Tag: synth pop

Notelle · Bugs

Notelle is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, topliner and pop artist, who has worked with an eclectic array of DJs and producer across the globe since 2014. Her work as a songwriter and vocalist has amassed over 12 million Spotify streams — with her material appearing on a number of playlists including Spotify‘s FreshEDM, Hot New Dance, Friday Cratediggers, Heart Beats, Sad Beats, Pop Chillout, Study Break, Fresh Finds, Fresh Finds: Poptronix, Italians Do It Better, Shisha Lounge, Stepping Out, New Music Fridays and Deep Delight, as well as Apple Music‘s Pop Rising and Breaking Dance playlists. Adding to a growing profile, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter, topliner and pop artist has been covered by EDM.com and has received airplay on Sirius XM Radio.

Throughout her career, the Nashville-based artist has signed and released material on 15 different electronic music labels including Armada, Monstercat, Proximity, Lowly, Hinky, AtLast, Seeking Blue, Thrive Music, Ultra Music, Ophelia and Knight Vision (Warner Music) — while remaining fiercely independent.

After spending the past handful of years as a go-to collaborator, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter and pop artist has decided to step out into the spotlight as a solo artist: over the past year, she’s been writing material and honing her take on “dark industrial pop” while catching the attention of Nashville Scene as a Nashville Artist to Watch in 2020. Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding her, her solo debut single “Power” premiered on Lightning 100‘s The 615 and her third “Out of Love” was put on the station’s regular rotation.

“Beyond The Grave” found Notelle exploring a grittier sound than her previously released material, while fearlessly eschewing standard pop song structures and defying genre conventions and this has helped the Nashville-based artist develop a reputation for crafting forward-thinking, difficult to categorize pop. Interestingly, within the first couple of weeks of the song’s release, the track landed on Spotify’s “Study Break,” “Fresh Finds” and Fresh Finds: Poptronix” lists organically.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Alive.” The Nine Inch Nails and Billie Eilish-like track continued a remarkable run of slickly produced, genre-defying, sultry pop with elements of industrial electronica, alternative pop and trip hop centered around fearlessly adventurous and ambitious songwriting based around unsettling personal experience. The Nashville-based artist’s latest single “Bugs” is a dark and seductive song centered around wobbling synths, handclap-led percussion, thumping beats, a distorted string sample, an infectious hook and Notelle’s sultry cooing — and while radio friendly, the song feels a bit like the creeping, anxious dread of a bad trip.

“I wrote ‘Bugs’ during a break up where it felt like that person was still in my body in some capacity,” Notelle says in press notes. “The impact of someone else’s choices left literal and metaphorical residue on me, and I felt dirty. I kept imagining it as a bad hallucination – like bugs. Was this person capable of hurting me more? Was the worst of it over? Or was another bomb going to be dropped on me when I felt like I was out of the woods? I wanted this song to embody that level of paranoia, you know? When you check behind doors or shower curtains when you’re alone in your house – or when you can’t tell if the noises in you hear in the silence are in your head or are real. That’s a bizarre place to be, and ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t out of my mind. In fact, they were.”

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Live Footage: Rising Parisian Electro Pop Act L’Imperatrice Releases a Slinky Disco Strut

Formed back in 2012, L’Impératice is a rising Paris-based electro pop sextet currently featuring founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals), who joined the band in 2015. 

Since their formation, the band has been rather busy: they released their self-titled debut in 2012, their sophomore EP Sonate Pacifique in 2014 and their third EP Odyssée in 2015. Interestingly, a re-edited and remixed edition of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, a slower version of the original, inspired by a fan mistakenly playing Odyssée at the wrong speed was released the following year. An acoustic version, featuring violin, cello and acoustic guitar was released in 2017. 

During the summer of 2017, the band signed to Microqlima Records, who released their Séquences EP that year. Aussie pop act Parcels remixed some of Séquences’ material and released it that September. 

2018 saw the release of the band’s full-length debut Matahari. The album featured “Erreur 404,” which the band performed on the French TV show Quotidien. After two years of touring to support their full-length debut, the band released their first bit of new material since Matahari — “Exit,” and its French version “Fou.” The French electro pop sextet’s latest single “Voodoo?” is a slinky, disco-influenced strut centered around a propulsive groove, atmospheric synths, arpeggiated bass synths, jazz-like percussion, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals. 

The recently released video is centered around live footage of L’Impératice performing the song in a sparsely decorated studio. And it should give the viewer a sense of the band’s live set and sound. 

New Video: Rising Hawaii-born Los Angeles-based Artist Lionel Boy Releases a Lysergic Visual for “Lately”

With the release of  critically applauded singles “Summer Fun” and “Lost” earlier this year, the rapidly rising Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Lionel Boy quickly received attention for crafting a unique sound that mixes spacey synths and breakbeats with bedroom-produced pop.

Building upon a growing profile, Boy’s highly anticipated debut EP Who Is Dovey? was released last month through Innovative Leisure Records. The EP’s third and latest single “Lately” is a slow-burning and breezy, yacht rock-like track featuring twinkling synths, soulful horns, blown out backbeats, shimmering guitar and Boy’s plaintive vocals. But despite its nostalgia-inducing vibes, there’s something much murkier under its placid surface.

“Last year (2019), we had a week of rain in Long Beach. It was then that I wrote ‘Lately,’” Boy says in press notes. “I just begun learning how to incorporate samples into my songwriting, and ‘Lately’ was the first project I was able to complete doing so. There was gloom, smoke and a feeling of monotony in the air— I think that comes through in the music. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I was feelin some type of way.”

The recently released video features some cinematically shot and trippy footage shot while the rising Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based artist were on a road trip to visit friends, and as result, it evokes the song’s wistful nostalgia — with a sense of doom just underneath it all. 

“Two summers ago, Casey (Lui Liu) and I drove up the Oregon coast to visit some friends in Seattle,” the Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based artist explains in press notes. “We documented our drive with the intention of making a music video for a completely different project but the clips didn’t end up working. Nearly a year later, when I had just finished demoing ‘Lately’ from home, Casey decided to mess around with the old footage to the song. She threw up a 20-second clip on Instagram for fun that we pretty much forgot about until the single‘s release this past June. With not much else to do on lock down, we decided to play around one more time. We had all of these random clips of Casey running or kicking sand and I guess I spent 5 minutes filming a flying kite. When we found a way to fit them into the video, it was a really accomplished feeling. We were such different people on that trip and yet, I guess not much has changed. What we ended up with was a visual representation of the moments that make up a great trip.”

New Video: Go on a Night Out Across Suburban Sydney with Rising Aussie Act Abroad

Featuring members split between Sydney, Australia and Melbourne, Australia, the rising Aussie indie electro pop duo Abroad — Will Cruger and Jack Dawson — have managed to explode into the national and international electro pop scenes in a relatively short period of time. 2018’s London and New York, helped to establish the duo’s sound — a synthesis of organic, indie rock instrumentation and slick dance floor friendly production which amassed over a million streams.  Building upon a growing profile, the Aussie electro pop duo released two singles last year, “All I Want” and “Slide,” which also amassed over a million streams. Those two singles continued a run of material that’s informed and inspired by the duo’s experiences traveling and living overseas.

The rising Aussie pop duo has released material that has been featured on a number of popular, internationally recognized playlists including Front Left, Just Chill, New Dance Beats, The Local List and Indie Arrivals. Building upon a growing profile, the duo released “Home,” earlier this year, and the track has continued a run of attention-grabbing singles. Additionally, the band has opened for Boo Seeka, which may have led to Abroad’s Will Cruger co-written Boo Seeka’s latest single ‘Take A Look.”

The duo’s second and latest single of this year, is the euphoric and swooning club banger “Alright, OK.” Centered around a slick production featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, skittering beats, an enormous hook and achingly plaintive, multi-part harmony-led vocals, “Alright, OK” — to my ears at least — reminds me quite a bit of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and White Lies, if they managed to cover Stevie Nicks‘”Stand Back.”  Arguably, one of the most anthemic tracks they’ve released to date, “Alright, OK” is a decidedly ambitious track delivered with swaggering self-assuredness and a heart-on-your-sleeve earnestness.

“I think this is our best work yet,” the band’s Jack Dawson says in press notes.. “We are huge believers in taking people somewhere, whether it is a memory of a loved one, being in love with someone, or just dancing by yourself we want to cover all dem feels!”

Directed by Waymark Studio’s Bob Stewart, the recently released video follows it star Brittney McCallum on a night out in Sydney, dancing and rocking out across nighttime Sydney streets, seemingly carefree and wrapped up in the joys of new love. And of course, through the prism of love, there can often be a sublime beauty within the mundane and every day — if you pay attention. Interestingly, the video shows McCallum actively seeking something — the band — and not finding them until the end. 

“All through the clip, Brittney is searching for us and even though we walk right by her she doesn’t actually find us until the end. Partly inspired by our experiences being quarantined, the video is about taking a moment to reassess what’s really important, and whether it’s been with you all along,” the band’s Will Cruger explains in press notes. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Brothertiger Releases an Achingly Sad Visual for Shimmering “Livin'”

John Jagos is an Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed, JOVM mainstay act Brothertiger. Since he started the act as a sophomore at  Ohio State University, Jagos has released a handful of EPs including his critically applauded debut Vision Tunnels EP and  Out of Touch, which featured  “Out of Touch” and “Beyond The Infinite,” and last year’s A Chain of Islands EP, as well as three full-length albums 2012’s Golden Years, 2013’s Future Splendors and 2015’s Out of Touch. Each of those efforts helped to establish Jagos sound — a sound influenced by Tears for Fears,  St. Lucia, Washed Out and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy.

Jagos has also released a Tears for Fears cover album, 2017’s Brothertiger Plays: Tears for Fears’ Songs from The Big Chair and a collection of instrumental material, Fundamentals, Vol. 1. Slated for a September 11, 2020 release, Jagos forthcoming Brothertiger effort Paradise is his first full-length album of original material in five years. “This record was, for me, the culmination of a lot of time and development,” Jagos says in press notes. “Since my last album was released 5 years ago, I had been building on top of that sound, trying to make it even more dynamic and distinct. This record is also my most personal, and I think that shows not only in the subject matter, but in the choice of sounds as well. I find that in electronic music, you can capture an emotion honestly with synthesized sound, not just with lyrics.”

Sonically, Paradise Lost reportedly finds Jagos expanding upon the sound that has won him critical applause with the material ranging from hook-driven indie pop to club-thumping electronica centered around the JOVM mainstay’s plaintive vocals singing lyrics that thematically touch upon aging, longing for purpose and celebrating life’s simple pleasures among others. Paradise Lost’s first single is the the ethereal and atmospheric “Livin’.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, a soaring hook and Jagos plaintive vocals, “Livin'” manages to recall Within and Without and Paracosm-era Washed Out — but at its core, the song expresses a familiar crisis to many of us: confronting the weirdness and uncertainty of life as you get older. 

Directed by Trevor Naud and made during COVID-19 quarantines, the recently released video employs digital and analog technologies as it follows a planetary rover as it lands on a planet teeming with life. Adding to the trippy vibes of the video, we follow things from the prospective of the rover: dispassionate yet curious until the rover has a major malfunction and essentially dies. 

“What if a planetary rover–destined to land on a dead planet–accidentally lands on a planet teeming with life?” Naud says of the video’s concept. “I wanted to keep everything very tight and almost impressionistic, where we see what’s happening inside of the rover’s “brain” interspersed with what it’s recording, and then juxtaposed with very high-definition nature show footage. Maintaining a jarring contrast between those worlds. Then, eventually, there’s a malfunction and the magnetic tape comes unwound.

We used all kinds of crazy filming techniques–from VHS to Cinema-grade digital, a semi-functional 1977 Commodore computer, a weirdo rig that allowed us to film with a lens rolling across the ground, and we snuck onto a closed freeway for the final shot.

What I like is that there’s an implied sadness to the rover. By the end of the video, you may feel something for it.”

New Video: LOO & MONETTI Release a Trippy Visual for Brooding “Talk to me”

Initially starting his music career in the 1990s as the frontman and drummer of French alt rock act STICKBUZZ, French-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, drummer and vocalist Christophe Menassier has composed scores for TV, commercials, movies and online features since 2001. And as a result of his work, he has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious and well-regarded brands, including Louis Vuitton, Jaeger-Lecoultre, Bulgari, Yves Saint Laurent and others. 

Over the past two decades, Menassier has been prolific: In 2003, he founded COLLECTIF K, a ten member band, which released one album, Resurrection. The following year, he released his solo debut, Marseille Marseille, a ten song album featuring compositions that were written to evoke life in the French Mediterranean city. 2008’s Picture Shop, a collaboration with Quentin Leroux that was inspired by American movies and it further established Menassier’s sound and aesthetic.

Back in 2011, Menassier and his spouse Ann Wisely founded LOO & MONETTI, an electro pop act that has released two albums:  2012’s Marla’s song and last year’s Broken Inside, as well as a handful of EPs and one-off singles. As a band, Menassier writes the music, using synths, keyboards and drums while Wisley writes lyrics and vocal melodies and contributes vocals — and although they have wildly varying tastes, their collaboration finds the duo effortlessly meshing their various tastes and interests. The French duo’s latest single “Talk to me” is centered around twinkling and arpeggiated keys, atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Wisley’s plaintive vocals — and while being a brooding track, it may arguably be the most trip-hop like track in their catalog, with the track bringing Portishead to mind. 

The recently released video features old home movies and footage of people dancing and rocking out at shows. In many ways, the video is an eerie of the small joys we can’t have at the moment. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Palace Winter Release a Lysergic Visual for Anthemic New Single “Top of the Hill”

I’ve written quite a bit about the  Copenhagen, Denmark-based pop duo Palace Winter — Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager — over the past few years. The act can trace its origins to the duo’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work throughout a number of different projects. Naturally, that mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work, led to the duo working together. 

Coleman and Hesselager released their Palace Winter debut single in 2015 — but the following year was a breakthrough year for the Copenhagen-based duo: they released their EP Meditation and full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn to critical praise from The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRW, KEXP, Norway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have a Hype Machine #1 single under their belts, have opened for Noel Gallagher, and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Sziget Festival, Latitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Coleman and Hesselager released their sophomore album, 2018’s Nowadays. Arguably one of my favorite albums of the year, the album’s material found the duo expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that won them praise, as they paired breezy, melodic, radio friendly pop with dark thematic concerns — in particular, the loss of innocence as one becomes an adult, with its accompanying tough and sobering lessons; the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their live and destiny. But this was all underpinned by the inconsolable grief of profound loss. The album suggests a couple of things that I’ve learned about life in my 41 years : Life is ultimately about accepting immense, inconsolable loss as part of the price of admission, and somehow you have to figure out some way to move forwards, even its in fits and starts. And that a significant portion of our lives will be spent maneuvering the confusing push and pull between love and lust, with the prerequisite remote, anxiety, bitterness and loathing. Life is never easy and there’s never easy solutions. 

Palace Winter’s highly anticipated, third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Tambourhinoceros Records — and unlike their preceding albums, . . .Keep Dreaming, Buddy’s material was written through a long distance correspondence as the band’s Coleman was residing in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain:“Caspar was sending me these synth hooks and drum loops from Denmark, so I started coming up with melodies and lyrical ideas to record into my phone,” Coleman says of the writing sessions. While Coleman’s lyrics were inspired by Tenerife’s unique landscape, drawing parallels between Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano, which also is one of Spain’s tallest peaks and the looming fear of a relationship disintegrating, Hesselager’s instrumental parts were inspired by Copenhagen’s landscape. And as a result, the album’s material is literally a tale of two cities.

“Top of the Hill,” which features a guest spot from Lowly is a perfect example of the album’s literal tale of two cities: shimmering and icy synths and thumping beats and an enormous, arena rock hook are paired with Coleman’s lyrics, which feature volcanic imagery to describe the broiling and bubbling feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, deceit and distrust that come up in a failing relationship. And yet, throughout there’s the dim chance it could survive — even if it shouldn’t. 

Starring Carla Viola Thurøe, the recently released video follows the actor on a lysergic-tinged walk around Copenhagen’s parks and streets — and we see Thurøe’s attentive gaze shift from crystal balls to flowers, with the Danish actor carefully examining them and their texture. In many ways, the video mirrors Hesselager and Coleman’s writing process with Hesselager walking around Copenhagen figuring out the unfinished instrumentation and beats ins head and how they fit with Coleman’s phone recordings. 

New Audio: Flamingods’ Karthik Poduval Releases His Solo Debut — A Club Banging Remix of Ahmed Fakroun’s “Jama El F’na”

Karthik Poduval is a London-born, Indian-British DJ and producer, best known as a founding member of the acclaimed tropical psychedelic band Flamingods. His latest project Mera Bhai is informed by his own personal experiences: he’s spent time living in Italy, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Nigeria — and naturally that experience has speeded into his own globe-spanning, border-crossing, genre-defying take on dance music, which incorporates Indian Carnatic, Arabic Rai, 70s disco, Acid House, Detroit techno and Tropicalia. “Having grown up all over the world, I was surrounded by a wealth of different sounds — i’m just trying to weave the cultural through line that I hear in music.” 

Poduval’s Mera Bhai debut is a bootleg remix of Ahmed Fakroun’s “Jama El F’na.” While retaining the shimmering instrumentation and Fakroun’s vocals, Poduval’s remix speeds up the tempo a bit and adds a decidedly Tour de France-era Kraftwerk/Primal Scream/Kasabian-like feel to the proceedings: layers of synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap and industrial clang and clatter. Both the original and its remix are club bangers — but the remix manages to sound as though it could have been released in 1992, 2002, 2020 or 2032. 

It was on his [Fakroun’s] record Mots D’Amour released through French label Celluloid as his crossover to the Western music industry, heavily influenced by Europe and dance music. His marrying of Libyan influences with his love of Western music is very much something that mirrors my story,” Poduval says of his remix of Fakroun’s song. “I guess I’ve subconsciously taken his Western crossover and made it my own.” 

Lyric Video: Montreal-based Pop Artist Thaïs Releases an Ethereal and Shimmering New Single

Thaïs is an emerging Montreal-based singer/songwriter, who specializes in an atmospheric and delicate pop centered around the French Canadian singer/songwriter’s ethereal vocals. Thematically her work focuses on melancholy, loneliness and dysfunctional and confusing love.

“Boréal,” the Montreal-based artist’s latest single finds her further establishing her sound as you’ll hear shimmering synths, thumping beats, warm blasts of looping electric guitar, a soaring hook and Thaïs’ ethereal and plaintive vocals, wobbling low end and skittering beats. Interestingly, the song was inspired by a trip that the French Canadian artist took to Iceland — and as a result, the song evokes the awe-inspiring sense of being in gorgeous, natural spaces, and taking it all deep into your soul.