Music

INsiders Guide: Zara Larsson, Madison Beer, Patrick Krief, KTJ & CARLY, BROOKLXN, Matte Blvck, XNilo, Brock Mattsson, Treasure, X.ARI, Steven Christopher, DUPLIC8, Larkins, Marcaux, Ziggy Alberts, ABISHA, Eighty Ninety, Race Banyon…

Zara Larsson has quietly notched yet another hit. Following a placement during a key sequence in the Netflix film Work It, her single “WOW” recently lit up streaming platforms. Cumulative worldwide numbers jumped exponentially over 2,300% from 17K streams-per-day to a whopping 447K streams-per-day. In the United States alone, the song exploded from 7K streams-per-day to 120K streams-per-day. On Spotify, it grew from 13K streams-per-day to 343K streams-per-day, while increasing on Apple Music from 3K streams-per-day to 87K+  streams-per-day and on Amazon Music from 1K streams-per-day to 11K+  streams-per-day. Not to mention, it emerged as the #5 “Most Shazam’ed track in the United States and #6 globally.”

Get it HERE via TEN/Epic Records.

Produced by none other than Marshmello, “WOW” notably figures prominently in a pivotal sequence during Work ItThe song plays during a transformative moment and powerful dance routine for protagonist Quinn Ackerman (Sabrina Carpenter). The film is now available on Netflix worldwide.

https://open.spotify.com/album/4fiVXwnHbreMbcOw1MKFhl

Patrick Krief has turned on, tuned in, dropped out and come out the other side with a psychedelic masterpiece of secular shamanistic humanism.

On Chemical Trance, the Montreal musician taps into that holy intersection of divine and mortality, confronting his own vulnerabilities in a beautiful cacophony that, at times, recalls Pink Floyd, late-era Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Radiohead. Yet, somehow, is uniquely Patrick Krief.

And just like the artistic epochs of those great musical masters, Chemical Trance is at its best when Krief digs deepest into his most personal moments.

“I pictured it like an Ayahuasca trip,” he explains. “Like you’ve taken the drug and you’re confronting your whole past — all the darkest stuff. But you’re not reliving it in a normal way, it’s hyped-up: emotions as demons, that sort of thing.”

The album, conceived to be one continuous listen, is thus bookended by Krief’s two extremes. Opener “I Am The Pillar of Darkness in Your Life” plays like Dante’s Virgil guiding the listener through the first circle of hell, in this case representing Krief’s own crippling anxiety. By album closer, “Gyp Million Star,” salvation appears in sight. “The idea is by the end of the album it’s beautiful,” Krief says. “Not dark. Peaceful,”

Along the way, there’s a sonic journey of truly maximalist proportions — oscillating at will between, aggressive, progressive and groovy (“Line Stepper”; “The Light Between Your Eyes”), and fragile and intimate (“Never Without You”).

Yet for all its bombast, there’s a total freedom of spirit that envelops Chemical Trance. According to Krief, that’s a reflection of his mental state at the time of its conception. Nothing short of a reinvention for the Montreal singer-songwriter, the album is an assertion of artistic autonomy.

“[Unlike my previous work] I wanted to write an album that was built out of a vibe. One continuous listen,” Krief explains. “To do that, I brought myself back to the point of being lost in the music; just having fun, making art because it pleases me. The songs made me feel young.”

And it’s in that healing spirit that Krief invites you to experience this musical freedom with him.

“Put it on like a mediation tape,” he says. “Grab on your head phones, close your eyes and when that last note hits you’ll have to restart it because your mind drifted to another plane.”

Following the undeniably strong showing from critically acclaimed singles “Almost True,” “Otherside,” and “Holding On,” KTJ & CARLY continue their impactful music catalog on new single “Enable Me.”  Their music, which calls on influences like ROZES and Chloe X Halle, continues to wow listeners and impress critics — who have featured them in American Songwriter, PopularTV, and Tremblay Mag. Even amid a pandemic, they continue to make their mark on live music, performing for the virtual Pridefest, What The Sound Fest and their own late-night sessions, deemed “Late Night Live.” This year also marks another milestone in their already incredible careers, seeing them score their first feature film, “God Save The Queen,” directed by Jordan Danger. Currently, they’re focused on finishing up their debut EP, “Identity,” due out late October.

KTJ & CARLY embody a quiet sensuality on track, “Enable Me,” the second single off their upcoming EP, “Identity.”  The duo simmers on this slow-building melodic journey, starting with a quiet, atmospheric spark that eventually turns to a raging, beat-forward forest fire. Between the spacey synths and hushed vocals, there’s an unexpected rise of emotions and intensity, buoyed by the booming melodic hook that makes up the unforgettable chorus. Not to mention the emotive talents of the two singers themselves, who infuse every moment with desire and hope. This fiery track embodies everything the duo is known for — powerful vocals, unforgettable hooks, and introspective lyrics.

Fearless, spice and everything nice, Australian/Maltese, Toronto based singer-songwriter, BROOKLXN, is known for her energy, confidence and bubbly personality. As a live performer BROOKLXN brings a fire to the stage that captivates an audience along with her powerful, sweet, yet husky, rich vocals. BROOKLXN is a peoples person and leaves an imprint on everyone she meets. Effortlessly melting the worlds of R&B and Pop music BROOKLXN’S lyrics speak truthfully about events in her life in relation to heart break, mental health, self-love, female empowerment and body positivity with melodies that will have you hooked and singing along by the second chorus, whilst making you feel like you are the Beyonce of Destinys Child.

At the age of 16, BROOKLXN had her first feature on national television on Disney Channel Australia in “My Camp Rock 2” where she showcased her bubbly personality & powerful vocals.

Most notably, BROOKLXN originated in the popular girl group BEATZ where they placed top 5 in the X Factor Australia under the mentorship of Spice Girl member, Mel B. Their audition alone made waves on YouTube accumulating 26 million views and counting. In total their videos have 100+ million views across platforms. The girl group is no stranger to large crowds, performing for tens of thousands of people outside of The X Factor stage. They’ve shared the stage with wildly popular acts Little Mix, Throttle, Lunchmoney Lewis, Eskimo Joe, The Thundamentals, Jai Waetford and Ashton Merrygold, as well as supported Australian tours with Justice Crew and Isaiah Firebrace. BEATZ released their debut single (Ain’t Your Girl) which hit #1 on the Australian Independent Music Charts.

Following the success of BROOKLXN’s Australian popularity, she decided to focus on her promising solo career in North America. BROOKLXN moved to Toronto for the potent music scene where she currently collaborates and writes with the hottest producers in Canada. Additional to writing, she frequently keeps busy with live performances and building a fan base in another continent, while representing Australia proudly.

BROOKLXN keeps her audiences engaged all over the globe with her social media presence. In total, across all platforms she has earned an audience of 120K. This has allowed her to share important messages to her audience about body positivity, mental health and most recently the catastrophic Australian bushfires. In late January BROOKLXN raised money through her platform to make change and held non-profit benefit concert featuring Australian and Canadian artists, symbolising the importance of unity across nations during a world crisis.

BROOKLXN is all about being real and raw and making her viewers feel like they are riding the wave with her, she makes this obvious through her social media platforms as she takes us on her journey and gives us a glimpse into her personal life and what she gets up to on a day-day basis.

BROOKLXN is truly fearless and exemplifies this in her on stage presence and through her brutally honest lyrics, certain to have you singing along by the second chorus. BROOKLXN is so excited to finally be sharing her original music that she has been writing in the studio for the past year. Her highly anticipated solo debut will dominate the market in 2020.

https://open.spotify.com/album/42Nllsl0Jo1ThpS1bVloVU?highlight=spotify:track:7zIzntWyYKr1JtYlRjxIfm

Matte Blvck is an electronic group out of San Diego CA.  Producing sounds of sinister pleasures , visual arts and mechanical tinged dance music . The group captures lush dark-synth stylings complimented by gritty industrial anthems, while embodying their affinity for underground techno. Alex Gonzales , Bidi Cobra , and Daniel Corrales serve as the three-piece ensemble . Coming from various influences the trio come together to compliment their vast and scattered ideas to now form their own brand of club aesthetic  .

The debut Album “ I’m Waving, Not Drowning “ is set to release this Fall following their forthcoming singles “ Pure “, and their ageless rendition of “ Stripped “ from standout titans Depeche Mode.  The record was mostly written during the global-wide shutdown due to Covid-19, and has spawned an introverted yet relatable sound . An album created in isolation touching on topics such as pain, panic and suffering yet conceiving a light at the end of the tunnel . Hence the title of the Album, “ I’m Waving, Not Drowning “.

https://www.facebook.com/matteblackus

https://www.instagram.com/matte.black.official

Off the back of the success of its audio release, with heavy support coming from BBC Introducing as well as Spotify on their ‘R&B UK’ and ‘Afro Bashment’ playlists, Emerging talent XNilo unveils the official video to his latest single “Bodyline”. The Spanish crooner already has made waves with the single, with Modulo and Ambizius adding their flavour to this sensual, bouncy, R&B-inspired heater worthy of the acclaim.

Now teaming with iconic Swedish illustrator, director, and animator Magnus Carlsson (Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android”), the “Bodyline” video captures an animated XNilo and Ambizius on the run from an unsuspecting threat, giving an interesting new twist to the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ idea. Growing up on a Spanish island, XNilo drew the inspiration for music from listening to his parents’ old soul records, playing his guitar, and performing with his musician father. Now he has gone from strength to strength as he focuses in in his sound as a producer and singer, a vibrant mesh of Soul/R&B, Hip Hop, Trap and Reggaeton.

XNilo has seen his stock rise considerably, working on tracks with the likes of Famous Dex, Danny Avila and Etta Bond – the latter’s collaboration “Your Way” was supported heavily by BBC Introducing, Radio 1 and 1Xtra. A journeyman of sorts having spent much time in the States working and recording, he returns to the UK to gear up for a major 2020 with his major forthcoming project Long Time Coming mixed by award-winning engineer Manon Grandjean – the go-to engineer for the likes of Stormzy, Fraser T Smith and Dave. With an Avelino remix of “Lo Siento” in the pipeline with Av dropping some Latino vibes, be sure to keep your eyes on XNilo as there’s big things happening.

Brock Mattsson is a singer/ songwriter that creates smooth gentle sounds of sorrow. Living in Edmonton, AB for a short stint, Brock was reintroduced for his love of country music. Having his songwriting come from past experiences, he mixes them with soft slow notes to calm and ground listeners. He hopes to share his songwriting to those whose love for country music still thrives.

Born in North West London, Treasure’s family relocated to the Countryside in the early 2000’s trading the busy city life for the suburban serenity, a feeling present throughout his catalogue. Inspired by the likes of Frank Ocean, Choker, HOMESHAKE, The Internet and D’Angelo, his laidback production and genre-merging tendencies provide a nostalgia based backdrop for his lush soulful harmonies. Treasure wears his emotions on his sleeve. He transverses his musical world with this heightened sense of vulnerability, creating a space where he and the listener can rest at ease with no fear of judgement. 

The release of his nine-track EP Suffocation & Air, saw Treasure delving into a hypnagogic pop realm, delivering lethargic yet funky synthscapes with 80’s tinged falsetto vocal arrangements. Now, he returns with yet another unique track, showcasing his love for exploring new genres and crossing sonic boundaries. “Isolation” ushers in a new era of Treasure’s singing and songwriting. An era that simultaneously draws on both feelings of nostalgia and of present times. Produced and engineered entirely by Treasure in his London bedroom during lockdown, “Isolation” clearly portrays the uneasiness felt by most during self-isolation, touching on the sense of duty felt by the world in giving up freedom for a just cause. Inspired by the likes of Sampha, Moses Sumney and Blood Orange, the artist couples emotive vocals with a mix of acoustic and electronic production elements. 

Treasure has seen success having been featured on BBC 1 Extra by Jamz Supernova, as well as garnering extensive playlisting from the likes of Spotify official playlists, COLORS, Apple Music and Starbucks.

https://open.spotify.com/album/58Lsx8SbhUZrQZSARc33aO?highlight=spotify:track:2oBrxAQLH0oV7WcWbGItMz

X.ARI, the Toronto born songstress deftly dances in and out of genre lines, moving from enchanting alternative pop to gritty hip-hop production under a cover of electronic elegance. All the while, her visceral lyrics transmit messages of hope as often as they ponder tragedy. It is the mixture of those two elements when X.ARI’s sound and voice come to life.

The identity and name X.ARI is a persona that was adopted amidst working on her debut “Tunnel Vision” EP in 2015, which she has stated “became the birth of a totally new process”. She goes on to say “In Nordic, ARI means eagle and in Hebrew, it means lion. It is more me than I’ve ever been”.

X.ARI finds healing and her unapologetic voice in her music. As someone who struggles with mental illnesses she dedicates much of her time and energy into her Pain into Power campaign by sharing her story and focusing on self care and well being in regards to one’s mental health. X. ARI’s music is aimed to serve as a vehicle for expression. “We don’t need to be defined by labels and we can turn our weakness into strength with a lot of self love, radical acceptance, support, therapy, and consistency. If I can get through my traumas and turn pain into power, so can you” is one of her anchoring beliefs and much of the purpose behind her latest web series ‘Self Care Sunday’.

X. ARI has been very prolific over the last couple years. Her latest release, in February, 2020, was her music video for her single “BSMI”, which will be featured on her fourth EP, “As You Are”. In September, 2020 X. ARI released her self directed music video for “Magnetic”, which was also performed live on Dash Radio with We Found New Music. Just prior to that, in June, 2019, she released her third EP “Uni-Fi” dedicated to mental health awareness, which was produced by Midi Jones (Alessia Cara). Her EP release party was hosted by the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) in Los Angeles. Since NAMI and X. ARI have been collaborating and she began speaking at schools about mental health.

In July, 2018, X.ARI released her 2nd EP “Dis-Order”, Self Care Tips, and launched her first ever merchandise and Self Care Line dedicated to mental health awareness. X. ARI gives back by donating partial proceeds from her Self Care Line, composed of journals, candles, and healing bracelets, to Jack.org. Jack.org is the only Canadian charity training and empowering young leaders to revolutionize mental health. Through their programs they ensure young people in Canada take care of their mental health and get the help they deserve, when they need it.

X. ARI has achieved some notable accolades in her career thus far. Her “Tunnel Vision” went on to win several awards, including Artistic Echoes Indie awards for ‘Best Female Artist’, ‘Best Album of the Year’, and ‘Best Single’, for the title track ‘Tunnel Vision’. Her single ‘Teachers’ also won the Indie International Songwriting Competition in March 2018.

She was selected by Music Connection magazine to be featured in their Year-End’s issue as one of the “HOT 100 LIVE UNSIGNED ARTIST & BANDS OF 2018.” Her single “Stay v Go” also got some momentum. It premiered on New Music Friday Canada and was added on stations across Canada, which led to a radio tour in the summer of 2018. It also got an honorable mention in the Unsigned Only Songwriting Competition in 2019 and came in first place in the Toronto IMSTA Fest 2018. In the Fall of 2018 1200 Journey shoe stores across the US aired an interview and a live performance video of “Stay v Go.” The music video for “Stay v Go” also got on MTV.com “Flashbacks”, also on her “Dis-Order” EP and another song “Make Me Good” was on MTV’s “Are You The One.” ADD IN SEISTA EP HERE*** X. ARI has also had some success as a co-writer on many other artists records including “Get in Get Out” by Cameron Bloomfield (Sony UK), and “Young Love” by Broken Back (Warner France).

X. ARI is currently working on her fourth EP, “As You Are”, which will be released in Oct 9, 2020 in time for World Mental Health Day on Oct 10. It is X. ARI’s mission to not only raise awareness about mental health but to also focus on using her platform to empower others to turn their pain into power by finding their conduit to healing. She hopes to make a global impact and to become known as an influential artist, songwriter, and public speaker to spread her message to the masses.

Photo Credit: Luis Godinez

LA-based R&B artist Steven Christopher releases his new track “Single Minded” today. This is the second single release leading up to the release of his debut EP, out at the end of Summer 2020.

“Single Minded”, written and produced by Steven Christopher himself, follows the release of “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing”. The proceeds of which will be donated to the Los Angeles arm of Black Lives Matter for the next year.

The smooth and sultry rhythmic mid-tempo R&B track revels in the peace felt after learning from your mistakes in love. Steven wrote this song as a response to the millions of sad love songs out there, which “Single Minded” is not. The song is about being happy and content with being alone. The track’s production was heavily inspired by Timbaland and early 2000’s R&B.

Steven on the single: “Not everybody is crying over love like that all the time. We can take it or leave it. We’re more focused on loving and taking care of ourselves. We’re Single Minded.”

Born and raised in Memphis, TN Steven Christopher is the epitome of the DIY artist, entirely self produced and written, his songs glide seamlessly back and forth between heavily inspired early 2000 R&B pop and cloud rap. Steven’s love of music was developed at an early age following his aunts and uncles as they gigged around Memphis, known for singing behind major Gospel and R&B artists. In 2018 he moved to Los Angeles to further pursue his love for music and film. Steven recently made his acting debut in feature film CUCK, that has been profiled in Vanity Fair and the Hollywood Reporter. He is now ready to unveil his first full length project at the end of Summer 2020.

https://open.spotify.com/album/3YS3z6JlsA6ClflZyDLUq7

Fade Away” describes the changes in mindset one needs to implement to maneuver through new circumstances.

This song helped me let go of the confusion and uncertainty I face, with what I am doing with my life and the direction that I am taking. I had unfavourable odds from the get-go, with people counting me out before I even started. “Fade Away” is for anyone who feels the same.

It’s okay to let go — of your own doubt, or people in your environment that do not believe in you. If you’re experiencing fear of what you could do, imagine not being confined to any limits. If it’s just the worry of how to take the next step, then release those emotions. 

Take a moment to soak in how far you have come, in spite of the many setbacks along the way. In time, as you make strides, those people and pains of your past do fade away. Let’s look forward to the future.  

Follow me on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/okayrhys/

Following the release of their critically acclaimed EP Hit and Run, and their huge new recent release “Are We Having Any Fun Yet?” – spawning a huge viral fan video, rising Manchester act Larkins drop the official remix by US producer Ayokay.

The new remix from one of America’s brightest producers, whose credits include the likes of Jeremy Zucker, Quinn XCII and Nightly, is complimented by a vibrant visual crafted by Dedouze to bolster an already exciting package – the original mix was helmed by Daniel Nigro (Conan Gray).

At the heart of both versions of the song is the hyper-personal lyricism from frontman Josh Noble, his emotive vocals telling the song’s tale of the wearisomeness of everyday life and the difficulties it can bring to many.

Indeed an exciting reputation is already being formed around Larkins: their arena-scale blend of anthemic, synth-laden alt-pop reverberating with a growing number of kids with each subsequent release, racing to millions of streams with their two offerings for 2019,  the ‘TV Dream’ EP and the ‘Not Enough Love’ single amassing 5M alone with a 30 date headline tour and 10,000 tickets sold.

Both sides of the Atlantic are hotting up with the likes of BILLBOARD, EARMILK and Beats 1’s Zane Lowe and Travis Mills united in proclaiming a serious new force, significant New Music Friday additions in the US as well as in the Top 10 of the Indie Pop Spotify list bolstering homegrown critical attention from the likes of NME, THE LINE OF BEST FITDORK and BBCR1’s Annie MacThe kind of rare dual excitement that positions Larkins as one of the brightest crossover hopes of the year so far.

Originally from Glossop in Derbyshire – the same birthplace as fashion doyenne Dame Vivienne Westwood – before moving to Manchester, Josh Noble, Dom Want (guitar/synth), Henry Beach (bass/synth) and Joe Gaskell (drums) have forged similar outspoken  reputations within climate change awareness, setting up female safety and gender equality markers at their shows, as well as demanding better ethical practices in the wider music industry. With both critical heat and kind of personal ethics that demand attention, Larkins are feeling like something very special indeed.

Genre-hip-hop/indie/Pop/alternative artist from Long Island, New York, Marcaux new single “Down” is out now and featured on XX. 

Marcaux says, Down’ was the last song to be put on the EP after a naturally smooth studio session with Aire Atlantica turned into something amazing. Down is the only song not only on the EP, but Marcaux’s entire discography that is not self-produced.”

“Down” is the third track afeatured on his new EP Cedar Creek, to be released September 18th.  along with “Harm,” “Cedar Creek” and “Shine.” First single “Harm” has grossed 1.7 Million streams on Spotfiy. The song continues to grow and was featured on The Fader.

The Cedar Creek EP is about looking back at your life growing up, and how it created you, from the perspective of who you are now. Cedar Creek is not only the local park where Marcaux learned most of his life lessons, but now a project to reflect on the good and bad in most transparent, vulnerable way. While the EP shows great past experiences like Friendship, Love, Partying, and Growth, the EP also shows the harder side of growing up like heartbreak, addiction, anxiety, family issues, and lack of self esteem.

 Australian indie singer-songwriter Ziggy Alberts has revealed a new cross-genre EP in collaboration with prolific Sydney rap duo Horrorshow, titled “I Won’t Give You Up”. The EP is Alberts’ first collaborative project and marks his third release for 2020, following singles “Together” and “don’t get caught up”.

Lead single “Heaven Pt. II” is a groove-filled, genre-bending track full of folk harmonies and hip-hop beats, adding an addictive new twist to one of Ziggy’s biggest hits. The live version, also included on the EP, features a special appearance from Kim Churchill.

Ziggy Alberts has been a long-time fan of Horrorshow, naming the duo as one of his biggest and earliest musical and songwriting influences. Since meeting in a Brisbane green room back in 2010, the artists have made guest appearances at each other’s shows, and have developed this EP as a passion project, as well as a full-circle moment in their friendship.

“‘I Won’t Give You Up’ pays homage to being of different genres, different upbringings, but having similar intentions,” said Ziggy. “It’s a celebration of differences, and two different worlds coming together. I think Horrorshow is one of the most legit rap duos Australia has ever seen, and it’s truly an absolute treat to collaborate with them on something like this.”

Along with “Heaven Pt. II”, the EP includes a live version performed at Brisbane Riverstage, as well as a cover of Horrorshow’s 2009 track “Walk You Home” performed by Ziggy.

A big part of what makes this EP so special is that in a way it’s been over a decade in the making,” said Solo from Horrorshow“From the days when I would read comments on our burgeoning Facebook page from a young kid on the Sunshine Coast with the fairly memorable name of Ziggy Alberts. Over the years, this polite young surfy kid would attend our shows in the area with his mates, and through this we struck up a friendship while I watched his journey as a singer songwriter grow into what it is today.”

At only 25 years-old, Ziggy Alberts is constantly pushing boundaries for self-funded independent artists. His successes so far include the release of five records, starting his own label Commonfolk Records, and playing sold out shows across the world; effortlessly attracting millions of listeners.

In 2018, Ziggy released his fifth record ‘Laps Around The Sun’ which was premiered on Billboard Magazine and landed the coveted ‘Album of the Week’ spot on triple j. In the first week after its release, the album charted to #2 on the ARIA Australian Artist Album Charts. In 2019, Ziggy was awarded ARIA Platinum certification for his album tracks ‘Love Me Now’ and ‘Laps Around The Sun’; one Platinum certification for his Four Feet in the Forest (EP) and, Gold certifications for six singles in his catalogue.

 Horrorshow are a hip hop duo from Sydney, Australia, comprised of Solo (Vocals) and Adit (Producer). In eight years they’ve released three studio albums, sold-out a stack of tours, received nominations for numerous awards, and cultivated one of the most loyal and dedicated fan-bases in Australia.

Emerging in 2008 with an album largely created in high school, Horrorshow promptly signed to Elefant Traks and released ‘The Grey Space’, which received immediate industry recognition with an ARIA nomination and a run of support slots on national tours. Horrorshow’s honesty and musical ingenuity amassed a fast growing legion of passionate fans in the following years, and has seen them venture for international tours and achieve worldwide recognition.

https://open.spotify.com/album/1JISsEZoWYhX6UfZAi3Efh

(Photo Courtesy of Foot Locker EU)

Foot Locker (EU) launches its latest campaign, featuring leading changemakers who are championing individuality and a more progressive future for their communities and beyond.

The campaign is a second installment in the brand’s new platform, ‘Shoes Don’t Change the World. You Do’, which celebrates today’s youth who are striving to make the world a better place. The platform acknowledges a need for change while demonstrating loyalty to its audience, with the latest campaign a celebration of influential talent who are using their voices to effect change. The new campaign is a continuation of Foot Locker’s commitment to working alongside and supporting the youth community who are leading the charge to reshape the future for the better.

To help bring the story to life, Foot Locker has partnered with UK-based talent ABISHA and Jordan Charles, in addition to seven-year-old Elijah Enwerem, to create films that aim to help Gen Z find confidence in themselves to overcome challenges. Each film celebrates unique stories, with the common storyline being the need to be seen and be yourself. The campaign strapline, ‘Shoes Don’t Change the World, Being Yourself Does’, encourages the younger generation to embrace and accept themselves, while building the self-confidence to overcome any back to school anxiety.

London-based queer musician and singer-songwriter, ABISHA, is passionate in her mission of inspiring her audience to embrace their differences fiercely and boldly. In school she felt like she was “sticking out like a sore thumb”, and as a black and queer woman, there were few role models she could look up to or relate to. Her love for song writing and turning her thoughts and feelings into lyrics is her therapy and has always been her way of expressing her true self. Today, ABISHA writes songs about the things she needed to hear growing up, and the campaign highlights her story about accepting who you truly are, and how she’s on a mission to help others do the same through her music.

Photo Credit: Chase Leonard

Eighty Ninety — the musical project of brothers Abner (vocals, production) and Harper (guitar, production) James — are releasing their new track, “Happier.” The single, which premiered exclusively on Variance Magazine, is the first of a set of songs recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Gian Stone (Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa) earlier this year.

Grappling with the themes of loneliness and loss, as well as love and hope, “Happier” felt like an obvious next single choice for Eighty Ninety: “There are so many people we love and miss that we can’t be with, and a lot of late night calls to try and bridge that distance.” Remaining true to the duo’s signature breezy indie-pop sound, “Happier” is guided by Harper’s gentle melodious guitar, laying a beautiful foundation for Abner’s ethereal vocals and harmonies. “We all want the best for the people we love. Sometimes, that means letting each other go. ‘Happier’ is about wanting to hold on for just a little bit longer.”

Eighty Ninety first broke out with their hit 2016 single, “Three Thirty,” which climbed to #2 on Spotify’s Global Viral Charts and was closely followed by their debut EP Elizabeth. Since then, the duo’s music has garnered over 25 million streams and was hand-picked by Taylor Swift for her official Spotify playlist “Songs Taylor Loves.”

The Brooklyn-based duo’s songs fuse intimate storytelling, sticky melodies, and minimalist pop productions built on acoustic instruments and electronic sounds in a style they call “808s and telecasters” — a shorthand for both their music and their anything-goes mentality in the studio. “We let the emotional arc of the song, rather than any set of genre conventions, lead us to instruments and sounds,” the brothers say of their process.

Race Banyon and Dj Dahi at Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica CA, USA on 22 October, 2015.

New Zealand electronic producer Race Banyon (aka Eddie Johnston) releases ‘EP 2.

The EP follows on the release of previous singles including high tempo Back & ForthLondon In Stereo and Indie London-approved ‘Pressure Off’ and deep house R&B-tinged single ‘We Need It’ While Last year’s single ‘Move With Us’ – taken from EP 1, which saw support from the likes of Clash Magazine and DMC World, with Clash comparing its “experimental take on melody and structure” to the work of Jon Hopkins and James Holden.

Talking about the writing process behind the EP, the intriguing producer reveals; “most of the tracks were inspired by personal frustration and creative block. A desire to create songs that were a little darker and hit a bit harder”, he adds, “and as always, by a desire to get out and dance”.

Opener ‘Pressure Off’ was built around an Ableton’s arpeggiator loop, with the track’s rhythmic pulse moving through ambient tech-house. Born as a deep acid-influenced house cut, ‘We Need It’ ended up being a more pop affair. Closing track ‘Back & Forth’, Race Banyon explains, “it’s a return to the higher tempos and intensity that had become a staple in early Race Banyon sets. I’ve made all tracks off the EP on Ableton alone in my bedroom. I used a liberal amount of Arturia Prophet V for synths and D16 Decimort 2 to crunch things up.”

Under his Race Banyon alias, Johnston has already garnered the attention of every music platform that count; his collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign and DJ Dahi for Red Bull Sound Select has seen support from the likes of Complex, Dummy, The Fader, Hypebeast and Stereogum, with Red Bull calling him “New Zealand’s next big thing”. While his “tastefully minimalist production,” as defined by Dummy has led to him to sharing stages with the likes of Jamie XX, Rustie and Kaytranada, to name a few.

Cultivating a cult following online for the atmospheric pop songs he creates as Lontalius, which opened the doors to a collaboration with Ryan Hemsworth and prompt AnOther Magazine to list him their ‘New Zealand’s New Musical Revolution’ feature – Johnston was only 14 when started making music as Race Banyon – a project which he describes as “production focused and dance oriented”. With EP 2 Race Banyon finds the perfect balance between late-night cinematic synths, tech-house club constructions and propulsive beats.

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A one to watch for 2020, members Huey, Bluu, BabyBoy and Trizzy have accumulated impressive views on a number of their releases, totalling up to over 100,000 views. They’ve had the backing from some of the biggest UK rap tastemakers, such as GRM Daily, Link Up TV and Mixtape Madness. A firm supporter GRM Daily have also gone onto premiere singles such as ‘Stay in Your Lane’, ‘Pattern’, ‘Creepin’ and their most recent music video ‘Intro’.

Snapped up by Stormzy’s booking agent, the Nottingham residents join the roster amongst Krept & Konan, J Hus and D-Block Europe and they’ve have also supported MoStack at the end of 2019. Renowned for an incredible fusion of UK and US rap with R&B elements, their project is steeped with catchy R&B hooks and slick flows. In the run up to the release Trinity Square have also dropped their scorcher ‘Down’, which follows on from their single ‘Intro’ and both tracks are taken exclusively from their forthcoming mixtape.

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Kamloops, BC singer/songwriter Madison Olds is on her way to becoming Canada’s next big breakthrough recording artist. Madison’s kind and loving spirit is exemplified beautifully in her upcoming music releases, starting July, 2020.

Madison recently won 1st place at the International Songwriting Competition (Screenshot Category), along with garnering an impressive three Honourable Mentions in various categories. The merits in her writing abilities speak for themselves and the promise in her upcoming songs have started to turn heads around the industry. Madison is poised for an exciting year with several music releases, a music video, and an EP in the books.

In 2018, Madison released her debut album Blue, to the world and it opened many doors, including supporting the likes of: Willie Nelson, Kacey Musgraves, Neon Dreams, Scott Hellman & more. Her feature single “Moments in the Mountains” (written for Kamloops’ 2018 BC Winter Games) was selected as the soundtrack for the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, BC. Her followup single “Thank You” launched Madison up the Hot AC Radio charts in Canada, placed her within the Top 10 of CBC Searchlight 2019, and helped garner several international showcases with Music Matters in Singapore, Fall 2019. Blue now has over 2 Million audio streams collectively.

Johnny Ashby is a British singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. Ashby found a love for music through his Dad’s mixtapes. As a teen he played guitar in various bands and after leaving college, stepped into the session world. Deciding to move to California with nothing but a suitcase full of clothes, a guitar he built himself and dreams of playing the legendary Troubadour, the songwriter dove in head first and has not looked back since.

Inspired by the likes of David Bowie, Kings of Leon, Coldplay and Damon Albarn, Ashby aims to create music following a similar path of thinking outside the box. His sound blends the best of his childhood favourites, with the intention of being performance worthy. Ashby explains, “When I write I imagine what the songs would be like live, that’s what’s most important to me. That’s what I’m aiming for.”

Ashby’s upcoming five-track EP entitled In Bloom is co-written and produced with friends Fredrik Eriksson, Sebastian Fritze and Bill Delia from the band Grizfolk. Grizfolk are hugely successful on the folk-rock circuit opening for artists like Bastille, Haim and X-Ambassadors. The EP highlights Ashby’s infectious Americana tinged sound, featuring radio-ready anthems with lyrics that speak of finding connection, new beginnings and coming together. The ethos behind the EP was to provide uplifting, positive and hopeful messages during a time of uncertainty. Ashby confides, “I think all the songs lyrically really address where we are in this very moment. They’re very true of the time in which they were written. They all have this “heat of the moment” feel for me because we managed to capture the emotion and feeling on each track right there and then. They’re so raw and honest and I feel like I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve here with all of these songs.”

The EP begins with “Never Let You Go” – reminiscent of Kings of Leon, the track features dreamy, layered vocals allowing listeners to uncover something new with each and every listen. Then there is “In Bloom” which glistens with shimmering guitar melodies, warm vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. Ashby shares, “I love the piano melody in the bridge and I love the big U2 guitars on the outro. There’s so many sections and parts on this song, all these hooks intertwine together. I get really excited when that happens on a song. It’s what songwriting is all about for me.”

“SOS” speaks about this idea of being lost and wanting to be found. Featuring honky-tonk piano and free-flowing vocals, the song delivers a care-free attitude. With lyrics referencing camping trips with friends, Ashby uses textured, unison vocals to emit a “we’re all in this together” vibe, creating a heartwarming track about friendship and solidarity. Leading single “Born Again”, features ethereal harmonies and vast soundscapes delivering a utopian, spine-tingling atmosphere which gradually builds into an unforgettable anthemic chorus. The singer’s soulful, raspy vocals narrate failing, getting a second chance and wanting to live forever.

The EP is brought to conclusion with “Found You”. Gang vocals result in a big stadium feel, ending the EP with a bang. The songwriter explains, “It’s about being a kid and having an imaginary friend. I really like writing songs from that perspective. It’s so freeing and it’s kinda refreshing I get to revisit that and put myself back in the shoes of a younger me.”

Ashby hopes his music encourages others to take a leap and rediscover yourself. Admitting how during these unprecedented times he managed to find time without limitations and value what is truly important, he shares, “Without this lockdown I don’t think these songs would have happened. I needed this time to stop, sit down and figure it all out. It’s been a valuable lesson and I hope that if there’s anyone that feels at a loss, like I did before pre lockdown, I hope my music speaks to them and inspires a leap of faith.”

Ashby’s first EP Cannonball Days peaked at #9 in the iTunes songwriters chart which led to Huffington Post naming him a “Top 5 Emerging Icon”. Since then, he has released two well acclaimed EPs and his music has been heard on radio both in the UK and the US, gaining huge support from BBC Introducing and Absolute Radio in London. He’s played the prestigious Troubadour in Los Angeles multiple times and his songs have been featured on primetime television for shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, Elementary, Rise, Baywatch, Teen Mom and Midnight In Texas.

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Photo Credit: Michael Brewster

singer-songwriter Courtney Cole is releasing her new 4-track EP, ‘Earthquake.’ Featuring three previously released singles — “New Eyes,” “Right Direction,” and “Spiritual” — and the brand new title track, “Earthquake,” the EP plays like a collection of sonic diary entries, chronicling Cole’s journey of self-discovery as she tackles what it means to find power and trust within oneself. Her rich vocals radiate with palpable emotion, shimmering atop the mellow, acoustic-leaning production. “It’s about choosing joy in the midst of pain and love in the midst of uncertainty,” Cole writes, “and finding out who you truly are in the process.”

The New Orleans native first dipped her toe in the music industry as a college student in Nashville, TN. Coming of age in music city, Cole found herself deeply immersed within the country scene, fine-tuning her lyrical chops with some of the industry’s finest. Her early releases garnered attention from Rolling Stone and Huffington Post, and led to touring opportunities with Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, and Kane Brown, just to name a few. While performing on Miranda Lambert’s Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour in the fall of 2015, Cole released her self-titled EP. Her debut amassed over 2M+ streams and featured her fan-favorite single, “Ladylike,” which was co-written with GRAMMY, CMA and ACM-Award winning songwriter, Shane McAnally.

Cole relocated to California a few years ago, craving a change of pace and scenery. Inspired by the West Coast pop scene and her new sun-soaked lifestyle, Cole started creating music that reflected her new surroundings. The Earthquake EP is being released in conjunction with her new podcast “The Love Freq Podcast with Courtney Cole,” where she discusses the beauty and importance of healing and growing from earth shattering moments in life and reconnecting with the truest, deepest parts of ourselves in order to live our most authentic, creative expression. The Love Freq name is inspired by the musical tuning of 528Hz (compared to our standard tuning of A=440 HZ), which has coined the term “the love frequency” due to its harmonic presence all throughout nature, lack of dissonance, and healing properties. Cole’s final single on the EP, “Earthquake,” was recorded in the tuning of 528Hz.

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The Accents are like cruising down an open highway set to a hazy sunset. They’re like the walk home from a house party you’ll look back on fondly all summer long or looking back at old photos that summarize your best memories. The Accents are the musical form of those little moments of optimistic clarity that allow you to acknowledge the difficulties of life while understanding that it’s all going to be just fine.

While the duo, comprised of Mathijs Kriebel and Rich Weller, was originally introduced to each other as artist and manager, respectively, they quickly realized that their musical foundations were cut from the same cloth. What began as a collaborative passion project between two like-minded creatives turned into something much more substantial, refined and recognized as something that needed to be pursued as a full-time project. With that, The Accents were born; an infectious blend of electronic indie-pop gliding through a reel of Ektachrome vintage film before hitting your ears.

Good things take time to develop and The Accent’s EP Still On Film is no exception. With a prolific amount of ideas swirling around, the pair spent the better part of two years exploring all sonic options and honing in on the distinctly exciting sound revealed across the four-track release. Co-produced by Mike Brandolino (of rising Canadian indie-pop group Valley), the EP is a collection of stories navigating self-doubt set to shimmery synth lines and punchy samples that weave in and out of driving 808 beats. Songs like “Life In A Video” explore the strands of uncertainty we have within ourselves and how living life through old formats could make for an easier experience, whereas “Talk It Over” applies that same self-consciousness to the complexities of a tedious relationship highlighted by an unexpectedly incredible Japanese rap verse. Still On Film‘s introspective narrative resonates throughout the soul while anthemic melodies and energetic textures elevate the spirit.

Rejecting the fast-paced demand of the modern digital world, and embracing the artistry and integrity of the past, The Accents sound expertly projects complex emotion through an uplifting lens. With their timeless songcraft fueled by a dedication to sharing their relatable experiences, The Accents approaches like an instant classic and connects with an unexpected depth that resonates and is sure to be the soundtrack to many of your future moments.

Atlantic Records recording artist Kiiara has released her latest irresistible banger; “Never Let You” is out now on all streaming services and DSPs HERE. The rock-inspired track is set to be included on the multi-platinum songstress’ forthcoming debut album to be released this fall along with her 3x Platinum smash hit “Gold” and impressive recent single “I Still Do.”
“I go thru phases where I question why I ever started making music,” Kiiara shared. “A few months ago I was wondering what my life would have been like if I had never picked up a guitar and written ‘Gold.’ That’s what I wrote ‘Never Let You’ about. It’s sort of the grass ain’t greener type of situation. At the end of the day no matter how discouraged I get, I know I can’t imagine doing anything else. Music is all I think about 24/7. It’s my life and it gives me purpose.”
Last month, Kiiara released “I Still Do,” produced by Jason Evigan (Dua Lipa, Maroon 5, Demi Lovato) and co-written by Justin Tranter (Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga) and Ali Tamposi (Jonas Brothers, Shawn Mendes). The edgy track was instantly met with critical acclaim with Refinery 29 encouraging readers to “dance out your feelings to the tune of Kiiara’s all-too-relevant ‘I Still Do’” and MTV labeling the track “an infectious summer bop dripping with catchy vocals.” The insanely catchy single has increased the widespread anticipation for the pop star’s debut album with Billboard labeling “I Still Do” as “a tight, melodic first taste” and LADYGUNN predicting the album as “one for the top charts.” The track arrived alongside an official video, directed by David Camarena (Ty Dolla $ign, Kehlani, Rich The Kid, KYLE). The moody companion visual introduces Lil Kiiwi, representing Kiiara in the earlier chapter of her career. Flashbacks of Lil Kiiwi are intertwined with Kiiara’s present life, embodying the idea that while Kiiara is more composed and authentic today, she will always have a Lil Kiiwi side to her.
“I Still Do” followed the Princess of Chop Pop’s 3x Platinum breakout single “Gold” and last year’s acclaimed singles, “Open My Mouth“ and “Bipolar.”

Now boasting more than 1.4 billion worldwide streams and counting, Kiiara began writing and performing in her teens, inspired by a diverse range of contemporary pop and electronic forms. The Chicago, IL-based singer-songwriter first dropped “Gold” upon an unsuspecting world in the summer of 2015, earning instant attention for her trademark vocal sampling and gift for indelible hooks. The track proved a global sensation, earning 3x RIAA platinum certification – and over 700 million worldwide streams – en route to the top 5 on Billboard’s “Pop Songs” and the top 15 on the overall “Hot 100.” The single’s companion video was an equivalent success, now with over 106 million individual views at YouTube alone.

Acclaimed by Rolling Stone for “her “minimalist, glitchy anti-pop,” Kiiara celebrated 2016’s breakthrough debut EP, low kii savage, with a wide array of high profile live appearances, including a sold out North American headline tour, a show-stopping performance at Lollapalooza, and network TV debut appearance on an historic episode of NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Kiiara continued to expand her creative palette with such inventive singles as 2017’s “Whippin (Feat. Felix Snow)” and 2018’s “Messy.” What’s more, the chameleon-like artist forwarded her one-of-a-kind sound on a series of high-profile collaborations alongside some of pop, EDM, rock, and hip-hop’s biggest players, including Ty Dolla $ign & Future’s “Darkside (Feat. Kiiara),” Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and David Guetta’s “Complicated (Feat. Kiiara),” Steve Aoki & Nicky Romero’s “Be Somebody (Feat. Kiiara),” and of course, Linkin Park’s 2017 RIAA gold certified smash, “Heavy (Feat. Kiiara).” The latter track saw Kiiara further teaming with her self-proclaimed favorite band for a number of live performances, including an appearance on CBS’s The Late Late Show with James Corden and 2017’s Linkin Park and Friends: Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington concert event.

Bernard and Rachel Chadwick are the husband-and-wife duo that create pop/rock music imbued with love and artisanship. Theirs is an enviable creative relationship built around making more of themselves and the world through collaboration. The band started while Bernard was earning his MFA at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. It was a way for rock to fuse into art and art to fuse into rock. This became the exact intention of their music going forward. The band’s incorporation of pop sensibilities, ethereal vocals, insightful lyrics and rock undertones give them a sound that is unique, fun and sure to keep you grooving.

Their summer single Heartbreak Away, released in July 2019, was featured on Apple Music’s Breaking Alternative and Alt Pop playlists. Their lastest album17 has received acclaim from the likes of Wonderalnd, Earmilk, as well as being added to multiple Apple playlists.

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Madison Beer release her latest single “Baby” via Sing It Loud/First Access Entertainment on exclusive license to Epic Records. With the drop of the single comes a dreamy voyeuristic video that finds Madison plucked from a picturesque scene and dropped into the dark reality of life. “Baby” is taken from Madison’s forthcoming debut full length album Life Support, out later this year. You can listen to the single here.

“Coming out of a dark time mentally I inevitably had to build my confidence back up,” says Madison. “Writing ‘Baby’ made me feel in control of myself and my body again in the best way. When I wrote ‘Baby’ I was not only reminding myself that I can have what I deserve but also warning the next person that comes into my life that being with me is conditional . ‘If you wanna be my baby’ then know I’m going to be loud, quiet, wild, sexy, shy, high, low. I’m not going to apologize for who I am or shrink myself down anymore so if you can’t deal, then keep walking. I am regaining my confidence and this song truly makes me feel powerful and I hope it supplies anyone who might need a boost of confidence the same thing.”

Madison’s debut album, a strong personal and artistic statement, is slated for release later this year. “Her soon to be released album,” states V Magazine, “will surely pay homage to her years of growth in the spotlight with an entirely new depth of clarity.” Life Support sees Madison where she thrives – commanding complete creative control through writing her own songs, producing and creating her own visuals. The album will feature previous releases “Good In Goodbye,” “Selfish,” and “Stained Glass” which have a combined total stream count of over 282 million. “Selfish” is now also certified Gold in the US.

Prior to signing with Epic Records late last year, Madison Beer achieved unprecedented success as an independent artist with her partner First Access Entertainment. Her debut EP As She Pleases boasts over 950 million streams and made her the first independent female solo artist to break into the Top 20 radio charts, after having debuted in the Top 5 on iTunes in 18 countries and in the Top 10 in 42 countries worldwide. Globally, Beer has over 2 billion streams across her catalogue.

She’s attracted the endorsement of Time, NME, V MagazineBillboard who named her among its coveted “21 Under 21” list and Rolling Stone who hailed her as a “raising pop star.” Madison will be debuting “Baby” on The Late Late show with James Corden on August 26th.

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Four years after the release of her last album, BC singer-songwriter Lauren Mann is back with a new studio album, Memory & Desire, out on October 16th. The first single ‘Missing You’ is out today on all digital platforms, following the exclusive premiere of the video on Aesthetic Magazine. Watch the video here.

Memory & Desire is Lauren Mann’s fourth album, and decisively her most honest and vulnerable, chronicling the years following her last release, Dearestly, with the ending of a marriage, the rediscovery of self, and the exploration of love, community, and meaning. All of this comes through on the first single ‘Missing You’, a song of longing that Lauren wrote in the midst of a Canadian tour.

‘Missing You’ was written while I was on tour across Canada among the changing landscapes and shift from winter to spring,” says Lauren. “It captures the excitement and uncertainty of new love, and the bittersweet feeling of longing for someone while being out on the road.”

While Dearestly brought bombastic crescendos and grand production, Memory & Desire reveals a maturity in the evolution of Lauren’s songwriting and musicality. Influenced by the tapestry of music on the Gulf Islands where she has put down ​her ​roots for the last five years, Lauren​ has stayed true to her alt-pop sensibilities while exploring jazzy vocal riffs and bluesy guitar lines. Her oft typecast ukulele has been replaced with a tenor guitar, shifting her sound to something reminiscent of Beth Orton or Carole King.

Recorded ​at​ Lauren’s home in the Gulf Islands, Memory & Desire is an intimate marker of the passage of time, holding space between ​who she was and who she will be​. Aided by producer and long-time collaborator Josh Rob Gwilliam, Memory & Desire holds the listener in tension, exploring themes of forgiveness, communication, anxiety, and uncertainty in both the ending and the beginning of relationships, with whispers of hope​, ​light​,​ ​and a deep graceful innocence ​woven through each song.

Lauren Mann’s new single ‘Missing You’ is available now on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, and other digital retailers and streaming services worldwide. For more information, please visit: laurenmannmusic.com

neillfrazer@hotmail.com

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