Category: Indie Synth Pop

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Washed Out Teams Up with Caroline Koning for an Intimate Meditation on Longing and Touch in the Age of COVID-19

Throughout the course of this site’s ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of ink covering Ernest Greene, a Perry, GA-born, Athens, GA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed synth pop/chillwave act Washed Out.  The project can trace it origins back to around 2009: After earning an undergraduate degree and a Master of Library and Information Sciences degree from the University of Georgia, Greene was unable to find a job as a librarian. Greene moved back in his parents and began writing and producing material in his bedroom studio as well as with a local electro pop act Bedroom.

Shortly after posting Washed Out material on his MySpace page, the Perry-born, Athens-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer was discovered and championed by a number of influential blogs, who compared his sound to Neon Indian and Memory Tapes. He released his first two Washed Out EPs in rapid-fire fashion in August and September of that year. Building upon a growing profile, 2010 saw Greene continue the amazing momentum of the previous year: he played that year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and “Feel It All Around” became the opening theme song for the acclaimed TV series Portlanadia.

In early 2011, Greene signed with Sub Pop Records, who released his his full-length debut Within and Without, an album of icy yet plaintive synth pop to critical applause and commercial success: the album peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200 and #89 on the UK Albums Chart. He ended a breakthrough 2011 by co-curating that year’s ATP Nightmare Before Christmas in Minehead, UK with Battles. 

Greene’s sophomore Washed Out album 2013’s Paracosm was a decided change in sonic direction, as it featured a warmer, tropical-inspired sound that paired organic instrumentation with electronic production — all while retaining the ethereal quality of his previously released material.  

2017’s Cole M.G.N. co-produced Mister Mellow was released through renowned hip-hop label Stones Throw Records, and the album took on a bit of a J. Dilla-esque beatmaking feel. Since the release of Mister Mellow, Greene released a handful of singles including “Face Up” as part of Adult Swim’s applauded Singles Series. Earlier this year, the Perry-born, Athens-based artist released “Too Late,”  a swooning yet bittersweet bit of synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, Greene’s ethereal and plaintive vocals and a soaring hook — but with a subtly Mediterranean feel.

As it turns out, “Too Late” was unofficially the first single off Greene’s highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth album Purple Noon. Written, recorded by Greene with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen, the album’s production followed a brief stint of writing with other artists — most notably writing with Sudan Archives on her debut Athena. Those collaborations allowed Green to explore R&B and modern pop and those sounds have made their way into Purple Noon‘s material. Not only is the material reportedly the brightest and more robust sounds he’s ever worked out; it’s also a decided step forward: unlike his previous released work, the vocals are placed front and center at the mix, with slower tempos, bolder, harder-hitting beats and a more comprehensive dynamic depth.

Deriving its name from Rene Clement’s 1960 film Purple Noon, which was based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mister Ripley, the album’s material is deeply inspired by the coastlines of the Mediterranean — with Greene paying tribute to region’s island-based culture, elegance and old-world charm. But the surroundings serve as the backdrop to stories of passion love and loss — with a deeper, perhaps more urgent emotional intensity: the album’s first single “Too Late” is a tale of a first meet, with all the confused and swooning emotions that come about. Continuing in that same vein, Purple Noon‘s second single “Time To Walk Away” told the story of a the disintegration of  relationship with an aching sense of loss, confusion and longing. 

“Paralyzed” Purple Noon’s third and latest single continues in a a similar vein — brooding, shimmering yet ethereal synth pop with twinkling keys, thumping beats and subtle Mediterranean flavor through the addition of fluttering flute. Greene’s plaintive vocals sing lyrics detailing the power of love and lust with an ache and longing that should feel familiar to all who have been there before. 

Directed by acclaimed fashion film director Caroline Koning and shot in her native Holland, the recently released video follows a real-life couple Shay and Dories in their most unguarded and intimate moments, conveying love, lust and longing with a simple look, a smile, a touch of the hand. Considering how dangerous human touch is during an age of pandemic, the video will bring back memories of far simpler times — of intimate moments we all may have had with lovers and even with random hookups. 

