INsiders Guide: Joshy Soul, YOVA, Fransis Derelle, Journey Montana, Annabel Gutherz, Now Ex, Miesa, Lukaijah….

Joshy Soul is an artist who finds his stride amongst the things he knows best: art and soul. As a performer, writer, producer, art director, stylist, fashion model, and roller-skating provocateur, his medium traverses first note to the last, first thread to final seam, and curtain draw to fall. His craft of art and soul varies as much as the clothes he struts. Through Joshy’s love of skating and fashion he has planted himself in the modeling and influencing zeitgeist as one that evokes feeling through the way he dresses and the way he moves. About his new song “New Lover”, Joshy says, “NEW YEAR, NEW ME, NEW LOVER. the song is about me having a rough year focusing on pleasing people and others. This new year I found myself a new lover (which is myself). Taking care of my mental health and not always putting others before especially my romantic relationships.” 

Based in Long Beach, CA, Joshy Soul has soaked up every hint of inspiration during his journey. At an early age gospel music was a critical thread of his youthful fabric. His grandmother from New Orleans would sing hymns of the religious South throughout their house, and this lit a musical fire in his heart that would eventually manifest itself into Joshy Soul. It was the clanging of the piano, hallowing of harmonies, and the impenetrable truth of music that rang true to Joshy. Today, Joshy finds himself in the midst of some of music’s finest that Los Angeles has to offer. Tori Kelly, YouTube sensation AJ Rafael, Phoebe Bridgers, and Moses Sumney — who studied music alongside Joshy under Alex Boyé at Riverside Community College.When with his former outfit ‘The Cool’ Joshy Soul amassed a noteworthy gigography including sold out shows at the Egyptian Theater and Gallivan Plaza in Salt Lake City, headlining the Treefort Music Festival, performing at Hard Rock’s Miami Dolphins Stadium, performing with Nick Murphy, and supporting the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, The Roots, Cat Power, Haley Reinhart, and more.

Welcoming in the new year – YOVA – a.k.a Jova Radevska & Mark Vernon return with the new single: “Haunted”.
Officially released across all services on 28th January, you can check out its bespoke accompanying video here and now:
Reaching for a spiritual connection with their younger selves, “Haunted” imagines what words of reassurance and guidance about the ways of life YOVA would pass-on in light of what they know now.
“Listening to the voice within takes us on the right path in life” muses Jova Radevska. “The chorus lyrics tell of that life force, powerful voice as guidance to be followed: ‘There is something inside, wild & free it reaches out’”. 
From its skeletal piano-based beginnings to the resplendent, lush string sections that blossom to life over the course of its five minutes, “Haunted” is very much a song for the winter months, but one that holds the promise of brighter times soon-to-come.
Arriving with bespoke visuals directed by Maltese/British photographer, filmmaker and author Mark Arrigo, the evocative official video for “Haunted” was shot in one-take and captures Jova Radevska in traditional dress, lost amidst the breathtaking and barren landscapes of the Lake District (Eskdale) at the height of mid-winter. Watch the video here
Written by YOVA and sung with the lullaby-like lilt of Macedonian vocalist Jova Radevska, the track features arrangements by her multi-instrumentalist companion Mark Vernon, as well as contributions from legendary producer and player Rob Ellis (ex PJ Harvey / Anna Calvi), plus Daniel O’Sullivan (Grumbling Fur). The strung-out pedal steel guitars also come courtesy of BJ Cole.
“Haunted” will appear on the debut album release from YOVA entitled ‘Nine Lives’, confirmed for worldwide release on 25th March 2022.  
Featuring nine shape-shifting songs, ‘Nine Lives’ features musical contributions from Terry Edwards (Nick Cave, Tom Waits) baritone sax; David Rhodes (Kate Bush, Scott Walker) guitars ; Anna Phoebe (Roxy Music) violin; Alex Thomas (John Cale, UNKLE ) drums; legendary pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole; Ian Olliver; bass, Nick Holland (Balanescu Quartet) cello, and Daniel O’Sullivan (Grumbling Fur, Tim Burgess) bass, viola and keyboards. Rich and complex multi-instrumentation comes courtesy of the celebrated Rob Ellis, who also plays drums and writes YOVA’s string arrangements throughout. The album notably also features an array of unusual and exotic instruments including the Onde Martenot, the Marxaphone and the medieval Sackbut.
Speaking about how their debut release came to be, Mark Vernon says:

“Once the structure of the nine songs had been written, each song then developed naturally with the musicians, initially Rob Ellis and Daniel O’Sullivan, reacting intuitively in terms of their playing and the instrumentation. In terms of genre, the music of each track is allowed to inhabit its own universe. So there are no pre-ordained or fixed common denominators, other than the voice, the personnel and the song structure. The musicians had the freedom to shape-shift the songs playfully throughout the album. I think of it as nine different rides on a trip to a sonic adventure park.”

