Tag: Kendrick Lamar

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Thundercat Releases a Hilarious Visual for Shimmering and Funky Jam “Dragonball Durag”

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globeand Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single, which found Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and an infectious hook. The end result is a song that manages to be classic Thundercat while sounding as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love. The album’s second and latest single “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Directed by Zack Fox, the recently released video features cameos from HAIM, Kali Uchis, and Quinta Brunson and stars Bruner, as a desperate and impossibly horny loser, who stumbles upon the titular durag, and when he puts it on, he unleashes his newfound mojo and attempts to charms the ladies in a hilariously awkward and creepy fashion. And although he constantly gets rejected, he never lets it dull his spirit or his hopes.  

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Live Footage: Rising South African Rapper Yugen Blakrok Performing “Ochre (Emerald Mix)” and “Picture Box” for La Bouclette TV

La Bouclette TV is a new French-based music media outlet founded by and carried by the efforts of a team of passionate people — cameramen, editors, sound engineers and journalists, who aim to produce authentic live footage with a polished aesthetic that highlight both emerging and established artists. Last year, the La Bouclette team invited rising Johannesburg, South Africa-based rapper Yugen Blakrok to perform some material off her most recent effort, the critically applauded Anima Mysterium, an effort that named one of the best hip-hop albums of 2019 by a number of media outlets. 

Over the past decade, the rising South African emcee has been a vital and hardworking member of the South African hip-hop scene for the past decade, gaining recognition through a number of features and live shows, and for a sound that mixed sci-fi  and trip hop inspired soundscapes with boom-bap beats and melodic melodies paired with Blakrok’s Lauryn Hill-like flow. She caught the attention of indie label Iapetus Records, home of artists like Robo, Hymphatic Thabs and Fifi the Raiblaster, who signed her in 2009. And as soon as she signed to the label, she teamed up with Sampletologists Kanif the Jhatmaster, starting a successful collaboration that began with a number of attention-grabbing singles and her full-length debut, 2013’s Return of Astro-Goth, an effort that was released to critical applause internationally and was championed by Chuck D and Sage Francis. 

Building upon a growing profile, Return of Astro-Goth received helped Blakrok receive three SA Hip-Hop Award nominations in 2014 — Best Lyricist, Best Newcomer and Best Female Artist categories. Since then she has toured across the European Union several times, opening for MC Lyte during her German and Swiss tour dates; Pete Rock and CL Smooth during their Denmark tour; Edo G during his Austrian tour; and Kemp (a.k.a. Little Ugly Mane) during his Czech Republic tour. In her native South Africa, she’s shared stages with Public Enemy, Sage Francis and Jeru the Damaja. She’s also been featured on several international collaborations, most notably on Kendrick Lamar’s curated Black Panther soundtrack, in which she contributed an attention-grabbing verse alongside Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar. 

Filmed while the rising South African emcee was in Paris for last year’s MAMA Festival, the Bouclette TV session features the emcee performing the atmospheric, Portishead-like album tracks “Ochre (Emerald Mix) and “Picture Box” in a warm and intimate setting. And throughout the session, Blakrok firmly cements her reparation for dexterous and sensual flows within mesmerizing and moody soundscapes. 

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single, which found Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and an infectious hook. The end result is a song that manages to be classic Thundercat while sounding as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love. The album’s second and latest single “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

The JOVM mainstay will be embarking on a lengthy international tour that includes a March 24, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below. 

Tour Dates:

2/28     Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre

2/29     Portland, OR – PDX Jazz Festival 

3/02     Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

3/03     Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre

3/04     Chico, CA – Senator Theatre

3/06     Oakland, CA – Fox Theater

3/07     Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

3/08     Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory North Park

3/10     Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

3/12     Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

3/13     Omaha, NE – Slowdown

3/14     Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore

3/15     Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre

3/17     Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre

3/18     Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

3/19     Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

3/21     Boston, MA – House of Blues

3/22     Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore

3/24     New York, NY – Webster Hall

3/28     Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring

3/29     Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival

3/31     Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works

4/1       Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel

4/2       Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse

4/9       London, UK – Roundhouse

4/11     Manchester, UK – Academy

4/14     Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso

4/15     Paris, FR – Elysée Montmartre

4/17     Berlin, DE – Astra

Throughout the course of this site’s nearly 10 year history — we turn 10 in June — I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

“Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single finds Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s imitable and dexterous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and a sinuous hook. And as result, the song manages to be a bit of classic Thundercat that finds the JOVM mainstay lovingly highlighting his influences in a mischievously anachronistic fashion: in some way, it sounds as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love and any of Thundercat’s albums simultaneously. But importantly, the song touches on something deeply personal and familiar to me — what it means and feels to be, as the great Nina Simone once sang “young, gifted and Black.” And as Bruner adds, “What it feels like to be in this position right now… the weird ins and outs, we’re talking about those feelings… Part of me knew this [track] was where Steve [Arrington] left us.”

The song emerged from writing sessions with Lacy, whom Thundercat describes as “the physical incarnate of Ohio Players in one person: he is genuinely one funky ass dude.”

The JOVM mainstay will be embarking on a lengthy international tour that includes a March 24, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below. 

Tour Dates:

2/28     Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre

2/29     Portland, OR – PDX Jazz Festival 

3/02     Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

3/03     Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre

3/04     Chico, CA – Senator Theatre

3/06     Oakland, CA – Fox Theater

3/07     Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

3/08     Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory North Park

3/10     Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

3/12     Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

3/13     Omaha, NE – Slowdown

3/14     Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore

3/15     Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre

3/17     Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre

3/18     Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

3/19     Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

3/21     Boston, MA – House of Blues

3/22     Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore

3/24     New York, NY – Webster Hall

3/28     Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring

3/29     Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival

3/31     Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works

4/1       Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel

4/2       Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse

4/9       London, UK – Roundhouse

4/11     Manchester, UK – Academy

4/14     Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso

4/15     Paris, FR – Elysée Montmartre

4/17     Berlin, DE – Astra

 

New Video: Emerging French Producer Bulletone Releases a Trippy Visual for Swaggering “Endless Love”

Bulletone is an emerging, Argenteuil, France-born DJ, producer, beatmaker and artist, who grew up listening to and being inspired by American hip-hop and R&B — in particular, artists like Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z. Interestingly,  the French-born producer, beatmaker and artist can trace the origins of his musical career when he bought his first MIDI keyboard with FL studio software five years ago.

Shortly after he purchased his first MIDI keyboard, Bulletone began making beats for his rapper and vocalist friends, which lead him to recording material in a professional recording studio. While meeting artists across an increasingly diverse range of genres and styles, the emerging French DJ, producer, beatmaker and artist began to explore different styles, genres and sounds — including hip-hop, pop and electronica among others. In fact, he proudly boasts having broad and eclectic tastes: while his sound generally leans towards trap, future beat and electronic music, he also cites Kaytranada, Phase, Jarreau Vandal, Daft Punk, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Timbaland, Mike Will Made It and 808 Mafia.  

Bulletone then went on to take a course on creative media education at the S.A.E. Institute, where he learned to be a technical sound engineer and made important connections to further his career. Since 2017, he has also managed to establish himself as a DJ, spinning in French clubs like the Recylclerie, Na_m3k, The 45 Tours and others. But he began to make a name for himself with the release of his debut EP, last year’s Interference, which is available on the major streaming services. 

Interestingly, Bulletone’s latest single, the swaggering “Endless Love” the title track off his latest effort Endless Love EP is centered around twinkling and shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking 808-like beats and a looped sample of thunder. But what makes the track — and in turn, the emerging French artist — compelling is the fact that track seamlessly and effortlessly meshes elements of hip-hop, trap, footwork, R&B while subtly paying homage to legendary beatmakers and producers like J. Dilla, Flying Lotus, Kaytranada and others. 

The accompanying video for “Endless Love” is a hallucinogenic-fueled fever dream featuring a young couple, who are madly in love. And in many ways, the video manages to evoke the wild feelings and thoughts of young, passionate and foolish love. 

M for Montreal: A Q&A with Vince the Messenger

M for Montreal (French – M pour Montreal) is an annual music festival and conference, which takes place during four days in late November. Since its founding 14 years ago, the music festival and conference has rapidly expanded to feature over 100 local and international buzzworthy and breakout bands in showcases across 15 of Montreal’s top venues.

300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers from over 20 different countries make the trek to Montreal to seek out new, emerging artists and new business opportunities  Last month, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to be one of those 300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers, who made the trek to Montreal for the four-day festival. (And yes, I had some amazing poutine and a smoked meat sandwich. After all, when in Rome, right?)

Friday, November 22, 2019 marked M for Montreal’s third day and night of the festival’s four days and for me, it was the busiest and most exhausting one of my time in Montreal, as I made several stops in completely different parts of the city, including a Music PEI (Prince Edward Island)-sponsored brunch showcase early that morning, which featured three of the Eastern Canadian province’s hottest, up-and-coming artists – Vince The Messenger, Russell Louder and Dylan Menzie.

By any music festival’s third or fourth day, you’re most likely a hungover, sweaty, sleep-deprived mess with aching feet and knees and maybe even a sore back. You have business cards from people you can’t remember meeting or having a conversation with – and those people you do remember, their names and faces have blurred. And despite being overstimulated and in complete discomfort, you’d do it over and over and over again because – well, you’re having the best possible life and you might be a bit of a sadomasochist. As for me, I was a bit sleep deprived and somehow managed to enter the wrong address into Google Maps for the brunch showcase. Naturally, this resulted in somehow walking almost three blocks past the venue and missing what seemed to be at least two songs of the opener, Vince The Messenger’s set. D’oh! But I was so impressed by him that I knew I wanted to interview him as part of my festival coverage.

The up-and-coming Etobicoke, Ontario-born, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island-based emcee Vince The Messenger’s solo career started in earnest with the release of last year’s full-length debut Self Sabotage, an effort that led to the Etobicoke-born, Charlottetown-based emcee being nominated for a New Artist of the Year Award and the album receiving an Urban Recording of the Year at this year’s Music PEI Awards. After catching the 22-year old Canadian emcee’s set last month, I can see why: his work is an effortless and seamless synthesis of golden era hip-hop boom bap, introspective and thoughtful lyricism based on personal experience and feelings and slick, modern production. And it’s all done in a way that – to my ears, at least – seems perfectly suited for Hot 97 and Power 105.1.

Vince the Messenger Press Photo

I recently chatted with the rapidly rising Canadian artist via email about a wide range of topics including Prince Edward Island’s music scene, being an emcee and hip-hop artist on the small Eastern Canadian province, his influences, M for Montreal and more. He’ll strike you as a thoughtful and interesting young talent – and I hope that we’ll be hearing more about him in the States. Check out the interview below. And then feel free to check out some of the Canadian artist’s work, too.

Self Sabotage Cover ArtAndroid Cover Art

 

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William Ruben Helms: While I have a number of Canadian readers, the bulk of my readers are from the States – primarily in and around the New York Metropolitan area. As you can imagine, many of us won’t know much about Prince Edward Island, let alone Charlottetown. Can you tell us something about the province that we should know but somehow don’t know? What’s the music scene like? Is it unusual to be an emcee out there?

Vince The Messenger: PEI is a province that moves at a comfortable pace. The island thrives off of its tourist industry, with a beach in literally any direction and an abundance of east coast cuisine, the island really booms in the summer months. The music scene is small and tightknit. The music scene is home to singer/songwriters, indie rock, pop-punk, blues, classical, jazz and everything in between. Being an emcee is most definitely a little unusual out here. PEI is definitely not known for its hip-hop, but with artists like myself and others, we’re working to change that narrative.

WRH: Besides yourself, are there any other artists from your province that listeners and fans should know about outside the province?

VTM: Absolutely, PEI is small, but it’s concentrated with bubbling talent. Niimo, Slime Da Garbage Mane, The Lxvndr Effect are a few of the artists that make up the current hip-hop scene in Charlottetown.

 WRH: How did you get into music?

