INsiders Guide: KTJ & CARLY, Hitha, Ronley Teper, Raquel Lily, DYLYN, Harry Jay-Steele, Olive Louise, Romana, Peachy!, Madeleine Mayi, MIYNT, GIVĒON, Moxi, VINOK, Vector x Mastaa, Nils Frahm, AIRPORTS…
Dynamic pop duo KTJ & CARLY reflect on the loneliness of the holiday season on “Gift Me to You.” Amidst a life-altering pandemic, many of us are experiencing the holidays a little differently this year. Separated from those we love, confined to our homes, the sense of joy and togetherness can almost feel as though it’s gone entirely. Drifting on a soulful yet lonely melody, KTJ & CARLY encompass the ache of missing what once was. Their soaring vocals and stunning harmonies bring brightness to a track reminiscent of days spent surrounded by our loved ones, lost in the joy of Christmas. “Gift Me to You” is the perfect holiday single for 2020 — heartfelt, hopeful, and awash in happy memories experienced from a distance. Check out KTJ & CARLY’s debut Christmas single, “Gift Me to You.”
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Rising Teen Icon, Hitha, has released a new single “Lost” to close out 2020. This closely follows her previous single “We Will Last” that dropped in November and continues her effort to reach out to our global community to stand together in these trying times.
“‘Lost’ is meant to bring us together. Our world today is chaotic and divided. I hope ‘Lost’ helps everyone realize that there’s so much more, that we can be so much stronger if we stand together and support each other, rather than push each other away. We can help each other; we can build each other up instead of break each other down. ” – Hitha
While “We Will Last” was a motivational mantra to encourage her listeners to hang on and fight for a brighter tomorrow, “Lost” acknowledges the feelings of not knowing what to do in tough situations. Hitha seeks to let others her age know that their feelings are valid and voices deserve to be heard, and this single recognizes the struggle of finding what it is you want to do and say to move forward and make our world a better place. “Lost” was produced by Krunk-a-Delic, known for his work with artists such as Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Sean Paul, and many more.
Hailing from California, Hitha is a talented songwriter and musical performer. Her love for music started when she was just 4 years old, a child prodigy who got to experiment with diverse music styles growing up, ranging from Indian Classical to Modern Pop. She stands for her truth, converting a lifetime of hardships and experiences into uplifting songs that are inspiring and relatable to all types of people around the world. From appearing on the cover of Hollywood Weekly for her Top 40 hit, “Independent,” to performing internationally for crowds of young fans, Hitha uses her success to bring awareness to social issues relevant to her peers and beyond. Beautiful music and bold messages collide in Hitha’s songs, promising a better world by being optimistic, realistic, and overcoming adversity together.
Children at heart who love poetic, theatric, satiric yet at times serious storytelling alongside truly magical music and visuals, should prepare themselves for the surprising world of Ronley Teper. Born in South Africa and growing up in Toronto, she is an active composer, producer & multimedia artist. Teper invites a rotating roster of whom she calls The Lipliners, some of the finest musicians, animators and multimedia artists to publicly improvise around her storytelling and songwriting styles that cycle through many influences from folk, funk, jazz, cabaret, cinematic, art rock and pop musical sensibilities. This process has developed a series of collaborations and an ever flowing body of work. She has been described as reminiscent of classic artists including Tom Waits, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush and Frank Zappa and more recent contemporaries US Girls, PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple & St.Vincent
A musician and performance artist, Teper has been an active member in the arts scene for almost two decades. Over this time, she has recorded 5 independent LP’s; with an upcoming 6th “Everyone Loves A Good Story” (coming 2021) composed, and performed works for puppet theatre in both Summerworks and Fringe Festivals in Toronto and Montreal; in COVID times created & directed So Whatcha Doin? A Youtube series hosted by Sock Face Teper that explores music, art, friendship and philosophical questions, such as: What is your favourite snack? hosted by a sock remote. She has had musical placements in television, documentary films, and a few video games. She was a guest speaker at the first TEDx talks in Bangkok, Thailand. Teper has participated in a variety of collaborations, artist’s residencies and has toured regularly in Canada, Europe and abroad.
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.
Watch the “Only Us” video on YOUTUBE now.
East London based songwriter, guitarist and producer Harry Jay-Steele will release his upcoming debut album, ‘Boundaries’ on 4th December, via eclectic audiophile label Naim Records.
Defying easy categorisation, ‘Boundaries’ is equally influenced by the L.A beat scene including, Flying Lotus, Taylor Mc Ferrin and Gonjasufi, the UK post-dubstep electronic scene, as well as African artists such as Blue Note jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke, Mumford & Sons collaborator and Senegalese super star Baab Maal and Tinariwen. Steele worked with Jordan Rakei’s co-producer and drummer Jim Macrae to create the textured sound of the album, “by setting a bed of drums for each track. A lot of this was highly processed and often looped with live drum takes layered with samples which were sent into the modular sampler and filtered with effects”.
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. Talking about the narrative behind the album Steel explains; “’Boundaries’ speaks of confronting the self and challenging its limitations, searching for a sense of home or trying to get back to the feeling of it (Harry’s childhood home was called Boundary farm). It also alludes to the geographical crossroad of musical influence found on the record; from London to Lagos, Soweto to Chicago it’s all in there.”