Bass tastemaker Fransis Derelle returned to Monstercat today with his beautiful new single, “Shapes” featuring singer-songwriter, Saysha. Drawing inspiration from future bass and trance, the record is yet another example of Fransis’ sheer depth as a producer. The soft chords, warm atmospheric pads, and orchestral percussion mix perfectly with Saysha’s powerful vocals. As the track swells, the rich basses and bright arpeggiators inject vibrant and dynamic energy into the emotional lyricism. Synonymous to the meaning behind his moniker “Fransis,” the song embodies a hopeful message of being free and letting go. 

Fransis Derelle shares, “‘Shapes’ is a special song to me. It’s one of those songs that brings back the memories of when you first heard it. I hope it shines a light and gives hope to those having hard times.”

With previous appearances at Imagine Music Festival, Das Energi, and Countdown NYE, Fransis is no stranger to the festival circuit. Following a truly massive year with fan-favourite releases on Monstercat and Subsidia, he’ll join Excision on his North America arena run playing venues like The Coliseum, The Tacoma Dome, The Armory, NOW Arena, and more.

Rising Harlem-born R&B artist Journey Montana releases a set of two addictive new singles, “Good Girl” and “Bad Girl,” featuring Quality Control signee Metro Marrs. Available everywhere today on all music platforms, both tracks pull back the curtains to Journey’s sensational artistic state of mind as she deep dives into aspects of vulnerability and openness that propels her to an on-the-rise status of stardom.

Following on the heels of her debut album Loose Ends, Montreal-based singer & songwriter Annabel Gutherz is capping off the year with the release of ‘Loose Ends Sessions,’ featuring live renditions of “Checkmate,” “Barcelona,” and “Bloomer.” All 3 tracks are being released with accompanying in-studio videos.  Annabel recorded the ‘Loose Ends Sessions’ at Studio Piccolo in Montreal, Quebec with Dominique Messier (drums) and Kaven Girouard (guitar), two of Céline Dion’s long-time band members. Explaining why she chose these three particular songs from the album, Annabel says, “Each song pulls from a unique sonic palette and topically explores a different facet of my life’s expanding mosaic of stories, which is why I thought they would be especially fun to perform.”

Nick Hampson, the musician and acclaimed film director behind East London artist Now Ex, presents a completely new sound in pop music with his powerful debut EP Sad Kids In America.

Coming from a classically trained background, notably as a soloist in the Royal Opera as a teenager, Nick’s voice is rich with a soulful musicality and intense vulnerability. Defined by his unique, almost operatic, vocal style, and backed by an innate ability to tell relatable stories that helped earn his latest feature documentary “In The Cold Dark Night” a 2021 Emmy® award nomination, the title track is a timely and highly necessary anthem for the disillusioned youth of contemporary America.

Having an American mother meant Nick grew up spending large amounts of time in the deep South, surrounded by its incredible beauty, but also its devastatingly painful social issues. This of course heavily influenced the EP and its raw and poetic lyrics, creating a timeless piece that’s still uniquely relatable to the TikTok generation who avidly consumed his first 6 singles. Huge orchestral instruments sing out in this flawless production, led by star producer duo MyRiot, known for being at the helm of London Grammar’s debut and platinum-selling album, and masters at combining classically resonant vocals with an electronic underscore, to create infectious and chart-topping pop music. Despite the orchestral significance of Sad Kids In America it wouldn’t be a Now Ex song without a rousing electronic underscore that kicks in and uplifts the whole record to a triumphant chorus, as Nick begs the EP’s large and haunting question, “Will we be forever, Sad Kids In America?”.

Nick’s film work is highly significant to Sad Kids In America, giving his music a cinematic integrity and enabling him to create an EP that feels like a soundtrack. A

feature from Notion explains “Nick’s films and music both create and explore parallel worlds laced with melancholic euphoria and a hunger for life.” This can be felt in the stunning music videos Nick has directed and produced himself for the EP, as well as in past videos, such as for First Light, featuring rising star actor Lydia West (It’s A Sin, Years and Years). The video garnered over 200,000 views in a week and has been instrumental in helping Now Ex accumulate over one million streams from his first six singles. Now Ex has also crafted a truly exciting live show, delighting hundreds of fans at his recent packed headline gig at the O2 Academy Islington. With bookings flying in for 2022, Now Ex’s vast musical talent is sure to make waves on a global stage. Nick has interviewed on multiple BBC radio shows, and Ireland’s RTE, been Amazing Radio’s track of the week, as well as had editorial playlist support from Spotify multiple times on his early releases.