 VTM: I got into music at a relatively young age. The idea of interacting with music creatively was first introduced by my father when I was young, maybe five or so. He used to play in a few bands during his younger adulthood in Toronto, so it wasn’t uncommon for him to have instruments around the house. We’d write songs together and record them on cassette, he’d play guitar and I’d sing. This foundation of interacting with music led me to take songwriting more seriously in my later school years. By junior-high I was recording and releasing my own music and performing at all-ages events around my city. Things really didn’t pick up for me until recent years when I developed a close working relationship with my DJ and producer Niimo. From that point on I put out my first album, began playing shows and festivals frequently and have tapped into my artistry on a higher level.

WRH: There’s quite a bit of that old school boom bap in your sound and work. How much has that influenced your work? Who are your influences?

VTM: The music coming out of the boom-bap era was incredibly real and raw. Hip-hop coming out in the following eras saw more commercialization and at some fault lost some elements of what made it genuine. I’ve always reached towards the golden age due to its rich substance, that’s always something I’ve strived to provide with my own music. Hip-hop being the most popular genre today a lot of what you see on the surface is heavily commercialized and can lack substance. Luckily with streaming and the power of the internet artists with alternative approaches to hip-hop are still alive and well and are able to get their music and message out to the masses. My influences range from artists like The Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Das Efx, Biggie to more modern acts like Mick Jenkins, Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Badass and Kendrick Lamar.

WRH: How would you describe your work? 

VTM: My work is an expressive take on my life, my experiences and my aspirations. I try to blend a sound that’s easily digestible with lyrics containing deeper meaning for those who seek it.

WRH: I managed to miss a song or two of your set during the Prince Edward Island-sponsored M for Montreal brunch showcase. I was sleep-deprived and managed to enter the wrong address for the venue and walked two and a half blocks past the place. D’oh! Thankfully, I still managed to catch most of the set. I saw a fair amount of rappers during the festival, including a late-night showcase at Le Belmont later that night. But out of the rappers I saw you were among my favorites. How did it feel to represent Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island in front of a bunch of national and internationally-based music industry types?

VTM: It felt great representing Charlottetown in front of a bunch of music industry types and delegates. It’s always been interesting representing Charlottetown as a rap artist mostly because when outsiders or even insiders for that matter think of the PEI music scene hip-hop/rap is not a genre that comes to mind. That’s slowly changing as myself and other Charlottetown artists bring more life to the genre and art style in the city. It presents a unique opportunity to showcase my music with minimal preconceptions of what rap music from my city should sound like, and when it’s received as positively as it is it feels even better.

WRH: Did you get a chance to see any music during M for Montreal? And if so, was there anyone you enjoyed?

Luckily, I was able to catch a few shows during the festival. I saw Montreal’s Maky Lavender open for Toronto artists Charlie Noir, Tremayne, and Sydanie at Bar Le Ritz. The energy in the room was high, I was hoping to catch some other rap acts during the festival so I’m glad I managed to see that show. I also saw the Libson Lux Records showcase featuring Paupière, Russell Louder and Radiant Baby at Casa Del Popolo. This was another highly energetic showcase with some powerful performances.

WRH: Your solo career started last year, and you’ve been really busy. You released your solo debut Self Sabotage last year. You’ve released a handful of singles this year – and you’ve had a bunch of collaborations and guest spots. I listened to some of your work before I landed in Montreal and again for research for this interview. “Mr. Sun” and “Menace” are two of my favorite tracks of Self-Sabotage. Those songs much like the rest of your material captures your innermost thoughts, experiences, and feelings in a profoundly intimate and personal fashion – that’s somewhat uncommon with hip hop. How much of your work is influenced by your own personal experiences?

VTM: The majority of my work is influenced by my own personal experiences in some form. Whether that be a report of first-hand events or observations I make from things happening around me. A lot of what I write comes from an emotive space – I write how I feel and use these lyrics as a method of journaling.

WRH: You released “Android” a few weeks before M for Montreal. To me, it’s an interesting track because it features you rhyming over a production that’s both atmospheric and glitchy. So what’s the track about?

