I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally acclaimed synth pop Yumi Zouma throughout the nearly nine year history of this site. The act, which is comprised of Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh […]
Comprised of Nick Wisdom and AstroLogical, the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based hip-hop and electro pop production duo Potatohead People can trace their origins to when they first met in a high school, community baseball league in high school and bonded over their mutual love of J. Dilla and Madlib. In 2008 Wisdom and AstroLogicla began working together in the hip-hop collective Elekwent Folk; but soon after, the duo formed Potatohead People and began focusing on creating forward-thinking instrumental music.
After releasing a series of EPs digital through Vancouver-based net-label Jellyfish Recordings, the renowned New York-based label Bastard Jazz re-issued 2012’s Kosmichemusik EP and released a 7 inch, which quickly became collector’s item; in fact, the Vancouver-based production team’s association with Bastard Jazz helped land their song “Back to My Shit,” featuring Frank’n’Dank‘s Frank Nitty on a Powerade-produced Lebron James documentary. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have been championed by the likes of OkayPlayer, Kaytranada, Soulection, Nightmares on Wax, Pomo, Exmag, Big Boi and the late Phife Dawg among others.
Last year, the duo released their groundbreaking sophomore album Nick & Astro’s Guide to the Galaxy, an album that found them continuing an ongoing collaboration with Illa J, as well as a collection of other artists. Building upon the momentum of their sophomore album, the Canadian production duo will be releasing Nick & Astro’s Instrumentals, Remixes & B-Sides EP through Bastard Jazz Records on April 26, 2019 and the EP features a collection of instrumentals, B-sides and a handpicked collection of their favorite producers from around the world remixing their material. Additionally, the members of Potatohead People held a remix contest from which they picked one winner from an overwhelming number of submissions.
The soon-to-be released EP’s latest single is the New Jack Swing and Quiet Storm-inspired original track “Iced Tea.” Centered around a thumping, club friendly production featuring handclap-led percussion with thumping and shuffling beats, a sinuous bass line, layers of arpeggiated synths and a slick hook, the single reminds me of Cherrelle‘s “Saturday Love,” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” and G-funk era hip-hop. giorgi and Radina Vee contribute sultrily delivered vocals that are part late night, come hither come on, part you’ve been friendzoned — but with someone who’s actually pretty awesome.
Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned synth pop act Yumi Zouma, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of Christchurch, New Zealand-born Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess have been split across various locations across the globe — primarily New York, Paris and Christchurch — after the 2011 earthquake that ravaged both their hometown and the region at large. Primarily writing and recorded by email, the band wasn’t initially meant to be a live band; however, they’ve received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop-inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal vocals. Since the release of their Turntable Kitchen released cover of Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the renowned synth pop act has been busily writing and recording an EP trilogy — with the last part of the trilogy EP III slated for a September 28, 2018 release through Cascine Records.
“In Camera,” EP III’s first single was a swooning bit of synth pop with a soaring hook that sonically nodded a bit at A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran (So Far Away)“, complete with reverb fed instrumentation, a cinematic vibe and a clean, super more production sheen — and while seemingly effortlessly breezy, the song is underpinned by a deliberate and very careful attention to craft, as the members of the band refine each song until it’s absolutely perfect. “Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)” EP III’s latest single is centered around thumping beats, a shuffling guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a sultry and sinuous bass line and while being a hook-driven, dance floor friendly song, it manages to sound as though it were released in 1983 or so, as it recalls Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others.
Interestingly, as the band’s Josh Burgess explains in press notes, “This song began life as an experiment recording with a fellow Kiwi (Liam Finn) at his studio in 2015. The studio was aptly named The End as it was situated at the very end of Greenpoint Avenue overlooking Transmitter Park which was arguably one of the best views of Manhattan at the time. The End hosted a few different studios, including Jacob Portrait’s (Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Blouse) who mixed ‘In Camera’ as well as rehearsal spaces (I once walked in on The Congo’s rehearsing!). We smoked on the roof and had a bash at making a song together, which is what we sampled in the verses of ‘Crush’. The working title was ‘First Class Lounge’ because it sounded like some kind of musak that would be playing as background before rich people boarded a Concord.
Unfortunately, The End had a sad finale courtesy of a fire that ripped through the building. Thankfully no one was hurt, but a lot of the gear was wrecked. My girlfriend lives a couple blocks away and over morning coffees we’ll often stroll through Transmitter looking up at the shell of the studio. Like most things in New York it’s relegated to a memory now, but a lot of great music came out of that building!”
The accompanying video features the classically-inspired artwork of Aiden Koch, set among bold and bright colors, animated by Joseph Brennan — and interestingly, while reminding me of the introductory sequence of an 80s rom com, it manages to evoke the flirtatious nature of the song.
Like countless other musicians, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Knox White relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career — and to support himself, White began working as a bartender. In a serendipitous turn of fate, Lionel Ritchie was one of his regulars, and after some time, Ritchie became a kind of mentor to the aspiring musician, giving advice and sharing stories about being on the road. The one thing that struck a deep chord with White was when Ritchie told him “Don’t sell your soul to the devil to get success in the music business. Stay humble and treat everyone like they are your friend.” On another night, Paul McCartney stopped by, and McCartney told him stories about The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Towards the end of the night, McCartney told him that a musician with an incredible live show is a musician with super powers, and the legendary Beatle told him, “Get amazing first, and everything else will fall into place.”
Eventually, White relocated to New Orleans, arguably one of the country’s richest musical environments — and unsurprisingly, he immersed himself in the city’s music scene, playing everything from gospel to jazz; in fact, as the story goes, White was immediately hired to play guitar at the Household of Faith Church, playing alongside some incredibly accomplished musicians, who took him under his wing, introduced him to other musicians, which lead to ton of gigs. He found himself playing at clubs across the city playing and mastering gospel, blues, calypso, jazz and contemporary fare until the early morning. And naturally, while exhausting, White felt reinvigorated, returned to Los Angeles, where he began collaborating with producer Josh Legg, best known as Goldroom, and began writing fusing the skills and knowledge he gained while in the Crescent City and his influences — Prince, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Tame Impala.
White’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for release in July, and the EP’s first single “You’ve Been My Girl” is a sleek and slickly produced track that owes a tremendous debt to 80s synth funk (i.e., Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others) and Prince, thanks to some impressive guitar pyrotechnics throughout; but interestingly the song finds the narrator calling out a love interest for being indecisive and playing with his emotions. Certainly, we’ve all been there before.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the Minneapolis, MN-born, New York-based trio Strange Names, and as you may recall the trio’s highly-anticipated effort Data is slated for release through Frenchkiss Records later this month. Now, while Data’s first single “Into Me,” managed to further cement the New York-based trio’s reputation for crafting breezy, 80s inspired synth pop, “UFO,” the album’s second and latest single leans towards a funky, dance floor friendly direction with the song nodding at the likes of Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” but with a post modern angst.
Directed and shot by the band’s friend Pedro Lopez and then edited by the members of the band, the recently released video for “UFO” as the band’s frontman Liam Benzvi explains in press notes was heavily inspired by the Bauhaus school while generally encapsulating the overall stylistic message of the record. “The video should make you seize a little, giggle, stew in confusion and hopefully move around. I envision it in the background of Elizabeth Hurley’s hell nightclub in the early 00s Bedazzled remake.” Interestingly enough, while the video manages to be wild, unsettling and confusing there are several sequences that remind me of videos I’ve seen sometime in the 80s — but with a mischievous, we’re going to fuck with your head for a few minutes vibe.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that last November, I wrote about the Minneapolis, MN-born, New York-based trio Strange Names, whose highly-anticipated, sophomore, full-length effort Data is slated for a February 23, 2018 release through renowned, local indie label Frenchkiss Records. “Into Me,” the album’s first single managed to further cement their reputation for crafting breezy, 80s inspired synth pop — but underneath the song’s breezy nature is bratty yet flirtatious kiss off of sorts to someone, who the song’s narrator realizes is into him but for some perverse reason is busily pretending not to be. “UFO,” Data‘s second and latest single finds the duo still in the realms of 80s synth pop — but leaning more towards a funky, dance floor friendly angle, as though the duo were drawing from Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” thanks in part to a incredibly sinuous bass line, some Nile Rodgers-like guitar, thumping beats, layers of arpeggiated synths and one of the sharpest pop hooks I’ve heard this year.
If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-15 months or so, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts on the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter and indie pop artist Maya Killtron. And as you may recall, Killtron first came to attention both nationally and Stateside with the 2012 release of her debut EP Hipster/Gangsta, and as a result of the attention she received, Killtron wound up making the rounds across the North American festival circuit with stops Miami’s Winter Music Conference, Pride Toronto, The Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. And adding to a growing profile, her collaboration with NYC-based production duo Love Taps “Back For More” received attention from the likes of Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that meshed moomba and R&B – and for visuals that showcased a sadly bygone NYC. Additionally, Smalltown DJs, The Slow Waves, Eyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul have all have remixed “Back For More” — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.
“Bad Decisions,” which I wrote about while in Amsterdam, The Netherlands earlier this year, was a written as a review of some of Killton’s best and worst decisions when it came to affairs of the heart paired with a sound that nodded at 80s synth funk and early 80s disco in a fashion reminiscent of JOVM mainstay act Escort; in fact, that shouldn’t be surprising as Killtron explained in an email to me, “With ‘Bad Decisions,’ as well as my first single ‘Never Dance Alone,’ I wanted to pay tribute to; but not copy my heroes — Teena Marie, Prince, and The Gap Band.”
“Whiplash,” the third and latest single off Killtron’s Never Dance Alone EP is influenced by a childhood memory of a young Killtron listening to Michael Jackson‘s “PYT‘ for the very first time. “It was my driveway one July and my dad let me take our little radio outside while I washed the car, ” the Brampton-born, Toronto, ON-based pop artist explains. “‘PYT’ jumped out of the speakers and pretty much changed my ears forever. I never listened to the music the same way again.” Sonically, Killtron describes the song as having touches of elastic funk, roller rink dance, New Jack Swing and candy-coated pop paired with modern electronic production — and while that may be true, the song reminds me of Morris Day and The Time‘s “Jungle Love,” The Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love,” Chaka Khan‘s “I Feel For You” and others as it features a sinuous bass line and a stomping groove; however, Killton’s latest single is at a much faster BPM than the sources that inspired it. Of course, much like the preceding singles, “Whiplash” is a love song — this time focusing on the sort of swooning love that comes about suddenly and feels so right, even if it’s just for the moment.
Comprised of Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson, GL is a Melbourne, Australia-based electronic music production and artist duo, who with the release of 2013’s Love Hexagon EP and their full-length debut Touch developed a reputation for specializing in a sound that’s very much a contemporary take on disco, funk, boogie, soul and house music, and as a result the Australian electronic music duo quickly earned international attention from The Guardian, i-D, The FADER, V Magazine, XLR8R and others, as well as played sets at New Zealand’s St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival and Splore Festival while nationally they’ve opened for Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker and played a successful headlining national tour to support their full-length debut.
Building upon a growing national and international profile, which resulted in a busy touring schedule, the duo locked themselves away in the studio to write and record the double A-sided single “Destiny”/”Reflect,” and as the duo explain “‘Reflect’ is an extended jam we made at TFS Studio in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. We wanted to try a long form exploration piece. Listen out for the delightful keyboard solo by Harvey Sutherland! Lyrically, it’s about searching inward, when the outside gets a bit much.” Interestingly enough, the song while being decidedly introspective manages to be joyous, suggesting that searching inward can be a profound solace in a cruel world or as George Clinton once wisely sung “The kingdom of heaven is within.” Of course, sonically, the song will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting a sound that draws so much from 80s and 90s house music and 80s synth soul that it brings to mind The Whispers “It’s A Love Thing,” “And The Beat Goes On,” and “Rock Steady,” Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “Love Come Down” and Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love” as Pogson pairs a production featuring layers of shimmering and cascading synths, a sinuous bass line, tribal drumming, bursts of shimmering keys and a soaring hook with Thompson’s self-assured vocals. Simply put, it’s arguably one of the most DJ-leaning, club rocking tracks I’ve written about in several months; in fact, if I were DJ’ing, I’d make sure to fit this one into a set.