Category: Electro Pop

New Video: Bat For Lashes Release a Cinematic and Wistful Visual for “Kids in the Dark”

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic, I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records — and by 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being a named a heavy favorite to win — and being critically applauded. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase. 

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album. 

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particularly, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist. 

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” 

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode. 

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world. 

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize. 

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through AWAL Recordings, Khan’s forthcoming album Lost Girls continues a run of concept albums in which she creates an off-kilter coming of age film in which fans of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The women characters are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — particularly, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. In this case, the album’s main character is Nikki Pink, one of the album’s Lost Girls. Thematically, the album is a romantic album that pays homage to Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s, and to the films that touched and changed her life. 

Sonically, the album finds Khan mixing sounds she’s always loved — heavy bass line, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading choruses. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Kids in the Dark,” is a hazy bit of 80s inspired synth pop centered around shimmering synths, reverb-drenched blasts of guitar, a soaring hook, stuttering beats and Khan’s ethereal vocals, and interestingly enough, the track bears an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstay ACES, as it possesses an achingly wistful air. 

Directed by Natasha Khan, the recently released video for “Kids in the Dark” was shot against the Los Angeles hills with the eerie and gorgeous waning of dusk casting shadows — and it emphasizes the song’s wistful air, as it features the Lost Girls and two star-crossed lovers. The video hints at how its protagonist Nikki Pink became a Lost Girl. 

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Crash Adams is a rather mysterious, up-and-coming indie electro pop act and their forthcoming album is inspired by the sounds that spoke to the bandmembers while growing up — but sonically speaking, they want their sound to be more of a feeling than a genre. Interestingly, their latest single “Astronauts”  is a shimmering bit of pop that recalls Tears for Fears, M83 and St. Lucia, as the track reveals an ambitious band that can craft an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook paired with arpeggiated synths and plaintive vocals. 

“There are so many ‘astronauts’ in the world, they may know it or not, but eventually they will achieve everything they’ve wanted out of their town on earth,” the band says in press notes. “It will be hard, and they will be considered different from those who aren’t astronauts. But in the end, the view of earth is greatest from outer space.”

 

 

Over the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Justin Phillips, best known for his solo recording project Crywolf. As the story goes, when Philips started releasing music, he was practically homeless, living in a room the size of roughly a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Interestingly, since then Philips has developed a growing profile that has included amassing several million streams across all of the various streaming platforms, a headlining slot on the second largest stage at Electric Forest and praise across both the blogosphere and the major media outlets, including Consequence of Sound, Alternative PressBillboardNylon, Complexas well as this site.

Philips sophomore Crywolf album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1] was released earlier this year,  and the album’s first single was the urgent, frantic and trippy “DRIP.”  Centered around a swooning and wobbling production thumping beats, a cacophony of industrial clang and clatter, a looped vocal samples, and plaintive vocal delivery and atmospheric synths, the song managed to be a dramatic push into a radical new sonic direction. And at its core, the song evoked a narrator, whose mind and sanity have begun to rapidly fray at the seems — and we hear his thoughts, observations and feelings ping-ponging back and forth. As Philips wrote about the new single and of his sophomore album, “one of the themes of this album is the exploration of the shadow – the darker, more difficult aspects of the human psyche. People often think they have one unified ‘personality,’ but the truth is that we are made up of up to a dozen different personalities that are only loosely tied together. We feel like we have so much control over our actions and personality characteristics, but often when we pay close attention and are honest with ourselves, we can see that we can’t actually control or even explain large parts of who we are. ‘DRIP’ is the my process of staring into my brain and being brutally honest about some of the really difficult aspects of what I see there. It might not be, but it’s uncomfortably real.”