 VTM: “Android” is a track that definitely sits differently in my discography. When Niimo sent me the beat I was skeptical about rapping on it initially just because of how different of a sound it was for me, but there was something about it that had me captured. The song doesn’t necessarily follow a strict theme from beginning to end, instead, it runs as a series of thoughts in a stream of consciousness style. What starts off as a braggadocious ballad turns into me airing out a list of concerns, but ending on the same braggadocious high note.

WRH: This isn’t really a question but that “Azucar Freestyle” you’ve got up on Spotify is fucking fire.

 VTM: I appreciate that. That song came out of my fandom of Earl Sweatshirt. I recorded over the instrumental of his song “Azucar” off of Some Rap Songs and instead of putting that up on its own Niimo flipped the same sample and recreated the beat under my acapella.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now? 

VTM: Right now, it’s been a lot of MAVI, Medhane, Frank Ocean and FKA Twigs.

WRH: What’s next for you?

VTM: Since releasing Self Sabotage I’ve been working closely with Niimo on my next album Trustfall. That’ll be out early in the new year accompanied by visuals and a series of other materials to complement it. Outside of the new music, you can expect to see me showcasing within North America and put out more and more content for my audience.

New Audio: Acclaimed Canadian Act BADBADNOTGOOD Releases a Cover of a Slow-Burning 80s Soul Classic

BADBADNOTGOOD, the Toronto-based jazz-inspired act, currently comprised of founding members Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with Leland Whitty has received attention for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz and prog rock — and for jazz based interpretations of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed the act to collaborate with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. (It shouldn’t be surprising that the act can trace its origins to the band’s founding members bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop — in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.)

As the story goes, the band’s founding members, which also included Matt Tavares played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who  sadly didn’t believe it had much musical value. But after they released the composition as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler the Creator, who helped the video go viral. 

The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.

2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of songs by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.

2015 saw the release of the band’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, and the album which is more of a hip-hop album that nods at jazz found the Canadian act collaborating with Ghostface Killah. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and the band quickly went to work producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins and JOVM mainstay Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

Light In The Attic  Records has started a an exclusive vinyl and digital cover series — and the latest installment of the series features the acclaimed Toronto act collaborating with vocalist Jonah Yano on a cover of Majestics’ 1982 slow jam “Key To Love (Is Understanding).” Interestingly, while Jonah Yano and BADBADNOTGOOD finds the acclaimed Canadian act crafting a lovingly straightforward and soulful cover but with a subtle personal twist and a slick production. The BADBADNOTGOOD and Jonah Yano cover along with the Majestics original are available now for streaming through your favorite digital producer and will be released on “Majestic Pink” 7″ vinyl on February 21, 2020 release.

“As lovers of old soul, funk and rare recordings, ‘Key to Love’ has always been a song that has had an impact on our heart and ears,” the acclaimed Canadian act said in a statement. “We hope our version relays how special this song is and gives it some new listeners and a second life […] It’s an incredibly beautiful song that deserves to be heard, and we hope to play a small part in that.” They add, “We had met Jonah Yano about a year ago and we started to jam and make demos. After some really fun recording sessions we asked him if he would help us with the cover and we smashed the whole song out in a week.”

“It is a pleasant surprise,” Donald Cooper of Majestics said upon hearing BADBADNOTGOOD’s version of the song. “They did a good job and it was well done with their own slight personal twist […] [it’s] an honor to be recognized.”

Live Footage: the bird and the bee Cover Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” with Dave Grohl on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

Comprised of singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia,Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney, the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee can trace their origins to when they met  while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise. Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. As the story goes back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show, during the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim(drums), who has worked with the David Bowie and Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen‘s album’s second single “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” is a slinky New Wave-like take on the original, centered around an angular and propulsive bass line, atmospheric electronics, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to New Order and It’s Blitz!-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the track is imbued with a feverish quality.

While much of Van Halen’s material, whether it was David Lee Roth-era or Sammy Hagar-era is seemingly familiar to the point of well-worn, the first two singles off Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen finds the duo crafting a loving and thoughtful take on beloved material. And they manage to do so in a way that retains familiar elements but within a playful, post-modern, decidedly feminist fashion. 

The duo were recently on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where they performed their sultry rendition of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” with a special guest — Dave Grohl, who played drums.