Category: Indie Synth Pop

Behad Netjabakshe is a Paris, France-based electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist, best known as Uppermost, who has developed an internationally recognized profile through the release of material through renowned labels like  Sony BMGMinistry of SoundBugEyed RecordsStarlight Records and his own Uppwind Records; in fact,  singles like “Equivocal” landed at #3 back in 2009 and his Biscuit Factory EP landed at #1 on the JunoDownload electro-house charts. Additionally, Netjabakshe has received attention for his remixes of  Daft Punkdeadmau5BurialCrystal CastlesJonathan CoultonSyl JohnsonCongorock and others — and he’s had his work playlist by a number of superstar producers and artists including  TiestoArmin van Buren and Steve Angello.

The Parisian producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist released a comprehensive compilation, Origins 2011-2016, which featured some of Netjabakshe’s most popular tunes, including “Flashback,” “Beautiful Light,” “Reminder” and “Mistakes,” as well as new, original material including the shimmering and anthemic M83-channeling singles “Thousand Colors,” and “Emotion,” the Pink Floyd-channeling,  cinematic “Reminder,” the 45:33 and Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundsystem-leaning “Alive,” and a lush, cinematic rendition of “Constellation” performed with members of the Paris Symphonic Orchestra.

Netjabakshe’s latest effort Perseverance is slated for a March 23, 2018 release and the album, which reportedly features some of the most personal and impassioned material he has released to date, finds the Parisian producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist collaborating with vocalists with backgrounds in folk, hip-hop and pop — all while retaining the swooning and earnest emotionality that has won him international attention. Interestingly, Perseverance‘s latest single  “Atoms” is a hazy and anthemic track that features chilly and shimmering, arpeggiated analog synths, twinkling and a motorik-like groove; however, Birsen’s gossamer-like crooning that gives the song its nostalgic punch and its aching humanity, as the song’s lyrics point out our vulnerability and smallness in the face of an immense universe, but perhaps more important, our inherent connection to it.

 

 

Like countless other musicians, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Knox White relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career — and to support himself, White began working as a bartender. In a serendipitous turn of fate, Lionel Ritchie was one of his regulars, and after some time, Ritchie became a kind of mentor to the aspiring musician, giving advice and sharing stories about being on the road. The one thing that struck a deep chord with White was when Ritchie told him “Don’t sell your soul to the devil to get success in the music business. Stay humble and treat everyone like they are your friend.” On another night, Paul McCartney stopped by, and McCartney told him stories about The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Towards the end of the night, McCartney told him that a musician with an incredible live show is a musician with super powers, and the legendary Beatle told him, “Get amazing first, and everything else will fall into place.”

Eventually, White relocated to New Orleans, arguably one of the country’s richest musical environments — and unsurprisingly, he immersed himself in the city’s music scene, playing everything from gospel to jazz; in fact, as the story goes, White was immediately hired to play guitar at the Household of Faith Church, playing alongside some incredibly accomplished musicians, who took him under his wing, introduced him to other musicians, which lead to ton of gigs.  He found himself playing at clubs across the city playing and mastering gospel, blues, calypso, jazz and contemporary fare until the early morning. And naturally, while exhausting, White felt reinvigorated, returned to Los Angeles, where he began collaborating with producer Josh Legg, best known as Goldroom, and began writing fusing the skills and knowledge he gained while in the Crescent City and his influences — Prince, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Tame Impala.

White’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for release in July, and the EP’s first single “You’ve Been My Girl” is a sleek and slickly produced track that owes a tremendous debt to 80s synth funk  (i.e., Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others) and Prince, thanks to some impressive guitar pyrotechnics throughout; but interestingly the song finds the narrator calling out a love interest for being indecisive and playing with his emotions. Certainly, we’ve all been there before.

