INsiders Guide: Miles Francis, Tilde, The F16s, Marie Naffah, Jeffrey James, Seether.

MILES FRANCIS

Today, New York City singer, songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Miles Francis shared a stirring remix of their recent single “Popular,” reinterpreted by indie-pop band Future Generations and premiered via The Wild Honey Pie. This follows Francis’ “Service” remix from Overcoats, drawing love from KCRW, Earmilk & beyond.

Francis explains: “The lyrics in ‘Popular’ are, at their core, dark and stem from a kind of sadness – the original song works really hard to cover that sadness up. This version strips away all of that pretense, yet it simultaneously packages the sadness up even cleaner – which is disconcerting in a whole new way.” Future Generations’ Eddie Gore continues: “The line, ‘I live to be popular,’ is so poignant for our day and age especially with social media. It’s an inherently sad thought that so many people feel like their self worth is tied to their popularity. Still, the remix is not without its grand moments, and to me those moments are representative of the times when you start to believe your own bullshit; that this really is the path to happiness.”

In celebration of the original “Popular” single — featuring Lizzie Loveless and Lou Tides (aka Lizzie and Teeny Lieberson, formerly of TEEN) on background vocals — Francis took to the streets of New York for live performances from a moving truck (watch footage from “Popularalooza” here). Francis’ original “Service” video also serves as an alt-pop romp exploring the dark side of devotion – complete with mesmerizing boy band clone choreography that mirrors Miles’ own recording process in quarantine.

The polymathic artist is known for collaborating with the likes of Angélique Kidjo, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, also earning praise from the likes of FADER, Stereogum, KCRW and beyond for their solo work on 2018’s Swimmers EP. Naming shapeshifters like Prince and David Bowie among their essential touchstones along with Afrobeat music, Francis ultimately alchemizes those inspirations with their childhood obsession with early 2000’s boy bands. The result is a highly percussive form of art-pop, both lavishly orchestrated and visceral in impact. “I grew up with Backstreet Boys posters lining my bedroom walls, floor to ceiling. That era of music is dear to my heart, but upon closer look those songs are ridden with anxiety, songs about male adolescence written by grown men.”

Francis matches their incisive observations with a direct outpouring of feeling and, in many cases, fantastically offbeat humor. On “Service,” they deliver a pitch-perfect send-up of the over-the-top obsequiousness that pervades countless classic boy-band songs (“There’s this very impulsive offering of help and support, in a way that makes you wonder if there’s some other motive that’s not named in the lyrics,” Francis notes). On “Popular,” that seemingly supportive character is turned into a monster. “It’s my own little Jekyll and Hyde,” Francis adds. “One minute, it’s ‘I’ll do anything for you’ – the next minute, it’s ‘I don’t care for you.'” The music reflects that shift, as “Popular” barrels forward from the first drumstick count-in to the last guitar lick. “I am interested in man’s two-faced-ness – our ability to show one thing to the world and someone completely different in private.”

“Popular” and “Service” are, at their core, about ego. “Power is essential to the male ego. That ego is a house of cards, of course, threatened by even the slightest loss of control. These songs and videos are meant to illustrate that delicate balance between control and disarray.”

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TILDE

Having already garnered huge praise and support for her previously shared singles ‘Call My Name’, ‘Don’t Walk Down That Road’, ‘Pink Moon’ and ‘Love Me Till You Die’ over the last few months, fast-rising Swedish artist Tilde now continues the support for her forthcoming sophomore album ‘Pink Moon’ with the captivating new effort ‘Say That Our Love’.

Bringing back more of that dense and atmospheric tone she has showcased in the run up to this new full-length, ‘Say That Our Love’ conjures a warm and vibrant direction, brimming with rich and effervescent tones. With her sweet and sweeping voice layered over a bed of jangled guitars and soaring textures, she has created a compelling aesthetic that pulls you in from start to finish.