First single ‘Wish For One Night’, with its anime-inspired animated video premiered on Clash, has a brooding darkness, which slips and slides into something more defiantly joyful and uplifting during the chorus. Elsewhere, second single, ‘Precious’, is as sumptuous piece of influenced-soul with a textured sound palette, skilfully tied around Steele warm vocals and vulnerable poeticism. On the Afrobeat influenced ‘Not Quite Like This’, the third track to be released as a single on, Steele talks about being labelled and the fluidity of self, a message amplified by the shifting effect of the artist’s auto-tuned 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 debut single saw the Norwich-born 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.
Olive Louise is a classically trained musician with an innate pop sensibility. The New York-based artist is a promising new voice in alt-pop, thoughtfully carving her own path through captivating storytelling and refreshing vulnerability.
Louise possesses the rare ability to delve deep into self-exploration and still emerge open-hearted, optimistic, and deeply empathetic. This gift, paired with her natural musicality, is ultimately what has drawn listeners to her. Her poetic-yet-digestible lyrics and haunting, airy soprano are a hypnotizing amalgamation of her classical roots and indie-pop influences. In the short time that she’s been releasing music, she has amassed a passionate fan base that recognizes and appreciates her talent and authenticity.
Growing up in Kings Point, New York (on the very estate that inspired F Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel The Great Gatsby), Louise spent her early years studying piano and violin under the tutelage of her mother, who was the lead pianist of the Long Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Her earliest memories include falling asleep to the sound of her mother’s playing and being allowed to leave for school only after mastering a Vivaldi concerto — inevitably, music is part of Louise’s molecular makeup.
Unfortunately, Louise’s dreamy childhood was cut short by the tragic passing of both of her parents. After this devastating loss, she turned to songwriting as a way to process her emotions, eventually recording a song at a studio in her hometown. The experience showed Louise that while she loved Vivaldi and Mozart, she was capable of creating something entirely her own.
Following a somewhat chaotic young adulthood and various unstable living situations, Louise began to pursue a career in singing and songwriting. After a brief stint at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Louise returned to New York City to finish her schooling at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).
After years of formal music training, feverish songwriting, and carefully crafting her unique sound, Louise released her first single, “Fool”, in October 2019. The pop-y self-love anthem introduced Louise as an innovative new voice with a fresh perspective. Earmilk praised the track’s “wistful soundscapes, gliding synths and rich layered vocals.”
With 2020 came the release of “Bad Things”, a catchy confessional exploring Louise’s battles with anxiety. The track’s music video, an Alice in Wonderland-esque depiction of her experiences in therapy as a child, prove Louise’s creative prowess and vision. It also received an outpouring of appreciation from fans who could relate to her struggles.
Now, Louise is ready to move forward into a new chapter. “It feels like I’ve actually processed a lot of things,” she says. “I can still be like, ‘Wow, I went through that’ but it doesn’t make me angry at anyone anymore. It just feels like there’s way more freedom in my writing.”
Louise’s capacity for self-reflection, along with her masterful understanding of her craft, are what make her a formidable voice in pop — one that will surely continue to inspire and uplift fans for years to come.
A self-taught multi-disciplinary artist – Romana experiments with several mediums to express her journey as a woman of colour in Toronto.
Romana is a singer/songwriter, painter, installation artist and experience designer. As an expressionist and artist, Romana feels that it is her responsibility to use her art as a platform for awareness. Her music specifically lends a voice to the issues and ideas that are important to her and the many diverse communities she belongs to. Romana’s music addresses identity, belonging and healing. Topics that are not often addressed in the mainstream, Romana’s messages are made accessible and easily consumable through smooth 90s R&B-inspired sounds. Her musical style is definitely a reflection of her experience growing up in a desi household in the 90s.
As an experience designer and installation artist, you can expect that her concert experiences will definitely be unique and truly something you have never experienced before. Her unique experiences and installations have already been featured in People Magazine, TorontoLife, VICE and the Toronto Star while her music was just recently featured in Rolling Stones IN. Romana is changing the way we view artists today and giving people everywhere permission to do it all.
Peachy! has released his latest single, “Blood!”: his third release of 2020, and the first teaser of Peachy!’s upcoming album set to release in Spring 2021.
“‘Blood!’ is about feeling betrayed by someone who was once a good friend. Often times, the people who hurt us the most are the people we’ve been closest to. I hope this track can reach others who might have felt this way and show them they aren’t alone.” – Peachy!
“Blood!” was entirely written, performed, produced, mixed, and mastered by Peachy! himself. In the early stages, the song was just a voice memo on his phone. The full track was recorded while secluded in a cabin alone in the Catskills with his phone off. “Blood!” is Peachy!’s third single since his album We Make Characters That Look Like Us To Feel Less Alone, and listeners can look forward to one other single in January 2021 before releasing the album.
Atlanta native, Peachy! began making music as a child starting at 8-years-old when he picked up his first instrument: the electric guitar. Always eager to learn more, Peachy! taught himself to play piano, bass guitar, and ukulele by the age of 14. When Peachy! began releasing music in 2017, he focused on instrumentals due to his upbringing in the underground hip-hop scene of Atlanta. He made his vocal debut with Ward Wills on the dark synth-pop single, “Drown with You” in 2018, and by Summer 2019, Peachy’s music catalog amassed over 60 million streams. His first track to make it big was “Falling For U,” featuring mxmtoon, created when Peachy! was between the ages of 15 and 16, and has since earned an RIAA Gold Record.
After graduating high school in Summer 2019, Peachy! rid himself of most material belongings and lived as a nomad and minimalist while traveling the globe. He visited 11 different countries while creating his debut album as a vocalist, We Make Characters That Look Like Us To Make Us Feel Less Alone. During his travels, he learned how to communicate in 3 other languages (French, Korean, and Polish to some extent), picking up a bit of Finnish and Swedish along the way. Now living in New York, Peachy! is currently working towards his newest album to be released in Spring 2021 with tracks in English and Korean.
