All posts by Neelu Mohaghegh

ayokay Creates Heartbreaking Electro-Pop “Sleepless Nights” ft. Nightly

A melancholy, euphoric tune that reminds you of summer love blues

Ayokay releases another great song for the summer just before it reaches its close. The new single “Sleepless Nights” features the alt-pop band from Nashville, Nightly, which follows a series of releases that the young producer has been dropping this season. All of the tracks have thus far been nostalgic and reflective on past love much like his previous release “Half Past You” ft. Future Jr.

Alex O’Neill (aka: ayokay) is an indie-electronic producer known for his charismatic and progressive sound.  “Kings Of Summer”, his big break, released back in 2016 featuring the vocals of his childhood friend Quinn XCII. After that, years of successful buzz and excitement led his fans to his music. He hit #1 spots on Spotify’s Global Viral charts and Hype Machine, has been placed on New Music Friday several times, and is now reaching the over 81 million streams on Spotify mark. He then followed this success with other amazing collaborations with artists like Chelsea Cutler, Baker Graces, and more! Last fall ayokay had the chance to tour across 36 cities in support of also big name producer Gryffin.

With this new single, ayokay begins to flesh out more of the project that is soon to come. “Sleepless Nights” is a track with an urban, elegant sound. It reminds you of those times at midnight, when all is coming to a close and all are going to sleep, you’re still wide awake thinking about the heartache. It’s a track that relates really well to that emotion that is familiar to us all–a little emptiness and a little confusion, but still some hope.

Both acts being artists I like a lot, I thought that Nightly and ayokay collaborating was a really strong pairing. I found that with the vocals from Nightly’s duo, and the hypnotic beats that ayokay is able to compose, the two were able to fabricate this pop-worthy single. The only critique I have is that the song is a bit cliché, and the lyrics could dive deeper with a topic like this and two talented artists like them. But regardless, they were able to make a placement on New Music Friday and a track that will have you swaying to its blissful melody and bittersweet lyrics. Give it a listen now above!

ayokay will be on tour with synth-wave band The Midnight this fall! So be sure to catch him live in your city! Tour dates are below.

swing swing when you’re hurtin’

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Tour Dates:
9/21/18 Los Angeles, CA          Fonda Theatre
9/22/18 Denver, CO               Bluebird Theatre
9/23/18 San Diego, CA     Hard Rock Hotel Rooftop
9/27/18 Vancouver, BC          Fortune Sound Club
9/28/18 Seattle, WA              Neumos
9/29/18 Seattle, WA              Neumos
9/30/18 Portland, OR             Holocene
10/12/18 Washington, DC       U Street Music Hall
10/13/18 Philadelphia, PA     The Foundry @ The Fillmore
10/19/18 San Francisco, CA        The Independent

Be sure to follow the ayokay on social media:

Facebook| Instagram| Twitter| YouTube| SoundCloud| Spotify| Website

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Artist Watch: Rebecca Perl & Tep No Collab on Chill New Vibe “Keepin’ It Cool”

Just chill out

Here’s a new artist that was put on my radar and her name is Rebecca Perl. She recently collaborated with Canadian-Greek DJ/producer Tep No to put together this jam that has a lot of cool facets. Perl’s serene vocals are perfect with the context of the lyrics: being too shy to make the move, but knowing that if you don’t, you’ll miss an amazing opportunity. However, her smooth voice is then interrupted by the intensity of the EDM drop that Tep No intertwines into the song, making it suddenly a playful, sensual track. It actually is interesting because at first, the drop felt to abrupt and sudden. It felt like it came out of nowhere from the calm aura that Perl provided, but then as I listened again and again, it was kind of humorous how it almost felt like it represented “losing your chill” when you’re trying to keep your cool. The drop comes right in at the point when she stutters “Ke-Keepin’ it cool”, as if her heart just explodes!

*Side note: he song is also the perfect workout song, and a great pool party track to dance to.*

The LA-based singer/songwriter is much more of a country-pop artist; however, she surprised me with this collab, as her voice fit the mold pretty well — much like Maren Morris shocked us with her whimsical, amazing single with Zedd “The Middle”!

Born and raised in New York, Perl was artist from the start. At age 12, she picked up her first guitar and taught her self to play it  and teaching herself by 13, she learned her love for music was the best way to articulate all the complexities and riddles that love and life had to offer. She practiced, wrote, and found her sound, and then delved deeper when she moved to Austin, Texas. Now that she lives in LA, she continues to write and collaborate with artists. Her first major album Rendezvoushelped her gain her place in the industry, selling out Webster Hall followed by opening for acts like Howie Day, Gavin Degraw, Teddy Geiger, Ryan Cabrera and Olivia Newton John.

She’s on her way to some exciting experiences, and with collars like this one, she may open more avenues of possibility. So be sure to check out her single above and tell us what you think. Tep No shared his reasoning as to why he was excited to work on the track with the songstress, saying, “The song has so much potential, when I first heard it, I thought it would be a perfect fit for a Tep No Records release. I totally relate to the lyrics, about being so shy to ask people out or to make a move at least, so you’re trying to act like the bigger person when really, you’re missing out on the chances you don’t take”.

Tep No also mentioned that there will be a music video coming out very soon, so until then, we’ll be waiting for that!

