Category: Indie Synth Pop

Last year, I wrote about the Vancouver, BC experimental pop/electro pop act I M U R, and as you may recall, that with the release of 2015’s debut EP Slow Dive, the Canadian trio,  which is comprised of Jenny Lea (vocals, keys), Mikey J. Blige (live production, guitar) and Amine Bouzaher (electric violin, bass) have received attention in Vancouver’s underground scene and elsewhere for a sound that draws from 90s R&B, 90s soul, contemporary electro pop in a rather unique fashion. Interestingly, that EP at one point landed at #5 on Spotify Global Viral Charts.

Building upon a growing profile, the Vancouver-based pop trio has received attention and praise from a number of national and internally known media outlets, including Vice NoiseyExclaim!, Hiphop Canada, Beatroute Magazine and Winniecooper.net, who listed the trio as one of Vancouver’s Top Acts to watching out for in 2016. They’ve also played at a number of festivals across their native Canada such as  Shambhala Music Festival, World Ski and Snowboard Festival,Astral Harvest, Center of Gravity and Rifflandia.

Last year, the members of I M U R released their full-length debut Little Death, and the album further cemented their reputation for crafting material that thematically explores and focuses on extremely dark subjects — namely drugs, booze and sex, as well as the prototypical pop themes of heartache, resiliency and intimacy with a fearless lack of inhibition. Interestingly, the slow-burning “Miss You, Hate You” the first single off the trio’s forthcoming THIRTY33 EP is a deeply intimate account of Jenny Lea’s personal struggles with addition rooted around the duality of her life — both as an addict and as a former addict. As Lea explains, “This was a very important but difficult song for me to write. I’m opening up about a very private part of my life in hopes to connect with others that might be struggling, and to let them know that they’re not alone.”

As the trio mentions via email, the track was self-recorded in the bedroom of their temporary Montreal apartment last spring, and sonically the track is centered around a sparse production consisting of shuffling beats, swirling and undulating electronics paired with Lea’s sultry jazzy and confessional delivery; in some way, the song is late night secret, whispered among friends or lovers — with the understanding that while it won’t get out of that room, that it’ll make you much closer.

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New Video: Up-and-Coming Australian Producer and Electronic Music Artist MUTO Releases Cinematic Yet Surreal Visuals for “Tessellating” feat. Oliver Dibley

MUTO is a 20-something, Sydney, Australia-born and-based electronic music producer, who quickly emerged into the national scene with the release of two attention grabbing, incredibly unique yet soulful, chart topping singles “Wildfire,” and “Say Nothing.” The up-and-coming Australian electronic music producer’s first single of this year “Tessellating” will further cement his reputation for crafting slick, soulful and crowd pleasing electro pop — but while pushing his sound in a new, experimental direction as it’s centered around a production consisting of layers of glitchy electronics, arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, weird, asymmetrical textures which Oliver Dibley croons in a sultry and plaintive fashion about the interchanging and confusing nature of a relationship. In this sense, relationships can change and bend dependent on the lens and perspective you’re looking through, much like light refracting through a mirror.

Directed by  Visitor Studio’s Melbourne, Australia-based, award winning duo Lukas Shrank and George Thompson, the recently released video while cinematically shot possesses a surreal and dream-like logic that suggest that love — whether romantic or platonic — can frequently feel like being free fall, and landing in some random place without explanation or reason. 

Throughout the bulk of this site’s 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and as you know with his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart has received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that at points has been compared to CaribouWashed OutIn Ghost Colours-era Cut CopyPainted Palms and others. Additionally, Alexander has been considered among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement along with the likes of MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park.
With his 12 Songs ofSummer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years, and as you can imagine doing so manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially, and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively speaking, the artist isn’t constrained by having the pressure of writing material with a  cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would if they were writing for an EP or a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with material within relatively strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Financially, independent artists, who may be struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record and tour, can put out material quickly — and in the blogosphere age, it can ensure that the artist can receive some sort of attention over the course of year, outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“Aftershock,” the latest single in the 12 Songs of Summer project is a swaggering and flirty single centered around Alexander’s falsetto which for this song takes on a smooth jazz-like quality paired with shuffling drum programming and twinkling synths to create a song that evokes silk sheets on naked skin, of making love on an early summer morning with the windows open to let in a soft breeze. Arguably, it’s one of Alexander’s sultriest songs to date.

Deriving their name from a line in Jules Verne’s 2000 Leagues Under The Sea — “There’s a powerful agent, obedient, rapid, easy, which conforms to every use, and reigns supreme on board my ship. Everything is done by means of it. It lights it, it warms it, and is the soul of my mechanical vessel. This agent is electricity.” — the London-based synth pop act Everything by Electricity can trace its origins to when its founding member Yulia, who grew up in post-Soviet Siberia, loving music and desperately wanting to create music; in fact, a young Yulia was essentially blacklisted for having behavioral problems amongst peers involved in crime and hard drug use — for playing an electric guitar and wearing a Kurt Cobain hoodie. Initially, the project started as a solo, bedroom recording project until she recruited Daniel (bass guitar, synthesisers) and Manoela (drums, pads) to become a fully fleshed out band.

Unsurprisingly, the British synth pop trio’s material draws from its Siberian-born founder and primary songwriter’s experiences, particularly the alienation and loneliness of being misunderstood and singled out for being different from her peers. The band’s moody and cinematic new single “Place to Call My Own” focuses on a narrator, who escapes to find solace in London, where she could freely express herself through music. Sonically, the track finds the trio pairing Yulia’s achingly lonely and wistful vocals with swirling and shimmering synths and precise, mechanical drum programming; but at its core is a bittersweet realization that while she may be able to express herself as she’s always felt fit that on a certain level, she’s still as lonely and misunderstood.

Interestingly, as the band’s frontwoman and primary songwriter says of the song, “I wrote this song a long time in Siberia, before I moved to London. Initially, I didn’t intend for it to be a track I’d record and ultimately finish – it had just been sitting incomplete in an old lyric book for years. I recently came across the same book and found this unfinished song; it haunted me for days, I couldn’t take my mind off it, so dropped what I was currently working on and brought ‘Place To Call My Own’ to life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Palace Winter Perform Moody Album Single “Baltimore” at The Village Recording

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager can trace its origins to the individual members of the group having a mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work in a number of different projects. And as a result, the duo were encouraged to start collaborating together. 2015 saw the release of their debut single but the following year was their breakthrough year, as their debut EP Medication and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn were released to critical praise from the likes of The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRW, KEXP, Norway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have a Hype Machine #1, have opened for Noel Gallagher,and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Sziget Festival, Latitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.
Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, Coleman and Hesselager released their sophomore album together Nowadays last month, and album single “Empire” revealed a band that had been subtly expanding upon their sound and songwriting, as the single found the band pairing breezy, melodic, radio friendly pop with much darker thematic concerns — in particular, the loss of innocence and the tough, sobering life lessons of adulthood but also, the recognition of the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life. “Come Back (Left Behind)” was loosely inspiredly the major motion picture, The Witch while dealing with themes of grief and yearning. And as the band’s Carl Coleman adds, the song has the duo moving the focus away from the acoustic guitar and finds them employing the use of piano and 12 string electric — and while propulsive and danceable, the song managed to sound as though it were released in 1985. 

“Baltimore,” Nowadays’ latest single is a bit of a return to form for Coleman and Hesselager as the moody track is centered around strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, and propulsive rhythm section with Coleman’s plaintive vocals. Interestingly, the song delves into feelings of being suffocated by love, followed by remorse, frustration, bitterness and anxiety. 

Recently, the band along with touring members Jacob Haubjerg (guitar) and Jens Bach Laursen (drums) performed “Baltimore,” at The Village Recording, and visually, the live session further evokes the song’s moodiness and overall themes — while giving the viewer a sense of their live set. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Returns with an Ode to Resilience in Our Dark Times

Throughout the better part of this year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin, and as you’d likely recall, Aucoin has spent time as collaborator and guest musician in his older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before quickly developing a reputation an an attention grabbing solo artist. In fact, Aucoin’s 2007 debut EP Personal Publication was a concept album conceived and written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas — and he supported the effort with a cross-Canada tour made entirely by bicycle to raise money for  Childhood Cancer Canada.

After completing the tour to support Personal Publication EP, Aucoin joined his brother’s band and toured with them; but as the story goes, because of a sudden shift from regular and extremely strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through a debilitating iron deficiency. Once he recuperated, Aucoin went on yet another solo tour in which he ran partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. During both of those early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing 2011’s full-length debut 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. Aucoin’s debut was long-listed as a nominee for 2012’s Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013. Building up on a growing profile, the Nova Scotian producer and electronic music artist released his critically applauded Ephemeral back in 2014.

Released earlier this year, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in about four years, and EP singles like the sprawling and propulsive “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle”  and the jangling guitar pop meets synth pop  “The Fear.” further cement Aucoin’s reputation for crafting infectious and anthemic yet thoughtful pop. The EP’s latest single “The Dream” is a slow-burning and wistful track that pairs the Canadian producer and electronic music artist’s tender falsetto over a production centered around twinkling and plinking keys, bursts of handclaps,  and a propulsive and strutting bass line. And yet, the song manages to evoke something the narrator longs for the deep down, he recognizes he might not be able to fully achieve it; that sometimes you get what you need and not what you want. But there’s a hopefulness that suggests that sometimes just having a dream is necessary to survival. As Aucoin explained in press notes, “‘The Dream’ is a song about the contentment we can feel at an individual level when daydreaming or imagining a different world. It’s not about the achieving of making that world come to reality but looks at the various therapeutic benefits from such an endeavour. Whether it be imagining a time where you are not heartbroken, in an estrangement, or in conflict with the changes in your life, that power to picture yourself beyond the given moment is a useful tool for accepting the way things are and getting to that new spot, ‘The Dream.’”
Directed by Mike Bromley, the recently released video for “The Dream” was filmed in Los Angeles and it follows Aucoin, who plays an aspiring actor, and although he does suffer through some early rejection, he continues to be persistent — and with a smile, no less as he strives for the dream he wants to achieve. 

New Video: Free Love Releases a Mischievous Take on 120 Minutes-era MTV Videos

Since their formation under the name Happy Meals in 2014 at Glasgow, Scotland’s The Green Door Studio, best known for being the birthplace of a number of local DIY bands, including renowned acts Golden Teacher and Total Leatherette, Free Love, comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of their homeland’s most acclaimed dance pop acts, as their 2015 full-length effort Apero was nominated for Scottish Album of the Year. Adding to a growing profile, the band opened for the likes of Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TX, Moscow, and Bangalore. Despite their recent change in name, the duo further cements their reputation for utopian and somewhat brainy dance pop experiments with their dance floor friendly. shimmering, 80s synth pop and New Wave-inspired single “Synchronicity.” While the track may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order’s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the song is about breaking from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom.

Shot by Harrison Reid and Omar Aborida and edited by Gary McQuiggan, the recently released video for “Synchronicity” was filmed at Carlton Studios and features friends of the band as four different “bands” with four different backdrops. But as the band’s Lewis Cook explains to The Quietus, “I wanted it to look like a Sparks video or something like that. I like videos where it’s just a band playing. But because the track is all electronic music, it’s just us with drum machines and synthesizers. So we thought it’d be cool to do this thing you used to see in the 90s where people had clearly made a track on a sampler.” As Suzi Rodden adds, “but they’re kidding on that they’re playing all these instruments in their video. Big bass guitars and full drum kits and maracas and stuff.”
 

New Video: Introducing the Genre Defying Globalist Sounds of Ekiti Sound

Leke a.k.a CHif is a Lagos -born, London-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter, who has carefully honed his skills with a variety of artists and producers both in Europe and Africa, and briefly as a sound designer in Nollywood — and unsurprisingly, all of Leke’s experiences have influenced his solo recording project Ekiti Sound, a project that finds him adding his name to a growing list of genre-blurring artists that draw from an eclectic array of sources — while being undeniably Nigerian; in fact,  the slickly produced “Ife,” Leke’s latest single off his forthcoming Ekiti Sound debut Abe No Vex pairs thumping tweeter and woofer rocking Chicago house music, African polyrhythm, arpeggiated synths and an anthemic, club rocking hook with shouted traditional lyrics by frequent collaborator Prince G, creating a seamless (but incredibly subtle) synthesis across the African Diaspora. As Leke explains “Ife” in Yoruba means “the greatest love,” and the swaggering club banger manages to gently swoon a bit at its core, as it promotes the sort of love that should unify all creatures on this planet.

