Category Archives: Artist Interviews

A Man of Empathy: Exclusive with R.LUM.R (2017 Cover Story)

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Somewhere between growing and trying, there is a man not so frustrated by his gradual success into the world of alternative R&B, down-tempo production vibes. In fact, he’s doing it all with his own mastery of the air waves.

He’s letting you interpret his tracks the way you want, but to him, each one is a snapshot, an after image, of the feeling he is experiencing in that present situation. I had the chance to catch up with this up-and-coming singer/songwriter who is on the path of coloring his own career with his emotions and intertwined with the force of his music.

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July 17, 2017. It’s a Monday night. I get out of my Uber and step onto the street that would lead me to the Bardot and to meet this talented individual, where he would be headlining the well-adored School Night music event. I finally get to meet him, wearing sweats, moccasins, and his black “Dream” T-shirt (very fitting for a man who dreams big). We enter the venue together laughing along to jokes we are cracking and take a seat on one of the levels of stadium chairs in the theater. The entire aura of the encounter is extremely casual, yet it also carries an air of sophisticated conversation and banter. We finally settle in and begin our discussion.

“I am R.LUM.R, I’m from Bradenton, Florida, but I call Nashville home now. I’m a songwriter, I play guitar, and I sing, so ya, I’m a big ol’ music fan, know what I’m sayin?” he jests at his final sentence.

Born as Reginald Lamar Williams, called Reggie, and known as the artist R.LUM.R (are-lum-are), the young man was raised by his mother alone in his small town of Florida. His voice is quick, light and airy as he explains to me the story of R.LUM.R’s genesis. The young man went to college with a scholarship to Florida State where he studied classical guitar and then commercial music. He would learn how to use such equipment as studio software and other technical music hardware which he then followed with a minor in business. After a bit of convincing from his manager, he dropped out to pursue his music 100%, moved to Orlando, and the rest is history.

“I think [the classes] helped give me a lot interest and patience with technology, because there’s a lot of cool things you can do. You’ll see with the set, like the vocal manipulations that I use, there’s a lot of programming and getting used to the devices in the backend that take a lot of time, but if you don’t have the patience or the vision for that stuff it can be overwhelming or just sound bad or just be out of your control. But I think it gave me a lot of insight of what I do and don’t want to do.”

His face becomes a more inquisitive look as you can hear the thoughtfulness in his tone. For a man who followed his passion, you can see the curiosity that he developed and groomed during his years of schooling to better his understanding of the field. He remains an enigma to his fans and to himself, but he’s just learning and being bold, and is hungry for more. This guitarist turned producer made me want to ask what influenced the diverse palette of neo-R&B and soul vibes that he writes and produces.

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“First, I only grew up with my mother, so she only let us listen to the soul R&B and jazz that she was listening to. So around the house, there was a lot of Anita Baker, she loved Anita Baker, Sade, Erykah Badu, Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind & Fire, two-steppin’-like older people kind of stuff which is still good. I got to middle school and was introduced to rock and music like that and kind of dove into that progressive stuff. Like Mars Volta and King Crimson were a big thing for me, loved Dream Theater, Rush, lots of core guitar, and I don’t know, it just sort of evolved. I think it’s kind of tough because there’s a lot of good music and there’s a lot of cool stuff you can pull from kind of everywhere.”

He pauses to think for a moment of what he’s exactly trying to tell me and then he continues, “There’s this cool John Legend quote, ‘cause there’s sort of this battle about music theory on whether or not you should learn music theory, some say music theory will quote ‘kill your creativity’, and for me, having studied it in school and everything, I’m not a music theory whiz, but it definitely helps and it gives you options and it helps you figure out what you do and do not like. Like John Legend was saying, the reason he found it important to learn that was because it helps me identify specifically why I don’t like things, so I can then exclude and figure out what I do like and then focus on that, so it becomes like a road map.”

He’s gesticulating here and there now try to relay the message he is offering to me, “So in all of these different things that I’ve been listening to, it has kind of helped me curate my own kind of sound and writing style and what not. In that same sense, you listen to enough stuff and you say ‘ooo that sounds awful, why do I dislike that?’ and you get to a point where you like what you like and you’re making whatever you’re making, and feel comfortable in that.”

If you were to hear R.LUM.R’s music, you would realize that there are hints and elements of a multitude of genres. You would hear the coarse rock, the eclectic alternative R&B, the dreamy and electric soul, and the rhythmic Hip hop. They all come together in this perfectly blended concoction of sound that goes down the throat softly but kicks at the end to give that final factor to create an addictive flavor in your mouth, making you beg for more. His music is exotic and riveting yet so familiar to the mind and heart that it makes it almost difficult to define what genre it fits within.

“That’s a hard question, I hate answering it.  I still think of it as singer-songwriter music to be honest, because I go through that same process, either it’s just me and the guitar or one friend and me, but other people have told me it’s R&B and alternative and what not and so we call it alternative R&B”.

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The composer of rhythms and designer of beats looks around the dim theater. The room is getting darker as it becomes night. He looks up and then looks back at me, takes a swig from the water bottle in his hand, and prepares himself for my next question.

So, what aspect of music, as a singer/songwriter, do you then find maybe the most important element of producing a good song?

“Having something to say. A teacher in high school once told me, like a performance note thing, shout out to my old piano teacher, he was like, ‘if you’re on stage and you’re thinking about the story and why you’re singing the thing you’re singing, then the story is going to translate or at least that’s you trying to do your absolute best to be honest with the story. Whenever I’m singing, for instance, in “Frustrated”, there’s that line ‘I’m screaming underwater” and for me that’s very visual.  I see the same image every time I sing that if I’m like thinking about that. Sometimes, I’m like someone did something in the crowd and it distracts you for a second, but whenever I’m like ok to get back to that performance center those images you keep attached to those lyrics, for me at least, my personal interaction with the song, that kind of stuff keeps me going… I think lyric is pretty important.”

 

With all of these influences, it can become overwhelming where he has to place his best sound, but by re-centering himself and really redefining where his music transcends to, he is able to determine what he tries to get across to his devoted listeners. As a talented producer, the artist has been able to fabricate incredible instrumentals for himself that stick in the mind and enrapture your body. The music is like hypnotic, motivational, sexy, sad electronic soul music, to be honest.

If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

“Yo there’s too many. This is hard. Dead or alive? Sorry. I got two alive, big Kimbre fan. Big, huge fan. And Sampha I think writes beautiful and delicate work.” He snow searching in his mind for someone dead that he would love to collaborate with, but struggles to do so. “I mean I feel like a bunch of guitar players, but I feel like if I were to say Jimi Hendrix or something like that I feel like I would just sit there and watch him play guitar and be like ‘do your thing I’m just a scrub’!”

He throws his hands in the air for emphasis of the magnitude of his guitarist idol, Hendrix, just to prove the point that he is nowhere close to his legendary name. However, what he feels he lacks, R.LUM.R certainly makes up for with the incredibly catchy, fresh new sounds that he constructs which anyone would be happy to listen to. Smooth and profound in every strum and every tone, the falsettos become the waves as the rest of the song are the vibes. His songs are power ballads that send chills up your spine and electricity through your veins, consuming your will,  moving your hips, and calming your mind.

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R.LUM.R has had some incredible opportunities on this endeavor of music. He played at SXSW, was noted and recognized by NPR and Rolling Stone and VEVO Dscvr Artist, and will be playing at the Austin City Limits festival this fall! His single “Frustrated” has received over 20 million streams on Spotify, and that is well deserved! So many achievements in such little time, that it only seems reasonable to see that this artist is on his way to innumerable successes.

Now, I could hear “Frustrated” circling around my head, literally exposing our inner confusions with ourselves and this music industry. We then dive into a conversation of values and desires that R.LUM.R has perhaps obtained from his experiences on this music journey.