In “ITRL” (In The Right Light,) Mayi is caught at the initial stage of trauma; an inevitable series of bereavement that occurs after losing someone to an untimely death. There is no right or wrong way to deal with such calamity, and it can be felt as Mayi traverses the universal experience of healing that can only be remedied with time. As a thoughtful and unapologetic writer with a voice as agile as it is soulful, Mayi’s blend of indie rock and warm synths are nostalgia-inducing and wistfully honest. After releasing two excellent EPs, 2017’s Just the Six of Us and 2018’s shy and touring across the UK and North America by van, live performance became an integral part of Mayi’s artistry. Her thrilling live performances are captured on some of YouTube’s most notable live music series such as Jam in the Van and So far Sounds.The leading single off of her LP, “love me,” has been described as an indie-rock anthem for unconditional love amidst a personal battle of self-doubt. Mayi followed up with “friendly fires,” which pays homage to the toll that mental illness can take on our closest relationships. Mayi delves further into these themes of introspection and grief on her debut album, due Valentine’s Day, 2021. 💔In her accession, Mayi is poised to take 2021 by the horns. Listen to her new single, ”ITRL” and check her out on socials at the links below.
Stockholm artist Miynt has released a brand new single titled “A bite of papaya,” out now via B3SCI Records. Listen to the track now here.
A psychedelic slice of indie dance-pop highlighting Miynt’s knack for understated, earworm melodies amidst textured production, she describes, “A bite of papaya is the result of a slow disco jam and too much fruit.”
Today’s new single follows October’s AA-side, “Give me palm trees and inner peace” / “Lovesong,” out now here along with a self-produced, stop motion video for “palm trees” here. Both the new single and October’s AA-side were self-written and co-produced by Miynt, with additional production by Karl Hovmark and mastering by Pete Lyman (St. Vincent, Halsey, Twin Peaks, Best Coast).
The AA-side release saw critical love including support from BBC Radio 1 / Jack Saunders, who named Miynt a ‘Future Artist’ as part of their ‘Next Wave’ series here.
Grammy nominated singer/songwriter GIVĒON releases his new holiday song “O Christmas Tree” exclusively with Apple Music.
The remake of this holiday classic is produced and arranged by Schyler O’Neal.
Listen HERE via Epic Records.
GIVĒON’s debut EP “Take Time” is also nominated for Best R&B Album at 2021 GRAMMY AWARDS.
The EP was released during height of the pandemic in March 2020 and yielded fan favorites such as “LIKE I WANT YOU,” “HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY,” “FAVORITE MISTAKE,” and more. He also incited widespread tastemaker applause. UPROXX and OkayPlayer touted TAKE TIME among “The Best Albums of 2020 So Far.” Not to mention, he joined forces with Drake for “Chicago Freestyle,” which generated 160 million Spotify streams and counting.
Revisit the project HERE via Epic Records.
VINOK is not just another indie-rock band, it’s a statement of authenticity and social change to create a new culture of justice in a land of unknown. Giving a voice for the marginalized and bluntly bringing to attention crucial problems of a global society is what the band is all about. Their topics range from disability rights to feminism, politics and religion. Yes, the Ukraine-based band’s indieness is a sound you haven’t heard before – it’s an unusual mix of experimental rock and indie art-pop spiced with notes of garage punk, pulp grunge and even hip-hop.
Their latest single “Elephant Girl” is a story of transformation and the spiritual awakening of a female person with a disability. The title of the song is in reference to Elephant Man, a true story of a person who was judged and maltreated exclusively because of his appearance. It is essential to remember that not all disabilities are visible to the eye but that does not mean they are not a reality.
Featuring strong, determined vocals, a foot-stomping rhythm section and crashing drums, “Elephant Girl” is a fierce, empowering anthem oozing with confidence and energy. Mixed by PDub Walton (Bjork, U2, Massive Attack, The Cure), and mastered by Jon Astley (The Who, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton), the track is reminiscent of Arcade Fire meets Florence Welch.
In the visuals, the band portray paradoxes: on one hand the persona has a seemingly strong voice yet remains unheard; the persona appears strong, super-powerful yet is helpless – a tragic victim. It’s one of the most voiceless conditions one can encounter, when everyone thinks you have a voice but in reality you are completely paralyzed. Take this a step further: now imagine a girl with a disability; her pain and feelings of powerlessness are unimaginable when those societal expectations are never achievable in her eyes. Nathalie shares, “With this song we want to give a voice especially to persons with disabilities and all those who feel like the outcasts of society.”
Taking inspiration from the likes of Stranger Things and Get Out, the video for “Elephant Girl” follows a similar theme. Ilya reveals, “once we see a drop of blood coming out of the characters’ noses, we are reminded of the reality of the pain that they are experiencing. It is as if they are so suppressed inside that their pain is literally bleeding out. Our video ends with a twist: after the blood drop streams from the persona’s nose she finally is able to sing aloud with the lyrics – showing that she is real and that there is hope to be heard”.
Lead vocalist and keyboardist Nathalie has practiced as a mental health professional and expressive arts therapist working extensively with people who witnessed a wide array of abuse, trauma and neglect, as well as people with disabilities, refugees, immigrants and many other minorities. As a journalist, VINOK’s drummer Ilya has witnessed the atrocities executed by authoritarian and corrupt regimes in Eastern Europe and the sheer poverty that resulted from them. The band’s virtuoso bassist Anton comes from war-torn eastern Ukraine and says, “Music is my salvation”. Formed only in February 2019, VINOK have already graced some of the biggest festivals in eastern Europe such as Ukraine’s Respublica Festival and Poland’s Slot Festival.