Speaking about the new offering, she said, “It was one of those songs that almost wrote itself. It’s about destructive relationships, the back- and- forths and not being able to just walk out. ”

Swedish singer Tilde brings her own special blend of soul and contemporary pop that warms the heart and draws inspiration from iconic voices such as Donny Hathaway, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse and many more.

She has impressed audiences in her native Sweden and abroad with her captivating voice and compelling songwriting – gathering a Top-Ten nod for “Best song of the decade – from Gothenburg” from the biggest newspaper on the Swedish west coast ‘Göteborgs-Posten’ for the title track on her debut album ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’.

Tilde’s new single ‘Say That Our Love’ is available to stream NOW! through her own Vacanze Records, with her sophomore LP ‘Pink Moon’ arriving on the 19th November.

Her UK live premiere of the song was on October 7th at the Focus Wales Festival, Wrexham.

The F16s

The F16’s have been dominating India’s music scene for over a decade, developing their own unique brand of eccentric and danceable alt pop. Deemed an ‘artist to watch’ by Rolling Stone early in their career, The F16’s have held up to the high expectations, becoming a mainstay at major festivals and venues across the country, and have just been added to Spotify’s RADAR program. After two EP’s and a full-length, the four-piece return in 2021 with their EP ‘Is It Time To Eat The Rich Yet?’ and latest surprise single ‘Sucks To Be Human’, out October 10th via House Arrest. The project is a paradoxically joyful celebration of the human condition under duress, scored by some of the finest pop music India has to offer.

Carrying on with their own distinct flair for smooth and vibrant alt-pop production, ‘Sucks To Be Human’ is a physco-cosmic end-of-the-world anthem that leaves listeners dancing to their doom, or begging to be abducted. Following on from the other tracks on the EP that cover themes of disillusionment and discontent with the current state of our planet, ‘Sucks To Be Human’ documents a relatable and pessimistic desire to leave this planet and all its corruption behind. In despair they sing ‘how did we end up with a planet left in ruin? we’re fighting battles that we only keep on losing… apologies but it sucks to be human.’ The music is paradoxically upbeat and lighthearted, the maximalist approach to this track is bursting with sci-fi synths, sparkling guitar lines and grooving bass.

‘Is It Time To Eat The Rich Yet?’ reportedly sees the band pushing their sound to the furthest reaches of their influences. When the world was in lockdown the group holed up to write and record their EP, moving in together and bringing Harshan Radhakrishnan’s studio with them. Starting each day of the EPs production listening to Frank Sinatra and classic jazz tracks is an influence that shines through in the nostalgic groove and skilful brass arrangements on songs like ‘Trouble In Paradise’ and ‘The Apocalypse’. Throughout the day the four would listen to a varied mix of genres from psych rock to post-punk to trap music, with artists like Vince Staples and The Strokes on repeat, accounting for the diverse eclecticism of the record.
While the EP continues the Indian quartet’s long-held reputation for crafting escapist, pop leaning indie rock, it also reflects the fact that we can no long remain oblivious to the social, environmental, economic, and political injustice that plague our world. It shouldn’t be surprising that the members of The F16s saw last year as a year for the ‘awakening of the oppressed,’ especially in their native India, where the pandemic managed to further magnify the stark inequalities between the oppressed poor and working classes and the greed, negligence, incompetence of those in power. And as a result, the dreams of a ‘swimming pool and a yacht’ on ‘WKND FRNDS’ is completely shattered — and revealed to be vapid and silly.
Speaking about the single, Abhinav Krishnaswamy said ”In some ways, “Sucks to be Human” (STBH) truly encapsulates the feeling behind this record. It was recorded completely within that fateful April-May worldwide lockdown, and while the rest of the tracklist began altering itself, imbued with the trademark feeling of isolation, “STBH” was moulded entirely from that feeling. Imaginary and outer-planetary friends take the place of WKND FRNDS since weekends have all but melded into each other, the walls closing in as our protagonist recedes further within in search of an escape route. Why stick around when there’s entire universes to explore?”
For vocalist Joshua Fernandez, the song is about “human short sightedness combined with their pride and wilful ignorance literally destroying the world. Brain dead rotting world of humans who’s core existence depends on nothing more than consumerism and pop culture. No matter how many people you are surrounded by, no matter how similar we look, no matter how many similarities we have with other people you just feel like the world is not yours. Society is a hack. Can we please get abducted already?.”