“I think I’m really trying to spend some intentional time learning about empathy.” His voice becomes more solemn, somber, and self-reflective. “And thinking about other people’s experiences and something like that. Because this whole experience has been….. Wild.” His eyes grow larger to the word as he elongates the “i” in wild. “Like people pulling up Rolling Stone articles, my hospital tweeted about me, and we’re doing Kimmel soon, and I grew up watching that stuff like I used to watch Conan O’Brien every night, like for real. And discovering new bands and being on the flip side of that is really interesting because I have those bands and musicians that for me their songs really meant a lot for me and I have these connections with these people like deeply and really personally but I will never get to tell them. Like I will never get to tell Cedric from Mars Volta what those songs mean to me and it’s interesting to be the same person that feels that but to be on the other side of it. Like I met a young man in Phoenix, Arizona who said he was in the army in Africa and he said that “Frustrated” was the only thing, like the beat in “Frustrated”, was the only thing that kept him focused from losing his mind, like from being on his stomach in the jungle.”

He chuckles for a moment and then pulls back with comic exasperation, “He says ‘I don’t wanna talk about what we were doing there’, but I’m like ‘I’m not asking, you do you’, his tone changes as he speaks the voices of a past moment and then returns to us again sitting here, “but just having people come up to you and tell these stories and share that, to be the recipient of that, is like a very weird being of both sides of that, being that fan, but also being that thing that is the subject of that fandom, and I think that’s a responsibility in a sense, but I think you have to really try to understand where the other person is coming from, that’s just one instance that lets me understand and prioritize that empathy is pretty important. And also being a brown person in America is pretty not fun right now for like, oh, 40 years.  Ha! But just on a topical level, I think empathy is super important.”

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If you had one word to describe yourself by, what would be that one word?

Searching in his mind, I see a hint of recognition as to what that word might be, “Uhhh, ‘growing.’ The first word that popped in my mind was trying. I’m not sure if that’s more like honesty. My head said ‘trying’ but my mouth said ‘growing’, so somewhere in between those two.”

In the theme of growing, I wanted to follow up this character’s last answer with a question of challenge, where there has been most difficulty as an emerging artist and as someone with a lot to say via his music.

“Perspective, I think, particularly during some of the shows, like three days ago we played in Sacramento and we played for an audience of like 6,500 people and these people were like they think you’re like this thing.  Again I remember like being on the other side, I went to Bonnaroo last year and we saw Haim, I was a wrap, I was a school girl”, he starts singing in falsetto to “If I Can Change Your Mind”, and then continues to say in fast-paced excitement, reminiscing on that day, “it was a wrap, but then again being on the other side of that  was wild, but the next day we played for like 40 people. So just like scaling and perspective and shifting and really trying to be able to serve that audience, you really got to play a different way for them. I think that’s just one aspect of the perspective thing. Like you get in big articles and people from home thing you’re like a massive celebrity but in my day-to-day life, I’m sitting in front of my computer all day, but yeah perspective has been different…”

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For this creation of your project AFTERIMAGE, what was the inspiration behind a lot of it, like the message you were talking about earlier, what is the message?

“It’s still that empathy, it’s still trying to understand yourself and trying to understand yourself in context of other people.”

Like a self reflection?

“Sort of, and that’s a good read definitely, and if that’s what it means to you, then that’s totally valid. But I see it as every album, every body of work in that way, is a portrait is a snapshot of whoever you are at that time.  And each of these songs were written a certain amount of time ago, so they were definitely after images of who I am as a person going through this process, that’s why each piece of it is the color of the CMYK series. CMY, when you put them together, they become black, that’s why the front [of the EP] is black. Because these are all things that make up me, this black person. These are all pieces that make me, so I think it was just me trying to talk through these pieces and try not to shy away from the anger in “Suddenly”, or the *ha ha* frustration in “Frustrated”, or that kinda confusion in “Love Less” when you think you’re saving the other person but you’re not.”

The artist will be preparing himself for his great headlining tour on June 23rd, which he could not be more happy to say. With a glowing smile on his face, the shine from the corner of his glasses only seems to get brighter. I ask what he does pre-show in terms of rituals or traditions in preparation of performing and getting in the zone.

