Category: Synth Pop

New Video: Rising Canadian Pop Artist GRAE Releases a Sultry Jazz Age-Inspired Visual

GRAE is a rising Toronto-based singer/songwriter and pop artist. Initially inspired by Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, which she played on repeat as a child, the up-and-coming Canadian started playing piano and guitar when she was very young. Last year, GRAE released her attention-grabbing debut EP New Girl, which landed on the cover of Spotify’s Outliers Playlist — and since its release, has amassed over 2 million streams.

Building upon a growing profile, the Toronto-based artist will be releasing her highly-anticipated sophomore EP Bang Bang — and the EP’s first single is a slow-burning and sultry “Slow Down.” One part seductive Quiet Storm-like soul, one part jazz chanteuse and one part slickly produced pop, “Slow Down” the track is centered around a palpable sexual tension: its narrator is about to give into her temptations and rush into intimacy without knowing if the situation will be good for her. Most of our romantic relationships are initially centered around the confusing push and pull of lust, shame and our desire to be connected to someone — and the song evokes those feelings with an uncanny accuracy.

“‘Slow Down’ was fun to write because I had never explored this kind of topic before,” GRAE says in press notes. “I find, as a woman, sometimes it’s hard to express your wants and desires, in fear of being judged or shamed. So I wanted to touch on this subject to get more in tune with that side of myself.”

Directed by Priya Howlader, the recently released video for “Slow Down” employs a minimalist concept: the up-and-coming Canadian artist as a jazz chanteuse, performing the song in front of a red curtain. While performing the song, she winds up seducing an intrigued onlooker — and as the video progresses, we see that the pair have an unmistakable and irresistible sexual chemistry in which they’re pulled closer to each other.

“The video stems from a vision I had of me singing in a old jazz cafe in front of a classic red curtain,” the up-and-coming Canadian artist explains in press notes. “Priya, the director, really made it come alive with her treatment and ideas. The concept is minimal but so beautifully executed.”

Over the past couple of years, the rapidly rising Paris-based electro pop trio Keep Dancing— Louis, Joseph and Gabrielle — have quickly emerged as one of France’s hottest and most exciting new acts with the release of their debut EP, 2017’s Initial Public Offering and a handful of critically applauded, dance floor friendly singles.  They’ve also toured throughout the European Union with Blossoms — and across the UK, developing a reputation as highly-regarded live act.

Building upon a growing national and international profile, the rising Parisian act’s highly-anticipated Tom Carmichael-produced full-length debut Embrace is slated for release later this year. Recorded between Paris and Margate, UK, the album’s 12 tracks finds the band crafting remarkably assured and ambitious club anthems that effortlessly meshes 80s New Wave, electro pop and disco — much like the album’s critically applauded first single “Could U Stop.” “Start Up Nation,” Embrace‘s second and latest single. Centered around layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor drumming, sinuous dance floor friendly grooves and a rousing hook, the track is an incisive and ironic commentary on our contemporary economy and its lack of opportunities.

New Video: Rising Aussie Electro Pop Artist Alice Ivy Teams Up with Imbi the girl and BOI on a Feminist Anthem

Annika Schmarsel is a Melbourne-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, best known as rising Aussie electro pop sensation Alice Ivy. Schmarsel is the daughter of West German immigrants, who settled in Geelong, Australia in the late 80s — and interestingly enough, the rising Aussie electro pop artist can trace the origins of her music career back to a trip her family took to the ancestral homeland when she was 12: during that trip her grandmother taught her some guitar chords and her uncle taught her how to play Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” 

As a high schooler, Schmarsel was a member of a 25 member soul big band and a musical project by the name of The Sweethearts. In 2014, Schmarsel relocated to Melbourne to study for a music industry degre, and was introduced to the music software, Ableton. She also learnt about influential electronic producers. including J. Dilla. 

In early 2015, Schmarsel released her debut single as Alice Ivy, “Charlie.” And over the next handful of months, Schmarsel released a handful of attention-grabbing singles, the which helped Geelong-born, Melbourne-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist win 2016’s Triple J Unearthed’s Listen Out competition. Building upon a growing national profile, Scharmsel release her full-length debut I’m Dreaming to critical applause in her native Australia and elsewhere. 

Schmarsel’s highly-anticipated Alice Ivy sophomore effort, Don’t Sleep is slated for a July 17, 2020 release through Last Gang Entertainment, and the album finds the rising Aussie producer cementing a reputation for simultaneously being a producer and tastemaker, who has proven to be equally adept at uncovering new dimensions to the sound and approach of established, household names and for helping to break new talent — in particular, female and non-binary producers and pop artists. The album finds her collaborating with a who’s who of up-and-coming Aussie talent, including Thelma Plum, Ecca Vandal, Ngaiire, Safia’s Benjamin Joseph, Odette, Bertie Blackman and Imbi the girl among others. 

Interestingly, Don’t Sleep’s second and latest single, is the swaggering album title track “Don’t Sleep,” which finds Scharmsel teaming up with Imbi the girl and BOI. Sonically, the track is a perfect taste of what the listener should expect from the album: a slick synthesis of dub, trap and alt pop, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, atmospheric electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, reggae riddims, a soaring hook, tons of irie vibes and a decidedly feminist, girls and non-binary people to the front spirit.

“‘Don’t Sleep’ is one of those songs that came out of nowhere! Imbi, Boi and I were in the studio on the last day of a songwriting camp (shoutout Ricochet!) and at the start of the session we were all feeling pretty burnt out,” Alice Ivy explains. “But something special happened between us and I think it had a lot to do with how inspired we were feeling after a week at an all-female/non-binary camp. We came up with a super powerful song and it’s definitely one of my favourite collabs I’ve ever been a part of. The lyric, ‘Our bodies are ours so keep your hands away’  hits me every time I hear it.”

Directed by May Tusler, the recently released video for “Don’t Sleep” follows Schmarsel, Imbi and BOI dancing and rocking out to the song, while a collective of young Junior Motocross riders race and tear shit up. “It’s an empowering song… so obviously I had to recruit a bunch of junior motocross riders to tear it up in the video!” Schmarsel explains. 

Deriving their name from a playful, Anglophile nod towards the famed physicist Issac Newton, the Paris-based electro pop act Isaac Delusion —  founding members and creative core Loïc Fleury (vocals, guitar) and Jules Paco (keys) — was formed back in 2010. With the release of 2014’s self-titled debut effort, the act received attention for a sound and approach that meshed the acoustic instrumentation with a bold use of electronics — while nodding a bit at dream pop.

The duo then toured exclusively across France and the rest of the European Union to support their full-length debut. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Rust & Gold found the duo’s sound shifting from the ethereal and atmospheric dream pop of its immediate predecessor with the material focusing on tangible emotions, soulful rhythms and insightful observations on one and the human condition.

The Paris-based electro pop’s first two albums have managed to amass over 500,000 Spotify streams a month. Building upon a rapidly growing profile across their native France and elsewhere, the act played Pitchfork Paris, as well as sold-out headlining shows at venues like  L’Olympia and Elysee Montmarte.

Microqlima Records released the French duo’s third album uplifters last year. Thematically, the album was centered around misplaced nostalgia for one’s long-passed youth, As a result the album’s material is imbued with a longing for the freedom, simplicity and unguarded honesty of their younger selves — and regret for the missed opportunities you can never get back. And much like its predecessors, uplifters‘ material was written and sung primarily in English with a handful of songs written and sung in their native French.

Album single “pas l’habitude” was one of the few album tracks written and sung in French. While the song is a breezy synth pop song, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, plaintive and dreamy vocals, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook — but the song’s breezy and easygoing nature is superficial: the song is actually an achingly bittersweet ode to the proverbial loss of innocence and getting older. Life and its ambiguity after all, will break your heart countless times over. It’s up to you to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Franc Moody is a London-based electro pop collective, centered around its core duo and creative masterminds Ned and Jon. Jon comes from a family of classical musicians and as  result, he grew up surrounded by oboes, cellos and violins. Ned grew up listening to the music that his parents played on car trips — classic soul, 50s/60s New Orleans music, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran. “I loved the melody and the groove of that music, but I think really I loved the energy of it as well,” Ned explains in press notes.

The London-based collective’s core duo met when they ere part of a a collection of bands and musicians, who took over an abandoned warehouse in North London back in 2014. “It was called the Arch,” Jon recalls. “When we moved in, it was bare bones concrete walls. A horrible place basically. We built these two analogue recording studios. There were old microphones, hammered organs, and beaten up guitar amps. It was quite craggy.”

