INsiders Guide: Darryl Kissick, Monsta X, Heidrunna, Steven Malcolm, NDotz, Young Don, Laura Dreyfuss, BISHI, Post-Modern Connection, LIGHTSUM, The Guidance…
Darryl Kissick lives in Regina, Saskatchewan. He is a member of the band Foxwarren.
“I began recording this album many years ago and struggled to finish it. The ideas would accumulate in bursts and then sit untouched for months at a time as work and family commitments took precedent. Finally, after releasing and touring behind the last Foxwarren album, I felt inspired to finish this project. Beginning in the summer of 2019, I began trudging through old hard drives, compiling tracks, rewriting lyrics, manipulating vocals and instruments, and ultimately trying to make sense of the dozens of songs I had started.”Worldwide phenomenon, Monsta X, have officially infiltrated Mainstream Top 40 Radio Airplay with their English-language single “One Day.”Billboard]. Released through Intertwine (BMG) in collaboration with Starship Entertainment; “One Day” is about having lost or broken up with someone, and the feeling of knowing that it might feel better at some point, but you’re stuck in your current emotion and not able to realize that. Named by Released on September 10th, “One Day” has peaked at number 38 for the week of October 16th [Grammy.com as “one of k-pop’s most prolific groups,” this English-language release is a continuation of their first all English-language debut album, ALL ABOUT LUV. Released in February 2019 that album ranked at No.5 on the Billboard 200 Chart, making it only the 3rd K-Pop group to chart within the top 10, and was one of the first-ever full English pop albums from Korea. The band will also be celebrating their 2nd English-language album release in December with iHeart Radio Jingle Ball performances: December 13: Philadelphia December 14: Washington DC December 16: Atlanta December 19: Miami
Iceland’s brightest new pop act Heidrunna emits an effervescent glow in her upcoming new single, ‘Borderline’ – a frenetic electro-pop celebration, out October 21 via Absolute Label Services.
Showcasing Heidrunna’s whimsical vocals to great effect, the synthetic ‘Borderline’ is a bouncy, harmonious utopia that promises to send you into a synthesized frenzy. Here we find Heidrunna wrapped around moments of indecision and finding herself on the “borderline” of romance: “Every time you say you love me / I’m on the borderline / I know I shouldn’t waste your time / It’s hard enough to find love / How could I think living with you would mean no more pain, and sorrow.”
Heidrunna: “A friend of mine was going through a hard time in a relationship and didn’t know how to let go. Borderline is about that feeling when you need to do the right thing and have a clean break, even though you know it’s fucked up and that’s the best option for you but you just can’t see the wood from the trees.”
The accompanying visuals for the track exhibit Heidrunna’s imaginative aesthetic; one that’s been showcased throughout all of her musical creations thus far.
With a voice so effortless she makes it look easy, Reykjavik’s Heidrunna’s delicately nuanced tone has perfected itself through her time being a member of an Icelandic girl choir, before inherently moving further into the spotlight and becoming the lead vocalist in native pop troubadours, Cigarette.
The beguiling aura of Heidrunna is one reminiscent of artists such as Nina Persson, Vanessa Paradis and Charlotte Gainsburg – all of who treat their voices as instruments. Heidrunna’s debut album – ‘Melodramatic’ is coming out early 2022, on board for production is Liam Howe whose portfolio includes the likes of Lana Del Rey, MARINA, FKA twigs and Ellie Goulding. With ‘Melodramatic’, he and Heidrunna have rewritten the guidebook, conjuring up the kind of impenetrably-authentic ‘80s backdrop that you’d be hard pushed to pick out in a line-up of the finest electronic albums of an era it presumably seeks to emulate and acknowledge in equal measure.
Heidrunna’s personal influences include post-punk ‘80s artists like Blondie, pioneering synth-based techno-crafters, Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, but also the style and romanticism of French artists like Serge Gainsburg, Daft Punk, Air and Phoenix.
