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INsiders Guide: FYA FOX, Jtrapz, Ezra Jordan, AVIV, Jessica Lynn, Candice Hoyes, Brother., Sabriel, PAVE THE JUNGLE, Sierra Blax, Peter Wise, CRAVITY, Rebecca Hope…

Ireland’s hotly tipped alt-pop empress, FYA FOX flaunts her newfound independence in ‘Need It’, a hard-hitting dismissal that leaves no remorse. Traversing rolling hills of sparse, panoramic songwriting, FYA FOX is the exciting new prospect from Ireland spinning tightly wound yarns of brooding and emotive alt-pop. A classically trained vocalist straying beyond Ireland’s traditional country/folk scene, FYA’s influences span from Banks, Lana Del Rey and London Grammar. Returning from a slight breather after the recent and pulsating release ‘Sunset’, FOX’s new track, ‘Need It’ harnesses the singer out of a venomous relationship and into a life of liberty. The irresistible beats of ‘Need It’ wrap themselves around FYA’s sultry harmonies as she challenges her lover to admit their wrongdoings, before ultimately realising she’s better flying solo. “Your voice, I don’t wanna hear it / Your touch, I don’t wanna feel it” she commands in the track’s palpitating chorus as her self-confidence and independence rises now she’s unchained herself from all links of toxicity.
FYA FOX on the track: “Need It is infectious! On the way home from the studio I’ve been pumping this track through the speakers thinking, ‘I want people to hear this’. Have you ever been totally consumed after a literal 1 second distraction? Mute that notification, they aren’t worth it!”

The next chapter in Jtrapz has landed as he continues his non-stop music campaign this year. ‘Blue Therapy’ liberates a Drill infused track with the concept on what is expected of a man. Diversifying his topics across his singles, Jtrapz is growing. Flying the flag for Midlands’s Rap. Jtrapz has been residing in Northampton since he was 14 and has been acting on his passion throughout his tough upbringings. Father of 4 was in and out of care as a child and is doing it for his kids, a path out of the streets. Taking his West Indie influence to a government funded studio in his hometown, he has grown his lyrical and musical ability. Beginning 2021 with ‘Straight On Smoke’, a popular collaboration with artist JS, accolading nearly half a million views on the music video (YouTube). This new track ‘Blue Therapy’ remains in Drill parameters but experiments with an unprecedented message. Beginning the track with a female audio recording about what she “expects of a man” and this sets the topic off for the track. The beat has dramatic strings ringing around the powerful slapping 808’s. Combined with Jtrapz quick releasing bars, the track possesses a lot of rhythm and tells a story with Jtrapz remaining audible despite his rapid speed. The video compliments the theme perfectly, part narrative and part performative. A therapy session with actors and actresses layered with Jtrapz portraying his lyrics directly to the audience. The visuals also put image to the picture Jtrapz paints with his lyrics, enhancing the audiences understanding of the message he wants to represent. At the rate these quality releases Jtrapz is supplying, he is most certainly destined to create big waves this year. With further original ideas embedded in future tracks and the motivation from his children, Jtrapz evolution is not stopping anytime soon.

Ezra Jordan is an independant singer/songwriter from Toronto, Ontario. His music draws inspiration from Contemporary Pop, R&B, and Soul and he approaches songwriting with a focus on piano. Since his journey as an artist began, he has amassed over 250,000 views on YouTube, 5.5 million streams + on Spotify, and has charted on the radio in the US. Ezra’s most recent release, Cougars, perfectly encapsulates what made Ezra’s previous releases so special but at the same time signifies the closing of a chapter in Ezra’s career. For his sophomore EP, Ezra will be transitioning over into a more real, raw and emotional sound that will allow his fans to dive deep into his psyche and authentic self. This will be a new Ezra Jordan that no one has ever seen or heard before.

