INsiders Guide: Screentalk, FHANG, Gina Naomi Baez, Alexander Wesley, Teddi Gold, Ezra Jordan, Candice Hoyes, Xhoana X, Danielle Lewis, Alt Bloom, Caroline Romano, ROSIE, Johnny Ashby…
Fast-rising indie quintet SCREENTALK are back with an enlivening new single: “Amplified”.
Written in just one-day at the band’s Merseyside practice room after a lightning bolt of spontaneous inspiration, the track materialised as one of the first tracks the band ever wrote together. As Sean reflects:
“Amplified, the band’s starting block, has stood the test of time. For our first song to have tussled its way to the upper echelons of the pile is testament to how good the song is.”
While life reached a standstill as the pandemic stalled the plans of musicians everywhere, a collaboration began bubbling under the surface. Prolific Montreal bassist Mishka Stein and innovative producer Samuel Woywitka began bouncing new ideas off each other remotely. Both were ostensibly working on their own projects, but soon their shared musical chemistry was obvious. They dove headfirst into completing their debut album together: FHANG.
The songs that appear on FHANG blossomed from experimental snippets into massive, sprawling productions. The instrumentation is shapeshifting and unpredictable, modulating between Lynchian horror, lush psychedelia, deep rhythmic pulses, and unexpected moments of pure beauty, such as in the album closer “Fleur Du Mal”—co-written with Stein’s partner, Alexis Walker.
Gina Naomi Baez is an actress, singer/songwriter, YouTuber and influencer from New York City. With a flourishing acting career having landed roles in Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, Orange is the New Black and numerous Off-Broadway and Regional theatrical productions, Baez has been a name on everyone’s radar. However, her love and passion for songwriting and music has always been the true driving force behind her creativity, with the artist using her platform to spread messages of positivity. Pushing boundaries and defying genres, Baez’s music beautifully blends pop, country and folk, creating a sound reminiscent of Sia meets Taylor Swift.
Her new single “Liquor Love” narrates the need to wean toxicity out of your life. Baez shares, “The music is inspired by questions I ask myself a lot: Is this going to serve me? Is this going to move me forward and help me grow? Is this healthy for me? Or is this just…liquor love?”. Taking inspiration from the likes of Adele and Lorde, Baez draws on alt-pop touches making her music fresh and zesty with a sharper punch to her shimmering vocals.
The atmospheric flush of foggy production is met by a deep bass sound and mystical whooshes. Accompanied with stunning vocal layers Baez adds a gentle touch to the weighted subject matter. With a pop sensibility, the contrasting dark and light of the production relays the feeling of being weighed down by addiction, whilst also grazing over the beauty of freedom by accepting your situation and healing.
Baez has also seen great success with her YouTube channel which has built an impressive following. Her infamous “Lizzo’s Truth Hurts x Hocus Pocus” parody music video went viral after LIZZO herself reposted it, as well as Bette Midler. The channel features creative, unique original music videos, covers and parodies of popular songs and has garnered worldwide recognition from the likes of PEOPLE, Entertainment Weekly, Access Hollywood, The Huffington Post, MTV, Perez Hilton, FOX, E! ONLINE, Ryan Seacrest, Yahoo News!, Stylist and much more! Baez has also just landed a co-star role in the CBS TV show, FBI! Propelling in all areas of the industry, Baez is clearly a force to be reckoned with.
I think those first few steps of love can be difficult at times. We tend to get wrapped up in our emotions so much that we begin to wonder if anything we feel will be reciprocated.
It led me to remember that life’s really short, and if you clearly have something for someone, it’s only a disservice to the both of you, to not give things a try and see it through.
My new track, “FIVE/SEVEN,” stems from those moments before a relationship begins where you’re everything to that person other than relationship titles. It’s that in-between, cloudy area of whether the possibility of a relationship will ever be there.
Avant electro-hyper-pop act Teddi Gold shares her rambunctious new single “Pineapple Piñata“—a feel-good tune littered with the rising talent’s introspective lyricism and whimsical social commentary, alongside her signature fizzy production. It’s about liberation—channeling your energy and shaking out all the negativity from your body, ultimately letting go of all the things that hold you back from embracing your authentic self. For the song, Teddi purchased a bunch of piñatas from Party City and subsequently smashed them with her friends. Recorded on her iPhone, the raw sonics perk up an off-kilter soundscape that’s punctuated by the chatter of a dusty dial-up modem. Lifted from her forthcoming EP, “Pineapple Piñata” also arrives with the announcement of Vol. 2 due out October 7th.
“‘Pineapple Piñata’ is about dancing out all your negative feelings and leaving it on the dance floor. It’s about letting go, finding connection and joy in the simplest ways,” Teddi explains when speaking about the track, “We are living in pretty dark times and I find that movement and dance help me with my own anxiety and depression and my hope is that it helps others too.” On the EP titles, she elaborates further, “I call them volumes because they are collections of songs that are autobiographical in nature and it implies that there is more to come. I also like the idea of volumes because much like self discovery, it never really ends, it just keeps getting deeper.”
“heaven help me” was the first song I wrote for my upcoming EP, 117,
which will be released on October 6th.
It was written a few short weeks after breaking up with my then girlfriend. The break up was preemptive because we were going to be spending many months apart, followed by a short time back home until I moved away to Los Angeles. It just didn’t make sense to do long-distance.
The breakup felt especially weird because it had nothing to do with how we felt about each other. It felt like we had been ripped apart too soon by reasons that were out of our control, and I was really struck by the ‘unfairness’ of it all.
As you listen, I want you to take away the knowledge that it’s okay to ask for help. I’ve learned that you usually get what you ask for, and that includes not asking for anything at all.
I always knew that these kinds of conversational and honest classic songwriter ballads were what I wanted to make, but it took this breakup and my travels to assist me in maturing enough to let myself be this emotionally vulnerable.
Thank you for listening,
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 upcoming “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).
In addition to singing and songwriting, Candice Hoyes is an activist/producer and a Harvard graduate. She has created a feminist performance lecture series for Jazz at Lincoln Center and CUNY, and is a key collaborator of TED, Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote, National Black Theater, Feminist Press, Well Read Black Girl, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in Law, Lower Eastside Girls Club, Women in Music, and numerous grassroots organizations.
With strength, passion and talent, Candice Hoyes is a unique artist that uses the power of her voice to tell the brave stories of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Albanian born XHOANA X takes her dark, Eastern European heritage very seriously. From an upbringing of one of the most tolerant spiritual cultures in the world, comes a unique style of art, with a mixture of freedom, rebellion and heroism.
The relaxed form of culture from Albania is the driving force here. You are in the darkest little corner of your room. And yet, this is where you find that you are most comfortable. Although perhaps you also find yourself a bit surprised at the ease in which you exist here.
The unexpected seems natural.
The rich enthralling darkness is the vibe.
Following in the footsteps of early musical influences the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead, XHOANA’s music takes us on a spellbinding journey, as if we are preparing for a series of pagan rituals based on mystical beliefs.
Make no question here, she is the high priestess, and in full control of the ritual. The journey is a web in which we are caught, but you’ll find it hard to turn your ears away. You are trapped in a web of intrigue and sensuality while a neo noir movie plays in your head.
Her look and fashion is no less captivating, additionally filled with occasional David Lynch-esque twists and turns. Although her main ambition has always been on developing her musical recording career, XHOANA has also worked both as an actress, influencer, and model.
One of the leading lights of the Welsh alternative folk scene – DANIELLE LEWIS – announces the release of her debut album: ‘Dreaming In Slow Motion’, this Winter.
The release is preceded by one of its most tantalising offerings, the new single: “Slow, Sad, and Real”, which is available to listen to today (3 September) here: https://orcd.co/danielleslowsadreal
Balancing arrangements of a feather weightlessness, with self-effacing lyrics of an iron heft, Lewis’ latest single finds the singer-songwriter in conflicted, confessional mood. Hung up on life by day and visited by nightmares at the dead of night, “Slow, Sad and Real” was forged as she sought solace from the realities of life and the shadowy paranoia of her subconscious.
“’Slow, Sad and Real’ brings to light the array of emotions, thoughts and dreams I’ve felt that have sometimes conflicted within. It’s the desire to resist suppression and embrace every part of the human emotional state.” says Lewis of the track.
“The lyrics play between conflicting states, eventually resolving to a place of strength and realness in embracing feeling deeply.”
Creator Sessions, the biweekly series presented by ConvertKit, the Creator Marketing platform, is preparing to release a number of intimate performances from a variety of talented musicians. The upcoming sessions will feature Alt Bloom on September 3rd, SNT JMS on September 17th, and Tyler Hilton on October 1st. Each of these sessions will offer an intimate look into the inner workings of these talented artists and the nuanced journeys that have forged their careers.
Creator Sessions aims to inspire and educate creators, cultivate a creative community, and promote a wide array of talent. So far, their sessions have included artists like Mandy Moore, Lennon Stella, Brittney Spencer, Curtis Harding, and Tiffany Day to name a few. The artist’s journey is at the center of the Creator Sessions brand– whether that’s Matt Kearney discussing how imperfect he is as he Googles his own song lyrics or Tenille Arts embracing vulnerability as she shares about playing “Call You Names” for her mother the first time.
Alt-pop artist Caroline Romano is sharing two new brand tracks, “Oddities and Prodigies” (A-side) and “Lonely Interlude” (B-side).
Paired together, the two new songs balance tenacity and tenderness. The A-side, “Oddities and Prodigies,” is an electrifying and anthemic pop punk-inspired track. “‘Oddities and Prodigies’ is my life motto,” Caroline says. “For me, this song represents the beginning of my story. It’s the first page of the first chapter of this narrative I’m writing. I’ve set out on a quest to spin something beautiful, even if it is often tragic, as I don’t think you can have one without the other.”
The B-side, “Lonely Interlude,” sees Caroline tapping into a more melancholic side of her musicality, with soft acoustics and tempered vocals. It’s hauntingly sweet, tugging at the heartstrings with lines like, “I’ve been waiting for my whole life / For the day I feel alive / And Eleanor Rigby asked where all the lonely people go / And I think you and I know.”
rising indie-pop singer & songwriter ROSIE returns with a new track, “Social Stamina.” Written and produced entirely by ROSIE, “Social Stamina” is her love letter to those who feel like they’ve lost their way. The heartbreakingly honest ballad resonated with millions of fans when ROSIE posted a snippet of the song on TikTok last month.
ROSIE is currently putting the finishing touches on her debut EP, which will be out this Fall on Arista Records. While “Social Stamina” is being released as a standalone single, it still incorporates many of the same themes and emotions that ROSIE explores throughout the EP: “The message behind ‘Social Stamina’ is: you may feel lost and alone but you never have to be alone in your lostness. Let this song serve as a friend and support system as you navigate the highs and lows of life.”
Johnny Ashby is a British singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. Ashby found a love for music through his Dad’s mixtapes. As a teen, he played guitar in various bands and after leaving college, stepped into the session world. Deciding to move to California with nothing but a suitcase full of clothes, a guitar he built himself and dreams of playing the legendary Troubadour, the songwriter dove in headfirst and has not looked back since.
His music is soaked in sincerity and authenticity, giving us a calm and meticulously produced indie pop soundscape. Ashby’s influences such as The Lumineers, Noel Gallagher and John Mayer come rushing through, which he blends with ambient, ethereal sounds and guitar playing reminiscent of Radiohead, as well as the effortlessly cool, laid-back feel of Chet Faker. His sound is flooded with haunting but warm strings, familiar, acoustic, rhythmic strums, punchy drums and Ashby’s rich vocals which dance alongside gorgeous backing harmonies. Written and co-produced with Sebastian Fritze, Fredrik Eriksson and Bill Delia from the band Grizfolk, there is both tragedy, euphoria and fun mixed in, but with an overwhelming sense of the importance of living life to the fullest.
“On My Way” automatically speeds up your musical pulse with the brisk, alive rhythm that is foot-tapping heaven. “Ever since you smiled at me I lost my mind,” pointing to the irresistibility of the person he sings about. The catchy melodies and pulsing heartbeat of the track oozes excitement and nervousness with the rhythmic guitar and tambourine shimmers, everything about the resolving melodies and dynamics is super intoxicating. Ashby spills, “I pieced all these lyrics together after finding an old postcard from my grandmother. I was stressing lots at the time and she wrote me this letter.
Ashby’s music has garnered acclaim from numerous publications and playlists, as well as support on radio both in the UK and the US. He’s played the prestigious Troubadour in Los Angeles multiple times and his songs have been featured on primetime television for shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Shameless, Pretty Little Liars, Elementary, Rise, Baywatch, ITV’s Finding Alice, Teen Mom and Midnight In Texas.