Category: women who kick ass

New Video: Finland’s Mere Stellar Shares a Sarcastic Examination of Contemporary Dating

Milja Inkeri is a Finnish singer/songwriter, who can trace her career back to 2007: She competed on that year’s Finnish Idol and reached the Top 24. And as a result of growing national attention, her covers series on YouTube amassed over two million organic views between 2006-2007. Inkeri also has had stints in Finnish bands Kailo and Antti Kokkomäki & Tammikuun Lapset. Additionally, she has collaborated with a number of projects both nationally and internationally, including Taiwanese shoegazers The Other and Finnish metal outfit Planeetta 9, along a growing list of others.

Inkeri is the creative mastermind behind the indie pop outfit Mere Stellar. Influenced by Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom and Radiohead, the Finnish artist’s new project sees her playfully meshing experimental electro pop with acoustic elements to create a sound that is at times quirky yet melancholic. The Finnish artist explains that “Mere Stellar is the creation of a free soul, who stopped caring about external rules and authorities of music . . ” and
“started to have fun with music again and speak her true soul’s voice — the pain, the joy, the channeling of healing.” Inkeri adds “Mere Stellar is the manifestation someone who held it inside and listened to others too much, who channels pure love, fun and crazy vibes.”

Inkeri’s latest Mere Stellar single, the recently released, woozy and hook-driven “The Crush Realm” pairs a looped sample of twinkling and arpeggiated keys, skittering beats, industrial clang and clatter with Inkeri’s plaintive and yearning delivery. While sonically seeming to channel a quirky synthesis of Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Kid A-era Radiohead, “The Crush Realm” is a lived-in, bittersweet and desperate examination of contemporary dating culture, in which everyone feels simultaneously desperate to find “the one” or “someone” but tacitly recognizes that everyone feels miserable and disposable. But she does so with a sarcastic, snaky sense of humor.

Directed by the Finnish artist, the accompanying video for “The Crush Realm” captures the desperation, uncertainty and quirky sarcasm at the hear of the song, as it follows Inkeri and a snail around a rather European-looking house.

New Video: Nailah Hunter Shares Ethereal and Hauntingly Gorgeous “Strange Delights”

Nailah Hunter is a Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, composer and folk artist, who can trace the origins of her musical journey to the church: As the daughter of a Belizean pastor, she played drums, guitar and sang in the choir.

Hunter continued to study music at CalArts, where she studied vocal performance and was given her first harp lesson. Associating the instrument with fantasy, psychedelia, and dream worlds, she became an immediate devotee, locking herself in a room for six hours a day to practice the instrument

The Los Angeles-based artist has been writing and recording mystical folk and ambient-inspired music since the release of her debut single, 2019’s “Apple, Maple, Willow.” She followed up with a series of singles and two EPs 2020’s Spells and 2021’s Quietude released through Leaving Records. Since then, Hunter signed with Fat Possum, who will be releasing her highly-anticipated full-length debut, the Cicely Goulder-produced Lovegaze on January 12, 2024.

To create Lovegaze‘s material, Hunter went to a small coastal city along the English Channel, where she began recording demos with a borrowed Celtic harp. After being introduced to London-based producer Cicely Goulder, the Los Angeles-based artist returned to England the following year to further develop the album’s material.

Written alongside collaborator Ben Lukas Boysen, Lovegaze is reportedly an enthralling album that draws listeners into her enchanting cosmology while being rooted in the audible and palpable emotionality in her delivery.

Hunter’s full-length debut is reportedly an enthralling album that draws listeners into her enchanting cosmology. “I was crying when I recorded those vocals,” she says. “While I was writing Lovegaze, I was thinking about humanity’s propensity to destroy the things we love,” Hunter says. “I was thinking about ancient ruins and structures that once provided shelter but no longer do. There’s beauty to be found in ruins, too.” Sonically, the album evokes the eternal with Hunter’s harp being accompanied by an electronic palette created in the studio with Goulder.

Written during a period of global and personal strife for the Los Angeles-based artist, Lovegaze manages to capture some of that sense of distress, but it’s also a willful reminder of the fortitude and beauty of Earth’s natural processes. As Hunter says: “Nature remains; we’re the passing thing.” 

“Strange Delights,” Lovegaze‘s breathtakingly gorgeous second single pairs Hunter’s expressive and soulful delivery with an eerie Portishead-meets-Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp-like production featuring twinkling harp, woozily atmospheric synths and skittering beats. While featuring contemporary electronic elements, “Strange Delights” feels timeless and evokes a sense of breathless awe.

“‘Strange Delights’ started as an improv over a modular synth loop that my partner made,” Hunter explains. “At the time, we were burning a bunch of incense in a dark room, which served as inspiration for the wandering vocal melody. Once I worked on it with producer Cicely Goulder, ‘Strange Delights’ took on a more golden quality that reminds me of a hazy and intoxicated feast in a peculiar, yet familiar wood.”

The accompanying video by Haoyan of America is a computer generated visual that follows a crocodile with glowing eyes swimming past the broken down remains of human civilization — rusted cars, dilapidated factories, broken ruins of buildings and more. As the video slowly pans out, we see a collection of crocodiles with glowing eyes swimming over what used to be a supermarket.

“The idea for ‘Strange Delights’ was developed through conversations with Nailah and inspired by her interest in crocodilian ‘tapetum lucidum’ (Latin for “shining layer”), a biologic reflector system common in the eyes of vertebrates that give them enhanced night vision,” Haoyan of America explains. “The visual arc takes cues from the song’s musical progression and highlights contrasting evolutionary ecologies.”

New Audio: Paris’ Nico and The Red Shoes Shares Euphoric “Time Is Love”

Led by a global citizen, who has spent stints living in Douala, Cameroon, Rome and elsewhere, the Paris-based outfit Nico and The Red Shoes has firmly established a sound that draws from and meshes several different influences and styles, including New Wave, electro pop, cyber pop, house music and more, paired with catchy melodies. 

With the release of 2015’s self-titled debut EP, the Parisian outfit emerged into the electro pop scene with material that drew from and meshed elements of New Wave and pop.

Earlier this year, the French electro pop project shared “Mathilda,” the first bit of new material in eight years — and the first single of their long-awaited and highly-anticipated full-length debut, Time Is Love. “Mathilda” is a sleek, slickly produced, Afrobeats-inspired, club friendly bit of pop built around glistening synths, skittering beats, tweeter and woofer rattling low end and remarkably catchy hooks paired with a bursts of funk guitar, a deep house-like breakdown and Nico’s soulful delivery. The result is a song that should make you get up and move.

Time Is Love‘s second and latest single, album title track “Time Is Love” is a late 80s/early 90s-inspired bit of dance pop built around twinkling synth arpeggios, a thumping backbeat, Nico’s plaintive delivery paired with rousingly anthemic, euphoria-inducing hooks.

“The song encapsulates the idea that true and meaningful expressions of love require an investment in time that is limited and precious to us,” the band explains. They add that Nico wrote the song during a moment of helplessness, when she thought she was going to lose her mother. “‘Time is love’ thus takes the opposite view of the expression ‘Time is money.’ This phrase encourages a perspective of love that involves shared moments, experiences and efforts to understand and be present for someone,” the Parisian outfit continues.

New Audio: The Lovelines Share Jazzy and Poppy “Low Fidelity”

Orlando-based sibling duo and JOVM mainstays The Lovelines — Tessa D (vocals) and Todd Goings (multi-instrumentalist, songwriting and production) — emerged into the scene with the late 2021 release of their debut single “Strange Kind of Love,” a slick synthesis of Amy Winehouse-like blue-eyed soul, jazz standadrs and Dummy-era Portishead-like trip-hop paired with Tessa D’s soulful crooning and a dusty production featuring twinkling Rhodes, wobbly guitars and an infectious, razor sharp hook. 

Over the past year, the Orlando-based JOVM mainstays have released material from their forthcoming full-length debut single-by-single over that period.

So far, I’ve written about two of their forthcoming album’s singles:

  • May Be Love,” a slow-burning torch song-like take on trip hop and neo-soul built around shimmering pedal steel and congo-led percussion paired with Tessa D’s soulful vocal expressing an aching longing for love — and to be loved. 
  • What Kind of Fool Would Want to Fall in Love?” a breezy pop song built around a looped, shimmering, finger plucked acoustic guitar melody and percussive percussion paired with Tessa D’s soulful crooning. On one level, the song views love with a healthy cynicism — but as the band’s Todd Goings explains, “What Kind of Fool Would Want to Fall in Love is a portrait of the fool in love. Do only fools fall in love or does love make us fools?

The duo’s latest single “Low Fidelity” is a decidedly jazz pop/pop jazz take on their firmly established trip hop-inspired jazz that’s rooted in their penchant for incredibly catchy hooks, dusty, old-school inspired production paired with Tessa D’s soulful crooning.

“The song ‘Low Fidelity’ is the band playing with the dual-meaning of the phrase Low Fidelity,” The Lovelines’ Todd Goings explains. “We like listeners to spell out their own conclusions with our lyrics, so that’s what I’ll say, I guess. With the sound of this single, we have this concept of sounding poppy to a jazz audience, and jazzy to a pop audience I think of pop music as an arrangement thing, not a characteristic instrument or sound. If you arrange a jazz composition like it’s a top 40 pop song, and you can then use chord progressions and chromatic phrases that aren’t common in pop music with this tool. We love pop… but the colors in jazz feels truer to the human emotional spectrum than pop, life sounds more like a Gmaj7 than a Gmaj, it’s more grey… than black… or white, don’t you think? We’re experimenting with the fader on the spectrum between the jazz and pop spectrum. What’s too jazz, what’s too pop? We don’t know the answer (haha).”

New Video: We Melt Chocolate Shares Trippy Visual for Dreamy “Holy Ramen”

Florence-based shoegazers We Melt Chocolate can trace their origins back to the fusion of two different bands evanicetrip and Shades of Blue back in 2012. Since then, the Italian band over a handful of releases that includes a self-released demo, and an EP and their full-length debut through Annibale Records has firmly cemented a sound and approach that equally draws from the noisier side of shoegaze — i.e.,  My Bloody ValentineLush, and even The Sugarcubes

The band has opened for a number of internationally renowned bands including The ShivasHoly WaveThe Asteroid No. 4, The Underground YouthHis ClancynessMagic ShoppeYour 33 Black Angels and GIFT among a growing list of others. 

Holy Gaze, the Florence-based outfit’s highly anticipated and long awaited sophomore album was released earlier this year through Miracle Waves and features guest spots from Francesco D’Elia, Rev Rev Rev‘s Sebastian Lugli and Sensitive Club‘s Ben Moro. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “No Meaning Man,” a song that alternates between dreamy and stormy passages built around a relentless motorik groove, layers of distorted and fuzzy guitar textures, shimmering synths, thunderous drumming paired with reverb-soaked vocals buried within the oceanic mix. Thematically, the song speaks of disillusionment with superficial people, who base their entire lives on appearances and conceal their vapidity and lack of empathy towards others. 

“Holy Ramen,” Holy Gaze‘s latest single showcases the Italian outfit at their dreamiest to date — with the song featuring swirling Slowdive and A Storm in Heaven-like guitar textures paired with a driving rhythm section and yearning, ethereal vocals. 

The band explains that “Holy Ramen” is an exhortation to overcome daily difficulties, look at the sky and allow yourself a special, sacred moment just for you. “For us (particularly for the singer), one of these moments is indulging in a good hot ramen.” The band goes on to say that for them, “it is the simplest moments that become sacred.”

The accompanying video fittingly seems inspired by 120 Minutes-era MTV and feature some lushly shot visuals of a bowl of ramen being prepared and then serving as a mind-bending backdrop for the band — both while performing and even enjoying a comforting meal of the stuff, often while the sky races behind them.

New Video: Uma E. Shares an Atmospheric Cover of 80s Synth Pop Hit

Ulriqa Fernqvist is a Swedish multi-disciplinary artist, who strongest forms of expression have always been dance, theater and singing. Over the course of two-plus decade career, she has worked on an experimental, improvisational concerts, musical installations, theater and dance performances. Along with producer and collaborator Don Gog, she runs the performing arts company Art of Spectra, a company that has been invited to perform at numerous festivals, theaters and art centers around Europe.

As a pop artist, Fernqvist is the creative mastermind behind solo recording project Uma E. Her latest single, sees Fernqvist and her longtime producer and collaborator tackling a-ha‘s 1985 song “The Sun Always Shines On TV.” The original begins with a dramatic introduction featuring twinkling keys and atmospheric synths before quickly morphing into a hook-driven, prog rock-like anthem reminiscent of Yes‘ “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and Duran Duran. Clocking in at a little under six minutes, the Uma E. rendition sees the Swedish collaborators stripping the song down to the bare bones, transforming the song into a brooding and uneasy, Portishead and Massive Attack-like bit of trip hop built around thumping kick drum beats, gently twinkling synth arpeggios, grainy bass synths and atmospheric electronics paired with Uma E.’s ethereal and plaintive delivery.

“I worked in the theatre play TOUCH by Falk Richter in Germany at Münchner Kammerspiele during the pandemic. I was asked to perform the A-ha song, ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ and it started off quite close to the original,” Fernqvist says. “I realised after a while I wanted to express the song in a different way to make it feel right. I got very attached to this song and the lyrics as it was a song I heard a lot growing up. I felt that I wanted to express it more like a poem – slower and more intimate.” 

Changing the style of the song was planted in the Swedish artist’s mind, and came to fruition later that summer, when she returned to Sweden. Me and my producer Don Gog started to experiment with what that change  could be. It developed to what we came to call ‘a techno prayer’ and we started building this track with the idea that it was to be performed in this play. Later we reworked that version to make it more like a track without the theatrical context – even though those memories still live in the track. The challenging thing with the vocals was to keep it very fragile and honest even if we wanted the music to have this constant rise. It was also very interesting to blend the electronica with elements from techno. 

Directed by Fofo Altinell, the accompanying video for “The Sun Always Shines On TV” is a hazy fever dream, following the Swedish artist in the countryside during golden hour.

New Video: Aloysius Bell Shares Dreamily Mischievous and Introspective “That Is Me”

Aloysius Bell is the creative alter ego of Winnipeg-born, Montréal-based singer/songwriter and indie pop artist Annick Brémault, a former member of the now defunct Juno Award-winning outfit Chic Gamine. With Chic Gamine, Brémault toured extensively internationally and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, Vinyl Café, Radio Canada’s Studio 12 and a number of other notable broadcasts. She has also collaborated and performed with an array of artists including Damien Robitaille, Willows, Sala, and David Myles

While the project’s name is a nod to male pseudonyms of the Brontë Sisters, the persona is informed by deep and intense soul-searching with the aim to shed light on murky, in-between spaces.

Back in 2019, Brémault stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with “Mountains” and “Your Heart Is Feathers” songs offered a glimpse into the Canadian artist’s introspective world and showcasing an ethereal, opened-eyed perceptive, imaginative and atmospheric pop language and a minimalist prose style.

Brémault’s long-awaited Aloysius Bell debut EP, the David Plowman-produced Warm Thing is slated for February 2024 release. The EP reportedly sees her blending her distinctive songwriting with pop, R&B and electronic influences with her ethereal delivery being at center of it all.

Warm Thing‘s latest single “That Is Me” is a slow-burning and atmospheric pop song built around fluttering synth arpeggios, Bréamult’s ethereal delivery singing deeply introspective lyrics informed by the deeply lived-in, personal experience, thoughts and feelings of a modern woman maneuvering competing societal norms and roles.

“I wrote this song in late 2021, in my bedroom-turned-studio during a cold snap. I remember looking at the painting on my wall, by the artist Louise Gill, of a woman lying alone on a bed in a dark room and thinking, “That is me,’ right now. I was feeling cozy and nothing could induce me to go out at that point. I remembered the times I’d gone out despite not feeling like it and ended up disappointed. ‘That Is Me’ reimagines myself the way I wish I’d been in my 20s: not wasting my time trying to please other people and instead doing what feels good to me.

This song is about one other thing: rest. I’m trying to get better at it, taking breaks and naps.”

Directed and shot on Super 8 by Montréal-based filmmaker Dominique Montesano and featuring choreography by the artist’s sister Kalliane Brémauult, the video follows Annick Brémault as she returns home, goes up the stairs, gets undressed and gets into her bed.

“I started putting out music with this project in 2019. Those songs were the result of a tumultuous time, so they have an intense kind of energy to me. The pandemic gave me a breather and what I wrote in that period feels a bit more relaxed and less fraught,” the Montréal-based artist continues. She goes on to add that the song — and its accompanying video — showcases a lot of bedroom imagery, since it was written and partially produced in her bedroom.