Category: Electro Pop

Started in 2014 and comprised of San Francisco-born and-based married duo Andrew Gomez and Bevin Fernandez, the darkwave duo NVRS LVRS (pronounced Nervous Lovers) received attention locally with the release of their critically applauded full-length debut The Golden West, which was praised by SF Weekly as “crepuscular and opaque, with a grimy layer to it that thinly disguises the vein of pop running through the song[s].” Building upon a growing profile, the duo has since opened for the likes of Jagwar Ma and Telekinesis as well as receiving praise from PopMatters and Noisey. 

The duo’s latest single “whatever & ever” is the first bit of new material since the release of their critically applauded full length effort Electric Dread and while the single finds the band continuing to draw influence from the likes of Massive Attack, Kate Bush and others, the single also nods at classic New Order and industrial electronica thanks in part to a production featuring thumping beats, metallic clang and clatter, a rousingly anthemic hook, glitchy arpeggiated synths, and a motorik groove paired with the duo’s easy-going yet self-assured harmonizing. Thematically, the Eric Palmquist-produced club banger offers incisive criticism of our current moment — a perpetual stream of outrage and apocalyptic news, unsolicited opinions and curated brands with the song’s narrator asking if the empty and unfulfilling dopamine hit from each new notification is leading to our increasing stupidity and distraction.

The duo is embarking on a series of tour dates throughout March. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
03.08 – Reno, NV @ The Loving Cup
03.09 – Redding, CA @ The Dip

03.10 – Arcata, CA @ B.A.D. Collective Presents Outer Space

03.13 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

03.14 – Bellingham, WA @ The Firefly Lounge w/ Lié, Glitchlette, Scum Eating

03.15 – Portland, OR @ Dan Cable Presents The Library at Growley’s Taproom

03.16 – Victoria, BC, Canada @ House Show

03.17 – Victoria, BC, Canada @ Venue TBA

03.22 – San Fransisco, CA @ Everything Elastic Presents Amnesia 

New Video: Sarah P. Returns with a Surreal and Symbolic Video for Disco-Influenced “Maenads”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Athens, Greece-based artist and activist Sarah P. and as you may recall, although she’s perhaps best known as a former member of international acclaimed electronic music production and electronic music duo Keep Shelly in Athens, Sarah P has developed a reputation as a solo artist and collaborator who released her critically applauded full-length debut Who Am I back in 2017 — and she has worked with the likes of Sasha, Mmoths, The New Division, Plastic Flowers, Holly, Hiras, The Bilinda Butchers and a lengthy list of others. 

Sarah’s P’s much-anticipated follow-up to Who Am I, the Maenads EP is a collection of songs celebrating both feminine power (particularly its magic, strength and imperfect perfection) and the artist’s Greek heritage. “Lotus Eaters,” a moody and atmospheric track with four-on-the-floor drumming, shimmering synths, a propulsive and sinuous bass line and Sarah P’s ethereal crooning — and sonically speaking, the track immediately brought to mind Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Kate Bush and the early 80s 4AD Records roster while arguably being the most sensual song I’ve come across within the early part of this year.

Maenads’ latest single, title track “Maenads” is a propulsive, disco-influenced track built around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a funky bass line and thumping beats — and unlike its predecessor, the song manages to remind me a bit of Niki & the Dove and several others. Interestingly, the song as Sarah P explains in press note is about nights that are empty of feelings. 

Shot in Berlin, the video is a surreal fever dream that stars Sarah P. and Sabina Smith-Moreland as a bird that meat to symbolize mental illness. The video shows the importance of coming to terms with own struggles while not letting them overtake one’s life. “I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time, but I’m convinced that it’s possible to control one’s mental health, rather than living a life controlled by mental illness,” Sarah shares.

“Mental illness never truly goes away, but learning more about it can help understand what’s going on inside your body and mind and therefore, control it better.

“For the last part of the Maenads trilogy, I decided to film in Berlin – where it all started for me. This video is perhaps my least “ethereal” work-to-date – with “ethereal” being a word that’s often used to describe my work. Berlin isn’t ethereal – it’s boxy and well structured in its chaos. Berlin’s light is very different compared to the light in Athens; in Berlin, the light is moody and arrogant – especially during the winter, where it makes rare appearances. Maenads was filmed at Theaterhaus Berlin – a space that felt homely and brought me closer to my drama school years. I had the pleasure to work with photographer and visual artist Colette Pomerleau and dancer Sabina Smith-Moreland. For the coloring of the video, I worked once again with David Hofmann who previously colored the other two parts of the Maenadstrilogy. Although the concept and set are meant to symbolize my life in Berlin, my “Greek Maenads” (Clio “Lil Cli” Arvaniti, Dora Pantazopoulou, Rania Ainiti, Marianna Pagrakioti) make a special appearance on Maenads TV. The additional visuals were filmed & edited by George Geranios, on a rooftop in Athens – the concrete jungle. Lastly, Apostolia Gogara is responsible for the fantastic hair and makeup of the additional visuals.”

Born in Nashville, the acclaimed, Los Angeles-based indie pop artist Meg Myers spent 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, StereogumBillboard and a lengthy list of others.  The acclaimed Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter recently played an NPR Tiny Desk session that included a fairly straightforward yet 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.​​​​​​​”

 

 

 

 

New Video: Jai Wolf Releases Trippy and Cinematically Shot Visuals for Brooding Yet Anthemic “Your Way” feat. Day Wave

Sajeeb Saha is a Bangladesh-born, New York-based electro pop artist, best known for his solo recording project Jai Wolf. Saha’s work is inspired by a diverse and eclectic array of music including indie rock, punk rock, hip-hop, classical music and Bollywood while thematically drawing from his own experience as a third culture kid. 

Saha’s full-length debut The Cure To Loneliness is slated for an April 5, 2019 release through Mom + Pop Music, and as Saha professes in press notes, “In my heart, this album is me,” professes. From the sounds to the lyrics, it’s everything that I’ve always wanted to do.” The Cure To Loneliness’ latest single is the wistful, M83-like “Your Way,” which features Day Wave. Centered around jangling guitars, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, soaring hooks, thumping beats and plaintive vocals, the song is a bitter lament from a narrator, who’s profoundly lonely and disconnected from everything and everyone. 

The recently released video follows an acclaimed and highly successful pop artist Chet Porter, and although he’s achieved his dream and then some, attaining success beyond his wildest dreams, the bitter irony is that he’s alone and disconnected because of his success. As the video continues, our protagonist seems to fall deeper into his own brightly colored hallucinations; in fact, part of the video resembles a feverish acid trip. 

New Audio: Haiku Hands Release an Infectious Club Banger

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 more, curate, perform and work as part of a larger collective that engages with and explores social norms with their lyrical, musical and visual content. Interestingly, 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. 

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 date for Cupcake in Chicago. (You can check out the tour dates below.) They’re also making appearances at several SXSW showcases. But in the meantime, their latest single, the brash and infectious “Dare You Not To Dance,” 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. 

SXSW APPEARANCES
03/12 – Roologic Records / CS Disco at The Main @ 12:00 AM
03/13 – Ladiez Showcase at Scoot Inn @ 5:00 PM
03/13 – DIY Magazine showcase at Swan Dive @ 12:00 AM
03/14 – Aussie BBQ at Australia House @ 5:15 PM
03/15 – Panache showcase at Hotel Vegas @ 9:00 PM
03/16 – Do512’s The Big One at Barracuda @ 2:30 PM

Tour Dates
03/12 – Roologic Records / CS Disco at The Main @ 12:00 AM $
03/13 – Ladiez Showcase at Scoot Inn @ 5:00 PM $
03/13 – DIY Magazine showcase at Swan Dive @ 12:00 AM $
03/14 – Aussie BBQ at Australia House @ 5:15 PM $
03/15 – Panache showcase at Hotel Vegas @ 9:00 PM $
03/16 – Do512’s The Big One at Barracuda @ 2:30 PM $
03/18 – DC9, Washington DC *
03/19 – Market Hotel, Brooklyn *
03/20 – Velvet Underground, Toronto *
03/21 – Thalia Hall, Chicago #
03/25 – Moroccan Lounge, LA *
03/27 – Rickshaw Stop, SF *
03/29 – Vera Project, Seattle *
03/30 – Holocene, Portland *
04/26 – 05/11 – Groovin the Moo Festival, AUS

$ = SXSW
* = supporting CHAI
# = supporting Cupcakke

New Audio: Ibibio Sound Machine Releases a Slow-Burning, Quiet Storm-Inspired New Single

Throughout the first few months of this year, I’ve written a bit about the London-based act Ibibio Sound Machine and as you may recall, the act, which is fronted by Nigerian-born vocalist Eno Williams and features Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), Derrick McIntyre (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth) and Max Grunhard (sax, synth) over the course of their first two albums — 2014’s self-titled debut and 2017’s Uyai — have received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that’s influenced by golden era West African funk and disco and contemporary post-punk and electro pop.

Slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Merge Records, the London-based electro pop act’s third full-length album Doko Mien derives its title from an Ibibio phrase that translates into English as “tell me,” and the album reportedly finds the collective crafting a sonic world of entrancing specificity and comforting universality, essentially blurring the lines separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and the future. The album’s first single, album title track“Doko Mien,” was centered around a glimmering, hook-driven club banger  featuring 80s synth funk meets disco-like beats, arpeggiated synths, African polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and pizzicato guitar and an explosive horn arrangement. Sonically, the song is a wild, genre-bending amalgamation of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘,” Chicago house and Fela Kuti — and adding to the globalist vibes, Williams soulfully sings lyrics in both English and Ibibio, the Nigerian dialect from which the London-based act derives its name. Doko Mien’s second single “Wanna Come Down” is a club-banger centered around a rubbery, Bootsy Collins meets Flea bass line, an explosive horn line, arpeggiated synths and propulsive beats and Williams powerhouse vocals singing lyrics in her native Ibibio and English. Sonically, the song is a wild and seamless synthesis of 80s synth funk, Afrobeat and JOVM mainstays Escort — all while feeling like a sultry come on.

“Guess We Found A Way,” Doko Mien’s third and latest single is a slow-burning ballad featuring shimmering guitars, a simple yet propulsive back beat, a funky bass line and Williams’ sultry vocals that immediately brings Quiet Storm-era soul to mind. “It’s a song about trying to speak to people in words that no-one understands, conveying your feeling with just the music which is what we try to do in many of our songs,” the band’s Eno Williams says in press notes. 

Comprised of Dylan Fine (guitar, vocals) and David Migwalla (production), the Cape Town, South Africa-based electro pop duo Beat Sampras specialize in a sound that’s a mix of R&B, soul, trap and J-Dilla-like beats. The act’s recently released This Was Once The Future EP features guest spots from Sha Hustle, O Billz, Lisa Lobsinger, TEA and Just John. Interestingly, the EP’s latest single, album title track “This Was Once The Future” is centered around a sinuous and lush production featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and chopped up vocal samples– and sonically, the track reminds me quite a bit of Octo Octa‘s sultry Between Two Selves

 

 

 

Earlier this week, I wrote about Sammy Jay, who’s a Southern Wales-born Los Angeles-based, Mercury Prize-nominated electronic music producer, best known as SJae (pronounced Ess Jay). Now, as you may recall, the Welsh-born producer is a graduate of the BRIT School and upon graduation, Def Jam Records gave her first professional production gig on Terri Walker‘s Untitled album. Since then, the Welsh-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music producer has become of the first female music producers from the UK to have been hailed Stateside as one of the best in the best in the business by many of her peers, including some of the world’s superstar producers; in fact, during the course of her 20 year career, she has collaborated with the likes of The Roots, Ricki-Lee, Booty Luv, Terri Walker, Mis-teeq, Mark Morrison, The Pussycat Dolls, EXO, Rod Stewart and others.  She has composed music for a number of TV shows, including MTV’s Ridiculous, FOX’s Lethal Weapon and Netflix’s After Party starring KYLE and French Montana, and she has had had her own material appear on Fox’s Empire, CBS’ Flashpoint and others, as well in promos for FOX Sports, the NBA and Reelz TV. She is also currently the executive producer for Howling Music, Nashville working on music for the global ad campaigns for Hyundai and Ford. And before I forget, she also has produced logo music for a number of top radio stations including RTL, Bayern 3 and 94.7FMThe Wave.

Throughout her career, Sammy Jay has been an ardent proponent and prominent representative for women producers. Interestingly, her debut EP FIRST is slated for a March 22, 2019 release and the EP is intended as the beginning of a series of EPs that will feature collaborations with acclaimed songwriters, producers and EDM artists — with FIRST featuring guest spots from Raphael Saadiq, Sam Sparro and Dria Thornton. “The purpose of my project is to show woman can produce records, create more content and more visibility for us, so we can encourage other women to enter into the field,” Sammy Jay says of her EP series. “There are very few female record producers out there; in fact , I just gave an interview for a USC study funded by Spotify about why there are so few female producers in the industry. I believe we are haven’t been encouraged to be technical within the creative industry. The assumption is that women exist only as performers, singers and songwriters, the introduction of a women who produces music, ‘makes beats’ etc is met with surprise and a sometimes not so subtle air of disbelief, followed by much questioning on tech – ‘What software do you use?’ “Do you really know how to mix a really fat kick drum?’ etc.”

She continues, “I believe that if you don’t see yourself represented out there in the public media, you internalize the idea that you don’t belong there, or that there is no opportunity for you in that arena. I want to change that.”

The Avenue,” the EP’s first single was built around a soulful guest spot from Sam Sparro and a slick, 80s synth funk-inspired production centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths, thumping beats and a razor sharp hook. And while sonically, indebted to “Ain’t Nobody” and I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan and Quiet Storm-era soul, the song manages to feel like a subtly contemporary and self-assured take on a familiar and beloved sound. “All I Think About” the EP’s second and latest single is a sensual, 90s house music-inspired track centered around a slick production featuring lush layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous hook and vocals by the imitable Raphael Saadiq. And while club friendly, SJae’s latest track reveals an incredibly dexterous producer, who can effortlessly bounce back and forth between several different genres with a self-assured touch.

New Video: Moon King Releases an 80s Computer Generated Visual for Shimmering and Hazy Club Banger “Neon Lights”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Toronto, ON-born and-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Daniel Benjamin, the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded solo electro pop project Moon King. Now, as you may know, the act initially began as a solo recording project but may be best known for a several year period in which Benjamin collaborated with Maddy Wilde (vocals, guitar); but with Wilde’s departure a few years ago, Benjamin returned to his roots — writing and recording as a solo project. Coincidentally around the same time, Benjamin relocated to Detroit, MI, where he spent a year working and living in the Detroit neighborhood of Hamtramck. .

Benjamin’s stint in Hamtramck inspired the Hamtramck 16 mixtape, a mixtape that not only documented his arrival into a new, unfamiliar place but was also a radical change in sonic direction and songwriting approach with the material capturing his increasing obsession with electronic dance music. His forthcoming album, Voice of Lovers is the first full-length album of new material since he began fully embracing underground house, techno and electro pop — and the material finds the Canadian-born songwriter, producer and electronic music artist in a state of discovering and experimentation in which he synthesizers something fresh and unexpected out of dollar bin disco, new wave, eurotrash and more.  “There are a lot of quick cuts and transitions and the songs are pretty short, it’s meant to feel a bit breathless or disorienting, like driving around and dropping in at a few different clubs in a night. Lyrically the songs are little stories from the last couple of years…… trying to live in the US as a non-citizen, listening to records at the apartment in Hamtramck, late nights out at parties like Freakish Pleasures and Macho City, trips with the crew to Montreal, being on tour during the 2016 US election, spending the holidays alone in Detroit, the deaths of George Michael & Prince and the unfinished Moon King record from 2015. It’s dark and fun and a little nihilistic but ultimately positive.”

Voice of Lovers’ first single is the 80s synth funk meets Teddy Riley/New Jack Swing meets classic Chicago house track “Neon Lights.” Centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, stuttering boom-bap-like drum programming, soulful vocals from Vespere and a rousing hook, the song manages to sound as though it were released in 1983 or so. And while evoking sultry and hazy summer nights, the track actually has an achingly lonely quality to it — as though the song’s narrator was spending time playing their favorite albums to gear themselves up to head out to the club. 

The recently released retro futuristic video by Stacie Ant uses computer-generated 3D figures dancing and singing along to the song in 80s-inspired clubs and outfits, complete with period-specific special effects to boot. 

Look for Voice of Lovers on April 2, 2019 through Arbutus Records.