie F says exclusively to Flaunt “Training Day is one of my favorite movies, Denzel is one of my favorite actors. I really watched the movie while working on the song trying to score certain scenes. Although we shot mid pandemic and had to work with less than we’d like, the video came out exactly how I intended.”

The release of Without a Smile continues to be met with praise as “Training Day” was featured on Spotify’s New Music FridayXXL, and Complex’s ‘Best New Music This Week.’ Lyrical Lemonade described the six-track offering as “a project that is bound to blow you away.” After the debut of his track “Luka/New President” on Travis Scott and Chase B’s .wav Radio show last week and today’s infectious release of “Training Day,” Dougie F shows no signs of slowing down as he continues to unleash music excellence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIng6sfGPB4&feature=emb_logo

Born and raised in Brampton, Ontario and of West Indian descent, Raz realized his passion for music and recording during his time at University of Western. He spent the last nine years dedicated to perfecting his songwriting and creating a unique sound that represents his experiences, personal growth and spirituality.

After graduating and turning down his acceptance to a Doctorate program, Raz moved to Germany where he toured for over 6 months. Now with almost a decade in the industry including writing with Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), a recent collaboration with Isam B of Outlandish, opening for Brother Ali, Hasan Minhaj, Mo Amer, Shawn Hook and Mustafa The Poet – his mixture of Hip-Hop and Stadium Rock creates an intimate world where emotion and his message are front and centre in every song.

Raz recently released two singles; “From the Fire” and “My World” featuring Isam B which garnered international attention racking up over 130k YouTube views and 70k Splays on Spotify. You can find his music on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and all other major streaming platforms.

Burning Pools, the new band led by former Smashing Pumpkins bassist Ginger Pooley, has been long in the making. She and husband Kristopher Pooley had been demoing songs showcasing Ginger’s penchant for empowering protest lyrics clothed in pop hooks, when they decided to reach out to guitarist Max Bernstein. He promptly added some tracks with a sub-octave fuzz permanently in the “on” position. Instantly, the three decided that Kris (a keyboard player by trade) would dust off his drum kit as this was not a synth operation —and a band was born. The band’s three members share a long list of studio and touring credits and collectively have worked with rock legends like Tom Morello, Siouxsie Sioux, Slash, Morrissey, Liz Phair, Scott Weiland, Tegan and Sara, and bands like Jane’s Addiction and Weezer. They’ve also had their hands in the pop world, though it is clear that its influence is positively nil. Their unique brand of noisy power-pop with doomy riffs charts a different sonic course, harkening more to the loud drum and guitar squalls that Kris and Ginger experienced as newlyweds on Smashing Pumpkins tours.

Their debut EP is a critique of the hierarchy of our value system. Ginger shares, “It’s nothing new for music to be a voice of criticism of our culture. That is the purpose of a lot of art. This is just my way of expressing my frustration with the priorities of modern society. Valuing money over everything, undervaluing women and people of color. Hopefully our songs make people who are of the same accord feel heard and supported. There is so much injustice in the world, we hope to be a part of the solution in some small way.”

Bands like Burning Pools are supposed to play shows — and to the list of the world’s upended plans of 2020 we add the dream of taking these songs beyond streaming platforms to the stage where a power trio can actually be one in real time. For now, Burning Pools will be releasing singles from their forthcoming EP.

https://www.instagram.com/burningpools/

https://twitter.com/GingerPooley

London based singer/songwriter Fox Jackson has been enamoured by music from as young as he can remember. Inspired by the likes of artists such as Earth Wind and Fire, Kool and the Gang and George Benson, his music blends funk-fuelled melodies, sexy vocals and dance-worthy beats, creating a vibrant and distinct sound which is undeniably his own.  

 His career in the entertainment industry began at just 11 years old, when he landed the lead role as Billy Elliot, in the hit West End musical, “Billy Elliot the Musical”. His time there solidified his desire to be on stage, while also pushing him to dive deeper into the world of music. Following multiple roles on both stage and TV, Fox soon made an easy transition to his first love and true calling, music. Discovering his own sound and style, Fox has since been crafting music, with the intention to make listeners smile. 

 His debut single “Behind Closed Doors” is an intoxicating blend of funk, soul and pop, featuring wah-wah guitars, a seductive bass line, effortless vocals and Vulfpeck-esque lo-fi drums. The groove infused track is reminiscent of Jamiroquai, with a dash of Daft Punk and a hint of Nile Rodgers. Produced by musician and friend Nick Burns, Fox shares, “We both have a love for Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams and what they brought to pop music by using jazz chords and melodies in pop songs. It’s what I have always gravitated to and as I quickly found out, so has Nick.” The mesmerising track cleverly combines the modern sounds of Tom Misch, with the old school production of Quincy Jones. 

“Behind Closed Doors” narrates the feeling of being shut out of a relationship. Fox confides, “I suppose that whenever you write music, it always reflects your internal mood and what you are going through at the time.” The song talks about pleading with your significant other to let you in and the desire to be more open with one another. Seeking influence from the soundtrack of the 1980’s movie ‘Soup For One’, which was entirely composed by Nile Rodgers, Fox wanted to create a similar hypnotic effect with his music. 

Fox’s heartfelt songwriting is built upon honesty and sincerity, with the musician explaining, “I feel as though my songwriting is a translation exercise. Translating the emotion I’m feeling at the time into words and music.” Hoping that his music will transport listeners to the golden age of funk, soul and disco, Fox is producing music for escapism and delivering something that will make you question which decade we are in.

https://twitter.com/foxjacksonkeen

https://www.facebook.com/Fox-Jackson

https://www.instagram.com/foxjackson/

Accomplished musician, designer, and artist Ramiro Fauve blends contemporary and traditional country in his new folk/country/rock double album, Where Rivers Cross Vols. 1 & 2, OUT OCTOBER 6TH, 2020. With the help of co-producer, Larry Goetz, Ramiro Fauve delivers a twenty-six track double album that seamlessly fuses his traditional country roots with a modern contemporary spin.

In songs such as “I Believe”, “Without You”, and “You Ain’t Lyin”, Ramiro Fauve taps into his inspiration from notable American singer-songwriters such as the founding father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, the Everly Brothers, and The Beatles. He reveals his vulnerable side in tracks like “Old Back Road” and “Cry River”, to send you on a lorn remembrance along the Mississippi.

Born in Argentina to the award-winning folk singer/songwriter Suni Paz (Smithsonian Folkways artist, NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award, CMN Magic Penny Award) and late filmmaker/musician Carlos Fernandez Fauvety; Fauve is a self-described Artician known for his creative direction in the unique 1920’s themed lounge, The Edison, as well as in the renovation of the historic cafe, Clifton’s in Downtown, Los Angeles. Fauve has painted countless mega-murals such as the “LA Marathon Year 2026” mural and album cover “Tupac Starry Night”, for Tupac Shakur‘s commemorative album, “R U Still Down?”.

Now, Ramiro Fauve is excited to share his new double album, Where Rivers Cross Vols. 1 & 2, on  October 6th, 2020. Be sure to follow Ramiro Fauve on social media for exclusives and music updates.

The journey wasn’t always easy for Phil., his mental fortitude and meteoric rise can be attributed to the perseverance gained when his family suddenly fell homeless and found themselves sleeping on a relative’s garage floor. The hardship dialed up his drive and appreciation for the arts, so he pushed himself even harder. The Charlotte-bred quadruple threat (because of course dude can dance too) then honed his talents at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. After graduation in 2018 he landed his first role with the Chicago company ensemble of Hamilton, playing various characters including it’s namesake Alexander Hamilton. 

Since then Phil. moved to NYC and found a successful acting career, with appearances on tv shows Chicago PD, Proven Innocent, and The Other Two and horror film Haunt.  While acting has taken the forefront of his rapidly evolving career, Phil. remains dedicated to his passion for music. His original songs pull from his Hip-Hop and R&B influences, From Lauryn Hill to John Legend to Drake and beyond. Phil.’s ability to effortlessly flow from confident rhymes to impassioned singing allows him to fuse his dualities into one artistic persona. 

A genre deviant, Ory set out to create her truest interpretation of what was going on inside of her head, and in doing so, made something, unlike anything she’d ever heard before. Unlike many of her peers, Ory cites the differences between her songs as the center of her EP. While each song has its own distinct sound, they all push confines and defy the classic pop sound. Weaving the eeriness of her small-town New England upbringing with her present-day perceptions, Ory’s music is familiar and innovative, binding the past with the present. Self-described as “weird-pop”, Ory has curated a unique sound all of her own.

East London based songwriter, guitarist and producer Harry Jay-Steele shares ‘Not Quite Like This’ – LISTEN TO NOT QUITE LIKE THIS HERE– another cut from his upcoming debut album, ‘Boundaries’ due for release on 4th December via eclectic audiophile label Naim Records – PRE-ORDER HERE

Recorded with Jordan Rakei’s co-producer and drummer Jim Macrae, the song is heavily influenced Afrobeats and tackles personal experiences close to the artist. “It’s a song in defiance against being labelled and judges but also about the fluidity of self”, explains Harry – a message amplified by the shifting effect of the artist’s auto-tuned vocals. Explaining the production work behind the track, “I used auto-tune on this track partly because it’s Afrobeats influence but also due to the chameleon-like tonal affect it has one my voice. I felt its shifting nature sat well with lyrical message.”

Forging a sound of his own, the Goldsmith Uni alumni is a master of blending his eclectic range of influences; elements of Soul, Indie, African and Electronic Music are weaved into a rich tapestry of percussive rhythms, tasteful guitar work and deft poeticism. His music is a sonically adventurous experience, a complex and layered sound palette skilfully tied around his distinctive vocals.

“It’s the rhythm you notice first. The way each part interlocks, erecting a sustained groove while continually shifting, continually evolving”, wrote Clash magazine in their Track of The Day’ feature for ‘Reach You’ – Steele’s debut single – which saw the talented musician featured as ‘Artist of The Day’ on the pages of Metro,, who claimed “it’s unusual to hear such diverse sounds on a debut record”, and interviewed by Wonderland magazine for their ‘New Noise’ feature Harry Jay-Steele has also been equally well received live being touted as one of the top 7 performances of Bestival by the Huffington Post, as well as free styling with Moses Boyd on his BBC 1Xtra residency and playing a coveted support slot for Grammy nominee and soul legend, Meshell Ndegeocello.

‘Not Quite Like This’, offers another glimpse into the music fusions and geographical crossroads found in Harry Jay-Steele upcoming album ‘Boundaries’.

When regarding the Scottish Rap scene, Ransom FA is currently the biggest name coming out of the north of the British Isles and has subsequently grown to be one of the most standout rappers in the current soundsphere.

They say it’s never too late to come home. Montreal artist Erick Beau knows this very well. After a successful 30-year career in law, Beau comes home to his true passion: music. He teamed up with Montreal producer Michael Benjoar, to co-produce his debut album, What It Takes, which he plans to release in May 2021. Beau releases “Coming Home”, his first single from the album, out today on all digital platforms.

To record the album, Beau recruited some of the top session musicians in Nashville, including drummer Hubert Payne, from country group Little Big Town, and multi-instrumentalist Andy Ellison on steel guitar, guitar and banjo. Due to the COVID pandemic, Beau recorded his guitar and vocals in Montreal while the other musicians recorded their tracks in Nashville. Beau also worked with Grammy nominee Eric Torres and Georgetown Mastering for the mixing and mastering of the tracks.

Erick Beau drops his new single, “Coming Home”, today from his debut album What It Takes, set to release in early 2021. Look out for more singles and music videos from the same album to roll out in the coming months.

Photo Credit: Dylan Mannarino

kyler Cocco invites us into her dream-like world as she takes a drive to clear her mind in the new music video for “The Drive.” In keeping with her DIY approach to music (she writes and produces all of her work), Skyler self-directed and edited the music video with a helping hand from cinematographer Nino Sammarone. Shot in and around the tristate area, the duo whipped around in their friend’s 1982 European Mustang IMSA (one of 7 ever made), shooting until the sun went down. “The music video is meant to feel as though you’re looking through a colorful lens at an intimate moment of self reflection,” Skyler writes. I wanted to illustrate the time spent alone with my thoughts while driving down empty roads and wandering through flower fields, knowing you’ll need to face some things when you get home.”

The glistening synth-pop single was released on September 25th to praise from the likes of UPROXX, idobi Radio, and Splice. Crafted in the midst of quarantine, “The Drive” started out as a demo built on a guitar sample from electro-pop trio MUNA’s Splice “World Saving Sample Pack.” Skyler was notified about a competition Splice was holding with this specific sample pack, and decided to submit what she was working on. A few days later, “The Drive” was selected as the winner of the competition, and with the encouragement of one of her favorite bands, Skyler got to work on finishing her new single.

Producing, writing, mixing, and performing all of her own tracks, Skyler Cocco is a true multi-hyphenate act. The born and raised New Yorker started experimenting with music at the age of eleven on her dad’s digital 8-track, and by the end of high school she had taught herself to play guitar, bass, and piano by ear. After releasing her 2017 debut album, Reverie, Skyler has continued to hone her sound with a multitude of single releases, racking up over 1M+ cumulative streams across her repertoire. Blending synth-pop, dream-pop and alternative rock influences beneath melodic, soulful vocals, Skyler draws listeners in with lyrics inspired from her own personal and musical journey as a 20-something queer woman.

Six-time Juno Award winner Serena Ryder is thrilled to release her new remix of her single “Candy” featuring Adria Kain that is out now and featured on XX.

With each single from her upcoming album — The Art of Falling Apart — Serena Ryder will release a remix featuring a special guest artist. Through these remixes, Serena and her collaborator will reimagine these tracks, bringing new life to them through unique sounds and voices. Like her collaboration with Adria Kain on the “Candy” track , collaborators include legendary icons including Melissa Etheridge and more to be announced will be featured as well. The remixes will be packaged into a special release along with the album in early 2021.

The 10-track project chronicles Serena’s years of struggle with mental health, and her journey from mental illness to wellness.  Serena debuted the track as part of the official Canada Day virtual celebrations, of which she also played co-host.

The Art of Falling Apart was written and recorded over just ten days. The track listing allows the listener to follow Serena’s creative process in a truly linear sense. Each song was recorded the day it was written, featuring powerfully raw, unprocessed vocals. “Candy” is the first song on the album, through which Serena begins to open up, unravelling her upbeat, sunny edges to show a softer, more vulnerable side.  The album is just a piece of a greater movement for Serena as a leader in mental health and wellness.

A longtime health and wellness advocate, Serena has worked with a variety of initiatives, including Bell Let’s Talk, WE Day, Unison Benevolent Fund, and in 2018 won the Margaret Trudeau Mental Health Advocacy Award. She has presented her keynote speech, also named The Art of Falling Apart to audiences across Canada. Recently, she launched The Art of Wellness — a free mindfulness program for artists and creatives. To learn more about The Art of Wellness, click here.

Serena Ryder is one of Canada’s most successful singer-songwriters.  In addition to co-hosting the televised JUNO Awards show, she has won 6 Juno Awards including Songwriter of the Year and two for Adult Alternative Album of the year.  Serena has also won a Canadian Screen Award for Achievement in Music – Original Song. She has performed as a feature artist on songs by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Great Lake Swimmers, Johnny Reid and Melissa Etheridge.  Serena Ryder was the first Canadian Artist to reach the #1 spot on the CBC Radio 2 Top 20 chart.  She has performed on an incredibly diverse number of stages, including the Luminato Festival, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the 2014 NBA All Star Game, the 2015 Pan Am Games Closing Ceremony and the 2018 Canadian Country Music Awards broadcast show.  For all the latest on Serena Ryder, sign up for her newsletter at serenaryder.online or follow her on Instagram or YouTube.

neillfrazer@hotmail.com

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Written by Neill Frazer

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