Tag: David Bowie

A Q&A with Holy Boy’s Helene Alexandra Jæger

Helene Alexandra Jæger is a Norwegian-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the rising recording project Holy Boy. Recorded at Ben Hillier’s London-based Pool Studios, Jæger’s 2017 Holy Boy self-titled debut was released to widespread critical acclaim with EP single “The Blood Moon” receiving airplay on BBC Radio 1 while establishing her sound – a sound that takes cues from The Velvet Underground and Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden, Suicide, the dark side of the 60s, vintage girl bands and West Coast hip-hop and she has dubbed “neon gothic.” Thematically, the Norwegian-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s work focuses on “explorations in consciousness,” she explains in press notes.

Building upon a growing profile, Jæger performed sets at that year’s CMJ, NXNE and SXSW. She followed that up with the critically applauded single “Elegy,” which The Line of Best Fit described as being “at once eclectic and utterly immersive; smoky and classic, yet simultaneously futuristic.”

Much like the countless emerging artists I’ve covered on this site over the past decade, Jæger began the year with big plans to boost her profile and her career that included booked sets at this year’s SXSW, which would have corresponded with the release of the first single off her forthcoming 11 song, full-length debut, which is slated for release this summer. Of course, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, SXSW was cancelled while countless other festivals, tours and shows were postponed until later this year. Interestingly, the album’s first single was released last month – and it turns out to be an eerily fitting and timely cover of The Doors’ classic “Riders On The Storm.” Centered around layers of shimmering organs, including Hammond, Rhodes, Optigan and Vox Continental, vintage 70s drum machines and 80s Casio synths, along with Jæger’s dusky vocals drenched in gentle reverb, delay and other ethereal effects, the Norwegian-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s haunting and cinematic rendition retains the somber and brooding tone of the original while adding  that seemingly unending sense of dread and uncertainty that we’ve all felt in our lives over the past month or so.

The accompanying video is fittingly creepy and yet highly symbolic: it features a lo-fi, computer generated skeleton in space, walking up a never-ending staircase.

I recently exchanged emails with Jæger for this Q&A. Current events have impacted all of us – and they’ve found a way to bleed into our personal and professional lives in ways that will likely reverberate for some time to come. Because she had plans to play at SXSW until it was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we chat briefly about how the pandemic has impacted her and her career. But the bulk of our conversation, we chat about her attention- grabbing cover of The Doors’ classic tune, and what we should expect from her forthcoming debut. Check it out below.

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WRH: Most parts of the country are enacting social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in New York, we’ve been social distancing and in-quarantine for the better part of three weeks. It’s been tough – but it’s for the greater good. How are you holding up?

Helene Alexandra Jæger: I love New York, and it’s crazy what’s happening right now. I hope it turns around and that we all learn something from this that can save lives in the future and now. Here in L.A., we’ve been at home for three or four weeks — I can’t even remember — and most things have been shut since then. It’s been strict, but I’m grateful for that – better safe than sorry in this type of a situation.

I’m lucky as an introvert, I’m quite comfortable spending time on my own reading, exploring info online, creating and listening to music.

WRH: You were about to release new material at around the time that SXSW had to cancel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career at the moment? 

HAJ: The cancellation came so suddenly; the whole festival was shut down less than a week before I was headed there to showcase my album live for the first time. I feel the cancellation of SXSW was a turnaround, for the first time people started to realize how serious this outbreak might get…

Until that, most people I heard from thought the danger was exaggerated, and so I’m really glad the city of Austin made a firm decision, because I don’t know what the situation would have been like if 60,000 people had gathered for SXSW as planned, just a few weeks back.

Since this outbreak, I’ve been trying to manage the “Riders On The Storm” release that was too late to cancel — and somehow turned out to be more poignant right now than I’d ever expected.

I was planning to release my debut album this spring, was working on music video plans, and had live shows in the pipeline around the release, but that’s all on ice now. The good thing is, I get to create more and spend time making more music. I also have a poetry collection I’ve been working on for a while, and it’s given me time to focus on that and prepare for that release.


WRH: How would you describe your sound, for those unfamiliar to you and Holy Boy’s sound?

HAJ: This is always tricky. I feel like it’s a world where it’s dark, but there are neon lights on, and you can see the stars and the moon. There’s a dreamy quality to it, but it can also get gritty and sensual. I sometimes think of it as Moon in Scorpio, 5th house, that’s my placement. It’s a dark and deep place where there’s sometimes a feeling of being closer to space than earth. Musically, I call it Neon Gothic or LA noir, organ rock.


WRH: Who are your influences?

HAJ: I love all kinds of music, but for this coming album, I’ve been immersing myself in what felt like it resonated with the emotions in those songs. Songs like “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin, David Bowie’s Blackstar album, “Nikes” by Frank Ocean, Suicide and songs by The Shangri-La’s, Johnny Jewel’s work . . .

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

HAJ: I’m really enjoying the Spotify Discover Weekly playlist where the algorithm presents you with music it thinks you’ll like, and I’ve been going on a deep dive based on doing research for a TV idea I’ve been working on… A beautiful and uplifting raw song I think everyone could benefit from right now is an old gospel type recording “Like A Ship” by Pastor T.L. Barrett and The Youth for Christ Choir… I think it’s a really inspiring song for this time.

I’ve also been listening to demos and outtakes from Bob Dylan’s “Blonde On Blonde” sessions and it’s been such a revelation to hear how incredibly different the other takes were… To see how fluid his process was, that a song like “Like A Rolling Stone” ended up the way we know it, when the other takes were so different… There’s a real magic to it. Like listening into an alternate reality.

WRH: You recently released an eerie and ominous cover of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm.” I think if Jim Morrison was alive today, he would have really dug what you did with the song. What drew you to the song? Have the living members of The Doors heard the song? If they did, what did they think of it?

HAJ: That means a lot to me, thank you so much. I know he had an interest in the worlds beyond and the nature of life and death, which I personally resonate with, so it was a great experience to channel one of his/their songs . . .

One of the reasons I was drawn to making a cover of “Riders On The Storm”, besides being a huge fan of The Doors, is it feels like a seeker’s song, and it felt like a kindred spirit to the way I look at the world. A sense of not quite being at home and not quite belonging on earth.

From what I know, they haven’t heard it, but I really hope they would enjoy my version. I hope they are all safe and well, all four of them in this world and the other.

WRH: The recent video for “Riders on the Storm” features a computer-animated skeleton in space, walking up an infinite staircase. It’s fittingly ominous and as eerie. How did you come about this treatment – and what is it supposed to represent?

HAJ: When I saw Andrei/@dualvoidanimafff’s lofi retro futuristic animations online, I knew I wanted to work on something with him. For “Riders On The Storm”, I just saw this idea of a skeleton walking up a never-ending staircase in space… Like man’s ascension, our eternal human quest to become more or to rise out of the limitations of physical life, to reach this idea of heaven or perfection… It felt to me like a logical depiction of the song’s theme, “Riders On The Storm”… The impossibility of our pursuit, but also the beauty – that throughout history we’ve never stopped trying.

WRH: You have an album slated for a late August release. What should we expect from the album?

HAJ: My version of “Riders On The Storm” is definitely in the same world that the record takes place in. An otherworldly atmosphere built around Hammond/Rhodes/Optigan organs, Vox Continentals, vintage 70s drum machines and obscure 80s Casio synths. It’s definitely a nighttime record, it’s happening in the dark, songs that I hope can be cathartic in a time like this and what most likely lies ahead.

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New Video: Rachelle Garniez Takes on a Beloved Della Reese Song

Rachelle Garniez is a highly regarded singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and grizzled New York cabaret scene vet, who has managed to work with an eclectic array of contemporary artists including Jack White and Taylor Mac. Garniez’s recently released album Gone to Glory chronicles her interpretation of songs written or made famous by a variety of recently departed, beloved artists. Interestingly, the album can trace its origins back to 2016r, a year that saw the deaths of David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen — and alongside feelings of immeasurable cultural bereavement, that year also saw an increasing climate of unrest and heightened irreconcilable division.

The first Farewell Party concert was conceived and performed at Pangea, known as NYC’s home to alternative cabaret performance. Crowds were starved for the chance to mourn with other fans and celebrate the lives of their favorite artists. The concert became so popular that it became an annual event. And while being a collection of covers, the album’s material is also about recovery and resilience, that reminds the listener that death may wreck our own, we still manage to survive to enjoy what’s been bequeathed to us.

The album finds Garniez tackling the work of Bowie, Prince, Cohen, Glen Campbell, Motörhead, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Della Reese, Sharon Jones, Mose Allison and Bea Wain — and while inhabiting the characters and worlds of each of those artists, the acclaimed cabaret artists finds a way to make the songs her own. Although she’s largely eschewed covers, she has found the album as a way to honor fallen musical heroes and to branch out into exploring other lives and characters. Interestingly, instead of choosing the most obvious songs — no “Hallelujah” or “Purple Rain” here — she makes more idiosyncratic choices.  “A lot of it has to do with if I can look at the lyrics and imagine becoming a character, or even just being my own self and being able to sing these songs,” Garniez  says in press notes. “I need to feel that I’m connected to the lyrics, that I can really deliver them in a meaningful way.”

Gone to Glory’s songs are centered around an emotional arc that deals with abject despair to acceptance. Death looms large and at points comedic. Monsters are everywhere. There’s alienation, self-delusion and even toxic patriotism. But love is seen as countervailing and multiform — hopeless and unrequited, romantic, lust, paradisal and so on. Garniez, who also contributes piano, accordion and guitar, collaborates with the Farewell Party band, Karen Waltuch (viola) and Derek Nievergelt (double bass) — with the material sonically reflecting Garniez’s eclectic influences: the material evokes klezmer, Cajun, doo wop, blues, R&B, Latin, jazz and show tunes with five of the songs featuring instrumental introductions that function as sort of mini-memorials, references Glen Frey, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Gone to Glory’s latest single finds the acclaimed cabaret artist covering Della Reese’s 1959 hit “Don’t You Know,” an adaptation of a Puccini aria, “Musetta’s Waltz” from La Bohème. Featuring a yearning vocal, the song is centered around a slow-burning, understated arrangement consisting of French horn and twinkling keys, viola, harp, and double bass — Garniez’s rendition manages to nod at jazz standards, chamber pop and classical music simultaneously while aching with pride, heartache, and loss in a way that feels devastating. The recently released video by Lewis Klahr features collage-based animation that tells the song’s central story of unrequited love and loss — with pop art.

New Video: Israeli-French Psych Rocker MAGON Releases an Animated Visual for Anthemic “Same House”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Israeli-born, Paris-based psych rock singer/songwriter and producer MAGON. The release of “The Streets,” off his latest album Out in the Dark quickly established his unique sound, which he has described as urban rock on psychedelics. 

Album single “My Reflection” was a cocaine-fueled, glam rock-like track centered around a chugging motorik groove, angular and slashing guitars and MAGON’s ironically detached vocals. And although the track may bring The Strokes to mind, it possesses an unvarnished, post-modern self-awareness.  “‘My Reflection’ is one of the most introspective songs on the album,” MAGON wrote to me in an email. “It resumes my life up and evokes my life philosophy. it’s also one of the rare songs for which I wrote the lyrics fully before composing it.”

“Same House” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor: chugging motorik grooves, buzzing and slashing guitars, and an arena rock friendly hook paired with MAGON’s ironically detached vocals — but unlike it’s predecessor, it builds up into a frenzy before closing out with a gentle fade out. And while it may be the most David Bowie and T. Rex-like singles of the albums tracks I’ve heard, the song is written about bitter and achingly personal experience.

“I wrote ‘Same House’ after breaking up with my ex. We’ve been together for 10 years and still lived in the same house after the breakup for about 6 months until I was able to move out,” the Israeli-born, French psych rock singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer says in press notes. “It was a very complicated and crucial time in my life and my music was my best friend more than ever. It was at the time that I began my solo project as Magon, and in a sense it was perfect timing because I had so much to say and needed to create a new life for myself. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album Out in the Dark because it succeeds, in my opinion, to transcend a very deep and personal story in a very light and entertaining way. It’s also pretty much sophisticated musically but feels quite smooth and easy, which is the way I like things to be.”

Directed by Amit Jakie David, the recently released video for “Same House” plays out the central story of the song: a  couple, portrayed by puppets, living together and throughout you can sense the bitterness and resentment between each other. Eventually, it explodes in a fiery conflagration — almost as expected. Certainly, if you’ve ever experienced a bitter end to a longtime relationship, the video and the song will feel familiar. 

Led by its creative mastermind Stijn Grul, the rising Utrecht, The Netherlands-based indie sextet VALENTINO. is an alt pop/indie rock band with a brass section. Citing David Bowie, Herman Brood and JOVM mainstays Balthazar, the Dutch indie act is actively working to reinvent and redefine indie rock in a similar fashion.

In their relatively short history, the band won the Utrecht Pop Award, played at Liberation Festival Utrecht and have toured across their native Holland, Denmark, Germany and Italy winning fans for a live sound that’s rousing yet intimate. Earlier this month, the Dutch indie sextet released their self-titled debut EP, and the EP’s latest single “My Head Was Drowned.” Centered around a rousingly anthemic hook, an enormous, swinging horn line, stuttering drumming, a bluesy guitar line and plaintive vocals, the expansive song is kind of like a seamless synthesis of 50s doo wop, arena rock and art pop that finds the young band walking a tightrope between a workman’s attention to craft, earnestness and ambition with an uncanny self-assuredness.

Initially created as a solo project by its Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based creative mastermind, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Jordon Zadorozny, Blinker The Star eventually expanded into a trio by the time they signed to A&M Records, who released the project’s first two albums — 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten. During that period, the band toured steadily, building a profile nationally and elsewhere.

In 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed Celebrity Skin. While in Los Angeles, Zadorozny began soaking up new influences and became increasingly fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which at the time featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a rotating cast of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded third album August Everywhere, which they supported with touring across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning back to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, contributing drums and producing Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. Zadorozny also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others.

During the Winter of 2003, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Blinker the Sky’s fourth album Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour to support the album, the Pembroke, Ontario-born multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter quickly settled into the production side of the things working with an electric array of artists, including collaborative projects like Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom, and Abbey and The Angry Moon.

2012’s fourth album, We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded since he started the project — and it began a rather prolific period that included 2013’s Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires” 2015’s 11235 EP, 2017’s 8 of Hearts and last year’s  Careful With Your Magic. Interestingly, after completing a short run of shows last fall, Zodorozny began working on new music at his Skylark Park Studio. The solitude of his environment helped informed his forthcoming Blinker The Star album Juvenile Universe, which is slated for release this summer.

Juvenile Universe‘s first single “Way Off Wave.” Centered around a dense arrangement of shimmering guitars, sinuous bass lines, a blazing, distortion pedal-fueled guitar solo, atmospheric and droning synths and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook “Way Off Wave” brings Station to Station-era David Bowie to mind. “The song touches on the things we do and think to ourselves after a period of great change: our impulse to seek out new external realities, while internationally returning to stuck patterns and thoughts, which inhibit growth and acceptance,” as the Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter explains in press notes. “It is almost a dreamlike state we find ourselves in trying to move forward while mentally sloshing about in the past, looking for new answers that will never appear.”

 

 

New Video: Lower Dens Releases a Psychedelic Visual for “Hand of God”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed the tour to support Twin Hand Movement, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot, Nootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork. Rolling Stone and Spin. 

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. The following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. 

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Released last September through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, the album is a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Last year, the members of Lower Dens opened for hit-making act Of Monsters And Men, and they’ll begin this year with a headlining tour to support the album that starts on February 13, 2020 and includes a March 19, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates below.) In the meantime, the album’s latest single, the glistening and propulsive “Hand of God” is centered around Hunter’s achingly expressive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the song bears a subtle resemblance to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Songs from the Big Chair-era Tears for Fears — but centered around feelings of arrogance, humility and shame. 

“It’s like Cowboy Krautrock,” Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter says about the song in press notes.  “Imagine a wild west adventure, like City Slickers with the star, a wealthy white man. He’s devised a way to conquer God. He has some kind of vaguely dangerous journey, then comes upon God and declares victory. In his hubris, he goes to shake God’s hand, at which time he is psychedelically humbled, his little brain imploding.”

Directed by Aaron Brown and Robby Piantanida, the recently released video, manages to employ a decidedly DIY approach with a bright psychedelic colors — with Hunter seeing the hands of God. 

Ollie Trevers is an emerging London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started writing and performing music when he was 14. Like countless other young people, Trevers harbored artistic aspirations from the very beginning.

While studying at Leeds College of Music, Trevers joined a band then known as The Doldrums — they’re now known as Velvit — as the band’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist. The band wound up playing gigs in and around the Leeds area but while earning a masters at ICMP, Trevers decided it was time to spent out into the limelight as a solo artist, writing and recording his solo debut, last year’s Saucy Naughty Rubbish EP, an effort that found the London-based singer/songwriter crafting a sound that drew equally from classic rock and post-punk.

Around the same time, Trevers started to receive film industry work, eventually writing period specific songs for the feature film Funny Cow and publishing music to be used in the feature film Burning MenSince then he was commissioned to write the score and the soundtrack album for the upcoming feature film Cordelia. And after completing his masters, Trevers has begun to refocus his efforts into his solo career, including recruiting a backing band, which has started to play gigs in and around London.

Trevers’ recently released, five song EP Cordelia finds the emerging British singer/songwriter and guitarist expanding upon the sound of his debut, with the new EP’s material inspired by Led Zeppelin, Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf, Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley, Pink Floyd, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and David Bowie among others. And as a result, the material’s overall sound touches upon punk, alt rock, prog, blues, folk and psych rock. Thematically, the material touches upon heartache, melancholia, catharsis and emotional claustrophobia — and the feelings which often transcend our ability to accurately describe them. Additionally, the material finds the emerging British singer/songwriter and guitarist exploring unrequited love and its causes and effects — depression, addiction, disillusionment and longing.

The EP’s latest single is the oceanic “Can’t Make It Up.” Centered around fuzzy power chords, Trevers plaintive and expressive vocals and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook, the expansive song sonically nods at alt rock, the blues, psych rock, folk and Brit Pop in a way that reminds me of Love Is Here-era Starsailor and The Verve.  “‘Can’t Make It Up’ was written as a result of a  rather turbulent period in my life,” Trevers says in press notes. “I think a lot of people have expressed a similar despondency, and I’m really happy that I managed to find a way to share that in my music . . . especially as I sometimes find it too hard to write about things that are personal.”

 

I’ve written quite a bit about the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Sofia Härdig throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history. Now, as you may recall, the Swedish jOVM mainstay’s career began in earnest at a very young age: she began playing in bands when she was nine. As a teen, she began touring, eventually playing a solo set at CBGB’s. As an adult, Härdig has been hailed as the rocktronica queen of experimental music, developing an uncompromising commitment to a truthful artistic approach. “I find beauty in flaws and that which is not perfect is what excites me, I love the unusual, the unexpected, untrained and unplanned… I hope my music portrays that in its sound,” Härdig says about her approach in press notes.

Härdig’s recently released, fourth album This Big Hushfinds the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay moving away from the deliberate electronic-based sound of her previous work and towards a gritty and raw, old-school rock sound. “I recorded this album with the band in less than three days live in Tambourine Studios in Malmö,” Härdig says of the recording process for This Big Hush. “The vocals were all done in one day, a lot of them are even kept from the original live take. Part of the process is that my electronic demo making has become so thorough and time-consuming that they have been good enough to be released. Since they are out in the world and out of my system, I can break free and do something different with the band, and not the same thing all over again. We never play the same tempo, same length, they follow me where I lead them… this is THIS BIG HUSH”

Infatuation,” This Big Hush‘s fist single was written to pay homage to post-punk pioneers like Siouxsie and the Banshees — but the decidedly riff driven song seemed to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Marc Bolan/T. Rex and Horses-era Patti Smith, complete with an enormous, arena rock friendly hook. “I built this song on a riff that I really loved, building up a groove and then adding backing vocals and playing percussion with whatever I found lying around in the studio and studio kitchen,” the Swedish-born JOVM mainstay said in press notes of the song’s creation. “I used film reels, a serving bowl from IKEA, egg, yar, a knife and fork, to creating an overall feeling of skating down Sunset Boulevard in a Mohikan with a ghetto blaster on your shoulder.”

Radiant Star,” This Big Hush‘s second single was slow-burning and jangling bit of guitar pop that brings Pretenders and the aforementioned Patti Smith to mind. “It was made during many endless nights,” Härdig says in press notes, “on my own and in my studio and also with the band on some more hectic days. Then a lot of other endless days and nights in the studio producing it. My own take of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’; a song I learned as a 3-year old on the grand piano we inherited from my grandmother.”

Silence,” This Big Hush‘s third single was a slow-burning, lush track that to my ears brought the emotional intensity and lyricism of Patti Smith and Nick Cave to mind — but with an enormous arrangement of jangling guitars, twinkling keys, dramatic drumming, a soaring hook, a gospel-style backing vocal section and arguably one of her most emotionally direct vocal performances.

Interestingly, the album’s fourth and latest single “Sucking the Flowers” is a decidedly anthemic  grunge rocker of a track that seems indebted to PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Liz Phairand others, as the song is centered around a chugging and propulsive rhythm, enormous power chords, a raucous hook, four-on-the-floor drumming and a defiant vocal performance. Ultimately, this song much like its predecessors reveals that Härdig is a towering force of nature to be reckoned with.

New Video: Introducing the Sleek and Propulsive Synth Pop of Vlossom

Vlossom is a new electro pop collaboration between two acclaimed Australian musicians — Nick Littlemore, best known for his work with multi-platinum acts Empire of the Sun and PNAU and Alister Wright, the frontman of Aussie indie rock act Cloud Control.  Interestingly, the project can trace their origins to rather a serendipitous moment: while walking down the street in Adelaide, Littlemore bumped into Wright and immediately proposed that they make an album together. “He had this exuberance that shone through as he approached me, and right away I felt compelled to offer myself up for the slaughter,” Littlemore says in press notes. 

Several months later, the duo met up for their first writing and recording session, during which Littlemore played a nubmer of backing tracks he’d recently created, including a few pieces made with Tim Lefebvre, best known for his work with David Bowie. “Without really talking or anything, Nick threw me straight in and had me sing over all these instrumentals,” Wright recalls. “I ended up getting so lost in it, and just singing whatever came into my head at the time.” The end result is trance-inducing material that effortlessly meshes pop, psych rock and electronic music into something that’s strange and multi-sensory — a body of work that reportedly possesses a distinct texture, temperature, color and even smell. 

The duo’s Vlossom debut EP is slated for release next year, and the EP’s first single is the lush and hypnotic “Catch Your Breath.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, a motorik-like groove, Wright’s ethereal and plaintive vocals and a dance floor friendly hook that sonically brings Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories to mind, as the duo meshes sleek, electronic production with with warm, live instrumentation featuring musicians Littlemore met through his work with Elton John. And while being a club banger, the track thematically speaks to a metaphorical loss of composure. “It’s that feeling of seeing a thing of absolute beauty, whether it’s a girl or guy or plant or animal, and being brought into a heightened reality,” Littlemore says in press notes. “For the most part our everyday lives are fairly menial, so those moments when we do lose our breath are really something to dwell on.” 

Directed by Nicolas Randall, the recently released video for “Catch Your Breath” is a vividly colored and gorgeous fever dream, filmed at a haunting and eerie mausoleum in Los Angeles. 

“The clip was directed by the incomparable Nicolas Randall, a visionary director whose understanding of colour and movement is second to none,” Littlemore says of the video treatment. “It was shot in an amazing mortuary; the song deals with crossing over to parallel dimensions. Nicolas played with this concept in this location, breathing wondrously strange energy into a lifeless place, uber-styled and choreographed by masters in their field.”