Tag: Larry Levan

New Video: Berlin-based DJ and Producer Dan Curtin Releases a Trippy Visual for Hypnotic “Soul System”

American-born, Berlin-based producer and DJ Dan Curtin released his latest effort Soul System EP through Sound of Berlin earlier this year. Meshing elements of several different electronic music genres and sub-genres, ranging from house, funk, […]

New Video: People Museum Releases an Infectious Club Friendly Bop

People Museum is a rising New Orleans-based art pop/dance pop act largely inspired by Afrobeat, hip-hop and choral and marching music. The duo — Jeremy Phipps (trombone, production) and Claire Givens (vocals, keys) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Phipps and Givens were eager to start a music project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown. Founded with the expressed intention of bringing nature to the future, the New Orleans-based duo’s sound and aesthetic seamlessly meshes their hometown’s beloved and world famous brass band tradition with the Crescent City’s synth heavy, progressive underground scene. 

Givens and Phipps’ soon-to-be released effort I Could Only See The Night EP is slated for release next week through Community Records and Strange Daisy Records. The new EP features a mix of songs made during last year’s pandemic-related quarantines and restrictions and songs the duo initially created during the first few months of their collaboration together. Thematically, the EP is a contemplation of our past, how we’re making sense of where we have ended up — and as a result, learning how to be more malleable with our visions of what the future could and should be. As the duo explains in press notes, the songs are an attempt to offer a bit of light in our very dark times while opening space for the listener to reflect, dance or just feel some sort of joy.

Last month, I wrote about “Forever” a Larry Levan-era house music influenced club banger that’s full of late night regret and trepidation centered around shimmering Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Phipps’ mournful and melodic trombone played through reverb and delay pedal and Givens’ achingly plaintive vocals. You can literally feel the song’s narrator spiraling into indecision, regret and despair — although they’re desperately trying not to do so. 

“Rush,” I Could Only See The Night’s latest single continues a run of house music inspired bangers, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Gaines coquettish vocals, explosive bursts of fluttering and melodic trombone and a euphoria-inducing hook. The end result is a much-needed escape to the dance floor, where there’s true liberation and equality.

“‘Rush’ was written in July of 2020 during quarantine with our drummer and co-producer, Mopodna. It is a dance anthem about letting go of the expectations we had for where we thought would be right now and reframing our thoughts and words to rebuild a better environment socially and emotionally. It’s intended to be this idea of a mourning that’s moving us toward evolving personally and globally. We have second-lines here in New Orleans which are basically street parades that are for deaths and for parties – I think it’s that’s a huge vibe of ‘Rush.’ We cry, we dance it out, we move on together and celebrate what we have and help each other.”

Directed, filmed and edited by People Museum’s Claire Givens, features black and white footage of a horn player walking to the beach with his horns, the band’s Phipps conducting an informal march, the recording of the song and Givens singing and dancing along to the song. It’s a playful and feverish visual that captures aspects of life in a quarantine.

New Video: Melbourne’s Pillow Pro Teams Up with Endless Prowl on a Multi-Dimensional Journey

The rising Melbourne-based electro pop duo Pillow Pro — Christobel Elliot and Jude Mills — burst onto Melbourne’s music scene with their 2015 self-released, self-titled debut EP, which quickly established their unique production style and sound: thick bass lines, ethereal harmonies and intertwining vocals. Adding to a growing profile, the rising Aussie electro pop duo have played sets at Gaytimes Festival, Melbourne Music Week, Wetfest, Listen Out and Scienceworks — and they’ve shared stages with Divide and Dissolve, Oscar Key Sung, HTML Flowers and others.

The duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut Forever is slated for a June 3, 2021 through Dinosaur City Records. The album’s latest single “Lucky” is a brooding yet club friendly bop featuring Endless Prowl, centered around skittering beats, wobbling and shimmering synth arpeggios and achingly plaintive vocals. And while the song strikes me as a retro-futuristic take on Larry Levan-era house, the song as the duo explains “is about love and lust and the insecurities and vulnerabilities that come with strong, strong feelings. It’s about being honest with yourself about how you feel.”

Created by Endless Prowl’s Dan Ford, an acclaimed multimedia artist and game designer, follows two young people who develop and maintain a connection through the internet, where they exist together in an Avatar-like dream world. Beginning with footage originally shot and edited by Ford in his studio, he then developed the characters in the artists’ likenesses and created a virtual world. The cuts between real life footage and virtual reality wind up creating a mind-bending multi-dimensional experience.

New Video: People Museum Releases a Brooding Yet Club Friendly Banger

People Museum is a rising New Orleans-based art pop/dance pop act. Inspired by Afro-beat, hip-hop, choral, marching band music, the duo — Jeremy Phipps (trombone, production) and Claire Givens (vocals, keys) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Phipps and Givens were eager to start a music project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown. Founded with the expressed intention of bringing nature to the future, the New Orleans-based duo’s sound and aesthetic seamlessly meshes their hometown’s beloved and world famous brass band tradition with the Crescent City’s synth heavy, progressive underground scene.

Givens and Phipps’ latest effort I Could Only See The Night EP is slated for an April 9, 2021 release through Community Records and Strange Daisy Records. The EP features a mix of songs made during pandemic-related quarantines last year with songs the duo initially created during the first few months of the duo’s collaboration. Thematically, the EP is reportedly a contemplation on our past, how we are making sense of where we have ended — and as a result, learning how to be more malleable with our visions of what the future could and should be. The songs are an attempt to offer a bit of light in our very dark times while opening space for the listener to reflect, dance or feel joy.

“Forever,” I Could Only See The Night’s latest single is a Larry Levan-era house music influenced club banger that’s full of brooding, late night regret and trepidation centered around shimmering Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Phipps’ mournful and melodic trombone played through reverb and delay pedal and Givens’ achingly plaintive vocals. You can literally feel the song’s narrator spiraling into indecision, regret and despair — although they’re desperately trying not to do so.

Directed by Riley Teahan, the recently released video is a brooding fever dream following a series of women trapped within their own thoughts, late at night. Teahan, the video’s director on the video:

“flashing light, thoughts that keep you up at night:
when I think about forever my head starts to spin.
caught in a cycle, the mind is a spiral staircase.
how long did you know it was time to go
before you decided to leave?

“‘Forever’ is a song about cycles and liberation. I know well the feeling of spiraling, how easily you can lose yourself. I asked women to embody a complicated moment of escape, flee, freedom, run, don’t look back.”

Throwback: Black History Month: Larry Levan

February 17, 2021 is the 17th day of Black History Month. The month has been rushing by — but throughout this past month, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styes. Hopefully, this may be a bit of a primer one the Black experience.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Larry Levan was a legendary dance music producer and club DJ, who was best known for his decade residency at Paradise Garage. Levan began experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers with his production work and live sets, making him one of the godfathers of house music. So if you dig house music, remember : house music is defiantly Black, fiercely queer as fuck and political by necessity.

To my knowledge, there isn’t much video of Larry Levan doing his thing — but there’s some audio of some his DJ sets, including these two.

New Video: Mexico City’s Sotomayor Releases a Trippy Visual for “Sin control”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Mexico City, Mexico-based sibling electro pop duo Sotomayor. The act, which the duo founded in 2015 features arguably two of their hometown’s most accomplished musicians: Paulina Sotomayor (vocals) is known for her work as a drummer in local rock/folk act folk act Jefes del Desierto,  and Raul Sotomayor (production), best known for his work as one-half of award-winning jazz/funk duo Beat Buffet and for creating DayOff, a Sunday afternoon party that presents global bass acts from around the world.  

Since their formation, they’ve released two albums –2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — that have received attention from Vice, MTV and KEXP for a sound that meshes elements of cumbia, Afrobeat, dancehall, Peruvian chicha and merengue with modern electronic production and rock ‘n’ roll-like urgency. Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the UK, the States and Colombia.

Recorded in studios in Puerto Rico and Mexico, the duo’s recently released Eduardo Cabra-produced, third full-length album Origenes further cementing their sound — while further drawing from the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets. Possessing a strong sense of tradition, the album’s material is centered around their unerring knack for pairing pop friendly melodies with rock ‘n’ roll urgency. But unlike their previously released work, the Sotomayors add and explore Afro Caribbean percussion to their overall sound and aesthetic. 

“Sin control” Origenes’ third single continues a run of club friendly material — but in this case, the track is a decidedly Larry Levan-era house inspired track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping Latin-influenced percussion and Paulina Sotomayor’s sultry and ethereal vocals. Nodding at the work of artists like Sango and Branko, the track is an infectious and summery bop written and designed to get asses shaking on the dance floor. 

Directed by Drew Boyle, the recently released video for “Sin Control” features some mind-bending  and lysergic computer animated visuals — also by Boyle — that at times pulsate to the music’s hypnotic beats. 

New Audio: Mexico City-based Sibling Duo Sotomayor Returns with a Shimmering House Music-Influenced Bop

Sotomayor, is a rapidly rising Mexico City, Mexico-based sibling electro pop duo featuring arguably two of their hometown’s most accomplished musicians: Paulina Sotomayor (vocals), best known for her work as a drummer in local rock/folk act Jefes del Desierto,  and Raul Sotomayor (production), best known for his work as one-half of award-winning jazz/funk duo Beat Buffet and for creating DayOff, a Sunday afternoon party that presents global bass acts rom around the world. The sibling duo founded the act back in 2015 and although it’s their first collaborative project together, they’ve released two albums — 2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — that have received attention from Vice, MTV and KEXP for a sound that meshes elements of cumbia, Afrobeat, dancehall, Peruvian chicha and merengue with modern electronic production and rock ‘n’ roll-like urgency. Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the UK, the States and Colombia.

Recorded in studios in Puerto Rico and Mexico, the duo’s soon-to-be released Eduardo Cabra-produced, third full-lengh album Origenes is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Wonderwheel Recordings. Reportedly, the act’s third album finds them continuing to draw their sound and aesthetic from the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets.  Possessing a strong sense of tradition, the material further cements the sibling duo’s reputation for an unerring knack for melody paired with a rock ‘n’ roll-influenced urgency — but unlike their previously released albums, Origenes finds the Sotomayors exploring and adding Afro Caribbean percussion to the mix.

Now. as you may recall, earlier this month I wrote about Origenes’ second single “Meneate pa’ mi,” a decidedly upbeat track centered around Raul Sotomayor’s thumping, club friendly production featuring a chopped and looped horn sample, tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Paulina Sotomayor’s self-assured, half-sung, half-rapped vocal delivery. Interestingly, much like JOVM mainstay El Dusty, the Mexico City-based duo’s newest single envisions a globalized, genre-free world, a world as the great George Clinton once sung that’s “one nation under a groove.” Interestingly, “Sin control” continues a run of club friendly material — but in this case, the track is a decidedly Larry Levan-era house inspired track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping Latin-influenced percussion and Paulina Sotomayor’s sultry and ethereal vocals. Nodding at the work of artist like Sango and Branko, the track is an infectious and summery bop designed to get asses shaking. 

New Video: DRAMA Releases a Surreal and Otherworldly Visual for “Years”

Tracing their origins back to a chance meeting between its core duo back in 2014, the Chicago-based pop duo DRAMA — producer and DJ Na’el Shehade and vocalist Via Rosa — have managed to bootstrap a subtle yet rapid rise with a proudly DIY ethos, releasing several EPs of material that blurs the lines between R&B, dance pop, heartbreak and bliss, centered around a sound that meshes Shehade’s Chicago house-infused production and Rosa’s soulful delivery, inspired by jazz, hip-hop and Bossa nova. 

Now, as you may recall, the Chicago-based pop act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dance Without Me is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Ghostly International. The album’s material reportedly finds the duo recasting romantic tragedy as moonlit self-acceptance. Instead of wallowing alone in their blues and heartache, the material features characters who sashay and strut, knowing their self-worth while being vulnerable. This album is dedicated to the people watching their friend’s love-lives grow and happen around them, and not having anyone,” Rosa says in press notes.

I’ve written about two of the album’s releases singles so far: “Gimme Gimme,” a sultry synthesis of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa and classic, Larry Levan-era house — and “Nine One One,” a slow-burning, cinematic bit of Quiet Storm-like soul pop. “Years,” Dance Without Me’s fourth and latest single is a decidedly R&B-tinged affair that nods at What’s the 411-era Mary J. Blige and Robin S.; however, at its core, the song is full of uneasy conflict and bitter uncertainty : the song’s narrator recognizes that they’re deeply devoted to someone, who isn’t right for them. “This track is a bittersweet song about the conflict of wanting to let go but still hold onto someone you love, but you know they’re not right for you,” DRAMA’s Via Rosa says in press notes. “It’s about knowing you should walk away but also wanting to confess your unconditional and eternal love.”

Directed by Adam Chiayat, the recently released video features the members of DRAMA performing through a series of surreal and otherworldly transitioning spaces. “Filmed practically, we set out to create a series of otherworldly, constantly transitioning spaces for DRAMA to perform through,” the video’s director says in press notes. “Emotions can feel like they take us on a ride, floating us forward and bringing us towards things we need to tackle in our lives. The floating and the spaces seek to represent the themes of the song – speaking to your own heart, confronting your past and opening yourself back up to vulnerability.”

New Audio: Introducing the Sleek Dance Floor Friendly Sounds of Chicago’s DRAMA

Na’el Shehade is a Chicago-born and-based, Palestinian-American producer and DJ, who inherited an entrepreneurial drive from his late father, who immigrated from Palestine to the States in the 70s to build a better life. Shehade fell in love with DJ culture as a kid and as an adult took up music production and engineering. The Chicago-born and-based producer and DJ’s interest and passion led to a diverse and eclectic array of professional opportunities, including early studio work with Chance the Rapper and Kanye West and music projects for MTV and Bravo. 

Shehade’s collaborator Via Rosa grew up in a rather musical household: her parents played in a reggae band and toured as a family, homeschooling Rosa into her early teens. Although her music listening was limited primarily to oldies, Sade, Brazilian music and Afrobeat, a teenaged Rosa kept poetry journals — and by high school, she started writing songs and making beats. After relocating to Chicago in 2010, Via Roa connected with THEMPeople, a collective at the center of her adopted hometown’s sprawling hip-hop scene. 

Interestingly, the Chicago-based duo’s collaboration together, DRAMA can trace its origins to a chance meeting between them back in 2014. And since its formation, the duo have bootstrapped a subtle yet rapid rise on their own terms, centered around a sound that meshes Shehade’s Chicago house-infused production and Rosa’s soulful delivery, inspired by jazz, hip-hop and Bossa nova while managing to blur the lines between R&B, dance pop, heartbreak and bliss. Along with that, the duo have had a long-held history of a proud and bold DIY ethos, self-releasing several EPs and making multiple tours — on their own terms. 

DRAMA’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dance Without Me is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Ghostly International. Thematically, the album’s material reportedly finds the duo recasting romantic tragedy as moonlit self-acceptance while the material pairs  Rosa’s candid lyrics focused on expressionistic narratives about the intricacies of interpersonal relationships with sleek, dance floor friendly production. Instead of wallowing alone in their blues and heartache, the material features characters who sashay and strut, knowing their self-worth while being vulnerable. This album is dedicated to the people watching their friend’s love-lives grow and happen around them, and not having anyone,” Rosa says in press notes. 

“Gimme Gimme,” Dance Without Me’s second and latest single is a sleek and slickly produced club banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Via Rosa’s effortlessly soulful vocals, twinkling hi-hats and a euphoric hook. And while seemingly being a sultry synthesis of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa and classic, Larry Levan-era house, the track finds its love-sick narrator wobbling between aching vulnerability and proud, self-reliance, as she searches for a sign that it’s okay to love again. 

“The idea was to have a conversation with my myself about what kind of man I’m looking for,” Rosa explains in press notes. “In the chorus I repeat the line ‘I need you to stand and deliver. Cause I need a man that’s not gonna give me any any…’ The end I purposely left blank so listeners could insert what they don’t want from their next lover. Oddly enough the song was inspired by the closing scene in the movie Grease where Sandy sings to Danny ‘You better shape up cause I need a man.’ Only in my world, I’m Sandy, my heart is Danny and I’m telling my heart to shape up and give me what I want.”