Tag: The Knife

New Video: Renowned Swedish Electro Pop Artist Releases Unsettling and Brutal Visuals for an Uncompromisingly Honest Album Single

Jenny Wilson is a Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electronic music artist, who founded and fronted First Floor Power, an act that was signed to The Knife’s Rabid Records; in fact, The Knife’s Karin Dreijer wrote the duet “You Take My Breath Away” after catching a First Floor Power set. Wilson has also appeared on renowned Swedish synth pop artist Robyn’s debut EP; but as a solo artist, Wilson has won 3 Swedish Grammi Awards for her fourth full-length album, 2013’s Demand The Impossible!, which she self-produced and released while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Wilson’s fifth full-length album EXORCISM is slated for an April 20, 2018 release through Gold Medal Recordings — and while the album is the first batch of new material from Wilson in over five years, the album may arguably be the most unflinchingly personal material she’s ever written and released, as the album deals with the harrowing aftermath of Wilson’s experience as a victim of sexual assault. Sonically centered around a Prophet 6 analog synthesizer, the album reportedly finds Wilson seeking to divest herself from the recurrent trauma of her attack. As Wilson says in a statement she wrote, found in press notes:

“This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
In so many ways.
At first, I actually didn’t know if I even wanted to go on with music anymore.
Then, something terrible happened to me.

I ended up at a crossroads.
Either silent  –  or speaking.
It was not an easy choice.

I didn’t want to talk.
I didn’t manage to talk.

But I had to talk.

Not to bring justice or to take revenge.
Nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

I wanted to take back what I’d lost.
I had to get rid of what was hurting me.”

EXORCISM’s second single “LO HI” is an uncompromisingly honest and confessional account of her sexual assault, including the confusing array of terror, shame, regret and anxiety she felt during her assault and in its aftermath — paired with a propulsive, dance floor friendly production featuring thumping beats, arpeggiated synths and infectious hooks, making the song an unsettlingly ironic amalgam of vibrant and thoughtful electro pop centered around unspeakable, powerless horrors that straight cis men rarely could comprehend — or even have knowledge of. 

The recently released video for “Lo Hi” features a mix of strobe-lit footage of Jenny, of footage of someone being chased and graphic animation-based sequences used to an uncomfortable and unsettling effect emphasizing the sense of  unending and inescapable terror that it’s creator and narrator are desperately trying to escape. 

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New Video: The Surreal Visuals for JOVM Mainstay Night Drive’s “Trapeze Artist Regrets”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you’d certainly come across a handful of posts featuring the  Austin TX/Houston, TX-based electro pop act  Night Drive. Comprised of songwriting and production duo Rodney Connell and Bradley Duhon, the Texan electro pop act can trace their origins to some rather unusual, highly soap-opera-like yet very true circumstances: Connell and Duhon had met and bonded after they had discovered the the woman they had both unwittingly had been simultaneously dating tragically died in a car accident. And since their formation, the duo have received attention both on this site and elsewhere for a moody, slickly produced New Wave and synth pop sound that draws from Joy Division, Cut Copy, Brian Eno, The Knife, The Drums, LCD Soundsystem. Depeche Mode and others.

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for a June 16, 2017 release through Roll Call Records and the album’s latest single “Trapeze Artist Regrets,” and the album’s latest single “Trapeze Artist Regrets” will likely remind listeners of Depeche Mode’s “People Are People,” Yaz’s “Situation,” The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and others as the song features an effortlessly slick production consisting of layers upon layers of propulsive, undulating synths and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with an infectious, dance floor-friendly hook and emotionally direct lyrics. However, interestingly enough, as the duo admits “‘Trapeze Artist Regrets’ was never supposed to happen. We were writing something else for a short film and became bored, so we changed the bpm, started shifting things around and all of the sudden we had this groove we liked.  We just started working backwards from there. The title came first, a sorta metaphor for disaster; it’s about watching someone you care about make the same mistake over and over again and not being able to do anything about it. Just hoping they pull through.” And as a result, the song possesses a bitter sense of reality, along with the recognition that the narrator’s friend will do something incredibly harmful to themselves and others.

