INsiders Guide: Violet Whimsey, Brandy Haze, Mae Krell, Creatrx, Mugun, Pyra, BARBUDO, Rasmus Hagen, Lloyd P-White, Onoe Caponoe, Claudillea, The Keymakers….

New Jersey based alt rock group, Violet Whimsey, releases “They Say”, the fifth single yet of their much anticipated album release this year, Love, Love, to drop by end of Fall 2021.
Singer-songwriter, Ann Kim, decided that this release had to drop with a lyric video, given that the highlight of the song is really in the words themselves. Painting a story amidst a dialogue, “They Say”, as seen in the beginning of the video, is a shout out to “all those that march…to the beat of their own drum”. Mixed by local legend, Stephen Kellner, and beloved mastering engineer, Jesse Cannon, Violet Whimsey delivers another honest and heartfelt rock mesh, featuring electric, bass, drums and synth to a driving groove.

Originally from Chino Hills, California, multi-talented Los Angeles-based songwriter Brandy Haze found herself primarily influenced by contemporary R&B, trap, house, and electronic meets pop dance grooves.
With her debut project “Roses,” Brandy Haze teamed up with Ian Thomas & Leven Kali to create a new style and approach to love songs. The project set a significant milestone for Brandy, whose talent continues to blossom into something special. Upon release, the single “Conditional” instantly became a cult classic featured on SoundCloud’s Artist to Watch 2018 playlist.
With two body of releases already under her belt, Brandy Haze introduced her last EP, “Silhouette” in February 2021. “Silhouette” boasts a beautiful tracklist of four sultry and seductive tracks that instantly fill the day or night with an air of nostalgia and charm.

Her forthcoming EP entitled That’s Unfortunate was formed with songs about Brandy’s own “tragic love life.” Combining Brandy’s signature soulful vocals with inventive R&B landscapes and versatile production, That’s Unfortunate is a musical escape where the songwriter has created a unique yet relatable world listeners can immerse themselves in.

New York-based singer-songwriter Mae Krell shares their new single “rest stop” and the accompanying lyric video. There is an undeniable emotional rawness to “rest stop.” Underscored by layered, lush instrumentation, Mae’s vocals bristle with palpable emotion as they come to terms with the loss of a friendship: “I’ve been much worse than this / am I not yours unless I’m sick? / was I better to be around / when you had to pull me out?”
Mae started to write the new single when their car broke down in the trucking area of a rest stop. They were feeling lost in life, both figuratively and literally. “I was sad and still processing a really painful friend breakup and just overall not in a great place,” Mae says. “In writing ‘rest stop,’ I was learning that sometimes getting healthier and becoming more independent can end in a loss of a relationship. And, as this specific friendship ended, I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t as good for me as I thought it was.”

Multidisciplinary innovator Creatrx is back with their latest single “Experience”; a journey celebrating identity and personal expression of our authentic selves.
The latest in a series of eclectic, exuberant tracks, Creatrx’s explosive lyrics showcase their politically charged views woven into catchy melodic hooks. With a convincing delivery and a self-assured attitude, the LA based non-binary artist lets us know that they are “Not a boy, not a girl, baby I’m an experience”.

Produced by EZRA OST and Mark U, Creatrx’s vocals are layered over the track’s dark production, atmospheric synths, distorted harmonies and hypnotic drum patterns as they utilize lullaby tones and playful lyrics to thank God for their gifts in a “world that wants them to hate themselves”.

Opening up about the meaning behind “Experience”, Creatrx explains: “This song is a reflection of how I view my gender. I feel that my spirit (and many others) transcends the limited ideas of gender in Western society and this is a song celebrating that – encouraging us all to take up space, explore and push more.”

Earning a reputation as one of the UK’s most promising artists in rap, the evolution of Coventry rapper Mugun continues to grip the scene with his release of ‘Underglow’.
Offering up a masterclass in to rap technicalities and melodic flows on ‘Underglow’, it’s easy to see why Mugun has developed a cult following. With his love for lo-fi beats, politically charged narratives and compelling street tales, his unapologetic delivery and compelling style, marry into the mix to create a unique and engaging artist that continues to break the mold. Delivering the deliciously descriptive, metaphorical and empathy inducing single, Mugun creates a beautiful tone in ‘Underglow’ to describe his own realties for his latest street tale that has a deafening sadness running through its core. With echoes of emotive groundbreaking, cult classics such as The Streets ‘Blinding Lights’, Mugun explains, “The song is titled Underglow because it represents what’s really happening beneath the surface. Most people see the sparkling lights and don’t scratch beneath the pretty exterior of what a city offers, ‘Underglow’ takes us beyond that and defines the city from my perspective.”