A poised and heartfelt vocalist, Miesa‘s knack for updating the classic R&B and pop sounds of the past comes to the fore on singles such as 2016’s “Too Bad for You,” 2020’s “Unsaid,” and the following year’s “4U.” Miesa has been involved in the entertainment industry on some level since childhood, going back to performances at pageants and talent shows. Her father, a musician, encouraged her interest in a wide variety of music. After Miesa signed to the Sony-affiliated Siri Music Group, she released a handful of singles from 2013 through 2016, including “Antidote,” “Nope (Can’t Let Go),” “Too Bad for You,” and “Sway (I Miss You).”
In 2016, she also appeared on the Skyville Live webcast alongside Patti Austin and Andra Day. In early 2017, she issued another single, “Overdrive,” which was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Adult R&B Airplay chart;it also received remixes and appeared in an acoustic version. As the 2010s came to a close, Miesa delivered more singles, including 2018’s “Broken” and 2019’s “Unsaid.”  Also in 2019, Miesa was featured as the Grammys’ NEXT artist and kicked off their Drop Series. Following the 2020 acoustic collection “Stripped,” which featured the Emeli Sandé cover “Breaking the Law,” she issued the single “Worried.” In anticipation of her debut album, Miesa offered the single “4U.” A duet with Justin Garner produced by Mansur, it appeared in April 2021.

Her highly anticipated upcoming single “Blind” is set for release on December 10th. The song was produced by Viirgos (Arianna Grande, Nicki Minaj) and is as bold in production as the lyrics, while infusing the soulful warmth of her vocals. Miesa confides, “Blind” is one of those songs that feels like everyone’s story and no one’s story all at the same time,” she adds, “sometimes in relationships the picture could be blurry.” Mixed by Paul Boutin (Toni Braxton, Babyface, Ariana Grande) and mastered by the legendary Herb Powers Jr. (Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston), “Blind” is off of her upcoming set.

Columbian-American artist Lukaijah’s new album “Rise,” sets the tone for an empowering new brand of consciously aware hip-hop. Raised in San Francisco amidst a melting pot of incredible musical influences, including classical music, rock, and hip hop, he trained in piano composition before finding his way to poetic hip hop. Unlike many mainstream counterparts, Lukaijah infuses every rhythmic moment with wisdom, strength, and uplifting words that encourage listeners to find their true Purpose in a chaotic world. With his new release, he uses the basis of power and freedom to remind us all we have what it takes to tackle our inner, and outer, demons.

The intro track, “Lion Tribe,” is the defining moment of “Rise.” It shines a light on the message of living in integrity and standing in courage. Poetic lyrics meld with a synth-meets-piano chorus that packs an emotional punch. The message is clear, the spirit of the lion tribe is driven by the need to rise above the lies and chaos to make the world a better place to exist. On “Sovereignty,” featuring Monique Benabou, Lukaijah dives deep into his individuality and unique hip-hop swagger. As he reflects on his purpose, he encourages others to tap into their self-worth. Hints of reggae pepper the rhythm and bring to life a sense of hope. As he says, “to all my people that are hurting, just want to say you’re worthy,” he reminds every listener to grow in their power.  With “Sacred Warriors,” he taps into the efficacious energy it takes to claim victory in the face of spiritual warfare. Booming beats and sizzling synths create an atmosphere ripe for the battlefield. A heart-centered battle cry that calls forth bravery, strength, and fortitude makes this a standout track on an already powerful album.

“Honor,” tells the story of a man who forgets all that Mother Earth gives him. Featuring dynamic vocalist Andrea Nicholas as mother earth, she sings to remind him of all that she offers. Stunning melodies and intense beats boom as he “prays for absolution for the great awakening” and apologizes for his abuse of power. It’s a stunning story brought to life with sonic perfection. Just as “Lion Tribe” is a call to action, “Rise Up” is a celebration of that action making a difference. Featuring Dawn Stefan on vocals, the two seamlessly create an atmosphere of positivity, reminding the Lion Tribe that they’re “paving the road for change, breaking the souls from chains.” While there is still work to be done, this beat-centric track celebrates all that has come to pass.

We all experience heartbreak, but Lukaijah finds healing in the act of losing someone you love. On “Heal Thy Heart,” he speaks to the opportunity for deep healing and a return to wholeness in the face of pain. A powerful anthemic instrumentation booms beneath his heart-centered lyrics, encouraging others to become aligned and attuned so that they can better listen to their Divine Calling. It doesn’t end at heartbreak, in fact on this track, it all begins again. “Imperfectly Perfect” explores the constant need to compare ourselves to others and seek validation from external influences. Featuring vibrant and inspirational vocals from Jess Magic, the two build a world of discovery, where each of us can learn to be kind to ourselves and embrace our unique differences. Quiet and introspective, warm vocals meld over the synths and beats while they remind us “first comes Love, all else comes after.”  For a single moment, Jess Magic and Lukaijah celebrate the power of simply loving someone else on “Diggin on you.” Filled with soul influences, smooth R&B vocalizations, and hip-hop rhythms, this unique love song is about loving someone with devotion and reverence. It’s just another reminder that even in the midst of changing the world, love is worth investing your time in.

What do you think?

Written by Neill Frazer

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