“Human contact, and something as simple as a touch, has new meaning in the context of today,” Caroline Koning explains in press notes. “These special times make the viewing experience of physical togetherness a different one, and I wanted to tap into that sentiment in a pure way. The couple we follow in the film capture this simplicity beautifully, and what we see on screen all happened very organically. Encapsulating a perhaps general longing for closeness through a very unpretentious narrative gives this spot a natural honesty that I think visualizes the track in a strong manner.”
 
Washed Out has also announced Purple Noon Nights, a culmination of four months of new tracks and visuals leading up to the new album’s release over four nights this weekend. Beginning this Thursday, August 6th and ending on Sunday, August 9th at 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT each night, Washed Out’s Ernest Greene will be hosting a different Purple Noon-related event each night:
 

Thursday, 8/6: Purple Noon listening party
Friday, 8/7: the Washed Out live band’s first live-streamed concert, performing selected tracks from Purple Noon along with highlights from his catalog
Saturday, 8/8: Q&A with fans via @realwashedout’s Instagram Live account
Sunday, 8/9: Greene will host the sixth in his popular Magic Hour Mix DJ sets, with this set focusing on the Washed Outcatalog
 
The listening party, full band set, and Magic Hour DJ set will be broadcast live from Washed Out’s YouTube, Facebook, Instagram TV, and Twitch accounts.
 

New Audio: Haiku Hands Team Up with JOVM Mainstays Sofi Tukker on a Club Banger

Last year saw  Aussie electro pop act Haiku Hands — Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa — embarking on their first ever Stateside tour, which included a series of critically applauded, attention-grabbing sets at SXSW, opening slots for the likes of Japanese punk act CHAI, JOVM mainstays Tame Impala and Sofi Tukker, Chicago-based emcee CupcaKke and footwork producer DJ Taye. 

Building upon aa rapidly growing national and intentional profile, the Aussie trio’s highly-anticipated, self-titled full-length debut is slated for a September 10, 2020 release through Mad Decent. Recorded primarily in Melbourne with Joel Ma (a.k.a. Joelistics), the Aussie electro pop trio’s self-titled debut further cements the act’s reputation for being rebellious, experimental and wildly unconventional. While featuring collaborations with Sofi Tukker, Mad Zach, Machine Drum, Mirac, Hermitude’s Elgusto and Lewis CanCut, the album thematically probes technology, relationships and the absurd — with incisive social commentary. “The record explores an attitude of empowerment, humour and positivity whilst also delving into darker themes and expressions,” the members of Haiku Hands explain. “We aimed to be original in our creative choices, we were influenced by multiple genres and artists but were aiming to create something that sounded new and different.” 

“Fashion Model Art,” the self-titled album’s latest single features a collaboration with Sofi Tukker. Centered around twinkling keys, stuttering beats and handclaps, layers of shimmering synths,  and chanted, non-sequiturs, “Fashion Model Art” is a euphoric and  decidedly 80s inspired house music banger that sounds like a brash and mischievous take on Madonna’s “Vogue” and David Bowie’s “Fashion.” 

“The chorus of ‘Fashion Model Art’ was created on the train coming home from the Sydney Biennale,” the Aussie electro pop act explain in press notes. “It was the moment we swapped from being our composed observant art critiques to our boisterous playful selves. We ended up having half the carriage chanting fashion fashion, model model, art art art art on the train.

“This song celebrates the fashion model art character within ourselves. We revel in the hilarious, tense, fun, ridiculous and utmost seriousness of these moments.

 Sofi Tukker jumped on this song after we toured with them for a month in the US.

 We ask ourselves, what should we do with our hands?”

“We met Haiku Hands on tour in Australia,” Sofi Tukker says in press notes. “After seeing them literally once live, we immediately asked them to go on tour with us. We’ve been good friends ever since. It was so fun working on this track with them. We love how they build in humor and choreography into their music. ”

CARRÉ · Freeform

If you’ve been following this site over the past few months, you may know that Carré is a rapidly rising Los Angeles-based indie electro rock act featuring:

  • Julien Boyé (drums, percussion, vocals): Boyé has had stints as a touring member of Nouvelle Vague and James Supercave. Additionally, he has a solo recording act Acoustic Resistance, in which he employs rare instruments, which he has collected from all over the world.
  • Jules de Gasperis (drums, vocals, synths, production and mixing): de Gasperis is a Paris-born, Los Angeles-based studio owner. Growing up in Paris, he sharpened his knowledge of synthesizers, looping machines and other electronics around the same time that Justice, Soulwax and Ed Banger Records exploded into the mainstream.
  • Kevin Baudouin (guitar, vocals, synth, production): Baudouin has lived in Los Angeles the longest of the trio — 10 years — and he has played with a number of psych rock acts, developing a uniquely edgy approach to guitar, influenced by Nels Cline, Jonny Greenwood and Marc Ribot.

Deriving their name for the French word for “square,” “playing tight” and “on point,” the Los Angeles-based trio formed last year — and as the band’s Jules de Gasperis explains in press notes, “The making of our band started with this whole idea of having two drummers perform together. It felt like a statement. We always wanted to keep people moving and tend to focus on the beats first when we write.”

The act specializes in a French electronica-inspired sound that blends aggressive, dark and chaotic elements with hypnotic drum loops. Thematically, their work generally touches upon conception, abstraction and distortion of reality through a surrealistic outlook of our world. Visually, their work features geometric shapes and patterns.

The French-born, Los Angeles-based trio’s self-titled EP is slated for a Friday release through Nomad Eel Records — and so far, I’ve written about “This is not a band,” a propulsive club banger that brought Factory Floor, The Rapture, Primal Scream, Kasabian, The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method to mind—  and the Ministry and early Nine Inch Nails-like “Urgency.” “Freeform,” the EP’s latest single is decidedly free flowing and improvised jam centered around glistening synth arpeggios, shimmering blasts of guitar an insistent motorik groove, hi-hat led four-on-the-floor, ethereal samples and vocodered vocals. And while the song sonically brings Uncanny Valley-era Midnight JuggernautsTour de France-era Kraftwerk and Primal Scream to mind, it also reveals an incredibly tight band of musicians, who are pushing each other and their work into new and trippy dimensions.

 

Live Footage: Washed Out Performs “Too Late” on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

Ernest Greene is a Perry, GA-born, Athens, GA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed synth pop/chillwave act Washed Out.  Washed Out can trace its origins back to around 2009: After earning an undergraduate degree and a Master of Library and Information Sciences degree from the University of Georgia, Greene was unable to find a job as a librarian. As the story goes, Greene moved back in with his parents and began writing and producing material in his bedroom studio, as well as with local electro pop act Bedroom. 

Shortly after posting Washed Out material on his MySpace page, the Perry-born, Athens-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer was discovered and championed by a number of influential blogs, who compared his sound to Neon Indian and Memory Tapes. Greene released his first two Washed Out EPs in rapid-fie fashion that August and September. And building upon a growing profile, Greene played his New York City debut — which interestingly enough, was only his second live show ever — at the now, long-shuttered Santos Party House.

2010 saw Greene continue the amazing momentum of the previous year: he played that year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and “Feel It All Around” became the opening theme song for the acclaimed TV series Portlanadia.

In early 2011, Greene signed with Sub Pop Records, who released his his full-length debut Within and Without, an album of icy yet plaintive synth pop to critical applause and commercial success: the album peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200 and #89 on the UK Albums Chart. He ended a breakthrough 2011 by co-curating that year’s ATP Nightmare Before Christmas in Minehead, UK with Battles. 

Greene’s sophomore Washed Out album 2013’s Paracosm was a decided change in sonic direction, as it featured a warmer, tropical-inspired sound that paired organic instrumentation with electronic production — while retaining the ethereal quality of his previously released material,. The year ended with Life of Leisure EP track “New Theory” being featured as background music in a scene of the rom-com The Spectacular Now.

The Perry-born, Athens-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s third album, 2017’s Cole M.G.N. co-produced Mister Mellow was released through renowned hip-hop label Stones Throw Records, and the album found the acclaimed artist’s work seemingly taking on a bit of a J. Dilla-esque beatmaking feel. 

Since the release of Mister Mellow, Greene released a handful of singles including “Face Up” as part of Adult Swim’s applauded Singles Series. Earlier this year, the Perry-born, Athens-based artist released “Too Late,”  a track that sonically was a return to form: a swooning yet bittersweet bit of synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, Greene’s ethereal and plaintive vocals and a soaring hook — but with a subtly Mediterranean feel.

As it turns out, “Too Late” was unofficially the first single off Greene’s highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth album Purple Noon. Written, recorded by Greene with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen, the album’s production followed a brief stint of writing with other artists — most notably writing with Sudan Archives on her debut Athena. Those collaborations allowed Green to explore R&B and modern pop and those sounds have made there way into Purple Noon‘s material. Not only is the material reportedly the brightest and more robust sounds he’s ever worked out; it’s also a decided step forward: unlike his previous released work, the vocals are placed front and center at the mix, with slower tempos, bolder, harder-hitting beats and a more comprehensive dynamic depth.

Deriving its name from Rene Clement’s 1960 film Purple Noon, which was based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mister Ripley, the album’s material is deeply inspired by the coastlines of the Mediterranean — with Greene paying tribute to region’s island-based culture, elegance and old-world charm. But the surroundings serve as the backdrop to stories of passion love and loss — with a deeper, perhaps more urgent emotional intensity: the album’s first single “Too Late” is a tale of a first meet, with all the confused and swooning emotions that come about. 

Recently Greene was on Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed “Too Late” with a gorgeous split camera perspective that offered and extreme close up on Greene performing the song: we see his fingers as they tap various functions on his drum machine and synths — and Greene singing through a two microphone set up. Behind him, a gorgeous sunset on the beach. 

Purple Noon is slated for an August 7, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. 

 

A.K. Paul is a London-born and-based singer/songwriter, producer, engineer and recording artist, who first came to prominence with a contribution to his brother Jai Paul’s debut single “BTSU.” The following year, Paul was very busy: he worked on his brother Jai’s “Jasmine (demo)” and Big Boi‘s “Higher Res,” feat. Jai Paul and Little Dragon, as well as co-writing material for Sam Smith and Emeli Sandé, which resulted in the London-born and based artist winning a Ivor Novello Award back in 2013.

In 2016, A.K. Paul, Jai Paul and Muz Azar started their own label Paul Institute, and the label released A.K’s full-length debut Landcruisin’. Unfortunately, Paul Institute and its co-founders had gone through a protracted legal fight that nearly shut the label down — but over the past few months, the label, along with its co-founders and artists have released new material.  “I’m really happy we’re releasing new music with Paul Institute this summer,” A.K. Paul says in press notes. “It’s been a while coming and the last couple of years have been perilous at times for PI, particularly because of a legal fight that set us back. So besides it being sick music, to return with such a strong set of releases feels like a vindication of our rights as artists too.”

Paul’s latest single “Be Honest” is a New Jack Swing-like take on house and electro pop, centered around stuttering beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, an infectious hook and the British artist’s soulful crooning. Sonically, the song is an escapist (and necessary summer) banger — even if it’s one of the strangest summers in recent memory. In press notes, Paul describes the song as being “about giving up control for a moment, allowing yourself to feel something beyond what you’ve known. It’s a song about liking something you didn’t think you would like, feeling something you didn’t think you’d feel — and as soon as you come to your senses being faced with the prospect you’ve only half lived . . .”

New Video: Kaituhi Teams Up with Napkey on a Nostalgia Inducing Single

Kévin Vergobbi is a classically trained, French multi-instrumentalist and producer, who first started off playing with several different rock bands including PHOTO, MS&TW and currently BALM. Vergobbi’s solo recording project Kaituhi, which means “the scribe” finds the French multi-instrumentalist and producer creating work that’s a decided departure from his previously recorded output — centered around a much more melancholic emotional range, the project specializes in escapist and ambient synth pop. 