Be sure to check out more from Tep No and Rebecca Perl on social media:

Tep No: Facebook| Twitter| Instagram

Rebecca Perl: Facebook| Twitter| Instagram

 

Era Istrefi and Konshens Release Latest Single “Oh God”, Ya Oh God

Oh god, girl…

Era Istrefi, global-pop sensation, has released a new single in collaboration with rapper Konshens titled “Oh God”. Istrefi has been a viral sensation for quite some time since her first single “Bonbon” received 1/2 billion views. She has continued to grow her repertoire of music along with other large artists such as Nicky Jam, Felix Snow, French Montana, Diplo, Will Smith, and many more. The Albanian-native has been considered the “Eastern European Rihanna” by fashion outlet Vogue and was featured on FIFA’s Official World Cupsong “Live It Up”. That song itself has over 20M streams, debuted on the Top 100 in over 17 countries and trended #1 globally on YouTube.

A sexy, fun song, like all Istrefi songs are, is another track for the summer. Though not her best piece of work compared to some of her past songs, it’s still a song that could be well-rounded and shaped by a talented DJ. The pairing of Konshen and her still worked beautifully, and if only the lyrics and the song had a bit more depth and dynamics to it, then it would be a hit track. At the moment, it’s just a good pop song that has you moving your hips to its melody and has you singing the chorus along with the talented vocalist. The music video has a lot of great effort put into it, with beautiful angles and great lighting, making Istrefi look flawless as a sexy, badass mermaid and a glowing vixen of the night. Nonetheless, it isn’t as rich of a record as I would hope it would be, yet it is good to see her still putting out records to keep her fans engaged and connected with her.

“Oh God” is bound to hit the dance floor in clubs around the world though, especially with its huge remix potential. ( DJs be sure to jump on that). In addition to this release, Istrefi also dropped her single “Prisoner” along with a music video.

I believe Istrefi has a lot more up her sleeve, and that with some more interesting and unexpected collaborations, she’s going to find the exact place her sound needs to be in.

Istrefi also comes from a very musically-gifted family. As the daughter of Suzana Tahirsylaj, a well known Albanian singer in the 80s and 90s, she was bound to have the gene that would make her a star. With her music being so international and ear-worthy, she has been able to grow a large fan base under multiple genres of music: pop, reggae, drum & bass, and future bass.

Not to mention, she has released music in both her native language, Albanian, and her second language, English. Her most successful single that I mentioned before, “Bonbon,” is certified Gold in the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada. It has garnered over 500 million YouTube plays, 100 million Spotify streams, and topped the Shazam, Spotify, and iTunes charts in Europe. That’s pretty substantial. She early on signed with Ultra Music, and “Redrum” her first single released through the label was then produced with the help of Felix Snow, reaching #45 on the US billboard Dance charts.

So, all in all, she’s no doubt an artist with an extremely provocative voice and aesthetic, but this song might not be the one. However, looking forward to hearing what she has next coming up for her!!

Follow her on socials to find out!

Facebook, Instagram

Artist To Watch: Chloe Lilac Releases Mellow Record “Stolen Liquor”

A surprising new voice is entering the scene, and her name is Chloe Lilac. This young female singer/songwriter is adding her R&B flares to the air waves.

Her voice is seductive and somewhat disenchanted. It’s the nice girl gone bad and the bubbly girl turned mellow record. Lilac’s sound is cynical in that elegant kind of way, and that’s what makes it interesting to hear. I think she has some work to improve on, and will need more time to make that voice the bold one that it can be, but currently she’s on the right track.

The Brooklyn-based artist releases her new single “Stolen Liquor” which is now available on Spotify and you can listen to it above.

The melody to this song is very reminiscent of the “Left-of-Center” female vocalists such as Bea Miller, Fletcher, alyssa, and Wolfie. The lyrics are raw and the voice is emotive in a lackluster way that gives it an edge without being too much. It’s the kind of “bedroom music” you’d listen to after heartbreak.

Most of her music, if you take a good listen, all come from stories she has experienced, so like most artists, she fulfills the role of the storyteller. Her laidback, avant-garde intonations is a nice touch to the mystery that is Lilac’s persona.

She’s been performing for a while, but before that, at just 14 years old, this young rebel began to sneak out to perform on the streets of NYC, and that has led to the attention her music is gradually garnering. Just this past year, Lilac has released a series of singles all on her own and they broke the Top 5 on the U.S. Spotify Viral Chart and charted globally as well.

Lilac has also performed many live shows that have been praised by press outlets such as DIY Magazine, HillyDilly, and Earmilk.

I’m curious to see where this songstress goes and how much more she can attain in 2018, because she’s got a potential to shine I believe.

So listen to the song and be sure to follow Chloe Lilac:

Spotify

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

Sweater Beats Releases New Single & Video “Enemy” ft. Sorana

 

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Everyone’s favorite electro-producer is out with a new single, and it’s an end-of-summer jam. The Philippines-born, LA-based producer, Sweater Beats releases “Enemy” featuring Romanian born, UK-based singer Sorana.

What’s the fun addition to the track release is its accompanying music video which will take you back to your more youthful days. It’s a visual that reminds you of the old school Super Nintendo times. Its comical story line follows the songs lyrics to give you a good laugh. The video was created by David Duttonnotoriously known for his 8-bit cinema projects, where he re-created TV shows like Stranger Things and films like Spirited Away & Titanic. In the past, he has also directed music videos for Daktyl, Bassnectar, Mr. Carmack, Zion I, Rexx Life Raj, and many more.

