Category: Electro Pop

Founded by some of the originators of CMJ and its long-running CMJ Marathon, Mondo.NYC is a music, technology and innovation-based festival that within its first couple years has quietly taken the place of both the CMJ Marathon and New Music Seminar’s New Music Nights Festival. Now, as you may recall, the third edition of Mondo.NYC took place last week and it found the global, emerging music, technology and innovation conference moving a few miles east across the East River to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with  The Williamsburg Hotel,Rough Trade and Brooklyn Bowl hosting daytime conference-related events hosted by  The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Guild of Music Supervisors,Record Store Day, and others meant to connect fans, artists, music industry professionals, business pioneers and leading names in tech and music to network, trade ideas and learn in a rapidly changing industry landscape. Additionally, the panels, talks and other events were meant to inspire young people to take control of their careers — whether they were heading towards a technological-based career, behind the scenes in A&R, marketing, promotion, management and publicity or up in front as an artist.

Live music showcases took place across a handful of venues in the New York metropolitan area, including the aforementioned Brooklyn Bowl, Piano’s, Berlin, Arlene’s Grocery,  Coney Island Baby, The Delancey, DROM, Hank’s Saloon, Niagara, N.O.R.D. and Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall that featured artists from the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, France and elsewhere performing music across a wide array of genres and styles.

One of the artists who played during the music festival portion was the Swedish adult contemporary pop artist ELINDA, the collaborative music project of the Ekerö, Sweden-born, Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter and dancer Linda Östergren Frithiof and her husband, multi-instrumentalist and producer Mikael Frihiof. Linda Östergren Frithiof can trace the origins of her performing career as a trained dancer, studying at  the Lasse Kühler Dansskola School and the Ballet Academy, one of Scandinavia’s leading dance schools. While training as a dancer, it was discovered that Östergren Frithiof had a commanding voice and once she graduated dance school, she began performing at nightclubs, cabarets, vacation resorts, cruise ships and corporate events before landing gigs as a backup singer for a number of major Scandinavian artists including Magnus Uggla, Markoolio and E-Type, Shirley Clamp, Martin Stenmarck and Charlotte Perrelli, as well as Lutricia McNeal. She’s also sang vocal demos for Celine Dion, and collaborated with the likes of Leif Larsson and Anders Borgius for Swedish artists like Björn Skifs and David Hasselhoff. (Yes, David Hasselhoff.)

Linda_skinnjacka-20.jpg

Adding to a rather diverse and eclectic career path, Östergren Frithiof has played Sally Bowles in the Stockholm-based production of Cabaret and Joanne in the Stockholm-based production of RENT before joining The Original Band — The Abba Tribute, which features a number of musicians who have played with ABBA either on their records or tours. Additionally, Östergren Frithiof, was involved in the casting, choreography and scripting for the show, which has toured across Sweden and has performed in China several times, including a televised audience of more than 100 million viewers for the Chinese New Year broadcast.

Östergren Frithof, has been building up a profile as a solo artist largely inspired by the sounds, vocal styles and stage shows of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Prince, Justin Timberlake,Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande and Bruno Mars. With her husband and collaborator Mikael, they formed a label Breaking Records and began writing and recording original material that draws from her own life, centered around her struggles and victories as an artist and mother of five. Interestingly, her MONDO.NYC set at Piano’s was her Stateside debut and I spoke to the up-and-coming Swedish adult contemporary pop artist and her husband at P.J. Clarke’s Lincoln Center location about her career to date, the MONDO.NYC Festival, her dance floor friendly, feminist anthem “Superwoman” and a lot more. Check it out.

Advertisements

Throughout this site’s eight plus year history I’ve written a lot about the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar, and as you’ll likely recall he has received attention for slickly produced, funky as hell, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul hip-hop, New Wave and others.  Interestingly, over the past year or so, the longtime JOVM mainstay has increasingly employed the use of live instrumentation to his remixes; in fact, his latest remix finds him taking on the Depeche Mode classic “Never Let Me Down Again.”

Featuring Jason Spillman (bass), Angus Mashgyver (guitar) and samples of Heavenly Music Corporation and Cliff Martinez, the remix retains Dave Gahan‘s imitable vocal but places it within a slightly more up-tempo setting with layers upon layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a dance floor friendly break, and ambient flute and other instrumentation to bolster the song’s melody in the song’s quieter moments. Live bass and guitar give the song a muscular and funky heft. But while pushing the song from ambient and industrial electro pop to thumping, industrial-inspired house, Rhythm Scholar manages to retain the most important quality of the song — it’s brooding, emotional quality.

New Video: Maria Del Pilar’s Groove-Driven Call for Empathy for DREAMers

Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.

Directed by Maria del Pilar and Guillermo Moreno, the recently released lyric video begins with a number of DREAMers telling the stories of the sacrifices and risks that their parents’ and loved ones’ took to get to the States, the big hopes and even bigger dreams they had for their children — and the deep seated sense of appreciation these DREAMers have for their parents. Photos of some of these DREAMers with their parents at various ages, ending with these young people graduating from school — and everyone is beaming with pride and hope for bright futures. The lyric video will further emphasize the song’s call for empathy (which we need more of in a deeply cynical world). 

