Tag: synth pop

New Video: Forever Releases DIY Visuals for Bittersweet and Triumphant New Single

Born on a remote Canadian island, June Moon is a poet, provocateur and pop artist, known as Forever. Moon started the Forever project around 2013. “I was going through a very dark time because my father had passed away, and I actually quit making music, quit performing, quit writing — I quit everything. Then I met Michael Brock [Mind Bath], and he asked me to open for him at one of his shows. I’ll never forget that moment — he was texting me about it, and I was at a library and an angel whispered in my ear and told me to say say, and that my new name was ‘Forever.’ Two weeks later, I played my first Forever show. ”

So after spending a nomadic decade of traveling, Moon relocated to Montreal to pursue a music career and shape her recording persona of Forever. With the help of Brock and her friend Patrick Holland (Project Pablo), she wrote and released her 2016 self-titled debut, an effort that was a mix of pop and downtempo influences paired with her effortless and ethereal vocals. 

Reeling from the breakup of a lengthy and complicated relationship, Moon went to work, hoping to find healing from songwriting. Working with her frequent collaborators Brock and Holland, she also turned to fellow Montreal artists Ouri,Cecile Believe, formerly known as Mozart’s Sister and TOPS’ David Carriere on the material that would eventually comprise her forthcoming EP Close to the Flame.“Ouri was so influential in her ability to facilitate the development of my sound on this EP,” Moon says in press notes. “Patrick helped me alchemize my heartache by turning my sad songs into dance tracks. David was a special collaboration for me because I really look up to him and Jane [from TOPS] as songwriters.”

Slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Cascine Records, the six song EP reportedly captures the beauty and ugliness of love and loss, centered around a dysfunctional and troubled relationship. “I was in a relationship that was killing me, and I had to plan an escape to save my life,” Moon explains in press notes. “The record is haunted by a ghost. I sing about her murder on the first track ‘Blur,’ but then she turns into a angel on the last song ‘Adonis.’ I channeled her one night when I was writing because I was so scared to talk about what happened to me; I didn’t know how to tell my story. She came to me and told me to use her story as a channel for my own pain. This release is dedicated to her.” 

The EP’s first single is the propulsive, 90s house-inspired “Make It Happen.” Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats, Moon’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a guest verse from Just John, the song’s narrator expresses relief and joy over the end of a relationship that has held her back personally and emotionally. The song’s narrator releases that it’s time to move forward and better herself — and a result, it’s triumphant but subtly bittersweet. After all, life’s a series of transitions from one situation, one circumstance to another, until the end. 

Directed and edited by Moon, the recently released video is set in a small cafe. Although there’s a brief cameo by Just John, the video primarily focuses on its protagonist and coworkers as they get their cafe ready for a small gathering of friends for coffee and cake before ending with a passionate reunion. 

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New Video: Fleur Offwood’s Propulsive Italo-Disco Influenced “Owl”

Fleur Offwood is an emerging French singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, who quietly released two albums through Bandcamp last year.  Zigzag, the emerging French artist’s forthcoming effort will reportedly further cement her genre-defying sound and approach.

Interestingly, the effort’s first single is the propulsive, club-banging “Owl.” Centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated analog synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a looped heavily vocoder’ed vocal sample, the track — to my ears — reminds me of From Here to Eternity and From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder, Daft Punk and others.  

The recently released video for “Owl” is comprised of looped found footage of owls — both held in captive and in the wild, which adds a creepy vibe to the overall proceedings. As Offwood explained to me in an email, the video was “inspired by the experimental video artist Chris Marker.” 

Over the past couple of years of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Justin Taylor Phillips, best known for his acclaimed solo recording project Crywolf.

Philips’ last Crywolf album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. II] which further cemented his reputation for pushing boundaries in every aspect of his creative work was released to critical praise from the likes of The FADER, Alternative Press and idobi Radio. The JOVM mainstay starts off the new year with “beauty is a not a need. she is an ecstasy [respirate].” Lamenting on the same break up that inspired “your joy is your sorrow unmasked,” the song finds Phillips making a sonic left turn from the electronic-leaning approach he’s been known for, and going towards a mostly acoustic approach in which lilting male-female harmonies are paired with shimmering acoustic guitar, soaring strings with the gentle addition of arpeggiated synths and  glitchy beats towards the song’s coda. The song manages to viscerally evoke the bitter swoon and lingering ache, the unfulfilled longing of heartbreak.

 

Interview: A Q&A with Rising Swedish Pop Duo Vargas & Lagola

Choosing the band name Vargas & Lagola because they thought the names sounded like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the Swedish songwriting, production and pop artist act comprised of Swedish Grammy-winning duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare features two of their homeland’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters and producers: the pair have had successful solo careers before teaming up to write hits for a who’s who list of electro pop and pop that includes MadonnaAviciiSwedish House MafiaDavid GuettaAxwell /\ IngrossoKaty PerryGhost, and Sia.

Founded back in 2017, the duo’s collaboration is a decided change in sonic direction from their previous output as the project finds the Swedish songwriters and producers experimenting with their own unique take on melodic alt-pop, which meshes elements of 70s Americana and Nordic melancholia. Coincidentally, as they started their own attention-grabbing project, the duo received accolades for co-writing Avicii’s “Without You” and “Waiting for Love,” which led to a Swedish Grammy Award win for Composer of the Year. Adding to a growing profile across the international electro pop scene, Al Fakir and Pontare performed their co-written hit “More Than You Know” with Axwell /\ Ingrosso at Coachella — and they played a key role in finishing Avicci’s posthumously released album TIM, contributing on three of the album’s songs.

Last year, I wrote about “Forgot To Be Your Lover,” a carefully crafted pop song that balanced easygoing AM rock, yacht rock breeziness and achingly melancholic nostalgia while sonically the track was centered around atmospheric synths, lush layers of shimmering and twangy, country-styled guitar lines. In some way, the song – to my ears at least – reminded me of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, but with an ambitious, arena rock feel.

The acclaimed and commercially successful Swedish pop duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the duo’s latest single “Someone That Understands Me” continues a run of ambitious, arena rock-like pop. Centered around shimmering acoustic guitar, achingly plaintive vocals, enormous hooks, thunderous drumming and a scorching, Purple Rain-era Prince-like guitar solo from Ludwig Goransson, the song is the contented sigh of a world-weary person, who has stumbled upon one of life’s rare gifts – finding someone like-minded, who truly understands and accepts you for you.

I recently spoke to the duo via email about the new single, which officially drops today, their soon-to-be released album and more. Check out new single and the Q&A below.

V&L_somebodythatunderstandsme_artwork

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WRH: How did you get into music?

Vincent Pontare: My father is a singer, so I got my first guitar from him when I was seven years- old.

Salem Al Fakir: I started to play violin and piano when I was three.

WRH: Who are your influences?

VP and SAF: We love all types of music! We have our roots in hip-hop/reggae/70s/60s but get most of the inspiration for VARGAS & LAGOLA from 70s Americana.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar with you and your work?

VP and SAF: Imagine if Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix had a kid that listened to Wu-Tang and loves to go to Burning Man, that’s us.

WRH: Who are you currently listening to?

VP and SAF: Khruangbin, Chet Baker, and Watain.

WRH: Can you name a couple of Swedish acts that should be getting love outside of Sweden but haven’t yet? And why should we know about them?

VP and SAF: VARGAS & LAGOLA. We feel that our type music is unrepresented out in the world at the moment.

WRH: The band is comprised of two, highly accomplished and incredibly successful solo songwriters and producers. What brought the two of you together to collaborate? And how has working together changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: We had met before through mutual friends and had the same booking agency and later on we shared the same studio for a month and then one day we said: we should try to write a song together!?

And the rest is history. . .

It’s a blessing to be two and in the same boat! When the other one is out of ideas or need a break the other one jumps in

WRH: Both of you have managed to write material for an impressive list of globally known pop artists. Has that work influenced or changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: I think success affects [sic] your compass for what works or not in a good way, you trust your gut feel[ing] and that’s the most important tool we have.

WRH: Your latest single “Somebody That Understands Me” features a guest spot from Ludwig Goransson. How did that come about?

VP and SAF:  You might think we already knew him cause we all are Swedes, but we didn’t’! We just fanboyed him up on Instagram and said, “Would you be up for trying a guitar solo on our upcoming single?” And he said “Yes.”

WRH: Speaking of “Somebody That Understands Me,” the track is one of those big, arena rock-friendly sentimental pop tunes with the sort of hook that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. In some way, the song kind of reminds me of Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince. So who and what influenced the song? Is it influenced by personal experience?

VP and SAF: We both have a soft spot for 90s arena rock, so we wanted to please ourselves for a second. Who doesn’t love a 12-string guitar riff!???

The song is about the beauty in finding like-minded people and a homage to thinking outside of the box in life in general. All types of music or genres we’ve been obsessed of comes from an underdog or rebellious perspective. So we wanted to get a little bit of that feeling into the lyrics and the production

WRH: Your highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. What should we expect from the album? 

VP and SAF: We want to give our fans a more nuanced palette of our musical landscape, so The Butterfly Effect is a piece in that puzzle.

WRH: What’s next for you?

VP and SAF: Promotion, touring and writing more music.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Tame Impala Releases a Shimmering Disco-Tinged Examination of Nostalgia

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink over the past decade — yes, decade — covering the Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Kevin Parker, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed and commercially successful psych pop/synth pop project Tame Impala. Now. as you may recall Parker’s third album, 2015’s Currents was a critical and commercial breakthrough. Released to overwhelming and wide-ranging critical applause across the blogosphere and elsewhere, the album was Grammy-nominated, RIAA Gold-Certified effort that reflected a decided change in direction for Parker’s songwriting and sound: the material  featured some of  his most emotionally direct lyrics paired with an nuanced and textured sound that draw from psych rock, psych pop, prog rock, synth pop and R&B. 

Slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Interscope Records, The Slow Rush reportedly conjures the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones whizzing by you while you’re looking at your phone. Thematically, the album focuses on the rapid passing of time and the unending cycles of creation and destruction in life.  “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it,” Parker told the New York Times last year.

Last year Parker released the first batch of new Tame Impala material in over four years — “Patience,” a decidedly upbeat banger that seamlessly bridged 90s house and 70s funk while being a thoughtful meditation on the cycles and phases of life and “Borderline” a blissed out, shimmering mid-tempo track with house music flourishes and a razor sharp hook. Unofficially, those two tracks were the first two singles off Parker’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated fourth album, The Slow Rush. Parker closed out last year with the release of “It Might Be Time,” a swaggering prog rock meets psych pop banger, centered around layers of shimmering  synth arpeggios, thumping beats,  an anthemic hook and Parker’s plaintive vocals.  

The Slow Rush’s fourth and latest single “Lost in Yesterday” is a woozy and hallucinogenic  disco-tinged banger centered around a propulsive and sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a cathartic and soaring hook and Parker’s plaintive vocals. While sonically the song seems to continue a run of glistening and decidedly 80s inspired synth bangers, the song thematically finds Parker exploring time’s distorting effect on memories. Given enough time, nostalgia gives even the most embittering times in your life a bit of a rosy tinge, and a sense of purpose and meaning that you didn’t feel while experiencing it. At it s core, the song is a plea to break the urge to look back with rose colored glasses and live in the here and now.   

Kouny Mestre is an emerging Paris-based singer/songwriter, recording engineer, producer and electronic music artist, best known as Kouny. His latest single,  “No Matter What They Think” is a hook-driven and infectious, radio friendly club banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, stuttering beats and Phoebe’s ethereal yet sultry vocals, while the French singer/songwriter, recording engineer, producer and electronic music contributes the song’s hook and some brief harmonies.

Sonically, the French singer/songwriter, recording engineer, producer and electronic music artist’s latest single manages to recall 90s house — and unsurprisingly, as a result, the song features an upbeat and uplifting message of accepting oneself, no matter what anyone says or does. “We live in a society where people often adapt what they do, what they think or who they are to be loved by others and to fit into society,” Mestre explained to me in an email. “The song is all about accepting yourself and enjoying the moment, no matter what people think, a simple but genuine way to share the message.”

 

 

Formed back in 2007, the electro pop act Mint Julep is comprised of multi-instrumentalist and composer Keith Kenniff, who has composed material for film and has written and recorded as Helios and Goldmund, and his singer-songwriter and ambient electronic music artist wife Hollie Kenniff.  The synth pop act can trace its origins as both a decided departure from Kenniff’s more ambient leaning work and as a trial run of their home studio. And with the release of their earliest material — 2008’s limited run Songs About Snow, 2010’s Adorn EP, 2011’s Save Your Season and 2014’s Broken Devotion EP — the duo firmly established their sound, a sound centered by Hollie Kenniff’s seductive vocals, soaring choruses, Keith Kenniff’s shimmering synth work, towering guitars and slick hooks.  “When Hollie and I set out to do something, I wanted to find some way to incorporate her vocals into a slightly different style, rather than just write similar material to my solo work and lay her vocals over top,” the duo’s Keith Kenniff says on the duo’s Facebook page. “I had the need to write something that had some distorted guitars, loud drums and was a little bolder than what I had previously done. We messed around with a track one night (which became ‘Stay’) and it was a fun process, so we just kept writing more songs so we could do a project together.”

“Hollie grew up listening to a lot of industrial music and we both listened to a lot of punk but also growing up a lot in the late ’70s and ‘80s we both have a lot of pop music from the time in our blood,” Keith Kenniff explains in press notes. “We both listen to a lot of IDM and electronic music as well so I feel like our music is a marriage of those different things, song elements from pop influences mixed with production from the more instrumental and experimental side of things.” 

Slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, Mint Julep’s forthcoming album Stray Fantasies will further cement the Boston-based husband-and-wife synth pop duo’s long-held reputation for crafting shimmering, hook-driven pop confections seemingly indebted to 80s synth pop that thematically focusing on vulnerability, insecurity and other related issues to affairs of the heart.  Interestingly, album title track and latest single “Stray Fantasies” is a swooning and shimmering, club friendly bop centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Hollie Kenniff’s ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. And while sounding as though it could be part of the Stranger Things soundtrack, the song evokes the lingering wooziness of a new love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

STRØM is a rapidly rising (and somewhat mysterious) Värmdö, Sweden-born, Stockholm-based electronic music artist and producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to experimenting with instruments as a small child, eventually playing in a number of local bands as a teenager. As an adult, the rising Swedish electronic music artist and producer developed a growing interest in production, eventually relocating to Berlin, where he studied music production and sound design.

Interestingly, STRØM’s debut single came about from sheer coincidence: he initially composed a song for a BMW commercial, which he later finished and released as “Mesmerize,” which received praise from a number of outlets, eventually landing at #1 on the Hype Machine charts.

Speaking of coincidences, the rising Swedish electronic music artist and producer’s latest track, the shimmering and downtempo “Last Try” is both the second single he’s ever released and the first official single off his forthcoming full-length debut slated for a February 2020 release through This Is Scandinavia/Sony Music. Centered around a sleek,  propulsive synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, the Swedish producer and artist’s plaintive and ethereal vocals, subtle blasts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar and an enormous hook, the song manages to evoke an aching longing while being a crowd pleasing, radio friendly banger.

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JackLNDN is a rapidly rising London-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer. who can trace the origins of his music career to when he was a boy: he grew up in a hone in which his family almost exclusively to jazz, funk and classical music in equal measure. When he was 7, he sang in professional choirs — and by the time, he was 10, he had met Queen Elizabeth and recorded material at Abbey Road Studios.

With the release of attention grabbing tracks like “The Feels,” “Never Get Enough,” “Start Over Again” and “All I See,” the British electronic music artist and producer firmly established a unique sound and approach in electronic music/deep house: he frequently pairs his own vocals with productions that are simultaneously indebted to jazz and house music. Along with a series of successful remixes, JackLNDN’s work has amassed millions of streams. Adding to a growing profile, the rising British artist and producer released his self-released full-length debut Thoughts last year.

Since the release of his full-length debut, JackLNDN has followed up by enlisting two of his favorite electronic music artists, electronic music producers and fellow Brits — Fluida and Frameworks — to remix two of Thoughts songs. Album single “With You” is a sultry and summery track centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, the British producer’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a sinuous yet crowd pleasing hook. Sonically, the song — to my ears, at least — brings Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves and Giorgio Moroder to mind.

Clocking in at a little over seven minutes, Fluida’s remix is centered around propulsive tribal beats while retaining the shimmering synth arpeggios, the gorgeous melody and sinuous hooks of the original; however, the remix turns the song into a euphoria-inducing drum ‘n’ bass meets tribal house instrumental.