IVAV recording artist Steven Malcolm was still a newcomer in the rap community when he appeared on KB’s “Sideways (Remix)” in 2015. Six years later, Malcolm — now a multi-time GMA Dove Award nominee with a string of hits — returns the favour by recruiting KB for “On Point.” It’s a collaborative tribute to stamina and steely-eyed determination, delivered by two hip-hop heavyweights who recognize the value of hard work. Listen to the track HERE.
“‘On Point’ is all about being sharp and withstanding the test of time!” says Malcolm, who fills the song with trap beats, a cyclical piano hook, and shoutouts to iconic quarterback Tom Brady. “Defying the odds is never easy,” he continues, “but a sharp mind can overcome any obstacle. The greatest QB and my favourite football player being Tom Brady, I couldn’t help but use the best as the metaphor.”
“On Point” follows the summertime release of All Is True, an EP whose five tracks have earned nearly 700,000 Spotify streams. If that EP found Malcolm focusing on songs about truth, then “On Point” finds him focusing on tenacity. He raps about his day-to-day work ethic and his God-given talent, splitting the song’s verses with KB along the way. Given the multiple mentions of Tom Brady, it’s no coincidence that “On Point” sometimes feels like the hip-hop equivalent of an athlete’s comments during a pre-game interview. Here, Steven Malcolm is limber, laced up, and ready to take the field.
“This record is all about high energy and motivation for anyone who is looking to be focused!” he explains.
Another product of the Tik Tok world, NDotz is here to deliver his highly anticipated single ‘Check’, following its hype on the social media platform. After expanding into the world of music, ‘Check’ offers an infectious chorus like no other, partnered with a top visual production.
The adolescent teenager represents North London and an Angolan heritage. Entering the scene as a dancer back in 2018 on Russ Millions smash hit ‘Gun Lean’, he then went on to tour with the artist before creating his own music where we are today. Previewing the song ‘Check’ this year caused NDotz to amass 122k followers on Tik Tok, 4 million likes and even saw the likes of Fredo doing the challenge on the platform. This viral track caught the eye of David Sonubi, the founder and day to day runner of No Signal. Forming his own label Seven Twenty Records to embark on his next venture with Ndotz’s ‘Check’ being the first of many releases to come.
A fun instrumental with melodic but rhythmic guitar teamed up with a strong groove from the drums and 808s, with top verses from the young rapper who dances over the beat in stellar harmony but with his own flows. The term ‘catchy chorus’ has never been so relevant and explains why the track went viral before it even came out. “Has she got a smile, check, eyes, check” rings around in the chorus bridge as NDotz portrays his cheeky side to the listener.
With all the videos and dances created on the Tik Tok platform from the original snippet, it was evident they had to do a video to illustrate this tracks danceability. Filmed in the urban areas of London, Ndotz is joined by many of his friends as they show just how entertaining this track is and brings across the mischievous character of the artist.
Setting out his journey on YouTube where he gained 32k subscribers in the first year, the hungry teenager wanted to diversify and grow further. He wanted to exercise his talent in music and that is exactly what we are seeing with ‘Check’. Considering the track was viral before this release, there is no limit to how far this track could go.
UK Rap artist Young Don releases his highly anticipated follow-up album in his trilogy of releases titled ‘Weatherman 3”.
Young Don is making a return to the UK rap scene with his ‘Weatherman 3 ‘mixtape release due Sept 24th hosted by DJ Drama with features from K Trap, Rimzee, Youngs Teflon, C Montana, Stefflon Don, Vory (signed to Roc Nation and on Kanye West’s new album) and more.
Young Don’s motivation behind the release of this album comes after working with DJ Khaled and Gucci Mane on his ‘Weatherman 2’ mixtape and his love for British Hip Hop garnered by the international support of his music.
Growing up in and around South London, Young Don has always displayed entrepreneurial skills in and outside of music, leading him to gain the respect of from industry heavyweights.
