Category: Indie Electro Pop

New Video: The Sultry and Minimalist Sound of Australia’s Sophie Lowe

Establishing herself as an actress, who has made appearances in films such as Beautiful Kate, After the Dark, Adore and Road Kill, as well as TV series such as The Slap, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland and the US TV series, The Returned, Sophie Lowe is also a […]

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Over the past year Moonbabies, a Malmö, Sweden-based indie electro pop act comprised of husband and wife duo Ola Frick and Carina Johansson Frick have become something of a mainstay act on JOVM, as I’ve written about several singles off their impressive Wizards on The Beach, which was released earlier this year and have interviewed Ola Frick as part of the site’s ongoing Q&A series.

Although the Fricks have known each other since they were both high schoolers, they started writing and recording together in 1997. And with the release of their debut effort, the Malmo, Sweden-based duo had quickly developed a reputation for crafting an intricate shoegazer rock-based sound. However, by the time the duo had written, recorded and released their critically and commercially successful sophomore effort, The Orange Billboard the duo’s sound expanded and had become refined; in fact, many critics across Europe had compared the album’s sound favorably to Wilco‘s critically acclaimed effort, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And as a result of the critical attention the album received, the duo embarked on an extensive European tour to support it. War on SoundThe Orange Billboard‘s follow-up effort was a critical and commercial success in Sweden and the album’s title track “War on Sound” won them greater international attention as the song was featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy

As the story goes, the Fricks were busily working on what would be their highly-awaited, third full-length effort, the couple had begun to feel an increasing pressure to create and deliver songs that were commercially viable — to the point that that they had begun to feel as though they were drifting away from their initial creative vision and spirit. Recognizing that they were in a creative rut, the duo forced themselves out of the their comfort zone, relocating to Berlin, Germany. While in Berlin, they quickly felt in love with the city’s globally renowned EDM and house music scenes; in fact, as a result, the material they had begun writing began to lean heavily towards a more electronic-based sound. However, the duo did feel an entirely different pressure — the pressure of having to prove themselves in a much bigger, much more competitive scene, and after two years in Germany, the Fricks returned to their native country and started the recording progress again.

Upon their return to Sweden, the duo found the recording process to be both unsuccessful and frustrating, as they spent time forcing themselves to be push the process forward, scrapping it when the material didn’t feel exactly how they wanted it and then starting over, which according to the Fricks, they did more than 30 times. Interestingly, as the band has publicly noted, the birth of their son seemed to be the catalyst that breathed new life into their entire creative process and forced a change in approach. Their approach became much simpler – move past bad memories and associations, and focus on the songs that evoked a visceral sensation. As they were going through old material, they began to see things that they didn’t originally see within the material, and they found that ideas started to flow about naturally around it — and in a way that they hadn’t had in a while. And the end result was the duo’s aforementioned Wizards on the Beach.

Album single “24” pairs layers of shimmering synths, boom bap-like drums, acoustic guitar and industrial clang and clatter with Frick’s ethereal vocals to create a song that evokes the sensation of waking from a pleasant and yet half-remembered dream while subtly channeling the work of Jose Gonzalez and Junip. Recently, the London-based duo Glass Children remixed Moonbabies “24” as part of a unique remix exchange between both bands (you’ll hear about the band shortly), and their remix pairs Ola Frick’s vocals while an upbeat production consisting of layers of gently undulating synths, propulsive, tribal drumming that makes the song much more club-ready and yet trippy while retaining the dreamy feel of its original.

Comprised of David Fairweather and Daniella Kleovoulou, the London-based electronic duo The Glass Children craft dark, 80s inspired, upbeat electro pop consisting of lush production and ethereal vocals.  Their uptempo single “Undone” pairs layers of undulating synths, swirling electronics and Kleovoulou’s ethereal vocals in a song that sways and swoons with a plaintive Romanticism. Moonbabies’ remix pairs Kleovoulou’s ethereal vocals with swirling electronics and tribal-like percussion that actually makes the remix sound as though it could have been on Wizards on the Beach while retaining the original’s plaintive Romanticism — and of course, adding a dreamy fade out to the conclusion reminiscent of the ending of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.”