Philips recently started a new series, which he titled THE OBLIVION [Reimagined], which will feature reworked versions of tracks off widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1]. The first single in the series finds the Chicago-based producer Mielo tackling “DRIP” — and Mielo’s take is a arpeggiated synth-driven, New Wave-inspired remix that’s cinematic and buoyant, recalling A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Depeche Mode while retaining the urgency and frenetic feel of the original.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Electro Pop Act Miami Horror Releases a Sepia-Toned Visual for “Restless”

Initially formed in 2007, as the solo recording project of Melbourne, Australia-based DJ and producer Benjamin Plant, Miami Horror eventually expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition Josh Moriarty (vocals, guitar), Daniel Whitechurch (bass, keys, guitar) and Kosta Theodosis (drums) — and with the release of 2008’s Bravado EP, 2010’s full-length debut Illumination and 2015’s All Possible Futures, the band established a sound that drew from Prince, New Order, Todd Rundgren and Pink Floyd, combined with contemporary electronic production techniques, including house and electro pop. Interestingly, the act’s most recent recorded output, 2017’s The Shapes EP was a decided change in sonic direction with the band’s sound being indebted to 80s pop and New Wave — in particular, Talking Heads, Blondie and the like. 

Two years have passed since the acclaimed Australian indie electro pop act has released material and the act’s latest single, “Restless” finds the project returning to its collaborative and production-based roots. Plant champions this return to his roots as Miami Horror’s new incarnation. “The Shapes was always meant to be a one-off conceptual project, so once that was complete I began moving back towards the original creative process that Miami Horror started with; a simpler approach to production and a continued emphasize on outside vocalists.” Plant says. “For me, music has always been about completing a vision and trying to make something stand out. Allowing outside collaboration really opens me up to complete that vision without being restricted to my own skill set.”

Interestingly, “Restless” is a breezy and summery track centered around shimmering synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, hi-hat led drumming and a plaintive and sultry vocal contribution from Kevin Lavitt. And while retaining the slick, dance floor-friendly electronic production that has won Plant international acclaim, the song sounds indebted to 80s Quiet Storm R&B — in particular Cherelle’s “Saturday Love,” and Mtume’s “Juicy Love” immediately come to my mind, as the song has a similar sophisticated sexiness to it. “I love putting two people in a room that wouldn’t normally work together and seeing what comes of it,” Plant says of his collaboration with Lavitt. 

Directed by Keenan Wetzel, the recently released sepia-toned video for “Restless” features an assortment of quirky characters coming together for tennis training and some meet-cute lust — before ending with a menacing and suggestive air. “When I heard ‘Restless’ I was struck with a nostalgic feeling of starting out a relationship; those first feelings of anxiety coupled with the uncertainty whether or not the attraction is mutual,” Keenan Wetzel says of his video treatment. “I wanted to take these familiar feelings and add Miami Horror’s style to create a bright but strange world for these young people to find each other. I have always been interested in 1970’s culture and how people turned to communities, often ritual-based, to find a sense of belonging. So the idea for the ‘Restless’ music video was to put a pair of young people into a tennis playing community where they were looking for meaning. Only, instead of finding purpose in this community, they find each other, which leads to both love and realization that the nature of the community was not going to give them any more sense of belonging.”

New Video: Meg Myers Releases a Colorful and Childlike Visual for Her Dramatic Cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”

Born in Nashville, the acclaimed, Los Angeles-based indie pop artist Meg Myersspent her formative years in a devoted Jehovah’s Witness household, in which a young Myers dealt with strict restrictions on what she was allowed to listen to. After her parents divorced, her mother married a comic book artist, who moved the family to Ohio, where her mother and stepfather ran a cleaning business. When she was 12, her family moved to Florida, where she spent the bulk of her teen years — and during that period, Myers began singing and writing songs on keyboard, eventually teaching herself guitar. She also played bass in a band that she started with her brother, Feeling Numb.