Equally, his love of music and savvy work ethic has allowed him to work with other artists such as Ace Hood, Vado, Bobby Valentino, Da BeatFreakz, K Trap, Stylo G, Qozo Medici, Youngs Teflon, Morrison, J Spades, Sneakbo, Fekky and Shaun White to name a few.
‘Weatherman 3’ album does not disappoint and is worth the wait hosted by award winner, DJ Drama, representing ATL.
DJ Drama who recently hosted Tyler the Creators new album, also plays the same role on ‘Weatherman 3. opening the album before leaving the sonic experience to let Young Don and his story telling bars comes through. ‘The Come Up’ is a notable track featuring Rimzee that is to the point, but very uplifting with its stress-free piano.
Queen of the UK urban scene Steff London provides a signature interlude in the middle of the 16-track album. Giving a voice to the streets, tracks with Corleone and K Trap have the character to be hits within the UK Rap scene with number one lyrical displays. Young Don attracted all these top features to ‘Weatherman 3’ to flow alongside him, providing clear evidence of his respect in the scene, not to mention the scope for success this album has.
award-winning actress/singer/songwriter Laura Dreyfuss releases her new single “Nose To Nose” via BMG. “Nose To Nose” is the first single from her upcoming Peaks EP set for release this November. The Peaks EP is available for pre-order HERE.
“Nose To Nose” can be downloaded and streamed HERE.
Including previously released tracks and two new cuts, the Peaks EP reflects Dreyfuss’ evolution as an artist. The single integrates acoustic strumming and handclaps into a warm electronic soundscape punctuated by shimmering keys and a guitar solo. Overwhelmed with a rush of happiness, she celebrates her three-year-old dog Banjo with playful lyrics about “tug-of-war” and “chasing you in circles just to kiss your face” before a heartfelt hook.
“With ‘Nose To Nose’, I wanted to capture the purest form of love, and I felt like a fun way to express that was writing about my dog Banjo. She’s such a presence in my life,” says Dreyfuss. “The lyrics seem like they’re about a person though! Musically, it’s the joy of having this unconditional love from an innocent animal. It’s a celebration of that.”
Audiences have certainly seen Dreyfuss everywhere from the Tony® Award-winning Once and Broadway phenomenon Dear Evan Hansen to Glee, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and NETFLIX’s The Politician. Now with the release of her solo debut EP they’ll finally get to know the singer, songwriter, and actress like never before. Taking the reins, she presents her most unfiltered vision yet through engaging electronic-inflected indie pop anthems rooted in candid lyricism and uplifted by dynamic vocals.
Working with producer Michel Heyaca, she introduced herself as an artist with singles such as “Be Great” [feat. Jeremy Pope], “Better Drugs,” and “Sidelines.” Beyond generating millions of streams and views, she attracted tastemaker praise from Complex, Nylon, and more.
In 2020, Laura had initially planned to maintain this momentum with more music, but she found herself stuck in South Africa for six months at the onset of the Global Pandemic after traveling there for a wedding.
‘Let My Country Awake’ is the third studio album by BISHI, visionary London musician, producer and founder of WITCiH. The album is due to be released on her own label Gryphon Records on CD and all major streaming platforms on 15th October 2021.
‘Inspired by reading ‘The Good Immigrant,’ I began to reflect on my own experiences of code-switching between cultures, the joy, the pain, and the isolation, which makes us all human.’BISHI
Post Modern Connection is an indie-band that defies norms. By constantly showcasing eclectic inspirations, the band keeps you anticipating what’s next.
Their soundscape varies, the music paired with thoughtful and carefully crafted songwriting. Soulful R&B infused vocals meet catchy indie-pop riffs – electronic synths pair with classical violin – Post-Modern Connection’s ability to play with dynamics is apparent. They describe their sound best as Indie-rock meets Neo-Soul & Jazz. The Strokes meets Leon Bridges. Inspiration comes from artists like King Krule, The Strokes, Alabama Shakes, Early Eyes, Leon Bridges, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Hippocampus.
