Tag: Elton John

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Yola Releases an Uplifting Tune for Young Black Women

With the release of her critically applauded, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut, last year’s Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a highlight-filled, breakthrough year. Some of those major highlights included:

playing a breakout performance at SXSW
making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas.
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” that’s not only a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John himself, who praised the rapidly rising artist and her cover.

The British-born JOVM mainstay had hopes to build upon the incredibly momentum of 2019 with a handful of opportunities that many artists across the world would probably kill someone for: Earlier this year, it was announced that she was preparing to play blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Unfortunately, the film wound up being delayed as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns- and infamously, Tom Hanks contracting COVID-19 while filming in Australia.

The Bristol-born, Nashville-based JOVM mainstay finished her first Stateside headlining tour, which included a Music Hall of Williamsburg show in February, right before pandemic-related shutdowns put the entire known world on pause. In between filming, she was supposed to play a series of dates opening for country superstar Chris Stapleton and Grammy Award-winning acts The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile — with one of those shows being at Madison Square Garden. The best laid plans of mice and men, indeed.

In the meantime, Yola has made her rounds across the domestic, late night television show circuit: Earlier this year she performed, album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden — and recently, Yola was on Late Night with Seth Meyers with a soulful, gospel-tinged cover of Nina Simone‘s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium.

Her latest single, the Dave Cobb-produced “Hold On” is the first bit of original material from the JOVM mainstay since the release of Walk Through Fire and the track features an All-Star cast backing her including The Highwomen bandmates Brandi Carlile (backing vocals) and Natalie Hemby (backing vocals), Sheryl Crow (piano) and Jason Isbell (guitar). The Yola penned song was recorded during The Highwomen self-titled debut sessions at RCA Studio A — and the track is an uplifting, gospel-tinged track with a warm yet spacious country soul arrangement and that incredibly soulful powerhouse vocal range. The sister can flat out sang, as they say. And along with the aforementioned cover of “To Be Young Gifted and Black,” “Hold On” comes from a rather personal, lived in place.

Inspired by many of the conversations and lessons Yola’s mother gave her about the racism, colorism and systemic unconscious bias she would later experience as a woman, the song finds its narrator imploring the listener — young, Black women, in particular — to be brash and bold, to stand up and take up place, and to to show the entire world that being young, gifted and black is where it’s at, as Nina once sang. Fuck yes, to all of this — and all the goddamn time, too.

“‘Hold On’ is a conversation between me and the next generation of young black girls,” Yola explains. “My mother’s advice would always stress caution, that all that glitters isn’t gold, and that my black female role models on TV are probably having a hard time. She warned me that I should rethink my calling to be a writer and a singer…. but to me that was all the more reason I should take up this space. ‘Hold On’ is asking the next gen to take up space, to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and black.”

A proportion of the profiles from sales of the track will be donated to MusicCares and National Bailout Collective. She also launched an accompanying line of merch with a proportion of proceeds from those sales also benefiting the same organizations. Check out the following:

https://www,iamyola.com/store

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Yola Performs a Soulful Rendition of Nina Simone’s “To Be Young Gifted and Black”

With the release of her critically applauded, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a highlight-filled, breakthrough year last year. Some of those highlights included:

playing a breakout performance at SXSW
making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas.
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” that’s not only a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John himself, who praised the rapidly rising artist and her cover.

Much like countless artists across the globe, the British-born JOVM mainstay had hoped to continue the momentum of her breakthrough 2019: she was supposed to play blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother — but the film has been delayed as a result of both pandemic-related lockdowns and Tom Hanks contracting the virus while in Australia. And although she finished her first headlining Stateside tour, she was supposed to play a run of dates with country superstar Chris Stapleton and Grammy Award-winning acts The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile. However, the JOVM has begun to make her rounds across the domestic, late night television circuit: earlier this year, she performed, album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden — and recently, Yola was on Late Night with Seth Meyers with a soulful, gospel-tinged cover of Nina Simone’s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium.

As a YouTube commenter said “Nina and Aretha are smiling down from above.” He’s absolutely right. Of course, I hope that each rendition of the song will remind everyone of one simple, incontrovertible fact: Black Lives Matter.

A Q&A with Donna Blue’s Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen

Donna Blue is a rising Amsterdam-based indie act centered around its core duo, romantic couple Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen. Creatively, they’re each other’s muse. And with the release of their debut 7 inch EP, which was released in 2017, the Dutch indie act quickly established a unique and dream-like sound seemingly influenced by Phil Spector, Wall of Sound-like pop, Pasty Cline, yè yè and the work of David Lynch – in particular, Twin Peaks. “Sunset Blvd,” which appeared on that 7 inch was played on Elton John’s Apple Music radio show Rocket Hour.

Building upon a growing profile, the Dutch duo released the yé yé inspired single “1 2 3.” Sung in French, the song describes the lack of a passion within a romantic relationship. And instead of making a standard music video for the song, the duo chose to create an audiovisual monologue conveying the narrator’s longing that’s visually inspired by the nouvelle vague movement.

Released last month through Dutch indie label, Snowstar Records, the self-recorded and self-produced 5 song EP Inbetween finds the act continuing to draw from and seamlessly mesh Roy Orbison, Julee Cruise, Nancy Sinatra, Patsy Cline and yé yé into a unique sound that evokes late nights wandering around narrow European streets, smokey cafes and swooning Romanticism. Personally, listening to the EP reminds me of late nights walking through Amsterdam’s Centrum and the Red Light District and of walking down Frankfurt-am-Main’s Haupwatche and Romer Districts with the aching loneliness of being a foreigner, of being a Black man in Northern Europe. And although that’s a deeply personal lens, the material overall is smoky, cinematic and absolutely gorgeous.

Persfoto 2019-1 (Satellite June)

Persfoto 2019-5 (OAK & FIR)

Inbetween

I recently exchanged emails with Donna Blue’s Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen for this edition of the JOVM Q&A. Current world events have impacted all of us – and they’ve found ways to bleed into our personal and professional lives in ways that will reverberate for quite some time to come. As COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the rising Dutch act was here in New York, playing the second annual New Colossus Festival. Shortly after their New Colossus Festival sets, the world as we know it has been at an uncomfortable and indefinite pause. While we do chat about their excellent new EP, we do talk seriously about the impact of the pandemic on their careers, how much Twin Peaks has influenced their work and we reminisce about beautiful Amsterdam. Check it out below.

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WRH: Donna Blue is centered around core duo and romantic couple Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen. How is it like to collaborate and tour with your partner?

 

Danique van Kesteren: Thatʼs a big question to start with. Itʼs hard to explain well, but itʼs very special. I believe thereʼs a certain energy and creativity that only sparks when youʼre completely on the same wavelength as the person you are collaborating with. We work together so intimately that our ideas can flow without speaking.

Bart van Dalen: That being said, working closely together on a project blurs the lines between work and personal life. Itʼs all about keeping a good balance and that takes work. But most of the time itʼs very good. And touring together is super nice. Sharing experiences, traveling to all those places with her, performing and seeing Danique next to me on stage. I like how we can always feel what the other person is feeling on stage and feed off each otherʼs energy during a show.

WRH: Most of the known world has been in quarantine in some fashion since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic last month. How have you been holding up? What have you been spending your time doing? Binge watching anything interesting?


DVK: We mainly have been resting a lot, staying at home reading and cooking healthy food. We did set up a studio at home, so we can record ideas for new songs whenever we want.

BVD: Itʼs a weird time. We wouldʼve been in the US right now taking some time off after a tour. So weʼve been adjusting and taking time to think about where we are going from here. And weʼre binge watching a lot of Mad Men.

WRH: Donna Blue played this yearʼs New Colossus Festival. How did it go? Did you get a chance to take in any local food or bars or anything? Did you have a chance to see anyone play while you were in town? If so, who?

BVD: We had such a good time performing at the New Colossus; itʼs a really good memory. We played 4 shows and met some amazing people. We saw a couple of other artists perform at the festival, like Luke De-Sciscio, Kirsten Knick and Ghost World, which was very fun. And we got to play a Paste Magazine session while we were in town. But every day felt more uncertain as COVID-19 was really hitting Europe hard. So, it was a strange time.

DVK: We were in New York for 5 days, so we tried to explore some of the city, even though it felt like we shouldnʼt. In the mornings we got bagels and we walked around the neighbourhood a little. Some of our band went to MOMA the last day before it closed. But mostly we stayed indoors until it was time to head off to our show. We all shared a big loft, so we just chilled in the living [room] and tried to stay calm and positive.

WRH: You were supposed to head down to Austin for SXSW after New Colossus Festival and unfortunately while you were in town COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Shortly after that festivals were postponing and canceling left and right, including SXSW. How has COVID-19 currently impacted you and your career?

BVD: Yes, that was a hard pill to swallow for everyone. Of course, weʼve worked very hard to get to SXSW and set up a tour around it. And thereʼs a huge financial investment that comes with touring the US. So not being able to play an important festival like SXSW and cancel all upcoming shows does impact our career. But weʼll carry on and keep making music, weʼll just have to wait and see what the scene is going to be like when we can go back out.

DVK: I think it will impact our career the same way it does any artist at the moment. Itʼs all very uncertain when we are going to be able to bring people together for live performances again, and if they even want to come out again when itʼs allowed. Small venues will collapse, international touring will be impossible for a while and it might be a lot harder to get our music in front of interesting parties.

WRH: Youʼre from one of my favorite cities in the entire world –- Amsterdam. I was in the Netherlands three years ago and I miss Amsterdam and the country. So say, Iʼm a tourist and itʼs my first time in Amsterdam, where would I go to get a taste of local life?

DVK: Amsterdam is a really special place. I still canʼt decide whether I love it more when the city wakes up in spring or when itʼs quiet in winter, the narrow streets and bridges covered in snow. It just feels so old and magical. I would recommend just walking past the canals just outside the busy city center. Have a little picnic on the waterfront, maybe smoke a funny cigarette and donʼt forget to look up to stare at the beautiful facades. Go through the ‘9 straatjesʼ or down Haarlemmerstraat for some nice local shops and vintage stores.

BVD: If you like movies, visit LAB-111 (best programming), beautiful art deco cinemas The Movies or Tsuchinsky, or the EYE film museum.

WRH: Whatʼs your favorite spot in Amsterdam to catch live music? Why?

BVD: We have a beautiful venue called Paradiso, itʼs in an old church and saw some real underground action in the 60s. Now itʼs one of the most important concert venues in our country, and still a magical place.

DVK: Bitterzoet is also a venue I really like, itʼs smaller but very cool, and it has a little red light district vibe going on.

WRH: Are there any Dutch acts that should be blowing up that havenʼt yet?

BVD: Definitely. Look up a band called Lewsberg, and Eerie Wanda.
DVK: And a band we love that make[s] awesome music to dance to is called Yin Yin.

WRH: I understand that Elton John played “Sunset Blvd” during his Apple Music radio show Rocket Hour. How did it feel to receive a co-sign from someone as legendary as him?

DVK: So unreal. I never thought in a million years I would hear Elton John say my full name.
BVD: Weʼve also been getting a lot of attention and radio play through it, so itʼs been very helpful.

WRH: I was first introduced to you and your sound through the Paste Session you did last month. So how much has David Lynch and Twin Peaks influenced the band and its aesthetic?

DVK: A lot, especially at the start. The way David Lynch plays with mystery and beauty is something we find really inspiring and try to incorporate in our own music. And visually too, we get inspired by his films for our music videos.

BVD: And of course, the soundtrack and music of Twin Peaks are so good. Being one of the bands playing at the Roadhouse is one of our musical dreams. We try to capture some of that Roadhouse-feeling in our own live performances.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to those who would be initially unfamiliar with you and your sound?

BVD: We usually describe it as sultry indie pop under the influence of 60s yé yé, Lynch movies and old Hollywood romance.

WRH: Who (and what) are your influences?

BVD: Musically our influences are mainly artists from the 50s/60s. Think of Serge Gainsbourg, Roy Orbison, Nancy Sinatra, Link Wray. And as mentioned before, so is the mystery from the Twin Peaks soundtrack.

DVK: Next to that we get inspired lyrically and visually by things like our own relationship and stuff we go through, cult movies from the 70s, Jean-Luc Godard, old Hollywood glamour, books and big questions like is there a heaven and would it be fun to go there for all eternity?

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

DVK: For Donna Blue, we try to listen mostly to ‘oldʼ music, but of course so much modern music is great too. Weʼve been listening to Alexandra Savior, Hayley Hendrickx, Babe Rainbow, Kevin Morby, Jess Williamson, Yo La Tengo, SadGirl.
BVD: And I just got a Velvet Underground vinyl for my birthday that weʼve been spinning on repeat.

WRH: Your latest effort Inbetween EP was released last month. Itʼs a gorgeous and cinematic effort that evokes film noir, smoky cafes and bars, strolling down narrow European streets, swooning love – and to my ears, I hear quite bit of Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Phil Spectorʼs girl groups in the overall production. Iʼve managed to play the EP quite a bit late at night and for some reason, it reminds me so much of wandering around Amsterdam Centrum and the Red Light District. Is there a unifying theme that holds the EPʼs five songs together?

DVK: Itʼs not so much a theme as it is a feeling. Weʼve tried to translate that place between waking and sleeping into songs. Strange things happen there. Sometimes literally, like in title track Inbetween. But sometimes itʼs more figuratively, like waking up to what love really is.

WRH: “Desert Lake,” “Billy” and “Fool” are among my personal favourites on the EP. Can you tell us a little bit about what that songs are about?


DVK: Yes of course, “Desert Lake” is about the badlands every artist needs to cross while they do their work. Right between dreaming up a song and finishing it, a fear always creeps in: is it good enough? No matter how beautiful it is to create things, it will forever come with doubt. For the song we made up a cinematic story about someone getting lost in that madness of art. “Billy” is a song about l’amour fou gone wrong. We wanted it to sound like a sweet little 50’s heartbreak song at the start, but it ends like an eerie nightmare. It leaves you wondering what happened to the person not picking up the phone. And “Fool” is a song about the moment in a relationship you realise there is no such thing as perfect love, even though you thought you had it figured out. Itʼs a personal testament to losing some of that beautiful, open innocence of childhood love when transitioning into an adult relationship. Like an awakening.

WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?

DVK: I think for a big part itʼs a feeling, you just know when thereʼs something still missing from the song.
BVD: Usually when we think a song is complete, we let it sit for a while. Then we listen to it again after a week or two, if it still feels good, itʼs finished.

WRH: Whatʼs next for you?

DVK: Weʼll be working on new music, maybe even a full-length album . .  .
BVD: And of course making plans to set up another tour as soon as we can.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Sam Fender Covers Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” on BBC Radio 1’s “Live Lounge”

Over the past two years or so, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the 
Newcastle, UK-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Sam Fender. Last year, was a breakthrough year for the Newcastle-born and-based artist: 
his Bramwell Bronte-produced full-length debut Hypersonic Missiles was a critically applauded, commercial success. Fender also made several nationally televised late night appearances — and went on a successful international tour that saw him play across North America twice. He then closed out the year with the release of “All Is On My Side,” a propulsive track that was sort of synthesis of Gerry Rafferty and Billy Idol, complete with a Eric Clapton Slowhand-era like guitar solo.

Although the year was full of momentous, life-changing achievements for the young singer/songwriter the year ended on a frustrating note with Fender having to postpone a handful of sold-out UK live dates with Fender having to reschedule them. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was looking bright for the JOVM mainstay: he was hand-picked by the legendary  Elton John to play at his annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party — and much like last year, was gearing up for this year’s BRIT Awards, in which he received a nomination for Best New Artist. 

Desperate to prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder, Fender has an urgent desire to improve upon his critically applauded debut. Musically, he started the year with “Hold Out,” a slow-burning 80s inspired anthem with an enormous, arena friend hook and shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars that further established his reputation for crafting earnest yet ambitious material with a novelistic attention to detail. Earlier this year, Fender made an appearance on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge series, and the appearance including a a haunting and achingly bluesy cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black.” After a persistent fan campaign online, Fender officially released the cover — and the footage from the live session. 

“‘Back To Black’ is such a long-standing favourite of mine, and Amy remains a national treasure,” Fender says in press notes. ” I love that album too. I hopefully did the track some justice. You’ll all be the judge of that…”

Live Footage: Yola Performs “I Don’t Want to Lie” on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

With the release of her critically applauded, Grammy Award-nominated, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a highlight-filled, breakthrough year last year. Some of those highlights included: 

playing a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW
making her New York debutat Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas.
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” that’s not only a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John himself, who praised the rapidly rising artist and her cover. 
2020 looks to be an even bigger year for the JOVM mainstay. It was recently announced that she’ll be playing blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Earlier this week, the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay finished her first Stateside headlining tour.  Adding to a busy year, Yola will be opening for country superstar Chris Stapleton during through a run of arena shows that includes an October 10, 2020 stop at Madison Square Garden. She’ll also be opening for the Black Keys during their summer amphitheater tour, which includes an August 26, 2020 stop at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, out in Wantagh, NY. Additionally, she’ll be playing Echoes Through the Canyon with  Brandi Carlile. Along with that, she’ll be making festival appearances in Australia and at this year’s Bonnaroo. (Check out the tour dates below.)

Earlier this week, Yola made an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where she played album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie,” which managed to be a perfect showcase of her seemingly effortlessly soulful and powerhouse vocals. 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink cover the Newcastle, UK-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Sam Fender. Now, as you may recall last year was a breakthrough year for the Newcastle-born and-based JOVM mainstay: his Bramwell Bronte-produced full-length debut Hypersonic Missiles was a critically applauded, commercial success. Fender also made several nationally televised late night appearances — and went on a successful international tour that saw him play across North America twice.
The rapidly rising British artist closed out last year with the release of “All Is On My Side.” The song has been a regular fixture of his live set for the past few years and a fan favorite that he released after a committed online campaign by his fans to release it. And while centered around the sleek and slick production and arena rock friendly hooks that has won him international acclaim, the propulsive song finds Fender crafting a synthesis of 70s AM rock along the lines of Gerry Rafferty and 80s New Wave and rock reminiscent of Billy Idol, complete with a Eric Clapton Slowhand-era like guitar solo.
Although most of last year was full of momentous, life-changing achievements for the young singer/songwriter, the year ended on a frustrating note with Fender having to postpone a handful of sold-out UK live dates as a result of illness. Those shows have been rescheduled for later this month and during the Spring. (You can check out the rescheduled tour dates, along with some European Union and UK Summer festival dates below.)
So far, 2020 has continued much of the momentum of last year: Fender was hand-picked by Elton John to play at his annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party — and much like last year, he’s gearing up for this year’s BRIT Awards, but this time, he’s received a nomination for Best New Artist. Interestingly, “Hold Out,” is Fender’s first single of this year, and while it doesn’t actually signal the start of a press campaign for his sophomore album, it’s meant to act as another statement of intent for him. Desperate to prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder, Fender has an urgent desire to better his critically applauded effort. Centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, “Hold Out” is slow-burning, 80s inspired anthem with an enormous, arena friendly hook — and the track will further cement the Newcastle-born and-based JOVM mainstay’s reputation for crafting earnest yet ambitious material with a novelistic attention to detail.
Tour Dates (Tickets at samfender.com):
February 17 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
February 19 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
February 24 – La Cigale, Paris
February 25 – Ancienne Belgique, Brussels SOLD OUT
February 27 – Palladium, Cologne
February 28 – Columbiahalle, Berlin
March 1– Halle 622, Zurich
March 2– Paradiso, Amsterdam SOLD OUT
March 5– Docks Club, Hamburg
March 20 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester SOLD OUT
March 21 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester SOLD OUT
March 23 – Barrowlands, Glasgow SOLD OUT
March 24 – Barrowlands, Glasgow SOLD OUT
March 26 – Alexandra Palace, London SOLD OUT
March 27 – Alexandra Palace, London SOLD OUT
March 31 – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff SOLD OUT
April 2 – First Direct Arena, Leeds SOLD OUT
April 3 – Utilita Arena, Newcastle SOLD OUT
May 1 – O2 Academy, Bristol (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 16 – O2 Academy, Birmingham (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 17 – O2 Academy, Brixton (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 23 – Warrington, Neighbourhood Festival
May 24 – Newcastle, This Is Tomorrow Festival
June 3 – De Montfort Hall, Leicester (rescheduled show)
June 13 – Isle of Wight Festival
June 16 – Malahide Castle, Dublin (w/ The Killers) SOLD OUT
June 17 – Malahide Castle, Dublin (w/ The Killers) SOLD OUT
July 8 – Madrid, Espacio Mad Cool Festival
July 10 – Glasgow, TRNSMT Festival
August 19 – Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht SOLD OUT

Live Footage: Yola on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Throughout the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Grammy Award-nominated Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola. The Grammy Award-nominated JOVM mainstay has led a remarkable life — the sort that I’ve long thought should be made into an inspiring biopic, like What’s Love Got To Do With It: She grew up extremely poor — and fascinated by her mother’s record collection. And by the time she turned four, she knew she wanted to be a performer. Unfortunately, she was banned from making music, until she left home. She has also overcome being in an abusive and dysfunctional relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally walking through fire, as a result of a house fire. All of this inspired and informed her Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which was released earlier this year through Easy Eye Sound.

2019 has been a breakthrough year for the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay with an incredible array of career highlights that included:

playing a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW
making her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York 
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors 
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
and of course, as I mentioned earlier, the JOVM mainstay recently received a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas. 
Adding to a big year, Yola made her late night national television debut last night, performing the swooning and gorgeous album single “Faraway Look” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!  Interestingly, over the past year, the country soul singer/songwriter has made a soulful — and just flat out amazing — cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” one of my favorite Elton John songs, a staple of her live show. Yola performed that as well. I think the live footage will serve as a great taste of her live show. 

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.”

 

With the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s Take A Rest, the Bryon Bay, Australia-based electro pop act Tora, comprised of Thorne Davis (drums), Shaun Johnston (bass), Jo Loewenthal (vocals, guitar, samples) and Jai Piccone (vocals, guitar) quickly emerged into both their homeland’s national scene and internationally: the album was named one of triple j’s “Albums of the Week,” and album track “Another Case,” received regular rotation on the station.  The legendary Sir Elton John played tracks off the Aussie act’s debut on his Beats 1 Radio show — and Annie Mac did the same on her BBC Radio 1 show.  As a result, the act has amassed over 90 million streams globally. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Tora have toured nationally and across the UK and Europe with sold out sets in Melbourne, Paris and London, as well as playing across the international festival circuit with sets at Glastonbury Festival, Splendour in the Grass, Reeperbahn, The Great Escape, Best Kept Secret and others.

Building upon that growing profile, the Bryon Bay-based electro pop act released “Wouldn’t Be The Same,” a collaboration featuring Keelan Mak last year, which they’ve followed up with their first single of this year,  the slow-burning and atmospheric, Roy Kerr co-written and co-produced “Deviate.” The song is built around soulful and plaintive vocals, shimmering synths, twinkling piano, stuttering beats, a sinuous bass line and a languorous hook — and while sonically the song reminds me a bit of Lake Jons‘ impressive self-titled debut, the Aussie quartet’s latests single displays a considered and deliberate songwriting approach, while expressing longing for real and significant connection with oneself and with others. It’s written as a bit of a warning about how social media can distort your sense of reality, while making a great deal of your relationships frustratingly superficial and unfulfilling.

“We took the dynamic range in this song to the extreme, with some moments being filled to the brim with sounds and other moments containing merely a single layer,” the Aussie band says in press notes. “In all its simplicity, this is one of the most considered Tora songs to date, a song we feel proud to have completed, with an important message that we hope people can feel a connection with.”