Tag: world music

New Video: Catalan Singer-Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist Magalí Sare Releases a Gorgeous and Intimate Visual

Magalí Sare is a rising 23 year-old, Vallès, Spain-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Growing up in a family of musicians, Sare learned how to play piano, flute and percussion at an early age. Back in 2013, the Vallès-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, enrolled at the Superior Conservatory of the Liceu, where she studied jazz.

Since graduating, Sare quickly developed a unique sound and approach that features elements of jazz, classical music, pop, alt-pop and experimental music with lyrics written and sung in her native Catalan and English. She’s also been rather busy: Sare regularly performs with a quarter that features Marta Pons (cello), Vic Moliner (double bass) and Arnau Figueres (percussion) and with a duo featuring a dear friend, who has accompanied her since the beginning. Over the past year, she’s been further honing a genre-fluid sound:

She collaborated with Sebastiaà Gris on A Boy and a Girl, an album that found the duo reworking classical and folk tunes in a way that incorporated electronics. The album was nominated for Best World Music album on the World Music Charts Europe (WMCE).
Sare contributed her vocals to Clara Peya’s Estomac.
The Catalan-born artist was nominated for an Emerging Artist Award by the Catalan Music Academy and Best New Artist at the ARC Awards.
Magalí Sara was nominated for the first International Award of Suns Europe Festival, which she won.
She also toured with with Quartet Mèlt, an act that won TV3’s Oh happy day’s third season.

Sare’s latest single “Beber de ti” is a slow-burning track and atmospheric featuring twinkling piano, stuttering trap beats, the rising Catalan artist’s ethereal and plaintive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and an enormous hook. Sonically, the track will further establish her sound as it’s a slickly produced mesh of classical music, electro pop and trap, centered around earnest songwriting. “Stagnant water rots. To be clean and transparent it needs to flow. The same goes for feelings; Communicating fully is not easy at all,” Sare explains. “Sometimes opening up as people can be painful, but it is something that frees us. Showing fears, letting out crying, as well as empathizing and giving thanks when appropriate, are things that make human relationships flow.”

The recently released and intimately shot video follows a couple, who struggle to truly connect with each other — but when they follow the philosophy of the song, they find themselves much closer, and much more at peace with each other.

New Video: Montreal’s Thaïs Releases a Surreal and Feverish Visual for Atmospheric “Sushi Solitude”

Thaïs is an emerging Montreal-based singer/songwriter, who specializes in an atmospheric and delicate pop centered around the French Canadian singer/songwriter’s ethereal vocals. Thematically her work focuses on melancholy, loneliness and dysfunctional and confusing love.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Boreal.” Inspired by a trip that the French Canadian artist took to Iceland, the third single off her recently released Paradis Artificiels EP was centered around shimmering synths, thumping and skittering beats, warm blasts of looping electric guitar, a soaring hook and Thaïs’ ethereal and plaintive vocals meant to evoke the awe-inspiring sense of being in a gorgeous, natural space and taking it all in deeply.

Paradis Artificiels’ fourth and latest single “Sushi Solitude” is an atmospheric and delicate pop song centered around the rising Montreal artist’s ethereal and breathy cooing, shimmering synth arpeggios, reverb-drenched, angular bursts of guitar, stuttering drumming and a soaring hook. Sonically, the track brings Washed Out to mind, complete with a similar achingly melancholic air.

The recently released video for “Sushi Solitude” is a probing — yet mischievous — look at solitude and self-examination, seemingly inspired by pandemic-related lockdowns: we see the rising French Canadian artist, bored and disaffected, at points reflecting on her life and past, at points attempting to better herself and her life and other points actively not caring one way or the other. In some way, the video feels like an examination of a woman on the brink of profound realizations or psychotic break.

New Video: Rising Duo Muca & La Marquise Release a Gorgeous Animated Visual for Breezy “Blue Moon Bossa”

Muca & La Marquise is a rapidly rising London-based duo featuring Brazilian-born, London-based songwriter and producer Muca and 22-year-old vocalist La Marquise. Their debut single “London.” grabbed the attention of Roberto Menescal and Will Gompertz. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding the London-based duo, their latest single “Blue Moon Bossa” finds Muca, the act’s primary songwriter crafting a João Gilberto and Tom Jobim-inspired bossa nova — for modern times.

Featuring an armament of looping and shimmering acoustic guitar, a sinuous double bass line from Yaron Stavi, stuttering percussion and a breezy melody the track is centered around La Marquise’s achingly melancholic vocals. And at its core, is a longing for home — and a longing for a simpler time, of moonlit nights with the one you let get away . . .

As Muca explains, the track came from a desire to visit his homeland to musically reconnect with his roots. “I have a rock and blues background, but really, I’ve always had the Brazilian music hidden somewhere in me,” Muca says in press notes. “I thought it was time to bring it back to my composition. Having La Marquise singing the song is fantastic, she really grooves, and she added such a magical touch to it.

The songwriting process for “Blue Moon Bossa” was rather straight forward. “Myself and La Marquise have an excellent music connection,” Muca says. “Most of the songs we wrote were quite fast, time flew by, it was so easy. It all starts with guitars and vocals. I bring the first ideas with chord progressions on the guitar and some melodies. She then adds her notebook and begins to add lyrics and add more melodies to it. I was amazed how the track naturally developed into the Bossa Nova/Jazz style, and I’m delighted with the song and album result.”

In terms of production, Muca wanted a much more modern approach. He enlisted the assistance of São Paulo-produced drummer, percussionist and producer Bruno Buarque. “I told him and wanted a different approach for this song, using more electronic elements to this track,” Muca says. “He added some exciting Brazilian style elements, using his MPC to reproduce instruments such as cuica, bumbo, tamborin, ganza, and shakers. He recorded them in Brazil and sent me the files, I worked with the arrangements here in London.”

Animated by Ed Murray, the recently released video for “Blue Moon Bossa” is gorgeous and dream-like visual that features La Marquise as a singing moon before eventually seeing animated version of the duo playing and singing. The result is an old-fashioned view of the cosmos, complete with astrological charts. “The minute I wrote it, I knew it needed an animated music video to follow it,” Muca says of the song and its video treatment. “I had some ideas in mind and decided to contact the incredible illustrator, Ed Murray, who I am a fan of, to develop the concept. I couldn’t be happier with what he created.”

The duo are planning to release their self-titled, full-length debut in early 2021.

Lyric Video: Acclaimed Canadian Duo Twin Flames Release a Slickly Produced and Empathetic Single

Twin Flames is a highly celebrated Ottawa-based husband and wife duo featuring:

Chelsey June, an Ottawa-born singer/songwriter, who is a part of the Mètis, a multi-ancestral indigenous group who can trace their descent from both indigenous North Americans and European settlers and can claim Algonquin Cree ancestors.

Jaaji, a Nunavik-born singer/songwriter who’s part Inuk and Mohawk.

The individual members of Twin Flames have had their own respective critically applauded, multi-award winning and nominated careers when they met, decided to work together, and fell in love during the filming of APTN’s Talent Autochrones Musical (TAM). Since the pair joined together personally and professionally, they’ve had an enviable run of success as a result of work l that meshes the contemporary and traditional with lyrics sung in Inuttitut, English and French:

They’ve been nominated for 25 awards, including two Canadian Folk Music Awards wins and three Native Music Award wins.
They’ve had two #1 hits on the Indigenous Music Countdown’s Top 40.
They’ve played 1000+ shows across Canada, the States, Australia and France
They were selected as artist-in-residence for last year’s Folk Alliance International conference.
The Canadian duo partnered with UNESCO to write the official song celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
“Human” was chosen as part of last year’s CBC’s Music Class Challenge.
The music video for “Broke Down’Ski’Tuuq was the first Inuttitut language video to be featured on Canadian music channel MuchMusic.