The Arch quickly became known for raucous and packed live shows and parties that went well into the night, with live bands frequently getting on around 3am. We’ve all been to similar parties: there’s no bouncer, one port-a-potty with a line of being desperately waiting to pee but the vibe is amazing. Interestingly, Ned and Jon cut their teeth as live musicians in that environment. “We learned to love performing music that made people dance, in the same way those old funk and soul artists used to,” Ned explains. “In fact, what we were doing at the warehouse was sort of in a similar tradition to the Zydeco sessions and crawfish boils around South Louisiana, purely focused around dancing. It was quite simple.”

Franc Moody started in earnest when the duo moved out of The Arch and began to focus on a project that meshed their various influenced. No longer living in the warehouse, they struggled to find a space big enough to fit a drum kit. Instead, they stated programming drums and an electronic aesthetic began to permeate through their older influences.

Their debut effort, 2016’s self-titled EP consisted of a series of Giorgio Moroder-like instruments; but their breakthrough single, the critically applauded “Dopamine” found the band truly establishing their sound: a disco-tinged sound that was subtly indebted to Prince. Building upon a growing profile, the duo released their sophomore EP, 2018’s Dance Moves which eventually amassed over 20 million streams.

They’ve also developed a mesmerizing live sound, inspired by the warehouse rave scene that they came up in — and those live shows find them surrounded by a cast of collaborators and friends as their backing band. In fact, they’ve opened for Friendly Fires  and a number of other acts. Recently, the London-based electro pop collective remixed “pas l’habitude.” And while they retain Loïc Fleury’s achingly plaintive French vocals, they turn the song into Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk like club banger, centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios and four on the floor drum programming.

New Audio: Rising Norwegian Producer Wiese Releases an Upbeat and Infectious Single

Trygve Wiese is a rapidly rising Norwegian DJ, producer and songwriter, best known as Wiese. Hailing from Bergen — the same block that Kygo and Alan Walker once lived — Wiese’s sound manages to draw from similar sources. With his work amassing several million Spotify plays, the rising Norwegian artist quickly caught the attention of Warner Music, but he recently decided to release things through his own label. 

2020 has been a weird and terrifying year for all of us — but in the meantime, the rising Norwegian DJ, producer and songwriting plans to release a batch of new material over the next few months, including his latest single, “I Fell.” Centered around Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, cowbell, synth arpeggios, an infectious hook with chopped and pitched vocals and Wiese’s plaintive vocals, “I Fell” is a rousing, two-step inducing club banger that hints at house music. 

New Video: Watch Detroit’s ADULT. Smash a Room in Frustration in New Visual for Tense and Claustrophobic “Total Total Damage”

Detroit-based multimedia and electronic music production and artist duo ADULT. — the husband and wife team of Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus — have developed a sprawling catalog of material that obscures and blurs defined genres and styles, while drawing from industrial electronic, house music, punk rock and visual art with releases through Mute Records, Ghostly International, Thrill Jockey, Third Man Records and a list of other labels throughout their two plus decades together. 

Slated for an April 10, 2020 release through Dais Records, the acclaimed Detroit-based electronic duo’s forthcoming album Perception is/as/of Deception was conceived, written and recorded in a temporary black hole they created: the duo painted their windowless basement entirely black, with the sole intention of sensory deprivation so that they could question their perceptions and witness the resulting ramifications. And as result, the album’s material may be the most introspective and punk-leaning they’ve written to date: the frustration and apprehension that has long been at the center of their work are heightened — but interestingly enough, the material was written with a much more head-on approach, making it forceful and strident.

Last month, I wrote about Perception is/as/of Deception‘s second single, the club banging “Have I Stated at the End.” Centered around a classic electronic body music production featuring industrial clang and clatter, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, an enormous hook and a repetitive mantra that questions the fragility and temporality of life “Total Total Damage,” the album’s third and latest single is a tense and claustrophobia-inducing track centered around industrial clang and clatter, layers of synth arpeggios and Kuperus’ howled vocals. Thematically, the song is a dystopian anthem that focuses on the slow and painful collapse of our society and systems and the growing uncertainty and uneasiness we all feel but while expressing the desperate cabin fever. 

While in social isolation, the members of ADULT. decided to build a room-like set indie their house for the Miller and Kuperus-filmed and edited visual for “Total Total Damage,” which features the duo losing their minds and destroying their room with a sledgehammer.  “We’re hoping that the video speaks to a lot of people, because everyone’s feeling cabin fever and wanting to get out, get back to ‘normal’ life,” the Detroit-based duo say in press notes. 