You know all of those warm and fuzzy first-time feelings you get as a teenager—the ones you wish you could hold on to forever? AVIV retrofits those emotions into her songs. The 15-year-old Toronto singer, songwriter, and multi- instrumentalist pens the kind of affecting and arresting D.I.Y. pop that’s both nostalgic and prescient (You could think of it like nineties alternative pop born post-social media). After generating millions of streams independently and receiving acclaim from Atwood Magazine and more, she continues to perfect this approach on a series of singles for Photo Finish Records. “I’m just a teenager who acts much older, still gets excited about little things, and really loves to over- analyze her emotions and put them into music,” she says. “I try to be true to myself with everything I do. The more AVIV the music is, the better.” AVIV grew up in a big family of four siblings, including her twin brother. Every Saturday, they went record shopping together on Queen Street in Toronto, picking up classics by Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, and more. “Most families went to the mall,” she smiles. “We went to the record store together.”

At six-years-old, she studied piano under “an old-fashioned teacher who scared me into practicing and getting good!” Around the same time, she developed her voice and eventually picked up guitar. Casual poetry transformed into songwriting as she regularly played her early compositions for friends and family. Throughout high school, she obsessed over the likes of Clairo, Lorde, and Lana Del Rey.
“They’re my three moms,” she laughs. Once the Pandemic hit, she found herself listening to more music than ever and, at the same time, writing as well. Working with her big brother’s friend Jackson Follemer as co-producer, she regularly took the train to Montreal to visit them at McGill University and started to record music in 2020. Following “Cookie Dough,” her independent single “Girls In Red” claimed coveted real estate on playlists such as “indie pop & chill” and eventually amassed hundreds of thousands of streams. “Frontlawn” and “Lonely Bitch” only increased her momentum with consistent organic growth.
“Music became a way to convey my emotions,” she admits. “Since I won’t even talk to my friends about a lot of these things, it’s an outlet for me to talk about things I don’t talk about.”

International country star Jessica Lynn releases her latest single, “Not Your Woman,” as a preview to her new EP, entitled Reimagined, out on September 17th, 2021. The EP consists of four songs previously released by the artist that she reworked as piano ballads. Born out of her wildly successful livestreams during the pandemic, the EP features Jessica on piano and vocals. Along with releasing her Reimagined EP on September 17th, Jessica will also release a mini-concert video the same day on Vevo/Youtube. After the pandemic forced Jessica to cancel her 100-city, 14-country tour, Jessica pivoted to doing weekly livestream performances on the piano for her hundreds of thousands of fans online. Many of her viewers challenged her to play different styles of music as well as different arrangements of her own songs. At the request of a UK fan, Jessica reworked her song, “Not Your Woman,” as a ballad on the spot. Jessica recalls, “Everyone in the stream urged me to eventually release it…and here we are!”

Jessica restructured three other previously released songs into lush piano ballads. In a recent interview with American Songwriter Magazine, the classically trained pianist shows a new depth in her artistry, both as a songwriter and musician. These stripped-down versions “invited the lyrical messaging to penetrate through in a meaningful way.”
Check out Jessica Lynn’s new remake of her original song, “Not Your Woman,” out now.

Candice Hoyes is a vocalist, composer, archivist and curator of a “mesmerizing range” (Vogue). The prolific singer and songwriter has been dubbed “an artist with the most eclectic and delicious voice ever” by JazzFM (UK) as she brings “Black history into the present” (NPR). Born to Jamaican parents, Candice Hoyes gravitated towards music at an early age. Influenced by jazz, 70’s and 90’s soul, and feminist icons found in her parents’ record collection as a kid, she began penning and performing her own interpretations of these classics. Her honey-dipped five-octave range and storyteller’s wit garnered recognition and she graced such stages including 2020 NYC JazzFest, Detroit Symphony, and the Blue Note as well as opening for the likes of Chaka Khan, Lalah Hathaway and Lin-Manuel Miranda to name a few. Her 2021-22 dates will include Carnegie Hall and UK’s We Out Here Fest and many others. Now Candice Hoyes is set to reveal an upcoming EP with each track unfolding like episodes on the journey into womanhood. Her acclaimed single, “Waiting for the World (Tired),” is an otherworldly flow on a Langston Hughes’ poem entitled “Tired” about societal accountability, while the single “Zora’s Moon” is a sensual and soulful expression paying tribute to Black girlhood. Featuring a sample of a raucous 1943 radio conversation with feminist icon Zora Neale Hurston, the single is a view into the trailblazer’s legacy from a contemporary perch. The “Zora’s Moon-Natasha Diggs Remix” is an invigorating dance take on her signature jazz meets soul sound. Featuring funk-fueled guitars, 90’s house inspired landscapes and pulsating electronic beats, the remix is the perfect sultry reclamation. Candice enlisted the help of Natasha Diggs, one of the most sought-after DJs in New York City and the world, to add her imaginative take on “Zora’s Moon.” Her highly-anticipated EP is co-written with GRAMMY-award winning pianist, Sullivan Fortner (Paul Simon, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Dianne Reeves) and produced by GRAMMY-award winning multi-instrumentalist Casey Benjamin (Anderson .Paak, Robert Glasper, Q-Tip). It also features performances by vibraphonist Joel Ross (Marquis Hill, Makaya McCraven), trumpeter Keyon Harrold (Nas), Chiara Fasi (Solange).