Building a name for her outspoken social commentary via genre-bending music, Thai pop warrior Pyra makes a major statement through her highly-anticipated new EP fkn bad pt.1.

At the core of the visionary’s EP, which is the first half of her fkn bad project, is Pyra’s desire to confront socio-cultural issues by utilizing dynamic pop sounds and futurist aesthetics in order to inspire change and equality.
The EP is fronted by the remarkably powerful statement of intent: “paper promises”, serving as Pyra’s response to the Thai government’s unfavorable handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over nostalgic pop beats reminiscent of the ‘00s stars the visionary grew up listening to, Pyra sings “i’m tired of all your paper promises, tell me you’re sorry again” as a nod to empty apologies and the decision to prioritize money and profit above anything else.

BARBUDO deliver pop-funk with polished musicianship and pizzazz from their studio in the south of England. Brothers Ben and Harry Stanworth have taken inspiration from the pioneers of funk, soul and disco to give their contemporary sound a classic and stylish vibe that oozes charm and millennial zeitgeist. Their songs are instantly memorable and engaging, helped by the band’s laid back feel and knack for intricate and soulful melodies over playful lyrical themes. A dose of Barbudo is a welcome antidote to the tensions and pressures of modern life.

Their latest single “Sunshine” touches on the frustration of misinformation and of losing faith in things you once trusted. Influenced by recent global events, and the search for truth amongst real and fake news, their music is again affected by time and place, lending it a true and present authenticity. Set alongside this, the tropical heatwave of funky, muffled guitars, chiming synths, and a bass line that will slap you silly, gives the song a burst of feel-good, summertime energy. In true BARBUDO style, vintage vibes rush through “Sunshine”: It’s disco-esque track emitting a steady, calming beat and a constantly soothing wave of rhythm, washed by groovy Wham-reminiscent melodies twisted into a current 2021 feel.

The boys said, “Times have been hard for many of us recently and so offsetting the message, we wanted to create something that sounded summery and uplifting but with a deeper message below the surface. It’s fast become a fan favourite live and we are confident that it is our strongest release to date.”

Rasmus Hagen is a platinum-selling singer/songwriter and producer from Stockholm, Sweden. Inspired by Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Julia Michaels and Lauv, Hagen’s compelling blend of pop and acoustic soul aims straight to the listener’s hearts.

Everything started with weekly guitar lessons at eight years old, playing classic rock songs from The Beatles and The Eagles – which eventually led to starting his first cover band. After a few years of passionately jamming with classmates, he went on an exchange year to the USA and focussed on music theory and classical guitar. During this time, he played in several bands and toured both nationally and internationally, before deciding to start a solo career. In February 2021, he released his debut album Love & Hurt, which was received with glowing reviews and achieved platinum status within just six months.

His latest single “Learn to Love” emits a euphoric feeling wrapped up in a juxtaposed sense of hope and fear. Coming in with Hagen’s haunting, echoing vocals which fall over a tender piano motif, the song also features vocals from Dutch artist Maxine. Her Halsey meets Julia Michaels voice adds to a stunning polarity of tones and perspective, including a phenomenal array of harmonies that result in ultimate full-body shivers. The pop-acoustic feel maintains the raw passion allowing the depth to come through in a highly singable and relatable song. From energised guitar strums and subtle romantic synths, the tune is bursting with feeling and excitement.
The self-produced and engineered track was co-written alongside Swedish songwriter Aron Blom. “Learn to Love” touches on tearing down emotional walls built from a previous relationship and slowly opening up to giving and receiving love again. The single is a story of two people surrendering to love, reminding listeners to be vulnerable and providing comfort when dropping the barriers for romance.

Indie rap-punk newcomer Lloyd P-White releases his debut EP Rockstar – a six track concept EP exploring the highs and lows of a real rockstar life.

In equal measures heartfelt and energetic, Lloyd’s honest and to-the-point lyrics are born from everyday situations set alongside music created in his bedroom. Throughout the EP Lloyd creates a strong visual of the darker side of love and romance, woven between nostalgic indie-guitar riffs on “Bad & Beautiful”; the rising talent sings “Take my life, don’t care now, it’s only you”. In contrast, “Black Heart” delivers trap-infused production and a futuristic feel whilst keeping the sentiment constant: “We were bad for each other, I was blind with both eyes covered”.

Traveling to realms outside of UK rap norms, London born innovator Onoe Caponoe continues to carve his own lane with his latest psychedelic slice “Silent Kiss”.

Joining forces with producer Kehlarj, “Silent Kiss” emerges with woozy funk elements before accelerating into kaleidoscopic oblivion – featuring Sofie’s ethereal pitched down backing vocals that float across on a bed of syncopated drum loops. Juxtaposing a combination of otherworldly textures with his prominent, timeless flow, Onoe showcases his penchant for defying genre norms, an attribute that has turned heads in the industry since his debut in 2010.

Speaking on the track, Onoe said “Silent Kiss is the first single from my forthcoming album, with heavy summer vibes, building on the new direction that my music took with the single Lost The Love. The style is a psych take on Memphis underground rap, with a nod to Houston’s late DJ Screw, strung together with space funk undertones and astral vocals. Having Sofie feature on the track is incredible.

No box can contain the artistry that Claudillea exudes. She has an innate wonder for the world and people around her; being that she has lived in various countries and experienced diverse cultures her entire life, no one place is home to her. The culmination of these influences expands beyond just culture – the music Claudillea creates is genre-bending. Her unique blend of classic opera singing techniques with pop, trap, hip-hop and EDM music, what she calls OPPOP, made her a popular contestant on The Voice UK in 2020. She made waves first on Meghan Trainor’s team and later with after he stole her for his team. This year, Claudillea is ready to step into her own spotlight with an EP that will be released in the summer, beginning with the “Habanera” single.

“For me, the opera world actively excludes certain demographics, and I want to help make it more accessible. Bring it into 2021. If Mozart was around today, his music would be covered in Radio 1 Lounge and done in a completely different way. I want millennials and gen z’s to not squirm when they hear opera.”

“Closer” is The Keymakers’ third original single of their high-frequency release cycle in 2021. “Closer” is all about acknowledging a strong sexual tension either yet to be acted on or on the verge of being acted on. The strong attraction to someone that’s undeniable. As the tension grows, it gets harder and harder to fight the urge.

“There’s an intense desire we all feel at one time or another that can be hard to express and distill into words, and that’s what we tried to capture with “Closer”. That raw sexual energy, curiosity, and lust for the forbidden – we want people to connect with all of that when they listen to this track. It’s a very particular attitude tied to those feelings – almost instinctual – and that’s what this song is meant to evoke.”

With over 250 million streams across his discography to date, pop singer-songwriter Tyler Shaw releases his third studio album and first self-titled offering via Sony Music Entertainment Canada.
“In some ways, I’m treating this like my debut album,” Tyler Shaw says of the endeavor. “I feel it’s time to introduce myself to the rest of the world.” Mixing pop, dance, and rock elements, he says he felt completely liberated in the studio. “Hands down, these are the best songs I have ever written. They are the ones that took the most self-reflection and are the absolute best representation of me and my growth as a songwriter.”

Photo credit: Hannah Edelman

Psychedelic rhinestone cowgirl, Kitty Coen, releases her debut EP Disco Lemonade; out today. Through a series of genre-bending songs, Coen leads the listener on a path of love, lust, heartbreak and self-acceptance. Coen’s dark and brooding lyrics combine forcefully with a mix of intense synth beats, rhythmic guitar strums, and the gleam of new-age indie disco. Fighting her way through the wild west of genres, Coen strings together alt-rock and electro-pop to create her Disco Lemonade, an EP that can’t be tamed.

Originating from Austin, TX, the 24-year-old powerhouse draws influence from the electronic indie beats and vocals of Tame Impala and STRFKR. Kitty Coen says,
“Disco Lemonade started as the idea of something being so enjoyable, carefree and candid that you can’t deny you love it. Whether that be a person, feeling, place or thing it is really up to the listener.

The Death Set today share the single and video “No Where Is Here” in anticipation of their upcoming album How To Tune A Parrot (September 10, Cobraside/Behemoth).

Since The Death Set’s debut EP, To (Rabbitfoot, 2006), the spirit of warehouse parties and the international DIY scene has been writ large in their hyperactive compositions and performances. This tradition continues with the “No Where Is Here” video, which collages 2006-2010 NYC DIY show footage against a a twisted visual of Death Set duo Johnny Siera and Dan Walker playing guitars with their heads reversed in an homage to the song’s lyric “I had to move far away, just to keep my head straight”. The song itself is a response to the feeling that you have nowhere to go. Siera explains that “it’s about remembering that no matter how fucked up the situation or head space is, that I gotta start digging my way out, starting right here.”

Born in the very late 80’s, Joseph Dubuc-Lavoie grew up in the woods about an hour away from Montréal. Like most old enough country kids he moved into the big city for a while and then he went west and wild for a few years. No one knows what really went on over there. He left with a guitar and a few vocal ideas, then came back with a great electro-organic sound and a good amount of bass. Our DA, Jeff Moran, here at Ad Litteram fell upon the music through a friend and like him, we just loved his work right away.