New Video: Beauty Queen Releases a Playfully Absurd Visual for Shimmering and Nostalgic “Two Of Us”

Katie Iannitello is a Maui, HI-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the rising indie pop act Beauty Queen. Growing up Iannitello had a distant apathy towards pop music that marked most of her teen years; however, she had instilled, an appreciation for 50s pop and doo-wop. The Maui-born, Los Angeles-based artist learned to play piano and sing as a teen — but it wasn’t until she was in her early 20s that she started writing her own songs. 

Interestingly, the material that Iannitello has written with Beauty Queen is on the sonic edges of dream lo-fi, hazy alt-pop and dream pop with the material centered around coming-of-age stories where bewilderment can turn into clarity and with narrators lost in the reveries and aches of loneliness and unrequited love. 

Last year, Iannitello’s Beauty Queen debut EP, the Henry Nowhere-produced Out of Touch was released through pronoun’s Sleep Well Records. Iannitello has started off 2020 with new material written and produced over the course of three days at Tennis’ Alaina Moore’s and Patrick Riley’s Denver-based home studio — and those sessions ended with “Sweet Memory” and her latest single ‘Two Of Us.” Centered around shimmering, analog synths, a galloping 70s AM rock drum pattern, an infectious and soaring hook, a chugging motorik-like groove and Iannitello’s expressive vocals, the song manages to sound like a slick synthesis of The Carpenters and JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo — but while capturing a romantic couple that’s so much in love that they just escape the world. 

Directed by Budd Diaz, the recently released video for “Two Of Us” depicts the songs lyrics through the prism of the absurd: we follow two Sasquatches, who are so much in love that they’re oblivious to the Sasquatch hunter, who’s relentlessly stalking them as they go about their annual day out in the world, which includes a much-needed shave, a stop at the movies and a Beauty Queen show. Thankfully, for their sake the Sasquatch hunter is as inept and incompetent as Elmer Fudd! “This music video was an absolute blast to make. If all my future videos could be Sasquatch based, I would be pleased,” Iannitello shares. “It’s two Sasquatches on their ‘day out’ where they shave and go out in the world. Huge thank you to Budd Diaz and his team and the actors involved for making this happen!”

New Audio: French DJ and Producer The Wooden Cross Remixes Deleo’s “Unfair”

With the release of “Unfair,” the emerging, Montpelier, France-based indie act Deleo — Emy Eris, Romain Viguier, Nicholas Gaeremynck, and Robin Olivier — quickly established their sound: a trip hop-inspired sound with elements of pop, electro pop and rock within a slow-burning and anthemic single. 

The Wooden Cross, is a French DJ, electronic music artist and producer, who spent several years as a resident DJ for the PACHA Group, a collection of ten well-regarded nightclubs around the world. He was able to spin records at clubs around the world and introduce listeners to his own original work: some of that work wound up being released as singles through PACHA Recordings and other labels, including “Rendez-Vous,” which became the closing anthem of PACHA Ibiza. The enigmatic and highly-regarded DJ recently remixed Deleo’s “Unfair,” turning the slow-burning single into a sultry and summery club banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, atmospheric vocal samples and electronics and skittering beats — while retaining Emy Eris’ pop belter vocals and the original’s enormous hooks. 

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the emerging and mysterious French electronic music artist, producer and latest JOVM mainstay artist
LutchamaK. The French artist and producer grew up as a voracious music fan and listen, who listened to and loved an eclectic array of music including hip-hop. dub, classical, rock, techno and a lengthy list of others. Unsurprisingly,  while his work is deeply influenced by techno, it reflects a devotion to a lifelong eclecticism: his first two EPs, which he managed to create during lunch breaks at his day job featured material that meshed elements of techno, house and EDM among others. 
Now, as you may recall the French JOVM mainstay has been gearing up to release his full-length debut Invisible Realm but in the meantime, he has managed to be incredibly prolific. Before the album’s release, LutchamaK has another EP Joy Inside — and interestingly enough, he has released two singles off the EP: the shimmering and slow-burning dub of “The Dream,” which is full of irie vibes, twinkling keys, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line and dreamy vocals coming out of the hazy mix, and the house music banger “I Do,” which features a hypnotic groove centered around wobbling low end, synth arpeggios and a sultry vocal hooks with subtle modulation. Both tracks will remind the listener of a producer, who masters several different styles and sounds — simultaneously.