Epitomising the rich culture of their heritage through the imagery and lyricism Vector x Mastaa showcase their new DJ Magnum collaboration ‘No Worries’. Bringing an abundance of feel-good-energy straight to your speakers, as it blares with a seasoned myriad of instruments, from drum patterns to trumpet horns.
When Nils Frahm kicked off his world tour at Funkhaus Berlin in January 2018 to bring his highly acclaimed studio album All Melody to the stage, an ambitious journey was just to begin: Over the next two years, Frahm played more than 180 sold-out performances, including the Sydney Opera House, LA’s Disney Hall, the Barbican in London, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, and several big festival stages around the globe. Yet the stunning setting of Funkhaus Berlin, renowned for its vintage grandeur and outstanding acoustics, and also home to Frahm’s magnificent studio where All Melody was recorded, had occupied a unique place in the artist’s heart.
In December 2018, Nils Frahm eventually returned to Funkhaus Berlin to host another set of four shows, tickets sold out within hours. Frahm’s friend and film director Benoit Toulemonde — a collaborator since 2011 — captured the concerts on film, only using handheld cameras, and employing techniques he had mastered for the famous concert series La Blogotèque, which featured some of the world’s most popular artists.
Tripping with Nils Frahm is an illustration of Nils’s lauded ability as a composer and passionate live artist as well as the enchanting atmosphere of his captivating, and already legendary Funkhaus shows: An extraordinary musical trip – rare and exclusive, close and intimate, bringing a unique concert experience to the screen.
“It was about time to document my concerts in picture and sound, trying to freeze a moment of this period where my team and I were nomads, using any method of travel to play yet another show the next day. Maybe tonight is the night where everything works out perfectly and things fall into place? Normally things go wrong with concerts, but by combining our favorite moments of four performances, we were able to achieve what I was trying to do in these two years of touring: getting it right!
When you hear the applause on the end of the film you should know that I was smiling happily, being a tad proud and feeling blessed to share these moments with you.
Much love, Nils”
Tripping with Nils Frahm — the live album is out now on Erased Tapes.
The concert film with the same name is produced by Leiter in association with Plan B Entertainment and is out now via the curated online cinema MUBI.
Aaron Lee aka AIRPORTS defines DIY ALT-POP – Singing, writing, producing & engineering the majority of his songs as well as taking design & brand vision into his own hands.
This Australian one man army has begun to defy the laws of genre by drawing inspiration from his hip hop, punk rock past and packaging these infectious hooks into a digestible & polished pop offering. Without skimping on relatable & well-crafted lyricism, AIRPORTS takes listeners on a journey into his own self development, relationships & overcoming battles such as loss & life threatening illnesses.
His latest single “LOSER” is a bright and energetic bop which leans into his ever-evolving and often sarcastic social perspective. Taking sonic inspiration from his pop-punk roots but adding a modern electro-pop flare, “LOSER” details the love bombing stage of a hollow relationship that leaves him feeling less than impressed. AIRPORTS shares, “It’s when you look back and realise how bad a person made you feel for trying to love them, a fun & sarcastic take on the drama of it all”.
Recently highlighted by tastemaker media outlets such as Live Nation’s Ones To Watch, Wonderland, Popdust, PopularTV and Culture Collide; AIRPORTS has also gained spins by leading radio stations George FM, ZM, Triple J & Kiiss FM.
In the background Aaron Lee is also a sought after writer/producer who’s client list includes Multi-Platinum JPOP group ARASHI, award winning projects for viral artists and global brands such as Coca-Cola & Fanta.
https://www.instagram.com/AIRPORTSmusic/ 12k followers
Eighty Ninety — the NYC based alt-pop project of brothers Abner (vocals, production) and Harper (guitar, production) James — will release the official music video for their new single, “Better As Friends.” In keeping with the band’s musical style, the new music video is both cinematic and minimalist, juxtaposing the picturesque New York City skyline with intimate studio shots.
“Better as Friends” is a dreamy mix of contemporary pop and hazy chillwave production propelled by a driving pulse that culminates in a yearning, widescreen chorus complete with soaring melodies, lush arrangements and the band’s distinctive guitar work. Following the brothers’ previous release, “Happier,” “Better as Friends” is the second single from Eighty Ninety’s forthcoming sophomore EP, slated for release in 2021. The EP was created in collaboration with Grammy-nominated producer Gian Stone (Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Halsey, Dua Lipa).
Eighty Ninety first broke out with their hit 2016 single, “Three Thirty,” which climbed to #2 on Spotify’s Global Viral Charts and was closely followed by their debut EP Elizabeth. Since then, the duo’s music has garnered over 26 million streams, featured on numerous Spotify playlists (New Music Friday, Pop Rising, Indie Pop, Chill Vibes, Viral Hits, and many more) and was even hand-picked by Taylor Swift for her official Spotify playlist “Songs Taylor Loves.”
The NYC based duo’s songs fuse intimate storytelling, sticky melodies, and minimalist pop productions built on acoustic instruments and electronic sounds in a style they call “808s and telecasters” — a shorthand for both their music and their anything-goes mentality in the studio. “We let the emotional arc of the song, rather than any set of genre conventions, lead us to instruments and sounds,” the brothers say of their process.
