JOVM’s William Ruben Helms’ second day in Montreal in pictures and words.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms first day in Montreal in words and photos.
Paris-born singer/songwriter Fabien Gravillon specializes in Zouk, Kizomba and Afro pop — but in his native France, he may be best known as an actor, who starred in the hit French soap opera Plus belle la vie.
After the release of his debut album through Because Music, Gravillon went to Los Angeles and appeared in several videos by internationally acclaimed artists including Macklemore and Patrick Stump‘s “Summer Days,” Collapsing Scenery and others.
He also participated in several projects filmed at Fox Studios in Hollywood and for The Jim Henson Company. Interestingly enough, inspired by animation and by his experience as a voiceover artist, Gravillon decided that his music videos should be cartoons. . .
“Bonita,” Gravillon’s latest single is sleek and swooning, genre-defying bop featuring skittering, reggaeton beats. glistening synth arpeggios and Gravillon’s sultry and vulnerable cooing (in French and Spanish) paired with a two-step inducing hook. While being slick and modern pop song, “Bonita” is a sweet and old fashioned plea of devotion and love.
The animated video features cartoon version of Gravillon and the song’s titular Bonita on a romantic date that’s sweet in its old-fashioned feel.
Michael Odokara-Okigbo is an emerging Nigerian-American singer/songwriter and producer, who writes and performs under the moniker Michael O. His latest single, the Harvey Mason, Jr. co-produced “Japa” derives its title from the Yoruba slang word “to flee,” a reference to the many Africans across the continent, forced to seek out a better life in the West. The song is also a story of survival — and a story about the foundation and creation of America.
Featuring skittering African-inspired beats, glistening and atmospheric synths, bursts of strummed guitar and a razor sharp hook paired with Odokara-Okibgo’s sultry yet plaintive deliver, “Japa” is a breezy and slickly produced bop rooted in a deeply universal message of survival — and hope. We should all remember that folks everywhere are struggling, and many are resorting to the most difficult decision imaginable: picking up their entire life and going someplace they’ve never known for the hope of a better life. Many of our — and here, I refer to those in America, Canada, the UK and so on — ancestors have done the same.
“Japa” will appear on Odokara-Okibgo’s forthcoming EP, slated for release next year.
Odokara-Okigbo is also the founder of NKENNE, the first African language learning app. Founded to create solidarity and as an avenue for the global African Diaspora to connect to their roots through language and technology, the Nigerian-American artist and producer has won the 2022 Gorham Saving Bank Emerging Business Award. He has also received a grant from MusiCares COVID-19 relief program, which has helped him jumpstart his app and his EP.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates Tina Turner’s 83rd birthday.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms went off to Montreal last week — and of course, took photos.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates the 58th anniversary of Mark Lanegan’s birthday.
Rising Paris-based synth pop outfit Premier Métro — Dimitri, Sébastien, Alexandre and Enzo — specialize in a nostalgia-inducing, synth driven sound that seemingly draws from 80s pop, Flavien Berger, The Weeknd, and others.
Interestingly, with a handful of singles under their belts, the French quartet landed slots at We Love Green last June — and an appearance on Culturebox. Building upon a growing profile, the quartet’s latest single “Pour Quelques Secondes” is a slow-burning. hook-driven bop centered around glistening synths, thumping beats paired with ccihgl plaintive vocals that capture the few minutes that a performer or a band will feel like gods while performing on that stage. But it also scans as a bittersweet ode to fleeting youth.
Shot on an iPhone, the accompanying video follows the band in post-show glow, goofing off, getting on a metro and heading to karaoke spot before the phone finally dies.
Larry & Joe is a new duo that performs a fusion of Venezuelan and Appalachian folk music on harp, banjo, cautro, fiddle, maracas, guitar, upright bass and whatever else they decide to throw into the van. The duo features:
- Joe Troop, a North Carolina-based Grammy-nominated bluegrass and old-time musician, who spent over a decade in South America with his acclaimed “latingrass” band Che Apalache. With the pandemic, Troop got stranded in his old stomping grounds and as a result, his primary project was forced into hiatus. Troop shifted into action, working with asylum seeking migrants.
- Larry Bellorín, a Monagas, Venezuela-born, North Carolina-based Llanera music legend, and asylum seeking migrant. Bellorín works construction to makes ends meet, and writes and performs music in whatever spare time allowed.
Currently based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Troop and Bellorín are versatile multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters on a mission to prove that music has no borders, that music is the universal language. Their work is a distinct blend of their musical and cultural inheritances and traditions paired with storytelling about the ways that music and social movements coalesce.
The duo’s debut single is a subtle re-imagining of “Caaballo Viejo,” one of the most beloved and popular Venezuelan songs of all time. The song features the duo on their primary instruments: Bellorín on harp, Troop on banjo and vocals. While featuring a wildly different yet gorgeous arrangement, that gives the song a bluegrass twang, the Bellarín and Troop rendition is still centered around a timeless and deeply human heartache and longing that somehow effortlessly translates in every language.
Me.Kai is a singer/songwriter and guitarist, who began her career busking on Santa Barbara‘s streets covering an eclectic array of artists including Ella Fitzgerald and Dua Lipa, among others. Gradually transitioning from cover artist to solo artist, she became a staple in her hometown’s music scene, collaborating with of Area 51, Everything’s Fine, and a number of up-and-coming producers, including Gold Man and Burko. She has developed and honed a genre-blending style and sound that draws from Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks, and her love of bass heavy, indie electro pop.
Some of her songs have landed on Insomniac’s In/Rotation Label list, and several high-profile Spotify playlists. She has also had some of her work appear in the Netflix series All American. Building upon a growing profile, the Santa Barbara-based artist plans to be very busy: a number of collaborations with popular EDM producers and her debut EP are slated to on the horizon in the upcoming months.
But in the meantime, her latest single “Bump in the Night,” is a sultry and accessible bop centered around the Santa Barbara-based artist’s coquettish, come hither delivery and a breezy production featuring looping and glistening guitars, wobbling tweeter and woofer rattling low end, dancehall-like riddims and twinkling synths. Seemingly drawing from contemporary pop, dancehall and Quiet Storm soul, “Bump in the Night” is a song full of carnal longing and desire with a narrator boldly expressing that she has sexual needs that need to be fulfilled — tonight.