Directed by Jermey Cloe and starring Lindsey Naves and Alexandria Lee, the recently released video follows a woman with a strange and destructive super power, and her friend, who follows along to try to prevent her friend from doing something harmful to herself or others. 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you’d certainly come across a handful of posts featuring the  Austin TX/Houston, TX-based electro pop act  Night Drive. Comprised of songwriting and production duo Rodney Connell and Bradley Duhon, the Texan electro pop act can trace their origins to some rather unusual, highly soap-opera-like yet very true circumstances: Connell and Duhon had met and bonded after they had discovered the the woman they had both unwittingly had been simultaneously dating tragically died in a car accident. Regardless of the circumstances behind their formation, the duo  has received attention both on this site and elsewhere for a moody, slickly produced New Wave and synth pop sound that draws from Joy DivisionCut CopyBrian EnoThe KnifeThe DrumsLCD SoundsystemDepeche Mode and others. However, the duo’s last single “Rise and Fall” managed to sound as though it were inspired by  A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran (So Far Away)” and Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” — and interestingly enough, the song thematically focused on the slow dissolution of a relationship that according to the song’s narrator seemed to be nearing its inevitable conclusion; but with the recognition that walking away from a relationship is difficult, even when it’s absolutely necessary. And in some way, you can sense the narrator’s unexpressed and deep seated fears about his life, post-relationship.

Last month, the renowned Los Angeles-based production and DJ duo Classixx remixed “Rise and Fall,” turning the moody, synth-based torch song into a breezy, funky, summery, club banger along the lines of Tuxedo, Dam-Funk, 7 Days of Funk and others, as the duo pairs the original vocal track with twinkling electric piano, a sinuous bass line and thumping beats — and as a result, the heartbreak at the core of the song is reduced to the dull throb of having time pass by. As Connell and Duhon explained to the folks at Billboard “Classixx reinterprets the song through the lens of that same person reminiscing about the incident many years later while chilling on a beach and sipping a martini. Sure it was sad and heartbreaking, but it’s hard to stay sad while in the Cayman Islands.”

As Classixx’s Michael David and Tyler Blake explained to Billboard, their remix of Night Drive’s “Rise and Fall” involved them pulling out electric piano and bass and recording one long take jamming over the vocal track. “We were feeling the groove and liked some of the imperfections, so we left them in. Our initial pass was more abstract, but the band [Night Drive] helped us bring it back a little closer to the original material. It was a pretty collaborative effort through email. I like how it still sounds a little rough around the edges though. Sometimes that’s where the charm lies,” the duo’s Tyler Blake added in an emailed statement to Billboard.

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for a June 16, 2017 release through Roll Call Records and the album’s latest single “Trapeze Artist Regrets,” and the album’s latest single “Trapeze Artist Regrets” will likely remind listeners of Depeche Mode’s “People Are People,” Yaz’s “Situation,” The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and others as the song features an effortlessly slick production consisting of layers upon layers of propulsive, undulating synths and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with an infectious, dance floor-friendly hook and emotionally direct lyrics. However, interestingly enough, as the duo admits “‘Trapeze Artist Regrets’ was never supposed to happen. We were writing something else for a short film and became bored, so we changed the bpm, started shifting things around and all of the sudden we had this groove we liked.  We just started working backwards from there. The title came first, a sorta metaphor for disaster; it’s about watching someone you care about make the same mistake over and over again and not being able to do anything about it. Just hoping they pull through.” And as a result, the song possesses a bitter sense of reality, along with the recognition that the narrator’s friend will do something incredibly harmful to themselves and others.

 

 

 

New Video: The Gorgeous and Moody, Post- Apocalyptic Visuals for Phantom’s “Dance”

Phantom is a Helsinki, Finland-based, newlywed, electro pop duo comprised of jazz-trained vocalist and poet Hanna Toivonen and tech-futurist and producer Tommi Koskinen. And since their formation in 2012, the duo have received praise both nationally and internationally for a sound that has drawn comparisons to Bjork, Morcheeba and The Knife, along with developing a reputation for using new and evolving technologies to further expand and experiment with their sound. In fact, Koskinen built a multi-dimensional technology dubbed The UFO (Ultrasonic Frequency Oscillator) in the duo’s studio space, and as its been described, the user plays and controls the device by flailing their hands above a flying saucer-looking MIDI controller. He also developed a real-time visual projection software called Z Vector, which uses Kinect 3D cameras and audio data from the sounds of their live performances to create an immersive, multimedia-based live set.

MMXII, the duo’s recently released full-length effort derives its name from the year the duo started collaborating together, and the album’s first single “Dance” manages to feature a moody and atmospheric production consisting of scillating synths, twinkling keys, wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, futuristic, electronic bleeps and bloops and shuffling drum programming paired with Toivonen’s effortlessly soulful vocals. and a gorgeous piano-based arrangement. Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though it draws from several different sources — Morecheeba in particular, but also from Portishead, Niki and the Dove and others, complete with a rousing and soaring hook.

The recently release video features the duo performing the song, while an expressive modern dancer dances to the song in front of a giant projection screen — but the video seems to be set in a dystopian future similar to ours.

With the release of her Johannes Berglund-prodcued, 2011 full-length debut and 2015’s Perfect Storm, the Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter and electronic pop artist Ester Ideskog, best known as Vanbot quickly established a reputation for crafting ethereal, hook-driven and deeply thoughtful synth-based pop. Ideskog’s soon-to-be released third, full-length effort Siberia will continue her ongoing collaboration with Berglund, who’s best known for his work with The Knife and I Break Horses while being a subtle change in sonic and thematic direction, influenced by a train trip through the Siberian tundra, a trip that was meant to free her and Berglund from the endless choices that the modern recording studio frequently provides, the curiosity of seeing what happens with your songwriting process when you change the patterns you’ve developed. But it may have also been fueled by a desire to escape the mundane, to be in motion and to upset the status quo — even if in a subtle fashion.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that I wrote about Siberia‘s first single “Collide (Krasnoyarsk),” a brooding, Kate Bush-like atmospheric pop track featuring thumping beats, shimmering arpeggio synths and industrial clang and clatter within an infectious, hook-driven song that reminded me of Niki and the Dove and Moonbabies. The album’s third single “Close Enough (Ulan Bator)” pairs Ideskog’s ethereal and plaintive vocals with a slick, dance floor-friendly production featuring twinkling synths, electronic bleeps and bloops, stuttering drum programming and a soaring hook to create a sound that manages to nod a bit at Kraftwerk‘s Trans Europe Express with the beats mimicking both the sound of metal on metal and the propulsive motion of the train; but paired with intimate and confessional lyrics focusing on an almost insatiable desire to love and to be loved in return.

 

 

 

Phantom is a Helsinki, Finland-based, newlywed, electro pop duo of jazz-trained vocalist and poet Hanna Toivonen and tech-futurist and producer Tommi Koskinen and since their formation in 2012, the duo have received praise both nationally and internationally for a sound that has drawn comparisons to Bjork, Morcheeba, The Knife. Along with that, the duo have also developed a reputation for using evolving technologies to further their sonic experimentation; in fact, Koskinen has built a multidimensional technology dubbed The UFO (Ultrasonic Frequency Oscillator in their studio, and as it’s described, the user plays the device by flailing their hands above a flying saucer-looking MIDI controller. He also developed the real-time visual projection software called Z Vector, which uses Kinect cameras and audio data for live performances to create an immersive live set.

Derived from the year the duo first start, MMXII, the duo’s highly-anticipated full-length debut is slated for a February 24, 2017 release through Vlid Music and from the album’s first two singles “Dance,” a moody bit of synth pop  consisting of an atmospheric production featuring oscillating synths, twinkling keys, wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, futuristic, electronic bleeps and bloops and shuffling drum programming paired with Toivonen’s effortlessly soulful vocals.  Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though it draws from several different sources — the aforementioned Morecheeba in particular, but also from Portishead. “Lost,” MMXII‘s latest single lyrically is informed by parts of two poems she had written “Enemies” and “Old Man” written during a trip to the 2013 Venice Art Biennale, where Toivonen met a billionaire art collector, who had lived a fascinating life, a pirate  and in which Koskinen lost his luggage; but made the beat.The song features a production in which enormous 808-like beats are paired with swirling electronics and distorted synths and wobbling low end reminiscent of The Fragile-era Nine Inch Nails. And just like its preceding single, there’s room for Toivonen’s sultry and soulful vocals to float over the moody mix.

What makes both songs interesting to me is the fact that they balance a hauntingly cinematic quality with an emotional intimacy in which Toivonen seems to be confessing her innermost secrets and desires directly to the listener.

 

 

 

New Video: Swedish Synth Pop Artist Vanbot Visually Explores the Conflicting and Confusing Emotions at the Heart of Most Human Relationships

With the release of her first two, critically applauded full-length efforts, her 2011 full-length debut and its follow-up Perfect Storm, both of which were produced by Johannes Berglund, who has worked with internationally acclaimed acts The Knife and I Break Horses, the Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter and electronic pop artist Ester Ideskog, best known as Vanbot quickly established a reputation for crafting ethereal, hook-driven and deeply thoughtful synth-based pop.

The first single off Ideskog’s forthcoming, third album Siberia, “Collide (Krasnoyarsk),” continues her ongoing collaboration with Johannes Berglund while also being a subtle change in sonic direction for the Stockholm-based pop artist, as the track possesses a Kate Bush-like brooding yet atmospheric air; but paired with thumping beats, shimmering arpeggio synths and industrial clang and clatter. Now, to my ears, the song reminds me quite a bit of Niki and the Dove, Moonbabies and others, thanks in part to its hook-driven nature and moody feel but at its core is a raw, visceral heartache. As Ideskog explains in press notes, “‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ was written after four days on the Trans-Siberian Railway, traveling through the deepest parts of Siberia. The temperature was just above zero, it was raining and we were passing through small villages and old industrial communities. It describes the collisions and the attractions in relationships, and having no choice but to accept the raw and un-retouched feelings. You know, it’s like the poem of David Jones: ‘It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.’”

Directed by Mats Udd, the recently released music video for the song features two dancers — a male and female dancer — in a narrow, industrial hallway, and the dancers’ movements symbolize the unseen and impossible to comprehend forces that pull, tug and push you towards or away from another. In some way, the video further emphasizes the conflicting feelings of hurt, confusion, longing and disgust within the song.

With the release of her first two, critically applauded full-length efforts, her 2011 full-length debut and its highly anticipated follow-up Perfect Storm, which was produced by Johannes Berglund, who has worked with internationally acclaimed acts The Knife and I Break Horses, the Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter and electronic pop artist Ester Ideskog, best known as Vanbot quickly established a reputation for crafting ethereal, hook-driven and deeply thoughtful pop.

“Collide (Krasnoyarsk), ” the first single off her third full-length effort Siberia, which is slated for an April release through Sony Music Sweden and the single while continuing her ongoing collaboration with Johannes Berglund also manages to be a subtle change in in sonic direction as the track possesses a brooding and atmospheric air paired with thumping beats, shimmering synths that twist themselves around Ideskog’s ethereal vocals, and some industrial clang and clatter — and in some way, the song sonically reminds me quite a bit of Niki and the Dove, Moonbabies and others, thanks in part to its hook-driven nature and moody feel. But it’s core is a raw heartache that’s deeply visceral.

As Ideskog explains in press notes, “‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ was written after four days on the Trans-Siberian Railway, traveling through the deepest parts of Siberia. The temperature was just above zero, it was raining and we were passing through small villages and old industrial communities. It describes the collisions and the attractions in relationships, and having no choice but to accept the raw and un-retouched feelings. You know, it’s like the poem of David Jones: ‘It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.’”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally known for her work in electro pop projects Her HabitsGemology and others, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and electro pop artist Joanie Wolkoff has been a JOVM mainstay artist before striking out on her own last year with her solo recording project Wolkoff. In fact, last year was a very big year for the Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based artist — she collaborated with renowned electronic act The Hood Internet on “Going Back,” a single released to massive praise across the blogosphere, including several major media outlets, including Vice Noisey and Billboard — and as you can imagine resulted in a growing national profile for Wolkoff.

Interestingly, Wolkoff’s previously released work channeled the contemporary electro pop sound of acts like BeaconSeoul (both of whom are also JOVM mainstays) and others — in other words eerily minimalist productions consisting of icy synth stabs and woofer and tweeter rattling bass paired with plaintive vocals. However, her ongoing collaboration with young, up-and-coming producer Icarus Moth, which started with the release of the Talismans EP has set the duo apart from the pack as Icarus Moth’s production reveals a deliberate and painterly approach. While drawing from contemporary electro pop and world dance music, the young producer has developed a reputation for pairing big beats, swirling electronics and lush layers of synths with medieval-sounding instrumentation in a way that evokes brushstrokes across a canvas — as you’ll hear on EP single “Curve Appeal,” and others.

Building upon the buzz the duo received last year, Wolkoff and Icarus Moth are set to release Wolkoff’s full-length debut Without Shame on April 15. Lyrically and thematically, the material on the album explores the role shame has in our lives and perhaps more importantly the possibility of sidestepping its grip on us through breaking rank and venturing into the unknown. And as a result, the material on the album may be among the most deeply personal — and yet profoundly universal — material she’s released to date. Without Shame‘s first single “The Homecoming” pairs big tweeter and woofer rattling bass with skittering drum programming, swirling and ambient electronics, Eastern-tinged instrumentation and Wolkoff’s coquettish cooing, and in some way the song possesses the dreamy and ethereal feel of Swedish dream pop — think of Moonbabies‘ excellent Wizards on the Beach and The Knife but subtly filtered through chip tune and old school house music.

Without Shame‘s second and latest single “Kings Highway” pairs Icarus Moth’s painterly production style consisting of swirling electronics, layers of cascading synths, chiming synths, boom-bap beats and ambient electronics with Wolkoff’s husky and coquettish vocals singing lyrics that are both surreal and Romantic in a song that’s sensual and seductive  — while sounding as though inspired it were by electro pop, R&B and house music. And although radio friendly and accessible, it’s challenging and  possesses an art school sheen. Certainly, from the first two singles Icarus Moth should be an in-demand producer as he has a unique sound — and it suggests that Wolkoff and Icarus Moth’s collaboration may be one of the most exciting and unique collaborations in contemporary pop.