Known for capturing the essence of an eternal summer, Florida native John K quietly cemented himself as an independent artist to watch in 2017 when he was handpicked as Elvis Duran’s “Artist of the Month,” allowing him to appear on the TODAY Show with a performance of his breakout single “OT.” Crediting his soulful vocals and effortless cool to influences ranging from Bill Withers and Donnie Hathaway to Jon Bellion, Ed Sheeran and Drake, he continued to make waves in 2019 by signing to Epic Records and releasing his if we never met EP, which landed him features with Billboard, Rolling Stone, Forbes and more. RIAA Platinum-certified single “if we never met” propelled him into 2020, with a version featuring Kelsea Ballerini and a return to the TODAY Show to perform the song. Garnering over 260 million streams, “if we never met” was followed by the heartfelt singles “6 months,” “happiness” and “cheap sunglasses” where he continued to stake out coveted real estate on top Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music playlists. Featuring those stand out singles and so much more, John K now presents his project, love + everything else.
Pretty has been a project of lead singer Torin Craig for a number of years, and has evolved into what it is now. Going through several line up changes in the process while playing many shows around Ontario, the band has finally settled into a much more mature and focused sound without losing touch of the madness psychedelic music is supposed to reflect. This song is a re-release of an old tune we thought we could do a much better job of, so we decided to give it another go while we recorded our album. We actually recorded this song live to 16 track tape in one take.
Multi-platinum artist, producer, and singer-songwriter Tyler Shaw comes bearing gifts with a cover of the Christmas classic “Maybe This Christmas” – originally by fellow Canadian Ron Sexsmith – via Sony Music.
Ahead of new music slated for 2020 and 2021, the nostalgic holiday song showcases Tyler Shaw’s smooth vocals that warm the heart like a cozy sweater on a cold winter day. Produced by Tyler himself, the rich harmonies and festive production instantly invoke all the feelings of the season and is a perfect addition to your holiday playlist.
There’s also no better time than now to remind your loved ones that you care for them and reevaluate your circle of family and friends. The lyrics to “Maybe This Christmas” builds on that sentiment, “Maybe this Christmas will mean something more. Maybe this year love will appear deeper than ever before. And maybe forgiveness will ask us to call someone we love, someone we’ve lost for reasons we can’t quite recall…”
At the start of lockdown this year, Tyler Shaw (along with Fefe Dobson) spearheaded ArtistsCAN, a collective artist initiative raising funds for COVID-19 relief in Canada. They gathered singers and musicians from across Canada featuring Justin Bieber, Michael Bublé, Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, Donovan Woods, Walk Off The Earth, and more, to cover “Lean on Me” with all proceeds from the single going directly to the Canadian Red Cross. Other notable names involved include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chris Boucher, Shay Mitchell, Trailer Park Boys, and more. The performance was featured on the history making national TV special Stronger Together: Tous Ensemble -the most-watched non-sports Canadian broadcast on record with audiences reaching 11.5M viewers. “Lean On Me” (ArtistsCAN) now has over 10M combined streams globally and racked up international attention in Billboard, Rolling Stone, USA Today, People, Stereogum, and many other high profile publications.
Heartfelt lyrics and emotive vocals have helped Jade Hilton evolve into her distinctive sound. The singer/songwriter fuses earthy folk melodies over lo-fi soundscapes. She began building a steady following by posting covers and originals on social media. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a full athletic scholarship, she moved back home to Toronto and began releasing music featuring her indie-folk sound with R&B-pop production. She has performed live on centre court at Rogers Cup Toronto, Virgin Mobile Mod Club, Fairmont Royal York Toronto, and at Ryerson University Frosh Week.
BINNY is a bedroom pop artist born and bred in Maryland. Having sung before he could even talk, BINNY’s musicality runs deep in his veins. Growing up in a family of musicians, he learned piano from the early age of six, before self-teaching the guitar and eventually onto songwriting and producing.
Leading on from the ocean-influenced production in “Deep End”, BINNY releases the strong and self-boosting “Prime.” Taking inspiration from underground and gritty pop stars such as Charli XCX, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, BINNY divulges “I felt like I was able to combine all of my favorite styles of music into one song.” “Prime” is a total completion of grime 808 bass sounds, to trap influenced drum beats and experimental pop, awe inspiringly written and produced by BINNY himself.
Mixed and Mastered by Benjamin Dunkerley, “Prime” encapsulates his bright sense of confidence and sass following his personal ‘glow up.’ Following struggles with low self-esteem in his teenage years, BINNY explains, “By the time I entered my 20s, I worked on finding peace within myself and started embracing everything about myself. I became more confident, outspoken, and creative.” Along with rap/spoken sounding elements and stunning vocal riffs, “Prime” harbors the complexity of BINNY’s imagination and skills with fresh, unexpected elements.
Admitting how both listening and writing music is equally therapeutic, BINNY hopes that by conveying his true emotions and thoughts may act as a form of medication for audiences. He also strives to represent Asian American’s in pop culture and mainstream music, something that he feels lacks recognition. He shares, “I hope to be a part of that change and be inspiration for other Asian Americans who want to pursue music.”
BINNY is also a fashion enthusiast, using style to express himself. The singer shares, “It’s also important for me that my music is translated visually in what I’m wearing.” Aside from songwriting, BINNY also grew up doing theater in school and took part in numerous productions. In college, he was a part of an award-winning a capella group that got to compete in the International Championships of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) on Broadway.