‘Sucks To Be Human’ is out NOW via House Arrest. This is the third single from The F16’s upcoming EP ‘Is It Time To Eat The Rich Yet?’, set for release October 22.

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MARIE NAFFAH

Hotly tipped as NME’s ‘Big 10’ ones to watch for 2021, London-based singer-songwriter Marie Naffah returns with a conceptual double single release for her songs ‘Honey’ & ‘Air’, out on all streaming platforms NOW!

Different versions of the same song, ‘Honey’ & ‘Air’ are lyrically identical but sonically worlds apart. First came ‘Honey’, a feel-good, upbeat slice of dream-pop. Switching up the vibe completely is ‘Air’, a soulful, stripped back ballad with Marie’s captivatingly sultry vocals taking centre stage.

To accompany the release, Marie encourages her fans to become part of the experience through a bespoke website, complete with curated playlists to match each vibe (featuring music from Bob Dylan, Big Thief, Future Islands and more), and ‘Best Served With’ recommendations for each track (‘Honey’ – to cure Monday Blues / ‘Air’ – to relax to in the bath).
Become part of the experience here.

Marie wrote ‘Honey’ first after being selected as an artist in residence at a 17th century mansion in the South of Barcelona called Mas Palou, surrounded by a community of artists; and the energy of being surrounded by so many creatives really shines through on the track.

Marie then decided to record ‘Air’ after playing it acoustically during her ‘50 Gigs in 50 Days’ Tour, and found that it totally shifted the meaning and mood of the song. She says, “I once was told acoustic music was dead but I will never accept it.” The ability to portray two entirely different sound worlds, feelings and emotions on ‘Honey’ & ‘Air’, combined with her stunning vocal delivery is a true testament to Marie’s creativity and artistry.

Bridging the gap between Florence and The Machine and Aretha Franklin, Marie is a truly multi-faceted artist who thrives on being able to experiment with her music. Drawing inspiration from musical poets like Leonard Cohen and Alex Turner, Marie completely owns her own brand of soul-pop; captivating lyricism wrapped in a soaring delivery that manages to straddle the line between timelessness and the contemporary.

Marie was named MTV’s Unsigned Artist of the Year before even releasing her first song. Following the release of her debut EP ‘Golden State’ earlier this year, she has done more than most: from delivering her own TED Talk and touring the US to scoring a movie for the BFI Female Film Festival. Her string of sold out London shows included iconic venues such as Omeara, The Lexington, Camden Assembly and the prestigious Ronnie Scott’s.

For her latest project, ‘50/50: For the Love of Live’, Marie played 50 gigs in 50 days, starting on the 21st of June 2021, celebrating the return of live music after the pandemic, through living rooms, parks, hospitals, care homes, village halls, vaccination centres and more. Following this odyssey she has been selected as one of NME’s ‘Big 10’, naming her as an artist to watch in the post-pandemic industry.

There is something truly refreshing to see an artist who is willing to push boundaries. With the release of ‘Honey’ & ‘Air’, 2021 shows no signs of slowing down for this exciting rising star.

MARIE NAFFAH ONLINE
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JEFFREY JAMES

Today, Nashville-based singer and songwriter Jeffrey James shares his new EP, ‘Songs I Found In The Year I Lost.’ Pulling from a mix of new collaborations, forgotten demos, and previously unreleased songs, the EP is a melodically sophisticated collection of 5 tracks that showcase Jeffrey’s rich vocals, narrative-driven lyricism, and cinematic instrumentation.

