French-born international pop sensation JAIN exploded into the national and international scene with her full-length debut, Zanaka, which sold over one million copies globally. Her sophomore album 2018s Souldier, topped the charts in her native France, thanks to the success of hit single “Makeba” which led to her first Grammy nomination for Best Music Video — and to Rolling Stone naming her an “Artist You Need To Know,” writing that the “French singer mixes pop, Afrobeat and more influences in a winning combination.”
Her highly-anticipated third album The Fool is slated for an April 21, 2023 release through Columbia/Sony Music France. The album is reportedly a new chapter for the French pop sensation both musically and personally. Thematically, the album chronicles the stages one goes through when making a fresh start — fear, excitement, innocence, self-doubt/doubt, letting go, epiphany and more. While her previously released work meshed a myriad of genres, styles and instrumentation including Arabic percussion. African rhythms. electro pop, reggae, soul and hip-hop, The Fool draws heavily on influences like Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks.
JAIN also relies heavily on Tarot de Marseilles, one of the oldest and most popular tarot decks created — and an art her mother passed on to her. According to the French pop artist, tarot gives her the strength to jump into the unknown through an instinctive perception of the world’s dangers and possibilities.
The Fool‘s first single, album title track “The Fool” is a decidedly 80s pop-inspired song centered around a lush and almost painterly production featuring finger plucked strummed guitar, glistening synth oscillations, thumping beats paired with soaring strings and rousingly anthemic hooks. JAIN’s self-assured and gorgeous, pop star vocal is at the forefront of the mix, singing lyrics that reference The Fool card in the tarot. And as result, the song takes on a brave and hopeful look at the future, seeing it as the sort of grand adventure the you want to go on with a loved one, while sounding a
Directed by Jules Jolly, the video follows the French pop star on an incredible adventure through the universe and into the future. Visually, the video manages to bring fond memories of The Little Prince.
Acclaimed duo Brooklyn-based indie CLAVVS — Amber Renee and Graham Marsh — can trace their origins back to a chance meeting after they both separately decided at the last minute to attend a random house party.
Renee’s background is in Americana. Marsh cut his teeth working on Grammy-winning hits by Bruno Mars and Gnarls Barkley. But with CLAVVS the pair weave together the organic and synthetic in a way that brings comparisons to Sylvan Esso and Maggie Rogers — but with a glossier, mainstream sheen. And as a result, the pair has landed placements on MTV, PBS, a number of tastemaking playlists and played in stores like Urban Outfitters.
The duo are also behind the rising indie pop project dayaway. Renee is a water sign — and naturally she has an obsession with the ocean. Fittingly, the project was conceived over countless summer afternoons at Rockaway Beach. The songs she writes for dayaway frequently tell stories about love and loss, detailing heartbreak in summertime snapshots paired with hazy dream pop/New Wave-inspired soundscapes.
The duo’s latest single “hot blue summer” is a breezy and summery bop rooted in Renee’s achingly tender and ethereal delivery paired with buzzing and reverb-drenched guitars, bubbling electronics, twinkling keys and a razor sharp hook. The song evokes the blissful buzz of summer afternoons at the beach — but the uptempo poppiness of the song is a bit deceptive: The song actually acknowledges that despite the hopes and playfulness of summer and summer love, heartbreak is always around the corner.
Turkish production duo Artz & Bugy are chief architects of their homeland’s burgeoning hip-hop scene, having built the template for Turkey’s biggest rapper Ezhel on his full-length debut, 2017’s Müptezhel. Since Müptezhel‘s release, have further established an eclectic sound and style, which reveals their ability to infuse rap production with elements of trap, reggaeton and Afrobeat.
The duo are superstars in their native Turkey. And for the duo, two important question was left hanging over their heads: “What’s left? What’s next?” Well for the Turkish production duo, it turns out that — well, a lot is left and a lot is next. “There have been a few producers handling popular albums in the Turkish rap scene, and I made one of them. It was very successful from my point of view,” explains Artz. “That success afforded us so much power, plus the capacity and the potential to dream up ideas we couldn’t even think of before. Now, we ask ourselves, ‘Why not? Why limit ourselves to home?”
With their recently released debut EP We Survive, Artz & Bugy have set out to make a global effort that illustrates and celebrates their Turkish roots while adapting their styles to create familiar ecosystems for the artists they recruited and worked with. The EP features guest spots from Jamaican dancehall artist BEAM (FKA Tyshane), Detroit‘s finest Royce da 5’9.” Ezhel, and Grammy-nominated emcee Freddie Gibbs, which should prove that the duo can craft beats for a diverse and eclectic array of artists and styles. For the duo, the EP is an introduction to the larger world and a love letter to the hip-hop they grew up idolizing — and are now shaping in their own image.
EP single “War Zone” sees the rising, Turkish production duo teaming up with the aforementioned Freddie Gibbs. Gangsta Gibbs’ self-assured, dense and intricate bars full of braggadocio and street shit is paired with a menacing and uneasy production centered around twinkling and arpeggiated key, skittering trap beats and tweeter and woofer rocking low end. Simply put, this track is fucking flames. So, when will the trio collaborate on an album or something, huh?
Working with an American superstar like Freddie Gibbs wasn’t lost on the duo. While such a momentous get was something that they were one day picturing accomplishing, it’s surreal for them to hear one of the dopest emcees in the world spitting bars over their beats. “A couple years ago we were imagining what sort of beat we would be making for Freddie Gibbs,” Bugy explains. “When we got the chance, we just jumped on it, and he killed his part too.”
Initially starting her professional career as a member of The Polyphonic Spree and as a touring member of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, the Tulsa-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist and frontperson with her acclaimed project St. Vincent. Since the release of 2007’s full-length debut Marry Me, Clark’s work has continued to grow in stature and complexity with her self-titled fourth album winning a 2014 Grammy for Best Alternative Album, making her only the second female artist to ever win in that category.
Along with her work as a solo artist, Clark has collaborated with the legendary David Byrne on 2012’s Love This Giant, performed with the living members of Nirvana at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and da 2019 Grammy Awards duet with Dua Lipa.
Clark collaborated with co-producer Jack Antonoff on 2017’s critically applauded, smash hit album MASSEDUCATION, an album that landed on both the US and UK Top 10 Charts while landing at #1 of the Best of 2017 list of The New York Times and The Guardian — and placing high on the Best of 2017 lists of The AV Club, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Mashable, New York Daily News, NME, Paste, Pitchfork, Q, Stereogum, USA Today and a length list of others. 2018’s MassEducation found Clark collaborating with pianist Thomas Bartlett: Recorded over two nights in August 2017, the effort found Clark stripping back MASSEDUCATION’s material to its bare bones, revealing the vulnerable and earnest songwriting at their core.
MASSEDUCATION’s title track won a Grammy for Best Rock Song with the album winning another Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2019. As she was celebrating an enviable run of critical and commercial success, Clark’s father was released from prison. Clark began writing a new batch of materials which would become her soon-to-be released seventh album, Daddy’s Home. Daddy’s Home thematically closes the loop the loop on a journey that began with her father’s incarceration back in 2019 — and it ultimately led her back to the vinyl records her dad had introduced her when she was child — the gritty and sleazy rock records written and recorded in New York between 1971-1975.
Interestingly, Daddy’s Home’s latest single, “Down” is centered around a groove that’s simultaneously sultry and anxious with the track evoking images of the legendarily sleazy New York: in this case, a coke and booze fueled bender that starts at the local bar, features a stop at CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City to see Blondie or Ramones before heading off to Studio 54. Warhol is somewhere in this picture, right? Now, while some critics have compared the album’s overall aesthetic and sound to Young Americans-era Bowie and Prince, “Down” to my ears reminds me more of Station to Station and Lodger-era Bowie. It’s far more anxious and murkier with a bit of menace seeping through.
Co-directed by Clark and Bill Benz, the recently released video features Clark in Candy Darling-like regalia through an anxious chase that’s one part French Connection and one part drug-fueled, paranoid fever dream. It fits the song’s careening and glitchy groove perfectly.
Formed back in 2013, Mariachi Las Adelitas, features members originally from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and the UK – and is Europe’s first all-female mariachi band. Created by its members to shatter stereotypes within a very male-dominated genre, the septet features a collection of fantastic instrumentalists and no less than three lead vocalists. (That’s right, three!) Their repertoire includes the mariachi classics, as well as mariachi-styled arrangements of well-known and beloved classics — in English.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the sepet’s debut single “El Toro Relajo.” Rearranged by the band’s founder Anita Adelita (a.k.a. Anna Csergo) and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns, the gorgeous Mariachi Las Adelitas rendition reveals a super talented band that can really play – and a vocalist, who reminds me at points of a young Linda Rondstadt. Shortly, after the official release of the single, the members of Mariachis Las Adelitas played a streamed set at this year’s virtual International Women’s Mariachi Festival, where the official video for “El Toro Relajo” saw its world premiere.
The DIY video was filmed and edited during pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. And as a result, we see the individual band members performing – in full regalia – in their backyards, in their home studio set ups, in a local church or on the street. And there’s an adorable appearance by Csergo’s kids, also in full regalia dancing and stomping around in her backyard. It’s a homey family affair.
I recently conducted an emailed Q&A with Mariachi Las Adelitas’ founder Anita Adelita (a.k.a. Anna Csergo) – and we discussed women in mariachi, her and the band’s inspirations and aims, their recent International Women’s Mariachi Festival performance, their new video and more. Check out the video and the intenrview below.
WRH: I’ve mentioned this on Twitter: I happen to adore mariachi. Way before the pandemic, you’d occasionally come across a mariachi – in the full uniform, too! – on the subway. Every single one of them would be amazing, I can think of maybe one or two all-female mariachi groups here in the States/North America. Your group, Mariachi Las Adelitas is currently Europe’s only all-women mariachi act. So how rare is it to come across a female mariachi? And why is that the case?
Anna Csergo: Although now enjoying growth and recognition, female Mariachi bands are rare even in Mexico and the U.S, let alone in Europe.
Mariachi is traditionally a very male dominated genre, perhaps it doesn’t help in a society where women are traditionally the main caregivers to children, that gigs are often last minute, late at night, at dawn, and sometimes with a very drunk clientele!
Female mariachi bands are not a new phenomenon however. The original Mariachi Las Adelitas was formed in Mexico in 1954.
WRH: How did you get into mariachi?
AC: I was already intrigued by mariachi firstly due to the prominent violin sections and then by all of the rhythmic elements slotting together, and the power in the vocals and the trumpets! So, when I saw an advertisement in a local paper, I replied straight away . . . the rest is history!
WRH: What is the inspiration behind Mariachi Las Adelitas? What do you and the other women in the group hope to achieve?
AC: The warrior women of the Mexican revolution, known as the ‘Adelitas’ or ‘Soldaderas‘ are our greatest inspiration. These women, despite their caring duties, took to arms in the frontline alongside the men, and were pivotal in revolution’s success.
The black and white photos of these women holding a rifle in one hand and a baby in the other are mind-blowing.
We hope to empower and inspire women from all nationalities, and young men too, to know that anything is achievable.
Being a woman or a mother or coming from any background doesn’t have to limit your expectations or the possibilities available to you as a professional.
WRH: The band does a mix of the mariachi standards along with mariachi renditions of beloved and familiar classics in English. How do you pick the songs in your repertoire? How do you go about rearranging a song?
AC: We pick songs that strike a chord with us. It’s not difficult in a genre which easily stirs up the whole spectrum of emotions and has so many amazing rhythms to choose from.
The most important thing for us is to ensure that we are respectful and faithful to the genre in our arrangements.
We didn’t want to do straight covers of English songs with only our instruments and mariachi suits making the difference. We wanted to do everything to remain faithful to traditional mariachi style even when covering non-mariachi songs. I think that is a unique feature of our band.
WRH: The band features women from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Italy and the UK. With pandemic-related lockdowns affecting everything and everyone, how have you and your bandmates managed to remain creative. How has your creative process changed as a result?
AC: It was deflating to suddenly lose all of our work and suddenly not see one- another anymore. When a musician stops practising his or her art something falls apart inside. We are hugely grateful to Arts La’Olam organisation who secured funding for us from Arts Council England so that the musicians could be paid a fee for their recordings. Although initially it was just going to be ‘amateur’ lockdown videos, the purchase of some very basic recording equipment (mic and soundcard) made it possible to create quality audio recordings from our homes on a budget. We are very pleased with the results and are now inspired to keep going!
WRH: How was it like to record remotely?
AC: It was a challenge since it was very hard to explain exactly the feel I was looking for and then make revisions after the musicians had sent in their recordings.
It will definitely be easier to be with the musicians when recordings are made in future. Here’s hoping Covid19 conditions allow!
WRH: How do you and your bandmates balance being a mother with professional and creative work?
AC: It is certainly not easy! I fell pregnant with my triplets soon after forming the band and had their baby brother within less than 2 years. For the first few years it really was about survival for the band as well as for the children! To be honest, I really don’t understand how we managed it, we literally scraped through somehow!
Now the children are a little older we try whenever possible to rehearse during the school or nursery day, but there are many times when they are with us for rehearsals and even performances. Luckily, they have learnt to love and respect what we do, often pulling out their little instruments and joining in with the noisemaking or coming up onto the stage and dancing!
WRH: You recently participated in the International Mariachi Women’s Festival for the second time. How did that go for the band?
AC: It’s an absolute honour for us to be slotted between Jose Hernandez from Sol de Mexico‘s Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles and twice Grammy award-winning Mariachi Divas! We are just a drop in the ocean and have been self-taught through listening to recordings and watching YouTube, so to have our music featured in between these two institutions is surreal! Thanks to the organiser of the festival and founder of the Mariachi Women’s foundation Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez for coming to London, finding us and believing in us!
WRH: This year’s International Mariachi Women’s Festival also featured the premiere of the video for “El Toro Relajo.” The video was also shot and edited remotely. The video features your four children dressed up in Mexican outfits and dancing in your garden. it’s adorable. How did the video treatment come about? How was the video received?
AC: As with the audio, the video was shot in or around our own homes during lockdown. Schools were shut and our children were with us 24/7. Mine wanted to join in so instead of resisting I had them dress up in their Mexican outfits and dance around in the garden. A short clip of the video has been available for a few days on Facebook and has already had a crazy number of views, let’s hope the audio and full video do just as well!
WRH: What’s next for the band?
AC: Our next step is definitely to continue the process and complete our first album. In pre-pandemic times we were so busy with gigs and special requests and our own families that recording has always taken a back seat. So, we are using the pandemic as an opportunity to focus on creating and recording.
I’ve written quite a bit about the Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Kevin Parker and his acclaimed solo recording project Tame Impala. And as you may recall, his third album, 2015’s Currents was a commercial and critical breakthrough as it was a Grammy-nominated, RIAA Gold-Certified effort that reflected a decided change in songwriting and approach that resulted in some of the most emotionally direct lyrics of his growing catalog paired with a more nuanced, textured sound that drew from psych rock, psych pop, synth pop, prog rock and R&B.
“Patience,” which was released last month, was the first bit of new, solo material from Parker in several years, and while being a decidedly upbeat banger that seamlessly bridged 90s house and 70s funk, thematically the track was a thoughtful meditation on the cycles and phases of life. “Borderline,” Parker’s latest single is a blissed out, shimmering, mid-tempo track centered around arpeggiated synths, Parker’s imitable, plaintive falsetto and a soaring hook. And while showcasing the flourishes of the house music-inspired instrumentation of its predecessor, the track should serve as a reminder that Parker has a deep collection of hook-driven bangers.
With the release of his first two albums, Innerspeaker and Lonerism, the Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Kevin Parker quickly received national and international attention for his psych pop solo recording project Tame Impala. 2015’s Currents though, was a commercial and critical breakthrough: the Grammy-nominated, RIAA Gold-Certified album reflected a decided change in songwriting that resulted in some of his most emotionally direct lyrics paired with a more nuanced, textured sound that drew from psych rock, psych pop, synth pop, prog rock and R&B.
“Patience” is the first bit of new, solo material from Parker in a few years, and the mid-tempo track is a seamless synthesis of classic 90s house music and 70s funk, soul and disco that features shimmering and arpeggiated synths, piano jabs, a motorik groove, congo-led percussion and a soaring and rousingly anthemic hook paired with Parker’s imitable, falsetto croon. And while being a decidedly upbeat banger, the song is centered by a thoughtful meditation on the cycles and phases of life, in which the song’s narrator makes peace with the fact that everything and everyone is transient.