Throughout the past summer, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland-based synth pop act Free Love, and since their formation back in 2014 under the name Happy Meals, the act which is comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of Scotland’s most acclaimed, contemporary electronic music acts; in fact, their 2015 full-length debut Apero received a Scottish Album of the Year nod. And adding to a growing profile. the duo has opened for Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TXMoscow, and Bangalore.

With the release of “Synchronicity,” a track that may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle, the duo further cemented their reputation for crafting utopian-leaning and brainy dance pop centered around shimmering analog synths. As the duo explained in press notes, the song is breaking free from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom. The Scottish synth pop duo released two more singles, the ecstatic Giorgio Moroder and New Wave-like “Pushing Too Hard,” and the acid-house-like “July,” which brought Come With Us-era Chemical Brothers and Tweekend-era Crystal Method to mind. The duo’s forthcoming EP Luxury Hits is slated for a November 9, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single “Playing As Punks” will further cement the Scottish duo’s reputation for crafting 80s inspired synth-based New Wave — in this case, much like “Synchronicity,” taking its cues directly from early New Order and early house music as the track sonically is centered around arpeggiated synths, industrial clang-like drum programming and an soaring yet infectious hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song focuses on being here in this very brief moment with the understanding and acceptance of the fact that it won’t last.

 

 

 

Now, over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, and the act, which features Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Caspar Hesselager can trace its origins to Coleman and Hesselager’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work in a number of different projects — and naturally, the duo were encouraged to collaborate together. 2015 saw the release of their debut single, but 2016 the duo saw critical praise from The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRWKEXPNorway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft with the release of the Medication EP and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn.  Adding to a growing international profile, Coleman and Hesselager have a Hype Machine #1 single under their belts, have opened for Noel Gallagher, and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown FestivalRoskilde FestivalGreen Man FestivalSziget FestivalLatitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.

Nowadays, the Australian-Danish duo’s sophomore album was released earlier this year and from album singles “Empire,”  “Come Back (Left Behind),” “Baltimore,” and “Take Shelter,” their sophomore album reveals an act that has managed to expand upon their sound and songwriting approach in a subtle yet decided fashion as the material is centered around Coleman and Hasselager’s penchant for pairing at times breezy, melodic and downright radio friendly pop with dark and sobering thematic concerns — with Nowadays, their material focuses on the inevitable loss of innocence as one truly becomes an adult; the recognition of the fear, freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny; the tough and sometimes embittering life lessons that get thrown in your way; as well as the inconsolable grief and confusion of loss. Interestingly, the Australian-Danish duo’s latest single “Acting Like Lovers” may arguably be one of the upbeat songs on the album as its centered by a production that manages to be simultaneously cinematic and intimate as it features strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove and their uncanny ability to craft breezy, 70s AM rock-like melodies. The song hints at a sense of closure — but with the subtle recognition that in life there is no such thing as closure, that life inevitably shoves you forward while you make every attempt to pick up the pieces and have some semblance of normalcy.

The single features two covers — the duo’s breezy, Junip-like take on Elliott Smith’s “Christian Brothers,” that feels like a subtle departure from the original, and one of my favorite songs by The Cars, “Drive,'” which manages to maintain the song’s moody and contemplative air. As the duo’s Caspar Hesselager explains, Elliott is someone who has influenced both me and Carl profoundly, and for me personally (growing up mostly with classical music and jazz) he became the guy that got me into listening to songwriters. We’ve often jammed his songs in the studio for fun and our cover of his song ‘Christian Brothers’ has been a favourite encore of ours on many shows. It’s from his second album ‘Elliott Smith’ which along with the debut album is him at his most lo-fi and raw. It’s almost ‘anti-produced’ but as always you can’t keep those songs from burning right through all of that.” The duo’s Carl Coleman elaborates on their cover of The Cars’ “Drive,” “This was a song that always followed me around growing up in the 80s and 90s. I’m a sucker for sad pop songs. I’ve just always been attracted to melancholy stuff and this song has it all. All that drama and mystery plus a beautiful simple melody. Hell, we couldn’t help but have a crack at it.”

