JOVM celebrates Nile Rodgers’ 69th birthday.
Rising Paris-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Jenn Sarkis is a true global citizen with her music influences informed by her Lebanese upbringing, French education and a childhood spent in the United Arab Emirates — and her longing to define her own sense of identity.
Sarkis emerged in 2016 with her debut single “Breaking Boundaries,” which received airplay from Virgin Radio and playlisting on Spotify New Talent. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, the Paris-based pop artist released her debut EP, 2017’s Stay, which featured “Here We Go Again.”
The Paris-based pop artist’s full-length debut is forthcoming — and in the meantime, she released the album’s first single, “When A Girl Says No,” strutting and defiant feminist anthem, seemingly rooted in lived-in personal experience an featuring a slick club thumping and radio friendly production with thumping beats, squiggling Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, a sinuous bass line, Sarkis’ self-assured, take no prisoners and take no bullshit delivery and a rousingly anthemic hook. On multiple listens, I could easily envision the women in my life shouting along to the song while pregaming for a night out, while driving, when hearing the song in the club and so on.
“When a Girl Says No,” was written to support to the woman across the world, who are speaking up and screaming out “we’ve had enough!” — and then going out to change the world.
Formed back in 2014, the Matlock, Derbyshire, UK-based electro pop trio Patawawa — multi-instrumentalist and producer Rory Lovatt, vocalist Sam Wilmot and vocalist Beth Garrett — burst onto the international dance music scene with an effervescent blend of disco, funk and pop that draws influence from the likes of Pet Shop Boys and Prince. Since their formation the trio have built up a massive profile and following: they’ve received airplay and praise from BBC Introducing; they’ve collaborated with French producer Tez Cadey on a Spotify viral hit; they’ve played sold-out shows in Japan; they’ve participated in a band partnership with KRK Systems; and lastly, they’ve crafted a soundtrack for Millie Bobby Brown’s fashion brand.
Building upon a rising national and international profile, the British dance trio’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Power Up is slated for a March 26, 2021 — and reportedly, the album will further cement their winning sound, which manages to be simultaneously nostalgia-inducing yet contemporary. Album single “Just Not With You”is a late 70s/early 80s disco and New Wave-inspired strut centered around a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, and percussive polyrhythm, shimmering analog synths and soulful yet determined vocals. Sonically while recalling things like Fear of Music-era Talking Heads, Chic, Tom Tom Club, and 80s synth funk, the song is a self-empowerment anthem featuring a narrator, who has built up the confidence and self-assuredness to move on from a relationship.
Recently, French producer Anorraak remixed “Just Not With You.” While the original was a slick and nostalgia-inducing mix of disco and New Wave, Anoraak’s remix. While retaining Beth Garrett’s soulful and self-assured vocals and brief blasts of the original’s guitars Anorrak gives the song a throughout reworking: most of the original’s instrumentation is replaced by dense layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, a funkier and punchier bass line and some dub effects while retaining Beth Garrett’s soulful and self-assured vocals. The original’s message still hods but the new take, manages to remind me a bit of Yaz’s “Situation.”
“We got in contact with Anoraak through Instagram and absolutely loved his work,” the rising British trio say of their collaboration with the rising French producer. “It just seemed like a no brainer to work together and we are absolutely chuffed with the result.”
“I really loved working on this remix,” Anoraak adds. “The vocals on the track reminded me a little of CSS so I tried to give a bit of that feeling with some dirty synth sounds on top of a disco base.”
L’Impératice — founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals) — is a risingParis-based electro pop sextet that formed back in 2012. And since their formation, the French electro pop act has been extremely busy and prolific: within their first three years together, they released 2012’s self-titled debut EP., 2014’s Sonate Pacifique EP and 2015’s Odyssée EP.
In 2016, L’imperatrice released a re-edited, remixed and slowed down version of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, which was inspired by a fan mistakenly playing a vinyl copy of Odyssée at the wrong speed. L’Impératice followed that up with a version of Odysseé featuring arrangements centered around violin, cello and acoustic guitar. During the summer of 2017, the Parisian electro pop act signed to microqlima records, who released that year’s Séquences EP.
2018’s full-length debut Matahari featured “Erreur 404,” which they performed on the French TV show Quotidien. Since then, the Parisian electro pop act have released an English language version of Matahari — and they’ve been busy working on the highly anticipated Renaud Letang co-produced sophomore album Taku Tsubo. Slated for a March 26, 2021 release through their longtime label home, the album derives its name from the medical term for broken heart syndrome, takutsubo syndrome (蛸 壺, from Japanese “octopus trap”). The condition usually manifests itself as deformation of the heart’s left ventricle caused by severe emotional or physical stress — i.e., the death of a loved one, an intense argument with someone you care about, a breakup, a sudden illness or the like. So, in case you were a wondering: yes, an untreated broken heart can actually kill you.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve written about two of Taku Tsubo’s released singles:
“Voodoo?,” a slinky disco strut featuring a propulsive groove, layers of arpeggiated synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals. Interestingly, one of the few songs written and sung in English on the album, the track features a narrator, who attends a party and decides to leave early to read Torture Magazine instead.
“Peur des filles,” another slinky disco floor strut that’s a scathing and sarcastic ode to the differences between men and women that points out how shitty men are.
Album opener “Anomalie bleue” continues a remarkable run of infectious and slinky disco-tinged pop. Centered around an expansive song structure, featuring shimming and glistening synth arpeggios, skittering four-on-the-floor, a strutting wah-wah pedaled bass line, squiggling guitar lines and Benguigui’s come hither vocals, “Anonmalie bleue” is one part Giorgio Moroder-like disco, one part Kraftwerk-like retro-futurism, one part Shalamar-like funk within an expansive, mind-bending song structure. But just under the dance floor friendly grooves, the song’s narrator charmingly describes love-at-first site with a beautiful, blue wearing anomaly that suddenly appears in a lobby full of drab suited con-men, grifters and CEOs and bored business travelers.
Shot late last year as a part of a longer concert stream, this slick and intimately shot footage captures the Parisian sextet wearing Buck Rogers-like outfits while playing their funky grooves.
Today is the 16th day of February — and the 16th day Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.
As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently 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.
Nile Rodgers has written, cowritten and/or produced some of the biggest and most beloved dance floor and pop hits of the past 50 years while working with a who’s who list of artists across a diverse and eclectic array of artists. I’d guarantee that Rodgers has worked with an artist you love on a song you love. And as a result, his sound and approach has been instrumental in your life.
Nicola Ormiston is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter and producer, who steps out into the limelight as a solo artist with his recording project Ormiston. Ormiston’s debut single “Rebel” is a shimmering disco-tinged track centered around Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a strutting bass line, glistening synths and an infectious hook. And while the Montreal-based artist cites Toro Y Moi and MGMT as influences on his sound and work, “Rebel” to my ears at least, brings Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk to mind — in particular, the equally infectious and summery “Get Lucky.”
Ironically, the song’s breezy and infectious nature, “Rebel” possesses subtle yet very dark undertones. As Ormiston explains in press notes. “‘Rebel’ is a song about a turbulent relationship between two lovers,” the sort of passionate relationship that brings out the best and worst out of the people within it.
Jordan Heimburger is a Los Angeles-based guitarist, who has spent the past few years as a session player and a touring musician with acts like The Feed, John Henry and Kevin Bowers’ Nova. Earlier this year, Heimburger began translating his experience of living during a pandemic into a series of songs that drew inspiration from the dystopian sci fi movies and books that seemed to come to unsettlingly vivid life. As songs began to take shape, Heimburger began his latest project Spacette and then reached out to a collection of acclaimed and talented local musicians including Anna Louise Thaiss (vocals), who has worked with Honey Whiskey Trio and as a solo artist; Heather Rivas (keys), who works as a solo artist; Doug Organ (keys, production, engineering), who works with Here Lies Me and Stunt Double; Kevin Bowers (drums), who has worked with The Feed and Kevin Bowers’ Nova; Tony Barbara (drums), who has worked with John Henry and Laren Loveless; John Pessoni (drums), who has worked with The Urge; Ben Reece (sax), who has worked with The Feed, Ben Reece Unity Quartet; and Bryan Hoskins (vocals), who has worked with John Henry to flesh out the songs and contribute solos.
Slated for release next week, Spaceette’s debut EP was recorded using remote recording — as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, much like most of the material being released right now. Interestingly, “Sweat,” the EP’s latest single is centered around squiggling synth arpeggios, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, thumping four-on-the-floor and a driving motorik groove paired with ironically detached vocals. Sonically, the track is a slick synthesis of creepy and cinematic John Carpenter-like analog synth soundtracks, disco funk and 80s New Wave.
The recently released video follows a female dancer, who dances to the song with a series of moves that mix hip-hop, ballet and club dancing — with the video suggesting that when times get tough, dance your troubles away.
Emily Moore is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who may be best known as a touring musician, who has shared stages with Grammy Award-winning act fun., Børns, Ella Vos, X Ambassadors and a lengthy list of others. Moore is also the creative mastermind behind the indie pop, solo recording project Total Brutal. And withTotal Brutal, Moore’s goal is to spread positivity and self-empowerment, based on an ethos of standing up for yourself in order to be heard and seen, facing fears head on –and most importantly, being comfortable in your own skin.
Inspired by a series of strong female artists, Moore is determined to help other young women make their worth known and their voices heard. “It took me a really long time to understand that I am allowed to speak up, have opinions and speak directly,” Moore explains. “I’m starting to realize that I can be myself and be liked and professional all the same. I want to help foster that adventurous spirit and confidence in young women!”
Moore’s latest Total Brutal single “Egypt” is a slickly produced, dance floor friendly, pop confection centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, Nile Rodgers-like guitar, an infectious hook and Moore’s self-assured yet coquettish vocals. Seemingly indebted to 80s New Wave and synth pop, the track finds its narrator desperately trying to connect with the feeling of childhood excitement over what the future could hold. Of course, the past year has had us feeling fearful and uncertain — but the infectious track manages to remind the listener that there’s hope for something better, as long as you’re still here.
Moore confides, “I constantly need to remind myself to play more and lighten up. It’s easy to get lost in the seriousness of life but I want to go through life having fun and viewing everything with curiosity.”
Chris Glover is a New York-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and electro pop artist best known as Penguin Prison. With Penguin Prison, Glover has a critically applauded discography that includes 2011’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Lost In New York — and a handful of viral hits including “Don’t Fuck With My Money,” “Show Me The Way” and RAC’s “Hollywood.” Additionally, Glover has released acclaimed remixes of Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding, and Imagine Dragons.
Glover’s latest Penguin Prison single “Better” is the first bit of new material from the acclaimed pop artist since last year’s “The Heat.” Beginning with a arpeggiated piano and soulful vocal-led intro with the quick addition of layered harmony, handclaps and shimmering synths, the track turns into a rousingly anthemic banger with the addition a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and an even more uptempo, two-step inducing groove. Subtly nodding at soul and gospel spirituals, the song was written with the direct intention of uplifting listeners and inspiring them to hold on to the hope of a better world — even if it’s just for the duration of a fun pop song. Honestly, considering the dire state of everything, the song offers a necessary escape, as all great pop songs inevitably do.
“This song is my response to the times we find ourselves in,” Glover explains. “The global pandemic, social injustice, climate change; it’s overwhelming. I wanted to write about rising above it all. I want the listener to feel hopeful that we can find a way to get through even if it’s just for the duration of the song.”
Formed back in 2013, the Talinn, Estonia-based funk sextet Lexsoul Dancemachine — Condor (vocals, congas), Jonas Mattius Sarapuu (keys), Kristen Kütner (keys, guitar, cowbell), Caspar Salo (drums, percussion). Jürgen Kütner (guitar) and Martin Laksberg (bass) — have developed reputation for turning venues into sweaty dance parties across Estonia and the other Baltic States with an infectious, feel good take on funk centered around thumping and propulsive bass lines, syncopated rhymes, infectious dance floor friendly grooves and soulful vocals.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Estonian funk sextet self-produced their debut effort, 2015’s Deus Lex Machina, which went on to receive praise from DJs and listeners alike — with “Beef Grinder” receiving airplay on Craig Charles’ BBC 6 and BBC 2 Funk & Soul Show and then being included on the compilation Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Vol. 4. Building upon a rapidly growing profile. the act spent the following year extensively touring with key sets at some of the region’s biggest festivals including Talinn Music Week, Positivus, Funky Elephant and Finland’s Pori Jazz Festival.
Mid 2016 saw the release of “Coconuts,” a tropical disco-influenced, funky tune that received attention globally while topping local radio charts. And as a result of the enthusiastic response to the single internationally, the members of Lexsoul Dancemachine were encouraged and continued onward with their new sonic direction,. In 2017, the Estonian funk act went on their first UK tour, playing successful shows in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds with a sold-out Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club show at Band on the Wall. Further encouraged by a growing international profile, Lexsoul Dancemachine wrote and recorded their sophomore effort 2018’s Sunny Holiday in Lexico, which was released through Funk Embassy Records.
The rapidly rising Tallinn-based outfit is currently working on their third album — but in the meantime, their latest single “Carambola Jelly” is an infectious and swaggering, funky disco-tinged, club banger centered around a propulsive bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Condor’s self-assured and sultry vocals. But peel back the layers a bit, and you’ll discover a song that playfully nods at Latin funk, tropicalia, jazz, and Larry Levan house within an expansive, jammy song structure.
Directed by cult Ugandan low budget action movie director Nabwana I.G.G., the recently released video for “Carambola Jelly” is set in the slums of Kampala. While telling a Taken-like tale of a woman being abducted and her loved ones desperately searching for her, we see some surrealistic yet gorgeous moments of profound joy — in which we see people captured by the groove in the middle of action movie tropes. There’s also cameo from the band, too. Of course, the video ends with a happy ending with a romantic reunion of the video’s central couple.