Tag: synth pop

(Photo Credit: Tracy Ketcher)

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(Album Photo: Niki Brody)

As I’ve frequently mentioned lately, over the almost nine years of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kelsey Warren, a grizzled local scene vet, who has been in a number of projects as a side man, hired gun or frontman including Denise Barbarita and the Morning Papers, and Pillow Theory among others.

Initially begun in 2015 as a solo recording project with a rotating cast of players and collaborators for live shows, Warren’s latest attention-grabbing project Blak Emoji has gradually evolved into a full-fledged band that features Sylvana Joyce (keytar), Bryan Percival (bass, keys) and Max Tholenaar-Maples (drums). Now, as you may recall, with the release of “Another Club Night,” “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars” and “Honey,” Warren and his collaborators quickly won attention from this site and elsewhere across the blogosphere for crafting slinky, 80s synth funk-inspired, dance floor friendly pop — a decided departure from Warren’s previous work.

Blak Emoji’s highly anticipated full-length debut Kumi was released last Friday, and yesterday I met up with Blak Emoji’s frontman and founder Kelsey Warren at Cadillac House in SoHo in a fun and easygoing conversation about the new album and much more. Check it out.

 

 

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AlphaCub is an up-and-coming and rather mysterious, Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist. Centered around a cinematic, 80s synth pop-like production that features Canadian artist’s plaintive vocals, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, aa soaring hook and a fiery guitar solo, his latest single “Night Heart” is influenced by his childhood growing up in the quiet and remote countryside — but while possessing a yearning for a time that seemed much simpler, for a place he can never quite have again and for a person that will forever remain in his past. “Growing up in a quiet place along the countryside, I fell in love with the darkness. I always fascinated by that one, distant light that shone from the forest or near the ocean,” AlphaCub says in press notes. “The only thing I love more is the wild night that I embrace trying to reach that glow.”

 

The up-and-coming Canadian singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist’s forthcoming album Night Heart is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Culvert Music.

 

 

Sammy Jay is a Southern Wales-born, Los Angeles-based, Mercury Prize-nominated electronic music producer, best known as SJae (pronounced Ess Jay). The Welsh-born producer is a graduate of the BRIT School and upon graduation, Def Jam Records gave her first professional production gig on Terri Walker‘s Untitled album. Since then, the Welsh-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music producer has become of the first female music producers from the UK to have been hailed Stateside as one of the best in the best in the business by many of her peers, including some of the world’s superstar producers; in fact, during the course of her 20 year career, she has collaborated with the likes of The Roots, Ricki-Lee, Booty Luv, Terri Walker, Mis-teeq, Mark Morrison, The Pussycat Dolls, EXO, Rod Stewart and others.  She has composed music for a number of TV shows, including MTV’s Ridiculous, FOX’s Lethal Weapon and Netflix’s After Party starring KYLE and French Montana, and she has had had her own material appear on Fox’s Empire, CBS’ Flashpoint and others, as well in promos for FOX Sports, the NBA and Reelz TV. She is also currently the executive producer for Howling Music, Nashville working on music for the global ad campaigns for Hyundai and Ford. And before I forget, she also has produced logo music for a number of top radio stations including RTL, Bayern 3 and 94.7FMThe Wave.

Throughout her career, Sammy Jay has been an ardent proponent and prominent representative for women producers — and her debut EP FIRST is slated for a March 22, 2019 release. Intended as the beginning of a series of EPs that include collaborations with acclaimed songwriters, producers and EDM artists, the Welsh-born, Los Angeles-based producer’s debut EP will feature guest spots by Raphael Saadiq, Sam Sparro and Dria Thornton. “The purpose of my project is to show woman can produce records, create more content and more visibility for us, so we can encourage other women to enter into the field,” Sammy Jay says of her EP series. “There are very few female record producers out there; in fact , I just gave an interview for a USC study funded by Spotify about why there are so few female producers in the industry. I believe we are haven’t been encouraged to be technical within the creative industry. The assumption is that women exist only as performers, singers and songwriters, the introduction of a women who produces music, ‘makes beats’ etc is met with surprise and a sometimes not so subtle air of disbelief, followed by much questioning on tech – ‘What software do you use?’ “Do you really know how to mix a really fat kick drum?’ etc.”

She continues, “I believe that if you don’t see yourself represented out there in the public media, you internalize the idea that you don’t belong there, or that there is no opportunity for you in that arena. I want to change that.”
FIRST‘s latest single “The Avenue” features a soulful guest spot from Sam Sparro, built upon by a slick, 80s synth funk-inspired production centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths, thumping beats and a razor sharp hook. And while sonically, indebted to “Ain’t Nobody” and I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan and Quiet Storm-era soul, the song manages to feel like a subtly contemporary and self-assured take on a familiar and beloved sound.

R E L is the solo recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Arielle Sitrick. With the release of her crowd-funded, self-titled debut EP, Sitrick received attention from the likes of Wonderland Magazine, Atwood Magazine, Blah Blah Science, Ones to Watch, Huffington Post, PopMatters, Acid Stag, Impose Magazine, Apeiron, Hilly Dilly, BaebleVents Magazine, LOVEPIE, Crack in the Road, Drunken Werewolf, Killing Moon and others for unique take on pop that Sitrick has dubbed EVOCA-POP, which is specifically written to make the listener think and feel something.

Sitrick has played a number of the Los Angeles area’s best known venues and showcases including KCRW’s Chris Douridas and MFG’s School Night, BMI Acoustic Lounge, NiteLight, SoFar Sounds, Balcony TV, The Peppermint Club, Hunnypot Live, Writer’s Block and Echo Park Rising. And adding to a growing profile, the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has amassed over 2 million Spotify streams, 1 million YouTube streams.

The up-and-coming singer/songwriter is currently working on a 3-sided visual album EVOCAPOP, which will thematically focus on self-love, recovery and empowerment; but in the meantime, her latest single “Back to the River” is centered around a thumping, hook-driven production featuring twinkling synths, shimmering blasts of guitar and Sitrick’s sultry, pop star vocals. But underneath the swaggering production is a song that possesses a plaintive yearning for more.

 

 

With the release of their critically applauded debut single “Blue & The Green” back in 2016, the Brighton UK-based collective LOYAL, comprised of James Day, Laurence Allen and Alex Cowen, quickly emerged into the national scene, receiving regular rotation on BBC Radio 1. The act’s lineup began to expand with the release of “House For You,” which found the then-trio collaborating with fellow Brighton-based artist Beth Molly Moore — and as result of that successful collaboration, the act eventually expanded to a septet.

Interestingly, over the course of an expanding catalog, the band has increasingly moved from standard house music songwriting approaches and digital production towards a disco-influenced sound, focusing on groove and analog production and instrumentation, at points drawing influence from R&B, indie rock pop and funk. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the Nile Rodgers and Chic and Daft Punk-like  “Everything (She)” off the collective’s forthcoming Patterns That Fall EP, a track that featured a wobbling synths, a soaring hook, a funky bass line and guitar line, making it a winning combination of anachronistic vibes, old-timey production and sound and club-banging grooves.

Centered by twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, soaring strings, a choral-like vocal delivery by the act’s lead and backing vocalist and an infectious, dance floor-friendly hook, the EP’s latest single “Crave It Still” manages to bring Nile Rodgers and Chic, Escort and Studio 54 to mind, but with subtle electronic flourishes that include arpeggiated blasts of synth and a thumping, muscular kick. Much like its preceding singles, the track is a slickly produced, anachronistic synthesis of 70s disco and funk, electro pop and contemporary neo-disco. “Lyrically, ‘Crave It Still’ started as a poem, a stream of consciousness about craving nothing in particular; maybe a lost love, a drug, a partner you shouldn’t be with but can’t help going back to. We held the poem in our back-pocket for a while, then eventually fashioned the New York disco sound while we were on our first-ever writing trip to the city itself. We recorded in a beautiful studio tucked away in an industrial park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, alongside some fantastic local writers and musicians. They laid out a killer foundation, all New York, and we built from there.”

Look for LOYAL’s Pattern That Fall on April 26, 2019.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay TR/ST Releases a Murky Industrial-like Single off Forthcoming Third Album

Over the past few years of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Toronto, ON-born, Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstay Robert Alfons, best known for his solo electro pop recording TR/ST. Now, as you may recall, Alfons has released two critically and commercially successful full-lengths 2012’s self-titled effort and 2014’s sophomore effort Joyland. Interestingly, Joyland was a decided change in sonic direction for the Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music producer and artist with the material  being much more pop orientated while possessing a muscular, club banging thump.

