Tag: Solange

IMUR is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based trio, comprised of Jenny Lea (vocals, keys), Mikey J. Blige (production, guitar, DJ) and Amine Bouzaher (electric violin, bass, production) — and with the release of their debut EP, 2015’s Slow Dive, the Canadian trio received attention across Vancouver’s underground scene and elsewhere for an attention-grabbing sound that draws heavily from 90s R&B and soul, electro pop, electronica and experimental pop.

The members of IMUR released their full-length debut, 2017’s Little Death, an album that thematically explored and discussed drugs, heartache, strength, vulnerability and intimacy with a fearless lack of inhibition. The album amassed millions of streams across the planet, eventually landing on the Spotify Global Viral Charts — perhaps as a result of the album’s material being featured in ad campaigns by Patagonia and Lululemon and on TV shows like Wynnona Earp and Workin’ Moms. Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, the trio played Bumbershoot Festival‘s main stage, sharing with the likes of Jorja Smith, Solange and Lorde. And they closed out the year with a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for Electronic/Dance Artist of the Year and Best Electronic Song Award in the Canadian Songwriting Competition.

Since then, the act has released Little Death‘s follow-up, last year’s Thirty33 EP and a single, “Fever,” which was released earlier this year. The trio’s latest single “Lips, Tongue and Teeth” is a sultry and unapologetically sexual club banger, centered around shimmering and wobbling synths, thumping beats and an infectious hook that seems to draw equally from R&B, contemporary electro pop and classic house music. Interestingly, the song is a defiantly feminist anthem that generally says women should proudly be sexual beings, getting the pleasure they desire and need.

As the trio explain in press notes, the song’s unapologetically sexual nature in some way represents Jenny Lea’s personal and artistic journey in which she went from conservative banker to confident, world-taking badass. The song was penned as the first of a series of songs focused on female empowerment and autonomy  — with this particular song having an audacious and brash message of defiant sexual expression.

 

 

 

 

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New Audio: Tame Impala and Theophilus London Team Up on Two Synth Funk Bangers

Led by singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind Kevin Parker, the Melbourne, Australia-based psych pop act Tame Impala received international attention with the release of their first two albums, 2011’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism. Interestingly, 2015’s Currents was centered around some of the most emotionally direct material he had written to date while expanding upon the sound that first caught attention with the material sonically drawing from synth pop, prog rock, R&B and psych pop to create a nuanced, textured and difficult to pigeonhole sound. 

Theophilus London is a Trinidad and Tobago-born, Brooklyn-based emcee, singer/songwriter and producer, who first emerged into the national and international scene with his 2011 debut EP Lovers Holiday, which found the Brooklyn-based emcee/singer/songwriter and producer collaborating with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Tegan and Sara’s Sara Quin, Glasser and Solange Knowles and his full-length debut 2011’s Timez are Weird These Days. Both of those early efforts quickly established London’s crowd-pleasing, genre-mashing sound and approach, which draws from soul, pop, post-punk, electro-pop, electro R&B, hip-hop and R&B — and that shouldn’t be surprising as London has publicly cited Michael Jackson, Prince, Kraftwerk and The Smiths as influences on his work.  2013’s sophomore effort VIBES found London collaborating with Jesse Boykins III and Kanye West, who was the album’s executive producer — and from album single “Tribe,” the album’s material further cemented London’s reputation for club-banging, synth pop-influenced hip-hop. 

So in some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that both genre-defying artists have collaborated together in a project informally dubbed Theo Impala, which has already released two singles — the first single, the swaggering “Whiplash” is a thorough and seamless amalgamation of their sound and approach, as it features London spitting fiery bars over layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and Parker’s ethereal backing vocals singing a sugary pop-meets-soul melody. In some way, the song recalls 80s hip-hop, 80s synth soul, Crime Cutz-era Holy Ghost! and Dam-Funk among others. The second track is a cover Steve Monite’s Nigerian boogie hit “Only You” and while their cover is somewhat straightforward, it manages to possess a contemporary production sheen that gives the song a retro-futuristic thump. 

Earlier this summer, I wrote about the New Orleans-based pop act People Museum, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of producer/trombonist  Jeremy Phipps, who grew up playing in New Orleans brass bands, marching bands and traditional jazz groups; and Claire Givens, the daughter of an operatic singer and Baptist music minister, who’s a classically trained pianist and choral teacher, who began singing in the churches of rural Northern Louisiana can trace their origins to when they met in 2016.  As the story goes, the duo were eager to start a new musical project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown but in a non-literal, sincere fashion while drawing from their own personal and professional experiences — Phipps has toured with the likes of Solange, AlunaGeorge and JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket, and Givens’ work continues to draw from  her classical music training.

The duo’s full-length debut I Dreamt You In Technicolor is slated for a September 28, 2018 release and album single “Eye 2 Eye,” which was centered around a regal horn line, stuttering boom bap-like beats, shimmering synths, Givens’ ethereal vocals and a sinuous hook managed to sound as though it drew influence from Omega La La-era Rubblebucket, Superhuman Happiness and Hiatus Kaiyote, as it reveals a duo, who have begun to receive attention for  carefully crafted and breezy, left-field pop. “Bible Belt,” Dreamt You in Technicolor‘s latest single is an atmospheric and moody track centered around twinkling synths, a wobbling horn line, a sinuous hook and Givens’ ethereal vocals fed through distortion and effects pedals. But unlike its predecessor, the song thematically focuses on the sobering loss of innocence and belief in an organization or institution that comes from having the curtains pulled back, seeing its contradictions and hypocrisy and being disgusted. As the duo’s Claire Givens explains “Loss of innocence can come very quickly when you are given the chance to see the politics behind the curtain of an organization. That happened for me with the church, and I saw many beautiful things but also many contradictions with what people said and what they really did. ‘Bible Belt’ came from a realization that I was still so much like these religious people in power that I grew up around and criticized, and I had become just as contradictory in many aspects of my own life and needed to find a way out.”

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of producer/trombonist Jeremy Phipps, who grew up playing in New Orleans brass bands, marching bands and traditional jazz groups; and composer/vocals Claire Givens, the daughter of an operatic singer and Baptist music minister and a classically trained pianist and choral teacher, who began singing in the churches of rural Northern Louisiana, the New Orleans-based pop act People Museum can trace their origins to when the duo met in 2016. And as the story goes, they were both eager to start a new musical project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown in a non-literal, un-ironic way while drawing from their own unique experiences — Phipps has toured with the likes of Solange, AlunaGeorge and JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket, and Givens’ work continues to draw from classical music.

“Eye 2 Eye,” the latest single off the duo’s forthcoming full-length debut I Dreamt You In Technicolor is centered around a regal horn line, stuttering boom bap-like beats, shimmering synths, Givens’ ethereal vocals and a sinuous hook — and interestingly enough, the song sounds as though it draws from Omega La La-era Rubblebucket, Superhuman Happiness and Hiatus Kaiyote, as it reveals a duo, who have begun to receive attention for  carefully crafted and breezy, left-field pop. As People Museum’s Claire Givens says about the song,  “’Eye 2 Eye’ is about a one-sided relationship where one person is transparent with their feelings, and the other person hides away, restricting their emotions. The relationship could bloom if only the other person could open up and help to create an environment for true understanding of each other.”

 

 

New Audio: Sampha Shimmering, Dance Floor Friendly Remix of Legendary Malian Vocalist Oumou Sangare’s “Minata Waraba”

Oumou Sangare is a Bamako, Mail-born and-based, Grammy Award-winning,  singer/songwriter and musician, who comes from a deeply musical family, as her mother, Aminata Diakite was a renowned singer. When Sangare was young, her father had abandoned the family, and she helped her mother feed the family by singing; in fact, by the time she had turned five, Sangare had been well known as a highly gifted singer. After making it to the finals of a nursery school talent show, a very young Sangare performed in front of a crowd of 6,000 at Omnisport Stadium — and by the time she was 16, she had gone on tour with a nationally known percussion act, Djoliba.

Sangare’s 1989 debut effort, Moussoulou (which translates into English as “Women”) was recorded with renowned Malian music master Amadou Ba Guindo, and was a commercial success across Africa, as it sold over 200,000 copies. With the help of the world renowned Malian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ali Farka Toure, the father of Vieux Farka Toure, Sangare signed with English record label World Circuit — and by the time she turned 21, she had received an internationally known profile. Interestingly, Sangare is considered both an ambassador of Mali and the Wassoulou region of the country, just south of the Niger River, lovingly referred to as “The Songbird of Wassoulou,” as her music draws from the music and traditional dances of the region while lyrically her work has been full of social criticism, focusing on the low status of women within Malian society and elsewhere, and the desire to have freedom of choice in all matters of one’s life, from who they can marry to being financially independent.

Interestingly, since 1990 Sangare has performed at some of the world’s most important venues and festivals including the Melbourne Opera, Roskilde Festival, Gnaoua World Music Festival, WOMAD, Oslo World Music Festival and the Opera de la Monnaie, while releasing several albums including — 1993’s Ko Sira, 1996’s Worotan and 2004’s 2 CD compilation Oumou. Adding to a growing profile, Sangare has toured with Baaba Mal, Femi Kuti and Boukman Eksperyans, and she has been named a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1998, won the UNESCO Prize in 2001 and was named an ambassador of the FAO in 2003.

Mogoya which translates into English as “People Today,” was Sangare’s first full-length effort in over 22 years, and it was released to critical praise from the likes of Dazed, The Fader, The Guardian while making the Best of 2017 Lists of Mojo, the BBC, the aforementioned The Guardian as well as Gilles Peterson — and the album found the renowned Malian artist collaboration with the legendary Tony Allen and French production team A.L.B.E.R.T. and pushing her sound in a new, direction; in fact album single “Minata Waraba” features  Sangare’s gorgeous and expressive voice with shimmering African instrumentation paired with a slick and hyper modern production that emphasizes a sinuous, electric bass line and shuffling, complex polyrhythm that reminds me of a 2013 Fela Kuti tribute compilation, Red Hot + Fela, which featured contemporary artists re-imagining some of the Afrobeat creator’s signature tunes.

Sangare will be releasing the Mogoya Remixed album through Nø Førmat Records today, and the album features remixes of the album’s material by contemporary artists and producers, who have been high profile fans of her work; in fact the album’s latest single is from the British-born and based producer and artist Sampha. Sampha has split his time between solo and collaborative work, and has worked with the likes of SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Jesse Ware, Drake, Beyonce, Kanye West, Solange and Frank Ocean. His full-length debut Process won the Mercury Music Prize last year, and earned him a 2018 BRIT Award nomination for Best British Breakthrough.

Sampha has publicly mentioned his love of Oumou Sangare’s music, explain in press notes, “My dad had a copy of Oumou’s album Worotan and no other album has spoken to me quite like that. Her music has been a huge inspiration ever since and it’s a real honour to have remixed some of her music.” Sampha’s remix retains Sangare’s crystalline vocals but pairs it with a thumping production, featuring tribal house like beats and shimmering arpeggiated synths that while modern, still keeps the song rooted to Africa. Interestingly, Sangare has mentioned being bowled over by Sampha’s remix, saying  “When I first heard Sampha’s remix, I was amazed at the beat. Our rhythmic patterns are not always easy for Western people. But, wow, Sampha’s beat is definitely African, definitely. Listening to it I can tell that Sampha has African blood in his veins. I am really excited by this version, I play it again and again.”

Adrian Underhill is a Vancouver, British Columbia-born, Toronto, Ontario-based singer/songwriter, who has a number of stints in indie rock bands in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, before the low-key release of his solo debut EP in 2012; however, sometime after that, Underhill completely revamped his songwriting process, employing keyboards, synths and drum machines, which found him gravitating towards a slinky R&B-inspired pop sound but paired with a simple and very direct, earnest lyricism.

Describing the writing process for forthcoming album, CU Again, Underhill says “I sat with a keyboard and one drum machine and tried not play much with production ideas. The tunes have a classic, 70s songwriter vibe, even though we ultimately pushed the production into a very different realm. This simple, direct way of songwriting is me at my best.”

The recording sessions for CU Again found the up-and-coming Canadian singer/songwriter collaborating with British electronic production Kindness (also known as Adam Bainbridge), best known for his work with Robyn, Solange and Blood Orange with the renowned producer and Underhill working on electronic elements in Montreal before they went to Los Angeles for at three-day session with a live, funk supergroup that included JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk (drums) Keith Eaddy (bass) and Brandon Coleman (keys). And the end result finds the material being a seamless blend of Kindness’ electronic production with warm, organic instrumentation as you’ll hear on CU Again‘s swooning “Weather,” which pairs a looped and chopped keyboard sample with stuttering and skittering drum programming, arpeggiated synths and Underhill’s plaintive vocals singing lyrics on how time changes people and their moods, like the weather.  What makes the song interesting to me is that it walks a careful tightrope between sincerity and playfulness, familiarity and complete strangeness.
As Underhill adds, “On ‘Weather’, I love how the production came out. Adam (Bainbridge) took my original demo and just kinda warped it and morphed it, almost like a remix, adding new drums and changing the keyboard sounds I had played. Then we added the live piano and synth bass from Brandon Coleman (Kamasi Washington) and Keith Eaddy (DāM-FunK). In the end it’s quite playful and strange – it’s a great combination of sounds.”