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INsiders Guide: Aiyana-Lee, Eden Hunter, Charli Taft, Madison Margot, rocco, Chloe Lilac….

London-born, LA-based Aiyana-Lee shares a stunning R&B ballad in “Gangster of Love” – her second release under the L.A. Reid’s HITCO. A smoldering, R&B ballad flowing with waves of emotion marked by pangs of slick instrumentals, “Gangster of Love” is an ode by the rising Gen-Z powerhouse to self- preservation in the midst of new love. Written by Sebastian Kole (Alicia Keys, Alessia Cara) and produced by GRAMMY® Award-Winning producer Neff-U (Michael Jackson, Doja Cat). “It’s about falling for someone but reminding them and yourself that you won’t allow them to play you, no matter how hard you fall,” says Aiyana-Lee. “You might just end up breaking their heart instead.” Aiyana-Lee is no stranger to reinventing herself. At 15, Aiyana-Lee and her mother moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being a singer, writer and performer. Combining elements of pop, R&B and soul with poignant, heartfelt lyrics, Aiyana- Lee’s powerhouse vocals have already captivated listeners and amassed nearly 3 million streams of her recent single “Bedroom” and “Rich Kids,” a fiery exploration
of her personal tenacity against materialism and prioritizing self-love. Growing up surrounded by music — her uncle was David Ruffin of The Temptations, and her grandfather was famed American soul singer Jimmy Ruffin — she began singing at age two. Jumping on stage whenever she had the chance, she’d grab the mic and belt out lyrics as a toddler when her mother brought her on tour. An artist whose vocal depth speaks for itself, Aiyana-Lee is the most recent signing to legendary music executive L.A. Reid’s entertainment company HITCO.

Following on from her debut independent single “Weightless”, British pop princess in-the-making Eden Hunter continues making her mark on the UK music scene with her second official single: “Chance My Heart”, released
independently via AWAL. An unapologetic synthpop banger, the charismatic “Chance My Heart” blends pulsing arpeggio synths with four-on-the-floor dance thumps to tell Eden’s uplifting story of following your dreams and never giving up on what’s in your heart. The independently produced music video sees Hunter hosting the ultimate sleepover with her real-life friends Taya Latter and Dexter Clift (aka River Medway, star of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3), complete with splendidly campy satin pyjama outfits, smooth dance routines (choreographed by Six the Musical’s Freya Sands) and charming hairbrush singing moments to channel the popstar fantasy Eden always dreamed about growing up in her bedroom. Speaking about “Chance My Heart”, Eden shared the following: Chance My Heart is a song I had been trying to write for ages. I knew and understood exactly what I was feeling, but I really struggled to articulate that into lyrics. After about ten months of trying to write the song alone, I explained the concept to Kaity Rae and she instantly got it. We wrote it together over Zoom at the height of the pandemic, which actually made it even more special for us both. I think when you want something so much, you have to be prepared to take risks and put what you have out on the line. Writing this was a reminder to me to go after my dreams no matter what and that although the journey may be rocky, you have to embrace every moment of it and celebrate your small victories.

In the video, I wanted to create a really colourful, playful space that my bedroom allows me to have; my bedroom has always been a space where I have felt safe to allow my imagination to roam free, and for the set we took elements from my real bedroom such as the bed, my clothes and the props. I personally built this set in my garden over the course of about three months with my friend Ol. There were eighteen 12ft flats which weighed about 50kg each – I really did feel like Superwoman by the time this video was filmed! I had the best time dancing alongside Dexter and Taya, two of my dearest friends. I hand-picked everyone involved on set because I absolutely admire and appreciate their talent; Freya Sands, who is an incredible choreographer, and Rosie Williams who is just the most insane make-up artist. “Chance My Heart” follows on from the success of Eden’s October single
“Weightless”; supported by international tastemakers including Notion Magazine, Equate Magazine, Crack in the Road, The Q Review, The Honey Pop, Australia’s Amnplify and Belgium’s Dansende Beren, “Weightless” has since racked up over 10K streams and was further marked by Eden’s sold-out launch show (400 tickets) at London’s Bush Hall, where Eden was supported by Island Records guitar-pop riser Josie Proto. Although on first listen one might assume Hunter is speaking about romance in her songs, Hunter’s music actually explores platonic relationships and the relationship with herself. All of Hunter’s music is only written from the perspective of what she
personally experiences: “My songs have really genuine, raw messages. None of my music I write for my own artist project is about being in love because I have never been in love; it’s about friendship, hardship, happiness, drive, intuition. I can write about being loved and loving someone, but being in love is something very different which I haven’t personally experienced.”

The incomparable rising UK R&B star Charli Taft makes a stunning return via “Sentimental” – a classic R&B-funk number, served as the latest slice from Taft’s upcoming 2022 debut album. Instantly enticing listeners with its opening funk guitar grooves and hip-hop flavoured beat, “Sentimental” is an outstanding throwback evocative of the late ‘90s / early ‘00s golden years of R&B, elevated by Taft’s honeyed harmonies akin to icons like Brandy and Faith Evans. Co-writing all of her music and produced by Charli’s partner in crime, the acclaimed GRAMMY winning producer Daniel “Obi” Klein (Method Man, Fat Joe), “Sentimental” emerges as a nostalgic yet undeniably fresh up-tempo blues bop about being stuck in an impossible situation with someone that you just can’t bring yourself to leave. “Sentimental” is further marked by an impressive music video directed by
underground Korean visionary MADSCENE (BamBam, N.Flying); defined by edgy, fashion-forward cinematography, the striking “Sentimental” clip depicts Charli strutting through vibrant night-time settings in the city of Seoul, distinctly capturing the vibe of MTV’s 90’s and 2000’s heyday. Sharing her thoughts on “Sentimental”, Taft said the following: “Sentimental” is a record that sonically really sets the tone for my album. On the one hand, the lyrics
are personal and intimate; I’m generally an optimistic person and I always want to see the best in people, so I’ve definitely left myself open to heartbreak in the past and I think so many people can relate to that. On the other hand, the track has this soulful, hip-hop bump. I love exploring that push-pull in my music. Even when I’m singing a song about heartbreak, I still want people to feel good when they hear it. Obi and I knew we wanted to make something 2000’s inspired with a nostalgic, organic feel. We were playing songs to get us in the mood, including one track we absolutely love called “Alright” by Freeway; listening to that record gave us such a good feeling that we ended up carrying all that energy forward and we made “Sentimental”. I wanted the music video to have a grainy, underground feel that would complement the track. It was filmed during a twelve-hour shoot on my last day in Seoul. Obi and I had just finished up a week-long writing camp so we had a really tight schedule to fit everything in. As soon as we started shooting, the energy was amazing and everyone gave everything they had, even in the insane July heat!

London-via-LA indie storyteller Madison Margot returns with the enchanting “If We Fall” – another chapter of her autobiographical pop, following on from the dreamy rock sounds of July’s “Heathrow”.  

Warmly blending a slow-burning beat with fairytale lyricism detailing a passionate escapade, Madison’s soothing and dreamy vocals lie at the heart of this romantic diary entry. Further marked by a self-directed music video shot in Paris, the candid footage creates an intimate ambiance elevated by vintage effects for an old Hollywood atmosphere – the perfect match for the song’s starry-eyed story about the ultimate chase for true love.

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 Sharing her thoughts on “If We Fall”, Madison said the following: “This song is about having an intense crush on someone and wanting them to give in and fall for you. Knowing you would give them everything, but not even that is convincing enough. This song is for everyone who falls hard and loves relentlessly – even when it’s met by so much resistance. I shot the music video in Paris because it’s the city of love! I’m wandering around all alone in one of the most romantic cities in the world. You can feel the longing and the hope – it’s a video full of escape.”

 Whilst always keeping personal detail at the forefront of her music, Madison’s growing discography hones in on creating a distinctively relatable experience, each of her songs acutely tapping into the inner thoughts and feelings which come with romantic experiences.

 Enlisting major names like Kyle Shearer (Dua Lipa, Melanie Martinez) and Chris Jones (The Chainsmokers) to build a catalogue of pop gems, ranging from the fiery funk-pop passion of “Virgin in a Red Dress” to the calming synths of “In the Morning”, the wholly independent artist has achieved critical acclaim from the likes of EARMILK for her creations and has independently amassed an impressive 150K+ streams for her 2020 debut project The Chronicles of Lovers – all coming together to position Madison as an exciting, promising indie pop prospect.

 Via Madison’s innate ability to hit right at the heart with her descriptive lyrics whilst making you feel like her tales are yours, “If We Fall” continues to underline Madison’s unique talent with plenty more in the pipeline for 2022.

rocco, first known as the son of famed musician Ted Nugent, has spent years crafting his own experimental sound inspired by artists like Frank Ocean, Kanye, Incubus, and Kid Cudi.  Beyond insightful lyrics and dynamic storytelling, rocco, utilizes sound, video, and the idea of identity to bring his “multi medium canvas” to life. He’s fearless when it comes to cutting his emotions and fears open, tackling tough issues like mental health, racism, and self-actualization.

On “grey theory,” rocco, reflects on the duality of separation, especially regarding race, as he tries to see the world without color. Using a blend of dynamic percussion and exploratory lyrics, he tells the story of growing up a white boy immersed in the world of hip hop, rock n roll, basketball, and American culture. The sonic tension aligns with the struggle of being stuck between the two worlds of White America and Black America. These two worlds seamlessly blend together to create one of “grey,” where colors merge and cultural paradigms shift. As he learned to embrace the racial color spectrum and the in’s and out’s of our “collective pigment trauma” he reminds listeners to love and accept the differences in all of us — from “lofi-emo-trap” beats to “neo-synth-soul” it all holds a place in our world.

(Credit: ONErpm Studios)

Artist and songwriter Chloe Lilac has released her new mixtape entitled when i feel better, along with new single, “sick.” Stream the mixtape everywhere now here. Watch the official video for “sick” here.Traversing relationship struggles, self-realization, and mental health battles, when i feel better is an exposé defining Chloe Lilac’s growth over the past year. Endearing vulnerability and raw lyricism characterize each track on the mixtape as a diary entry of sorts, entrusting the listener with Chloe’s vivid viewpoints on the world. On the project, Chloe notes, “when i feel better is a collection of songs I wrote in quarantine, hoping that I’d release them when the world was in a better place. I can’t say that the world is in a better place now, but it felt right to put these out.”Returning with a vengeance in 2021, Chloe released her first single off when i feel better this summer titled “10 things,” a play on the classic ’90s rom-com. The gritty alt-pop take on a “friend breakup” landed a spot on Spotify’s ‘New Music Friday’ and left outlets like MTV News and EUPHORIA. hungry for more from Chloe’s new era.The release of “19” came next, leaving listeners with a powerful examination of the state of the world as Chloe navigates her own self-examination as a teenager in turbulent times. Ending with an exasperated sigh, the introspective track was featured on NPR ‘All Songs Considered and is now released on the mixtape as a new acoustic version, stripped-down and revealing an elevated passion in her vocal performance.Today, we see the mixtape released in its full form, along with new track, “sick.” The dreamy production echoed by Chloe’s biting lyricism aids in her likening of relational toxicity to a contagious sickness – one that she needs to be distanced from to reclaim her power. On the track, she says, “I wrote ‘sick’ about dating someone who will do anything to get what they want. Whenever I re-listen to it I think of the phrase ‘hurt people hurt people.’ Being with someone like that can make you as sick as they are.”

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