Five years have passed since the release of his sophomore album and as it turns out, the Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay had been writing and recording new material in a farmhouse in Southern Ontario and Los Angeles, where he recently relocated. During those writing and recording sessions, which resulted in his forthcoming two album effort Destroyer 1 and Destroyer 2, Alfons worked with a cast of all-star collaborators  that included Austra’s Maya Postepski, with whom he collaborated with on his self-titled debut; Postepski co-wrote and co-produced six of the album’s songs. Alfons also worked with co-producers Lars Stalfors and Damian Taylor to further refine the album’s sound. As Alfons eventually learned during the Destroyer writing and recording process was that patience would wind up being a major ingredient and influence on his songwriting approach and the album’s overall sound. 

“The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” Alfons says in press notes. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction. My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one. They just poured out of me.” With The Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”

Destroyer 1’s first single “Gone” was built around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, a motorik groove and a soaring and incredibly anthemic hook. And while managing to have a radio friendly accessibility, the song is centered around a swooning and urgent Romanticism that recalls 80s synth pop and New Wave — in particular, New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” comes to mind. “Unbleached,” Destroyer 1’s second and latest single is a murky single co-written by Maya Postepski that features layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, explosive hi-hat, and an infectious and anthemic hook paired with Alfons’ plaintive vocals ethereally floating over the mix. Interestingly as Alfons says in press notes “So happy to share the first collaboration song that me and Maya wrote for the album. This was an ode to the sound of rats running in the roof!’ 

The Destroyer 1 is slated for an April 19, 2019 release through Grouch/House Arrest Records with The Destroyer slated for a November release.

New Video: Acclaimed Toronto Producer Harrison Teams Up with RALPH on Soulful 90s Synth Pop Inspired Track

With the release of his 2016 full-length debut, the critically applauded, Juno Award-nominated Checkpoint Titanium, the Toronto-based electronic music producer, electronic music artist Harrison turned from DIY bedroom producer, posting tracks on Soundcloud to a nationally and internationally acclaimed artist and producer, at the forefront of his hometown’s R&B tinged electro pop scene. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the acclaimed Canadian’s sophomore album Apricity, (which is defined as “the warmth of the sun in winter”) found him at a point where he was evolving his sound and approach, figuring out ways to translate ideas and challenge existing conventions more effectively while working with an equally acclaimed set of collaborators including Daniela Andrade, IaamSaam, BADBADNOTGOOD’s Matty Tavares, Prince Innocence’s Talvi, Basecamp’s Aaron Tiem, Prince DCF and RALPH among others. 

Interestingly, Harrison quietly released a set of B-sides through Bandcamp that will be included as part of the Apricity Deluxe bundle, which also will include an official Fingerboard, and a limited edition 140g, Black Smoke LP copy signed by Harrison, as well unlimited Bandcamp streaming; but let’s talk about Apricity’s sultry, 90s synth pop-inspired summer banger “Your Girl.” A collaboration featuring up-and-coming local vocalist RALPH, the track is built upon a dense, hook-driven production consisting of lush layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, RALPH’s soulful, come hither delivery and chopped up vocal samples. Directed by Ft. Langley, the video stars Doug Paton as “The Man” and is a slick, hilarious and absolutely incisive commentary on consumerism and advertising becoming a part of our innermost dreams and fantasies. 

Over the past few years, I’ve written a lot about JOVM Mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Malmo, Sweden-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic producer and electronic music artist, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. Now, as you may recall, the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic producer and electronic music artist has released a batch of singles in a single-of-the-month series that he has dubbed 12 Songs of Summer. According to Alexander, the series allows him to “show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case if you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”

Just as Alexander is about to embark on a 16 date East Coast tour with New York-based electronic music artist and producer Brothertiger, the acclaimed Swedish artist released the last track of the series, the woozy and percussive “Buckle Up.” Centered around an ethereal melody, thumping beats, lush vocal harmonies and a sinuous groove, the track evokes swooning and youthful and somewhat uncertain love.

I was working with my friend Chris in his bedroom in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at that point. We had bought smoothies from Brooklyn Standard and were just fooling around” Alexander says of the song’s creation. “I’m normally a Logic Pro guy, but we started this new track in Ableton Live and called it ‘Groovie,’ wanting to make it exactly what the name suggests. I just couldn’t make it happen in Ableton but we wrote the track and bounced a rough demo of it anyway. I had it on repeat in my headphones for quite a while before I knew where I wanted to take it. I put all the stems we had recorded into Logic and started messing around with them. The track changed quite drastically and became a bit more up-tempo. The lyrics are about falling in love with someone that doesn’t fit your criteria – someone you didn’t expect to fall in love with.”

As for the tour, it begins tomorrow night at The Knitting Factory. For the rest of the dates, check them out below.

 

L I V E

(East Coast of America with Brothertiger)

 

Feb 21 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory

Feb 22 Washington DC – Songbyrd Vinyl Lounge

Feb 23 Norfolk, VA – Charlie’s American Café

Feb 24 Greenville, SC – Radio Room

Feb 26 Atlanta, GA – 529 bar

Feb 27 New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa

Feb 28 Houston, TX – Continental Club

March 1 Austin, TX – Barracuda

March 2 Dallas, TX – RBC

March 3 Tulsa, OK – Chimera Lounge

March 5 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room

March 6 Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen

March 7 Bloomington, IN – The Bishop

March 8 Columbus, OH – Spacebar

March 9 Pittsburgh, PA – Cattivo

March 10 Philadelphia, PA – PhilaMOCA

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay, Josie Boivin, Quebec-based classically trained pianist and opera vocalist and electronic pop producer, electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, best known as MUNYA. As the story goes Boivin had only written one song when she was asked to perform at 2017’s Pop Montreal Festival. Now, as you may recall, ironically at the time, Boivin had never intended to pursue music full-time; but after playing at the festival, she realized what she was meant to do — be a musician.

So Boivin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio where she wrote every day. These recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy named after a significant place in Boivin’s life. Her self-released debut North Hatley derives its name from one of Boivin’s favorite little villages in Quebec and her second EP Delmano, which was released last year through Fat Possum Records derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Blue Pine EP, the third EP of Boivin’s trilogy derives its name for the Blue Pine Mountains in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks — and continues the trilogy’s overall theme of EP’s being named for a significant place in Boivin’s life.  “It’s All About You”  Blue Pine‘s first single was a beguiling pop song centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a soaring hook, and Boivin’s ethereal falsetto — but interestingly, the song focuses on the joy and agony of an all-consuming infatuation that borders on obsession. “Benjamin,” Blue Pines‘ second and latest single is centered around a breezy and infectious hook, shimmering synths and guitars, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor beats and Boivin’s ethereal vocals singing lyrics both in English and French. (Interestingly, the song marks the first time Boivin sings in both languages.) And much like its immediate predecessor, the song finds Boivin balancing an infectious pop sensibility with an aching, sepia-tinged wistfulness. Oh how, things were easier/simpler/less cynical back then, the songs seem to say –and yet within “Benjamin,” there’s a bit of hope. As Boivin says of the song in press notes,  “Many times in my life when I thought I had found love it turned into heartbreak. Like most people, it has made it harder for me to be vulnerable with new experiences and people. In this song I take a step back and realize it’s how we all feel. I make fun of my own vulnerabilities, try to just push them to the side and enjoy my new love.”

Blue Pine is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through House Arrest/Fat Possum Records imprint Luminelle Recordings, and along with that the three EPs will be combined for the physical release MUNYA, which will also be released on March 8.

Comprised of Ottilia Kjulsten and David Sugar, Girl Crush is an up-and-coming Swedish/British duo that have a special interest in lost youth, heartbreak and a future never arrived. The duo’s singles “Warm Blooded” and “Past Life” received airplay on Phil Taggart’s BBC Radio 1 show while “Radio Silence,” was named The Guardian‘s Track of the Week — and as a result, each single has amassed over 1 million streams on Spotify.

Fittingly, their latest single “Baby Steps,” which was released on Valentine’s Day is a sultry, Quiet Storm-inspired track about taking a relationship to the next level that’s centered around Kjulsten’s ethereal vocals and a shimmering, atmospheric production that will remind some listeners of JOVM mainstays ACES and others.