“I like to hang, I just like to hang out and kick it and just be chill. I try to watch the other bands. Again, I just like going to shows and I like music and stuff and like there’s nothing that inspires me more than watching people play music. Recently, I’ve had to definitely be quiet. And be still for a bit, because there is a lot of motion and again talking about perspective there’s not better way to contain and refocus, then to just slow down for a bit and be like ok what is happening to me inside of me around me, and a good way to do that and has been healthy for me is that I found this like steam inhaler and like it’s really good for vocal health and relaxing. It’s like a sauna for your throat, beautiful, it’s like a hot shower thing, but just for your throat and it takes like 20 minutes, so it’s like you have to sit stationary at the thing for like 20 mins. So that’s become a part of the ritual that has been a god sent.”

In the spirit of performance, I wanted to get the point of view of an emerging artist and their endeavors at bigger festivals.

You performed at SXSW, correct?

“I did”.

How was that experience?

“It was wild,  because it was a crazy come up. Because the first two years, me and Chris [my manager] were volunteering because nobody gave a shit about my shit at that point and the next year I came back as a performer which was last year and just did one show and this year I did 10 shows, 9 of my own and 1 feature with Sweater Beats. So it was wild, you know what it’s like, bang bang bang boom boom boom.” He gestures everywhere to emphasize the chaotic fiasco that is the festival. “It was one of those things where I just said it, I’ve rehearsed, I know these songs, I feel good, I’m taking care of my health, let’s just do it, just put your head down and just do it.”

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Was there anyone cool there that you met there that kind of shook your world?

“Uh ya, in the beginning of it, we did a songwriting camp and this was the first time I had ever done that and the dude who produced Zara Larsson’s “Never Forget You”,  I’m a big Zara Larsson fan, and like I sat and talked to him and it was awesome. It was really cool, really relaxed, and also I saw Kučka, the young woman from Australia  who was on “Smoke and Retribution” on the Flume record.” He starts singing the chorus in the high pitched octave and in the perfect wavery flare that the song goes like then continues, “that girl, she was there she was around and I was like ‘yoo, this is tight as fuck’. It’s just cool to be rubbing shoulders with those people, to be asked to be in those rooms is cool.”

What do you want fans to know that they don’t know about you right now?

“That’s interesting; I don’t think I really think about that. I don’t have a problem answering just about any question, but you have to ask the questions I think, I can’t implant them in people. There’s probably things I want to talk about but I think I do that in writing and in music, right now I don’t think there’s anything that I feel really frustrated about *haha- hayoooo,  score 1 for dad*, but I don’t think there’s anything that I feel hyper-frustrated about that I’m like ‘YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS ABOUT ME ehhhh’. Nothing like that really keeps me up at night. I think I’m just trying to learn who they are and they’re trying to learn who I am.” (He’s too funny.)

With this allusion to self-identification through the eyes of his fans and through his own understandings of himself, R.LUM.R exposed to me the fact that everything is left out there for his fans. Nothing is hidden nor unseen, and there’s nothing to hide from his fans. For example, each song is an aspect of him, and so every lyric is written as a poetic justice to his existence and emotions. When asking what his identity lyric would be among all of the words he has written, he replied,

“I’m having trouble pulling one because I feel like they’re all different facets of yourself, “Learn” is playing in my head right now, “Tell Me” is playing in my head right now. The first actual lyric that came to my mind was “somehow every wall inside this place, finds a way to look just like your face” from “Tell Me”, but I don’t know. I guess that’s kind of hard, “Frustrated” took a couple months actually to get to where I was pretty happy with it. “Learn” took two sessions, but like “Tell Me” literally was like I took a walk that night and wrote all those lyrics and went and recorded them next day. So sometimes, it’s like that it’s a total two hour snapshot of where I was like “Tell Me” and then “Frustrated” was this long gestation period. So, I don’t know, I’m sorry”. His voice was light, slow, and relaxed, as if he had no care in the world, that nothing would phase him, and as if he was not just about to be performing in front of a large crowd.

I wanted to turn the conversation to a topic less traveled by to get his mindset on an idea that I would be using for a final project, but would also pertain to him. It is about the genre of production music and how it is an ever-evolving “anti-genre” that only today became so commonly known, like artist including KAYTRANADA, Cashmere Cat, Mura Masa, Lido, and more. I asked how he perceived that type of music, as a producer himself, and where it stands in the grand scheme of the music scene today.

