Tag: Toronto ON

New Video: Rising Canadian Pop Artist GRAE Releases a Sultry Jazz Age-Inspired Visual

GRAE is a rising Toronto-based singer/songwriter and pop artist. Initially inspired by Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, which she played on repeat as a child, the up-and-coming Canadian started playing piano and guitar when she was very young. Last year, GRAE released her attention-grabbing debut EP New Girl, which landed on the cover of Spotify’s Outliers Playlist — and since its release, has amassed over 2 million streams.

Building upon a growing profile, the Toronto-based artist will be releasing her highly-anticipated sophomore EP Bang Bang — and the EP’s first single is a slow-burning and sultry “Slow Down.” One part seductive Quiet Storm-like soul, one part jazz chanteuse and one part slickly produced pop, “Slow Down” the track is centered around a palpable sexual tension: its narrator is about to give into her temptations and rush into intimacy without knowing if the situation will be good for her. Most of our romantic relationships are initially centered around the confusing push and pull of lust, shame and our desire to be connected to someone — and the song evokes those feelings with an uncanny accuracy.

“‘Slow Down’ was fun to write because I had never explored this kind of topic before,” GRAE says in press notes. “I find, as a woman, sometimes it’s hard to express your wants and desires, in fear of being judged or shamed. So I wanted to touch on this subject to get more in tune with that side of myself.”

Directed by Priya Howlader, the recently released video for “Slow Down” employs a minimalist concept: the up-and-coming Canadian artist as a jazz chanteuse, performing the song in front of a red curtain. While performing the song, she winds up seducing an intrigued onlooker — and as the video progresses, we see that the pair have an unmistakable and irresistible sexual chemistry in which they’re pulled closer to each other.

“The video stems from a vision I had of me singing in a old jazz cafe in front of a classic red curtain,” the up-and-coming Canadian artist explains in press notes. “Priya, the director, really made it come alive with her treatment and ideas. The concept is minimal but so beautifully executed.”

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New Video: Canadian Duo FORCES Releases a Bombastic Yet Intimate New Single

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the rising synth-based act FORCES. Although it’s a relatively new project, it’s centered round the 20+ year collaborative and romantic relationship between its creative masterminds — Jess and Dave — who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous project, The Golden Dogs. And with Golden Dogs, FORCES’ creative duo wound up working with a virtual who’s who of contemporary, Canadian indie rock including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson.

In 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album — although in some way, deep down they both realized that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. At the time, they found that they were increasingly drawn to a number of a different production styles including The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure‘s Close to Me and Timbaland. Interestingly, as a result, the duo, which currently splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to openly experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms.

As they began changing their sound and approach, Jess boldly stepped up into the role of frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female-led harmonies while Dave began to focus on guitar textures and melodies. The material that they started to write during this new phase was centered around metronomic loops and electronics rather than the drum-bass guitar arrangements they had long relied on. Now. as you may recall, I’ve written about the projects first two singles: the glittering, club banging “Stay On Me,” and the early 80s Madonna-like “Step In A Sway.”  Building upon a buzzworthy profile, the Canadian duo’s latest single is the bombastic, grunge rock-influenced “Say It Now.” Starting with dissonant chords, boom bap-like drumming, the track is centered around a quiet-loud-quiet grunge rock song structure featuring a rousingly anthemic chorus and achingly intimate lyrics. And while sonically the song will bring Beck and Dirty Ghosts to mind, the track is an urgent call to the listener that seems rather fitting considering the state of our world right now — simply put, if you have feelings for someone, it’s best if you say it not and shoot your shot, because you may not have a chance later.

Directed by the band, the recently released video for “Say It Now” was shot on an iPhone and features the duo (mostly headless) performing the song in their video — with playful and mischievous nods, including subtitles in different languages, and footage superimposed on their amps. 

“What do you do when in you’re in coronavirus isolation?” the band asks. “Make a video! May this track to bust out of your speakers, and then pull you in nice n close. We hope it can be a reminder – to us and others – that in any loving relationship, growth and change are inevitable. Keeping the lines of communication open – don’t hold anything in. But, be kind, be honest and speak without ego.” 

