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INsiders Guide: NOW EX, Kendy X, JODY AND THE JERMS, Rose Ranger, Dana Gavanski, Shadow Academy, Willow Kayne, BenDeLaCreme, Flo Gallop, ONEUS….

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.

Dedication and discipline drive success in any arena. Kendy X gained her grind mentality from a childhood dedicated to gymnastics and now she applies it to music with her own scorching and sizzling brand of R&B. The Chicago-born and Long Beach-raised singer, songwriter, and co-founder of The Rose Fest Music Festival hustles with the heart of an athlete as she simultaneously projects a fresh and fiery presence across the culture.Kendy X’s vision begins to unfold on her 2022 independent debut project and much more to come.Even though gymnastics and music are completely different, gymnastics taught me work ethic and how to perform in front of people,” she affirms. “The dedication helped me in the long run. I learned how to put all of my effort into what I want to doand just do it.”

JODY AND THE JERMS are back with the new single: “Heavenly”. The track arrives as the lead single of a new album: ‘Flicker’, out 4 March.

STREAM “HEAVENLY” HERE

True to its title, it’s a track of divine indie-pop that finds the Oxford-via-Wales band harking back to the genre’s golden era.

For a track written in hell-on-earth (i.e. a traffic jam going over Henley Bridge as the band made their way to the studio one day), “Heavenly” defies all expectations with its saintly vocals, shimmering guitars and sunkissed melodies. 

A bittersweet love song that will play a serenade on your heart strings, “Heavenly” is all “about the perils of falling for someone head-over-heels and how that plays out” says Jody.

Written and recorded on the same day in October of last year, the song is a beam of warmly fuzzy guitar pop laced with all the promises of new romance and new beginnings around the corner, yet spun with the reclusive cautiousness familiar to any indie kid finding their way.

Earning a dedicated fan in the late broadcaster Janice Long, the new single was aired for the very first time when Jody & The Jerms were invited into what would be the DJ’s last ever live session on 20th December 2021, shortly before her passing.

“Heavenly” is the lead single and opening track of Jody & The Jerms’ upcoming second album, ‘Flicker’ which they also announce today. Confirmed for release on 4th March 2022 via their own JATJ imprint, ‘Flicker’ arrives less than 18 months after the surprise hit of their lockdown-released debut ‘Deeper’ (released Autumn 2020).

Like resurfacing a lost reel of Super-8 from days long forgotten, ‘Flicker’ is as warmly nostalgic as it is endearingly pure. Nestling neatly somewhere between the pristine catalogues of Blondie, The Bangles and The Darling Buds, the Jerms deliver 13 fuzz-driven, love-lorn jangle-pop gems of the most classic kind.

Songs of lost-loves and first-loves, escapism and outsiderdom are spun with a sanguine innocence and vivid relatability; Jody’s sweet-natured vocal perfectly paired with the dynamic musical arrangements of the Jerms.

I feel that music is the most powerful medium in our culture because it is a universal language. Music has the ability to move us into our heart and out of our fears.

And so I am wearing my heart on my sleeve with “Confession,” the new song from my album out in May 2022. At some point, most of us have felt that we weren’t ready for something. We needed more time to get to know ourselves better. Have a listen to “Confession” on SoundCloud and Spotify.

More specifically, this is a musical love letter to someone from the past who you had an undeniable chemistry and connection with, but couldn’t make it work. Sometimes in the process of trying to figure out what we want, we might confuse or hurt people around us.

The song communicates both regret and hope, after finding honesty and a sense of peace in self-reflection. Head over to YouTube to watch the official lyric video now.

There’s something mezmerising about the fingertips of Dana Gavanski. Conducting each note with a light gracefulness, they appear to dance whilst aiding their owner in expressing the stories behind each of her lighter-than-air tones. Stories which, on her new album When It Comes, may never have been heard if not for healing ‘lost’ vocal cords and a lesson in taking the rough with the smooth.

“In many ways this record feels like it is my first,” Dana tells. “When I could use my voice, I had to focus so there is an urgency and greater emotional trajectory than before… it’s very connected to vocal presence, which extended into an existential questioning of my connection to music. It felt like a battle at times, which I frequently lost.”

Arriving where introversion and extroversion meet, When It Comes is Dana’s most vulnerable record to date. A Canadian-Serbian artist unafraid of extremes, she seamlessly blends her love of music from the 50s-70s with mythology. Led by instinct in its purest form, Dana’s latest chapter is an ode to the voice as an instrument – its power, and how intricately it can deliver words to tug at, and tie knots in, every heartstring. “Words can be taken quite literally, but to me, a lot of the time, they are pivots. They point in a direction but don’t necessarily stay there,” she says.

