Category: folk

Lyric Video: Mathieu Saïkaly’s Intimate and Gorgeous “If it’s all a choice”

Mathieu Saïkaly is a French electronic music producer and artist, who started his career in earnest when he turned 17: Saïkaly started a YouTube channel that initially featured recordings of the French producer and artist doing covers — but gradually he began releasing original material. Much like countless other young artists across the world, Saikaly started developing and honing his own style, discovering what resonated with him. Writing and singing lyrics in English and French, Saïkaly searched for ways to make his knowledge of both languages work together on a project, which he improved upon each year. 

When Saïkaly turned 20, he started to go out beyond the confines of his bedroom. He didn’t quite know where or how to start a music career but his friends told him he should sign up for Nouvelle Star. He wound up winning the 2014 season — singing an Elliott Smith song in the final. He was signed to a major label and released his full-length debut, 2015’s A Million Particles, which featured the viral hit “From Glass To Ice,” a song that amassed over four million streams on Spotify.

When he turned 24, the French producer and artist decided to go the independent route: He created his own label, which released his sophomore album, 2019’s Quatre Murs Blanc, an intimate and impressionistic album that focused on emotions first and the story second. The album featured album track”Mama Oh I Swear,” which amassed 400,000 Spotify streams.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Plus jamais te revoir,” a trippy and mind-bending track centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and wobbling synth arpeggios and Saïkaly’s achingly tender vocals. The end result was a song that felt like a vivid fever dream. His latest single “If it’s all a choice” further cements his reputation for being a restless experimentalist, who constantly alters his sounds and approach.

In the case of “If it’s all a choice,” Saïkaly has crafted an intimate song centered around a sparse yet gorgeous arrangement featuring the French artist’s expressive vocals accompanied by strummed, acoustic guitar. Thematically, the song deals explores the role of free will and that of fate in all of our doings — particularly when it involves affairs of the heart. And perhaps more than any other song in his catalog, “If it’s all a choice” seems the most informed by deeply personal, lived-in experience.

“I keep exploring. I changed my way of producing. My two albums were recorded in studio, I observed a lot the sound engineers, I learned a lot,” Saïkaly says in press notes. “Today, I feel able to translate my music, to make things sound the way I want. And that unlocks other ways of creating. Alone, you don’t have a time limit, unlike in the studio.”

New Video: DG Solaris and Jeremy Tuplin Team Up on the Gorgeous and Meditative “Idle”

London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Danny Green may be best known for being the frontman of acclaimed British folk pop act Laish. With Laish, Green wrote and recorded four critically applauded albums released through French indie label Tailres, which he and his bandmates supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States. 

In 2019 Green went through a number of major life changes: That March, he met Leanna “LG” Green — and by December they got married. For their honeymoon, Leanna and Danny Green decided to spend six months across South America with a simple recording setup that they carried with them in a backpack. During their trip, the couple wound up writing and recording demos that would become the earliest material of their recording project together DG Solaris.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” the Greens explained in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning home to London after their honeymoon, Danny and Leanna recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they demoed during their honeymoon. The end result was the act’s full-length debut, last year’s Spirit Glow, which drew from and meshed elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog rock in a unique and playful fashion — with the album’s material written as a textural journey through emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leanna Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

Recently Green has been collaborating with Somerset, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter  Jeremy Tuplin. With the release of his full-length debut 2017’s I Dreamt I Was an Astronaut Tuplin’s sound and approach gradually evolved with the Somerset-born, London-based singer/songwriter incorporating indie rock and psych music into what he has semi-ironically dubbed “space folk.” 2019’s Pink Mirror was released to critical acclaim with the album being lauded by The Line of Best fit, Loud & Quiet Magazine, BBC Radio 6 and Rumore Magazine. As a result of Pink Mirror‘s success, Tuplin received funding from PRS’ Open Fund to record last year’s Violet Waves

So far Green and Tuplin have collaborated on two singles together:

Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” which, came about from some unusual circumstances: Although Green and Tuplin have been writing and recording albums during the past decade, they’ve only been vaguely aware of each other’s existence. One night in Peru, following an intense shamanic ceremony, Green had a vivid dream that he and Tuplin were floating high above the ocean. The next morning, Green contacted Tuplin to share his strange astral encounter — and the pair began a correspondence.

Written and recorded during the middle of a pandemic — which created its own challenges — “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” is centered around a sparse yet haunting arrangement of acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths, shuffling drums serving as a gentle and ethereal bed for a gorgeous melody — and some equally gorgeous harmonies. And while sounding a bit like a cross between The Church and Nick Drake, the song as Green explains thematically explores the oneness and weirdness of people within a collective whole. 

In The Name of Love” which continued a run of meditative material centered around atmospheric synths, strummed acoustic guitar serving as a sumptuous bed for the pair’s mellifluous vocals and equally gorgeous harmonizing. Much like its predecessor, “In The Name of Love” brings The Church’s “Under the Milky Way” but while also nodding at Nick Drake. Thematically, the song tackles chaos theory, the nature of the cosmos and our tendency to distort the truth in the name of love. But underneath the seriousness of the song, there’s a a delicately wry sense of humor over the fact that everything in the cosmos may ultimately be up to chance.

The pair’s third single together “Idle” is a bittersweet yet mischievous song that’s one part aching and earnest love song, one part ironic meditation on being an artist, one-part mournful meditation on the passing of time centered around shimmering acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths and the pair’s mellifluous vocals.”Idle came to us in early 2020. A natural process that came from two artists who were almost strangers to each other, meeting in a room, trying to write a song together for the first time. Little did we know that this moment would launch a year-long collaboration,” Green and Tuplin explain.

The video by Jeremey Tuplin stars his cat Kimchi, being — well, a cat. And it’s just adorable. We need more of this, please!

New Video: Astral Swans Teams Up with Julie Doiron on a Mesmerizing New Single and Visual

Matthew Swann is a Calgary-based singer/songwriter, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed recording project Astral Swans. With Astral Swans, the Calgary-based singer/songwriter specializes in narratives of lonerism, frailty, absurdity and whimsy, told with darkly comedic empathy and helpless concern.

Swann first rose to prominence in 2015 as the first artist signed to Madic Records, an imprint of Arts & Crafts Records, helmed by Juno Award-winning artist Dan Mangan. The label was created for the purpose of releasing Swann’s Astral Swan debut, 2015’s All My Favourite Singers are Willie Nelson. The album was released to widespread critical acclaim receiving praise from Noisey, who described it as “a stark, beautiful project that embraces darkness rather than shying away from it,” and from The Calgary Herald, who called Swann, an artist of immeasurable depth, incredible smarts, remarkable bravery and infinite charm creativity and insight.

2018’s Scott Munro co-produced Strange Prison was released to even more acclaim, receiving praise from Paste, Tiny Mix Tapes, Post Trash and a long list of others. Album single “CONTROLS” reached #1 on CBC Radio 3 and lead to a live performance on CBC’s q.  Adding to a growing profile, Swann supported the tours across Canada, Japan and Europe, including a packed show at the 2019 Reeperbahn Festival.

Swann’s self-titled album comes after three and a half year of touring — and well, a pandemic. Unlike his previously released material, Swann almost exclusively composed the album’s songs internally on solo walks through various cities around the world before the pandemic and in the same city repeatedly during the pandemic. As Swann describes it, “the melodies were written in my head, on long walks alone, like spontaneous flowers sprouted from the id; ecstatic downloads from a cosmic wind. Sometimes the lyrics appeared with the melodies, other times they were refined, after the fact.”

The self-titled album is reportedly Swann’s most upbeat, catchy and immediate album to date. Each of the album’s songs operates as an absurdist short story filled with the Calgary-based singer/songwriter’s wry observations of the sad beauty of mundane moments. The songs range from affirmations of joy amidst dread, composed in the streets of Shimokitazawa Tokyo, ballads of disorientated musings on uncertainty and addiction, birds heckling the anxious and heartbroken in Amsterdam’s Vondel Park and more.

The album’s first single “Flood” was released to widespread praise last month. Continuing upon that momentum, the album’s latest single, “Spiral” is a breezy and mesmerizing bit of cosmic folk centered around twangy guitars, atmospheric synths and a soaring hook reminiscent of Nick Drake — but paired with Swann’s woozy delivery. Julie Doiron contributes her gorgeous vocals as a backing vocalist. Lyrically, the song reveals Swann as a sort of zen trickster: underneath the playful and absurdist jokes is a deeper message about our existence, if you pay close attention.

“This was the first song I wrote after Covid quarantine, in March 2020,” Swann explains. “It’s about seeking out joy, and trying to escape pain in ways that backfire, within reference to the hamster wheel of late stage capitalism; consumerism, addiction, neoliberalism, the reduction of identity to social media posturing, etc ad infinitum. It’s about trying to escape something that seemingly has no escape, in spite of its glaring foolishness and lack, and the desperation which it brings to a person’s humanity. In the studio we went for a 1970’s wrecking crew polished country vibe speckled with synth exploration a la Stereolab and Broadcast. Once again Julie’s vocals are the cherry on top. When I sent the final album to Jim Bryson (who’s one heck of a producer in his own right), He simply replied “you have Julie Doiron on it, you’ve already won the war.”

Directed by Laura-Lynn Petrick, the recently released video for “Spirals” follows Swann walking through a series of sun dappled and surreal settings. At one point, we see Swann pick up a black and white photo of Doiron from a stream. Throughout, there’s a sense of Swann seeking something, even if he doesn’t quite know why, what or how.

The self-titled album is slated for an October 8, 2021 release through Tiny Rooms/Major Tom Records.

New Audio: DG Solaris and Jeremy Tuplin Team Up on The Gorgeous and Meditative “In The Name of Love”

London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Danny Green may be best known for being the frontman of acclaimed British folk pop act Laish. With Laish, Green wrote and recorded four critically applauded albums released through French indie label Tailres, which he and his bandmates supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States. 

In 2019 Green went through a number of major life changes: That March, he met Leanna “LG” Green — and by December they got married. For their honeymoon, Leanna and Danny Green decided to spend six months across South America with a simple recording setup that they carried with them in a backpack. During their trip, the couple wound up writing and recording demos that would become the earliest material of their recording project together DG Solaris. “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” the Greens explained in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning home to London after their honeymoon, Danny and Leanna recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they demoed during their honeymoon. The end result was the act’s full-length debut, last year’s Spirit Glow, which drew from and meshed elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog rock in a unique and playful fashion — with the album’s material written as a textural journey through emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leanna Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

Recently Green has been collaborating with Somerset, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter  Jeremy Tuplin. With the release of his full-length debut 2017’s I Dreamt I Was an Astronaut Tuplin’s sound and approach gradually evolved with the Somerset-born, London-based singer/songwriter incorporating indie rock and psych music into what he has semi-ironically dubbed “space folk.” 2019’s Pink Mirror was released to critical acclaim with the album being lauded by The Line of Best fit, Loud & Quiet Magazine, BBC Radio 6 and Rumore Magazine. As a result of Pink Mirror’s success, Tuplin received funding from PRS’ Open Fund to record last year’s Violet Waves.

Green and Tuplin’s first single together, “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” came about from some unusual circumstances: Although Green and Tuplin have been writing and recording albums during the past decade, they’ve only been vaguely aware of each other’s existence. One night in Peru, following an intense shamanic ceremony, Green had a vivid dream that he and Tuplin were floating high above the ocean. The next morning, Green contacted Tuplin to share his strange astral encounter — and the pair began a correspondence.

Written and recorded during the middle of a pandemic — which created its own challenges — “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” is centered around a sparse yet haunting arrangement of acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths, shuffling drums serving as a gentle and ethereal bed for a gorgeous melody — and some equally gorgeous harmonies. And while sounding a bit like a cross between The Church and Nick Drake, the song as Green explains thematically explores the oneness and weirdness of people within a collective whole. 

centered around atmospheric synths, strummed acoustic guitar serving as a sumptuous bed for the pair’s mellifluous vocals and equally gorgeous harmonizing. Much like its predecessor, “In The Name of Love” brings The Church’s “Under the Milky Way” but while also nodding at Nick Drake. Thematically, the song tackles chaos theory, the nature of the cosmos and our tendency to distort the truth in the name of love. But underneath the seriousness of the song, there’s a a delicately wry sense of humor over the fact that everything in the cosmos may ultimately be up to chance.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay DG Solaris Teams Up with Jeremy Tuplin on the Dream-like “Ocean/Are You weird Enough?”

London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Danny Green may be best known for being the frontman of acclaimed British folk pop act Laish. With Laish, Green wrote and recorded four critically applauded albums released through French indie label Tailres, which he and his bandmates supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States.

In 2019 Green went through a number of major life changes: That March, he met Leanna “LG” Green — and by December they got married. For their honeymoon, Leanna and Danny Green decided to spend six months across South America with a simple recording setup that they carried with them in a backpack. During their trip, the couple wound up writing and recording demos that would become the earliest material of their recording project together DG Solaris.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” the Greens explained in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

en’s latest single, “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?,” a collaboration with fellow London-based singer/songwriter Jeremy Tuplin can trace its origins back to some rather unusual circumstances: Although Green and Tuplin have been writing and recording albums during the past decade, they’ve only been vaguely aware of each other’s existence. One night in Peru, following an intense shamanic ceremony, Green had a vivid dream that he and Tuplin were floating high above the ocean. The next morning, Green contacted Tuplin to share his strange astral encounter — and the pair began a correspondence.