A few days shy of her 20th birthday, Myers moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. Living in a studio apartment with her then-boyfriend, the Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist worked as a waitress at a Hollywood coffee shop and played show whenever she could land them. Although her romantic relationship ended, Myers met Doctor Rosen Rosen, who signed her to his production company. Rosen and Myers began writing songs together, including the material that comprised her first two EPs Daughter in the Choir and Make a Shadow and her 2015 full-length debut Sorry, which featured a number of Top 15 and Top 20 alternative radio hits.

Building up on a rapidly growing profile, Myers’ sophomore album, last year’s Take Me To The Disco debuted at #5 on the Current Alternative Charts and received praise from a number of media outlets including The New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR Music, Stereogum, Billboard and a lengthy list of others.  The acclaimed Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter played an NPR Tiny Desk session earlier this year that included a fairly straightforward and intense cover of Kate Bush‘s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” that brings the song to 21st Century listeners, who may have been previously unfamiliar with one of the great, dramatic pop songs of the 80s.

“Growing up, I was never really interested in covering other artist’s music.” Meg explains, “I always wanted to write my own songs because I knew I could only sing music and lyrics that were truly authentic, from my heart (and also would have to make sense with my deep voice). Well, then I discovered Kate Bush’s ‘Running up that Hill,’ which for years has resonated with my soul like nothing ever before. What if we could experience role reversal? What would it be like living in each other’s shoes? I think we would find a lot more compassion for one another and a passion for kindness and truth. This song to me, represents an opening of our hearts and a possibility of acceptance for all. And to me, this is an important message for the world we are living in right now.​​​​​​​”

Directed by Jo Roy, the recently released animated video for Meg Myers’ cover of “Running Up That Hill” features hand-drawn artwork from 2,130 children from around the country, including many at the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) school — a non-profit that gives underserved children an equal chance to succeed through a comprehensive array of after-school academic, arts, athletics and wellness programs. As part of their partnership with HOLA, Myers and Roy taught animation classes to elementary school students. The frames they made during the classes were then composited together and used in the video — with the result being a visual that’s brightly colored, childlike, symbolic and ethereal. “The production process for ‘Running Up That Hill’ began with a demanding green screen shoot in which Meg climbed monkey bars, hung upside down, flew using a harness and wires, and performed her first piece of choreography!” Roy says of the video’s production process. “In post, we erased all the rigging, added animation components that were moved around using visual effects (including wings), and put every frame through a photoshop filter to define the ‘coloring book’ lines. Then, the frames were printed off into individual coloring pages which were distributed to 10 schools and various organizations in Los Angeles and Canada for children to color with real crayons also provided. Finally, the colored frames were collected and re-scanned to create one colorful final video made by literally thousands of people!”

New Video: TSHEGUE Return with a Dark and Cinematic Visual for Politically-Charged New Single “M’Benga Bila”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the French-Congolese electro pop act TSHEGUE, and as you may recall the act — Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-born, Paris-based frontwoman Faty Fy Savanet and bandmate, Cuban-French producer Nicolas ‘Dakou’ Dacunha — derives its name from a childhood nickname given to Savanet, a Congolese slang term for the boys who gather on Kinshasha’s streets, and the act can trace its origins to when Savanet was introduced to Dacunha. 

Their debut EP, 2017’s Survivor thematically explored the challenges faced by the African Diaspora paired with Dacunha’s forward-thinking, hypnotic, club-banging productions which features elements of Afropunk, garage rock and electro-clash. Survivor EP was championed by the likes of Mura Masa and Noisey, which led to a growing international profile. And adding to a growing profile, the video for “Munapoto,” which was shot on the Ivory Coast received a UK Music Video Award nomination alongside videos for tUnE-YaRdS and Chaka Khan.

The Telema EP, the much-anticipated follow-up to Survivor EP was released earlier this month, and from EP single “The Wheel,” the duo further cemented their growing reputation or crafting swaggering, forward-thinking, genre snd style-blurring bangers. Centered around a percussive production featuring ricocheting industrial clang and clatter, stuttering tweeter and woofer rocking beats, explosive blasts of bass synth and Savanet’s commanding flow, the song — to my ears, at least — bore a resemblance to JOVM mainstays Kokoko! but with a punk rock flair. 