After many years collaborating behind the scenes, Jim Roach and Dan Avidan have joined forces to form the epic rock band Shadow Academy. Their debut singleWhite Whale” is out now, with fans of the young group fervently showing their support online, along with the music video that is featured on Hollywood Life.

After spending years together in the studio working in a producer-artist capacity with musical comedy duo Ninja Sex Party, Jim Roach and Dan Avidan realized they had a shared affinity for many older bands that all shared themes of big music, big guitars, and even bigger songs. During the early months of COVID-19, Jim started sending Dan new music to work on mainly to pass some time, and in turn, Dan would work on lyrics and melodies that were primarily inspired by the classic books he was spending his downtime reading. From Dracula to Moby Dick, many of the song themes were inspired by these classics, as seen with the debut single “White Whale.” “After writing our first song, “White Whale,” together we knew we were onto something special” recalls Jim – and thus Shadow Academy was born.

Over the space of less than a year, London-based, Bristol-born artist Willow Kayne has turbocharged the landscape of pop music. While adding her own impact to modern culture at large with standout contributions to the FIFA 22 soundtrack and a ubiquitous spot on Flannels’ Christmas advertising campaign, her high octane, postmodern touch on pop has already earned critical acclaim with her winning the Ivor Novello Rising Star award for 2021 and being mentored by pop legend Nile Rodgers in the process. Today, Willow’s first dynamic full statement as an artist is unleashed on the world in the form of her highly anticipated debut EP, Playground Antics.

Opening with the audio suckerpunch of “Opinion” and it’s vivid ode to child-like horseplay and nursery chants, Willow throws down her gauntlet as an artist with unmatchable confidence and belief over an unfuckwithable style of rebel-pop in the vein of icons such as M.I.A. and Santigold. “I Don’t Wanna Know” expands on this willful defiance even further as Willow pays tribute to the rave culture she fell in love with as a young teen in Bristol as she sticks her middle finger up to online trolls over a pulsing, break-laden instrumental. “Faces Change” provides the most personal moment on the project; a slow-burning cut of aural melodrama that pays homage to the pioneering trip-hop acts of her Bristol hometown while providing an all-too-relatable story of true characters revealing themselves as life moves on, and how to move forward in life without them. For a true encapsulation of Willow Kayne’s deft ability to take her daring assuredness and turn it into an incendiary take on modern pop, look no further than “This Is My Film,” a track that reinforces the idea that this is Willow’s world, we’re all just living in it over buzzsaw synths and explosive 808s. Willow’s debut single “Two Seater” also features on the project, a rabble-rousing ode to living life on your own terms inspired just as much by the carefree indie-pop of 90s as it is by the breathless flows of traditional hip hop. The project closes with a truly thrilling dose of genre experimentation in the form of “Jealous” – a hair raising take on snarling punk as Willow provides her take on the Sniffin’ Glue glory years of punk, leaving the listener with no solid answer about where Willow will take her richly diverse sound next.

Global drag icon and RuPaul’s Drag Race star, BenDeLaCreme, will embark on her biggest solo tour yet as star and Lead Producer – April 13 through July 10, 2022 – with her critically acclaimed, narrative-cabaret, “BenDeLaCreme is…READY TO BE COMMITTED” (produced by BenDeLaCreme Presents). This one-queen extravaganza is a hilarious and heartfelt spectacular that blends burlesque, comedy, and original music with her signature Terminally Delightful charm. 

After years of people asking the aggressively effervescent queen if she can “please, settle down,” BenDeLaCreme is finally ready to tie the knot in something besides her corset. Now, all she needs is a potential spouse. And a dress. And a cake. And the ability to consider others. 

It’s a relay race to the altar as DeLa dodges pervy Grindr suitors, bitchy wedding-cake-toppers, and the errant arrows of Cupid himself! Join the blushing bride as she tackles the pitfalls of love, marriage, and romance in a limited engagement about the limitations of engagements.

After the original iteration of the “Ready to Be Committed” tour was postponed in 2020, the 2022 tour has increased in size. BenDeLaCreme’s 2021 holiday tour, “The Return of the Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE!” with co-star Jinkx Monsoon, marked the queen’s highest grossing tour under BenDeLaCreme Presents, further showcasing DeLa’s growing impact within the drag and theater industry as a producing powerhouse. She also became the first drag queen to produce a feature film (under pandemic restrictions) with “The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special” (2020), landing BenDeLaCreme Presents an exclusive licensing deal with streaming giant, Hulu. The film won “Lockdown LOL” at the 2021 Queerties.