“I think it’s thriving, I think it’s always been thriving. Like if you go back to the beginning of hip hop it wasn’t about the rappers, it was about this. It was about the people who were cutting the tracks together, and once they figured out you could cross fade and all that shit, like DJ Kool Herc and all those cats, figuring out that you could like ‘oh shit, we could get these like break dancers poppin’  … it’s a DJ [who does that], not a rapper. It is interesting that those guys were the stars for like a minute. I haven’t done my history deep enough to know when that switched, but it probably was around like when NWA, Ice Cube, and all these things were like causing this crazy ruckus and all that stuff so you got to focus on the person.”

“But I guess when I’m thinking about the producers, I’m thinking strictly of hip hop to make this conversation more succinct, because if you get into people like George Michael, the Beatles, in terms of producers that’s a whole different thing, like they write the songs are in the band, blah blah blah, but to give you an answer that isn’t a term paper,  this is like a dissertation… I think the producer world is really thriving and it’s really tight because there are people, like those guys you named that have put out their own albums, and there is room, and there is a bit of a democratic acceptance of music through like SoundCloud and Spotify and all that stuff. Bro, Odd Future, that was the big one for me, they changed it, and they gave these kids this bravery to just be yourself to do your own thing. Without them Frank, Domo, Tyler, Earl, (Earl is my favorite rapper personally), without them you have no Kevin Abstract, you’d have no Daniel Caesar, I probably wouldn’t be the same person I was if I wasn’t indebted to them. That recognition that they can do it themselves and they encourage you to just do your thing. Create your wave, like you were saying, it [the production genre] is very adaptable.”

“Create your wave don’t ride the wave. It seems like it’s new because it’s so much in you’re face because everything is delocalized, decentralized because of the internet, but I think it’s been around for a long time, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. And especially with the internet the way it is, I  think the one thing we are seeing a lot more is homogeny, you’re hearing a lot of dudes from Toronto using trap songs from Atlanta. That west coast lead was like a thing, like first coming out of that was snoop Dogg and those guys, that Long Beach sound was just them, and then Nas and all those guys were other coasts and they had their own boom bop thing going on and nobody was crossing. But now you got cats like Lido, who’s basically playing Chicago church chords and he’s like Norwegian or something, he’s Nordic and he kills it, he’s amazing.”

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With so many ideas, thoughts, opinions, creations, ambitions, wins, and adventures, R.LUM.R still has many goals on the horizon.

“Definitely want to do more touring, meet more people, meet more family members, but writing the record, writing something I think is really really honest and like I really want to stand by, touring more for sure, I don’t know growing. Hoping that they’re down for the new weird shit that is going to come, ‘cause it’s gonna be different, so different I don’t even know what it is yet. Haha.”

The sonic curator has a lot to look forward to including his debut EP, AFTERIMAGE, which is releasing on August 11th through PRMD, his tour which just kicked off on June 23rd in Utah, and his performance on Jimmy Kimmel on August 2nd!

After our conversation, he gets up, tells me thank you and appreciates the time we have had, and heads outside into the darkness to welcome his friends who have come to watch and support him. I follow him out and into the venue where I will be watching the performances for the night.

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Of course he goes later…11 pm, for an event that started at 6:30 PM, but that didn’t ward people away from the long night. In fact, what amazed me was that over the course of the event, I never even noticed how the room slowly became more densely packed in and then the next moment I knew, I wasn’t even able to move for a better camera angle, shoulder to shoulder with the crowd of RLUMRers, eager to here is acoustics.

Barefoot whilst performing, you see the smiles on R.LUM.R ‘s face as he notices fans in the crowd singing along to his music, getting down and dancing their hearts out, and wearing his merch proudly. He hits each note precisely on beat and perfectly on the pitch, and as his voice riffs down perpetual chords and cycles of words and poetry, the crowd gains a new perspective of sonic creation while also growing that night along side R.LUM.R. The fans recognize each one: “Frustrated”, “Tell Me”, “Be Honest”, “Suddenly”, his recent release “Close Enough”. Every single record is stunning in it’s own way. As I took my last snapshot of the night, I was able to capture this particular after image of him, one that would perfectly summarize the emotions of this night. Happiness. Growth. & Empathy.

