Tag: Hong Kong

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lucid Express Release a Trippy Visual for Shimmering and Lush “North Acton”

Hong Kong-based shoegazer outfit and newest JOVM mainstays Lucid Express — Kim (vocals, synths), Andy (guitar), Sky (guitar), and siblings Samuel (bass) and Wai (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2014: the then-teenagers started the band (initially known as Thud), in the turbulent weeks before the Umbrella Movement, the most recent in a series of tense pro-democracy protests against the increasingly brutal state-led suppression in the region. Amidst the constant scenery of tear-gassed, bloodied and beaten protestors, politically-targeted arrests and death threats from government officials, the five Hong Kong-based musicians met in a small practice space sun the remote, industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood. 

Despite the ugliness of their sociopolitical moment, the Hong Kong-based outfit manages to specialize in an ethereal and shimmering blend of indie pop, dream pop and shoegaze with their practice space being someplace where they could escape their world. “At that time, it felt like we have [sic] a need to hold on to something more beautiful than before. Like close friendships, the band, our creation,” the band’s Kim says in press notes. 

The band’s current name can be seen as a relatively modest mission statement describing the band’s intent: their use of the word lucid is in the poetic sense of something bright and radiant. Essentially, Lucid Express operates as the service to take the listener on a journey through their lush, dreamy and blissful sound. Interestingly, their material often manages to evoke the mood of its inception: with the band’s members working late-night shifts, their rehearsal and recording schedules found the band playing, writing and recording material between midnight and 4:00AM — and then crashing for a few hours in the studio, before heading back to their jobs.

The Hong Kong-based JOVM mainstay’s 10-song, self-titled, full-length debut officially dropped today. And as you may recall, the album’s material thematically touches upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult and desperate times. Over the past handful of months I’ve written about three of the album’s singles in the lead-up to its release:

“Wellwave,” a sculptured and lush soundscape centered around Kim’s ethereal vocals, glistening synths, skittering four-on-the-floor and a motorik groove — with the end result being a song that reminded me quite a bit of Lightfoils, Palm Haze and Cocteau Twins but while feeling like a lucid fever dream. 
“Hollowers” the only collaborative track on the album as it features The Bilinda Butchers‘ Adam Honingford, who contributes his baritone to the song’s chorus. Interestingly, the track found the Hong Kong-based outfit pushing their sound towards its darkest corners. While prominently featuring shimmering synth arpeggios and shimmering guitars, the song’s emotional heftiness comes from its stormy, feedback driven chorus. 
“Hotel 65” a song that alternates between shimmering and ethereal verses and anthemic choruses featuring thunderous drumming and feedback drenched power chords. And while evoking a brewing storm on the horizon, the song lyrically name drops the guesthouse where Lucid Express’ frontperson Kim Ho stayed in while visiting the UK — and speaks of a relationship that should have never happened between two strangers, who both know that their time together will only be brief moment.

“North Acton,” the self-titled album’s opener — and fifth and latest single — continues a run of sculptured and painterly lush soundscapes, but this time paired with a propulsive and energetic four-on-the-floor. Seemingly nodding at 4AD Records beloved heyday, “North Acton” serves as the perfect introduction to the band and their sound while arguably be one of the album’s most upbeat and hopeful singles.

The recently released video for “North Acton” features trippy collage-based artwork by London-based artist Nick Scott (who also designed the album’s cover art) that takes the viewer on a psychedelic journey through his hometown and landscapes featuring oceans, mountains and clouds — all seen in neon-colored negatives.

New Audio: Lucid Express Teams Up with The Bilinda Butchers’ Adam Honingford on Their Most Brooding Snigle to Date

Rising Hong Kong-based indie outfit Lucid Express — Kim (vocals, synths), Andy (guitar), Sky (guitar), and siblings Samuel (bass) and Wai (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2014: the then-teenagers formed the band in the turbulent weeks just prior to the Umbrella Movement, the most recent in a series of tense pro-democracy protests against increasingly brutal state-led suppression in their home region. Amidst the constantly scenery of tear-gassed, bloodied and beaten protestors, politically-targeted arrests and death threats from government officials, the five Hong Kong-based musicians met in a small practice space sun the remote, industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood. 

Despite the ugliness of their sociopolitical moment, the band manages to specialize in an ethereal and shimmering blend of indie pop, dream pop and shoegaze with their practice space being someplace where they could escape their world. “At that time, it felt like we have [sic] a need to hold on to something more beautiful than before. Like close friendships, the band, our creation,” the band’s Kim says in press notes. 

The band’s name can be seen as a relatively modest mission statement describing the band’s intent: their use of the word lucid is in the poetic sense of something bright and radiant. Essentially, Lucid Express operates as the service to take the listener on a journey through their lush, blissful and dreamy sounds. Unsurprisingly, their material manages to carry the mood of their inception: with the band’s members working late-night shifts, their rehearsal and recording schedules found the band playing, writing and recording material between midnight and 4:00AM, and then crashing for a few hours in the studio before going back to work. 

The end result is the band’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut. the 10-song album thematically touches upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult times. Of course while writing and recording together served as a unifying and soothing presence for the members of the band, their music fell victim to their complicated circumstances: The pervasive uncertainty over Hong Kong’s sociopolitical future created an overwhelming feeling of depression that found its way into the local music scene. Shows were cancelled and releases delayed. And for a time, it just didn’t feel relevant to promote music. 

While there’s much to be fought for at home, the members of the rising indie rock act have recently begun to feel a fresh hope in their work. They’ve felt as though they’ve reached an understanding of their music’s place amongst the world it inhabits — and they’ve decide to release their full-length, self-titled debut through Kanine Records on July 16, 2021. 

So far, the act has received glowing praise from Time Out for their “dreamy live performances” with their debut single “Lime” receiving praise from Drowned In Sound, NME and others. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the Hong Kong shoegazers released the self-titled album’s second single “Wellwave,” a sculptured and lush soundscape centered around Kim’s ethereal vocals, glistening synths, skittering four-on-the-floor and a motorik groove — with the end result being a song that reminded me quite a bit of Lightfoils, Palm Haze and Cocteau Twins but while feeling like a lucid fever dream.

Building up more buzz for the forthcoming album’s release, the album’s third single “Hollowers” finds the Hong Kong-based quartet subtly pushing their sound towards its darkest corners — while also being the album’s only collaborative track: the features The Bilinda Butchers’ Adam Honingford, who contributes his baritone to the track’s chorus. Interestingly, their collaboration can be traced back to when Lucid Express shared a bill on the Hong Kong stop of a Bilinda Butchers tour to the region and as the members of Lucid Express share, they’ve been mutual fans since that show. “From the first time we heard Adam on stage in Hong Kong, we always wanted to ask him to sing on one of our songs,” Kim explains. During the album’s writing sessions, “Hollowers” began to take shape as a song that might offer the perfect opportunity to collaborate.

And although the song features shimmering synth arpeggios, shimmering guitars, the track’s stormy feedback driven chorus give the song its emotional heft, keeping the material grounded in an uncertain reality. Thematically, the song finds its narrator coming to terms with the gnawing realization that even if two people have all the passion of the world, a lack of deeper understanding can leave a relationship with finite time on the clock.

New Video: KAYE Releases an Epic Sultry and Cathartic Visual for “Howl”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Charlene Kaye, a rising New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who spent her childhood in some rather far-flung places across the globe — living in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and Michigan all before she turned 18. And although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was always one consistent thing: her parents’ old soul records and 90s grunge radio, both of which have heavily influenced her own work and career.

Initially starting her career as a solo artist, Kaye is best known for a five year stint as the frontwoman of acclaimed indie act San Fermin, contributing to 2015’s Jackrabbit and 2017’s Belong, which were supported with touring internationally, including sets across the global festival circuit. While touring with San Fermin to support Jackrabbit, Kaye started her latest solo recording project KAYE, releasing a handful of singles and KAYE’s debut EP 2016’s Honey. Last year, Kaye left San Fermin to fully concentrate on her solo career. 

The rising New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer started off the year with the Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This,” a bold and self-assured feminist pop anthem indebted to Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson that thematically touched upon lust, desire, longing, idealization, fantasy, self-preservation and centered around a narrator, who gives herself only on her terms. “Too Much,” Kaye’s second single of the year, continued a run of boldly feminist anthems centered around narrators, who have asserted themselves on their own terms — while being a decidedly electro rock affair that brought St. Vincent and Garbage to mind. 

“Howl,” Kaye’s third and latest single off the year, is a slow-burning and sultry track that finds its creator delving deep into the darkest recesses of her psyche with an unflinching and fearless honesty. And a result, the song’s narrator manages to be boldly self-assured yet insecure, fearless yet afraid to accept a loss of control, as well as accept who she may really be — someone who may not always be willing to sacrifice or settle, if it doesn’t serve her needs or what her particular vision is. “Cheryl Strayed has this quote—‘You can’t fake the core. It’s a god we must obey, a force that brings us all to our knees,'” Kaye says in press notes. “It got me thinking about how we’re always told to listen to our gut, our intuition – but what if our purest impulses are evil or self-serving, that may cause harm to those we love? What is the cost of choosing oneself?”

Interestingly, the release of “Howl” comes with the announcement of the title of her forthcoming and highly awaited full-length album — Conscious Control. “I named this album Conscious Control because my big lesson of the last few years has been abandoning my rational mind to guide my decisions, even if they made no sense at the time…throwing myself into uncertainty for the sake of getting closer to myself, even if it comes at great personal cost,” Kaye explains. “Letting this ethos guide my songwriting as well has yielded the boldest, deepest work I’ve ever done.”

Co-directed and edited by Kaye and Deborah Farnault, the recently released video for “Howl” not only marks the rising singer/songwriter and guitarist’s directorial and editorial debut, the video may arguably be the most disarming and visceral visual piece Kay has released to date: the video follows the rising artist around the California desert with a gorgeous, 40-foot long purple cape, luxuriously billowing behind her, digging into the sand and howling like a feral animal, and shredding on a mirror-covered Flying V guitar that she created. And much like the accompanying song, the visual evokes a unique feminine vulnerability and strength while being cathartic — a howl of grief, rage, self-loathing and passion, shot with a gorgeous fashion forward sensibility. 

New Audio: New York-based Pop Artist KAYE Releases a Performance Art Inspired Visual for Anthemic “Too Much”

Charlene Kaye is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who spent her childhood in some rather far-flung places across the globe — living in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and Michigan before she turned 18. Although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was one consistent thing: her parents old soul records and 90s grunge radio, both of which have heavily influenced her own work and career.

Initially starting her career as a solo artist, Kaye is best known for a five year stint as the frontwoman of acclaimed indie act San Fermin, contributing to 2015’s Jackrabbit and 2017’s Belong, which were supported with touring internationally, including sets across the global festival circuit. While touring with San Fermin to support Jackrabbit, Kaye started her latest solo recording project KAYE, releasing a handful of singles and KAYE’s debut EP 2016’s Honey. 

Last year, Kaye left San Fermin in order to fully concentrate on her solo career.  Late last month, Kaye began the year with the Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This,” a bold and self-assured feminist pop anthem seemingly indebted to Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson while thematically touching upon lust, desire, longing, idealization and fantasy and self-preservation, as it features a narrator, who will only give on her terms. “Too Much,” Kaye’s latest single continues an ongoing run of feminist anthems featuring narrators, who have asserted themselves on their own terms. However, unlike its immediately predecessor, “Too Much” is a decidedly electro rock affair that brings St. Vincent and Garbage to mind, thanks in part to some blistering guitar rock and an arena rock friendly hook. 

“I wrote this song to make sense of a period of great emotional confusion in my life,” Kaye explains in press notes. “I had made many drastic changes at the same time regarding my career and my relationships and was left feeling totally unanchored, like I just blew up my life for no reason — even though at my core I knew it was necessary for my own growth.”

Directed by Kaye’s sister Liann Kaye, the recently released video for “Too Much” is inspired by Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance art work “Cut Piece,” in which Ono sits on a stage wearing her best suit, inviting audience members to cut and keep a piece of her clothing until she is completely exposed. Instead of having others remove pieces of her outfit, in the video Kaye is the agent of her metaphorical destruction and rebirth. Kaye’s outfit, which is made up of thousands of individual pieces of fabric that took hours to arrange on her body — and in the video we see pieces of her outfit get torn off, danced off and just fly off until we see the rising pop artist in a nude-colored outfit. 

“I love working with my sister because we’re so in sync creatively, and immediately understand what the other is trying to express.” Liann Kaye shares in press notes. “We shot each part of the song at a different speed, to show how the re-invention of one’s self can feel at once excruciatingly slow and like a freight train of change at the same time.”

New Video: New York-based Pop Artist Kaye Releases a Sultry Visual for Feminist Anthem “Closer Than This”

Charlene Kaye is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who spent her childhood in some rather far-flung places across the globe — living in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and Michigan before she turned 18. Although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was one consistent thing: her parents old soul records and 90s grunge radio, both of which have heavily influenced her own work and career.

Initially starting her career as a solo artist, Kaye is best known for a five year stint as the frontwoman of acclaimed indie act San Fermin, contributing to 2015’s Jackrabbit and 2017’s Belong, which were supported with touring internationally, including sets across the global festival circuit. While touring with San Fermin to support Jackrabbit, Kaye started her latest solo recording project KAYE, releasing a handful of singles and KAYE’s debut EP 2016’s Honey. 

Last year, Kaye left San Fermin in order to fully concentrate on her solo career. The New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer begins 2020 with the  Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This.” Centered around Kaye’s sultry cooing, layers of synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a fiery guitar solo and an infectious, radio friendly hook, “Closer Than This” is a bold, self-assured feminist pop anthem that sounds indebted to 80s synth funk and synth pop — in particular, Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson. And at its core, the song touches upon lust, desire, longing, idealization and fantasy and self-preservation, as it features a narrator, who will only give on her terms. 

“There are a lot of narratives in much about women expressing their longing for commitment and relationships, but I had a specific experience where that wasn’t the case. I think women especially are sold this idea that if they’re not giving constantly, they’re innately bad,” Kaye explains in press notes. “This song is about a time when I didn’t want to give to anybody but myself.” 

Directed by Kaye’s sister Lianne Kaye, the equally sultry video sees Charlene Kaye take on a boldly dominant role, where we see her take the lead in her relationships, essentially using the men in the video for her own pleasure.  “The concept was originally inspired by Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ video where the people in this creepy house are seen mostly by way of their limbs and physicality,” Kaye explains. “Our video features me keeping these four men in captivity—they’re giving me lap dances and letting me have my way with them and I’m using them for my own pleasure, basically. Liann [Kaye, who directed the video] and I liked that gender-swap idea, where in so many hip hop videos you see rappers with these video girls giving them lap dances and doing whatever the man wants. We wanted to flip that visual and show people a powerful woman in control instead.“

Born Tessa Violet Williams in Chicago, the up-and-coming, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter and vlogger, Tessa Violet can trace the origins of her music career to a school project in which she began daily vlogging in 2007 for a school project with the screen name Meekakitty while working in Hong Kong and Thailand as a model; however, by 2009 Williams quit modeling and relocated to New York, to focus on her vlog, which primarily focused on storytelling, skits and music videos — particularly, fan-made music videos for popular artists like Reliant K, Family Force 5 and MIKA.

Wiliams gained national attention after winning $100,000 in a YouTube competition by receiving the most comments on her video entry.  In 2011, Williams was featured in fellow YouTube creator Nanalew’s fan-made “Sail,” which went viral and has amassed over 310 million views. In 2012, The Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter followed her appearance in “Sail” by appearing in the video for Family Force 5’s “Cray Button,” and then directing the act’s video for “Chainsaw,” which featured Tedashii.

By 2013 Williams began to focus on writing, recording and releasing music and the focus on her YouTube channel shifted to her original music, eventually leading to her dropping the Meekakitty moniker and using her real name Tessa Violet across all of her online platforms.

So far the past year or so has been a breakthrough, whirlwind year for the up-and-coming Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop artist: she’s released two critically applauded singles “Crush” and “Bad Ideas” — “Crush” has amassed over 18 million Spotify streams and the video has received over 36 million views. “Bad Ideas” became a viral hit. As result of the success of those two singles, Williams toured with her first live, backing band, which featured Jess Bowen (drums) — and that tour included her first sold-out headline shows at Los AngelesThe Troubadour and the Mercury Lounge. 

Building upon an exploding profile, she just finished her first UK tour, which featured a sold out London show, and Billboard featured her as one of 10 new festival artists to look out for this year. She was also named the first YouTube Foundry Artist of 2019 — and she’ll be making her Lollapalooza debut this year. Her full-length album Bad Ideas will be released one song a month or so throughout the year, and the album’s third and latest single “I Like (The Idea of) You” recently premiered on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist and YouTube Music’s Pop Before It Breaks playlist. Centered around a disco meets New Wave-like bass line, the Chicago-born, Nashville-based pop artist’s latest single is a sultry and coquettish, late night strut that recalls DFA Records heyday.

“I was seeing this guy at the time, who I knew wasn’t into me. And even though I could see that, it was still so much fun to think and obsess about him,” Tessa Violet says of the song. “Replaying the way he said my name on the phone, imagining what I would wear or say the next time I saw him, thinking of things I could write about him. I remember that I could logically see it wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought maybe I should feel embarrassed about how much time I was spending on him. But it didn’t make me feel embarrassed, it made me feel sexy and powerful. So what if they’re not that into me? I like the idea of it and I’m going to enjoy that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you have most likely come across a handful of posts on Simon Green, a Brighton, UK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based DJ, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and electronic music artist, who has written, recorded and performed under the moniker of Bonobo. Interestingly, Green had long been considered part of a movement of producers, multi-instrumentalists and electronic music artists, who specialized in a sleek, hyper-modern and downtempo-leaning electronic music that included  Four Tet, Jon Hopkins, Caribou and others; however, with the release of his critically applauded 2013 release The North Borders Green revealed a decided change in his compositional approach in which he frequently paired electronic production with lush and stunning arrangements featuring organic instrumentation — wth the end result being a sound that possessed a cinematic quality.

The North Borders was also part of a larger, growing trend among many electronic music artists and producers to not only create a much more evocative and nuanced sound but an attempt to remind listeners, fans and critics that there was actual musicality within their productions besides a person haphazardly tapping away at a laptop or turning buttons and dials on a sampler or a processor.

Since the release of The North Borders, Green has been both extremely busy and rather prolific — he released the Flashlight EP at the end of 2014 while during what would turn out to be a two year period of intense touring across the globe. Green somehow managed to find the time to write and recored the material off his sixth full-length album Migration, which was released earlier this year. Naturally, with an album titled Migration, the material thematically focused on migration. As Green remarked in press notes “It’’s interesting how one person will take an influence from one part of the world and move with that influence and effect another part of the world. Over time, the identities of places evolve.” And as a result, the material seemed to possesses a transitory nature — some of the material, including album single “Kerala,” was initially composed while on the road and then was road-tested and revised during Stateside DJ sets. Adding to the album’s transitory nature, it featured guest spots from a number of artists, who have emigrated at some point themselves, including Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based vocalist Michael Milosh of Los Angeles-based indie pop act Rhye, who recorded his vocal tracks while in Berlin, Germany; Australian-born, Brooklyn-based global, indie pop sensation Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker, who bonded with the British producer over a shared love of disco; Florida-born, Los Angeles-based Nicole Miglis of Los Angeles-based act Hundred Waters; and the New York-based Moroccan collective Innov Gnawa among others. Adding to the album’s transitory nature, Green also employs the use of found sounds that include a Hong Kong elevator, rainfall in Seattle, an Atlanta-based tumble dryer and a New Orleans fan boat engine.

After completing successful tours across both the European Union and North America to support Migration, Green announced the release of a 3 song EP/single package that features album single “Bambro Koyo Ganda,” an analog version of “Bambro Koyo Ganda” that finds Green stripping the song’s production and sound to the bone — retaining a propulsive, undulating pulse and Moroccan-born, New York-based band Innov Gnawa’s vocals and handclap-led percussion, highlighting the hypnotic groove and vocals. EP closing track “Samurai” was written and recorded during the Migration sessions, and consists of a stuttering vocal sample floating over a sinuous production featuring shuffling drum programming and shimmering, subtly arpeggio synth and wobbling low end. And much like the material from the recording sessions it came from, the song should remind listeners of how much Green’s work draws from classic house and soul, while being paradoxically sensual, intimate and yet cinematic.

 

 

New Video: The Surreal and Sexual New Visuals for Collapsing Scenery’s “Straight World Problems”

Comprised of Don De Vore, who has spent stints in a number of indie rock acts, including Sick Feeling, Ink and Dagger and others and Reggie Debris, the Brooklyn-based electronic duo Collapsing Scenery can trace their origins back to the summer/fall of 2013, one of a series of summers in which humanity seemed to be inching closer to the precipice of self-annhiliation. And inspired by those particularly bleak days, the De Vore and Debris put aside their guitars, the instruments they’d first learn to play music and on which they were most comfortable and most well-versed, and began assembling as much analog electronic equipment as possible — including samples, step sequencers, synths and drum machines, all plugged into a variety of effects pedals. Interestingly, De Vore’s and Debris’ music and creative process reportedly represents the world as the band wishes the world were: mischievous, polyglot, intense, committed, politically engaged, free, open and without boundaries or hierarchies.

With their initial and recording sessions being largely improvised and accompanied by Ryan Rapsys (drums), the material they wrote together expressed their rage and frustration — and while being an electronic outfit, their sound and material draws from punk rock, industrial electronica, techno, hip-hop. free jazz, disco, folk and several other things, and in way that will remind some listeners of renowned experimental electronic act Liars. Now if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you may recall that I had written about “Metaphysical Cops,” a single that reminded me of Soul Coughing’s “Super Bon Bon,” and while it’s been a while since I’ve written about the Brooklyn-based electronic duo, the band has been busy writing new material, which includes their latest single “Straight World Problems,” a propulsive and off-kilter bit of funk that manages to be both radio-friendly and dance floor-friendly despite it’s abrasiveness. While the core of the song suggests an unresolved sexual frustration and desperation, the song as the band’s Reggie Debris explains in press notes is about “the awful frequency with which new regimes and new systems mimic the worst qualities of those they replace.”

Directed by Richard Kern, the recently released video possesses a thinly veiled and unresolved sexual tension between each of the characters — are the members of the band being teased or they are enjoying suffering? Is there more than meets the eye? Hard to tell; but it’s sexy and downright weird.