Photo Credit // Savannah Mckenzie

Brother. is an indie alternative band based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Bringing together an eclectic sound of energetic bass lines, catchy soundscapes and heavy-laden harmonies, band members Chuck Emery, Nathan Standage, Erika Goodwin, Scott Knutson and Elias Pratt deliver an infectiously charismatic, laid-back sound. Their latest single “Goodnight Girl” is described as their first official love song. Written about a spouse, the track touches on their deep love and ability to be a light for one another, no matter what dark times, surprises and travels lie ahead. The title “Goodnight Girl” was inspired by the married couple’s goodnight routine, brimming with an appreciation for each other and reinforcing their love. Emery shares, “I wanted this song to not only be for my wife, but for everyone in love or in the process of searching for it. Love comes in many shapes and forms but when you feel it you know it’s love. I hope everyone finds that person who they never have to say goodbye to.”

Produced, recorded and mixed by Emery, the laid-back aura has a vintage 90s twang, making the tune feel nostalgic and dreamy. With classic pop synths, crying lead guitar, an array of amorous guitar chords and a chilled-out beat, “Goodnight Girl” is the perfect song to drift deeply into feelings of passion and adoration. Aiming for a more cryptic approach, the record still punches a raw hit of honesty and vulnerability wrapped up in a hazy Brother. soundscape.

The five-piece band are no stranger to being on the road, having toured through the States, London and Paris. Alongside the touring hustle and bustle, Brother. have had their music placed on popular TV shows including Teen Mom 2, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and Nancy Drew.

Sabriel (pronounced shä brē el), is a Las Vegas-based singer, songwriter and producer, whose goal is to explore vulnerability through her music. Her neo-soul soaked sounds and unique, whimsical image are like nothing you’ve seen or heard before. “The Flame” is the latest single to erupt from the volcanic kaleidoscope of creativity in the lead up to Sabriel’s upcoming EP. As a tribute to her child self (shown as the single artwork), Sabriel finds comfort in the image and her memories, knowing she is fulfilling what she has dreamt of doing from a very young age; “She has been my #1 inspiration for the past year.” Sabriel explains, “This song in particular doubles as affirmations and reminders to myself for when I’m not feeling confident. Songs are so permanent, so I’m trying to squeeze in as much magic into them as I can.”

Floating into a tunnel of alternative, neo-soul magic, “The Flame” takes a heavy lean onto the percussion, vocal melodies and harmonies. The result is a fiery, powerful track that emits an uplifting, feel-good soundscape. Minimal in its range of production, yet complex in its layers, Sabriel’s soulful, rich vocals give a timeless sense to the melodies, as she finds inspiration in the music she admired as a child. “The Flame” is both playful and steady in its maturity and wisdom. The upcoming EP will showcase a collection of reflections on her journey of self-identity and growth. Hoping to show a more vulnerable side and searching for more meaning and compassion in her new tunes, the EP will be honest and raw, as she looks through new perspectives. Sabriel shares, “I want to achieve vulnerability through these songs, so that others can have a better understanding of their own experiences too.”

Fighting fit and in fervent form – PAVE THE JUNGLE – are back with their vital new single: “Picture of Health”. Mixed by Spring King / Dead Nature maestro Tarek Musa, it’s a single that finds the Newcastle duo’s creativity in rude health and packing an unstoppable punch. Bleeding in the same vein of uncompromising alt/rock duos from Blood Red Shoes to Deap Valley to Honeyblood and on; what the pairing of Rachael Whittle and Scott Jeffery may lack in personnel, they more than make up for in decibels. New single “Picture of Health” is a fine case in point. Through gutsy sonic thrash and a devil-may-care attitude, the duo put forward a track of incisive introspection that finds vocalist Rachael opening-up mental scars about her own underlying health issues. “The lyrics here are probably some of my most personal… I write a lot about the health issues I experience; it’s almost as though once I’ve written about it I can detach myself from it. Like the negativity is purged from my system.” She says. “I guess many people can relate heavily to the chorus line: “I am wasting time I know; more so than ever”. We all procrastinate sometimes, even when we know the thing that needs doing is ultimately good for us!”

Born and raised on the island of Kaua’i, singer-songwriter Sierra Blax is an artist that brings a fresh taste of soul, chill-pop & R&B to her music. Being raised on the islands, you’ll find from time to time, Sierra uses her landscape of palm trees and ocean breezes as inspiration for her lyrics and melodies that gives the ear this elated feeling. It is no surprise that she grew up honing her craft through weekly singing lessons with local voice teacher, Debbi Scarpell. It was then when she was introduced to Motown artists and soul music that helped shape her sound she has today. After high school, she attended the music program at the University of Hawaii and studied vocal performance. She described her experience in music school as difficult and uneasy. “I had to learn how to sing a completely different way than how I was taught – there were moments I really wanted to give up.” Fortunately, for Blax she didn’t. During these times, Sierra grew inspiration to write songs about the wild experiences she would encounter in her early 20’s. “I wanted to write songs that were unapologetic, fun and audacious; we are so used to female singers sugar coating things, and I wanted to represent that female empowerment in my songwriting.” Blax wants to show people that it’s ok to make mistakes, embrace it and turn it into a comedy and art.
Today she is still inspired by the classics that shaped her, but she is also embracing what the new age R&B sound is molding into today. “Although I am inspired by power-house singers like Jazmine Sullivan and Amy Winehouse, I am really loving how singers today are using the airy and subtle sides of their voices. This new style has definitely ignited a change for me and my sound. It forced me to use my soft/ falsetto voice more often and helped me discover new melodies that are digestible to the listener.” You can find artists such as Snoh Alegra, Jungle, H.e.r., Nao, and Tame Impala on her Spotify playlist. Currently residing in Los Angeles, she is spending a lot of time in the studio writing and creating original music. Her last single, “INYIM” (It’s not you it’s me) is a playful yet sassy tune that tells a story of all the dysfunctions that Blax portrays. If you’re into astrology, it’s basically based on the life of a scorpio and all its glory. The production is hands down a vibe with a funky bassline and grove. Sierra’s upcoming single, “Box of Chocolates,” explores the human experience as it’s connected to nature, and ultimately finding peace and love within yourself. Featuring a mixture of fantasy and reality, the song is drenched in shimmery vocals, reverbs of the electric guitar, and elements of her signature soulful sound. “You can think of ‘Box of Chocolates’ as a love letter to one’s higher self. Through times of sorrow and pain you eventually have to come to a place of acceptance and love; this song represents the navigation through all those emotions,” confides Sierra.