Sabriel (pronounced shä brē el), is a Las Vegas based singer, songwriter and producer whose goal is to explore vulnerability through her music. Her seductive neo-soul soaked sounds and unique, whimsical image are like nothing you’ve seen or heard before.
Her latest single “Love Again” was written, produced and recorded entirely by Sabriel. As a self-proclaimed introvert, the experience of recording alone in a makeshift closet studio in her bedroom, allowed the artist to flourish, playing around with new ideas and following her true path.
The song narrates hyper-awareness when entering a new relationship. Sabriel confides, “I’ve done a lot of self-work during the duration of the pandemic, with a huge focus on past and future relationships. I used to have a tendency to jump in quickly, ignoring any and all red flags. But moving forward, I refuse to lose myself in another person. So I’m carefully watching every step.” “Love Again” was the result of an online course Sabriel took about healing your relationships. The female-focused videos helped the artist learn about self-discovery, opening her up to new love, while maintaining a sense of confidence in her own life choices.
“Love Again” showcases some of the songwriters most honest work to date. Having previously hidden meanings of songs behind abstract metaphors, this time Sabriel wanted to embrace her feelings. She admits how the lyrics for the song came to her like a fantasy, sharing, “I was feeling sparkly and feminine and decided to embrace those feelings, rather than feel embarrassed by them because they didn’t feel like my usual somber self.” Having battled with finding the balance between both her feminine and masculine sides, the songwriter has come to embrace each side of the spectrum rather than be intimidated by their extremes.
Pulsating, steady, yet interesting beats, have you encapsulated while a kaleidoscope of dreamy melodies take you on a celestial journey. Sabriel shares how her influences are both inspired by music and spiritual elements, “I’m inspired by the genius works of Stevie Wonder and the ethereal guidance of Erykah Badu.” Alongside production that shimmers like stars are her stunning, ethereal vocals, like an echo from another world. Sabriel tells us, “I don’t purposely go for a certain sound, but I would hope that I could give people the same yummy chills and emotional clarity that I get from my favorite artists.” The overall song is an escape into a world of hypnotic magic.
Singer-songwriter Mabes shares her second extended play of the year, a post coming-of-age story that splendidly showcases the British artist’s poetic prowess. Entitled Too Young To Love and featuring new single “Catch 22” out now via The Other Songs, the 4 track EP is a testament to her ever-evolving folk and pop-forward sound. The new music arrives exactly one year after her debut album Wait & See and follows her Keeping The Noise Down EP, with both EPs amassing critical acclaim from the likes of 1883 Magazine, American Songwriter, Clash, Culture Collide, Earmilk, Euphoria, Ones To Watch, Sounds Like Nashville, and The Independent among others this year.
Kicking off with the title track, the introduction to the Too Young To Love EP captures the essence of steadfast, adolescent love and all its highs and lows. While Mabes creates an inviting atmosphere for the listener with her warm harmonies and signature string melodies, her lyrics mirror a personal discourse full of uncertainty. She questions, “When is it worth the fight through struggles? And when is it time to walk away? Is it love? Or are we just comfortable and too fearful of the hurt if we said goodbye? What is love? At 24, maybe I’m too inexperienced to know, maybe I’m too young to love…”
Rounded out by poignant tracks like “Danny” and the refined tenderness of “Caught Up,” we additionally see Mabes mix up the script by putting herself into the mindsets of several fictional characters. Mabes’ inspiration for “Danny” stems from her admiration for Laura Marling’s storytelling and is sung from the perspective of a military wife. She notes, “When I was younger, I would see many wars reported on the news. I always wondered how people in the armed forces and their families coped with the reality of the job. So in this case and for this song, the character I’ve invented is Danny, the soldier that left for war and doesn’t come home.” On the other hand, “Caught Up” was written at the start of lockdown, when so many around the world were kept apart from their family members and loved ones. Mabes says, “FaceTime and Zoom is great, but when you love and miss somebody, seeing them on a screen just isn’t the same as holding their hand or laying your head down on them.” In the video that launched alongside the song, Mabes embodies and honors the women that paved the way for artists like her around the world, notably iconic trailblazer Bobbie Gentry, who was one of the first female American singer-songwriters to compose her own original content.
KiNG MALA is the moniker of El Paso born, Los Angeles based alternative soul artist Areli Castro. Touching on themes such as lust, recklessness and badass femininity, KiNG MALA isn’t afraid to spill her guts. Setting out with the intention to create brave and unapologetic music, the bold and brazen artist is delivering her own distinct sound, just the way she wants it. Castro shares, “Thats really the inspiration for the name KiNG MALA, king cuz fuck being someone’s queen, and mala literally means “bad bitch” in spanish.”
KiNG MALA doesn’t hesitate in spilling her feelings. Her music narrates letting go of fear, being honest with yourself and those around you and ultimately living your truest self. Life is messy and we shouldn’t feel ashamed to show our emotions and speak our mind.
Her debut EP GEMiNi features six songs giving us an insight into who KiNG MALA really is. Castro shares, “When I listened to the songs when they were finally done, I realized that two distinct characters stood out to me. The version of myself that is powerful, confident and unapologetic (I like to think of this as my alter ego). But then there was this unexpected version of myself that started to appear the more I wrote which felt vulnerable, soft and honest. I realized that as different as each song is, the whole EP is just 2 sides of the same coin playing out over and over again, 2 versions of the same character. So that is the reason I chose the name gemini, to represent the balance and chaos between two halves of the same thing.”
Produced by Rob Auerbach and mastered by John Greenham (Billie Eilish, Sam Smith, Katy Perry, Banks), her music evokes a youthful energy while maintaining a musical sophistication.