So, to be perfectly honest, we don’t know much more than you do about Joseph.
You’ll think of Portishead or alt-J, if you need references. Joseph has that special touch, something that we call heartfelt electronic music. He works in his own studio and does everything by himself. We all wear Many Masks; one for each situation in life. Joseph seems to be most comfortable with all of them when he is left alone to create. Now the time has come to share his Many Masks with the world.
Like us, once you’ll get to know him, you won’t miss when you didn’t.

Photo credit: Anna Azarov

LA-based dark-synth pop artist, L’FREAQ, shares her live and unplugged version of her battle cry title track, “Showgirl,” from her sophomore EP, Showgirl, due out on September 23, 2021 via Position Music. She also recently shared a lyric video of the single. The word “power” stands boldly takes its place in front of the red curtain in the lyric video, and in the new live version — L’FREAQ’s voice alone is full of potent, passionate energy. Her raw performance, only accompanied by an acoustic guitar, proves every lyric’s realness in every note. On the new video, she says:

“A big goal of mine with the singles from this EP was to show that they could sound great stripped back with just guitar and vocal. Sometimes I want to hear what something sounds like at its bare bones. I am grateful for the guitar stylings of Alejandro Amezquita and the directing and editing skills of Kevin Erickson, who also worked on the other two videos from this series.”

Gifted emerging UK singer-songwriter Sarah Proctor is back with her third single of 2021, the emotive, beautiful “Tired”.

Spare piano chords underpin a vulnerable and lilting vocal performance, as lush strings swell towards the track’s desolate close. Lyrically, the song is a disarmingly honest account of the weariness of a lover who realises she has given all she can to a relationship, and most close the chapter for her own sake. Proctor explains: “Tired is inspired by every person who loves to a fault, when you excuse someone’s behaviour because you want so badly for this person to be who you want them to be, and who you originally fell in love with. But sometimes things change and people change, and you become tired of excusing that person’s behaviour. It’s about noticing when someone’s making you more sad than happy.”

Skeamer has been steadily building his stature within the UK music scene and his newest single ‘Pain Is Temporary’ solidifies exactly why his name should be mentioned alongside the greats. The London based rapper is renowned for his conscientious lyrical content and his heartfelt delivery, this is integral to his musical identity and is excellently demonstrated within his latest track.

After amassing millions of streams and views on previous releases, Skeamer has become a certified voice for the streets. His profoundly sincere rap technique sets him apart from similar artists within his field. On ‘Pain Is Temporary’, the Buckroll produced track has the ideal instrumental with hypnotic drum patterns, booming 808’s and unique vocal sampling, all coming together to deliver the perfect canvas for the rapper to paint his picture on. Skeamer’s lyrical ability shines through on the track, as he uses all the key pillars of rap to deliver his heartfelt story. Taking us on a breath-taking journey, detailing the lifestyle the OJB rapper lives, Skeamer talks about the trials and tribulations that he faces and some of the actions that he is forced to take.

Elegant, quirky and impossible to ignore – welcome to the eclectic world of Kaylee Patterson, an immensely talented singer-songwriter from Montreal, Canada. Kaylee can usually be found jamming out on TikTok sharing her wildly unpopular opinions and rocking her ukulele. Her sound is truly one of a kind, infusing pop with folk elements. Kaylee has an incredibly infectious personality and her music is just mainstream enough to be fed to the masses whilst still maintaining a raw authenticity that allows fans to connect with her on a deeper level than just enjoying the music.

Kaylee released her first ever single in the summer of 2020, which has amassed close to 50K streams on Spotify. Since then she has been working closely alongside producer Jay Century (Kaskade, Duckwrth, Starley) to craft out her debut EP, which is set to be released later this summer.

A true definition of a go-getter, the independent rising pop artist practically runs a full-service label for herself out of her bedroom. She is her own manager, creative director, A&R, label head, artist, publicist, marketing strategist, all in one. Her music feels to listeners like the 90s has met the 2020s – bringing a retro electro pop sound that’s passionate, vibey, and brimming with a hopeful future. Her music embodies her “IDGAF” attitude, and her lyrics are relentlessly honest and relatable, while being upbeat, disco, and reflecting 80s elements and influences. Bluntly put, her songs make you want to go out and be a badass. Although Leah’s been singing and writing songs since the age of 12, getting fired from her job (because she spent all of her time in the studio and not really at work) while living in NYC was the push she needed to begin releasing music professionally and full time. With the help of her brother, the two started writing songs in their in-home studio at a super young age. The go-getter she is, Leah, at maybe 14 years old, would email huge producers of major labels of artists she loved, trying to get them to produce her voice memos that she would freestyle. Her songs range in a variety of versatile topics but the one thing they all have in common is that they are very truthful and reflective of her life. “No matter what kind of song I’m releasing, whether it’s a disco dance pop song or just me on guitar, the lyrics have to matter and be very truthful to my life.” – Leah.

Written By: Neill Frazer

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