Peter Wise is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer based out of Brooklyn, New York. His sound marries introspective lyricism with bluesy guitar lines, laid-back rhythms, catchy hooks, and soulful vocals. Wise has had the pleasure of collaborating with a wide range of artists, from The Eagles and Lisa Fischer to Liza Anne and Joey Dosik (Vulfpeck). After touring all over the country in 2019, Wise spent 2020 self-producing a six-song EP, Too Blind To Hear. The lead singles “Fruits” and “Towering Over Me” immediately garnered traction on Spotify in hundreds of playlists, and close to a hundred thousand streams. His latest single “Neutral” takes inspiration from the film The Spectacular Now. Struck by a particular scene, Wise recalls, “There’s a line in the movie where a man tells Miles Teller’s character that he thought a past relationship would yank him out of neutral.” The line sparked a notion that a person or a relationship can push you forward or get you out of a rut, with Wise continuing, “We’ve all had people or experiences in our lives that have this dramatic ability to shift our course for the better, and I wrote this song to focus around that concept.” Written in spurts over six years, across different cities, Wise shows how the development of varying locations and situations had a huge impact on the song, reflecting in the lyrics such as, ‘woke up in Los Angeles,’ to ‘New Years down in Rio’ and ‘made a home in Brooklyn.’

“Neutral” carries a distinctive groove, with subtle electro pulses across the bassy keys, while the tight, rocky drums and grainy guitar gives a kick of vitality to the track. The sharp, “slap out of it” vibe of being in a neutral or a stationary phase comes through in the upbeat, warm, vibrant feeling, making you feel alive and able to leave behind a stagnant period of your life. The soulful backing vocals reinforce a swarm of powerful energy, mirroring the power of a person’s ability to move you.

Wise has been working on more pop-driven material for 2021, prepping releases for the summer and fall, with subsequent tour dates when he’s able to travel.

K-Pop boy band, CRAVITY, are continuing to make a name for themselves as 4th generation K-Pop idols, with the release of their first full-length album, Part 1 [The Awakening: Written In The Stars]. Out today, Forbes anticipated this release with an article stating; “The [upcoming] project will possibly bring the band back to the top of the Gaon Albums chart, as they have shown that right out of the gate, they are ones to watch.” Accompanying the album is a music video for their title track “Gas Pedal.” Rapper Allen states; ““Gas Pedal” expresses our relentless drive for more. Its lyrics invite listeners to come along with us on this journey as we “climb towards the peak following the stars.” Its heavy bass, impactful drums arrangements and addictive riff enhances the experience even more by making listeners feel immersed in this race to the top while whipping a “V12 engine ready to zoom.””

Rebecca Hope is Algonquin First Nations and Irish, as well as an award winning singer-songwriter and guitarist. In 2019, she graduated from the University of British Columbia, and now resides in Toronto, where she works as a performer for a booking agency. She has won the Live Performance category of the Canadian Songwriting Competition, worked as an artist in residence for Buffy Sainte-Marie and Ryerson University, written a play/musical for Paprika Festival, and can almost always be found writing songs, singing, and playing guitar. Rebecca believes music is a tool to cope with life’s ups and downs, and listening to her songs makes others feel less alone. Rebecca inspires and empowers others to tell their truth, own their power, and chase their dreams.

Rising alternative pop act LONA is back with the spellbinding “Let’s Just Chill”, his eagerly anticipated first release of 2021.

The track is a stunningly deft marriage of alt-pop hookcraft and rock and roll energy: a hypnotic soundscape of resonant synths and echoed guitar underpinned by the muted grooves of a hip hop beat. The heartfelt vulnerability of the vocal performance emphasises the honesty of the lyricism – an unflinching reckoning with the effect our digital lives can have on mental health.

LONA explains, “I wrote “Let’s Just Chill” during a dark time where I found that I was being sucked into this void where I was being bombarded with highlights of how great everyone’s lives were online. You only really see snapshots of people doing well and it’s hard not to compare your own lives to these highlights. I even fall guilty of doing this sometimes. I find myself posting pictures of me having the best time when really on the inside I felt like shit in that moment. It’s a weird juxtaposition – like taking the perfect picture with a smashed iPhone screen. You can hide in plain sight and the world has gotten really good at it. “Let’s Just Chill” is a reminder that sometimes it’s best to just turn my phone off, turn the volume of the world down and just take a breather.”

What do you think?

Written by Neill Frazer

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