Tag: SOFTSPOT

New Video: Kinlaw Shares Mind-bending Visual for “The Mechanic”

New York-based composer, choreographer, multi-disciplinary artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Sarah Kinlaw may be best known for their multimedia-based productions and collaborations with the likes of Devonte Hynes (a.k.a Blood Orange), Caroline Polacheck, SOPHIE, Dan Deacon and others that feature as many as 200 performers. She was aslo the co-founder of acclaimed JOVM mainstay act Softspot

Kinlaw stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist with her solo recording project Kinlaw. Last year, saw the release of the New York-based artist’s full-length debut, The Tipping Scale, which found Kinlaw showcasing their work in a new light.

Initially writing material with a goal of finding entry points that felt honest and authentic to their work, Kinlaw frequently saw their music directly relating to motion: “I would start with a gesture and let it build into something until a memory attached itself to it,” the New York-based artist explained in press notes. “The memory would become a story and the story would reveal itself as something important that needed to be expressed in this album.” 

Lyrically, the album’s material bridges the universal with the deeply personal as Kinlaw explores loss, empathy, regret, confusion, strength, identity, hope, power, and change among other things. Sonically, the album’s songs are centered around slick electronic production and a refined compositional sensibility with ornate flourishes paired with the New York based artist’s expressive and gorgeous vocals.

In the lead-up to The Tipping Point‘s release, I managed to write about three of the album’s singles:

  • Blindspot,” a slow-burning and dramatic track featuring Kinalw’s yearning and ethereal crooning paired with shimmering synth arpeggios and stuttering beats.
  • Permissions” a track inspired by physical movement that evokes a rapidly vacillating array of emotional states including confusion, heartache, self-flagellation and despair as its narrator seemingly is in the middle of a difficult conversation with themselves. 
  • Haircut,” a deeply intimate monologue of a song that reveals its narrator’s inner world with an uncomfortable and unvarnished honesty that was centered around reverb-drenched, ethereal production featuring glistening synth apreggios and bells.

Kinlaw begins 2022 with the release of a remix EP titled TTS Extended — and The Tipping Point‘s fourth single, album opening track, the Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel-like “The Mechanic,” a single, which features an expansive, cinematic production and arrangement of glistening and twinkling synth arpeggios, skittering castanet-like percussion, angular guitar and bass paired with a soaring hook and Kinlaw’s achingly expressive vocals. The song’s narrator discusses their feelings about a relationship that’s rooted in a weird and uneven power dynamic; but the song also touches upon regret, self-doubt and confusion simultaneously.

Created by with New York-based artist and creator Dance Lawyer over the course of several months, the recently released video for “The Mechanic” sees Kinlaw attempting to bridge the gap between video recording and live performance, while pushing the idea of movement being deeply musical — and sound is an intricate dance.

Kinlaw’s interest in psychoacoustics and cinematic sound design led her to recruit sound designer Colin Alexander, who weaves in sound effects with Kinlaw’s choreography, giving the video’s dance sequence and added musical quality.

“The remixes are playful. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still exploratory,” Kinlaw says. “Video brought new life into these recordings initially, so I worked with Colin Alexander to weave SFX with the choreography, turning the dance into this added musical element within the track.” 

Oakland-based dream pop trio There’s Talk — Olivia Lee, Kellen Balla and Young Lee — have developed and honed a sound that balances elements of experimental electro pop and reverb-drenched shoegaze in a way that has drawn comparisons to JOVM mainstays Beach House and M83.

Thematically, the tiro’s work draws from Olivia Lee’s Chinese heritage and queer identity, while specifically touching upon family, both biological and chosen — and divine coincidence. But interestingly enough, their sophomore EP, last year’s Great Falls focuses on mourning, grief, memories and longing inspired by the loss of someone very dear to the band’s frontperson. “Grief does not cease,” Olivia Lee writes on the band’s website, “It becomes a sort of friend to hold, and a reminder that we are alive to honor, to remember, to be present, to have a future and to live it as fully as you could ever dream.”

Great Falls‘ latest single “Ascension” is a hazy and slow-burning track centered around twinkling keys, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Olivia Lee’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. Bearing a resemblance to Bloom and Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry-era Beach House and SoftSpot’s Clearing, “Ascension” feels like a half-remembered yet vivid dream fueled by longing and life’s sad lack of closure in anything.

New Video: Kinlaw Releases a Feverish and Surreal Visual for “Permissions”

Sarah Kinlaw is a New York-based composer, choreographer, multimedia artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, known for multimedia productions and collaborations with Devonte Hynes (a.k.a Blood Orange), Caroline Polacheck, SOPHIE, Dan Deacon and others that feature as many as 200 performs. Kinlaw is also the co-founder of acclaimed JOVM mainstay act Softspot.

The New York-based multidisciplinary artist fully steps out into the limelight as a solo artist with her solo recording project Kinlaw — and the project’s full-length debut The Tipping Scale reportedly finds her showcasing her work in a new light. Lyrically, the album’s material bridges the deeply personal with universal themes, revealing a songwriter exploring loss, regret, confusion, strength, identity and change. Kinlaw explains that the album’s tittle is an ideal metaphor for the album, the idea of an ever-present slipping in and out of change, and an acceptance of this kind of change.

Kinlaw’s debut effort also reportedly finds her unifying her multidisciplinary practice. Initially writing with the goal of finding entry points that felt honest and authentic to her practice, she frequently saw her music relating to motion. “I would start with a gesture and let it build into something until a memory attached itself to it,” the New York-based artist says. “The memory would become a story and the story would reveal itself as something important that needed to be expressed in this album.”

Sonically, the album’s material is generally centered around slick, sometimes dance floor electronic production with a refined, compositional sensibility featuring ornate flourishes. Last month, I wrote about The Tipping Point’s first single, the slow-burning and dramatic “Blindspot,” which featured Kinlaw’s yearning yet ethereal crooning over shimmering synth arpeggios and stuttering beats.

Beginning with a slow-burning atmospheric introductory section featuring squiggly synths, “Permissions,” The Tipping Point’s second and latest single slowly builds up tempo with the song capturing a rapidly vacillating array of emotional states including confusion, heartache, self-flagellation, despair and so on, as its narrator seemingly has a difficult conversation with herself.

“I only allowed myself to write this track while I was moving forward physically. I turned it into a bit of a game; there are many mental games woven through all of the tracks, really, but this one has the most,” Kinlaw explains. “I wrote ‘Permissions’ on a bus, in the back of a car, on a plane, and every lyric and melody was written while walking or running. I was in an extraordinary depression at that time and wanted to honor it, yet still, write something for a future that would hopefully feel different.” Kinlaw adds, “It can sometimes be challenging for me to sing it. I like that about this one. The feelings are hard, the words are hard, it’s hard to sing, yet here we are, dancing together.”

Directed by Kathleen Dycaico, the recently released video for “Permissions” is a surrealistic fever dream that follows a red leather jacket wearing Kinlaw as she crawls out of a car wreck that probably should have killed her. As she walks forward, a small group of Instagram warriors pose for selfies in front of the mangled car, a couple of lovers run up to a truck to make out, and a news reporter tries to interview Kinlaw. But as she continues to move forward, Kinalw seems to express a growing sense of joy by the time the video ends.

The Tipping Point is slated for a January 22, 2021 release through Bayonet Records.

Elinor Sterner Bonander is a singer/songwriter, best known as the creative mastermind behind the rising experimental pop act Bonander. Along with a backing band that features Elias Ortiz (drums), Linnea Svedmyr (keys) and Olov Domeij (bass), Bonander crafts incredibly cinematic electronic pop, centered around jazz composition. Lyrically, her work thematically focuses on existential questions about the world, seen through a decidedly feminist lens.

“Backseat,” Bonander’s latest single is centered around shimmering analog synth arpeggios, soaring strings and Bonander’s ethereal and yearning vocals. Sonically BUT bringing Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp and Clearing-era SofSpot, the track sonically aims to evoke the daydreams and imagination of childhood –but while simultaneously evoking the somber gravity of adult life, as well as the uncertainty and fragility of our existence.

“This song is about growing up and the unwillingness to see the world as it is,” Bonander explains in press notes. “As a kid you would fall asleep in the backseat of your family’s car, with that comforting feeling. The night wasn’t scary, it was just…safe. Now, you have to walk home alone with the keys in your fist, looking over your shoulder.”

Bonander is currently working on her new album Things We Don’t Talk About, which tells the stories of women both from history and her personal life whose contributions have previously been overlooked.

New Video: New York-based Artist Kinlaw Releases a Cinematic and Dramatic Visual for Slow-burning “Blindspot”

Kinlaw is a New York-based composer, choreographer, multimedia artist and singer/songwriter who is known locally for her solo work and multimedia productions that feature as many as two-hundred performers and contributions from Devonte Hynes (a.k.a Blood Orange), Caroline Polacheck, SOPHIE, Dan Deacon and others, as well as a number of renowned dancers and performance artists.

The New York-based artist’s full-length debut The Tipping Scale reportedly finds her showcasing her work in a new light. The album’s lyrically bridges the deeply personal with universal themes revealing a songwriter bravely exploring loss, regret, confusion, strength, identity and change. She explains that The Tipping Scale is an ideal metaphor for the record, the idea of an ever-present slipping in and out of change, and an acceptance of this kind of change.

The Tipping Scale finds her unifying her multidisciplinary practice. Writing with the goal for finding entry points for storytelling that felt honest and authentic to her practice, she often saw her music relating to motion. “I would start with a gesture and let it build into something until a memory attached itself to it,” the New York-based artist says. “The memory would become a story and the story would reveal itself as something important that needed to be expressed in this album.”

Sonically speaking, the album’s material features ornate flourishes, dance floor ruminations and slick production with a refined, compositional sensibility. The album’s first single “Blindspot” is a slow-burning, tense, and dramatic track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, stuttering beats and Kinlaw’s ethereal crooning that reminds me of a atmospheric, synth-based take on Softspot’s dreamy Clearing — with a dark and brooding air.

Director by Kathleen Dycaico, the recently released cinematically shot video shows the adult Kinlaw in a futuristic enclosure, reckoning with her much younger self through an incredible series of dramatic choreographed moves — with the initial interaction being aggressive and forceful before going through a tender acceptance and acknowledgement between the adult and child.

“‘Blindspot’ is an excavation of the psychological mind that analyzes the link between our relationships with the people around us and our acceptance of self,” the New York-based artist explains in press notes. “I started doing a really cool therapy called EMDR while in process of developing this video with director Kathleen Dycaico and was able to recognize that the refusal to accept time, mainly myself during some of those times, was reflected in the way I was speaking about relationships. Our child selves are so brilliant — they are resilient, tricky, explosive, expressive. I needed to start off this album by giving a nod to the dynamic ways we perceive not only the people around us, but our integrated self.”


Matilda Mård is a Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the emerging recording project Many Voices Speak. Started in late 2016, Mård received early attention for her cover of “Blue Moon,” which eventually landed on Billboard‘s Emerging Artists Chart. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter’s debut single “Video Child” appeared in the Netflix drama To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which led to a growing international profile, in addition to the release of her debut EP Away For All Time.

2018’s full-length debut Tank Town featured a handful of attention grabbing singles including “Necessaries,” “I Saw You,” Chances” and “Bony Shelter,” which was dubbed one of the “Most Beautiful Songs in the World” by Spotify.

Recorded in Berlin and released through Strangers Candy Records, Mård’s latest single,  the Peter Nygård-produced “Want It Kept,” is a slow-burning and brooding track centered around an sparse arrangement of ethereal synths, shimmering guitars and Mård’s achingly tender and wispy vocals. Sonically recalling the likes of Kate Bush, ACES and Softspot, the song is an atmospheric meditation on the inherent sacrifices and compromises of adult love, rooted in deep-seated regret and lived-in, personal experience. And as a result, the song manages to be a bittersweet and tacit acknowledgement of the fact that romantic relationships can have a person twisting and turning themselves into different configurations — without ever quite know why you’re drawn to that person or situation.

 

 

New Audio: Acclaimed Singer Songwriter and Producer Yohuna Releases a Hazy and Gorgeous Meditation on Confusing Boundaries and Relationships

Johanne (Yo-HUN-ah) Swanson is a Eau Claire, WI-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has been writing and releasing music since 2011 with her solo recording project Yohuna, including her full-length debut, 2016’s Patientness, an ode to patience, endurance, and duality.  Swanson’s long-awaited and forthcoming sophomore full-length, Mirroring is slated for a June 7, 2019 release through Orchid Tapes and Fear of Missing Out Records, and reportedly, the album thematically is a reflection on how relationships can distort and refract our sense of self, often creating confused boundaries that allow someone else’s life to become your own — and the difficulties of untangling yourself from all of that. Interestingly, the album’s material was primarily written on guitar and is centered around sweeping and mostly organic arrangements featuring cello, harp, trombone, drums, atmospheric synths and her ethereal vocals. 

The album’s latest single, album title track “Mirroring” is a slow-burning, atmospheric and almost shoegazer-like track built around shimmering guitars, a simple but propulsive backbeat, a languorous hook and Swanson’s ethereal vocals. And while sonically bearing a resemblance to SOFTSPOT’s gorgeous Clearing, the song’s narrator evokes a desperate cycle of being (and feeling) completely lost in a relationship — to the point that she’s forced to wonder if she can remember where she began and where the other ended. 

With the release of “Superego,” which received nearly 3 million streams on Spotify, the Vienna, Austria-based indie electro pop duo Leyya, quickly emerged into both the national and international scenes. Adding to a growing profile, the duo comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer played sets across the European Union’s festival circuit. including The Great EscapeLiverpool Sound CityTallinn Music WeekPrimavera SoundReeperbahn FestivalIceland Airwaves and a headlining set at Popfest. Along with that the duo have received airplay on Huw Stephens‘ and Phil Taggart‘s BBC Radio 1 shows and Lauren Laverne‘s BBC Radio 6 show, been playlisted on Germany’s Radio 1, as well as praise from Pigeons and PlanesWonderland MagazineClash MagazineKonbiniThe 405 and Consequence of Sound among others.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you’d know that the duo’s sophomore effort Sauna was released earlier this year, and from album single “Drumsolo,” the duo further cemented a growing reputation for crafting ambient and moody electro pop while expanding upon their sound with elements of hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a way that reminded me of Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS and Clearing-era Softspot but with a coquettish and swaggering self-assuredness. Interestingly, “Wannabe,” is a standalone single, released as a follow up to their critically applauded sophomore effort and the track is a breezy and summery track that finds the duo’s sound nodding at JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso, as Lindinger’s coquettish and ethereal vocals float over a slick production consisting of layers of stuttering and staccato beats, bubbling synths, gently swirling electronics and an anthemic hook. Lyrically, the song manages to walk a tightrope between spirited animation and deep introspection, which gives the danceable song a palpable yet subtle emotional heft.

As the duo says of the single, “After releasing our second album Sauna we tried to avoid the post-release-down with being creative and writing new music straight away. The song is circling around a problem almost everyone can relate to: Wanting to be like somebody else. Ironically – we find – its often also the other way around.“

 

 

 

 

New Video: Married, Art Pop Duo, The Parlor Releases a Thoughtful Meditation on Grief

With the release of their critically applauded sophomore album Wahzu Wahzu, the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo The Parlor, comprised of multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, production and husband and wife team of Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans further cemented a growing reputation for a fearless willingness to explore a variety of sound palettes and styles while crafting intimate and thoughtful pop music; in fact, the Altamont, NY-based duo have progressed from indie folk to stomp and clap trance folk to “campfire disco” as Pitchfork described Wahzu Wahzu.

Slated for an April 13, 2018 the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo’s forthcoming, third full-length effort Kiku derives its name for the Japanese word for chrysanthemum. According to O’Connor and Krans, chrysanthemum began blooming in their farmhouse garden immediately following their second miscarriage, and for the couple, the flower became a symbol of their grief, despair, resilience and faith. Sonically speaking, the album represents a continued evolution of their overall sound, as Kiku is the duo’s first foray into trigged samples and orchestral synth soundscaping. “Kiku grew into something we never anticipated,” the couple admits in press notes. As they were grieving, they turned to their art and began writing and recording material inspired by what they were feeling and thinking, as the couple says they felt themselves “reaching out across the plane of the living and the dead, where we stumbled upon the tiny hand of the soul we lost. We brought a pice of her, of Kiku, back with us.”

Understandably, the material on Kiku sounds gloomier and more anxious than their previously released work while reportedly balancing a playful and relaxed air at points that suggests that while profoundly serious, the album can be coquettish, sexy and earnest; in some way, the album is meant to be the inner world of a couple, who keep trying over and over again — perhaps, because as cheesy as it may sound to some, they have each other.

Kiku’s first single, album opener “Soon” draws from dream pop, contemporary electro pop, movie soundtracks, jazz and experimental pop in a heady and swooning mix — and while to my ears, bringing to mind the work of Moonbabies, Beacon, Softspot, Mazzy Star and Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS, the members of The Parlor manage to specialize in incredibly slick and lush production featuring soaring hooks paired with fearlessly heartfelt lyrics and sentiment. Yes, it’s meant to break your heart time and time again, but with a deeper purpose — to remind the listener of their empathy. Grief is grief is grief. We all know this and we all experience it at various points in our lives, and we try to move froward; that is what people do after all.

As O’Connor and Krans explain in press notes, “‘Soon’ was intended as a metaphor for the stages of grief. The chrysanthemums represent grief itself. We carry grief around with us, often to unlikely places. We try at times to let it go, to fling our grief from great heights or hope it’s carried off by time — an offering to the flowing waters of the hills. But ultimately we find ourselves steeping in it, drowning in it, and ideally cleansed by it in a baptism of intentional release. Allowing ourselves to stop fighting forces us to experience things that, as humans, we often try desperately to avoid. Allowing ourselves to dance in glowing sunlight empowers us to reclaim our spirit. And we are transported to a deeper place of understanding of one’s self and of the human experience as we know it. ‘Soon’ is an expression of painful hope and illuminated heart.”

The duo directed, shot and edited the video for “Soon” and naturally, the video prominently features chrysanthemums throughout — sometimes the husband and wife duo proudly and defiantly carrying them about, at other points, the flowers are being offered to the proverbial flowing waters of time or treated as a sort of sacrifice; but no matter what the flowers and their grief is inescapable — until they accept it.