New Video: Austra Releases a Surreal and Dream-like Visual for Cinematic Album Single “Anywayz”

Katie Austra Stelmanis is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter, composer and producer, and the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded electronic music act that takes her middle name, Austra. Over the past decade, Stelmanis has released three full-length albums 2011’s Feel It Break, 2013’s Olympia and 2017’s Future Politics, which she has written, performed and produced — and  has maintained a busy touring schedule both as s solo performer and with a backing band of rotating collaborators. All of this led to a devoted fanbase and countless sold-out shows across the globe; however, despite her growing success, Stelmanis had began to feel stagnant and uninspired. “I was losing faith in my own ideas,” the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter, composer and producer explains in press notes. During that period. Stelmanis unwittingly got into a toxic relationship that was tearing her apart. 

It wasn’t until Stelmanis was ready to face her insecurities, that was she was able to see a path forward. “My creative and personal relationships were heavily intertwined, and i knew the only answer was to part ways with all of the people and comforts that I’d known for the better part of a decade and start again,” Stelmanis says. Along with making much-needed changes in her personal life, her fourth album HiRUDiN, which is slated for a May 1, 2020 release through Domino Recording Co. reportedly finds Stelmanis taking an entirely different and free-spirited approach to her songwriting and production: she took up a collage approach to sampling, arranging, writing and producing the album’s material. She also sought new collaborators, at one point booking three days of sessions in Toronto with improv musicians she hadn’t met: these musicians included two-thirds of contemporary classical improv group c_RL; Kamancello, a cellist and kamanche duo; Pantayoa, a kulitang ensemble; and a children’s choir. Additionally,  Rodaidh McDonald and Joseph Shabason were brought in to co-produce the album’s material with Stelmanis. 

Deriving its title from the peptide that leeches releases that’s the most potent anticoagulant in the world, HiRUDiN points inward, following a deeply personal and intimate journey towards regeneration and salvation, while touching upon the fallout of toxic relationships, queer shame and insecurity, letting go of harmful and hurtful influences, breaking harmful behavioral problems and cycles,  and finding the power and wherewithal to rebuild from scratch. Rooted in hard-fought and even harder-won personal experience, Stelmanis’ fourth album may arguably be the most introspective and forward-thinking of her growing catalog to date. 

“Anywayz,” HiRUDiN’s second and latest single is an expansive and cinematic track centered around twinkling keys, oscillating synths, four-on-the-floor-like beats, a rousingly anthemic hook and Stelmanis’ and achingly plaintive vocals, and sonically, the slickly produced  song — to my ears — seems to draw from Kate Bush, classical music, experimental pop and synth pop. The song “explores the fear associated with leaving someone, and the terrifying realization that without them in your life, the rest of the world will continue unscathed as if nothing has changed.” 

Directed by Jasmin Mozaffari, the recently released video for “Anywayz” continues an ongoing collaboration between the director and the Canadian artist — and the video employs a surreal and dream-like quality while being uneasy and chaotic, as we follow a protagonist, who’s pushed onward — even if she doesn’t initially want to.  “I wanted the video to feel as dramatic and chaotic as heartbreak can be, bringing this fear into fruition. The concept focuses on Katie as a heightened version of herself, sequestered inside a barren mansion that resembles a cage of her own spiralling thoughts,” Mozzaffari explains in press notes. “She resists moving on, yet as time persists and the outside world thrives, it eventually forces itself upon her.”

New Video: FORCES Returns with Another Dance Floor Friendly Bop

FORCES is a rising synth-based act, comprised of romantic couple and collaborative duo Jess and Dave. Although their latest project is a relatively new project, it’s centered around the 20+ year relationship and collaboration between its creative masterminds, who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous project, The Golden Dogs. With Golden Dogs, Jess and Dave wound up working with a virtual who’s who of contemporary, Canadian indie rock. including including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson.

Back in 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album — although in some way, deep down they both realized that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. In fact, they were increasingly drawn to the a number of different production styles — in particular, The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure‘s Close to Me and Timbaland. And as a result, the duo. which currently splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms.

