Tag: The Great Escape Festival

Zooni · The Details

Zooni is a rapidly rising Brighton, UK-based art pop/indie rock act — Peter Martin, George Godwin, Ben Clark and Matt Glasbey — that was discovered by Mercury Prize and BRIT Award-winning producer Charlie Andrew.  Last year was a momentum changing year for the British act: they released their debut EP,  which they supported with a sold-out show at London’s The Waiting Room and a set at that year’s The Great Escape.

Zooni · Dissolve

Much like countless bands across the world, the members of Zooni hope to play shows as soon as humanly possible; in fact, they have some shows slated for the fall. But in the meantime, earlier this year, they released the critically applauded single “Dissolve,” and they’ve followed it up with their latest single, the ethereal “Details.” Centered around shimmering and angular guitars, propulsive and hypnotic drumming, atmospheric electronics, twinkling keys and plaintive vocals, the delicate yet painterly song sonically reminds me of OK Computer-era Radiohead and Forever So-era Husky — but within an expansive, prog-like song structure.

 

 

 

 

 

Brighton-based art-pop makers Zooni return today with new single ‘The Details’.  The follow up to their February single ‘Dissolve’. ‘The Details’ is a
 powerful yet fragile mix of poetic lyrics and transcendent textures. Combining hypnotic beats with delicate piano and angular guitars it is available to stream below …

 

Discovered by Mercury and Brit award winning producer Charlie Andrew (Alt J, London Gramma, Marika Hackman), Zooni – Peter Martin, George Godwin, Ben Clark, and Matt Glasbey – played a Sold-Out headline show at The Waiting Room (London) in the summer of 2019, following on from an unforgettable appearance at The Great Escape Festival in that same year – and still hope to be playing some UK shows later this year.

Live Footage: Amyl and The Sniffers Perform “Gacked on Anger” at The Croxton

Formed back in 2016, the acclaimed Melbourne, Australia-based punk act Amyl and The Sniffers — Amy Taylor (vocals), Gus Romer (bass), Bryce Wilson (drums) and Declan Martens (guitar) — wrote and self-recored their debut EP Giddy Up. The following year, they released the Big Attractions EP, which was packaged as a double 12 inch EP with  Giddy Up through Homeless Records in Australia and Damaged Goods in the UK.

The band made their international touring debut with an appearance at The Great Escape Festival, a series of sold out London area shows and a Stateside tour opening for JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. They ended a busy year with triumphant return tours to the UK and the US before signing to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Flightless Records for distribution across Australia and New Zealand and Rough Trade for the rest of the world. They ended that massive year with a Q Awards nomination for Best New Act and won the $30,000 Levis Prize.

Building upon a growing international profile, the Aussie punk rock outfit took SXSW by storm — and they promptly followed that up with their self-titled, full-length debut, which was released to critical applause globally for their feral take on ’77 era punk rock. Adding to a breakthrough year, the band won an ARIA Award for Best Rock Album. 

The acclaimed Melbourne-based punk act released the follow-up to their critically applauded debut with a live 7 inch vinyl, Live At The Croxton, which features dynamic live version of three of their most crowd-pleasing tracks — “Control,” “Gacked On Anger” and “Shake Ya” recorded at the band’s favorite club, The Croxton. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about Live at the Croxton’s first single, the Highway to Hell-era AC/DC meets Headbanger’s Ball-like “Control.” The EP’s latest single is the explosive and gritty mosh pit anthem “Gacked on Anger,”  tells an all-too familiar tale of a Working Jane, who is working her ass off on minimum wage, and  recognizes that everything in the world is s a fucking scam. It’s fittingly captures the frustration and unease of working people everywhere, who realize that they can’t make ends meet because of some greedy fat cat. 

The video is comprised of live footage of the Melbourne-based punk rock act performing the song live at the Croxton — and while the band plays with a muscular insistence, watch for Taylor’s anarchic and feral energy on stage. 