I recently spoke to Moonbabies’ Ola Frick and The Glass Children’s David Fairweather and Daniella Kleovoulou via email about their unique remix exchange, their inspiration behind each band’s take on the other’s material and what’s next for both bands. Check it out below.

WRH: Moonbabies and The Glass Children recently remixed a single from their most recent full-length efforts — and both acts are releasing them on the same day as part of a “remix exchange” for lack of a better phrase. With Moobabies being based in Malmo, Sweden and The Glass Children being based in London, I wanted to know how did this collaboration come about? 

Daniella Kleovoulou: It was through Twitter actually. When “Undone” was released Moonbabies discovered the track through a blog review and tweeted about it. A bit later Ola [Frick] contacted us about remixing the song which we were really up for. I told him that David [Fairweather] played me “24” a while back from a BIRP playlist and we both loved the song so Ola asked if we’d like to remix it in exchange . . . and that’s how it all started.

Ola Frick: Both of us loved “Undone” when we first heard it, I guess it was back in January-February maybe. And since their other tracks also showed that they’re pretty extraordinary we wanted to get in touch and see if we could do a collaboration or remix exchange, and that was just what happened. Nice peeps as it seems!

L to R: Daniella Kleovoulou and David Fairweather of London's The Glass Children and Ola Frick and Carina Johansson Frick of Malmo, Sweden's Moonbabies
L to R: Daniella Kleovoulou and David Fairweather of London’s The Glass Children and Ola Frick and Carina Johansson Frick of Malmo, Sweden’s Moonbabies

artwork

WRH: The Moonbabies’ remix of The Glass Children’s “Undone” retains Daniella Kleovoulou’s husky vocals but pairs them with a percussive yet very dreamy production consisting of undulating and swirling electronics before ending with chiming keys and a distorted vocal sample that evoke the sensation of waking from a dream. That remix sounds as though it could have been a B-side to Wizards on the Beach. Ola, why did you choose “Undone”? The remix manages to retain the original’s spirit while giving the song a different interpretation. What inspired your remix?  

Ola Frick: I’d say all my good studio work starts with a being filled up to the limit with a great feel/inspiration to begin with. Confidence, as well. And if you have it, it all goes smooth, happens fast and is driven by pure instinct. With this track I needed to have a complete blank canvas and just let it out. It happened very fast, 3-4 hours with some extra tweaks a day or two later, including mix/mastering. I just felt the song, and let it go in any way. And the first path it took (the big rhythm and thick vocals in focus) was the right. I’m very happy with it.

WRH: The Glass Children’s remix of Moonbabies “24”retains the Fricks’ vocals put pairs them with an uptempo, dance pop production — shimmering synths, skittering drum programming, swirling electronics, and the like. It sounds as though it’s both headphone-ready and club-friendly. And much like the Moonbabies’ remix, your remix retains the original’s spirit while giving the song a different interpretation. Why did you choose “24”? What inspired your remix?  

David Fairweather: It’s partly inspired by the same production ideas we had for our song “Undone”: a big bass and lots of 80’s analogue synths. We went for a melancholic feel but with some euphoric strings poking their heads in.  We wanted to keep the beautiful central riff the Moonbabies wrote on the guitar, but instead translate it to the piano.

WRH: What’s next for both bands? 

Daniella Kleovoulou: We’re currently working on our debut EP and organising some shows around London for the winter. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll also be streaming an electro cover of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra‘s “Some Velvet Morning” on SoundCloud.

Ola Frick: We have a few dancy Remixes we’ve done of tracks by the bands Blind Lake, Cantaloupe and The Land Below, that I guess and hope will be out before the end of 2015. And as you know we just released the Deluxe Edition Version of Wizards on the Beach with 12 bonus tracks. It sort of marks an end to a very long cycle for us. It feel great to get back into making something brand new, a complete fresh start, as were on a blank paper. Don’t know when something new will be out. One thing [that] stands out of the experience of working within the music industry 2015, is that we’re doing it straight out of pure joy, nothing else. We have set up our own imprint label Culture Hero, and no real pressure. My guess is a spring-time Moonbabies single or EP release. When something great pops up, we’ll capture it and release it. And I’m not lying when I say that I feel more confident and inspired than ever.

WDL is a Swedish producer and electronic music artist, who has received attention nationally in his homeland for remixes of fellow Scandinavians  and Tove Lo, and for “Bob’s Beat,” the official anthem of the 2015 Swedish Cricket World Cup team.

Building up on the attention, that the Swedish producer has received, his full-length debut, No Wings Airline, is slated for release soon, and the album’s first single a collaboration with renowned Danish vocalist and emcee, Ellinor Miranda Salome Olovsdotter, best known to music fans as Elliphant. The single pairs swirling and ambient electronics, twinkling piano, sweeping strings, handclaps, boom bap-like drum programming, distorted vocal samples and sharp hooks with Olovsdotter’s Lauryn Hill-like dexterous reggae-like flow and sultry R&B vocals. Sonically, the song sounds as though it draws an influence from Geoff Barrow‘s work with Portishead and Anika, as well as Sneaker Pimps — in other words, murky and ominous trip-hop but with an upbeat message at its core.

as well as the official anthem for the 2015 cricket world cup in ’Bob’s Beat,’ the latest testament to the young Swede’s production dexterity sees vintage piano and airy strings support raspy, captivating vocals courtesy of Elliphant. Released in partnership with Spotify, ’Stardust’ aims to set the tone for an album of diversity, authenticity and creativity.

Initially begun as the solo recording project of Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jake Hays, Maudlin Strangers over the last year has expanded to a quartet featuring Hays, along with Jeff Lehrer (keys, guitar), Kenneth Benson (bass) and Richie McPherson (drums) for live shows.

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the better part of the past year, you may recall that I wrote about Hays’ single “Stay Young” off his EP Overdose, and similarly to Big Data, Hays’ sound doesn’t have the prototypical lo-fi sound you’d expect from most bedroom-based indie rock producers; in fact, “Stay Young” revealed a slick and densely layered production style that buzzed with an anxious urgency in a song that was reminiscent to MGMT’Oracular Spectacular – but much darker. And as a result, Hays has seen his profile rise nationally as he’s tour with Bad Suns over the winter, and is currently touring with Cold War Kids. (You can check out the remaining tour dates below.)

Hays’ latest single “Sunny Day Rain” will further cement his reputation for a slickly produced sound comprised of cascading synths, sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drums and sensually cooed vocals and anthemic hooks to create a sound that’s shimmering enough to be dance-floor ready — and yet under the surface there’s something murkier and ominous.

Tour Dates

1/10/15 – Fitzgerald’s Downstairs – Houston, TX #
11/11/15 – The Sidewinder – Austin, TX #
11/12/15 – Dada – Dallas, TX #
11/15/15 – Pub Rock – Phoenix, AZ #  With Strange Names #

Supporting Cold War Kids *

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve written about Nashville, TN-based electro pop trio BASECAMP. Comprised of Aaron Miller, Aaron C. Harmon, and Jordan Reyes, the trio have quickly developed a reputation for a sound that equally draws from electronic music and the past 10-15 years of R&B and pop music; in fact, “Watch My Back,” arguably one of the best singles I’ve heard this year, and Greater Than‘s opening track paired silky smooth vocals with skittering percussion, glitchy electronics, chilly, swirling electronics, glistening synths and a tight, memorable hook to craft a sound that is reminiscent of Timbaland’s revolutionary work with Missy Elliot and Aaliyah.

