Category: dance pop

New Video: DRAMA Releases a Surreal and Otherworldly Visual for “Years”

Tracing their origins back to a chance meeting between its core duo back in 2014, the Chicago-based pop duo DRAMA — producer and DJ Na’el Shehade and vocalist Via Rosa — have managed to bootstrap a subtle yet rapid rise with a proudly DIY ethos, releasing several EPs of material that blurs the lines between R&B, dance pop, heartbreak and bliss, centered around a sound that meshes Shehade’s Chicago house-infused production and Rosa’s soulful delivery, inspired by jazz, hip-hop and Bossa nova. 

Now, as you may recall, the Chicago-based pop act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dance Without Me is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Ghostly International. The album’s material reportedly finds the duo recasting romantic tragedy as moonlit self-acceptance. Instead of wallowing alone in their blues and heartache, the material features characters who sashay and strut, knowing their self-worth while being vulnerable. This album is dedicated to the people watching their friend’s love-lives grow and happen around them, and not having anyone,” Rosa says in press notes.

I’ve written about two of the album’s releases singles so far: “Gimme Gimme,” a sultry synthesis of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa and classic, Larry Levan-era house — and “Nine One One,” a slow-burning, cinematic bit of Quiet Storm-like soul pop. “Years,” Dance Without Me’s fourth and latest single is a decidedly R&B-tinged affair that nods at What’s the 411-era Mary J. Blige and Robin S.; however, at its core, the song is full of uneasy conflict and bitter uncertainty : the song’s narrator recognizes that they’re deeply devoted to someone, who isn’t right for them. “This track is a bittersweet song about the conflict of wanting to let go but still hold onto someone you love, but you know they’re not right for you,” DRAMA’s Via Rosa says in press notes. “It’s about knowing you should walk away but also wanting to confess your unconditional and eternal love.”

Directed by Adam Chiayat, the recently released video features the members of DRAMA performing through a series of surreal and otherworldly transitioning spaces. “Filmed practically, we set out to create a series of otherworldly, constantly transitioning spaces for DRAMA to perform through,” the video’s director says in press notes. “Emotions can feel like they take us on a ride, floating us forward and bringing us towards things we need to tackle in our lives. The floating and the spaces seek to represent the themes of the song – speaking to your own heart, confronting your past and opening yourself back up to vulnerability.”

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New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sofi Tukker Releases a Wild Party Themed Visual for “Purple Hat”

Acclaimed New York-based electronic duo and longtime JOVM mainstays Sofi Tukker — Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — have been widely celebrated for an inclusive, global take on electronic music that’s thematically centered around self-empowerment, unity and liberation. 

“Drinkee,” the duo’s debut single received a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance Recording — and they continued an extraordinary run of early successes with their full-length debut Treehouse receiving  a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album. Adding to a growing profile of success, the New York electro pop duo’s releases have gone gold or platinum on every continent on the planet — with the exception of Antarctica. They’ve also played sold out shows and festival stops across the planet, and performed on some of the world’s most popular late night talk shows, including Italy’s X-Factor, the UK’s Sunday Brunch, Russia’s Late Show and Japan’s BuzzRhythm, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and most recently Good Morning America.

Released earlier this year, Dancing on the People is Sofi Tukker’s much-anticipated follow up to their highly-successful full-length debut. “Purple Hat,” the EP’s latest single is a joyous and ebullient track with a breezy Brazilian/Tropicalia-like intro that quickly turns into a thumping banger centered around tweeter and woofer rocking low-end, a funky Nile Rodgers-like guitar line, Bhangra-inspired percussion and a rousing and enormous hook while Hawley-Weld and Halpern trade vocal lines about a wild party in which the attendees let go of all pretense and facades and let their freak flags proudly fly. And as long as no one is getting hurt, be yourself, “shake that ass and show ’em what you’re working with!” Considering the hatred, opposition, thievery and bullshit we’ve been inundated with during this current administration, the song is absolutely necessary. 

“We wrote ‘Purple Hat’ the day after our first Animal Talk party,” the duo explains. “We started throwing these parties to bring back the wild and inclusive dancing vibe to the nightclub experience. Tuck was literally wearing a purple hat and a cheetah print shirt, people were climbing on top o people, it was over-sold and sweaty, our favorite people were packed in the booth, everyone was loose AF and feeling themselves. It was wild. Every Animal Talk party since then has been like that, and we wanted to capture that raw feeling in a song. If there was a song that included everything we are about, this would be the one.”

Directed by Charles Todd, a frequent Sofi Tukker collaborator, who also filmed the videos for “Fantasy” and “Swing,” the recently released video for “Purple Hat” was filmed during the duo’s sold out, homecoming show at Avant Gardner earlier this fall. Naturally, the video is split between excited Sofi Tukker fans arriving in cheetah print and purple hat gear, live performance shots and the concert crowd getting sweaty and wild, which further emphasizes the song’s spirit and feel. “This song was literally written about the energy of the crowds at our shows so we wanted to literally capture that energy for the video too,” the duo says of the video.  “It’s always so special playing back in New York, where everything started for us and we thought it would be the perfect show to film the video at. We didn’t want to get actors and have a fake party to recreate the energy — we wanted to do it in real life with real people, like we do most nights of the year. Really happy to relive that night over and over again.”

New Video: Brisbane’s Confidence Man Releases an Occult Themed Visual for 90s House-Inspired “Does It Make You Feel Good?”

With the release of last year’s full-length debut, Confident Music for Confident People, which featured a handful of breakthrough singles, the Brisbane, Australia-based dance pop act Confidence Man — led by Janet Planet and Sugar Bones and featuring Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild — received attention nationally and internationally for a crowd-pleasing, club friendly sound seemingly inspired by Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Deeee-Lite-era house music. 

Adding to a growing profile and busy summer, the rapidly rising Aussie dance pop played across the international festival circuit, including a stop at Glastonbury Festival — and amazingly earning an opening slot for the legendary New Order. Interestingly, Confidence Man’s latest single, the shimmering, club anthem “Does It Make You Feel Good” continues on the momentum of the past year. Centered around a slick production featuring  a thumping and propulsive beat, shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line and a rousing hook, the song manages to be heavily indebted to late 80s and early 90s house and Club MTV-era MTV — i.e., Black Box, C+C Music Factory, the aforementioned Deeee-Lite and others. But instead of ascribing to soulless mimicry, the song reveals an act with a careful  and deliberate attention to craft. 

Directed by the Aussie dance pop act’s longtime visual collaborators Schall and Schanbel, the recently released visual is s striking fever dream that’s reminds me quite a bit of the work of Dario Argento — but with an extensive dance sequence in between the gore, ecstatic occult rituals and laser shooting boobies and cute animals. 

New Video: Introducing the Dance Floor Friendly Sounds and Trippy Visuals of FORCES

FORCES is a new synth-based act, comprised of romantic couple and collaborative duo Jess and Dave. And although the project is a relatively new project, it’s centered around the 20+ year relationship and collaboration between its creative masterminds, who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous, long-term band Golden Dogs. Throughout The Golden Dogs’ run, Jess and Dave wound up collaborating with a virtual who’s who  of contemporary, Canadian indie rock, including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for the Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson. 

In 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album, although deep down they both admit that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. In fact, they were increasingly drawn to the a number of different production styles — in particular, The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure’s Close to Me and Timbaland. As a result, the duo, which splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms. 

Along with that Jess increasingly stepped up as a frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female harmonies. Simultaneously, Dave began to primarily focus on guitar textures and melodies. And of course, the material was primarily based around metronomic loops and electronics instead of the drums-bass-guitar they had long relied on. The end result is their debut single as FORCES, “Stay On Me.” The self-recorded, Graham Walsh and Jose Contreras-mixed track is centered around a funky Nile Rodgers-inspired guitar riff, layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a propulsive club-rocking groove and Jess’ sultry vocals that builds up to a cathartic sense of release. 

“The key lyric in ‘Stay On Me’ — ‘everything we all focus on, we become’ — reminds us to turn away from mind games in favor of focusing on what matters most in our lives, whatever that means,” the duo says about their glittering, disco bop.

Featuring FORCES’ Jess in over-sized movie star-like sunglasses, the recently released video is full of vibrant, neon-like colors and glitchy footage timed to the propulsive beats of the song to create a visual that’s trippy and mesmerizing. Look for more from the Canadian duo as they plan to release a new single every few months with an accompanying video. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Aussie Electro Pop Act Haiku Hands Release a Cinematically Shot Visual for “Dare You Not To Dance”

Featuring a core trio comprised of Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa, the Australian indie electro pop act Haiku Hands is split between Melbourne and Sydney, and together the members of the act, who are influenced by hip-hop, pop, electro pop dance music and others, curate, perform and work as part of a larger collective that engages with and explores social norms with their lyrical, musical and visual content. Last year was a big year for the Aussie electro pop act as their previously released, high-energy bangers “Squat,” “Jupiter,” and “Not About You” amassed over 3.5 million streams — and as a result, each single landed spots on iTunes charts across the globe; in fact, “Jupiter” was included on Matt Wilkinson‘s Best Songs of 2018 So Far list, and received airplay on BBC Radio 1 and Radio X.

Earlier this year, the Aussie electro pop act went on a month-long North American tour with CHAI that featured stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, as well as an opening date for Cupcake in Chicago, along with appearances at a handful of SXSW showcases.

Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, the Aussie electro pop act are about to embark on a month-long tour of North America with CHAI that features stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, as well as an opening slot for Cupcake in Chicago, and along with that they had a busy SXSW, making appearances at a number of showcases, which have helped expand their profile internationally. But in the meantime, the act’s latest single is the brash and infectious “Dare You Not To Dance,” which will further cement their reputation for crafting club bangers that mesh elements of riot grrl punk, hip-hop, house music, drum ‘n’ bass, EDM and trap music with enormous, shout along worthy hooks in a way that brings M.I.A. and Gwen Stefani to mind.

Directed by Nathan Lewis, the recently released, incredibly cinematic video follows a collection of different young people, enthusiastically dancing in public — and in some cases while they’re supposed to be working or some other moment; and unlike the occasional passerby, these dancers are completely unguarded and free.