Category: Synth Pop

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

Glassio · Breaking Through

Glassio is a Queens-based synth pop act that can trace its origins back to 2015 when its founding members — Sam R. and Charles Pinel  — met while attending NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Since the project’s formation, it has increasingly become the Queens-born and-based Sam R’s solo recording project. Interestingly, during that same period of time, Sam R. has managed to develop and hone what he has dubbed “melancholy disco,” a mix of dance music influences, wavering pop melodies, introspective, narrative-based lyrics and lush harmonies. Thematically, Glassio’s work draws from its creative mastermind’s own life and heartbreak, the difficult wrestling of self-acceptance we all deal with throughout our lives, loneliness and of course, major life changes.

Last year, Sam R released his sophomore Glassio EP EP Age of Experience, an effort that Mother Jones called “proof that electronic music and great storytelling are a perfect match.” The EP featured “Back for More,” which amassed over 2 million Spotify streams while being featured on Alan Ball’s HBO show Here & Now Outside of his own work, Sam R. has received attention for remixing and reworking the work of artists like Madge, Argonaut & Wasp, Sulene and Goldwash.

Sam R’s full-length, 11 song debut For The Very Last Time officially dropped yesterday — and so far, the Queens-based artist has released a handful of singles including “A Million Doubts,” which was featured in the latest season of the Freeform TV series Good Trouble“Nobody Stayed For The DJ,” “Are You Having Fun Without Me?” and “Make No Mistake,” the album’s fourth single, which featured a guest backing spot from New York-based vocalist Daneshevskaya. Centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, thumping beats and a soaring hook, the song finds Sam R. balancing an achingly wistful nostalgia with a much-needed sense of optimism. In a narrative sense, the album’s material captures the growth and re-birth of someone’s character out of a dark space. Thematically, the album is focused on shedding negativity and figuring out a way to trust yourself to love others again. So by the album’s last song, the character you’ve been hearing about has managed to evolve, accept their shortcomings and find a way to heal from personal loss.

“I wanted to take electronic-pop tropes and use them in a more fragile, loving way. I think there’s a bit of spiritual nature to the album — much of it is about rediscovering your faith in the world and those around you, as well as yourself, and much of it is about accepting fate,” Glassio’s Sam R. explains in press notes. “For those reasons, I wanted the songs to all sort of feel like little electronic-pop hymns. The record is about proudly displaying and accepting fragility. I needed the mixes and production to mirror that too. Nothing is mixed ‘perfectly’ by any means. I like having some instruments uncomfortably quiet and some uncomfortably loud. Many of the songs on the record are about feeling very disconnected and isolated from the world.”

“Breaking Through,” For The Very Last Time‘s fifth and latest single is centered around layers of glistening synth arpeggios, thumping beats and Sam R.’s plaintive vocals. And while further cementing the Queens-based artist’s reputation for an unerring knack for writing deeply earnest material with infectious hooks, the track evokes a skittish uncertainty that begrudgingly and slowly grows into confidence, as its narrator admits his vulnerability and frailties.

I have to add that half of the proceeds from the album will go to Black Mental Health Alliance while 100% of Bandcamp proceeds will go towards BHMA. So if you dig Glassio and want to buy the album, your money will also go to a great and necessary cause.

https://glassio.bandcamp.com

New Video: Paris-based Sibling Duo Djakarta Releases a Trippy Visual for Breezy New Single “Any Open Door”

Paris-based Australian-French singer/songwriters, multi-instrumentalists and sibling duo Djakarta — Raphaël and Tristan Stuart — have received attention in their native France for crafting intimate yet hook-driven pop songs in which they mesh acoustic and electronic textures. 

Slated for a November 2020 release, the duo’s forthcoming sophomore Stan Neff-produced EP Overseas is the first batch of original material from the duo in over three years. Inspired by wide-open spaces and cityscapes, the sibling duo’s experiences living in Europe and Australia, the EP’s material reportedly finds the duo crafting bittersweet yet sun-drenched pop that thematically question the routines and melancholy of city life. 

Overseas’ latest single, “Any Open Door” is a breezy yet brooding bit of pop, centered around an infectious hook, shimmering guitars, stuttering four-on-the-floor, a sinuous bass line and the duo’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the song may find some listeners thinking of JOVM mainstays Tame Impala and CONES, as well as Phoenix and Air but underneath the breezy infectiousness of the song is the sort of bittersweet, melancholy that comes from the passing of time and the loss of innocence. 

Directed by Baptiste Perrin, the recently released, animated  video for “Any Open Door” features at trippy use of bright watercolors in which colors quickly morph into a  variety of shapes including silhouettes of the Stuart Brothers, a man surfing and so on.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays No Joy Follows Up-and-Coming Artist Ashley Diabo in her Home in Playful Visual for “Four”

I’ve written quite a bit about Montreal-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jasamine White-Gluz over the course of the past handful of years. Gluz is the creative mastermind of the critically applauded JOVM mainstay act No Joy.  Starting over a decade ago as a series of emailed riffs between White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd, the project has been centered around White-Gluz’s restless experimentation — and since its formation, No Joy has gone through a number of different sonic permutations with subsequent albums showcasing her penchant for delay-saturated jangle, industrial distortion and sludgey drones over disco-like beats. 

Back in 2018 White-Gluz collaborated with Spacemen’s 3 Pete Kember, (a.k.a. Sonic Boom) on a collaborative EP that saw her trading the guitars she had long been known for, for modular synths — with the effort’s material seemingly indebted to Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead.

Slated for an August 21, 2020 release through Joyful Noise Recordings and Hand Drawn Dracula in Canada, the Jorge Elbrecht-produced Motherhood is White-Gluz’s first No Joy full-length album in over five years. Reportedly, the album’s finds White-Gluz returning to the project’s early, DIY recording, shoegazer roots — but while continuing to expand upon her overall sonic palette with the incorporation of elements of trip-hop, trance and nu-metal-like power chords among others. Interestingly, some of the album’s sound was inspired by the Montreal-based JOVM mainstay’s tours with genre-divergent artists: while touring with Quicksand, No Joy picked up post-hardcore fans and ambient techno fans while touring with Baths. “As long as people are open minded about music, they can hear different things,” explains White-Gluz, “Maybe because there are a lot of layers.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Birthmark,” Motherhood’s first single. Centered around atmospheric synths, propulsive boom-bap beats, muscular percussion, shimmering blasts of guitars and a soaring hook, the song was a seamless and trippy synthesis of Brit Pop, shoegaze, trip-hop and house music. “Four,” the album’s latest single continues the album’s  experimental bent a bit further: Centered around sizzling power chords, atmospheric electronics, wobbling synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and an enormous hook, “Four” manages to recall Amoral-era Violens — but while possessing a mischievous, yet boldly feminine energy. 

Directed by Jodi Heartz, the recently released video for “Four: follows Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) visual artist Ashley Diabo at her home in Kahnawake, Quebec. Diablo’s primary medium is makeup  — and her work is deeply inspired by her home, family, Pennywise and nature. She has worked with Dazed Magazine, King Kong Magazine and brands like SSENSE and trans model, actress, and activist, Hunter Schafter. Diabo’s life is seemingly that of a prototypical suburban young woman: we see her putting on the vibrantly colored make up, she wears through the video, playing with and caring for her dog and cat, goofing off and daydreaming and swimming in her pool. And she does all of this with an infectious and warm smile and a playful energy that is — well, simply put, endearing. I couldn’t help but like this young woman and I think you will too. 

As White-Gluz explains, the aim of the Heartz-directed video was “to appreciate Ashley at home, hoping to inspire all to embrace the love and inspiration of their home, the way Ashley reminds us every day. She has a special gift to make the everyday more and better and magical.”

Notelle · Bugs

Notelle is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, topliner and pop artist, who has worked with an eclectic array of DJs and producer across the globe since 2014. Her work as a songwriter and vocalist has amassed over 12 million Spotify streams — with her material appearing on a number of playlists including Spotify‘s FreshEDM, Hot New Dance, Friday Cratediggers, Heart Beats, Sad Beats, Pop Chillout, Study Break, Fresh Finds, Fresh Finds: Poptronix, Italians Do It Better, Shisha Lounge, Stepping Out, New Music Fridays and Deep Delight, as well as Apple Music‘s Pop Rising and Breaking Dance playlists. Adding to a growing profile, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter, topliner and pop artist has been covered by EDM.com and has received airplay on Sirius XM Radio.

Throughout her career, the Nashville-based artist has signed and released material on 15 different electronic music labels including Armada, Monstercat, Proximity, Lowly, Hinky, AtLast, Seeking Blue, Thrive Music, Ultra Music, Ophelia and Knight Vision (Warner Music) — while remaining fiercely independent.

After spending the past handful of years as a go-to collaborator, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter and pop artist has decided to step out into the spotlight as a solo artist: over the past year, she’s been writing material and honing her take on “dark industrial pop” while catching the attention of Nashville Scene as a Nashville Artist to Watch in 2020. Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding her, her solo debut single “Power” premiered on Lightning 100‘s The 615 and her third “Out of Love” was put on the station’s regular rotation.

“Beyond The Grave” found Notelle exploring a grittier sound than her previously released material, while fearlessly eschewing standard pop song structures and defying genre conventions and this has helped the Nashville-based artist develop a reputation for crafting forward-thinking, difficult to categorize pop. Interestingly, within the first couple of weeks of the song’s release, the track landed on Spotify’s “Study Break,” “Fresh Finds” and Fresh Finds: Poptronix” lists organically.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Alive.” The Nine Inch Nails and Billie Eilish-like track continued a remarkable run of slickly produced, genre-defying, sultry pop with elements of industrial electronica, alternative pop and trip hop centered around fearlessly adventurous and ambitious songwriting based around unsettling personal experience. The Nashville-based artist’s latest single “Bugs” is a dark and seductive song centered around wobbling synths, handclap-led percussion, thumping beats, a distorted string sample, an infectious hook and Notelle’s sultry cooing — and while radio friendly, the song feels a bit like the creeping, anxious dread of a bad trip.

“I wrote ‘Bugs’ during a break up where it felt like that person was still in my body in some capacity,” Notelle says in press notes. “The impact of someone else’s choices left literal and metaphorical residue on me, and I felt dirty. I kept imagining it as a bad hallucination – like bugs. Was this person capable of hurting me more? Was the worst of it over? Or was another bomb going to be dropped on me when I felt like I was out of the woods? I wanted this song to embody that level of paranoia, you know? When you check behind doors or shower curtains when you’re alone in your house – or when you can’t tell if the noises in you hear in the silence are in your head or are real. That’s a bizarre place to be, and ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t out of my mind. In fact, they were.”

Live Footage: Rising Parisian Electro Pop Act L’Imperatrice Releases a Slinky Disco Strut

Formed back in 2012, L’Impératice is a rising Paris-based electro pop sextet currently featuring founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals), who joined the band in 2015. 

Since their formation, the band has been rather busy: they released their self-titled debut in 2012, their sophomore EP Sonate Pacifique in 2014 and their third EP Odyssée in 2015. Interestingly, a re-edited and remixed edition of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, a slower version of the original, inspired by a fan mistakenly playing Odyssée at the wrong speed was released the following year. An acoustic version, featuring violin, cello and acoustic guitar was released in 2017. 

During the summer of 2017, the band signed to Microqlima Records, who released their Séquences EP that year. Aussie pop act Parcels remixed some of Séquences’ material and released it that September. 

2018 saw the release of the band’s full-length debut Matahari. The album featured “Erreur 404,” which the band performed on the French TV show Quotidien. After two years of touring to support their full-length debut, the band released their first bit of new material since Matahari — “Exit,” and its French version “Fou.” The French electro pop sextet’s latest single “Voodoo?” is a slinky, disco-influenced strut centered around a propulsive groove, atmospheric synths, arpeggiated bass synths, jazz-like percussion, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals. 

The recently released video is centered around live footage of L’Impératice performing the song in a sparsely decorated studio. And it should give the viewer a sense of the band’s live set and sound. 

New Video: Rising Hawaii-born Los Angeles-based Artist Lionel Boy Releases a Lysergic Visual for “Lately”

With the release of  critically applauded singles “Summer Fun” and “Lost” earlier this year, the rapidly rising Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Lionel Boy quickly received attention for crafting a unique sound that mixes spacey synths and breakbeats with bedroom-produced pop.

Building upon a growing profile, Boy’s highly anticipated debut EP Who Is Dovey? was released last month through Innovative Leisure Records. The EP’s third and latest single “Lately” is a slow-burning and breezy, yacht rock-like track featuring twinkling synths, soulful horns, blown out backbeats, shimmering guitar and Boy’s plaintive vocals. But despite its nostalgia-inducing vibes, there’s something much murkier under its placid surface.

“Last year (2019), we had a week of rain in Long Beach. It was then that I wrote ‘Lately,’” Boy says in press notes. “I just begun learning how to incorporate samples into my songwriting, and ‘Lately’ was the first project I was able to complete doing so. There was gloom, smoke and a feeling of monotony in the air— I think that comes through in the music. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I was feelin some type of way.”

The recently released video features some cinematically shot and trippy footage shot while the rising Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based artist were on a road trip to visit friends, and as result, it evokes the song’s wistful nostalgia — with a sense of doom just underneath it all. 

“Two summers ago, Casey (Lui Liu) and I drove up the Oregon coast to visit some friends in Seattle,” the Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based artist explains in press notes. “We documented our drive with the intention of making a music video for a completely different project but the clips didn’t end up working. Nearly a year later, when I had just finished demoing ‘Lately’ from home, Casey decided to mess around with the old footage to the song. She threw up a 20-second clip on Instagram for fun that we pretty much forgot about until the single‘s release this past June. With not much else to do on lock down, we decided to play around one more time. We had all of these random clips of Casey running or kicking sand and I guess I spent 5 minutes filming a flying kite. When we found a way to fit them into the video, it was a really accomplished feeling. We were such different people on that trip and yet, I guess not much has changed. What we ended up with was a visual representation of the moments that make up a great trip.”

New Video: Go on a Night Out Across Suburban Sydney with Rising Aussie Act Abroad

Featuring members split between Sydney, Australia and Melbourne, Australia, the rising Aussie indie electro pop duo Abroad — Will Cruger and Jack Dawson — have managed to explode into the national and international electro pop scenes in a relatively short period of time. 2018’s London and New York, helped to establish the duo’s sound — a synthesis of organic, indie rock instrumentation and slick dance floor friendly production which amassed over a million streams.  Building upon a growing profile, the Aussie electro pop duo released two singles last year, “All I Want” and “Slide,” which also amassed over a million streams. Those two singles continued a run of material that’s informed and inspired by the duo’s experiences traveling and living overseas.

The rising Aussie pop duo has released material that has been featured on a number of popular, internationally recognized playlists including Front Left, Just Chill, New Dance Beats, The Local List and Indie Arrivals. Building upon a growing profile, the duo released “Home,” earlier this year, and the track has continued a run of attention-grabbing singles. Additionally, the band has opened for Boo Seeka, which may have led to Abroad’s Will Cruger co-written Boo Seeka’s latest single ‘Take A Look.”

The duo’s second and latest single of this year, is the euphoric and swooning club banger “Alright, OK.” Centered around a slick production featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, skittering beats, an enormous hook and achingly plaintive, multi-part harmony-led vocals, “Alright, OK” — to my ears at least — reminds me quite a bit of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and White Lies, if they managed to cover Stevie Nicks‘”Stand Back.”  Arguably, one of the most anthemic tracks they’ve released to date, “Alright, OK” is a decidedly ambitious track delivered with swaggering self-assuredness and a heart-on-your-sleeve earnestness.

“I think this is our best work yet,” the band’s Jack Dawson says in press notes.. “We are huge believers in taking people somewhere, whether it is a memory of a loved one, being in love with someone, or just dancing by yourself we want to cover all dem feels!”

Directed by Waymark Studio’s Bob Stewart, the recently released video follows it star Brittney McCallum on a night out in Sydney, dancing and rocking out across nighttime Sydney streets, seemingly carefree and wrapped up in the joys of new love. And of course, through the prism of love, there can often be a sublime beauty within the mundane and every day — if you pay attention. Interestingly, the video shows McCallum actively seeking something — the band — and not finding them until the end. 

“All through the clip, Brittney is searching for us and even though we walk right by her she doesn’t actually find us until the end. Partly inspired by our experiences being quarantined, the video is about taking a moment to reassess what’s really important, and whether it’s been with you all along,” the band’s Will Cruger explains in press notes.