KiNG MALA hopes her music may allow others to feel confident and cool, confiding, “I hope it helps people feel okay with what they feel, I’m a person with very intense feelings and it took me a long time to realize that that’s a gift not a weakness.” Raised in a hispanic home, the artist is passionate about supporting the LGBTQ+, POC and Indigenous communities and being open about mental health.
SoCal-based band We the Commas make a swift return following their debut SARB EP release with new single “The RZN” out now.
Written only 3 days after the George Floyd tragedy reignited protests against police misconduct and lack of accountability across the globe, the band of brothers came together and inked a sincere reflection on their experiences as young Black men. The track was never meant to see the light of day, in fact, it served as a cathartic personal exposition that brought the brothers closer together than ever before. Enlisting real live brass and string instrumentals to amplify the somber tone and message, the band’s poem reads: “In actuality, in history, it’s true we’ve always been oppressed and it’s the reason why I get depressed and the reason why I’m a mess… I’m singing to the heavens, if you hear me God, take my hand. God, if you’re in the sky, I think the world is on fire.”
We the Commas elaborate, “This song was our way to express the pain we were experiencing in the midst of the turmoil. We never planned on releasing it because it was just a song for us as brothers to hold onto. Long story short, about a month after the song was created we were getting haircuts and our barber randomly told us he heard a snippet of the song. He said that if even just a few people were touched by the song like he was, then it would have a huge impact. So here we are releasing it!”
When Banff folk/roots trio The Wardens recorded their new album Sold Out At The Ironwood they couldn’t have imagined that they would have to pivot and completely change their plans for promoting the record, set for release on January 29th, 2021.
For a band known for its captivating live show, not being able to play tour dates to support the new release was definitely not the best-case scenario. But the band decided to reframe their predicament and reflect on the incredible 10 years they’ve had of being independent musicians.
“We’ve played nearly 50 shows a year for the last five years all across western North America,” says vocalist/bassist Ray Schmidt. “We’ve done it with stubborn grit and determination, creating audiences where audiences don’t traditionally exist. We have travelled into the far away corners of rural western Canada and found people who want to hear our kind of music, and they come from miles around to see us. We played a show at Hoadley Hall, AB a while back, and it’s basically a community hall at a crossroads in central Alberta. By the time we got called onto stage, there were 300 people packed into the hall to hear us play. They may have come for the pie, but they stayed for The Wardens.”
And that’s what the new album Sold Out At The Ironwood is all about – it’s a set list for a live show, a story thread and an experience like The Wardens’ live shows, from the beginning to the end. It’s all about community. The community that The Wardens have created with their fans. And with live venues not able to sell out or even operate anymore, the trio provides a bright memory on the title track and first single, ‘Sold Out at the Ironwood’.
“I wrote this song after watching Tom Russell on stage at one of the premier venues in Alberta,” says vocalist/guitarist Bradley Bischoff. “It was a full house, and Tom – my Elvis – invited me to help him sing one of his songs.”
“There’s never been a war caused by kindness,” Jesse sings as the first line of his new song, “Brightside,” an overtly positive anthem that stands in stark contrast to the current global situation. Into today’s political climate truer words have perhaps never been spoken and it takes a certain type of artist to get it just right. A creative soul, dedicated to writing and making music, Jesse Roper has always stood out as someone on a mission to bring his piece of peace to the world. He has a story to tell and he won’t stop until he gets his message just right.
It took me the better part of a year to get the lyrics feeling good. There’s a fine line between cheesy and meaningful. I’m sure there’ll still be some folks out there who find it cheesy but that’s ok. Sometimes you have to let the message send itself. I feel lucky to live the life I live.
Jesse Roper is no stranger to the stage; a guitar phenom with a huge songwriting talent and a bent for live performance, he is a theatre level headliner on the west coast and stands out as one of a small number of Canadians quickly gaining international attention. From song placements on American Idol to a three thousand capacity headline performance, his growth is matched only by his positivity and charm. But what sets him apart is that it takes a special person to bring that message to others, an open, wise soul with just the right amount of uncontrollable spirit.
Or as they say in his home of small town Metchosin, British Columbia Canada, a real beauty.
Parisian indiepop group Hoorsees share “Videogames” in anticipation of their self-titled debut LP, due out on February 19th, 2021, via Kanine Records. The album is available for pre-order here, and also features the previously released single “Overdry”.
“Videogames” is a hazy, laid-back, cut that dives into the escapism of video gaming when facing emotional turmoil. This subject of melancholia is rarely far from the surface amongst the tracks that are collected on Hoorsees. It is, however, somewhat lightened by the shimmering guitars of Alex Delamard and Thomas Gachod, the sweet vocal interplay of Delamard and bassist Zoé Gilbert, and the gently insistent drive of Nicolas Conte’s drums.
The track is accompanied by a visual that Delamard cut using his mother’s old camcorder; the scenes shifting between a lazy afternoon in his Parisian apartment and a recording session in the south of France.
Crafting songs that are as personal as they are dynamic, Zoe Zobrist is an alt-rock singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas. Zoe’s new track “Fire” is out now with a music video featured on Culture Collide. Zoe has spent the past few years refining her sound and experimenting with different styles, ultimately leading to her unique blend of classically inspired alternative music. In her most recent single, “Fire”, Zoe explores the complexities of unconditional love.
“‘Fire’ is about the uncertainty of loving someone. Life happens and nothing is guaranteed but we choose someone anyways. It’s about how that doesn’t go away through difficult times. It’s such an incredible thing that we can see someone and be seen in each other’s entirety and stick through that.”
