Tag: Jason Mraz

New Video: Introducing the Rousing Hook-Driven Pop of Austria’s Onk Lou

With the release of 2017’s Florian Richling co-produced debut, the 16 song Bogus, the Austrian singer/songwriter, guitarist and pop artist Onk Lou quickly established a sound and songwriting approach that drew from some rather disparate sources including Frank Turner, Jason Mraz, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Caribbean music — with a decided Scandinavian pop touch. “I wanted to commemorate those things that just pop up in our faces that we can’t quite deal with, yet the good thing about them is that these things can empower us to do great stuff!” The Austrian pop artist says. “It may be is being laid to, being tricked or being let down. The nice facet of all of these is that they force us to do better, to grow: They push us to get together to fight the good fight, to go out there and live live and show them what we’ve got!” 

Since the release of Bogus, Lou has been rather prolific: he’s released two EP’s 2018’s Claws & Paws and last year’s Summer Tapes, as well as a handful of singles — including his latest single, the anthemic and decidedly 80s inspired  “Natural High.” Centered around twinkling keys, thumping beats, Lou’s soulful vocals, and a blazing Prince-inspired solo, the song reveals a songwriter with an unerring knack to craft an enormous, crowd-pleasing hook. 

Directed by René Rodlauer, the recently released video for “Natural High” is split between a pensive Lou in a what looks like an adolescent’s bathroom and Lou in a lime green suit and white turtleneck rocking out in an empty stage. At its core is the playfulness of someone, who doesn’t take himself all too serious. 

New Video: Visuals for Rocky Dawuni’s “Let’s Go” Offer a Small Slice of Daily Ghanian Life

Rocky Dawuni is an acclaimed Grammy Award-nominated, Ghanian singer/songwriter and guitarist, humanitarian and activist, who was once  named one of Africa’s Top 10 Global Stars by CNN and a UN Ambassador. As a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dawuni’s specializes in a crowd pleasing sound and songwriting approach that features elements of roots reggae, soul, pop, Afropop and Afrobeat in a warmly familiar yet unique fashion. And naturally, Dawuni’s sound has proven to be immensely popular; in fact, he’s performed with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Janelle Monae, Jason Mraz, John Legend, and a lengthy list of others.

Although, it’s been several years since I’ve personally written about him, Dawuni has been rather busy. His forthcoming and highly-anticipated seventh full-length album Beats of Zion is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through Six Degrees Distribution, and the album reportedly finds Dawuni expanding upon his self-dubbed Afro Roots sound to include the diversity of the contemporary Ghanian music scene, as well as a deeper global perspective inspired by his travels around the world. “Beats of Zion was born out of my desire to use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive,” Dawuni says in press notes. “The beginning of the year saw me visit Ethiopia and India. In Ethiopia, I visited Lalibela, witnessing ancient Christian rites and my journeys in India also exposed me to its diverse spiritual culture and the shared similarities I saw to Africa.” He adds, “The title Beats of Zion is inspired by a vision of the drumbeat of awareness and elevation of consciousness; a musical call to arms for my audience to be proactive in this day and age as to each person’s responsibility to be an active instrument for positive change.”

Written and recorded over a two year span in various studios in Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles. Several songs being recorded at Village Studios, where Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Fleetwood Mac recorded albums — with Dawuni recording in the same room that Fleetwood Mac once used. As he was working on the album, Dawuni found out that Fleetwood Mac was among a group of American rock bands that visited Ghana in the 70s, making the experience much more special to him. 

Beats of Zion’s latest single is the breezy and uplifting “Let’s Go.” And while clearly sounding as though it were inspired by Bob Marley  (“Three Little Birds” and “One Love”  immediately come to mind), it focuses on a small yet wonderful pleasure — riding a bike with a friend and having the wind blow through your hair. The recently released 360º video finds Dawuni teaming up with Cadbury Bicycle Factory to celebrate a decade of turning long walks to school into shorter bike riders — and unsurprisingly, the video which is set in Ghanian countryside follows local students riding from home to school. From watching the video, it should serve as a reminder that kids everywhere are essentially the same; in fact the video reminds me of seeing kids riding bikes to school in Dordrecht and Amsterdam, as well as kids in my own neighborhood. 

Amy Kuney is a Tulsa, OK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as AMES. Kuney began piano lessons when she turned four, and participated in piano recitals and church performances throughout her childhood. The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wrote her first song when she turned 12 and by the following year, Kuney’s father moved the family from their Tulsa home to Honduras to live as missionaries after he saw a video highlighting the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. As a teenager, Kuney taught herself guitar chords off a poster her father bought from Wal-Mart, while grappling with being gay in a strange country — and without friends; however, Kuney spent her time listening to the only secular album she could get her hands on, Fiona Apple‘s Tidal and writing songs.

The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist returned to the States to study at a religious college but she dropped out because of their archaic views on LGBTQ and relocated to Los Angeles, where she vowed to spend the rest of her life creating art and helping young people in the LGBQT community much like herself. Since relocating to Los Angeles, Kumey has developed a reputation as a go-to songwriter, who has written songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, AKON, Rita Ora, Michelle Branch, Tori Kelly, Lights, Icona Pop, Adam Lambert, Jason Mraz, Jojo, ALMA and growing list of others. Kuney steps out from behind the scenes with the release of the breezy “Hold On,” a single centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, strummed acoustic guitar, and a soaring and anthemic hook — and sonically speaking, the song manages to nod at Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Feist but with a much-needed message for anyone who has felt marginalized at any point.



Born Elizabeth Lowell Boland, Lowell is Calgary, Alberta, Canada-born singer/songwriter and up-and-coming pop artist, who spent time living in Carcross, Yukon Territories, near a mountain that once offered passage to gold hunters — and was also once a preying haven for wolves; the up-and-coming pop artist has also spent time living in Massachusetts, Ottawa, Georgia and Calgary, before splitting her time between Toronto and London, UK.

Early within her career, she won the attention of Martin Terefe, who has worked with KT Tunstall, James Blunt and Jason Mraz; Sacha Skarbek, who has worked with Lana Del Rey, Adele and Miley Cyrus; James Bryan, who has worked with Nelly Furtado and The Philosopher Kings; and Paul Herman, who has worked with Dido.  The quartet of songwriters and producers invited them to London’s Kensaltown Studios to write with them; however, what they all worked on wasn’t in sync with Lowell’s vision, so they scrapped what they had and started over again with the end result being her I Killed Sara V. EP and her full-length debut, We Loved Her Dearly, which was released on renowned indie label Arts & Crafts Records. Both efforts received attention for songs, which openly focused on topics like sexual abuse, rape, abortion, women’s rights, the lack of LGBTQ rights, as well as our cultural ignorance about (and simultaneous) obsession with homosexuality.

Ultimately, Lowell’s first efforts were fueled by the need to empower her and her listeners to challenge gender conventions and inspire freedom from social limitations, rules and misogynists’ abuse of power, and to celebrate and uphold individuality — and while those are understandably heavy and urgent subjects, the up-and-coming pop artist pairs that with accessible, downright radio friendly melodies and upbeat vibes. Much like Fela Kuti and others, she’s used music as a weapon — suggesting as they did, you can challenge social norms and speak truth to power while dancing. Interestingly, Lowell remained friends with Terefe et. al. and it lead to her working with Terefe as a member of his band Apparatjik, and to her mini album If You Can Solve This Jumble. Following that, it lead to four days of writing and recording with A-ha’s Magne Furuholmen, Coldplay‘s Guy Berryman, Mew‘s Jonas Bjerre and Terefe, who she joined onstage at 2012’s Roskilde Festival.

After the release of her full-length debut, Lowell took up residency in her own studio space, where she began writing for other artists, including Icona Pop, Dragonette, Netsky, Grandtheft and Bulow, and where she also spent time working at writing, producing and practicing her craft, as well as guitar and piano (which she is classically trained), so that she could be ready for a self-financed UK tour, where she was backed by a drummer. Since then, she’s played showcases at Canadian Music Week, CMJ, Sled Island, and performed at David Lynch’s Club Silencio in Paris, headlined in Oslo and Copenhagen, opened for Chad Valley in Berlin, Padova and London; and opened for The Raveonettes in Barcelona, Bilbao and Madrid.

Lowell’s sophomore effort Lone Wolf was recently released on Friday, and the album’s material focus on the power an influence of youth — particular as a teenager, but from a more mature viewpoint; from someone, looking back on their own youth as an adult, who isn’t too far removed from it. And as a result, the album thematically focuses on self-discovery while retaining the upbeat, anthemic and dance floor friendly production that has won her attention.  In fact, the album’s first single “War Face” is an infectious and soulful track centered around an arrangement featuring bluesy guitar, handclaps, a propulsive battle rhythm and an infectious shout worthy hook that brings to mind The Black Keys and Alice Merton, among others.







Currently based in New York, Anya Marina is an Ann Arbor, MI-born, Cupertino, CA-raised singer/songwriter who initially made waves after relocating to San Diego, where she quickly developed a reputation as one of Southern California’s up-and-coming artists — and as a result, the then-San Diego-based pop artist was personally signed to Chop Shop Records by its founder Alexandra Patsavas, best known as the music director for films and TV shows such as Twilight, Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy.  2009’s Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II was released to critical praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, SpinThe Village Voice and others and Anya Marina promptly followed that up with a core of T.I.‘s “Whatever You Like,” which appeared on a 2009 episode of Gossip Girl and spent two weeks on top of iTunes Top Alternative Songs chart, eventually selling more than 100,000 downloads. The official video for the track eventually received nearly 2.5 million views on Anya’s official YouTube channel. And adding to a breakthrough 2009, Anya Marina’s “Satellite Heart” was featured on the RIAA-certified platinum soundtrack for The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

2010 saw the release of her self-produced EP Spirit School, which included “Whatsit,” a collaboration with The Dandy Warhols‘ Courtney Taylor-Taylor and the “Satellite Heart (Tiny Stars Remix)“by Interpol‘s Sam Fogarino. With a growing national profile, Anya Marina has had a busy touring schedule both as an opener and headliner, touring with Jason Mraz, Spoon, Joshua Radin, Eric Hutchinson, Chris Issak, Paolo Nutini, Emiliana Torrini, The Virgins, Greg Laswell, Jenny Owen Youngs, Steve Poltz, Rhett Miller, The Plain White Ts, The Dandy Warhols and Tristan Prettyman among others.  Along with that, she’s made several high-profile TV appearances including ABC‘s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the WB’s Rockville, CA and along with that she’s had music appear in CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, MTV‘s The City, Showtime‘s United States of Tara, and the CW‘s 90210 and Privileged, as well as ad campaigns for Frito-Lays’ Tostitos and Kate Walsh’s Boyfriend.

Anya Marina wrote and recorded the Felony Flats EP in Portland and was released in 2012 to critical acclaim before she relocated to New York, where she returned to releasing albums independently — with her fourth full-length effort Paper Plane being released via PledgeMusic and her own Good Rope Records. Her latest EP, The Serious Love is slated for a June 16, 2017 release and the material, which was cowritten with Nashville-based collaborator Ian Keaggy focuses on four stages of heartbreak: the first being wild, heads over heels infatuation but there’s something not quite right — the recognition that what you had hoped was a real relationship is at best a situationship; the second being the push-pull/hot-cold/on-off stage in which the relationship/situationship has grown on you and in the back of your mind, you’ve considered the possibility of a breakup; the third stage is the eventual despair and heartache after you’ve gone through with the breakup — and it’s frequently the point in which you’ve replayed every single thing that happened or was said in your mind, in the hopes that maybe you can gleam some comprehension into what happened; and stage four, which is the focus of the EP’s final track “Faze Me,” that period in which you’ve moved out of anger, resentment and hurt and have accepted the fact that the relationship is over and that you’re ready to move forward with your life, even if your ex thinks that it’ll be more of the same push and pull that’s been the bulk of the relationship. In fact, the song’s narrator seems so over it, that she’s mentally about 1,000 miles away from the relationship in question. Interestingly, the song sonically speaking pairs Anya Marina’s sultry and breathy cooing with a sparse, atmospheric production reminiscent of JOVM mainstay Sofi de la Torre.






Comprised of long-time friends and collaborators, the Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist production duo Intergalactix have a long-held reputation behind the scenes producing material for a number of renowned artists including Jason Mraz, Heart, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Kelis, Allen Stone, Ariana Grande, The Fugees‘ Pras MichelCool & Dre, fellow countrymen Jimmy Barnes and PNAU, as well as  Cash Money Records.

Last year, the production duo began to establish themselves as artists  with the release of their debut EP I.W.S.O.M, which featured the single “Tuesday.” Building upon an already growing national profile, the duo toured extensively to support the EP — and it included a set at Firefly Music Festival. (Interestingly, the festival may have had one of the biggest and most star-studded lineups of this past year’s festival season as Intergalactix played a bill that included Paul McCartney, Kings of Leon, Snoop Dogg, The Killers, Morrissey, and several others.)

Thursday marks the release of the Australian-born, Los Angeles-based duo’s sophomore EP S.T.S. – R.N.D.  and the EP’s latest single “Right Next Door” featuring Capital Cities‘ Spencer Ludwig will further cement Intergalactix’s reputation for sleek, retro-futuristic synth pop that channels The Gap Band‘s “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” and “Outstanding,Rick James and The TemptationsStanding On The TopThe WhispersAnd The Beat Goes On” and “Rock Steady,” and Cameo‘s “Word Up,”as well as more contemporary fare including Dam-Funk, Rene Lopez‘s most recent return to all things funk, Boulevards, ISHI, and a growing list of others.

Growing up listening to a ton of synth funk back in the 80s, it isn’t surprising that a number of contemporary artists have revived that sound — both eras specialize in slick production based around sinuous bass lines, shimmering arpeggio synths, four-on-the-floor drumming (or drum programming), anthemic hooks paired with an incredible sense of memorable melody and sensual vocals. You can’t help but recognize how sexy the song is — but it’s also a certified club banger, that should make you get up out of your seat and to the dance floor.