Of course, the end result is the dream-like “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” Written and recorded during the middle of a pandemic — which created its own challenges — “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” is centered around a sparse yet haunting arrangement of acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths, shuffling drums serving as a gentle and ethereal bed for a gorgeous melody — and some equally gorgeous harmonies. And while sounding a bit like a cross between The Church and Nick Drake, the song as Green explains thematically explores the oneness and weirdness of people within a collective whole.

The recently released video by Danny Tuplin features some gorgeous drone footage at the sea, meant to evoke the sensation of floating above the ocean and looking at life going on below interspersed with footage of jellyfish and endless plastic floating down to the seafloor, VHS fuzz, a retro-futuristic-like beach house. It’s an oddly gentle, dystopian and hallucinogenic dream.

New Video: Indya Love Releases a Gorgeous and Meditative Visual for Haunting “Good Morning”

ythmics’ Dave Stewart. Writing and performing as Indya Love, Stewart’s debut single, the self-produced “Good Morning” is centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement in which the younger Stewart accompanies her gently plucked acoustic guitar with gently cooed vocals. Her father adds a bit of electric guitar for a bit of country twang.

Recorded at Bay Street Studios in the Caribbean, “Good Morning” manages to be a gorgeous and atmospheric track that upon repeated listens reveals an unsettling and much darker edge: it’s one part, cooed greeting to a lover upon waking up together in bed, one-part wistful reminiscence about a dysfunctional yet wildly passionate relationship and one-part classic murder ballad.

ontinuing with the DIY ethos, the self-directed and self-shot, black and white video for “Good Morning” is inspired by Man Ray’s work and evokes the brooding emotions at the heart of the song.

Holy Hive is a Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay act featuring:

Interestingly, Holy Hive can trace its origins to when Spring and Steinweiss met on a Minnesota farm through their respective girlfriends, who are cousins. The duo began a long-distance friendship, which over time developed into a folk-based recording project. Back in 2016, Spring relocated to New York. Shortly after, the duo were invited to tour with fellow JOVM mainstay Lee Fields. That tour dramatically changed their approach and sound: after the tour they began exploring the relationships between the traditions and lyricism of folk and the aesthetics and rhythms of soul music — seamlessly meshing them into something anachronistic yet uniquely theirs. And with a new sound, they began honing their sound with a year-long monthly resident at Red Hook, Brooklyn-based dive bar Sunny’s with a rotating cast of collaborators.

Spring and Steinwess then spent the next couple of years working on folk and soul inspired material that thematically focused on love and loss. The end result was teh duo’s full-length debut, last year’s Float Back to You. Recorded at Steinwess’ Diamond Mind Studios, the album was produced by Steinwess and consists of 10 originals, a cover of Honeybus’ “Be Thou By My Side” and a re-working of the old Irish folk standard “Red is the Rose.” The album also featured an impressive array of guest stars including Mary Lattimore (harp), El Michels Affair’s Leon Michels (sax, keys), The Shacks‘ Shannon Wise (backing vocals), The Roots’ Dave Guy (trumpet), Nick Movshon (bass) and Spring’s wife Sophia Heymans (piano).

The duo’s self-titled sophomore album is slated for a September 24, 2021 release through their longtime label home Big Crown Records. The album reportedly reviews a natural but subtle evolution for the duo: while still largely centered around the old-school soul and folk that has won them attention and praise, the Spring and Steinweiss push their sound and songwriting approach in new directions with narrative-driven Mexican ballads, Turkish funk and even a bit of Chicano Soul being added to the mix.

“We wanted this album to be a blending of our musical personalities – a continuation of our Folk Soul experiment,” Holy Hive’s Paul Spring explains. “We started the album together on tour, staying in Air BnBs with small mobile recording rigs. Then the pandemic forced us to work on it separately from our own quarantined homes. And finally, months later and reunited in New York, we finished it together in the Diamond Mine Studio.” Steinweiss continues, “I think we achieved something new and exciting on this album. We went deeper into ourselves to find inspiration, and we did a lot of self-reflection to find the words and themes that we wanted to express. There is a sadness to the album as a whole, but it was finished during a sad time for the world so I think it reflects a lot of what we have been going through.” Unsurprisingly, their self-titled sophomore album may the most personal of their growing catalog with the album’s material thematically touching upon the joys of partnership and love, and the fact that sadly no matter how hard you may try, all things end. So you dust yourself off, maybe figure it all out and (hopefully) try to start over again with some level of perspective.

The self-titled album’s first single “Ain’t That The Way” is a woozy and uneasy stomp featuring a persistent rhythm punctuated by handclaps, a looping and twinkling keys, a soaring hook and achingly plaintive vocals. And while displaying a breezy and infectious craft, the song is centered around the fact that all things good and bad end. Heartbreak is a part of our lives — and so is what you do with it.