Post Modern Connections inspirations are so diverse because that’s who they are as a band. Lead singer and guitarist Tega comes from Nigeria, lead guitarist Georges: Lebanon. Their bassist Steven from Taiwan. Drummer Cam and synth player and violinist Mitch call Canada their birthplace.
PMC draws on their unique backgrounds and experiences, personal histories and upbringing to create their emotionally charged music, captivating listeners.
“Be sure to check out “VIVACE” and please look forward to our promotion this time around. Hope to meet you soon, international SUMIT!” – LIGHTSUM
Cube Entertainment’s newest girl group, LIGHTSUM, returns with their very first comeback for their single album, Light a Wish. With this new release, the members seek to showcase their original and powerful performances, pure vocals, and more of their personal charms.
In June 2021, LIGHTSUM had a powerful debut with their single “Vanilla”. They ranked 8th on the World Digital Sales Chart, selling more than 19,000 copies in two days of the album’s release, breaking the record for the highest first-week sales among the new girl groups that debuted in the music industry in 2021.
Light a Wish consists of 3 brand new tracks with “VIVACE” being the title track. This album is meant to not only fulfill the members’ wishes, but the wishes of all of their listeners as well. The single album is being released in two versions,“Light” and “Wish”. The “Light” version is meant to depict the journey of finding something new after meeting in a place gilded with guiding lights and symbolically expressing the new portrait of a 21st century Genie, but deviating from the stereotypical image of the Genie from Aladdin. The “Wish” version conveys a natural vintage tone and enchanting nature of the Genie.
The concepts of the two versions, the artistic movement drawn by the group choreography perfectly synchronized as if the eight members have become one, and the colorful and sophisticated music video are the key points to watch for in this album, which is composed and arranged by notable artists such as WWWAVE from PAPERMAKER, Full8loom, and STEVEN LEE.
Born and raised in Chicago and transplanted to Los Angeles in 2014, The Guidance’s musical project was created in 2015 as a means of healing from the loss of his brother, a mechanism to cope with his own congenital heart disease and the looming presence of soon approaching transition from this planet. The Guidance, A.K.A Stefan Pruett had only waves to create, making a mark with his impactful artistic nature, while simultaneously reminding us how precious life truly is.
The Guidance had a deep talent and passion for music seeing his work bring a wide range of electronic genres and decades into a mashup of raw analogue synths, playful storytelling and rich melodic dance music. Having signed an album deal with Las Vegas indie record company Handwritten Records in 2020, Pruett and his producer Jeremy Dawson worked tirelessly on the creation of the upcoming album This Is Now. Tragically, just a few months after completion of the album, Pruett suddenly passed away. As a means to honor his life and all the work spent on the creation of this stunning album, together Dawson, Pruett’s family and Handwritten Records decided to continue with the release.
Following the release of “Fuck Art” comes the flagship single “I Didn’t Mean That.” One of Pruett’s favorite songs he had ever written, the track has an affecting intro with haunting lyrics such as “God is coming to me” cushioned in echoes. Touching on a narrative of regret and fear, the song maintains a steady, warm tone ensuring the clear message is delivered with sincerity. “I Didn’t Mean That” emits a hopefulness with playful melodies and rich, moving backing vocals floating alongside electronic pulses and analog synths, bridging a gap between an 80/90s flush of electronica and timeless tight drums. Pruett explained the song as, “a perpetual apology that I owe anyone in my life that I wronged. This includes my brother, and more of the most important people in my life.”
In just his short time on earth, The Guidance has made a considerable impression on those who had the privilege to meet him. Having toured internationally with Crystal Castles and with streaming numbers in the hundreds of thousands, his music touched the hearts of listeners across the globe and continues to do so. Following the release of his album next year, there will be a memorial and tribute show for Stefan Pruett at Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ on January 15th, 2022.