Telema EP’s second attention single “M’Benga Bila” features a hypnotic, genre-blurring production that’s one part trap, one part grime, one part electroclash, one part club anthem centered around a hypnotic production featuring looped shimmering guitar, thumping tweeter and woofer rocking beats, brief blasts of bluesy electric guitar, and wobbling and arpeggiated synths. Savanet’s self-assured, commanding flow paired with a call-and-response vocal section during the song’s rousing hook imbue the song with the urgency of our sociopolitical moment as it’s both a call to action and an expression of weary frustration and bitter rage. Interestingly, the track’s title translates from Savanet’s native Lingala into English as “Call the Police!” And as the band explains ‘It’s a protest, a scream from a society that still struggles to accommodate the differences and the freedoms of all. The threat ‘I’m gonna call the cops!’ for us represents a systematic formula, which too often forces the point of rupture between two people, the end of a dialgoue.”

Directed by Sacha Barbin, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “M’Benga Bila” was filmed Paris’ 18th arrondissement’s Goutte D’Or area, one of the city’s most multicultural neighborhoods, which coincidentally is where TSHEGUE’s Faty Sy Savanet has called home. The video is a partial tribute to acclaimed French director Leos Carax’s 1986 cult film Mauvais Sang as the video focuses on shady, underworld activities. 

New Video: Luna Shadows Celebrates Inclusivity and Californian Skater Culture in New Visual for “god.drugs.u”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Luna Shadows.  The Los Angeles-based artist has developed a reputation for a staunchly DIY approach, as she writes, performs, records, produces, edits and engineers every single note of her work — and for crafting sultry, melancholy pop that Billboard has called “. . . refreshingly soulful and haunting . ..” Her work has also been compared by some as Lana Del Ray taking Lorde to the beach.

So far Luna Shadows work has amassed over 35 million Spotify streams, with tracks landing on tastemaker playlists like New Music Friday, Indie Pop, Weekend Beats and Weekly Buzz, reaching #7 on the US Charts and #18 on the Global Viral Charts.  Building upon a growing profile, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer has also received airplay on radio stations worldwide, including KROQ, BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1 — and she played a sold out, live debut show at renowned Los Angeles indie music showcase School Night. Amazingly, she has done that without the support of a label. 

2019 looks to be a big year for Luna Shadows. She recently began collaborating with two highly-acclaimed, mainstream indie pop producers Now Now‘s Brad Hale and The Naked and Famous‘ Thom Powers to help shoulder the production and editing load — and she signed to +1 Records, who released her first single of the year, “lowercase.” Centered around a sleek production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, chopped up vocal samples, twinkling keys, Luna Shadow’s plaintive and sultry vocals and an enormous hook, the track was imbued with the bitterness, heartache and confusion of a dysfunctional relationship full of power plays and accusation.

Featuring tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and atmospheric synths paired with Luna Shadows’ sultry delivery, her latest single “god.drugs.u” continues a run of slickly produced, trap-inspired songs — but at the core of the song is a plaintive and unfulfilled yearning. 

“Sometimes, I find that it’s easier to identify what something isn’t rather than describing what it is. “god.drugs.u” is essentially a process of elimination love song which breaks down my personal experience of love, one which is most often rooted in present moments rather than chemical or spiritual experiences,” Luna Shadows explains. “It isn’t a declaration of what anyone else should feel, it’s simply a personal reflection on my experience of love which is very here and now. I am a person who spends a lot of time stuck in the past and worrying about the future, so the moments where I am truly present best represent my experience of love and serenity. This song is a meditation on the moments where I’ve looked at someone (or some place) and felt a deep sense of peace & fulfillment, if only for a split second.”