At the same time Jess stepped up into the role of frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female-led harmonies. Simultaneously, Dave began to focus on guitar textures and melodies. Along with that, the material they started to write was primarily based around metronomic loop and electronics — instead of the drums-bass-guitar arrangements they had long relied on. Now, if you were frequenting this site late last year, you may recall I wrote about the FORCES’ debut single, the glittering dance floor friendly bop, “Stay On Me,” which was centered around a funky Nile Rodgers-inspired guitar riff, layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a propulsive club-rocking groove and Jess’ sultry vocals that builds up to a cathartic sense of release.

The Canadian duo’s second single “Step In A Sway” is ironically enough the first they recorded as FORCES, and the single finds them openly embracing straightforward pop. Much like its predecessor, “Step In A Sway” features a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar work, twinkling synths and fluttering electronics but it manages to sound as though it were indebted to early 80s Madonna  — in particular “Everybody.”  “The song is an ode to all of those who are first on the dance floor giving the rest of us wallflowers the courage and inspiration to do the same,” the Canadian duo say. 

“The song was inspired by a simple drum lesson we gave to a good friend,” the member of FORCES explain. “As she struggled to stay in the groove, the goal was to get her out of her head and into a rhythm where her body danced with the music. Later, as we were writing  it, we realized her journey through that lesson — the struggle to get from panic to flow (or ‘sway’ as we call it here) — is a universal one, and it became an exploration of that them in both words and music.” 

The recently released video follows FORCES’ Jess playing out the song’s central theme, as we see her walking through the city with her headphones — literally being in her head — and finding that “sway” in the forest scenes, where she finds her inhibitions dissolving, moving along with the thumping beat. 

New Video: Emerging Canadian Singer Songwriter Dana Gavanski Releases a Gorgeous Meditation on the Passing of Time

Dana Gavanski is an emerging Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter, who grew up in an artistic home — her father is a filmmaker and her mother is a painter. Gavanski has long harbored a desire to sing. The rising Canadian singer/songwriter relocated to Montreal to study, and as the story goes, during her senior year of college, her former partner left a guitar behind, and she decided to that it was the perfect time to re-learn the instrument. Ironically, she didn’t immediately go into music: she spent a summer as her producer father’s assistant in the Laurentians, working a derelict hotel-turned office that according to Gavanski looked like something out of The Shining.

The long days behind a computer cemented her her desire to make music, “because it was impossible to play that I needed to, in order to feel like it was real,” she says. The income she earned and saved that summer, funded a year of writing religiously, eventually leading to her debut EP, 2017’s Spring Demos, which the rising Canadian singer/songwriter describes as “whatever was coming out of me. A flood.”

Slated for a March 27, 2020 release, Gavanski’s full-length debut Yesterday Is Gone reportedly reflects her aim “to make something bigger, more thought through.” Steeped in determination, uncertainty and a simple desire to write a good song, the album’s material took shape after she returned from a writing residency in Banff, Alberta. She left the residency resolved not to worry about her songs being “too obvious.” She also began to learn the art of empty time, of being alone with her emotions, of losing herself in a landscape. And naturally, she considered how she might be able to use writing as a way to make sense of her life after a tumultuous breakup and a relocation to a new city.

Feeling adrift in Toronto, Gavanski struggled to make herself feel at home and connected, but her solitude allowed her to develop a grounding writing routine: she kept office-style hours at her bedroom desk, writing every day until she felt that she was starting to understand the writing process — and more important, to see that transforming a burning desire into something clear and tangible is a delicate and vulnerable act. That it often means letting things happen as they’re meant to happen, to accept losing some degree of control.

Yesterday Is Gone is co-produced by the Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter, Toronto-based musician Sam Gleason and Tunng’s and LUMP’s Mike Lindsay. While Gleason helped Gavanski bring out the tunes, Lindsay’s input marked “the beginning of developing a sound that was closer to what I had in my head,” Gavanski explains. Excited by the other elements of a song introduced during production, Gavanski and Lindsay were keen on finding essential things, not overblowing, keeping things bare and letting the elements speak for themselves.

The album’s material shapeshifted as it passed through the hands of its production team, taking on different tastes, feelings and visions. When Gavanski performed the songs with a band, they found a new and very different form. She was intrigued by performers like David Bowie and Aldous Harding, who inhabit different personalities on stage, physically tuning themselves to their music. “Watching these kinds of performances,” Dana says in press notes, “I feel my body longing to express myself in exaggerations … to leave behind self-consciousness and become this energy.”

Interestingly, a three-month trip to Serbia in late 2018 pushed performance to the forefront of Gavanski’s mind: she took singing lessons to learn how to sing with the resonance that defines traditional song. Inspired by the bombast of the country’s music of the 50s, 60s and 70s, including the high-energy kafana or cafe music, all which were rooted in expressive pouts as it was in vocal resonance, the trip created a yearning to completely inhabit herself on stage. “I often feel we’re all just these controlled bodies,” she says. “Sometimes I just want to make a snarl with my lip and keep it there.” 

Expressive urges run all throughout the album’s material with each component being meticulously and purposefully placed to yield a deeply sincere response to the chaos and uncertainty of human emotion. “Often we have to go a little far in one direction to learn something about ourselves,” the Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter says. 

Album title track “Yesterday Is Gone” is a hauntingly gorgeous yet highly unusual song: centered around a playful 7/4 meter, the song is actually a bittersweet meditation on longing, nostalgia and the passing of time that sonically recalls Man Who Sold the World-era David Bowie, late 60s pop and fellow Canadian folk act Loving. “‘Yesterday Is Gone’ is more of a straight pop song than the others on the album,” says Gavanski. “It’s about the intractability and muddiness of time passing. At the time I wrote the song, I was super into 60s pop music and the idea of what makes a classic song classic. I was toying between being more obvious in my lyrics and progressions while still tending to feelings hard to describe.”

Directed by Nina Vroemen, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Yesterday Is Gone” is set in Montreal’s Metro. We follow the emerging Canadian-born singer/songwriter in brightly colored 70s-styled through the Montreal transportation system’s colorful, modernist, late 60s-early 70s architecture. The video feels like feverish dream punctuated by loneliness and the gentle hum of the trains pulling in and out of each station. Of course, commuting underground is where space and time are endlessly distorted: everything is a constant state of arrivals and departures. (Unsurprisingly, the video immediately brought back memories of commuting from my hotel room to various venues and events in Montreal. I think I’ve been in two of the stations featured in the video, too.)

BisonBison is a rising Toronto-based electronic music collaboration featuring producers Dani Ramez and Chad Skinner, drummer and producer Brad Weber, multi-instrumentalist Sinead Bermingham and vocalist Sophia Alexandra. Each individual of the Canadian collective have different musical backgrounds, including traditional Irish folk, Middle Eastern music, trip hop, jazz and funk. Citing Bonobo, Helios, and Christian Löffler as influences, the members of the Toronto-based electronic act have developed and crafted a sound that meshes elements of folk, downtempo electronica and electronic dance music. 

Released earlier this month through Zozaya Records, BisonBison’s full-length debut Hover can trace its origins back to a series of loose acoustic jams between a cast of collaborators and musicians that ultimately filtered down to the band’s current lineup and Caribou’s Brad Weber contributing drums — with the bandmembers piecing material together into the album’s material. “Recover,” Hover‘s first single received support from media outlets like Earmilk and Clash MagazineBuilding upon a growing profile, the album’s third and latest single, the hypnotic album title track “Hover” is a lush and atmospheric track centered around shimmering and twinkling synths, a sinuous bass line, thumping beats, enormous hook and Sophia Alexandra’s ethereal cooing. Sonically, the song is an ambitious and dance floor friendly mesh of trip-hop, ambient electronica and acid house that sounds familiar yet novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Toronto-born and-based singer/songwriter Raffa Weyman, best known as RALPH. Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the release of her bittersweet, disco-inspired debut single “Trouble” in 2015. Over the next couple of years, Weyman released a series of attention-grabbing  singles that found the Canadian pop artist restlessly bouncing between different genres and styles, including the the country and western-tinged “Young Hearts Run Free” and the ambitious, radio friendly pop Girl Next Door.”

After receiving an IHeartRadio’s Much Music Video Awards Best New Canadian Artist nomination, Weyman released her RALPH full-length debut, 2018’s A Good Girl.  “I wrote ‘A Good Girl’ over the course of a year, maybe a little more…and a lot happened in that year,” Weyman explained in press notes at the time. “Because I use songwriting as a type of therapy and a way to explore my feelings, the songs naturally began to reflect everything that was happening in my life. Sometimes I was hurting, other times I was the one hurting someone else, and then to make it more complicated, sometimes I’d be both, like in the last song ‘Cereal’. The album name is a tongue in cheek way of reflecting upon the tracks and their stories, because they represent a multi-faceted character who is good hearted but makes mistakes – no one is ever one thing, we’re not good or bad and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. ​​​​​​”

Interestingly, the Toronto-based JOVM mainstay begins 2020 with the launch of her new label Rich Man Records. The label derives its name from a famous Cher quote: “My mom said to me, ‘You know sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man.’ And I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.'” Along with launch of her new label, the rising Canadian pop artist recently dropped the label’s first release, the shimmering pop confection “Superbloom.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” Weyman’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats and enormous hooks before featuring some euphoric sax blasts. It’s the sort of song that will make you dance the heartache away.

“I wrote ‘Superbloom’ when I was running in LA. It had been raining a lot which sparked this beautiful desert phenomenon where dormant wildflowers suddenly bloom everywhere and cover the ground for miles,” the JOVM mainstay explains in press notes. “I kept hearing the word mentioned all around me and began to feel weirdly aligned with it. Things in Toronto were feeling emotional and complicated so the idea of a Superbloom became this hopeful mantra for me that things could change and get better.​​​​​​​”

Along with the big announcements, RALPH announced a series of tour dates with joan. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
* = with joan​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Feb 12th – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge *
Feb 15th – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom*
Feb 16th  – Chicago, IL @ Schubas* (SOLD OUT)
Feb 17th – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry*
Feb 19th – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall*
Feb 20th – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
Feb 22nd – Seattle, WA @ Columbia City Theatre*
Feb 23rd – Portland, OR @ Holocene*
Feb 26th – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord*
Feb 27th – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan * (SOLD OUT)
Feb 29th – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar*
Mar 2nd – Dallas, TX @ Dada*
Mar 3rd – Austin, TX @ Stubbs Indoors*
Mar 4th – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
Mar 10th – Victoria, BC @ Lucky Bar
Mar 11th – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore
Mar 13th – Calgary, AB @ Dickens
March 14th – Edmonton, AB @ Temple
March 16th – Winnipeg, MB @ Good Will SC

New Audio: Introducing the Radio Friendly Sounds of Toronto’s Mute Choir

Toronto-based indie act Mute Choir — founder Sam Arion, along with Milan Sarkadi and Iris Waters — can trace its origins to as a response to its founder’s identity crisis, a long-established songwriting bond between Arion and Waters and a deep passion for musical experimentation. The Canadian trio are involved in every aspect of their work, ardently employing a DIY ethos to everything they do from production, mixing and artwork to ensure that their vision is completely their own without interference. 

The trio define their overall aesthetic as “Organized Chaos” with their sound simultaneously evoking a cluttered urban center and the “lonesome ambience of insomnia.” The band explains that they “seek to make sense of the noise around them, searching for a middle ground between conflicting forces.”

“Shadowboxing,” Mute Choir’s latest single is a slickly produced and hook driven track centered around Arion’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats, layers of shimmering guitars and a sinuous bass line. Interestingly, the song finds the emerging Canadian trio balancing earnest songwriting rooted in deeply personal experience, deliberate, old-fashioned craft and pop-leaning ambition. Although, the song manages to be a radio friendly, arena rock anthem it simultaneously evokes the uneasiness of an uncertain present while encouraging the listener to take a chance on themselves and their dreams. 

“‘Shadowboxing’ was inspired by a  point of renewal; when you’re starting fresh but can’t escape the tremendous pressure of uncertainty. When the future is wide open, it can be easy to overthink your present decisions in the face of who you might become,” the band says in a written statement. “You can never know for sure if life will turn out the way you hope when you go with your gut instinct. There is always a possibility for failure, an fear of failure can be overwhelming enough to drive you to the wrong kinds of compromises.” 

The members of Mute Choir add, “‘Shadowboxing’ is told from the perspective of someone, who let the weight of ear and negativity break their spirit. They’ve given up and distanced themselves from their passions, only realizing how misguided they were when it’s too late. Each verse laments the unfulfilled mundanity of their day-to-day, while the choruses offer a bleak retrospect. The character was written as a reminder to never look back on life thinking what if? It’s better to fail doing what you love than to know you never tried.”

Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, never being overly concerned about chasing the limelight or after genre-based trends. They’re also known for employing the use of instruments and non-instruments including a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops, programmed backing tracks, splicing and so on.
Last year, I wrote about two singles off acclaimed electronic act’s soon-to-be released fifth album, Deleter:  “Luxe,” which managed to be both the first bit of new material from the act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP. Clocking in a little over six minutes, the song can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore’”.
The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”
Interestingly, “Luxe” serves as the first official single off the band’s soon-to-be released fifth album Deleter. Slated for release this Friday, the album’s material finds the Canadian electronic act pushing their sound in a very different direction — polyrhythmic and pleasure focused, the members of Holy Fuck mesh elements of krautrock and deep house with motorik percussion. Thematically, the album reportedly explores what happens when humanity and technology coalesce into one big, semi-organic celebration of the joys of spontaneity, repetition and individuality. As the band puts it, “the robots are smarter than ever, and the algorithm knows more and more what we like as individuals, but we have to remind ourselves that there is music in the margins that can go missing and that that music is more important than ever.”
Deleter‘s second single, the expansive, roughly six an da half minute “Free Gloss” was centered around a glistening synth-like arpeggio and atmospheric feedback, a sinuous bass line, a motorik groove, and plaintive and ethereal vocals from POND‘s Nicholas Albrook. And much like its predecessor, the album’s second single wound up being a seamless synthesis of hypnotic and driving pulsation, ethereal atmospherics and dance floor friendly thump. “Deleters,” the album’s third single and sort of album title track continues a run of motorik groove-led, euphoric club bangers centered around thumping four-on-the-floor, retro-futuristic-like sounds, a propulsive bass line and guest spot from Liars’ Angus Andrew, who contributes backing vocals.  “The song ‘Deleters,’” write Holy Fuck, “started at a party in the woods of rural Quebec. Set up on the forest floor, literally over moss covered tree roots we decided to make up a new hour-long improvised set in front of a crowd of people dancing amongst the trees. From that session two songs emerged and found their way onto the new record. This is the first time we selected a song from the record to also be a title track — but there really isn’t a reason for it other than we thought it sounded cool, like a modern version of Fugazi‘s Repeater or Depeche Mode‘s Violator (or even KissDestroyer, though in name only). Our friend Angus from Liars doubles Brian’s vocals giving the track a nice punch.”
The act will be embarking on a roughly two month North American, UK and European Union tour to support Deleter. The band recently added a handful of East Coast and Canadian tour dates. The added tour dates include a June 12, 2020 stop at Elsewhere Hall.
Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates:
Holy Fuck Tour Dates:
03/23/20 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
02/24/20 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
03/25/20 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
03/27/20 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
03/28/20 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
03/30/20 – Portland, OR @ Lola’s Room
03/31/20 – Seattle, WA @ Nuemos
04/01/20 – Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club
04/03/20 – Calgary, AB @ Broken City
04/04/20 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo’s Cantina
04/06/20 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
04/07/20 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
04/24/20 – Antwerp, BE @ Trix
04/25/20 – Luxembourg @ Out of The Crowd Festival
04/27/20 – Birmingham, UK @ The Hare & Hounds
04/28/20 – Brighton, UK @ Chalk
04/29/20 – Cardiff, UK @ Clwb lfor Bach
04/30/20 – Manchester, UK @ Yes (basement)
05/03/20 – Glasgow, UK @ Slag & Dagger Festival
05/05/20 – Barcelona, ES @ La Nau
05/06/20 – Oviedo, ES @ La Lata de Zinc
05/07/20 – Vigo, ES @ Radar Estudios
05/09/20 – Valencia, ES @ La Pérgola
05/23/20 – London, UK @ All Points East
06/09/20 – Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
06/10/20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
06/12/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ ELSEWHERE: Hall
06/13/20 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
06/15/20 – Montréal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz PDB
06/17/20 – Ottawa, ON @ Bronson Centre
06/19/20 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace

New Video: Rising Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based Pop Artist Winona Oak Releases a Mischievously Twisted Visual for “Control”

Last year, I wrote about the rapidly rising Solleron, Sweden-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Winona Oak. Oak, who was born Johanna Ekmark has a rather unique backstory: Growing up  on the small, Swedish island known to Swedes as the Island of the Sun, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist spent much of her childhood encountering more animals than people. As the story goes, she grew up as a trained horse acrobat and because she grew up in a musical home, she was encouraged to pursue creative endeavors as much as possible: Ekmark began playing violin when she was 5, piano when she was 9, and she wrote poetry and songs at an extremely young age.

Ekmark eventually moved to Stockholm to pursue a career in music, but a leap of faith that had her attend a Neon Gold Records writing retreat in the Nicaraguan jungle led to her meet Australian-born and based hit making producer and pop artist What So Not. And from this serendipitous meeting, she went on to co-write ““Better” and “Stuck In Orbit,” before stepping out into the spotlight as both the writer and featured artist on the Aussie producer and pop artist’s “Beautiful.”

Adding to a busy 2018, Ekmark covered HAIM‘s “Don’t Save Me” for Neon Gold Records’ 10th anniversary compilation, NGX: Ten Years of Neon Gold before closing out that year with a co-write and vocal contribution to The Chainsmokers viral hit “Hope,” a track that has amassed over 250 million streams across all digital platforms globally — including over 100 million streams on Spotify. As a result of such incredibly early success, the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist signed to Warner-Chappell Music Publishing and to Neon Gold/Atlantic Records.

Now, as  you may recall, last year, I wrote about the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist’s long-awaited debut single, the slickly produced, hook-driven and sultry “He Don’t Love Me,” and the slow-burning and anthemic ballad “Break My Broken Heart.” Both singles managed to further cement Oak/Ekmark’s growing reputation for crating incredibly earnest pop with enormous hooks. Oak ended last year with the release of an  alternate version of her last single of 2019 “Let Me Know.” The “Let Me Know (Johan Lenox Stings Mix) ” reimagines the propulsive, dance floor friendly original by pairing Oak’s vocals with a string arrangement from Johan Lenox, who has worked with Kanye West, Travis Scott and Vic Mensa. 

Building upon that momentum, Oak released her debut EP CLOSURE through Neon Gold/Atlantic Records last week. The EP’s latest single “Control” continues a run of slickly produced synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, an enormous hook and Oak’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while sonically the song recalls Kylie Minogue and others, the song evokes the swooning and fluttering pangs of new love and the uncertainty, insecurity and obsession it can sometimes bring. “‘Control’ is about meeting someone that makes you weak in your knees and never knowing how they actually feel about you,” Winona Oak explains in press notes. “You make risky decisions, act irrationally and tolerate things you normally wouldn’t. You’re feeling nervous, insecure and are constantly afraid that they are gonna leave you. Oh and this is when you learn – the difference between love and obsession.” 

Shot and co-directed by longtime visual collaborator Andreas Öhman and Julian Gillström, the recently released video for “Control” stars Winona Oak as a desperate and hopelessly obsessed woman who stalks the object of her affection, before trying to build a Ken doll-version of him. “For the video, we wanted to target this hopeless feeling with a twisted sense of humor,”  Oak explains in press notes.