Live Footage: Aussie Punk Rockers Amyl and The Sniffers Perform “Control” at The Croxton

Acclaimed Melbourne, Australia-based punk act Amyl and The Sniffers — Amy Taylor (vocals), Gus Romer (bass), Bryce Wilson (drums) and Declan Martens (guitar) — formed back in 2016. During that first year together, they wrote and self-recorded their debut EP Giddy EP. The Aussie quartet then released 2017’s Big Attractions EP, which they released as a double 12 inch EP with Giddy Up through Homeless Records in Australia and Damaged Goods in the UK.

Amyl and The Sniffers made their international touring debut with an appearance at The Great Escape Festival, a series of sold out London area shows and  a Stateside tour opening for JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. The ended a busy 2017-2018 with triumphant return tours to the UK and US — and signing with  Flightless Records for distribution across Australia and New Zealand and Rough Trade for the rest of the world. They also received a Q Awards nomination for Best New Act and won the $30,000 Levis Prize. 

Building upon a growing international profile, the Aussie punk rock outfit took SXSW by storm and released their critically applauded, self-titled, full-length debut, which established their frenetic and feral take on ’77 era punk and won an ARIA Award for Best  Rock Album. Slated for a May 1, 2020 release, the Melbourne-based punk act will be releasing a live 7 inch, Live At The Croxton, which features dynamic live version of three of their most crowd-pleasing tracks — “Control,” “Gacked On Anger” and “Shake Ya” recorded at the band’s favorite club, in their hometown. 

Live At The Croxton’s first single is a live version “Control” which manages to recall Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, compete with a feral and booze-fueled intensity, centered by Taylor’s howling and some explosive, Headbanger’s Ball-like riffage. The recently released video is centered around live footage of the band performing the song — and it should serve as prefect example of what to expect from their live show: Taylor howling and stomping about the stage while the band rips and roars. 

Interview: A Q&A with New Colossus Festival Co-Founder Mike Bell

Co-founded by three New York music industry vets and longtime friends, Lorimer Beacon‘s founder and head Mike Bell, Kanine Records‘ founder and label head Lio Kanine and Kepler Events and Lola Live’s Steven Matrick, the second annual The New Colossus Festival, which will take place on March 11, 2020 – March 15, 2020 will feature more than 100 handpicked, emerging indie bands and artists from the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia, and Singapore. By design, the festival takes place just before SXSW: the festival’s co-founders view the festival as a pre-SXSW stopover that will give its emerging acts an opportunity to organically gain exposure – while filling a critical void in the festival circuit.

The festival’s second year finds the festival expanding by leaps and bounds: while still featuring showcases at venues across the East Village and Lower East Side including Berlin Under A, Lola NYC, Pianos, The Bowery Electric, Arlene’s Grocery and The Delancey, the festival has expanded to feature showcases at two beloved New York institutions – The Bowery Ballroom and the recently added MOSCOT Eyewear, as well as Ludlow House.

TNC20-SchedulePoster-R18-WebMockup-4x5

Of course, New Colossus offers adventurous fans and music industry insiders alike an opportunity to catch many of these emerging and buzzworthy bands before SXSW – and in many cases, the festival will offer the unique opportunity of catching some of these acts playing their first Stateside shows ever. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching JOVM mainstays The Orielles, Summer Heart and A Place to Bury Strangers, along with Beverly Kills, Hanya, Bodywash (who I caught at M for Montreal last year) and Jackie – but I’m also looking forward to some serendipitous discovery of new acts and the opportunity run into old friends, and to network and meet new friends and colleagues. And much like its inaugural year, the second New Colossus Festival will also feature panels and talks that will be of interest to the music community.

I got in touch with New Colossus Festival co-founder Mike Bell by email to chat about the second edition of the festival – primarily its rapid expansion, the founders hope for the future and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: This year is the second New Colossus Festival. In terms of the festival, what makes this year’s edition different than last year?

Mike Bell: We’re thrilled to be back!  This year we’ve grown from 6 venues to 9 venues while still keeping everything within walking distance on the Lower East Side.  We added MOSCOT Eyewear on Orchard Street as a venue, which will host shows all day Friday. It’s pretty exciting to be teaming up with a wonderful Lower East Side institution.   We also added an after-party at Ludlow House on Thursday and a late show featuring our friends A Place To Bury Strangers at Bowery Ballroom on Friday.

WRH: The second edition of New Colossus features a packed lineup of over 100 bands. Much like last year, there’s a big representation of Canadian acts. But I also see a few Norwegian acts, a few Spanish acts, a fair number of British acts, an Irish act or two, a couple of Austrian acts, an Irish act or two, an Australian act and even an act from Singapore on the bill. Was there anything specifically that changed in how acts were chosen and booked this year?

MB: Our prime motive is always the quality of the music and how it makes us feel. We’re booking bands who play music that we love.  We aren’t targeting a band from Djibouti because they’re from Djibouti. If there’s a great band from anywhere in the world that is able to make it to NYC and are serious about their careers as professional musicians, we’ll certainly consider them.   I will say that there are great festivals and conferences like Halifax Pop Explosion, Focus Wales, The Great Escape and Music Finland that have flown us out to find talent because their governments support exporting their music and art.

WRH: Who comes up with the festival playlist?

MB: That’s all Steven [Matrick]! He’s really good at it and puts a lot of thought into song placement. He’s been sending out playlists to his friends for many years.  You can hear his “Best of 2019” here:

WRH: This year’s festival sees the addition of two new venues – Ludlow House and the biggest venue in the festival’s history to date, Bowery Ballroom, which will host arguably the most talked about showcase of the entire festival. Does this give you and the organizers a sense of an even bigger future for New Colossus?

MB: By the time your readers see this, we’ll have announced MOSCOT as another venue that will be hosting bands all day Friday, March 13, with our friends from AdHoc. As mentioned previously, MOSCOT has been part of the Lower East Side community for over 100 years. They’re also a huge supporter of music so it made a lot of sense to team up with them.

The Bowery Ballroom show is a big deal and we’re super excited about it. However, we really don’t see this as a showcase nor as a “headline” show. We definitely don’t want to be the kind of festival that makes fans choose between seeing a more established band versus a smaller one. A Place to Bury Strangers are part of our TNC family and we see their show as another awesome band for festival attendees to see after the other showcases have ended.  That said, Bowery Ballroom is a great venue and we hope to expand and do more shows with them next year.

WRH: Festivals like Winter Jazz Fest, New Colossus, SXSW and other festivals with a conference segment have featured talks covering a variety of subjects of importance to their audiences, which will predominantly be musicians, music industry professionals and journalists. How did you and the organizing team come up with the subjects for the various talks that will happen this year?

MB: The topics we chose were the ones that we felt were most useful and interesting to the bands playing the festival. We feel it is important to include speakers who would be the most likely to connect with the artists in a meaningful way.  In the age of declining record sales, Indie labels, sync and touring have become vital to survive as a musician.  The other panels are on activism, mental health and the history of music in NYC, all very relevant to the bands playing our festival.

WRH: Besides making a living off your art and passion, and how to survive the touring life, one of the biggest issues that concern musicians, music industry types and those who love them is their mental health and wellness. A portion of my readers aren’t music industry insiders. Can you talk a bit about why having discussions on the subject of mental health and wellness is so important for the music community as a whole?

MB: Mental health and wellness is something we need to talk about as much as possible. Professional artists’ lives and livelihoods are dependent on maintaining their wellbeing. We are here are for the artist and want to help them with their careers, which includes making sure that issues like mental health are not stigmatized and that they addressed in an open form.  Most touring musicians spend a huge percentage of their lives in bars at music venues and it is a struggle for everyone single one of them to be healthy and sane while touring.

WRH: Simon Raymonde and The Charlatans UK’s Tim Burgess DJ’ing a New Colossus After Party? Holy shit, dude. So, how did that happen?  

MB: It’s pretty amazing! Tim is also playing his first US solo shows at the festival. Lio has been friends with Simon and his wife Abbey for years and we all love their label Bella Union. In the end it really all came down to them believing and understanding what this festival is all about.  Bella Union also sent us two of our favorite bands Penelope Isles and Lowly last year, and Pom Poko and Dog In the Snow this year, as well as the legendary Tim Burgess of the Charlatans.

WRH: Where do you see the direction of the festival next year?

MB: We are already thinking about what we’ll do for 2021 and have some plans that involve integrating more with the community and the neighborhood as a whole. We’d love too partner with a backline company and do more pop up shows in art galleries and stores.

For more information on the festival, including badge and ticket information, check out the Festival’s home page: https://www.newcolossusfestival.com

I’ll be covering New Colossus’ second edition. You can check out festival coverage here:

Twitter: @yankee32879

@williamhelms3rd

Instagram: @william_ruben_helms

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Thyla Releases a Bold and Brightly Colored Visual for Anthemic “Lenox Hill”

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the rapidly rising Brighton, UK-based indie rock band Thyla. The act can trace its origins back to when its founding trio — Millie Duthie, Danny Southwell and Dan Hole — met while attending college. Bonding over shared musical interests, the band’s founding trio started writing material together. But with the addition of Mitch Dutch, the band began to reimagine their sound and aesthetic, centered around a general distaste of what they felt was the stale and boring state of the British recording industry.

Interestingly, during that same period of time, the members of Thyla have helped establish and cement their hometown’s reputation for production a music scene that features some of England’s hottest emerging acts — while playing shows with the likes of Dream Wife, Luxury Death, Matt Maltese, Yonaka, Husky Loops and Lazy Day. They’ve also shared bills with  Sunflower Bean, INHEAVEN and Fickle Friends while being spotlighted alongside Pale Waves, Nilüfer Yanya, and Sorry in NME‘s 100 Essential Acts for 2018.

They’ve continued on the remarkable momentum of last year with their debut EP What’s On Your Mind, which was released earlier this year to reviews from Pitchfork, Stereogum, NME, The Line of Best Fit and Dork. The EP also received airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, Radio X and KCRW. Building upon a growing national and international profile, the band has spent a portion of this year on the road opening for Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever, played attention-grabbing sets at The Great Escape, Live At Leeds and Hit The North. And adding to a massive year for the band, they also went on their first national UK tour, which included their biggest show to date, at  London’s Electrowerkz.

And while it’s been an extraordinarily busy year for the band, they’ve managed to work on new material, which will compose their highly-anticipated sophomore EP slated for release early next year. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about the EP’s first, official single, the boldly ambitious “Two Sense,” a single centered around a rousingly anthemic, arena rock friendly hook, explosive power chords, thunderous drumming, earnest vocals and a slick, modern production that emphasizes a band that has grown more confident and self-assured. But along with that the song, featured a purposeful and defiant message about claiming your right to self-determination.

The EP’s second and latest single “Lenox Hill” continues in the same sonic vein as its immediate predecessor, as it features a driving groove, shimmering and angular guitar lines and a rousing hook. And while continuing a run of remarkably self-assured and ambitious songs — it may arguably be the most personal song they’ve written in some time, as it’s an honest and triumphant coming-of-age story that touches upon finding oneself again to figure out where you need to be and need to go.

“Lenox Hill is the hospital I was born in, with the track inspired by my early years as a kid living in New York City. It’s an honest and emotional coming-of-age tale,” the band’s Millie Duthie explains in press notes. “Life can take so many turns and you can forget where you came from and what makes you you. The important stuff like family can get set aside in the pursuit of whatever it is that drives you. ‘Lenox Hill’ is about realising you’re lost and deciding to go back to your roots to find the way again.” 

Directed and shot by the members of the rapidly rising Brighton-based band, the recently released video for “Lenox Hill” was filmed in the band’s hometown and stars the band’s Duthie in a series of brightly colored outfits. We follow her as she dances and runs around town. And while firmly following a DIY spirit, the video manages to capture the song’s immense and triumphant air. 

“The urge to put ‘Lenox Hill’ to video was too strong to ignore, so we decided to try and shoot something essentially for free,” Thyla’s Millie Duthie reveals in press notes. We bought a gimbal stabiliser off Amazon and used Danny’s iPhone to shoot the whole thing, turns out all you need is some outfits, a willingness to look a bit silly to passers by and a whole load of patience for editing in iMovie and you’ve got yourself a music video! We had a lot of fun making it and we hope it sheds some light on the song and how it makes us feel.”

Interview: A Q&A with M for Montreal’s Program Director Mikey Rishwain Bernard

M for Montreal (French – M pour Montreal) is an annual music festival and conference, which takes place during four days in late November. Since its founding 14 years ago, the music festival and conference has rapidly expanded to feature over 100 local and international buzzworthy and breakout bands in showcases across 15 of Montreal’s top venues.

300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers from over 20 different countries make the trek to Montreal to seek out new, emerging artists and new business opportunities – while hopefully eating a ton of smoked meat sandwiches and poutine. I have the distinct pleasure and honor of being one of those music industry folks, who will be in Montreal tomorrow. As you can imagine, I’m looking very forward to poutine and smoked meat sandwiches, as well as a wildly eclectic array of music that includes the rapidly rising hometown-based Francophone indie rock act Corridor; acclaimed London, Ontario-based DIY rock collective WHOOP-Szo; British Columbia-based psych folk act Loving; hometown-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Ada Lea; hometown-based shoegazers Bodywash; Vancouver-based dance punk act NOV3L; Cameroonian-French pop artist Blick Bassy; and New York-based dance punk act Operator Music Band;  as well as a showcase featuring Icelandic artists and a two showcases featuring locally-based and Canadian-based hip-hop among a lengthy list of others.

Before heading out to Montreal, I chatted with the festival’s program director Mikey Rishwain Bernard about a wide range of topics including Montreal and Montreal’s music scene, what music fans, music industry professionals and journalists should expect from the city and the festival and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: While JOVM does have readers in Canada, most of my readers are based in the United States. Can you tell me and my readers a couple of things about Montreal and its music scene that we probably wouldn’t know but should know?

Mikey Rishwain Bernard: Most people will identify Montreal with Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and that’s cool as shit. After that Arcade Fire movement, it felt like many creative Canadian musicians started flocking to Montreal for the cheap schools, cheap rent, vast music scene and live venues. All that hype brought a new generation of artists like Grimes, Mac DeMarco, BRAIDS and more. All this to say is that Montreal is one heck of a place for creative space, freedom and affordable rent. Aside all that, there’s an entire francophone music scene that’s considered mainstream and not to forget the top shelf beatmakers and producers, most notably Kaytranada, Kid Koala, and A-Trak. There’s a lot of government funding dedicated in arts and culture and that’s a huge factor.

WRH: This is the 14th edition of M for Montreal. What was the inspiration behind its creation?

MRB: First and foremost, M was created on a whim. It was set up as a showcase to introduce 6 Montreal bands to 12 festival buyers and media from the UK, who happened to be in Montreal, while on their way to NY for CMJ. It helped artists like Patrick Watson and The Besnard Lakes get some action. In short, M is a networking platform for Canadian artists and industry to mingle with international tastemakers. We now recruit over 100 international delegates from 15 different countries to attend in hopes to export these acts into their respective markets. Another inspiration behind M is Martin Elbourne.  He’s our co-founder. A legendary British programmer who books for Glastonbury and co-founded The Great Escape festival in Brighton. He also worked with The Smiths and New Order, and has always had been involved with new wave’s in the making. He saw Montreal as a “sexy city” and wanted to contribute to this festival to help bring Montreal acts to Europe. Since then, M for Montreal has grown into not only a platform for Canadians, but we also make a little room for international acts.

 WRH: What does a program director of a festival do? 

MRB: I curate the music and conference. Lots of listening, making offers, negotiating and waiting. On repeat.

WRH: In your mind, what makes a successful festival? 

MRB: Aside from the talent, it’s the experience. The people you meet and the memories you make. I sound like Hallmark card, eh?

WRH: This is my first time in Montreal – and it’s my first time covering the M for Montreal festival. Besides the cold weather and maybe a little snow, what should I expect as a journalist? What would other music industry professionals expect from the festival?

MRB: You’re gonna feel welcome and our locals treat our guests/delegates with a lot of respect. Quebecers are very welcoming and charming, and they’ll all share their opinions on where to go, who to meet and what to eat. Everyone is going to ask you to try poutine. Just do it, once or twice. Try it sober at least once if you get the chance. Aside from that, don’t be surprised if some women kiss you on both face cheeks.

WRH: As a music fan, why should I check out Montreal? Why M for Montreal?

MRB: Like previously mentioned, the rich music history. It’s always good to see where Leonard Cohen slept & where Win Butler got his coffee, but it’s also a privilege to discover and experience the culture and new music cooking in French Canada.

WRH: I was doing some research and checking out the artists playing this year’s festival. Admittedly, I was very impressed – the bill manages to be very local centric but while being an eclectic and diverse sampling of a number of different styles and genres. There’s also a fair number of Canadian acts from other provinces, at least one American band and so on. How much work went into that? And how do you and the other organizers choose the artists on the bill?

MRB: It’s a mixture of things. We work with a lot of new kids on the block, Canadian export partners and local industry. We book bands and work with people who wanna play ball. Not for the money, but for a chance to play for some interesting people from all over the world. So, like the programming, it’s all over the place.

WRH: So once the festival ends on Saturday night, what happens next for you and the rest of the team?

MRB: The team will close out the festival and close the 2019 file. The week after M, I’m attending a conference in Saskatoon called Very Prairie… From there, I go directly into hibernation, back home, in Stockton/Lodi California (home of Pavement and Chris Isaak). I will start the new year booking another festival taking place in May called Santa Teresa. And the beat goes on.

While in Montreal, I’ll be busy with my social media accounts, live tweeting and Instagramming as much as I can. Keep on the lookout here:

Twitter: @yankee32879 @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: william_ruben_helms

 

For more information on the festival, check out their homepage: https://mpourmontreal.com/en/

 

 

Throughout the course of last year, I managed to write quite a bit about the rapidly rising Brighton, UK-based indie rock band Thyla. And as you may recall, the act can trace its origins back to when its founding trio — Millie Duthie, Danny Southwell and Dan Hole — met while attending college. Bonding over shared musical interests, the band’s founding trio started writing material together. But with the addition of Mitch Dutch, the band began to reimagine their sound and aesthetic, centered around a general distaste of what they felt was the stale and boring state of the British recording industry.

During that same period of time, they’ve helped establish and cement Brighton’s reputation for producing a music scene with some of England’s hottest emerging acts while playing shows with the likes of Dream WifeLuxury DeathMatt Maltese, YonakaHusky Loops and Lazy Day.  Additionally, the band shared bills with Sunflower Bean, INHEAVEN and Fickle Friends while being spotlighted alongside Pale Waves, Nilüfer Yanya, and Sorry in NME‘s 100 Essential Acts for 2018.

They’ve continued on the remarkable momentum of last year with their debut EP What’s On Your Mind, which was released earlier this year to reviews from Pitchfork, Stereogum, NME, The Line of Best Fit and Dork. The EP also received airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, Radio X and KCRW. Along with that they’ve spent a portion of this year on the road opening for Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever — and they’ve played attention-grabbing sets at The Great Escape, Live At Leeds and Hit The North. They’ll close out the year with their first national UK tour, which will include their biggest show to date at London’s Electrowerkz.

Interestingly, during a very busy year the members of Thyla have been working on new material, which will comprise their highly-anticipated sophomore EP slated for release early next year. The EP’s first official single “Two Sense” may be the most boldly ambitious song of the growing catalog, as it’s centered around an rousing and enormous, arena rock friendly hook, explosive power chords, thunderous drumming and earnest vocals with a purposeful and defiant message. All of this is placed within a slick. and modern production which helps further emphasize a band that has grown more confident and self-assured.

“‘Two Sense’ is about the short-term sacrifices we make in order to create space for long-term gains,” the band’s Millie Duthie explains in press notes. “It’s a song about growing up and claiming your right to self-determination. We’re really proud of the direction we’ve taken both in terms of the writing and production. It feels like our boldest cut yet; the vocals are purposefully front and centre and the message is clear.”

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Throughout this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written about and championed a number of acts from across Northern Africa — in particular, Mali. During that same period of time,  Mali has been split apart by a bloody civil war between several different factions. In 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azaward (MNLA) took control of Northern Mail; but shortly after, they were pushed out of the region by Ansar Dine, a jihadist group, which quickly imposed sharia law: cigarettes, alcohol and music were banned across the region. And as a result a large number of the country’s acclaimed musicians including Songhoy Blues’ founding trio Garba Toure, Aliou Toure and Oumar Toure (no relation, but all Songhoy people) were forced to relocate south to Bamako, the country’s capital.

As the members of Songhoy Blues have said, the band was formed “. . . to recreate that lost ambience of the North, and make all the refugees relive those Northern songs.”  The band recruited Nathanael Dembélé to compete their lineup, and began playing shows across the Bamako club circuit, attracting both Songhoy and Tuareg fans.  Interestingly, by September 2013, Africa Express, a collective of American and European musicians and producers led by Damon Albarn traveled to Bamako to collaborate with local musicians. The members of Songhoy Blues successfully auditioned and were introduced to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Nick Zinner, who produced and recorded “Soubour” (which translates into English as “patience”), which appeared on that year’s African Express compilation Maison Des Jeunes. 

Following the success of “Soubour,” the band returned to the studio with Zinner and co-producer Marc-Antoine Moreau to record their 2015 full-length debut Music in Exile, which was a commercial and critical success, receiving praise from The Guardian, NME and others, and as a result the band received nominations for “Best New Act” at the Q Awards and “Independent Breakthrough Act” at the AIM Awards.  The quartet has opened for Alabama Shakes, Julian Casablancas and Damon Albarn, and have played sets at Glastonbury Festival, Bonnaroo Festival, Latitude Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest, WOMADelaide and The Great Escape Festival.

Building upon a growing international profile, the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Resistance was released to critical praise, with Rolling Stone naming it one of the best albums of that year. Since then, the act has been busy touring, including a stop at Union Pool‘s Summer Thunder last year — and the writing and recording of their forthcoming EP Meet Me in the City, which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release.

The effort finds the acclaimed Malian act collaborating with Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney, Junior Kimbrough and Femi Kuti. Interestingly, the EP’s first single, the Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney and Songhoy Blues co-written “Time To Go Home” may be the most electronic-leaning they’ve released to date, it still retains some dexterous and trippy guitar work and the hypnotic grooves of the Desert Blues. And interestingly enough, it finds the band ambitiously desiring to pass the messages at the heart of their material to a much larger, international audience. (There are two different version of the track. One mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Blake Mills and one mixed by David Ferguson.)

Songhoy Blues says, “We’re really happy to introduce this new EP and our English-language debut on the song ‘Time To Go Home.’ Please enjoy it and get ready for a heavy new album coming up very soon.”

Matt Sweeney adds, “I think it’s safe to say that the brave poets of Songhoy Blues have a different idea what a ‘bad day’ is than pretty much all other rock bands. Their music and singing are powerful beyond words. Making a new song with them was a humbling honor and an unforgettable joy.”

On PBS’ American Masters, Will Oldham spoke of working with Songhoy Blyes, saying, “They are a Malian band that’s really trying to make sense of what they’ve been witnessing, what they’ve been experiencing, and create or transmit a message to people about what they’re seeing and how they’re trying to understand it and make change…And to think, well I want them to know that I’m trying to listen and trying to understand, and if I can give voice to some of what they’re experiencing, that they might be emboldened by this musical connection.”

Songhoy Blues will be embarking on a month long Stateside tour that includes two NYC area dates — September 22, 2019 at The Great Green Wall at The United Nations and October 24, 2019 at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

09.21 – Franklin, TN – Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival 2019
09.22 – New York, NY – United Nations | Great Green Wall
09.23 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09.24 – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
09.26 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
09.27 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
09.28 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
10.01 – El Prado, NM – Taos Mesa Brewing
10.04 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge
10.05 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Berkeley
10.06 – Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
10.09 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
10.10 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
10.11 – Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
10.12 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Rickshaw Theatre
10.15 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
10.17 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
10.19 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
10.22 – Toronto, ON, Canada – Great Hall
10.24 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
10.25 – Easthampton, MA – New City Brewery
10.26 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
10.27 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

New Video: Up-and-Coming Angolan-Portuguese Global Dance Music Artist Pongo Releases Pastel Colored Surrealist Visuals for Sultry “Chora”

Pongo is an up-and-coming Luanda, Angola-born, Lisbon, Portugal-based pop artist. As a child, the Angolan-Portuguese pop artist’s family was forced to feel Angola to escape a lengthy and very bloody civil war that decimated their homeland. Pongo and her family eventually settled in Lisbon, where she’s lived ever since. 

The Angolan-Portuguese pop artist got the attention of the acclaimed, Portuguese act Buraka Som Sistema, an electronic dance music act that specialized in a sound that meshed tech beats with zouk, a rapid-fire  musical style from Martinique and Guadeloupe and kuduro, an up-tempo dance music genre from Angola that blends elements of soca and samba, in what was dubbed zouk bass and progressive kuduro. In 2008, Buraka Som Sistema released their smash hit, “Kalemba (Wengue Wengue), a single that went on to sell 10 million copies and eventually landed them a MTV Europe Award for Best Portuguese Act. Adding to a growing international profile, the track received co-signs from the likes of Diplo, Hot Chip and Shakira.

Released last year, Pongo’s solo debut Baia EP was a genre-blurring, globalist affair that found the Angolan-Portuguese artist pairing Portuguese lyrics with a sound that meshed elements of Angolan kiduro with Western styles like techno and bass. Released just before her appearance at this year’s Great Escape Festival, the expanded edition of the Baia EP features a new track, “Chora.” Deriving its title from the Portuguese word for “cry,” Pongo’s latest single meshes dancehall, soca and trap within a slick production consisting of glistening bursts of steel drum and snares, stuttering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and self-assured and vaguely trap and hip-hop inspired vocal delivery from the Angolan Portuguese artist. The Baia EP expanded edition also features remixes of “Chora” by 20syl, who has remixed and re-worked material by King Krule, Schoolboy Q, and Rihanna — and a remix by Anoraak, which will be released through renowned French electronic music label Kitsune next month.

Created by French direction and production duo Rush Hour, the recently released video for “Chora” is a pastel-colored, Dadaesque, pan-African dream, centered around a stunningly beautiful, up-and-coming, global star.