Directed by Sam Campbell, the recently released video for “Ife,” was shot on location in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State and features three beautiful. traditional Nigerian dancers, who do some of the traditional dances of the Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa tribes with an infectious and life affirming energy.

 

New Video: French Electro Pop Duo Synapson Teams Up with Sengalese Singer/Songwriter Lass on a Breezy and Genre-Defying Single

Synapson is a French electronic music production and artist duo, comprised of Alexandre Chiere (keys, saxophone, beats, vocals) and Paul Cucuron (drums, turntables, production and mixing) and since their formation in 2009, the duo have been critically and commercially successful — they’ve sold over 150,000 physical copies and have amassed over 100 million streams; however, they may be best known for their remake/re-work of Burkinabe singer/songwriter and musician Victor Deme’s “Djon’maya,” which they renamed “Djon Maya Mai,” and their original track “All In You,” featuring Anna Kova. Both tracks were smash hits in the duo’s native France, as they charted at #12 and #10 respectively. 

The duo’s soon-to-be released album Super 8 will further cement their reputation for a sound that possesses elements of nu-disco, deep house but it finds them at their most ambitious, as they collaborate with a diverse, international cast including French act M83’s Mai-Lan,  Archive’s Holly, Kaleem Taylor, L. Marshall, Idyllwild’s Casey Abrams, Miami-born, Paris-based rapper Beat Assailant, Jamaica-born, London-based Taneisha lJackson, Tim Dup, Haute’s Tessa B. and Blasé, Sengalese singer/songwriter Lass and a list of others. 

Super 8’s latest single “Souba” synthesis of French electro pop, house music and Afropop as its centered around a slick yet soulful production featuring a looped, shimmering guitar line, a sinuous bass line, thumping beats and a club rocking and radio friendly hook. And unsurprisingly, the two step inducing track will remind the listener that electronic dance music translates language and culture, and that perhaps most important, it’s music that’s always a beneficial unifying force. Additionally, the track will establish the duo on a growing list of French electronic music acts that blur genre lines with a globe spanning bent. 

The recently released video employs a simple but endearing concept — we see Lass and the members of Synapson hanging out in and around a prototypical European car. At points the videos features the members of the trio brooding, but for the most part they’re hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. 

New Video: Introducing the Global, Genre- Blurring Sound of Up-and-Coming Benin-born, New York Artist Shirazee

Shirazee is  Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist and singer/songwriter, who studied in Ghana, overcame homelessness and after spending a stint in Atlanta, relocated to New York to pursue his dream of being a performer and singer/songwriter. Since then, Shirazee has written for and collaborated with Afrojack, Sting, Ty Dolla $ign and Kiesza — and as a solo artist, the Benin-born, New York-based artist has received attention from Wonderland, OkayAfrica and Hunger Magazine, as well as millions of streams across Spotify and Apple Music for a sound that draws from Afropop, American hip-hop and contemporary electronic music paired with songs that possess underlying personal narratives.

The up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist’s debut EP Make Wild finds him collaborating with the Brooklyn-born and-based hip-hop artist and producer SAINt JHN — and as the Brooklyn-based artist and producer says of their collaboration, “he’s a friend first and a rising star in his own right second. When he heard me playing Juju in Toronto and asked to jump on it, I thought he was kidding, until he insisted, ‘Juju issa vibe!’”

“Make Wild,” the EP title track and latest single is a breezy and summery track featuring thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and looping guitar lines, and a sinuous and infectious hook — and while managing to be a slickly produced amalgam of African pop, Afrobeat, American electro pop and soul, the up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based artist manages to do so in an incredibly accessible, crowd pleasing fashion.

Produced by WOVE, the recently released video employs the use of incredibly vibrant video, full of colors meant to evoke sunset over the Sahara Desert as Shirazae sings to a gorgeous woman just out of his reach.