 

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Slick Yet Heartfelt and Radio Friendly Sounds of Toronto’s RALPH

Raffa Weyman is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-born and-based singer/songwriter, and with her solo recording project RALPH, Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the 2015 release of her debut single “Trouble,” which […]

New Video: Acclaimed German Synth Pop Artist Roosevelt Releases a Breezy and Nostalgic, Club Banger

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the Viersen, Germany-born, Cologne, Germany-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Marius Lauber, who writes, records and performs Roosevelt. Now, as you may recall its the release of Elliot,” the lead single and EP title track of his 2013 debut EP Elliot, Lauber received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who named the track one of their “Best New Tracks.” 2015 saw the release of the double A side single “Night Moves”/”Hold On,” which was released through Greco-Roman Records and further cemented his reputation for crafting  material with warm, synth-led Euro-disco sound. Building upon a growing profile, Lauber’s 2016 full-length debut featured standout tracks  “Colours” and “Moving On,” and has led to attention-grabbing tours with the likes of Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crystal Fighters, as well a remixes of singles by Glass Animals, Jax Jones,Truls, Sundara Karma, Luca Vasta and Kakkmaddafakka and others.
Building upon a growing international profile, Lauber’s recently released sophomore Roosevelt album Young Romance finds the acclaimed German singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer making a decided move away from the slickly produced EDM of his previously released material to a warmer, hook-driven, guitar and synth-based sound, complete with a wistful escapism. Thematically, Young Romance fittingly focuses on — well, young romance, including the trials, tribulations and frustrations of falling in and out of love, and of desperately trying to find some semblance of home and life while on the road. As Lauber says of the writing process for the album “I ended up processing a lot of emotions that I felt during my youth. Faded relationships that haunted me for years, being on the road for what seemed like forever and the constant search for a place to call home.”

Album single “Forgive,” featured Lauber collaborating with Ernest Green, a.k.a. Washed Out, who contributes his ethereal and imitable vocals to a shimmering, disco-like production centered by a Chic-era Nile Rodgers groove, African percussion and an infectious hook that sounds as though it could have been a Paracosm B-side.  “Shadows,” continues in a similar, breezy yet disco-inspired vein, as it’s centered around a buoyant two-step friendly groove, arpeggiated synths, Lauber’s plaintive vocals, an incredibly tight, infectious hook that recalls Miami Horror, Washed Out and Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk to mind — but somehow even lighter. Young Romance’s latest single “Under The Sun” will further cement Lauber’s reputation for crafting hook-laden, and breezy pop centered around the German singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s yearning vocals, thumping beats, a sinuous disco-inspired bass line, twinkling keys and ethereal electronics — and while continuing to nod at the likes of Miami Horror, Washed Out, Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk and St. Lucia, the song much like its predecessor reveals an ambitious songwriter and producer, who has put a unique and urgent take on a familiar and beloved sound.

The recently released video for “Under The Sun” is a cinematic and fittingly nostalgic visual that features Lauber yearning singing the song and playing guitar on the beach, reflecting on a past relationship. 

Amy Kuney is a Tulsa, OK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as AMES. Kuney began piano lessons when she turned four, and participated in piano recitals and church performances throughout her childhood. The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wrote her first song when she turned 12 and by the following year, Kuney’s father moved the family from their Tulsa home to Honduras to live as missionaries after he saw a video highlighting the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. As a teenager, Kuney taught herself guitar chords off a poster her father bought from Wal-Mart, while grappling with being gay in a strange country — and without friends; however, Kuney spent her time listening to the only secular album she could get her hands on, Fiona Apple‘s Tidal and writing songs.

The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist returned to the States to study at a religious college but she dropped out because of their archaic views on LGBTQ and relocated to Los Angeles, where she vowed to spend the rest of her life creating art and helping young people in the LGBQT community much like herself. Since relocating to Los Angeles, Kumey has developed a reputation as a go-to songwriter, who has written songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, AKON, Rita Ora, Michelle Branch, Tori Kelly, Lights, Icona Pop, Adam Lambert, Jason Mraz, Jojo, ALMA and growing list of others. Kuney steps out from behind the scenes with the release of the breezy “Hold On,” a single centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, strummed acoustic guitar, and a soaring and anthemic hook — and sonically speaking, the song manages to nod at Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Feist but with a much-needed message for anyone who has felt marginalized at any point.

 

 

 

Comprised of the Northern Ireland-born, Dublin, Ireland-based duo Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntrye, the up-and-coming Dublin-based synth pop act Saint Sister can trace their origins to when the duo met while studying at the University of Dublin — and while studying, the duo bonded over their mutual desire to create music that represented both their friendship and their “us against the world” mentality.  Building upon a growing international profile, the Irish duo’s highly-anticipated Alex Ryan-produced full-length debut Shape of Silence is slated for an October 5, 2018 release, and the album  reportedly will showcase the duo’s ability to craft atmospheric, trip-hop like synth pop paired with dreamy vocals singing heartfelt vocals; in fact, Shape of Silence’s latest single “Steady” is centered around a lush yet minimalist production consisting of twinkling keys, atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and gorgeous vocals — and while seemingly being indebted to Portishead, the single reveals a profoundly self-assured and feminine strength.

The Irish synth pop duo are currently in the middle of a 3 week headlining North American tour. Check out the remaining tour dates below.

TOUR DATES:

09/29 Chicago, IL – Schuba’s
10/02 Seattle, WA – Barboza
10/03 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
10/05 San Francisco, CA – Cafe Du Nord
10/06 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg