Tag: Fleetwood Mac

Her Songs · Lost a Little (feat. Dani Murcia, Emily C. Browning, Emmavie, Marie Dahlstrom & The Naked Eye)

During the course of this year, I’ve written a bit about Her Songs, a multi-national collective of women artists that features:

  • Dani Murcia (vocals, piano, guitar, production), a Colombian-American, Miami-born, New York-based R&B/pop/soul singer/songwriter, whose lush harmonies and haunting melodies has been influenced by the likes of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, Kimbra and Matt Corby. Her latest EP Breaking Light consists of stories focusing on grieving her father’s suicide and searching for beauty in pain.
  • Emily C. Browning (vocals, guitar), a Christchurch, New Zealand-based indie soul artist influenced by the likes of Emily King, Lianne La Havas and Nai Palm. Her work features conversational-style lyrics, that offer a deep perspective and insight into the human experience.
  • Francesca Hole, a French-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as The Naked Eye (vocals, guitar). Influenced by Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Maya Angelou, Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo, Bruno Major and others, Hole’s work as she describes it, are autobiographical songs about life experiences, relationships and overcoming hardships that meshes elements of jazz, soul, folk and R&B. Her latest EP Love’s Grave was released last April.
  • JOVM mainstay, Marie Dahlstrom (vocals, piano, percussion and production), a Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, who has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac in her teenage years.Dahlstrom first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, eventually becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born singer/songwriter she has become an internationally recognized sensation, best known for crafting a warm and ethereal synthesis of jazz, classic soul and R&B. Interestingly, after successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist, the Roskilde-born, London-based singer/songwriter has been busy writing the material, which would eventually comprised her long-awaited full-length debut. Slated for release latest this year, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others.
  • Emmavie (vocals production), a London-based singer/songwriter and producer, whose work is an amalgamation of 90s R&B and her love for digital audio experimentation. She has built up a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, working with IAMNOBODI, Buddy, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Alfa Mist, Nick Grant and Jay Prince. Emmavie has had her work featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network-produced series Queen Sugar. And adding to a growing profile, the London-based singer/songwriter and producer was scouted by  DJ Jazzy Jeff, who flew her out to his house in Delaware to write and record music with Mac Ayres, Robert Glasper and Redman as part of the Playlist Retreat.

The collective can trace their origins to a conversation the five women shared on social media. Their debut 2018’s Los Angeles EP found the quintet crafting material that meshed elements of 90s R&B with contemporary electronic production. The collective’s highly-anticipated sophomore EP Toronto, Vol 1. is slated for an August 14, 2020 release. And if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout this year, you may recall that I’ve written about Toronto Vol. 1‘s first two singles: the Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom co-written “If We Try,”  a sultry 90s neo-soul-like track that manages to sound like a synthesis of Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, SWV, and Erykah Badu-like neo soul — and “I Wonder,” an atmospheric and contemplative song in which the collective’s five women envision worrying about what the world would look for their future grandchildren.

“Lost A Little” the EP’s third and latest track is a soulful and uplifting R&B influenced bit of pop that is simultaneously nostalgic and hopeful for the future, as the song’s narrators reflect on their individual pasts while excitedly traveling around the world to reunite with their dear friends — in this case, the collective’s overall excitement to head to Toronto to write and record music together.  The end result is an ode to wanderlust and the excitement of what you’ll learn about yourself in a new place, and of being able to experience that new place with your best pals. “After finally reuniting together in Toronto, we felt so reflective on the entire year since the previous Her Songs retreat in LA and ‘Lost A Little’ turned into a summery, feel-good wanderlust tune about traveling the world just to meet up again,” the collective’s Emily C. Browning says in press notes. The Naked Eye adds, “‘Lost A Little’ was the 1st song written on day 1 of the Toronto week. Exploring themes of creativity and travel, the lyrics describe how we meet once a year, in a new city to create with new eyes and fresh perspectives.”

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ten Fe Release a Spectral Cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart”

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the  London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Founded by primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the band expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of longtime friends and touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who Duncan knows from their days in Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums), who sat in with the band for the recording of their sophomore album Future Perfect, Present Tense. 

Thematically,  Future Perfect, Present Tense was a mediation on everything that has brought the members of the band to the writing and recording of their sophomore album — and everything that they’ve willingly (and in some cases perhaps, unwillingly) left behind to get there. Sonically, the album is a decided sonic departure from its predecessor with the material seemingly drawing from Fleetwood Mac and others, while retaining an uncanny ability to craft slick and rousingly anthemic hooks.

Recently, the JOVM mainstays have released a couple of covers — including their latest single, a cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” that finds the band turning the country-tinged dance floor anthem into a spectral and pastoral, folk meditation that brings Nick Drake and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra to mind. By stripping away the electronics, the British JOVM mainstays pull out the vulnerability, heartache and intimacy of the original out into the forefront while simultaneously revealing that the song is startlingly well-written.   

“I’ve always thought the song was really beautiful, and heard the intimacy and vulnerability in it,” the band’s Leo Duncan says in press notes,  “so we wanted to try and bring that out in our version, through the ghostly vocal arrangements and sparse instrumentation; we were trying to make it sound as if we recorded it in the middle of the desert. It’s such a good song, rearranging felt really natural.”

Directed, edited and produced by Niall Trask, the cinematically shot accompanying video for “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” is set in a set in an extremely English pastoral scene that manages to also hint at the American Wild West. “We wanted it it be evocative of the Wild West, as the music paints that picture; but also make it very English and pastoral – particularly, Cromwellian, when England seemed wild and lawless,” Leo Duncan explains in press notes. ‘. I did a rough storyboard, and Niall Trask was the perfect person to direct it as he’s really into that period of history, and we’ve often talked together about films set then such as Witchfinder General, A Field In England, etc. I really like the idea of delivering your heart to someone; I think everyone does this, symbolically, all the time – so it was wicked to try and show that literally in the video. I’m really happy how it came out!”

New Video: DG Solaris’ Much-Needed Blast of Playful Optimism

Danny Green is a London-based singer/songwriter, best known for his time fronting British folk pop act Laish. With Laish, Green released four critically applauded albums through French indie label Tailres, which he and his bandmates supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States. 

Last March Green’s life changed — he met his soon-to-be wife Leanna “LG” Green. And by December, the pair married. For their honeymoon, the Greens decided to spend six months traveling across South America with a simple recording set up that they carried with them in a backpack. And that’s how their newest project together DG Solaris began.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” DG Solaris’ core duo explain in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning to London after their honeymoon, the duo recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they wrote and demoed during their trip across South America. And the end result is the act’s forthcoming full-length debut, Spirit Glow which is slated for a June 19, 2020. Reportedly, the album is a focused development to Green’s songwriting with the material drawing from and meshing elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog in a unique fashion. Ultimately, the album’s material was written as a textural journey through different emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leana Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

Back in March, I wrote about the woozy album single “Brother, I’ll Ask Her.” Centered enormous and an expansive song structure  featuring a pastoral and slow-burning introduction, a lurching Fleetwood Mac and Nick Drake-like middle section and a krautrock-like coda with fluttering flute and synth arpeggios,  the track is a hallucinogenic fever dream that’s inspired by deeply personal experience: a painful shamanic experience they had in the Peruvian jungle. Interestingly, “Don’t Need to Tell You” is a decidedly upbeat song centered around a lushly textured arrangement of LG’s gorgeous and expressive vocals, shimmering acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths and flute, an infectious hook led by boy-girl harmonies, a supple bass line and propulsive drumming. And while clearly indebted to 70s psych folk and 60s bubble gum pop, the breezy pop confection accurately captures and evokes the giddy joy of new love. “We wanted to release something unflinchingly positive and happy during this difficult time. The song is an expression of unquestioning love for someone,” the Greens say. 

The recently released video for “Don’t Need to Tell You” is split between live footage of the band performing in little clubs, and footage of the adorably in love couple in South London’s Ruskin Park on a glorious day goofing off and enjoying each other. While playful, the video should be a reminder that when things are at their most difficult and their most bleak that we should lean on those we love. 

A Q&A with Jennifer Silva

Jennifer Silva is a Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter. Influenced by Stevie NicksAretha FranklinTori AmosThe Rolling StonesFlorence + The Machine and Alabama Shakes, the Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter has received attention for bringing a sensual and soulful energy to her live shows — and for lyrics that explore universal and very human paradoxes — particularly, the saint and sinner within all of us.

Silva’s debut EP was an EDM collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13 under the mononym Silva — but since the release of that effort, her material has leaned heavily towards singer/songwriter soul, rock and pop with 70s AM rock references, as you’ll hear on her most recent album, the Reed Black-produced Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth.

Silva’s latest single “I Wash My Hands” is a shimmering and gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock-like song centered around a fairly simple arrangement of guitar, bass, vocals and drums that’s sonically indebted to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Interestingly, the song was originally written as a weary lament over a major relationship that has come to an end – but the song manages takes on a heightened meaning, reflecting on a heightened sense of uncertainty and fear, suggesting that maybe Mother Earth is attempting to wash her hands of us.

The recently released video for “I Wash My Hands” was created during the mandatory social distancing and quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic – and it features Silva, her friends, family, bandmembers and voice students, separated by quarantine but connecting through the song.

I recently exchanged emails with Jennifer Silva for this edition of JOVM’s ongoing Q&A series – and naturally, we chat about her new single and video, her influences –including her love of Stevie Nicks, and her songwriting process. Of course, with governments across the world closing bars, restaurants, nightclubs and music venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the impact on the music industry – particularly on small and mid-sized venues, and the touring, emerging and indie artists who grace their stages, has been devastating. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ll be talking to artists about how the pandemic has impacted them and their careers. And in this interview, Silva reveals that the much-anticipated follow-up to Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth has been rescheduled, with her and her backing band figuring out how to finish it with the use of technology. Then add lost gigs and the uncertainty of when you’ll be able to play or promote your new work, and it’s a particularly urgent and uneasy time. But the dedicated will find a way to keep on going on for as long as they can.

Check out the video and the Q&A below.

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Photo Credit: Paxton Connors

Jennifer Silva_IWMH

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WRH: Much of the world has been in quarantine and adhering to social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. How are you holding up? How are you spending your time? Are you binge watching anything?

Jennifer Silva: The world is upside down right now and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for me.  Shock, depression, anger, acceptance — feels like the stages of grief sometimes! I really miss my friends and my social life. Playing shows, my band. The good news though, is that my family and I are safe, healthy and well stocked. We left Brooklyn right before it got really bad and headed upstate. So, I’ve been in the woods, pretty secluded, with limited cable news (thankfully) and some great outdoorsy vibes all around me.  I’m very lucky and I really can’t complain. I’ve been spending the time connecting with my family, homeschooling my daughters, cooking, knitting, reading and writing songs!  We’ve been living a simple life these days and that’s actually a great thing sometimes. I just started watching Ozark on Netflix, finally, which is perfect for this quarantine! I’m always down for an epic drug/murder/survival story. Oh, and wine.

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates. Most of the world has been on an indefinite pause. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?

JS: This has got to be the hardest part of it all for me. I’ve also had to cancel shows, but, most significantly, literally one week before the pandemic really hit NYC, I was in the studio with my band and producer (Reed Black of Vinegar Hill Sound) tracking my next record.  We spent two full days laying down all the music and scratch vocals for 10 tracks, and I was so hyped and excited for the next two months of recording all the overdubs, lead vocals, background vocals and getting that final mix completed. Now, we must wait. Luckily though, we have the rough mixes to listen to and some of my band members are working on and planning overdubs at home. It’s frustrating but I’m still so grateful to have had those days in the studio. What we have already, sounds amazing!

WRH: How did you get into music?

JS: I’ve been singing all my life.  My father played guitar around the house throughout my childhood, and so at a young age I was singing classic rock and soul music to my family. “The House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals), “Bring it on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke) and “To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees) were my first covers!

I also went to Catholic school as a girl where the nuns always made me sing the solos at the Christmas and Easter performances. And of course, I was singing in Church every week. That really helped shaped me as a singer because I was taught to belt without shame because it was a “gift”, so I have always been a loud singer, haha. I’m not religious anymore (thankfully), but man, I love me some Church hymns! And there is nothing like the acoustics in a Cathedral.

WRH: Who are your influences?

JS: I have so many influences from so many different genres of music.  The Animals, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and all of Motown were early loves of mine.

Then I had a whole Neo Soul moment, falling in love with singers like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Jill Scott. They definitely influenced me with their powerful female energy and style and the vocal choices they made. I also love 80’s and 90’s female badasses, like Tori Amos, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Hole, Garbage, Madonna and Annie Lennox. Artists with true points of view and the guts to say it.

I love Blues and Jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Ray Charles, Lead Belly. Their emotional rawness and vocal prowess has always been a guide.

Singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Tracy Chapman, T. Bone Burnett, Dolly Parton, Rufus Wainwright and Joni Mitchell have helped shape my lyric writing and storytelling. I love Lana Del Rey as well.

Vocalists like Amy Winehouse, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Stevie Nicks and of course, Aretha Franklin will always be the pinnacle of greatness for me. These artists INSPIRE me.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

JS: There is so much amazing music out right now. The talent level in this industry can be intimidating actually! Right now, we’ve been listening to a lot of indie rock and singer-songwriters like Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding, Töth, The Dø, Future Islands, Julia Jacklin, Sun Kil Moon, and Heartless Bastards.  And we are always playing The National and Arcade Fire. The Grateful Dead and Tom Waits are spun pretty regularly too around here. And of course, we’ve been listening to lots of John Prine since his recent passing from Covid-19.  What a loss.

WRH: I’ve probably referenced Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” more times than any other journalist in town. I think of a certain synth sound – and that song comes to mind. Plus, I love that song.

I know that Stevie Nicks is a big influence on you. What’s your favorite all-time Stevie Nicks song?

JS: One thing I really love about Stevie, which I read in her biography a few years ago (by Zoe Howe), and that I can totally relate to, was that she didn’t have any formal musical education. She just had her gorgeous melodies and emotional lyrics and really, just a simple catalog of basic chords.  Lindsey [Buckingham] would get frustrated with her because he’d have to finesse her songs so much to make them work. “Dreams,” for instance, only has 2 chords! But her songs were always their biggest hits. She tapped into an emotion and style and energy that people love and her voice is just absolutely unique and powerful. In a way, the reason she was so successful with her songwriting was because she wasn’t trapped in a musical box. She would write whatever she felt, and her uniqueness and melodies were memorable and beautiful. She inspires me so much! It’s nearly impossible to choose one favorite Stevie Nicks song, but I’ll go with “Edge of Seventeen.”  A close second is probably “Landslide.”

WRH: Your first release was an EDM-like collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13. Since then your sound has gone through a dramatic change. How did that come about?  How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with you and your sound?

JS: After my old band broke up in 2014, I was searching for new musical collaborations on Craigslist. I connected with Sizigi over email and we decided to make a song together.  One song led to four, over the course of a few months. I knew going in, EDM wasn’t going to be my personal sound forever, but I was down for the challenge of writing to existing beats and learning to record all my vocals at home with GarageBand. I bought a microphone and set up a vocal booth in my closet with towels on the doors to pad the sound.  I learned to edit. I love my lyrics and vocals on those songs, and I am very proud of the work I did. So, ultimately, I chose to have the record mastered and to release the 4 song EP independently. It was a stepping-stone for me.

The music I make now is all me though. I pen all of the lyrics and write the melodies on guitar, or sometimes I use my Omnichord (a vintage electronic harp/synthesizer from the 80s, which is AMAZING) and then my band brings it all to life!  My sound can be described as indie rock soul. I love the Alabama Shakes so that’s a decent comparison, I hope. The lyrics are evocative and dramatic, and the music is organic rock, but I always sing with soul. I also love to explore the saint and the sinner in all of us and tap into themes from my Catholic upbringing — like with “The Convent” from my last record Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth and “Purgatory Road” which will be on my next record. I am inspired by elements of the occult (tarot cards, following your intuition, voodoo) and I use nature and other metaphors to write about complicated relationships.

WRH: Rockwood Music Hall celebrated their 15th anniversary earlier this year. Sadly, during this century, existing 15 years as a venue in New York time is like 149 years. Rockwood Music Hall invited an All-Star list of artists, who have cut their teeth playing the venue’s three stages to celebrate. The bill that month included JOVM mainstay Anna Rose, acts that I’ve covered like Eleanor Dubinsky, Christopher Paul Stelling, The Rad Trads, Mike Dillon, Melany Watson, as well as Jon Baptiste. How does it feel to be included with those acts?

JS: It feels amazing! I am so lucky to have played a small part in Rockwood’s incredible history. It was an absolute honor to play the stage that night, and to join that list of talented artists. Rockwood Music Hall was the first place I ever played in NYC. I remember getting an early Saturday afternoon acoustic slot with my old guitarist and playing to a mostly empty room. It was still so damn exciting to me, the opportunity to play that famous stage.  Fast forward a few years later to my packed record release show on Stage 1 and then my graduation to Stage 2, last year. Rockwood has supported me since Day 1 and to help celebrate their anniversary, on the very stage where it all began for me, made me so proud!

WRH: Your Rockwood Music Hall set included a cover of one of my favorite Lead Belly songs ever “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” It’s one of those songs that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be covered a whole lot. So, what drew you to the song? And how much does the blues influence you?

JS: I have been listening to Lead Belly for a very long time. I only knew his version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and never actually heard Nirvana’s version until many years later, which is what I think most people think of when they hear that song these days. I used to love singing that song in the car with my boyfriend. We each took a verse. It always seemed so chilling and powerful and it really tells a story that leaves you wanting more. You are right though, it’s not covered a whole lot and when we first tried in rehearsal, we knew it would kill. Everyone really responds to that one.

I generally gravitate toward big singers. Full voices filled with heartache and soul and you get that in spades with the Blues.  The Blues are rooted in emotion and that kind of expression comes naturally for me. Lead Belly and Big Mama Thornton are definitely my favorite blues artists, but I also really dig Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Bessie Smith. I love how Bonnie Raitt, Larkin Poe and Gary Clark, Jr. are keeping that tradition alive and having success with Modern Blues too.

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

JS: I know a song is finished when I love the melody and lyrics enough to play it over and over again, day after day and when I can get lost developing the vocal runs. A good sign is when my family really responds to it as well. I also think nailing the bridge usually seals the deal for me. That’s when I write over my penciled lyrics and chords, in my black, Papermate flair pen and make it final!

I’m not a person who usually tinkers on a song for years though.  I write most songs in a few hours, or a couple of days or maybe, up to a week. I like to capture the emotion of a sentiment and get most of it right and then move on to the next song. In all honesty, the best songs write themselves in 10 minutes! I actually wrote my new single “I Wash My Hands” quickly like that.

WRH: Your latest single “I Wash My Hands” and its accompanying video officially drops today. It’s a gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock song, a weary lament of someone who’s desperate to move on from a relationship or some other major life tie. You wouldn’t have known this at the time, but the song has an eerie double meaning that reflects our current moment of uncertainty and fear. Curiously, how does it feel to have written something that initially was supposed to be about something specific that suddenly transforms into something altogether different?  

JS: Thanks. I think the lyrics are very relatable for anyone in a long-term relationship who understands that compromise and respect are needed for a couple to survive and more importantly, thrive. But in this unprecedented moment in our lives, that can also be said about humans and our planet. Fear of Covid-19 leaves us all washing our hands like never before, so now, this track also invokes Mother Nature’s demand for more respect. She is also washing her hands of our abuse, forcing us all to pause while she shows us just how powerful she is. It’s humbling.

WRH: The video for the song is pretty intimate almost home video-like visual, as it features a collection of loved ones, including family and friends lip synching along to the song – while they’re in quarantine. How did you come about the concept? And how did it feel to have your loved ones participate in the video?

JS: Last week, my brother Chris and I were talking on FaceTime, about the need for interconnectedness even while social distancing. We thought about how lonely people are, even though we are Zooming and chatting on the phone, more than ever.

We thought it would be really special if I could get some of my friends and family to lip-synch parts of this song and create a montage. Video production resources are limited here in quarantine, but everybody has a phone with a camera and time on their hands!

The video is like being on a Zoom call but this one makes me feel so happy every time I watch it! It’s all my favorite people singing my song. People in Brooklyn, California, Detroit, New Jersey, New England, and even as far as Kenya! Everyone just really came through and had fun with this project, including my voice students, family members and close friends. People I haven’t seen in two months or more! I don’t know when I’ll see them again frankly, but the video makes me feel connected to them and I think it makes them all feel connected to each other. I love it so much.

WRH: What’s next for you?

JS: While I’m quarantined, I’m going to keep making art. Keep writing music. Keep singing.

I’m also going to continue to work on my next album. Right now, the plan is to release it in the Fall, so I’ve got shows to book and all the pieces in between to plan. Follow me on Instagram (@sheissilva) for all updates, single and video releases and of course, details about the album release party and tour dates.

Please stay safe and healthy, everyone. I’m sending vibes to you all. We will get through this. And I think we will be stronger for it. And don’t forget to keep washing your hands!

 

Danny Green is a London-based singer/songwriter, best known for his time fronting British folk pop act Laish — and with Laish, Green released four critically applauded albums through French indie label Tailres and toured extensively across the UK, the European Union and the States to support each of those albums.

Green’s life changed when he met his soon-to-be wife Leanna “LG” Green last March. By December, Green and LG were married. For their honeymoon, they decided to spend six months traveling across South America with a simple recording set up that they carried in a backpack. And that’s how their newest project DG Solaris began.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we have been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” DG Solaris’ core duo explain in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning to London after their honeymoon, the duo recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they wrote and demoed during their trip across South America. The end result is the act’s forthcoming full-length debut Spirit Glow, which is slated for release in May. The album reportedly sees a more focused development to Green’s songwriting with the material mixing elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog in a unique fashion: the material is essentially a textural journey through different emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leana Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

Spirit Glow‘s latest single is the woozy and lurching “Brother I’ll Ask Her.” Centered around an expansive and mind-bending song structure — a pastoral and slow-burning introduction, a middle section that sounds like a synthesis of Fleetwood Mac and Nick Drake before ending with a krautrock-like coda with a motorik groove with flittering flute and arpeggios synths, the track is a hallucinogenic fever dream that draws from deeply personal experience: a painful shamanic experience in the Peruvian jungle. But what holds the whole thing together is the Greens’ unerring ability to craft an enormous and infectious hook.

 

 

 

Smokey Brights in a Seattle-based indie rock band fronted by husband and wife duo Kim West (keys, vocals) and Ryan Devlin (guitar, vocals) and featuring Luke Logan (bass) and Nick Krivchenia (drums). Interestingly, West a barred attorney and Devlin, who has a background in booking, publishing and the punk rock scene met working at a pizzeria during the summers while they were both in college. Much of their material draws from the duo’s transition from friends to life partners, touring in a van across the Pacific Northwest and being in love in an uncertain and uneasy world.

Developing a reputation for explosive live shows centered round warm, harmony rich, arena rock-inspired anthems, the Seattle-based indie act have earned themselves a devoted fanbase across the US, the UK and the European Union. And building upon a growing profile, the band has played sets at SXSW, Bumbershoot Festival, Sasquatch! Festival, Off Beat Festival and Treefort Music Festival.

Their forthcoming Andy Park-produced third album I Love You But Damn is slated for a May 15, 2020 release through Freakout Records. The album’s material was tirelessly demoed int their basement studio then road-tested — before the band went into the studio to record it. Reportedly, the new album reportedly finds the Seattle-based band carefully walking a tightrope between gritty Pacific Northwest rock, 70s AM rock and hook-driven arena pop.  “72,” I Love You But Damn‘s first single is an infectious, swooning and hook-driven pop track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, a bluesy guitar line and West’s expressive vocals along with clangs and thumps meant to replicate a bus crowded with commuters. And while sounding like a seamless synthesis of Fleetwood Mac and Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince, the song as the band explains is a love song that takes place on a now-defunct bass line — the 72 — which used to run through North Seattle around the time West and Devlin started to date.

Interestingly, the song finds the duo re-imagining their romantic reunion taking place on the city bus, as they’re both returning home from their respective dismal and mundane day jobs. The song features West’s narrator working up the courage to ask her former lover to come over. As a result, the song manages to evoke an uneasy sense of nostalgia and hope of potential second chances towards love — or anything else for that matter.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Her Songs. And as you may recall, the act is a multi-national collective featuring:

  • Dani Murcia (vocals, piano, guitar, production), a Colombian-American, Miami-born, New York-based R&B/pop/soul singer/songwriter, whose lush harmonies and haunting melodies has been influenced by the likes of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, Kimbra and Matt Corby. Her latest EP Breaking Light consists of stories focusing on grieving her father’s suicide and searching for beauty in pain.
  • Emily C. Browning (vocals, guitar), a Christchurch, New Zealand-based indie soul artist influenced by the likes of Emily King, Lianne La Havas and Nai Palm. Her work features conversational-style lyrics, that offer a deep perspective and insight into the human experience.
  • Francesca Hole, a French-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as The Naked Eye (vocals, guitar). Influenced by Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Maya Angelou, Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo, Bruno Major and others, Hole’s work as she describes it, are autobiographical songs about life experiences, relationships and overcoming hardships that meshes elements of jazz, soul, folk and R&B. Her latest EP Love’s Grave was released last April.
  • JOVM mainstay, Marie Dahlstrom (vocals, piano, percussion and production), a Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, who has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac in her teenage years.Dahlstrom first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, eventually becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born singer/songwriter she has become an internationally recognized sensation, best known for crafting a warm and ethereal synthesis of jazz, classic soul and R&B. Interestingly, after successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist, the Roskilde-born, London-based singer/songwriter has been busy writing the material, which would eventually comprised her long-awaited full-length debut. Slated for release latest this year, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others.
  • Emmavie (vocals production), a London-based singer/songwriter and producer, whose work is an amalgamation of 90s R&B and her love for digital audio experimentation. She has built up a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, working with IAMNOBODI, Buddy, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Alfa Mist, Nick Grant and Jay Prince. Emmavie has had her work featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network-produced series Queen Sugar. And adding to a growing profile, the London-based singer/songwriter and producer was scouted by  DJ Jazzy Jeff, who flew her out to his house in Delaware to write and record music with Mac Ayres, Robert Glasper and Redman as part of the Playlist Retreat.

The collective can trace their origins to a conversation the five women shared on social media. Their debut 2018’s Los Angeles EP found the quintet crafting material that meshed elements of 90s R&B with contemporary electronic production. Building upon a growing profile, the collective’s forthcoming sophomore EP Toronto, Vol 1. is slated for release later this year — and the EP’s first single, the Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom co-written “If We Try” is a sultry 90s neo-soul-like track centered around the quintet’s lush harmonies, shimmering keys, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. And in some way, the track will bring Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, Erykah Badu, SWV, Timbaland and others to mind.

”I Wonder,” Toronto, Vol. 1‘s second and latest single is an atmospheric and contemplative song centered around shimmering and strummed guitar, twinkling keys, soulful vocals, lush harmonies, and a soaring and infectious hook. While being the most straightforward R&B song the collective has released off the forthcoming EP, it’s a sobering contemplation of the act’s five women, thinking of their future grandchildren looking back at our current moment and wondering how the five women were like when they were young — and how their world was. “‘I Wonder,” the group says, “came about after a dinner table conversation on climate change, sharing our worries about what the future looks like for generations to come. It’s difficult to write political lyrics without preaching, so instead we focused on the perspective of youth and curiosity in 50 years’ time, looking back and wondering what it was like to fly in an aeroplane and see the ocean from the sky.”

 

 

 

Her Songs is a multi-national collective featuring:

  • Dani Murcia (vocals, piano, guitar, production), a Colombian-American, Miami-born, New York-based R&B/pop/soul singer/songwriter, whose lush harmonies and haunting melodies has been influenced by the likes of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, Kimbra and Matt Corby. Her latest EP Breaking Light consists of stories focusing on grieving her father’s suicide and searching for beauty in pain.
  • Emily C. Browning (vocals, guitar), a Christchurch, New Zealand-based indie soul artist influenced by the likes of Emily King, Lianne La Havas and Nai Palm. Her work features conversational-style lyrics, that offer a deep perspective and insight into the human experience.
  • Francesa Hole, a French-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as The Naked Eye (vocals, guitar). Influenced by Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Maya Angelou, Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo, Bruno Major and others, Hole’s work as she describes it, are autobiographical songs about life experiences, relationships and overcoming hardships that meshes elements of jazz, soul, folk and R&B. Her latest EP Love’s Grave was released last April.
  • JOVM mainstay, Marie Dahlstrom (vocals, piano, percussion and production), a Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, who has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac in her teenage years.

    Dahlstrom first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, eventually becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born singer/songwriter she has become an internationally recognized sensation, best known for crafting a warm and ethereal synthesis of jazz, classic soul and R&B. Interestingly, after successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist,the Roskilde-born, London-based singer/songwriter has been busy writing the material, which would eventually comprised her long-awaited full-length debut. Slated for release latest this year, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others.

  • Emmavie (vocals production), a London-based singer/songwriter and producer, whose work is an amalgamation of 90s R&B and her love for digital audio experimentation. She has built up a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, working with IAMNOBODI, Buddy, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Alfa Mist, Nick Grant and Jay Prince. Emmavie has had her work featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network-produced series Queen Sugar. And adding to a growing profile, the London-based singer/songwriter and producer was scouted by  DJ Jazzy Jeff, who flew her out to his house in Delaware to write and record music with Mac Ayres, Robert Glasper and Redman as part of the Playlist Retreat.

Interestingly, the collective can trace their origins to a conversation that the five women shared on social media. The collective’s debut EP 2018’s Los Angeles found the quintet crafting material that meshed elements of 90s R&B with contemporary electronic production. The collective begins 2020 with “If We Try,” the first single off their forthcoming, sophomore EP Toronto, Vol. 1. Co-written by  Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom, who share a mutual love of soul and R&B, the sultry and decidedly 90s neo-soul inspired track is centered around the quintet’s lush harmonizing, shimmering keys, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook manages to recall Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, Erykah Badu, SWV, Timbaland and others. 

“‘If We Try’ is about asking the person you love for a second chance,” Her Songs’ Marie Dahlstrom explains in press notes. “Sometimes people are quick to break relationships off when things get off rough, but this son his about finding strength in vulnerability. we live in a world of instant gratification and relationships can often feel replaceable. We wanted to chance the narrative: you get so much more when you try.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview: A Q&A with Rising Swedish Pop Duo Vargas & Lagola

Choosing the band name Vargas & Lagola because they thought the names sounded like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the Swedish songwriting, production and pop artist act comprised of Swedish Grammy-winning duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare features two of their homeland’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters and producers: the pair have had successful solo careers before teaming up to write hits for a who’s who list of electro pop and pop that includes MadonnaAviciiSwedish House MafiaDavid GuettaAxwell /\ IngrossoKaty PerryGhost, and Sia.

Founded back in 2017, the duo’s collaboration is a decided change in sonic direction from their previous output as the project finds the Swedish songwriters and producers experimenting with their own unique take on melodic alt-pop, which meshes elements of 70s Americana and Nordic melancholia. Coincidentally, as they started their own attention-grabbing project, the duo received accolades for co-writing Avicii’s “Without You” and “Waiting for Love,” which led to a Swedish Grammy Award win for Composer of the Year. Adding to a growing profile across the international electro pop scene, Al Fakir and Pontare performed their co-written hit “More Than You Know” with Axwell /\ Ingrosso at Coachella — and they played a key role in finishing Avicci’s posthumously released album TIM, contributing on three of the album’s songs.

Last year, I wrote about “Forgot To Be Your Lover,” a carefully crafted pop song that balanced easygoing AM rock, yacht rock breeziness and achingly melancholic nostalgia while sonically the track was centered around atmospheric synths, lush layers of shimmering and twangy, country-styled guitar lines. In some way, the song – to my ears at least – reminded me of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, but with an ambitious, arena rock feel.

The acclaimed and commercially successful Swedish pop duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the duo’s latest single “Someone That Understands Me” continues a run of ambitious, arena rock-like pop. Centered around shimmering acoustic guitar, achingly plaintive vocals, enormous hooks, thunderous drumming and a scorching, Purple Rain-era Prince-like guitar solo from Ludwig Goransson, the song is the contented sigh of a world-weary person, who has stumbled upon one of life’s rare gifts – finding someone like-minded, who truly understands and accepts you for you.

I recently spoke to the duo via email about the new single, which officially drops today, their soon-to-be released album and more. Check out new single and the Q&A below.

V&L_somebodythatunderstandsme_artwork

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WRH: How did you get into music?

Vincent Pontare: My father is a singer, so I got my first guitar from him when I was seven years- old.

Salem Al Fakir: I started to play violin and piano when I was three.

WRH: Who are your influences?

VP and SAF: We love all types of music! We have our roots in hip-hop/reggae/70s/60s but get most of the inspiration for VARGAS & LAGOLA from 70s Americana.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar with you and your work?

VP and SAF: Imagine if Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix had a kid that listened to Wu-Tang and loves to go to Burning Man, that’s us.

WRH: Who are you currently listening to?

VP and SAF: Khruangbin, Chet Baker, and Watain.

WRH: Can you name a couple of Swedish acts that should be getting love outside of Sweden but haven’t yet? And why should we know about them?

VP and SAF: VARGAS & LAGOLA. We feel that our type music is unrepresented out in the world at the moment.

WRH: The band is comprised of two, highly accomplished and incredibly successful solo songwriters and producers. What brought the two of you together to collaborate? And how has working together changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: We had met before through mutual friends and had the same booking agency and later on we shared the same studio for a month and then one day we said: we should try to write a song together!?

And the rest is history. . .

It’s a blessing to be two and in the same boat! When the other one is out of ideas or need a break the other one jumps in

WRH: Both of you have managed to write material for an impressive list of globally known pop artists. Has that work influenced or changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: I think success affects [sic] your compass for what works or not in a good way, you trust your gut feel[ing] and that’s the most important tool we have.

WRH: Your latest single “Somebody That Understands Me” features a guest spot from Ludwig Goransson. How did that come about?

VP and SAF:  You might think we already knew him cause we all are Swedes, but we didn’t’! We just fanboyed him up on Instagram and said, “Would you be up for trying a guitar solo on our upcoming single?” And he said “Yes.”

WRH: Speaking of “Somebody That Understands Me,” the track is one of those big, arena rock-friendly sentimental pop tunes with the sort of hook that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. In some way, the song kind of reminds me of Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince. So who and what influenced the song? Is it influenced by personal experience?

VP and SAF: We both have a soft spot for 90s arena rock, so we wanted to please ourselves for a second. Who doesn’t love a 12-string guitar riff!???

The song is about the beauty in finding like-minded people and a homage to thinking outside of the box in life in general. All types of music or genres we’ve been obsessed of comes from an underdog or rebellious perspective. So we wanted to get a little bit of that feeling into the lyrics and the production

WRH: Your highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. What should we expect from the album? 

VP and SAF: We want to give our fans a more nuanced palette of our musical landscape, so The Butterfly Effect is a piece in that puzzle.

WRH: What’s next for you?

VP and SAF: Promotion, touring and writing more music.