This song in particular really shows the fun side of Sweater Beats’ music with Sorana’s voice accompanied by chanting echoes and a slap-across-your-face beat. There’s this cool creativity in the chorus when all of the vocal layers fragment the sound of the music. Sorana is a perfect fit for the “Left-of-Center” female vocalists that are currently infiltrating pop music today and it aligns well with the quirkiness of this track. “Enemy” is emphatic like an Icona Pop song (which is funny because he just did a collab track with them). “Enemy” is the latest single coming off of his series of records he’s been releasing from his EP “For the Cold”, which has over 6 million streams and has been recognized by outlets like Teen Vogue, Complex, Paper Mag and more.

Sweater Beats

The song is slightly cheesy, but I think coming from Sweater Beats, that’s the point. It has elements of his experimental synth tones that he’s known for which adds to the playfulness to the track. Evidently, the track is about how you’re in the middle of a love triangle, and realizing your lover’s true colors. Sorana explains in a previous interview that, “The ENEMY is a song about some of us that love to cheat and lie without thinking of the hearts they’re breaking . For them it’s all about the game. I’ve got a lover who’s got a lover it’s something that happened to all of us at some point, so when it happened to me I decided to write about it. Writing about stuff that happens to me always makes me feel better. I loved writing this song with Digital Farm Animals and Jenson Vaughan and I am very, very excited for the collaboration with Sweater Beats. I love what he did with the track and I hope that you’ll love this song as much as we do!”

For those who don’t know, Sweater Beats is a young electronic producer who was initiated into the underground Soundcloud scene early on. As the rise of the community came, he began to build traction by earning praise from many outlets. He then collaborated with some talented emerging artists including Nicole Millar, MAX,  RLUM.R, Hayley Kiyoko and many more! He’s definitely gained support from music tastemakers like Diplo, Omarion, and JoJo and in the past has toured with Chance the Rapper, Flume, Chet Faker, gnash, and Hayley Kiyoko! There’s no stopping him now, and he’s on the rise for more to come.

So, if you haven’t yet, ADD this song to your summer playlists and follow Sweater Beats on social media!

Instagram | Twitter| Soundcloud| Facebook| Spotify

Also! Sweater Beats is on tour and here is the list of dates below. Buy your tickets HERE:

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[Exclusive Interview]: Summer Days with Hit-Makers A R I Z O N A

“It’s ok to be you in whatever moments you are experiencing”

Zach, lead vocalist of the pop-electronic trio A R I Z O N A, said this humbling and empathetic statement as we chatted about who and what the band was in the grand scheme of things. A R I Z O N A is no ordinary pop band. In fact, their sonic value spreads farther than that, and you’ll see why.

Made up of Jersey boys: Nathan Esquite (Guitar), David Labuguen (Keys), and Zachary Charles (Vocals), A R I Z O N A has made waves in the music domain in an era that just began to accept the kind of producer-like music that dominates the airwaves today. 2018 in itself has been one of the greatest years for the band to date (and it’s only halfway through!). They just released 2 new hit singles titled “Summer Days” and “Freaking Out”,have made numerous placements on New Music Friday playlists, have had countless amazing collaborations, and have embarked on Panic! At The Disco’s “Pray For the Wicked”North American arena tour (which includes Hayley Kiyoko in the lineup as well)!

PC: Neelu Mohaghegh

They have received recognition from publications like FORBES who said “A R I Z O N A the band, not the state, is the underdog you’ll want to root for…” and EARMILK who noted them as “A trio ready to become your new favorite with their captivating songwriting and production”.

They aren’t wrong. After accumulating more than half a billion streams worldwide and completely selling out their first and own nationwide headlining tour three months in advance, it’s safe to say that these talented young men have made their own sonic mark on history, and rightfully so. Their debut album GALLERY was released last year in 2017, with hit singles such as “I Was Wrong”, “Cross My Mind”, “Oceans Away”, and “Electric Touch”.

How to best explain their music is to imagine yourself in the “getaway car” or in the final scene of The Breakfast Clubwhere you, the outcast, throw your fist in the air in success or the museum montage in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: thoughtful, nostalgic, heart breaking, and beautiful. It’s music for dreamers. It’s for you to take to the dance floor to dance with yourself when no one else wants to and That’s. Totally. Ok.It’s the music you would want to celebrate to whether that party be in your own room or on the beach with others. The carefree flow of the music adds an element of authentic joy, and that’s what makes their upbeat, 80s-like records so digestible. It’s a song for everyone, you just can’t deny it.

Now, with the new music, there is so much more emotion that you can feel intensify in each track. Their exotic lullabies now transform into more profound streams of consciousness that then become the lyrics and beats memorized in your head. From vocal feelings to guitar riffs to songwriting power, “Summer Days” and “Freaking Out” represent two types of emotional strife that some human beings carry as they live out their lives. They each have the guttural essence of rock intertwined with the silkiness and metallic trance that comes with electronic-pop music. It’s an electric touch that keeps you dancing even through all that is melancholy. “And she’s just dancing, to make the cold nights feel like summer days” or “I’m just freaking out, I’m seeing sounds, I’m freaking out”. You can’t escape the grasp of those hypnotic guitar solos, or the endless synthetic tunes, or the charismatic vocal croons. A R I Z O N A always has a way to draw you back into the song, where you will undoubtedly feel better.

A R I Z O N A Cover Art for “Cold Nights // Summer Days” Project

So, how did this all begin? How did the hitmakers come together to produce such vibrant music and lead it with success? I had a chance to find out, speaking to the guys before their show at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday, July 25th. I’ll preface this by saying that it wasn’t just a one-sided conversation, and the fact that I came an hour earlier to just make sure I was on time, did in fact, turn out as a blessing in-disguise.

When I got there, Dan, their tour manager and long-time friend, greeted me and brought me to where the guys were all hanging. There I met both Nate and Zach as well as their amazing team who all were very welcoming (Dave was on his way). I hung out with them in the green room and there the conversations wandered around practically everything that you could talk about with someone in just an hour. To this crew, Boston is not an unfamiliar place, as you will see later, Boston was a second home for them for quite some time. We talked about cities, school, passions and goals, and upbringings, so we really made sure to cover all grounds, and that was just before the interview even started! I had a chance to really connect with the guys, and in the end, interview included, I felt like I wasn’t on the job anymore speaking to a mysterious collective, but rather was just catching up with old friends.

Once Dave joined us, we jumped into the questions. As I listened back to our interview that I recorded to write this article, I couldn’t help but chuckle at how funny they are and how great their responses were. They sat in front of me on a long, comfy blue couch, ate cookies, and kept the conversation light and real. The Atlantic Record artists were once just regular dudes from New Jersey, but at some point in time, once upon a time, they all met.

“It’s like 3 different journey’s that kind of converged together”, Dave laughs as he reflects back at the genesis of the band. Zach goes on to explain how he wasn’t ever immersed in music at all at the time, but he had some influences in the house from his father being a horn player and his mom a multi-instrumentalist. “My mom gave me her guitar and dad bought me a keyboard. I was supposed to go into the military, but I was doing music on the side anyway. I loved computers and tech, so I sort of learned that being a producer was a thing along the way”, explains Zach.

Dave came from an immigrant family who raised him in a “typical, Philippine” way. He sums it up as “I was classically trained, forced to play the piano, hated it, then came to love it”.

PC: Neelu Mohaghegh

Zach describes his encounters with Dave as kind of a comical situation: “Nate didn’t really meet us until Boston. Dave and I met when we were in Jersey at age 13 and 14 in school together and we were kind of frenemies. We were sort of both the producer guys in school, so there was this kind of competition”. At the time, the two were both interning for a man named PJ who ran his own studio, and who is now a part of their team as co-songwriter and co-producer for their music. Nonetheless, the frenemy-status continued even in the studio as one tried to out-work the other. Later on, PJ moved to Los Angeles and Zach would fly into visit and work with him, while Dave stayed in Jersey.

Later on, Zach and Dave would get in touch again to create a friendship they finally wanted. “It’s like a great distrust for each other, turned into massive trust. It was really weird. At some point, we were like ok let’s just cut it out”. The guys all laugh as Dave makes his point. Dave would soon go to college at Emerson, and Zach would then come out to Boston to stay with Dave in the city. Further down, Nate would become Dave’s roommate in the building above Bolocco on Boylston Street (Boston, see!).

“We became best of friends”, Zach smiles. “Nate didn’t like Zach at first”, Dave elaborates on how Zach would eat Nate’s food and how that bothered him a lot. Nate jokingly replies “yaaaa” in unhappy remembrance for his lost tortillas (RIP). Eventually Nate became close with them though, jamming and hanging out with them. “He folded into the circle”. As college winded down, their ways were parted as Nate moved to LA with Zach to once again work under PJ at his studio mixing and mastering unsigned artist’s music, while Dave continued a path in advertising post-grad.

“We all re-became best friends with 4 people”. Their lifestyles were very settled, but that was the issue. “You do it for a while and for my age I felt like I was doing really well, but I felt kind of unsatisfied. Like you give your creative away. I felt torn apart so harshly” Dave acknowledges. At that time, where all four were working their 9-5’s, Nate and Zach were creating demos on the side, and then sent their first track “Let Me Touch Your Fire” to Dave. Dave was extremely impressed and asked who the track was for, to which Zach then replied “I think this is for us man”.

“I think we all started to collectively burn out, and when you burn out there’s no real solid vision of a way out, and then it’s all just gut instinct after that and to follow that is tough” Zach explains. Nate and Zach began dabbling in their own work outside of the work they were doing for PJ’s clients in the studio”.

“We kind of found our footing in making these A R I Z O N A records, moved to England, then back to Jersey, then sent “I Was Wrong” to PJ. PJ then chimed into our conversation to say that when he had first heard that track, he said “What are you doing? This is amazing!” We all laughed collectively at the enthusiastic comment. PJ would be the one to then hop on board with the guys to help them co-write their songs for their first album GALLERY.

“We realized, there’s no backing for this project, there was no one telling us ‘Go A R I Z O N A, this is a great idea, you guys are amazing!’, but we realized that we really enjoyed doing it” Zach emphasizes.

Summer of 2015, the guys spent it making a couple of songs in Dave’s basement back in Jersey, and through a FaceTime when Nate was wearing an Arizona Iced Tea hat, were they inspired to dub the band A R I Z O N A.

The roundtable discussion continues as PJ chimes in to tell me “it is amazing for the master see his students becomes the masters, and how there’s now this sense of producers taking their own thing and running with it”. He explained the guys as having a “foundation of real songwriting and real production”. It was all through this humbling experience and understanding that they had to stumble around and work for their art and passion .

PC: Neelu Mohaghegh

However, they had the necessary resources. With Dave having a deep background in advertising, Zach in computers/design, Nate in performance, and PJ in music, they all had skill sets to bring to the table. “Everything that makes a brand we all just happen to do”, Zach admits. “We had everything right here, it was just a matter of having the courage to actually do it”. PJ also made sure to remind us that none of this happened over night, and that most of it was “a perfect storm” to get them to this state of professionalism and understanding. PJ says, “There were so many happy accidents … there was a lot of preparation that went into what it is now, and grinding, and then the right opportunity came along”. When the going got tough, the tough got going.

Zach continues, “just a common misconception is that just because you blow up on streaming over a summer, there wasn’t 10 -15 years or so of experience in the training and grind work that gives you the ability to do what this is. If it was overnight, that day was 15 years long”, they all chuckle. “Conceptually speaking, the four day-one fucking guys, when this happened [when success came] we were all at the end of our ropes, and now it’s the four of us in the green room together”, Zach looks at his bandmates in realization and relieved disbelief.

To speak briefly about the show itself, seeing A R I Z O N A perform live only furthered my love for this band’s quirky and enthusiastic personality and their music. They really seemed to be having a great time on stage and they sounded amazing (no seriously, they sound incredible live). They were great at commanding the crowd with just the overall feel-good nature of their music, people stood up to dance in the stadium and wave their hands in the air. Nate performed barefoot while wearing his Mexican flag cape and mask, killing it on the guitar, Zach had his perfectly kept hair and energized movements across the stage, captivating us with his powerful voice, and Dave grooved behind the keys and crushed it on the drums; it was just a good time!

Now, for this next cycle of music coming out, A R I Z O N A is making you jump into an even greater sound experience somewhere between the 80’s and a modern electro-pop vibe. “We love the vibe and the ethos and the persona of these dudes like The Police and The Clash  and Duran Duran. They didn’t give a fuck and they didn’t have a whole lot of resources to do what they wanted to do. They relied on being super bad ass and making music, and out of it came incredible music because it was coming from their vibes”, Zach says with the uttermost certainty. “So we wanted to do that as our evolution of our second album. If we had to channel anybody, let’s channel those guys but in an A R I Z O N A way”.

Exciting news for fans, the guys will be releasing a new single this coming Friday that will be another of their tracks off the new album that includes “Summer Days” and “Freaking Out”. What to expect? It is something “definitely way up that vibe”; a recipe of both the 80’s and A R I Z O N A. The guys are also excited to announce that they have begun their series of Tour Vlogs  and their first one has already gone up on their YouTubechannel! So be sure to check those out!

“This tour has been absolutely fucking insane, we did MSG [Madison Square Garden] last night which is fucking home for us Jersey guys… it’s been a very exciting back half of 2018”, they all nod in unison.

I had to then ask the guys some fun questions to get on that true level of friendship with them. For example, I asked if they could be from any era, which would they go back to (I also asked this because Zach was a big history buff), to which Nate responded the 70s, Zach answered the 80s, and Dave said somewhere between the 80s and 90s. They all agreed that Dave probably belonged in the 90s though with all of the breakdancing folk.

They all dohave nicknames, so besides the bromance banter they exchange such as honey, sweetie, baby, etc., they all talk via radio. So on call Zach is considered Pathfinder, named after his first vehicle he had to build for himself. Dave is known as Pacman because of the Philippine boxer Pacquiao, and Nate for the most part is incognito because he never carries radio (but it used to be Taco Cat according to Dan).

PC: Neelu Mohaghegh

Another fun question I asked was if they could give their band a spirit animal, what would that be?

Nate: “A dragon!”

Dave: “A very particular kind of Dolphin. If the Russians trained these dolphins to be like spies, they’d have attack surveillance dolphins and we are a combination”.

Zach: “Man, I should have gone first, damn, because I can’t top that. Wait, I got a good one! A capybara. I always wanted a capybara, because they are basically massive guinea pigs, and I wanted to give it a very normal name. If it was my task to give A R I Z O N A a mascot, it would be a capybara named Alex”.

Nate: “I feel like I should clarify I didn’t mean a majestic dragon, I meant more like a Mulan dragon, like an Eddie Murphy Dragon”.

What are these dance music hit makers’ go-to dance moves?

Zach: “Bachata!”

Dave: “I’m at a keyboard always, so it’s usually some sort of hip movement. I’ve been told by my trainer I have very flexible hips. I do also the old school Jersey Shore frolic, which I’m very adept at, and I do this subtle neck and shoulder movement. It’s kind of like when you see Pharrell [Williams] bouncing to his tracks. He’s one of my heroes”.

Zach: “Nate does this shuffle point move with the shoulders”.

PC: Neelu Mohaghegh

Some of their top artist influences include:

Zach: “The Police for me, all the way, I love them”.

David: “The Neptunes, and The Black Eyed Peas, because it’s rap for people who don’t like rap, it’s pop for people who don’t like pop, it’s rock for people who don’t like rock…” (I hope you go this reference.)

Nate: “Jeff Buckley”.

And what do they want their fans to feel or think of when they hear their music?

Nate: “Ice cream is a good one”.

Zach: “Having a good time”.

Dave: “Have you ever seen an 80s prom photo? With that fruffy shirt”.

Nate: “So, basically what you think of when you think of  ‘Time After Time’.

Zach & Dave: “YES!”

Zach: “The way the song “Time After Time” makes you feel is how you should feel the entire time”.

A topic I really wanted to attack was on the release of their recent single “Freaking Out”, which delved into a deeper message and meaning on mental illness. “‘Freaking out'” was our journey through sort of this heavy anxiety, which then obviously plays well with depression, and you just get very low. It was our awareness song for people that suffer from really bad anxiety and depression and self-doubt and things like that…to the point that the world around you starts looking different, and feeling different. And I think that by using a medium like music and creativity to sort of glorify terrible things, it’s not as backwards as it sounds, because you essentially get this feeling that it’s ok to go through things like that, and that it’s widely experienced and you’re not alone in that and I think that ‘Freaking Out’ is for that sector of human emotion.”

He continued to justify A R I Z O N A’s place in their fans’ music worlds. “The ethos of A R I Z O N A is that it’s ok to be you in whatever moments you are experiencing, you know? So, there’s no first person in A R I Z O N A . It’s not about ‘we’re amazing, we’re awesome, we’re cool, we’re a great band’, it’s about ‘we make music that channels our uncontrollable emotions as a person’. When something great happens to you, you can’t help but feel good and want to kick it, and when something terrible happens to you, you can’t help but feel so low sometimes. So in our music it’s our outlet of that, so all of A R I Z O N A is for the listener to be within themselves when they are experiencing that stuff.”

With all of this being said, I asked the guys what it meant to them being a trio and how significant it is that they are a trio rather than solo acts. For A R I Z O N A, the best part of being a trio is that there really are no two ways about it.

“I need these guys”, says Zach. “Being a group , we’re best friends, we’re family”.

“None of us can really see ourselves ever as solo artists”, agrees Dave.

“I think that translates to the best part of being a ‘trio’, and then even further more, including the entire tour team, like being a group, which by the way, all of these homies are from Jersey”, he waves towards the team in the room. “We didn’t hire any dudes, these are all homies from back home. The best part about being being a trio as a band or just rolling as a crew from Jersey like we do, is that we’re best friends”, Zach confidently elaborates.

“We’re family”, Nate and Dave say in unison.

Zach concurs, “Always”.

PC: Neelu Mohaghegh

So, all in all, this was one of the best interview experiences I had with artists in my time of doing this role because it really felt like I was welcomed to the family and the conversations flowed naturally. From being a fan of their music since GALLERY, it truly was an honor to be able to talk to the guys.

What do the guys say they’re on the verge of?

Nate: “I’m on the verge of eating all these cookies”.

Zach: “on the verge of playing another amazing arena tonight”.

Dave: “I’m on the verge of trying to figure out how to escape how humid it is outside”.

They’re #OnTheVerge of some incredible achievements, experiences, and projects to come, and I’m excited for them. No doubt, their work will become music that will be our feel-good “Time After Time” track, our favorite ice cream flavor, and the music that always crosses our minds. A big thank you to the A R I Z O N A guys for their time.

The tour hasn’t ended yet, so there’s still a chance to see these guys in action! A R I Z O N A have also been performing at summer music festivals nationwide, most recently hitting Bunbury and Bonnaroo. They will next be showcasing their lively production at  the main stage at Lollapalooza this summer, for a second year in a row on Saturday, August 4th. The list of remaining tour dates are below:

  • JUL 28 – PNC Arena – Raleigh, NC
  • JUL 29 – Infinite Energy Center – Duluth, GA
  • JUL 31 – BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL
  • AUG 1 – Amalie Arena – Tampa, FL
  • AUG 3 – Toyota Center – Houston, TX
  • AUG 4 – American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
  • AUG 5 – Bok Center – Tulsa, OK
  • AUG 7 – Pepsi Center – Denver, CO
  • AUG 8 – Vivint Smart Home Arena – Salt Lake City, UT
  • AUG 10 – KeyArena – Seattle, WA
  • AUG 11 – Rogers Arena – Vancouver, Canada
  • AUG 12 – Moda Center – Portland, OR
  • AUG 14 – SAP Center – San Jose, CA
  • AUG 15 – Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA
  • AUG 17 – Gila River Arena – Glendale, AZ
  • AUG 18 – T-Mobile Arena – Las Vegas, NV

Be sure to keep updated with the guys on InstagramTwitter and Facebook to see what’s new for A R I Z O N A:

Listen to more of their music below:

https://open.spotify.com/artist/7hOGhpa8RMSuDOWntGIAJt?si=4U3vYl9OSgapPtcrmZDDVw

[Exclusive]: Interview with KINGDM, Shares His Supersonic New Single “Your Love”

It’s YOUR love.

A song with a dark undertone and a mesmerizing, cynical aura, “Your Love” is a whirlwind of ferocious mystery. KINGDM, the acclaimed producer/songwriter, brings us this supersonic single this summer featuring the vocals of Soran and Red Cragun. The synth-heaviness intertwined throughout the track grounds you while the operatic, orchestral, and hypnotic electro-percussions seductively move you to the melody. It’s like the song is this erotic train of thought that transforms into this record that is composed of retro-elements, throwing you back into an age of smoky-filled clubs. All of it is a beautiful melange of sound for sore ears.

“Your Love” sounds like it contains a hint of ZHU-like progressions, a touch of THEY.’s vocal forces, and elements of metallic future bass noises that consume night clubs in this era of music. Soran and Cragun’s voices are smoothly and flawlessly combined with the instrumental that is punctured by the heavy hitting bass. It’s definitely the track to add to your summer playlists for those epic and adventurous nights.

If you haven’t heard of this enigmatic producer yet, don’t worry, you will. Zane Lowe and Annie Mac have already praised the young artist playing his music on their stations. His music has also appeared on “over 200,000 Spotify playlists and has been heard on such radio stations as KCRW, Beats 1, BBC1 and BBC2”.  Just his debut single alone, “Can’t Get Over You,” reached No. 1 on HypeMachine and racked up over three million streams on Majestic Casual! It was known to be one of the most streamed songs on the channel. A personal favorite track of mine, and a big hit of KINGDM’s was his collaborative track “Baby” which featured the angelic, sensual vocals of Kevin Garrett. He has also had the honoring opportunities to be ranked in some of Spotify’s biggest playlists including U.S. Viral 50 charts, New Music Friday, Weekly Discover, Pop Rising, and Hot Rhythmic.

The artist himself comes from an extremely intriguing background as well! Born and raised in a small northern Italian city, KINGDM began playing piano when he was just five years old! It all started when he heard Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu,” and the rest is compositional history. Here was my interview with the producer on his music and himself to get a better understanding of the thought processes of the artist within. He had such fascinating, profound answers, it was kind of tough to consolidate them, so instead of cutting things away, I have shared our full conversation here below for you!

Neelu (N): Where are you from, how did you originally get into music, and why the choice to pursue it as a career?

KINGDM (K): I’m from Italy, from a city called Varese close to Milan. My grandfather was an accordion player and he introduced me to music at a very young age. He used to teach me the piano on his accordion. When I was about 5, I went to my parents and asked for a proper piano, they looked at me like I was crazy. But I didn’t give up and insisted until I convinced them to buy one. I’m so happy that happened and feel really grateful for their generosity and support because I wouldn’t be here today without it. I think it was that day that I discovered my true life passion.

(N): When you write or compose a song, what is your process?

(K): Songs usually start out in my head. Sometimes, I hear certain sounds, melodies or chord progressions and I capture them through Vocal Memo on my iPhone. Then, I bring to the studio where I work on production on my own and collaborate with others on lyrics and melodies. Some other times I start from a beat, it varies.

(N): If you could choose your next artist to collaborate with (it could be anyone), who would you want it to be with?

(K):The Weeknd. There’s something about his melodies that always drew me towards his music.

(N): *I approve *

(N): What is a fun fact about you that most people don’t know?

(K):Up until a couple of years ago  I used to have long hair and I truly looked like Jesus Christ.

PC: Emerson Utracik

(N): Did you know that you wanted to go the pop-electronic route all along? Or were you kind of experimenting with genres before coming to this point?

(K):I definitely experimented a lot through the years before coming to this point. But I like to keep my sound open and see it constantly evolving and reshaping.

(N): If you were stranded with only one album left in the world, what album would that be for you? 

(K):I never really listen to full albums as I tend to listen to the same songs on repeat, but a collection of Chopin’s compositions would definitely do it.

(N): What’s your big dream (can be anything related to music or not)?

(K):Helping others is definitely the drive and purpose behind my career. I suffered from depression for many years and I was able to completely change and transform my life.

I now have this burning desire inside of me to help people that are going through difficult times and similar experiences and to share what I learnt with them.

My dream is to impact million of people and influence them to be their best selves.

(N): What has been the coolest experience since being in the music industry?

(K):The best experience is writing in Italy with my dear friend Reuben James.

We lock ourselves in the studio for about a week at a time, we make music day and night overlooking at the lake and mountains.

When we aren’t making music we do insane work out sessions, Fifa tournaments and have friends over. It feels like being a kid again 🙂

Its not that easy to find time for the both of us to be in the same city as he’s on the road with Sam Smith and we both travel like crazy, but when it happens its always magic!

PC: Emerson Utracik

(N): What was the inspiration behind the new single “Your Love”?

(K): When me and Reuben wrote this song, we were hanging and listening to 80s classics. Reuben came up with the verse idea when we started the song but the chorus was completely different from what it is now. It was very 80s – big drums and synths, kind of cheesy. The following day we realized the two parts were two completely different songs. So we decided to keep the verse and the minimal and dark approach for the new chorus.

(N): What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

(K):First of all make sure that being an artist is truly your nature not something you have conditioned yourself to believe is what you want to be.

Staying true to your nature is what’s gonna make the difference long term.

If that’s what you want, I know it can sound cliché but you have to believe in yourself no matter the circumstances around you.

You’ll get many doors closed, many fake promises, meet people with their own opinions about your own music and many times you are not going to like them.

Don’t let them get to you, let them go without strings attached but be open minded and keep what is valuable to learn.

Don’t wait for people to make things happen for you. Have a clear vision and plan so that you can attract/keep/let go the right people for your team, a great team is crucial.

Believe in your resourcefulness (determination, your art, courage, capacity of dreaming behind schemes and stereotypes etc.)

Don’t chase resources (meeting people, money etc.). If you make something extraordinary and focus on the first, you are gonna attract the second, it’s never the way around and if you miss the order you’ll waste lots of energies and time.

Keep improving as person in all aspects of your life, don’t forget about taking care of your body, spend quality time and prioritize the people you love and don’t leave them behind or put them second place\ to your career. There’s no joy if its not shared.

Always be yourself and be grateful of what you are and what you have. Don’t try to imitate others just because of their success.

Being successful doesn’t automatically equal being happy, being grateful does.

(N): Well spoken and couldn’t be more true!

(N): Because we are Verge Campus, we always ask our artists to fill in the blank to our little slogan. KINGDM, what are you #OnTheVerge of?

(K): Bringing my music live around the world.

(N): How was the music scene in Italy growing up? How has your classical piano influence impacted your music? Has your culture affected maybe the way you interpret music?

(K): Growing up I studied classical music and I was completely in love with Chopin’s music.

Classical taught me the importance of discipline and persistence.

I didn’t really pay attention to the music scene until I started playing in bands and touring.

I was more drawn towards the British independent and the French Electronic scenes.

PC: Emerson Utracik

(N): What should fans be expecting in the near future? (i.e. project, a music video, a cool collaboration, etc.)