The indigenous duo’s third album OMEN is reportedly a sonic departure from their previously released material — with the album finding the duo’s sound incorporating edgier elements of alt pop, and indie rock as the duo explain in press notes is “concept-based around a dystopian reality, global warming, and humankind free of social classes, mental health, and addictions.”

OMEN’s first single, “Battlefields” is a perfect example of what listeners should expect from the album: shimmering and glistening synth arpeggios, big thumping beats, a rousingly anthemic hook, some indie rock-styled guitar lines and the duo’s plaintive boy-girl harmonies singing lyrics in English and Inuttitut. The end result is a slick, radio friendly and accessible pop anthem. But underneath the slick polish, the song possesses a gentle yet urgent plea to the listener — especially those within the Indigenous community — to seek help if they’re struggling. True strength is when you acknowledge you need help, that you can’t face it all alone. Along with that, there’s the tacit understanding that everyone struggles with their mental health at some point; being a caring, kind and thought personal in a morally bankrupt and nonsensical world is difficult as it is.

“Mental health is a battle that many people face in silence,” Twin Flames’ Chelsey June says. ““This song speaks to the stigma associated with it.” Jaaji adds, “In the Arctic of Canada, Inuit People face the highest amount of suicides in the world. ‘Battlefields’ is a song to remind our people we have to fight our own minds to survive, we are fighters, and together, we can feel less alone and win this battle.”

New Video: Flem Teams Up with Vieux Farka Touré and Amy D on an Urgent and Empathetic Look at the Plight of Refugees

Earlier this year, I wrote about Flem, a rising French emcee, who has developed a reputation for his fluid flows and conscious themes. And as a result, the rising French emcee has become a go-to collaborator, working with an eclectic array of artists including Sages Poètes de la Rue’s DanyDan, Assassin‘s DJ Duke, La MC Malcriado‘s Izé Bosineau and Aethority‘s Mattias Mimoun and a growing list of others.

His latest album Nomades, which was released digitally last month and sees a physical release this month finds the rising French artist collaborating with internationally acclaimed Malian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vieux Farka Touré. The duo can trace their friendship and this collaboration back over a decade to repeatedly crossing paths at a series of festivals in Paris and Timbuktu.

Some time ago, the pair were performing in Niafunké, Mali, a stronghold of the Touré family,. when Flem along with a small group of Westerners were quickly evacuated to Bamako, Mail, narrowly escaping an attack. This strengthened the pair’s friendship and reinforced the need for them to create a new project that was much more urgent, conscious and militant than they had done individually.

Over the better part of the past decade, Mali has been split apart by a bloody civil war between different warring religious and ethnic factions, undermined by unbalanced international relationships, rampant corruption and terrorism. Nomades touches upon the historical and cultural link between Europe and Africa, the ethnic conflicts that have been used and exploited by foreign countries, who have economic interests across the continent, the emigration of African youth for a better way of life anywhere they can, monetary independence, freedom, love and hope and so on.

Album single “Mali,” was a love song to the country and its people, centered around a longing for much simpler days — while being one of the best examples of the album’s overall sound and approach: Touré’s looping, shimmering and expressive guitar, gently padded percussion and Touré’s lilting voice are paired with an infectious hook and Flem’s fiery lyrics, which touch upon his love of Mali, its food and its people, while praying for an end to war, racism, colonial oppression and more.

Centered around a looping and shimmering guitar line, brief blasts of soaring organ, Toure’s lilting vocals and Amy D.’s ethereal vocals singing lyrics in their regional dialects paired with Flem’s rhyming in a dexterous and tongue twisting French, Nomades’ latests single, album title track “Nomades” is a loving and empathetic look at those brave and desperate souls, who are forced to pick up their belongings and their lives are cross international borders however they can. Yes, the song is a call for all of us to be more empathetic to the plight of others, especially refugees — but it’s also an equally urgent call for peace across Mali and elsewhere.

Directed by Mike Jan, the recently released, cinematically shot video for “Nomades” follows a teenaged boy as he makes his way across Mail — first by boat and then by a mule. As we follow this boy, we get an intimate view of daily life in the country: yes, many are poor but they have their dignity, their small joys and pleasures. And from what we can tell through the boy’s journey and his various transactions, the people he encounters are kind and helpful.

Live Footage: Juana Molina Performs “Eras” at NRML Festival

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actress and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina. Molina, who is the daughter of acclaimed of tango vocalist Horacio Molina and beloved actress Chunchuna Villafane, has led a rather interesting couple of lives. Much of her music career can be traced back to growing up in a intensely musical home: when she was five, her father taught her guitar and her mother introduced a young Molina to the family’s extensive record collection.

After the military coup of 1976, Molina’s family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years. During her time in France, Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. Her family returned to Argentina, when she was in her early 20s. Much like countless young women across the globe, Molina was determined to be financially independent. Her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day,. while allowing her enough time to write songs, record them and even play live shows.

Molina had a talent for imitations and impressions and while looking for a gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. She impressed the casting director with her talent, and she got hired on the spot. The Buenos Aires-born and-based JOVM mainstay quickly became one of Argentina’s most popular comedic actors. Within a few years of that early addiction, Molina starred in her own smash-hit show, Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like variety show, in which she created a number of beloved characters. (The show was so successful that it was syndicated across the region.) When Molina was pregnant, her show was on hiatus and with a lot of free time on her hands, she found herself reflecting on her life and her rapid rise to stardom. Despite the success she attained, Molina had the nagging thought that she really wasn’t doing what she really wanted to do. So she quit acting and started to focus on music.

Her decision to quit her successful and wildly popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against her for a number of years. True story here: her full-length debut 1996’s Rara was critically panned by a number of journalists, who openly resented her career change. Initially fans of Juana y sus hermanas would show up to her gigs, expecting her to pay homage to the show but they couldn’t quite understand her new “folk singer character” that sung very strange songs without obvious jokes. Feeling dejected and misunderstood by the criticism and demands on her, but still wanting to continue with music, Molina relocated to Los Angeles. Not only was her work much better received, while in L.A., she began experimenting and familiarizing herself with electronics and electronic sounds. 2002’s Tres Cosas was the Argentine artist’s international breakthrough: the album was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times‘ Top Ten Records list.

2017’s Halo continued Molina’s long-held reputation for restless experimentation — and for being one of South America’s most innovative and uncompromising artists. But interestingly enough, last year’s Forfun EP was an exuberant and decided sonic change in direction, inspired by desperate necessity: the JOVM mainstay and her backing band were forced to play a set at a major festival without most of their electronic gear — because their airline lost their luggage. The EP’s material is centered around a wild, punk rock-like ethos and spirit.

Much like countless artists around the world, Molina was actually in the middle of a tour, playing festival dates when the pandemic stopped everything in its tracks. Interestingly enough, one of Molina’s last tour dates was festival set at Mexico’s NRML Festival. That set, which featured rearranged and re-imagined renditions of material off Halo, Wed 21, Un día and Forfun EP was recorded — and will be released as a live album ANRML, which Crammed Discs will put out on October 23, 2020.

Obviously, the live album will serve as a powerful reminder of what life was before the pandemic — but there’s also the hope of what will come out on the other side. We must continue to have hope that we’ll be able to enjoy each other like we once were; that we’ll be able to go to concerts to sing, dance, sweat and escape our worlds for a little bit; that we’ll have the bliss and freedom of strobe light and dance floors; of welcoming smiles from locals when you’re a stranger in a strange land; of new love and of so much more. We must continue to have hope that on the other side of this, we’ll make a better world for all of us.

The live album’s first single is a kicking and stomping version of one of my favorite Juana Molina songs “Eras.” And from the live recording, you can envision yourself dancing and howling with joy with a bunch of newfound friends. There are few things in our morally bankrupt world as transcendent as seeing someone’s face light up when their favorite artist in the entire universe plays their favorite song. I miss that in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. One day, I hope. One day.

Lyric Video: Paris’ MiM Teams Up with Selma and Jaw on a SLick and Modern Take on Samba

Emilien Bernaux, a.k.a. MiM is a Paris-based multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer and founder of Lafayette Street Studio. Berneaux can trace the origins of his music career back to his childhood: at a young age, he had classical training in guitar and piano. The Parisian multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer and producer’s first foray into electronic music was he joined drum ‘n’ bass collective UNC Audio.

Back in 2011, Bernaux made his national debut on Canal+ when he sang several songs including the credits for the TV series Bref. That same year, he co-foundend Pour Ma Paire De Jordans (PMPDJ) alongside Entek and Gress. And continuing on a productive period, Bernaux started ongoing collaborations with a diverse array of artists including Disiz, Tito Prince, Set&Match, Fils du calvaire’s and DOP’s Jaw and Laetitia Dana among others. Additionally, he has collaborated with his PMPDJ bandmate Entek in the side project MiM & Entek, which released their debut EP through Château Brouillard.

In 2013, the Parisian multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer founded Lafayette Street Studio, his creative home base. The year after founding the studio, he cofounded the Première Fois party, an event which mixed comedy and music — and this was done while taking on production duties for Mister V’s 2018 platinum selling album Double V.

Further cementing his growing reputation for being incredibly prolific, Bernaux released his solo debut EP 2015’s Saṃsāra while production Anna Kova’s EP diptych Pigments and Pixels. And by 2017, he had started composing movie for motion pictures, beginning with Benoit Forgead’s Yves, which earned the Directors’ Fortnight selection at Cannes Film Festival. Since then, he has continued to work in film, TV and commercials working on the scores for several Valentin Petit films, including Anthophobia, Portrait of Rafael Delande, Forests of symbols and The noise of light, as well for ad campaigns and TV shows.

Last year, he collaborated with Disiz la Peste, Fianso, Tito Prince, Youssoupha, Alina Pash, Kader Diaby 4REAL and Charles-Baptiste. Interestingly, throughout his career, Bernaux has developed a reputation for being both eclectic and versatile, with his work drawing from hip-hop, dubstep, grime, trap and trip-hop.

Earlier this year, MiM began working on his latest effort Cycle, which features collaborations with Nathan Daisy, José Reis Fontāo and actor Alice David. The effort’s latest single “Samba Do Gringo” is a breezy and modern take on Bossa nova and samba.. Centered around looped shimmering guitar samples and trap-like beats, the track features JAW’s mournful, mostly English versus focusing on a cold-blooded woman, who has done him and his heart incredibly dirty paired with Selma’s ethereal and plaintive vocals effortlessly switching between Portuguese and English. And under the slick production is an age-old tale of a meet-cute that has turned embittering and heartbreaking — with an infectious hook.

Rising Geneva-based act Cyril Cyril features two of the city’s most acclaimed experimental musicians collaborating together:

  • Cyril Yeterian: In Geneva, Yeterian may be best known for being the frontman and accordion player for acclaimed Cajun blues trio Mama Rosin, an act that released four albums of material that evoked the ghosts of the Mississippi Delta and Mardi Gras before splitting in 2015. Yeterian also co-founded the forward-thinking, global, taste-making record store and label Bongo Joe Records.
  • Cyril Bondi: Bondi is a stalwart figure in the Swiss experimental scene, best known for being the founding member of Plaistow and for leading the Insub Meta Orchestra, an experimental ensemble featuring 60 musicians. Bondi has also collaborated a number of acts including diatribes, La Téne and Komatsu.

Interestingly, Cyril Cyril can trace its origins back to 2017. With the duo both seeking new creative challenges, Yeterian took on the banjo, adding a shit ton of effect pedals to it, so that it began to sound more like a bouzouki (a Greek, long-necked lute) or a krar (a five or six sting lyre, played mostly in Ethiopia and Eritrea) — and simultaneously, Bondi cobbled together a cannibal drum kit with massive jingle bells and tropical nut shells embedded into his marching bass drum.

2018’s full-length debut, Certaine Ruins quickly established their unique sound, a sound that generally meshes the tough plucking and rhythmical patterns of Lebanon, The Levant and North Africa. The duo supported the album with rapturously received, relentless touring across the European Union which helped the band develop an electric live show which was equally at home on a big festival stage as it was in a small, sweaty club.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile across the European Union, the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Yallah Mickey Mouse is slated for an October 16, 2020 release through the aforementioned Bongo Joe Records and Born Bad Records. The album’s title is derived from a true incident: Yeterian and Bondi were touring with Swiss experimental transppop duo Hyperculte through the Middle East. While on a trip visiting the pyramids, Hyperculte’s Vincent Bertholet (double bass) rode a camel hilariously named Mickey Mouse. “He [Betholet] was so uncomfortable riding a camel, it was such a scene,” Cyril Cyril’s Cyril Yeterian recalls in press notes. “Watching him tell with a very French accent  ‘yallah’  to the camel to have him step forward on the sand.  So  ‘yallah mickey mouse’  was born. We immediately thought about the power this sentence had politically speaking. No words to add. Arabic world vs. American imperialism? Is there anything to say people don’t know already?”  

To celebrate the album announcement, the Geneva-based duo released three singles from the album:

  • “Les Gens,” Yallah Mickey Mouse‘s first single is a hypnotic and hallucinogenic fever dream centered around galloping African polyrhythm, shimmering banjo arpeggios played through tons of effects, dub-like reverb, punchily delivered call and response vocals — and of course MORE COWBELL! Sonically, “Les Gans” is a slick synthesis of Evil Heat-era Primal Scream, Levitation-era Flamingods and traditional Middle Eastern and African music. Yes, it’s the genre-defying sounds that I’ve long championed — but it’s only possible in a borderless, genre-less world. “The idea of the song was paradoxically born at a moment where we were completely fed up with how extreme tourism had become in both the most popular spots close to us and all around the world.” Cyril Yeterian explains in press notes. “What turned out really odd is that a few months later, everything was stopped by the Covid. And suddenly there was no one in the streets, and we realized our song could be understood as the nostalgia we have about the time we were gathering altogether. So we invite anyone to get this song the way they prefer!”  
  • “Al Boustan,” the album’s second single is centered around a hypnotic, dance floor friendly groove, shimmering banjo and organ and a forcefully insistent thump. While clearly drawing from the Middle East, the song seems to also hint at Bollywood as a result of the song possessing a cinematic expansiveness. It’s mind-bending — and if you put yourself in the right situation, the song can help you head to a higher plane of existence. “’Al Boustan’ looks at how our narcissism and the narrow fascination of ourselves deserve to come up against the unalterable force of the elements that decorate our daily lives,” the duo explain. “The trees will always grow and the moon will rise and set as long as a human eye looks up to the sky. Nevertheless. Against everything. We are many and we are nothing.”
  • “X-Crise,” the album’s third single is centered around driving polyrhythm, percussive banjo arpeggios, punchy melodies and an infectious hook. This song sounds as though it comes from a much-older place, something far older than time, when our earliest ancestors sat in front of the fire telling stories about the origins of everything. And in some fashion, it’s the most Tinariwen-like track of the three — but while brimming with a mischievous sense of adventure.

All three tracks reveal two things to me:

  • Bongo Joe Records is releasing some of the wildest, most forward-thinking music out there today.
  • Cyril Cyril may arguably be one of Geneva’s most forward-thinking and uncompromisingly challenging acts.

I’m looking very forward to the album and more of the labels’ releases — and to this album.