 

New Video: Swedish-born Multi-Instrumentalist and Electronic Music Artist Thornato Connects New York and Ghana In Visuals for Club-Banging New Single “Back It Up”

Thor Partridge is a Swedish-born Cypriot, whose mother encouraged his interest in music at a very young age; in fact, it was common to hear traditional Greek, African and Caribbean music in his home. As the story goes, Partridge’s family relocated to New York when he was a child, and he eventually studied classical piano, jazz guitar and bluegrass banjo. Partridge quickly showed a penchant and interest in production and remixing, when he found that he couldn’t help tinkering with classical piano arrangements. 

As an electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who writes, records and performs as Thornato, Partridge quickly received international attention with the release of 2016’s groundbreaking, electronic music/drum ‘n’ bass EP Things Will Change. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Partidge’s full-length album Bennu found the up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist becoming a go-to collaborator and producer, contributing to Bollywood scores, as well as playing clubs across the globe. 

Friday will mark the release of the Swedish Cypriot’s latest EP Back It Up and the EP’s latest single, title track “Back It Up,” finds the up-and-coming producer, collaborating with Ghanian vocalist  Zongo Abongo in a song that lovingly draws from the sounds of the African Diaspora as the song draws from several distinct genres and styles, including 90s Jamaican dancehall, Afro-pop, Champeta, and Dembow in a way that’s simultaneously seamless yet nostalgic, anachronistic yet incredibly post-modern — and perhaps most important of all, the song manages to be a breezy and infectious club banger with quite a bit of thump. 

Directed by Justin Conte, the video features Ghanian vocalist Zongo Abongo and dancer Soraya Lundy connecting across the Atlantic Ocean with a bright orange landline phone, essentially sharing a sensual dance between New York and Accra. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you would have come across a couple of posts featuring the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin. Aucoin has spent time as a collaborator and guest musician inches older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as an attention grabbing solo artist; in fact, his  2007 debut Personal Publication EP was a concept album designed as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He supported that effort by going on a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. After he completed his solo tour, he rejoined Hylozoists on their town; however, because of a sudden shit from regular, strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through an iron deficiency. Once he recuperated, he went on another solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

During both of his early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing and recording the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. The album was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, with the music video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” winning a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Aucoin then released his critically applauded, 2014 effort Ephemeral. 

Slated for a March 16, 2018 release, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and as you may recall the EP’s first single “Release” featured live drumming from Broken Social Scene‘s Justin Peroff in a sprawling yet propulsive, club banger that draws from house music and boom-bap era hip-hop, centered around laws of arpeggiated synths. The EP’s second single “The Middle” was swooning track that may remind some listeners of M83, as it possessed a soaring hook that evokes an earnest and swooning yearning.

The EP’s latest single “The Fear” continues in a similar vein as its predecessors as it’s a jangling and rousingly anthemic instrumental track consisting of propulsive drumming, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, jangling guitar and chopped up vocal samples — and interestingly enough, the track manages to be a trippy synthesis of club banging electro pop and anthemic indie rock.

Aucoin’s PRESS ON tour to support Hold EP will feature him bicycling from city to city to raise awareness for mental health — with the Canadian artist raising awareness for mental health by bicycling from city to city and donating 100% of the tour proceeds to Mental Health America and The Canadian Mental Health Association. The tour will include an tour opening stop at Brooklyn’s newest venue Elsewhere. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:
2/27: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
3/26: Los Angeles, CA @ Bardot
4/6: Phoenix, AZ @ TBA
4/11: Flagstaff, NM @ The Hive
4/19: Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
4/26: Amarillo, TX @ The 806
5/3: Oklahoma City, OK @ The Root
5/4: Norman, OK @ Opolis
5/11: Little Rock, AR @ TBA
5/16: Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
5/23: Nashville, TN @ TBA
5/31: Knoxville, TN @ Birdhouse
6/20: Washington, DC @ DC9
6/23: Baltimore, MD @ The Crown
6/26: Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA

New Video: Married, Art Pop Duo, The Parlor Releases a Thoughtful Meditation on Grief

With the release of their critically applauded sophomore album Wahzu Wahzu, the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo The Parlor, comprised of multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, production and husband and wife team of Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans further cemented a growing reputation for a fearless willingness to explore a variety of sound palettes and styles while crafting intimate and thoughtful pop music; in fact, the Altamont, NY-based duo have progressed from indie folk to stomp and clap trance folk to “campfire disco” as Pitchfork described Wahzu Wahzu.

Slated for an April 13, 2018 the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo’s forthcoming, third full-length effort Kiku derives its name for the Japanese word for chrysanthemum. According to O’Connor and Krans, chrysanthemum began blooming in their farmhouse garden immediately following their second miscarriage, and for the couple, the flower became a symbol of their grief, despair, resilience and faith. Sonically speaking, the album represents a continued evolution of their overall sound, as Kiku is the duo’s first foray into trigged samples and orchestral synth soundscaping. “Kiku grew into something we never anticipated,” the couple admits in press notes. As they were grieving, they turned to their art and began writing and recording material inspired by what they were feeling and thinking, as the couple says they felt themselves “reaching out across the plane of the living and the dead, where we stumbled upon the tiny hand of the soul we lost. We brought a pice of her, of Kiku, back with us.”

Understandably, the material on Kiku sounds gloomier and more anxious than their previously released work while reportedly balancing a playful and relaxed air at points that suggests that while profoundly serious, the album can be coquettish, sexy and earnest; in some way, the album is meant to be the inner world of a couple, who keep trying over and over again — perhaps, because as cheesy as it may sound to some, they have each other.

Kiku’s first single, album opener “Soon” draws from dream pop, contemporary electro pop, movie soundtracks, jazz and experimental pop in a heady and swooning mix — and while to my ears, bringing to mind the work of Moonbabies, Beacon, Softspot, Mazzy Star and Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS, the members of The Parlor manage to specialize in incredibly slick and lush production featuring soaring hooks paired with fearlessly heartfelt lyrics and sentiment. Yes, it’s meant to break your heart time and time again, but with a deeper purpose — to remind the listener of their empathy. Grief is grief is grief. We all know this and we all experience it at various points in our lives, and we try to move froward; that is what people do after all.

As O’Connor and Krans explain in press notes, “‘Soon’ was intended as a metaphor for the stages of grief. The chrysanthemums represent grief itself. We carry grief around with us, often to unlikely places. We try at times to let it go, to fling our grief from great heights or hope it’s carried off by time — an offering to the flowing waters of the hills. But ultimately we find ourselves steeping in it, drowning in it, and ideally cleansed by it in a baptism of intentional release. Allowing ourselves to stop fighting forces us to experience things that, as humans, we often try desperately to avoid. Allowing ourselves to dance in glowing sunlight empowers us to reclaim our spirit. And we are transported to a deeper place of understanding of one’s self and of the human experience as we know it. ‘Soon’ is an expression of painful hope and illuminated heart.”

The duo directed, shot and edited the video for “Soon” and naturally, the video prominently features chrysanthemums throughout — sometimes the husband and wife duo proudly and defiantly carrying them about, at other points, the flowers are being offered to the proverbial flowing waters of time or treated as a sort of sacrifice; but no matter what the flowers and their grief is inescapable — until they accept it.

New Video: Bülow Releases a Mischievous Video for Attention Grabbing Single “Not A Love Song”

Megan Bülow is a 17 year-old pop artist, who writes and records as Bülow, and who has spent time living in the States, Canada, the UK and Germany and is currently finishing high school in The Netherlands, making the up-and-coming pop artist a true citizen of the world. And with the release of her debut Damaged, Vol. 1 late last year, an effort that featured attention grabbing singles “Not A Love Song” and “Like This Guy” and “Lines,” Bülow became a viral sensation as those tracks have amassed several million streams, cracking the Spotify Global Viral charts, and receiving praise from the likes of NME, Vice Noisey, Pigeons and Planes and this site. 

Now, as you may recall “Not A Love Song” is an incredibly self-assured and sultry track that features Bülow’s smoky crooning over a slick and hyper contemporary production consisting of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and finger snaps, and unsurprisingly, from this track Bülow remind some of pop contemporaries like Phoebe Ryan, Chelsea Lankes, Sofi de la Torre,  and others, as “Not A Love Song” is centered around a fearless, unvarnished honesty, capturing the messiness, uncertainties and insecurities of a young woman trying to maneuver the complexities of love, her impending adulthood and growing sense of independence. In fact, as Bülow explained to me via email, “‘Not A Love Song’ is about the excitement of meeting someone for the first time. Initially, it feels so new and overwhelming good, but I eventually decided I wasn’t ready for that commitment. Or at least, that’s what I told myself. You can’t let lust fool you. Be honest with yourself. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not mean tot be; but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!”

The recently released video for the song was shot in Berlin and captures, the up-and-coming pop artist in a rather natural setting, capturing a young woman who can be equally confident, awkward, vulnerable and mischievous. As Bülow says of the video treatment, “I wanted this video to be natural, just being myself in a fearless city. Berlin is a special place to me.”

New Video: Up-and-Coming London-based Pop Artist Jodie Abacus Releases Swooning Visuals for Euphoric New Single “Meet Me In The Middle”

With the release of “I’ll Be That Friend” and “She’s In Love With The Weekend,” the up-and-coming London-based pop artist Jodie Abacus quickly saw a growing national profile, as both singles received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and BBC Radio 1xtra — and as a result of his growing profile, Abacus has collaborated with some of the UK’s hottest producers, writers and artists including Julio Bashmore, Tobias Jesso, Jr., Duke Dumont, Ariel Rechtshaid (who has worked with Beyonce, Adele and HAIM, and others), Rahki (who has worked with Kendrick Lamar), SOHN and others.  Adding to a growing profile, the up-and-coming, London-based artist has received praise from The Fader, who hailed him as “irresistible” and i-D Magazine as “somewhere between a less animated Thundercat and a more off-the-wall Stevie Wonder.” 

Abacus’ second EP, Mild Cartoon Violence derives its name from his desire “to capture the flavour of what goes on in my mind at any point in time when I write songs. I have an aggressive and playful approach towards everything I write within the creative process . . . I stand up, jump around and get excited. I envision the past, the present and the future feel of the storyline like a movie in my head in a cartoonish way and then scrutinise and bash away heavily at anything that may not feel right. This EP is about love, sex and torment.” The EP’s latest single, the POMO-produced “Meet Me In The Middle” pairs Abacus’ easy-going and soulful vocals with a shimmering neo-soul meets house music production featuring arpeggiated synths, stuttering drum programming and an infectious and euphoric hook — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the song is a swooning and euphoric track that the up-and-coming, British pop artist says is about a new romance, when you’re trying to get with someone sensually, physically, mentally and spiritually. 

The recently released video was shot in South London and follows Abacus as he meets cute with a beautiful woman, chats her up and invites her to a local house party. As Jodie Abacus says in press notes, “We had such fun shooting this as it turned into a full on party after the cameras stopped rolling.” 

New Video: Hearts Hearts Returns with Feverish and Surreal Visuals for Genre-Defying Single “Phantom/Island”

Comprised of David Österle, Daniel Hämmerle, Johannes Mandorfer and Peter Paul Aufreitet, the Vienna, Austria-based quartet Hearts Hearts developed a reputation for crafting brooding, slow-burning and elegiac music indebted to classic musical and electro pop that drew comparisons to Sigur Ros, Flying Lotus, The Darcys and Radiohead as you would have heard on “I Am In” and “AAA” off their critically applauded debut album Young, an effort that thematically focused on tension and release — in the sense of someone desperately trying to break through and out of the familiar and debilitating patterns of their own life. 

During the release of the Austrian act’s debut Young, the band’s Peter Paul Aufreiter and Johannes Mandorfer sent two radically different sound snippets to their bandmate David Österle — an aggressive and jazzy piano loop titled “Phantom” and an electronic drum take recorded overseas titled “Island,” which interestingly enough is the German word for the country of Iceland. And as the story goes, Österle frantically began attempting to put these disparate pieces together; to synchronise what was never meant to be unified, and start singing over the results. The genre-defying album reportedly draws from the work of Bon Iver, Jamie XX and Son Lux while taking its thematic cues from the in between spaces and undefined borderlines in meaning, symbolized by the slash in every title on the album — with the band exploring both emotional and moral ambiguities, the ineffectiveness and confusions that the dichotomies and borderlines that define modern society. As the band’s Hämmerle says, the band prefers to think “think in options,” seeing the slash as representing an openness and flexibility in meaning; in similarities as much as in difference. 

The album’s first single “Phantom/Island” offers a heady and trippy taste of the overall aesthetic and sound of the album, as the band draws from jazz, electronica, indie rock, experimental pop in a way that immediately brings Kid A-era Radiohead, Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington — and while being at their most sonically expansive and genre-defying, the track finds the band conjuring a mix of anguish and ecstasy, yearning and desire within a turn of a musical phrase, as you’ll hear a propulsive, almost dance floor friendly motorik groove during the song’s verses and a soaring, cinematic hook that conveys yearning and ache. The song finds the band at their most intimate yet cinematic,  experimental yet accessible, feverish and frenetic in what is arguably one of the most gorgeous and transcendent songs I’ve heard this year. 

Filmed and directed by Austrian artist Gabriel Hyden, the breathtakingly gorgeous visuals are a surreal and feverish dream inspired by Iceland’s equally surreal and gorgeous landscapes.  

Comprised of husband wife duo Aslyn and Kalen Nash, the Joshua Tree, CA-based synth pop duo DEGA features two accomplished, veteran musicians: Ashlyn had released two solo albums, Lemon Love through Capitol Records and The Dandelion Sessions through Lemonade Records, and she has a stint was a touring keyboardist and backing vocalist for Grammy nominated artist Kesha. Kalen Nash was guitarist and vocalist for Athens, GA-based indie rock act Ponderosa, a band that released their critically applauded, Joe Chiccarelli-produced album Midnight Revival, which was released through New West Records.

Unsurprisingly, the origins of the Nashes latest project can be traced back to 2008 when they first met and eventually fell in love — and although they married in 2011, they were so busy with their own respective musical projects, that they hadn’t seriously considered working together. Eventually, the loneliness of the road led the Nashes to consider a different path. “I remember a phone call when I was out with Kesha and Kalen was on tour with Ponderosa,” recalls Aslyn. “We were a country apart and hadn’t seen each other in months. I told him that we needed to start collaborating so, at the very least, we could see each other more often.”

Ashlyn and Kalen Nash formed DEGA with the idea that they could shed any and all of their preconceived notions about their previous work and freely explore new sounds and musical ideas — in this case anthemic, synth-based indie pop in which they merged their talents and ideas into a unique sound and approach. Now, as you may recall, the duo’s self-titled debut effort is slated for release later on this month through Lemonade Records, and the album reportedly is one of the most personal either has released to date as it focuses on the highs and lows of their lives together; in fact, album single “Phoenix” focuses on Asyln’s pregnancy and miscarriage during the recording sessions. With both Asyln and Kalen touring with their various projects, the duo would record whenever they were both in the same city and had free time, and as result, the album took two years to complete with sessions helmed by  Justin Loucks and Jon Ashley at various studios across the States.

Don’t Call It,” which I wrote about late last year was a carefully crafted yet urgent song that remind some quite a bit of Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” St. Lucia, Washed Out and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy as layers of shimmering synths were paired with a sinuous bass line, African-inspired percussion and a soaring hook. The duo’s latest single “Mirrors” continues the 80s vibes of its predecessor — but in this case Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince, as well as A Flock of Seagulls as the song features some blistering guitar work paired with propulsive drumming, layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while being a remarkably slick, radio friendly track, it reveals some incredibly ambitious and earnest songwriting.