(K): I’m gonna release lots of music, a couple  of songs featuring Reo Cragun and remix of “Can’t Get Over You”.

My debut album is also on the way and it should be done before the end of the year.

(N): What’s genre form of music you would like to try and make, that you haven’t done yet?

(K): Honestly, I don’t really think about genres when creating music. It’s more about the sounds, I tend to blend different styles without worrying about fitting in any.

(N): If you could describe your music using 1 word, what would that word be?

(K):KINGDM 🙂

One track at a time, the sonic orchestrator and producer is building his own kingdom for all to dance away to. Be sure to check out his music on Spotify and to follow him on socials for more from this talented individual. It was a true pleasure chatting with an artist I believe has an ear for the music and a prowess in the art.

Website / SpotifyInstagram / Facebook / Twitter

KITTEN Releases Debut Eclectic Pop Rock EP “Pink Champagne”KITTEN Releases Debut Eclectic Pop Rock EP “Pink Champagne”

 

They did it!

Pop-rock band KITTEN finally did it! They released their highly anticipated EP Pink Champagne, and once again charmed us with their fun, eclectic, 80’s pop sound. For those of you who don’t know KITTEN, they may be your next favorite band, and for those of you who do know them, well here’s some more to love. Pink Champagne is a fun summer project that has you by the heart strings and takes you away to a place you’d rather be with your friends.

It’s the kind of song you’d want at a party and the kind you’d blast in your car. It’s an EP that would soundtrack a day-in-the-life-of montage pretty perfectly if need be. The 4 track EP consists of a range of sounds from fast-tempo to slow-tempo, from hard rock, to bubble-gum pop, there’s a little taste of each in this sampler project. Chloe’s voice is strong and fun and the music backdrops that for her wonderfully. “Pink Champagne”, the lead track is an intense, honest, and exciting track to hear first when you begin the listening process to the project. “I Did It!” is thatsummer vibe song I mentioned earlier, and the track that is most reminiscent of the 80s. “Strange Embrace” is the one that reminds me the most of the power of bands like Fleetwood Mac because the whole production comes together so fluidly in the track. Lastly, “Abigail” is the enchanting slow song that every project needs. It’s a little more on the Halsey-side of sounds, and best demonstrates the group’s total musical range. Every song has a personality of its own that fits human existence pretty well, and that’s what makes this a successful project.

I had a chance to chat with the 4-member band and ask their lead singer Chloe a few questions about the making of the EP, the band itself, and the fun personalities that exists in the group.

Chloe grew up originally in LA and started the band KITTEN years ago as a teenager. After putting together her first track and performing it live in NYC for a bit, she met Dave Stagno who became the keys, guitars, and vocals to her team, followed by Max Tsiring on keys, and Parker Silzer on guitar.

She delved into her past and how music had even entered her world to begin with, saying “My dad was/is a huge music fan, and brought me up on really great records. There was always an instrument in my house, and when I was 10 years old he bought me a bass. I guess you can say the rest is history…”

I was curious to know who this sassy, energetic band found as influences in their field as a lot of their music tends to sound like 80’s, Madonna-esque pop, mixed with a little indie-rock vibe.

Chloe explained, “We definitely all have a shared love of music from the 80s, Madonna included. We don’t deliberately set out to evoke that time period, but it’s hard to avoid when you’re using certain synth sounds and harmonies. While writing our latest record we tried to incorporate aspects of our favorite artists from past eras like Roxy Music, Prefab Sprout, and Pulp as well as newer artists like Ariel Pink, Tame Impala, and Grimes. We could name bands forever, but you get the point haha!”

Of course I had to ask the songstress my favorite question on what word she would use to describe herself, which she quickly responded with “martian”. A very cool answer, for sure. After, I asked if the group could pick a song or piece of work that they have produced to best describe them as a whole, they agreed that their latest EP Pink Champagnedid the job.

Curious about the process of creation, Chloe patiently described it to me like this: “We wrote and recorded the EP at Mixtape Club, a recording studio in Manhattan where Parker worked, over the past year. It was an extremely collaborative process between the four of us. Everyone has writing credit and it was the first time the band self-produced a release. Basically we just made sure that every member was happy with every track, which sometimes made the process slow and challenging, but led to a batch of songs that we can get behind 100%.”

Chloe also gave me a little insight into what her biggest piece of advice to other aspiring artists would be. “Prioritize communication and respectful relationships between members. When everyone’s goal is to be really good and everyone can learn to not take criticism personally, the music gets better naturally”, she humbly answers.

KITTEN

Speaking woman-to-woman, I wanted to know what was one thing she absolutely needed to complete her concert look. “Depends on your height, but platform heels can be pretty helpful.” Here for it.

A little fun fact about each of the band members:

Chloe: I don’t really like cats LOL.

Dave: I deliver pizza for spare cash.

Max: I didn’t know what a sleeping bag was until two days ago.

Parker: I just quit my job! AHHH! Wish me luck!

So what are KITTEN #OnTheVerge of? “We are #ontheverge of being halfway through our first major U.S.A. tour with this lineup. It’s been a crazy, hectic learning experience, but we’re meeting amazing people, making fans, and getting to know the great guys in Blue October (for whom we’re opening).” The band is really looking forward to releasing their full-length record this fall, and jumping right into the next one. With a whole set of new tools and experiences, they are ready to use them in their new material!

It was a pleasure chatting with Chloe and to hear from her and the band about this awesome, emerging act. KITTEN is on the right path, and it’s exciting to see how far they’ll continue to climb the ladder!

Be on the lookout for more, and follow them on socials!

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify