Tag: indie synth pop

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter, sync pop artist and JOVM mainstay Maya Killtron, and as you may recall Killtron first came to attention both nationally and Stateside with the 2012 release of her debut EP Hipster/Gangsta. As a result of the surrounding buzz around her debut EP, Killtron made the rounds across the North American festival circuit with appearances at Miami’s Winter Music ConferencePride TorontoThe Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. Adding to a growing profile, her collaboration with NYC-based production duo Love Taps “Back For More” received attention from the likes of Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that meshed moomba and R&B – and for visuals that showcased a sadly bygone NYC. Additionally, Smalltown DJs, The Slow WavesEyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul have all have remixed “Back For More” — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.

Killtron’s latest single “Satin Sheets” will further cement her reputation for crafting thumping, 80s synth pop/synth funk and 90s dance music-inspired tracks — and while rooted in a sweet nostalgia for slow dances at the school dance, for creating mixtapes of your favorite jams straight from the radio or for that new sweetheart of yours. Sonically speaking her material immediately brings to mind the likes of (the oft-mentioned on this site), Cherelle, I Feel for You-era Chaka Khan, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, early Mariah Carey and so on, with a similar swaggering self-assuredness and an underlying heartbreaking angst — but bolstered by an incredibly slick modern production that’s both radio friendly and club friendly. As Killtron says of her  latest single “Satin Sheets,” “With this track I wanted to take it back to my hometown high school summers. Picture it: Brampton 1999, Cruisin’ along Queen St. on the 1A to Bramalea City Center, summer crushes at the Professor’s lake beach, tryin to catch the eye of the L-section babes for a slow jam at Rec dances, between pizza roll breaks, & bright summer afternoons crushing banquet burgers with the whole squad at Sunny’s. This song is high school Maya, the stacked vocal harmonies, the 90’s bass, the Brampton top down beat. As with all of the Never Dance Alone (my forthcoming Album) tracks, it’s the music I always wanted to make. Not just a nod or throwback, not disposable or following any trend. Its a real gateway into my musical past in ever bar. Syrupy, rich & full of R&B high school angst.”

 

 

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Over the past three years or so, I’ve written a bit about the Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo Palace Winter, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of  Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born and-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager can trace their origins to a mutual appreciation for each other’s writing styles and a familiarity with each other’s work through their involvement in a number of different projects individually — and of course, the duo were encouraged to start writing material together.

2015 saw the release of their debut single, which followed-up with 2016’s debut EP Medication and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn, all of which were released through Copenhagen-based label Tambourhinoceros to critical applause from the likes of The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRWKEXPNorway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Oh, and let’s not forget, they have a Hype Machine #1 under their belts. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve opened for Noel Gallagher, played sets on the European festival circuit, including Meltdown Festival curated by the aforementioned Guy Garvey, Roskilde FestivalGreen Man FestivalSziget FestivalLatitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.
Building upon a rapidly growing internationally recognized profile, the members of the Danish pop act will be releasing their sophomore album Nowadays on May 4, 2018 — and interestingly enough, album single “Empire” found the band pairing breezy, melodic and radio friendly pop with mark darker thematic concerns — in particular, the song focused on the loss of innocence and the tough, and sobering life lessons of adulthood, with the recognition of the freedom and power of taking charge of your life. The album’s latest single “Come Back (Left Behind)” will further cement the band’s reputation for incredibly upbeat and anthemic radio friendly pop that sounds decidedly inspired by buoyant, 80s synth pop but with darker lyrical and thematic concerns; in fact, as the duo note, the song focuses on the challenges of anxiety, of coming to terms with the loss of a lover, whose ghost seems to pervasively linger, and the feeling as though you’ll never escape the grief. As Carl Coleman explains, the song is “loosely inspired by the recent horror film The Witch. I loved the imagery in that movie and the idea that there was some sort of unknown darkness hidden in the woods. I wanted to merge that imagery with something personal and that’s where the themes of grief and yearning came up”,
Coleman adds that the song finds the duo moving the focus away from the acoustic guitar to try to get the drive from somewhere else like the piano lines and the jagged 12-string electric, and while being propulsive and downright danceable, the song sounds as though it could have been released in 1985 or so.

Comprised of Kyle McCammon and Stephen Johnson, the Los Angeles, CA-based pop duo Lean can trace their origins to when McCammon relocated from New York to Los Angeles and met Johnson. And as the story goes, the duo bonded over a shared love of 90s hip-hop and indie rock and quickly found a formula that combined those influences.  “With Stephen’s ear for hooks it came together effortlessly” McCammon said of the band’s conception.

The band made their live debut last March and within their first year together, McCammon and Johnson released five singles that received critical praise from the likes of NYLON, Indie Shuffle, IMPOSE, Buzz Bands LA, and that lead to several high-profile Spotify and Apple Music Playlists, as well as the attention of renowned electronic music label Kitsune. Building upon a growing profile, the duo will be releasing their full-length debut Years on May 25, 2018, and the album’s latest single “On The Fence” is centered around a motorik-like groove, thumping beats, a slick hook and a decidedly soulful and sultry R&B vibe while reminding me quite a bit of The Helio Sequence and others.

 

Born Rebecca Maria Molina, the 25 year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist Molina can trace the origins of her music career to when she was 8. As the story goes, Molina began writing her own music, inspired by the music her mother played for her including Bjork, Kate Bush and Royksopp. “I remember wanting the Basement JaxxRooty album for my birthday at the same age as I was dancing to children’s music.Molina recalls.

In her teens, Molina furthered her musical education by searching the corners of the internet and following a trail of like-minded bands and artists, and as a result the Danish singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist quickly became obsessed with Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, 70s-80s new wave and punk , shoegaze and Japanese music — in particular, the work of Miharu Koshi and Mariah among others. And all of those disparate styles and sounds have influenced Molina’s solo work within her solo recording project Molina.

With the release of her debut EP Corpus, Molina received attention internationally from the likes of BBC Radio 6, Beats 1 Radio, The 405, The Line of Best Fit among others for a sound and songwriting approach that embraces experimentation while drawing from  late 70s and 80s synth pop. Her latest single “Hey Kids” is centered around woozy and dizzying arpeggiated synths, boom bap-like beats and Molina’s ethereal vocals. Additionally, the song features a guest spot from Swedish artist and co-writer Late Verlaine, who contributes vocals on the song’s second verse. And while revealing a young artist, who’s self-assured and confident beyond her relatively young age, the track to my ears reminds me quite a bit of Peter Gabriel‘s work in the sense that it manages to be enigmatic and completely out of left field while being accessible and radio friendly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Sofia Härdig Releases Moody Yet Upbeat Visuals for “Illuminate”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and JOVM Sofia Härdig, and as you may recall, she is at the forefront of an internationally renowned Swedish electro pop movement that includes a handful of JOVM mainstays and others that I’ve written about throughout the course of this site’s history; in fact, in her native country, she’s considered a queen of Sweden’s electronic rock scene. Along with that, Härdig has collaborated with the likes of Grammy Award-winning acts The Hellacopters, Bob Hund, Boredoms and Free Kitten‘s Yoshimi P-We — and she has shared stages with Lydia Lunch and Belle and Sebastian‘s Stevie Jackson. 

Härdig’s latest single “Illuminate” is an atmospheric, 80s-inspired, glistening and moody synth pop track consisting of layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a subtle rhythm guitar, a sinuous guitar line and a sultry hook — and while in some way reminding me of Stevie Nicks “Stand Back” and The Cars “Drive,” “Illuminate” is a deeply contemplative and introspective song focusing on the endless and seemingly frustrating search for love and for connection. Although it comes from a deeply personal place, it’s a universal sentiment that we’ve all felt at one point or another — and with a similar yearning to find that sort of love once again.

As Härdig explains in press notes. “I worked with the song ‘Illuminate’ alone in my studio for many long, lonesome nights. It was just the studio, the stars and I, while I played all the instruments, made the soundscape and recorded the single in solitude. Later, I invited over some friends to improvise over the track. Guitarist John Essing and bass player Mats Hellquist, both from the band ‘bob hund’, but also a classical pianist and cellist respectively, added parts to the soundscape of ‘Illuminate.’ I brought all the new recordings back into the studio – tore them apart, rebuilt them and made arrangements, as if I was a mad scientist in my lab. I then brought in Jari Haapalainen to produce the songs. The solitary fashion in which ‘Illuminate’ was crafted reflects the mood of the single.”

 The recently released video by Stefan Sundlof features textured and looped footage of dimly illuminated streets and close ups of Härdig in soft vignette framing — the darkness at the edges of the footage, slowly envelope the Swedish singer/songwriter and producer at one point, leaving only her illuminated. Towards the end of the video, the footage becomes increasingly brighter and day lit, further emphasizing the song’s increasing upbeat tone towards its conclusion. “It’s amazing that three of my best friends are filmmakers, even more so that they’re all involved in some way or another with this album,” Härdig says in press notes “Jessica Nettelbladt took the photos for the singles and the album, Johannes Stjärne Nillson did the covers and Stefan Sundlöf directed this video. The video uses a special version of ‘Illuminate’ that Stefan had fallen in love with; a slower, darker one. Stefan and I often share music and talk about it. When I sent him this edit of ‘Illuminate’ he responded almost right away with a 30 second video clip, that he’d made of what he had in mind for the song. It was stunning. I was convinced and saved the version for the video. So especially for you, here you get a glimpse of another universe of ‘Illuminate’. The one for the video, the one for Stefan.”
 

New Video: Renowned Swedish Electro Pop Artist Releases Unsettling and Brutal Visuals for an Uncompromisingly Honest Album Single

Jenny Wilson is a Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electronic music artist, who founded and fronted First Floor Power, an act that was signed to The Knife’s Rabid Records; in fact, The Knife’s Karin Dreijer wrote the duet “You Take My Breath Away” after catching a First Floor Power set. Wilson has also appeared on renowned Swedish synth pop artist Robyn’s debut EP; but as a solo artist, Wilson has won 3 Swedish Grammi Awards for her fourth full-length album, 2013’s Demand The Impossible!, which she self-produced and released while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Wilson’s fifth full-length album EXORCISM is slated for an April 20, 2018 release through Gold Medal Recordings — and while the album is the first batch of new material from Wilson in over five years, the album may arguably be the most unflinchingly personal material she’s ever written and released, as the album deals with the harrowing aftermath of Wilson’s experience as a victim of sexual assault. Sonically centered around a Prophet 6 analog synthesizer, the album reportedly finds Wilson seeking to divest herself from the recurrent trauma of her attack. As Wilson says in a statement she wrote, found in press notes:

“This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
In so many ways.
At first, I actually didn’t know if I even wanted to go on with music anymore.
Then, something terrible happened to me.

I ended up at a crossroads.
Either silent  –  or speaking.
It was not an easy choice.

I didn’t want to talk.
I didn’t manage to talk.

But I had to talk.

Not to bring justice or to take revenge.
Nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

I wanted to take back what I’d lost.
I had to get rid of what was hurting me.”

EXORCISM’s second single “LO HI” is an uncompromisingly honest and confessional account of her sexual assault, including the confusing array of terror, shame, regret and anxiety she felt during her assault and in its aftermath — paired with a propulsive, dance floor friendly production featuring thumping beats, arpeggiated synths and infectious hooks, making the song an unsettlingly ironic amalgam of vibrant and thoughtful electro pop centered around unspeakable, powerless horrors that straight cis men rarely could comprehend — or even have knowledge of. 

The recently released video for “Lo Hi” features a mix of strobe-lit footage of Jenny, of footage of someone being chased and graphic animation-based sequences used to an uncomfortable and unsettling effect emphasizing the sense of  unending and inescapable terror that it’s creator and narrator are desperately trying to escape. 

New Video: Canadian JOVM Mainstays The Beat Escape Release Somnambulant and Hallucinogenic Visuals for “Moon in Aquarius”

Initially releasing singles like “Seeing Is Forgetting” and “Half-Empty Happiness” under a decidedly intentional cloak of mystery, the Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape quickly received attention across the blogosphere for crafting moody and atmospheric pop that’s deeply indebted to 80s synth pop while evoking the somnambulant sensation of a half-remembered dream.  Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a little while, you may call that the Canadian synth pop duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long is slated for an April 27, 2018 release through renowned indie label Bella Union Records, and the album finds the duo shedding much of the mystery that they purposefully surrounded themselves around during their earliest releases; in fact, the Canadian JOVM mainstays, comprised of Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin can trace the origins of the project to a college short film they collaborated together on. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Canadian pop duo explain in press notes. And since that initial collaboration together, Weitzman and Boivin have worked together on a series of various creative endeavors that combined their interests in music and visual art, including famously, a lengthy stint DJ’ing in Montreal, which lead to The Beat Escape. 

Interestingly, Life Is Short The Answer’s Long finds the duo thematically speaking coming full-circle back to their origins,  somnambulant, waking dream-like inspired art; but while further developing the sound that grabbed the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere. “Sign of Age” the Canadian synth pop duo’s first single off their full-length debut featured propulsive and gently undulating Giorgio Moroder-like synths with a deliberate, textured and painterly quality that evoked gently drifting about in somnambulistic reverie. Continuing in a similar vibe, the album’s second and latest single “Moon in Aquarius” is a a decidedly motorik affair featuring a spectral melody — and while being clearly indebted to 80s synth pop, the song manages to evoke the mesmerizing sensation of a night time road unfurling before you, with white lines and dividers flashing by in a blur; the inexplicable sensation of things being simultaneously alien yet familiar; of the accumulation of the inescapable and lingering ghosts of one’s life, and the lonely moments in which they haunt the most. 

The recently released video for “Moon in Aquarius” possesses a feverish and hallucinogenic quality as features some wintry footage and footage of the duo, brooding in the country home, where they recorded a great deal of the album and “live performance” footage, accompanied by lighting effects, shot in the studio of the Montreal-based artist collective Light Society. At various points, the video seems to nod at Kraftwerk’s “Robots” as the members of the duo have similar robotic expression. As the duo explain in press notes. “To talk video ideas we drove up to the country house where a lot of our album was recorded. We turned on Quiet Village Radio so the sounds of Exotica contrasting with the winter landscape could replicate the mood of our recording sessions. As soon as we arrived, we made a fire, cooked supper, and it became quite clear that we needed to film in this house.” 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sofi Tukker Releases Stylish and Glittering Visuals

I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed, New York-based electro pop duo Sofi Tukker over the past handful of years, and as you may recall with the release of their debut EP Soft Animals and a lengthy list of blogosphere dominating singles, including “Awoo,” a mischievous collaboration with vocalist Betta Lemme; as well as recently released singles “Energia,” “Fuck They,” international smash hit “Best Friend,” which received a Grammy nomination and was featured in an ad campaign for the iPhone X; and “Baby I’m a Queen,” which they performed on Conan. 

Building on a growing internationally recognized profile, the duo comprised of  Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern will be releasing their highly-anticipated full-length debut, Treehouse next week, and interestingly the album’s latest single “Batshit” finds Halpern taking up lead vocal duties within a swaggering house music production, which features tweeter and woofer rocking beats, blasts of disco-tinged guitar, subtle hints of tribal percussion and heavily arpeggiated synths — and while the song is a sinuous and seductive, it furthers the duo’s reputation for mischievous club bangers; but at the same time, the track finds Halpern introducing himself to the world as being absolutely out of his gourd. 

Directed by their now frequent collaborator, Mac Boucher, the recently released video for “Batshit” features Hawley-Weld and Halpern in bold, bright colors, injecting color and energy into the desolate surroundings of the desert. At one point, Hawley-Weld wields a hatchet and chases Halpern, who’s wearing multi-colored (and very large) platform shoes through the desert; at other points, Hawley-Weld sports a red sequined jumpsuit while playing the song’s funky guitar riff. Interestingly, the video not only further emphasizes the song’s mischievous vibe — while being incredibly stylish and shimmering. 

New Video: Foreign Air Releases Gorgeously Shot and Moody Visuals for “Chakra Daemon”

Last year was a breakthrough year for the Washington, DC/New York-based indie duo Foreign Air — their For The Light EP amassed over 20 million Spotify streams, their material was included in a Nike ad campaign, and building upon a growing profile, the duo opened for the likes of Phantogram, Aurora, BØRNS, X Ambassadors, Kevin Garrett and Lewis Del Mar, before heading to Seattle to record their forthcoming, Phil Ek-produced full-length debut, slated for release sometime this year. 

Their latest single “Chakra Daemon” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for material inspired by heady subject matters — for this particular song, evolution, biomechanics and the ubiquitous email bounce back bot Mailer Daemon, as a comment on how much of one’s daily routine is heaped in negative, harmful and repetitive energy.  Sonically, the song follows along a similar vein as its predecessors — a murky and menacing production featuring layers of arpeggiated and pulsating synths, four-on-the-floor drum programming, bursts of buzzing guitar and an anthemic but pessimistic, post-apocalyptic-like hook that finds the duo nodding at the likes of Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode and others, as well as contemporary synth pop acts like Painted Palms.

As the duo’s Jordan Classen explained in press notes “We as humans are constantly looking for a connection. However, more often than not we fail to find that connection leaving one to feel lonely or even invisible at time. As humans slowly begin self evolving by integrating bio-technology, I imagine one day there will be a Chakra Daemon. This will be like an artificial subconscious. An enhanced intuition. Beyond the obvious implication of keeping us out of danger, I think it will also play a role in navigating us through relationships both platonic and romantic.”

Directed by Sabrina Reiter, the recently released video for “Chakra Daemon” was shot in Vienna Austria and stars Florian Tröbinger and Martin Brandner, who are both struggling in some way or another with the inner truths that must be spoken about ourselves — and in turn, while longing for connection that has long evaded them. As the duo explains of the video treatment, “We all struggle with fear at one point or another in our lives and must find ways to overcome; to put into the world the truth that we know is already in our hearts and in our minds. If we don’t learn to externalize ourselves as individuals then we will never know our true potential as a society.”

New Video: Up-and-Coming American-born, Swedish-based Pop Artist Rhys Releases Cinematic Visuals for Swaggering Tell Off “No Vacancy”

Born to an American father and Swedish mother in Portland, OR, the up-and-coming pop artist Rhys grew up as a natural performer, singing, dancing and acting as long as she could remember — but when she turned ten, she moved to Sweden, where she crossed paths with Jörgen Elofsson in early 2016 after being recommended as a demo singer. And as the story goes Elofsson and Rhys had an immediately artistic chemistry that lead to her debut single “Swallow Your Pride,” which she promptly followed with her viral, smash hit “Last Dance,” which has amassed over 23 million Spotify streams, and was the most-played Swedish song of 2017 on P3 Radio. Adding to a growing national profile, the American-born, Swedish-based pop artist was nominated an Artist of the Future at the P3 Gold award show.

Rhys followed her smash hit single with “Too Good To Be True,” which amassed 14 million Spotify streams, and with the growing buzz around her, landed sets at festivals like Way Out West and Storsjöyran among others. Building upon that, she’s planning a busy touring schedule throughout the spring and summer, including sets at Gröna Lund, Queens of Pop and Peace & Love. Rhys’ latest single “No Vacancy” is a swaggering and incredible self-assured tell-off, that “is about a very specific person, who had been toying with my emotions for a little too long,” Rhys told The Fader.”Ironically, my current boyfriend. This song is about drawing the line, me or them.”

“Everything is great now, but I would say he was a bit of a player when we started seeing each other,” she continues. “Parts of the text are direct quotes from him, so I think I should thank him for that – he gave me a good song! When I wrote it we were already together and I said ‘Today I will write a song about you, it will be so nice!’ Then I came home and said, ‘yes, I wrote a song about you … but it might not be so nice.'”

Directed by Indra Herö Wide, the cinematically shot video stars a coquettish and proud Rhys preparing for a momentous tell off to the unseen womanizer she’s attached to — an throughout, you can tell that she’s not having it, and is perfectly fine being herself if the man doesn’t shape up and act right. And while it’s directly a feminist anthem, it’s certainly something that young women will immediately associate with and take to heart.