The Nashville-based trio’s latest single “In My Veins” features Del The Funky Homosapien one of the more unheralded emcees around and Billie Black on a song that sonically manages to owe debts to classic house music and contemporary R&B as the song pairs arpeggio synths, stuttering and skittering drum programming, strummed guitar, wobbling low end and swirling electronics with silky smooth vocals on a sweaty and sexy dance-floor orientated track that compares lust and love to a powerful addiction. Chemically speaking, love is awfully close to being addicted to chocolate, caffeine and several other drugs.

Billie Black contributes some sultry vocals to the song’s hook while Del The Funky Homosapien contribues about 16 bars that expands on the song’s title. and compares being in love to shooting heroin — and in turn, being incredibly difficult to stop.

What “In My Veins” does is further cement the Nashville-based trio’s for slickly produced, sensual electro pop that clearly draws from R&B and dance music — in this case, house music — while possessing an emotional directness and thoughtfulness that seems all too rare.

Comprised of Karolina Komstedt and Johan Angergård, the Ahus, Sweden-based electro pop duo Club 8 have a long-held reputation for being incredibly difficult to pigeonhole since their formation in 1995. Initially, the Swedish duo began as a Bossa Nova-inspired guitar pop act with the release of their debut effort, Nouvelle But with the 1998 release of their sophomore effort, The Friend I Once Had, the duo went through a complete and radical change of sonic direction, as that effort had the duo writing electro dance music. The duo’s next three albums, released between 2001 and 2003 had the duo switching things up with material that leaned towards indie soul.

Up until 2010, Angergård had served as produced — until the 2013 release of Above The City; however, Angergård takes up production duties on the duo’s soon-to-be released Pleasure slated for a November 20 release through Labrador Records. And as Komstedt explains in press notes, “Pleasure is an album about love, sex and jealousy. Musically, it is possibly our most focused release to date.” Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Late Night” is a swooningly wistful and melancholic song that looks at a love affair, viewing it as immediately exciting and passionate — that is until that initial excitement wanes and the bright colors of the relationship gently turn grey. At its very core, the song’s narrator clings to seemingly old-fashioned romantic dreams and notions, and their nostalgia, all while desperately wishing that feeling would come back. It seems to subtly suggest that while love is something that we all desperately desire, relationships with other people can be confusing and hellish — and yet, we want so badly that we’ll do anything for it.

Sonically, the song pairs wistful nostalgia with layers of glistening and undulating synths reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” and The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?” and Komstedt’s hushed coos to craft a song that’s a slickly produced pop confection — but from the viewpoint of someone who’s been in a number of love relationships and has seen them repeatedly fail and yet remarkably hasn’t had their hope beaten down.

 

Multi-Grammy nominated, Grammy-winning, Canadian-Jamaican DJ and reggae vocalist Shaggy is probably best known for his mega-hit singles “Boombastic,” “It Wasn’t Me,” “Hey, Sexy Lady” and “Angel.”  More than enough ink has been spilled throughout Shaggy’s career but I will say that “Boombastic” and “It Wasn’t Me” are so hugely popular that you’ll still occasionally hear both of those songs at parties, more than 15 years after their initial releases.

Miami, FL-based pop artist Brika has been something of a mainstay on JOVM as I’ve written about her a number of times over the past year or so. And in that time, Brika received attention across the blogosphere for an electro pop sound that at times seemed to owe a debt to trip-hop and jazz. Interestingly, Brika recently covered Shaggy’s mega-hit “It Wasn’t Me,” turning the uptempo reggae song into a slow-burning, sensual neo-soul-leaning reggae reworking that completely changes the song’s melody while employing the use of strummed guitar, organ, skittering percussion, double bass and Brika’s breathy coos. Certainly, by having a woman sing the song’s lyrics, it creates a completely different interpretation of the song while retaining the original’s spirit.