Vergobbi’s seven song, Benjamin Cholet and Augustin Bretillard-co-produced EP Taratahi is slated for a September 2020 release through Pschent Music. “Divine,” Taratahi’s latest single is a slow-burning and cinematic track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats and Justine Rousseau’s plaintive and ethereal vocals. At its core, is an achingly wistful nostalgia for something that seemed much simpler and peaceful. 

The recently released video is set around a very simple concept: an old Commodore 64-like computer in some overgrown grasses. And on the screen, we see various space missions — although at one point, everything turns into wild psychedelic colors: the grass turns purple and then switches back to its normal color. 

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut album Thick Skin, Mackay, Australia-born, Brisbane, Australia-based singer/songwriter Tia Gostelow exploded into the national and international scenes. Album single “Strangers” received over 10 million Spotify streams — and adding to a breakthrough year, Gostelow opened for the likes of Ball Park Music, Frightened Rabbit, The Rubens and Gomez and played sets across the international festival circuit, including Falls Festival and SXSW. Thick Skin also landed a Triple J album feature, which may have led to her appearing on the station’s covers series Like A Version.

Last year, Gostelow went on her first national headlining tour, which she followed up with tours across the States, the UK and the European Union. During that same period of time, the rising Aussie artist started work on her Oscar Dawson-produced sophomore album, an effort that will reportedly see Gostelow moving away from the guitar-based indie and folk sound of her debut and towards a lush synth pop soundscape. The album’s third single, The Money War-written “Always” sees Gostelow and Dawson collaborating with Dawson’s Holy Holy bandmate Tim Carroll, who contributes vocals to the song.

Centered around atmospheric electronics, shimmering synth arpeggios, a disco inspired bass line, a soaring hook and alternating boy-girl verses sung by Carroll and Gostelow, the song is a swooning and earnest declaration of love and devotion through a difficult and confusing time for both parties. Of all the things we claim to understand about the workings of world, the one we can’t quite grasp is love. Love simply doesn’t make sense. The song manages to capture something that should feel familiar to most — if not, all — of us: that tiny fluttering aches and sighs of a new love/new crush/new situationship and the creeping fear that because of your past relationships and your baggage that you might screw it all up. “I really wanted to have a big 80’s synth-pop, big drums kind of sound that everybody wants to dance to,” Gostelow says. “It kind of reminds me of an 80’s prom in a rom-com movie.”

Adds Gostelow, “I really connected with it lyrically straight away, when I first heard it I had the feeling it was about being in love with someone but not physically being able to be with them and also pushing through all of the hard parts in a relationship because you know the good outweighs the bad. It just fit perfectly within the record as I’ve really highlighted my feelings about being away from my loved ones, feeling lonely and I guess just trying to figure out who I am as a 20-year old woman.”

 

\

 

Speaker Face · Phosphorescence

Speaker Face is an award-winning Toronto-based experimental electronic act that has developed a reputation for crafting a sound that meshes the organic with the synthetic through the use of acoustic instruments, sampled natural sound, computers and synths as a way of immersing the listener in melody, groove and atmosphere.

“Phosphorescence,” the first bit of new material from the Toronto-based act in four years is an atmospheric and eerie track centered around shimmering and arpeggiated Rhodes, looped finger-plucked violin, shuffling beats, wobbling  and layered vocals that seems to evoke the mist of seawater off rugged coasts and the briny smell of the sea.

“‘Phosphorescence’ is a complicated love song for the West Coast of Canada: British Columbia,” the Toronto-based pop outfit explain. “We feel so welcomed by the land and connected to the nature where Trent grew up, but recognize that many people were displaced to allow our presence.

“‘Phosphorescence’ is a thank you letter to those who were here long before us, specifically the Coast Salish, and the early 1900s Japanese settlers, who were interned during WWII.”