Produced by Kitty Disco and Ride or Cry Co., the recently released video for “god.drugs.u” was directed, produced, styled, edited and stars a nearly exclusively female-identifying cast and crew and members of the LBTQ+ community.  Stylistically shot at Venice Skatepark, the video is a celebration of Californian skateboard culture through the lens of fashion, inclusivity, authenticity and diversity starring five local skateboarders — Briana King, Victoria Taylor, Hilary Shanks, Jennifer Charlene and Claire Weaver. “Los Angeles is a place that represents unconditional love to me. This city has been here for me when my whole world came crashing down. Like the other installments in my video series, I wanted this visual to be an ode to an iconic LA location presented in a brand new light,” Luna Shadows explains in press notes. 

“The concept of skateboarding came to mind – a risk-taking, safety-defying sport in which the rider cannot afford to focus on anything other than the present moment – a sentiment that sits comfortably with the lyrics,” Luna Shadows continues. “I’ve loved skateboarding since I was a young girl but always felt excluded from the culture, so this video was an effort to be more inclusive & to showcase one of many versions of femininity which does not conform to the tradition image of skateboarding.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Holy Ghost! Release an Intimate Behind the Scenes Visual on the Making of a Vinyl Record

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electro funk/neo-disco production and artist and longtime JOVM mainstays Holy Ghost! over the years, and as you may recall, l, with the release of the their first three full-length albums — 2011’s self-titled debut, 2013’s Dynamics and 2014’s remix album Work For Hire — the duo, which is comprised of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser received attention nationally and internationally. Building upon a growing profile, the duo have remixed the work of Katy Perry, LCD Soundsystem, Moby and a lengthy list of others; made national TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman; toured with the legendary New Order; and played sets at some of this country’s and the world’s biggest festivals including Coachella, Outside Lands, Primavera Sound and Bonnaroo.

Work, the duo’s first batch of new, original material in over five years reportedly finds Frankel and Millhiser attempting to revisit the freedom of expectations that was suffered through their earliest recorded output — and interestingly, the proverbial return to form partially stemmed from circumstances: the duo dismantled their basement Brooklyn studio and relocated to a small room that a few musician friends of theirs were renting about a doctor’s office (coincidentally, the same address where they mixed their full-length debut). Because of the room’s limited space, they pared their extensive gear collection down to two synths — a Yamaha CS-80 and a Mini Moog. “Not necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette,” says Millhiser. “David Bowiedidn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.”

Slated for a Friday release through West End Records, the forthcoming album’s material will continue the duo’s long-held reputation for crafting each sound from scratch with an unapologetic, exacting precision — and it’s their analog approach to electronic music that heavily informs the songwriting, production and sound of the album. Interestingly, album single “Escape From Los Angeles” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik groove, ethereal crooning, thumping beats and a sinuous yet infectious hook — while seemingly indebted to From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk. Interestingly, Work‘s latest single “Do This” is another straightforward club banger that meshes early hip-hop, house music and disco in a way that recalls Sugarhill Gang, Nile Rodgers and Pet Shop Boys— thanks in part to arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a two-step inducing hook and plaintive vocals.

Directed by the duo, the recently released video for “Do This” was shot on 16mm film by Jesse Cain and follows the entire process of recording and making a vinyl album, from the recording sessions at James Murphy’s Plantain Studios, to mastering at Heba Kadry’s Brooklyn-based mastering suite, to cutting the master disk with Bob Weston in Chicago, to pressing and packaging at RTI Pressing and finally to Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. It’s a behind the scenes look at the entire process revealing the professionalism and dedication of dozens of hard-working people that’s actually inspired by the famous Sesame Street “Making Crayons” segment. Originally aired in the early 80s, the clip made a deep impression on the members of Holy Ghost! “We wanted to document the ancient and very special process of making vinyl, from recording and mixing all the way to packaging and store delivery,” Frankel explains.