Explaining how this record came to fruition, Jeffrey says, “2020 by all accounts should have been a big year for me. I released my ‘East London’ EP and was featured on NBC’s Songland. However, instead of touring and promoting my new music, I (like everyone else) was forced to stay home with nothing to do but sit in my studio, work and think.” Gripped by restlessness while suddenly housebound at the start of the pandemic, Jeffrey escaped into writing, creating and working remotely with collaborators spanning LA, London and Nashville. Out of those sessions came “Sober,” “Making It Up” and “Small Talk.”

The other two songs featured on the record are “In The Back of My Mind” and “We Can Be Heroes,” both of which were written pre-pandemic but had previously been overlooked for other projects. “We Can Be Heroes” was given new life after Jeffrey featured on NBC’s Songland in early 2020; his performance of the powerful pop ballad was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the show’s judges and the at-home audience.

‘Songs I Found In The Year I Lost’ Track List:
1 – Sober
2 – Making It Up
3 – In The Back Of My Mind
4 – Small Talk
5 – We Can Be Heroes

Listen to ‘Songs I Found In The Year I Lost’ on all streaming platforms:
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SEETHER

Out today, Seether’s album Vicennial – 2 Decades of Seether tells the remarkable story of the South African quartet’s career and chart-topping success. The 20 songs on this compilation have amassed 16 #1 chart positions and all are Top 5 multi-format radio hits. This collection is an audio summary of the first 20 years of Billboard’s #8 All-Time Mainstream Rock Artist, which covers the 40-year history of the chart’s existence. The album, released today via Craft Recordings, was carefully curated by frontman Shaun Morgan and highlights tracks from his band’s eight full-length albums — including early breakthrough singles “Broken” and “Fine Again”; the recent #1 on both the Rock and Active Rock charts, “Dangerous”; as well as their fan favorite cover of Wham’s “Careless Whisper.”

Known for their dedication to their fans, Seether selected fan submitted artwork for the album cover. Vicennial – 2 Decades of Seether is now available here digitally and on CD. A Seether.com exclusive 1,500-unit limited-edition custom mixed opaque purple 2-LP vinyl can be pre-ordered now for its January 7 release date. On October 7, to celebrate the album’s release, the band performed all 20 tracks live one time only at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, CA. This event was an Aftershock After Party for the opening night of the sold-out Aftershock Festival, where the band performed along with Metallica, Rancid and others.

Since Seether aren’t able to tour outside of the US right now, they wanted to find another way to bring this special show to their fans around the world. On November 11, the band is hosting a special Vicennial – Live Online event through a partnership with the premium digital live platform Moment House. There will be shows at 6pm PST, 6pm GMT and 6pm JST where fans are able to vote for that time zone’s 10-song set. Additionally, the band will be appearing live for Q&A sessions and virtual meet and greets. Tickets for Vicennial – Live Online, as well as bundles that include merch and an exclusive 500 unit limited edition custom mixed opaque pink color 2-LP vinyl of Vicennial, are on sale now at Seether.com.

Reflecting on the band’s career, singer Shaun Morgan says, “Twenty years is a major milestone for us; we’ve been on an amazing ride – alongside our fans – and we plan to continue that journey. Putting Vicennial together gave us a chance to look back on our body of work over the years, and to rediscover some of our older songs during the pandemic that brought us all to a standstill. We hope that everyone enjoys the compilation as much as we do now, after this historic lockdown, and we look forward to seeing our fans again at live shows in the future.”

Recently Seether was the newest addition to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame’s popular “Right Here Right Now” exhibit, joining other luminaries in the exhibit including Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Alabama Shakes, Taylor Swift, The Lumineers, Kacey Musgraves and The Weeknd.

Written By: Edhuard Hakim

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