The record showcases Zobrist’s “old soul” songwriting ability, recorded in Los Angeles’ infamous Gold Diggers studio. Defiant, deliberate, and deeply personal, Zoe’s latest work is the musical embodiment of her very existence and personal journey to self-discovery. Watch the music video on YouTube and stream the song HERE.
Syrian African-American pop artist Shenna today releases her new single “Angel On The Tree”, an ode to those who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19 and throughout the year.
The jazz and R&B infused single opens with a smooth trumpet line that transforms into a rhythmic drum line over which Shenna showcases impressive vocal range. Sounding like a classical holiday song that’s been around for decades Shenna melds old with the new in a breathtaking single that is all too familiar.
Shenna about the track: “I wrote this song for a family friend who passed away mid this year and had her family in mind while writing knowing that it is really hard especially during the holidays. Witnessing all the tragedies of 2020, I wanted to dedicate this song to anyone that is missing someone this season and hope they find comfort knowing that their loved one lives in their heart.”
These singles follow her EP Blue Memories, that was lauded by fans and critics alike. The introspective and thoughtful EP grabbed the attention of The Washington Post, who also highlighted her appearance at DC’s All Things Go Fall Classic festival where she opened for Melanie Martinez.
Shenna has some new music and exciting announcements in the new year.
Kid$ixty an international emerging recording artist is wrapping up the 2020 year by releasing his final single of the year “Fell in Love”. A featured artist profile shared by Spotify via the hashtag #2020artistwrapped demonstrates Kid$ixty has received streams in the millions with 400k listeners in over 91 countries. Hailing from a small town in Russia, Kid$ixty has been able to incorporate his experiences and influences from various cultures and the many countries Kid$ixty has lived in into his artwork. His other tracks include “Gone”, “Make You Cry”, “Sadboy” and “Nasa” to name a few.
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 latest single “Woman” is a universal song about the power of women and the daily fight they face for equality. Ginger, the singer, sings from a place of power and defiance. She has faced many of the challenges that women deal with everyday in our patriarchal society and dares her challengers to bring it on. In the second verse she writes from her personal hardships. Hours after giving birth to her daughter, she was tasked with the responsibility of planning her own mother’s funeral, who passed away while Ginger was in labor. The males in her family were not up for the task, leaving her to both create life and bury life in the same week. These events had a profound effect on her. Though traumatizing, it helped her understand her power more deeply. The line, “Don’t you know what I can do?” is both personal and universal. Coming from a place of experience it also speaks to the antagonists women face everywhere around the world everyday. According to Ginger, this song proclaims, “I am strong. I am powerful. I can do anything. Don’t mess with me. I am Woman.”
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
Lani Renaldo is an artist, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles. Her passion and talent for songwriting began early on when she was one of six songwriters chosen to attend GRAMMY Camp at Converse Rubber Tracks in 2012. She then went on to study at USC’s Thornton School of Music, which further catapulted her musical education and career.
Lani’s latest music is written with the intention of being utterly relatable. Her upcoming EP NOHEARTBREAK2020 is an exploration of being in your 20’s. Entirely produced, written and performed by Lani herself, the EP is about accepting where you are in the moment and not being so hard on yourself. The musician reveals, “It’s for 20 somethings that are transitioning and going through a new phase in their life.” The EP touches on women and sexuality, emphasizing the significance of being comfortable with who you are, whatever that may be. Through unbearably honest lyrics, Lani’s goal is to show others the importance of self-acceptance and to encourage others to be themselves, be uncomfortable and be truthful.
NOHEARTBREAK2020 is inspired by artists ranging from the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Hayley Williams, to Post Malone and SZA. Also pulling influence from producers including Timbaland, Pharrell and Greg Kurstin, Lani shows us an insight into her love of the 80’s, with the EP emanating big drums and distorted guitars along with a vocoder.
Lani Renaldo has seen success performing with the likes of Alessia Cara at the AMA’s and opening for Halsey at The Shrine. Her collaboration on “Malibuu” with Matt Dimona topped Spotify’s Global 50 chart and currently has over six million streams. Constantly trying to evolve and understand her emotions, Lani uses music to be the outlet in which she expresses her discoveries, concluding “Do what you love, fuck the rest. If it doesn’t serve you, cut it out. Sometimes your truth will not match someone else and that’s ok. Misery isn’t worth the money. Follow your dreams.”
“[Forester] are special in a sea of electronic music. They are definitely ones to watch” – EARMILK
“A Range of Light, referring to the mountains of Northern California where most of the album was written, is a vibrant collection of stories turned to sound. The name also refers to the wide “range” of life experiences that shaped these songs. Strung together, the album tracks tell a story of being humbled by hardship and rising from the ashes to see life through a more beautiful lense.” – Forester on the album
Forester is an emerging indie electronic duo based in Los Angeles that blends acoustic instrumentation with electronic elements. The group, formed in 2019, is formed by Xander Carlson and David Parris who write, produce and sing. Their goal is to create music that creates a state of warmth for the listener, allowing for inspection and the desire to dance. In May 2020, they landed a major label deal with Palm Tree Records, a Sony Music joint venture co-founded by Kygo. With millions of streams already under their belt and an ethos that calls for an eyes-closed escape, Forester’s future is looking brighter than ever.
The duo were just made cover of Spotify’s Friday Cratediggers, which boasts 300K followers.
Would love to set something up with Outloud Culture if you guys dig the record!
Stream or Download A Range of Light: https://lnk.to/AROL