BenDeLaCreme says, “After two long years of postponements I’m OVER-FREAKING-JOYED to be bringing my new solo show back on the road! And I gotta tell you all: this one’s a doozy! ‘Ready to Be Committed’ is the story of one queen who searches for love and finds a whole lot she never bargained for—Bitchy brides, pervy Grindr guys, corpse-eating cats, song, dance, and more puppets than you ever thought you’d see at a wedding. I can’t wait to share DeLa’s special day with all of you! Save the date!”

Written, directed, and produced by BenDeLaCreme, “BenDeLaCreme is…READY TO BE COMMITTED” showcases the multifaceted superstar at her best. The show played to sold-out crowds in New York City and Provincetown upon its debut in 2019.

Ticket info here.

2022 Tour Dates for “BenDeLaCreme is…READY TO BE COMMITTED”:

4/13 thru 4/17 – Oasis (San Francisco, CA)

4/19 – Big Night Live (Boston, MA)

4/20 – Warner Theatre (Torrington, CT)

4/21 – State Theatre (Portland, ME)

4/23 – Academy of Music (Northampton, MA)

4/24 – Asbury Lanes (Asbury Park, NJ)

4/27 – Variety Playhouse (Atlanta, GA)

4/28 – Muse (Minneapolis, MN)

4/30 – Majestic Theatre (Detroit, MI)

5/1 – Wooly’s (Des Moines, IA)

5/3 and 5/4 – Sony Hall (New York, NY)

5/6 – Texas Theatre (Dallas, TX)

5/8 – Emo’s (Austin, TX)

5/12 thru 5/15 – Dynasty Typewriter (Los Angeles, CA)

5/17 – The Depot (Salt Lake City, UT)

5/18 – Summit (Denver, CO)

5/20 – Amaturo Theater | Broward Center (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

5/21 – The Plaza Live (Orlando, FL)

5/23 – 9:30 Club (Washington, D.C.)

5/24 – Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)

5/26 – Thalia Hall (Chicago, IL)

7/5 thru 7/10 – The Triple Door (Seattle, WA)

Additional dates across the UK will be announced shortly!

You already know Flo Gallop. You’ve already heard her voice, it’s a pitch-perfect, beautiful, arm-around-the-shoulders version of the one in your head. Flo is the voice we all need, She’s the beat behind our breakdowns and the word-perfect poetry of our bounce-back pick-ups. South-east London born and bred, Flo was raised around music, her dad made songwriting feel like breathing. Without it she would choke. So, she sat, scribbling words, diarising an everyday life through the musicality and soul of a natural artist that would eventually emerge, fully formed, as a friend in your ears.

 Her latest single “sorry for you, mate” rings true to the songwriter’s honest and playful storytelling lyricism. Written from the heart, the single speaks of the demise of a relationship and focuses on celebrating the loss of a negative person in your life, rather than mourning it. Flo shares, “I hope the music inspires people to dance and be happy when they’re listening to it. If something is not quite right in their lives or as good as it could be, maybe something as simple as one of my lyrics might inspire them to change it. That would be amazing!”

Shining with an effervescence, the track is reminiscent of “Señorita” by Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, with a snappy rhythm section that brings to mind the likes of “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. Glowing with positivity, Flo makes the best out of a bad situation, always trying to find the silver lining. Bursting with exuberance and an IDGAF attitude “Sorry for you, mate” is the perfect anthem to wash all worries away. 

Having garnered acclaim from notable publications including Wonderland Magazine, 1883 Magazine, Rolling Stone India and Ones to Watch to name a few, as well as heavy support from the BBC and with almost a quarter of a million streams under her belt, 2022 is set to be a promising year for Flo Gallop.

K-Pop group, ONEUS, are preparing their U.S. tour, which includes fourteen stops all across the country. The Blood Moon Tour kicks off on February 12th at Webster Hall in New York City, and wraps up a month later on March 12th at Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA.Named by Billboard as a “K-Pop Act To Watch,” this will be the bands second U.S. Tour since their debut in January of 2019. ONEUS‘ first U.S. Tour in 2019, Fly With Us, hit six different cities; and now just under 3 years later, their upcoming 2022 tour has catapulted to sixteen cities. Focus track ‘”LUNA” off their latest mini-album, BLOOD MOON, sticks to their roots; like many of their previous releases. The track was composed with an oriental musical instrument and Korean traditional flute, Pili. Vocalist Seoho elaborates; “We want to show more elements of Korea’s traditional culture, but we don’t want to be tied to a specific genre.”

neillfrazer@hotmail.com

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Written by Neill Frazer

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