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This cover story was a project I really wanted to devote time and effort to, to an artist, a person, whose music inspires and serenades me on so many levels, and someone I can see gaining so much more attention and love in the coming years.

Thank you, Reggie, for your time, and hope to see you again soon!

Be sure to stay tuned with him on social media and listen to his music!

Instagram –  Facebook – Twitter –  Site  –  iTunes  –  Spotify

Emmit Fenn Tells an Electric Indie Story Via his Masterful EP ‘Prologue’

 

The soundtrack to life

Emmit Fenn is a singer, songwriter, and producer of indie electronic melodies and with those tunes he has accumulated over 23 million  Spotify streams thus far. It’s no secret that offbeat, downtempo music has become a sub-genre of the mainstream sounds, but Fenn is taking that noise and restructuring it into the cinematic soundscapes he now produces. These are the songs that will not only capture your soul, but will also instill a feeling of mystery and seductive darkness you weren’t aware you adored. It is the phantom of music that creeps in your dreams and that continues to keep you dreaming. It’s a lullaby with harmonies that shoot out in different directions and sounds. Each song takes you on a new adventure and every time it is never short of an exhilarating experience.

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I had the chance to interview this young producer from Berkley, CA  and there is no denying the fact that Fenn is a talented and intellectual artist. The first debut of his EP Painting Greys released back in 2015 and peaked at #1 on Spotify’s Global Viral chart for over a week! Now, the artist just released his EP Prologue in June of this summer, and it is one to not forget. With features like YUNA and Nylo on the record, there is only room for good vibes to fill the airspace. (You can listen to the project above!)

Fenn’s music is like watching a Terence Malik film- artistic, imaginative, and haunting. Wandering down his own black and white realms, the man who not only writes stories and composes the music, but also sings in them, walks us through these realms where hardcore synths, orchestral fabrications, and indie-pop vocals intertwine and fit in broken rhythms and fragmented beats. His music is complex, and you can hear the passion as he paints in the grey tones to his music.

Fenn’s alternative world sounds like a mixture of Godspeed, James Blake, RKCB, and Shy Girls! In each track of this EP, he travels down another exotic stream of consciousness.

So now Fenn, the jock/surfer-dude and sonic designer that he is, explained to me more of his story and how it all came to be.

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“I make electronic music, or that’s what they have categorized me as, but I kind of make everything across the board, from electronic to acoustic stuff to classic stuff and it started when I was 12, like the most stereotypical story in the world”, he chuckles to himself and continues, “I found my friend’s keyboard in his garage when he was moving and he just let me have it and i kind of just became obsessed with playing it. I would make all these Christmas albums for my family and friends every year and then I would keep making them for random holidays like Valentine’s day, and then I would have all of these classical albums then finally in 2013 when I graduated high school another one of my friend’s showed me how to use Logic, and showed me how to  make my own sound and then I started to make electronic music, and then it slowly kind of morphed into what I am doing today.”

The conversation went on about how that was an extremely movie-esque situation, and we laughed a bit more. The artist from the Bay Area then went on to discuss how he had grown up in kind of the perfect neck of the woods in terms of being a musician then.

“So many cool kids came from my high school. G-Eazy, Lonely Islanders, and other amazing musicians, and a lot of my friends made music and the Bay Area, Berkley, and Oakland have such a culture to it, it certainly helped out a lot”.

He continues, “I did my first show in Sweden which was super fun for a Sony live event; and Tove Styrke and some others were there, it was crazy, it was so fun, that was the first ever electronic show I have ever done”.

I asked him if he had traveled down the same path that some producers had done to kickstart their musical journeys as a producer, meaning was he first a DJ before entering this realm, or was it straight into the production scene. “It was straight to production, I went from really classical music into production and DJing, and I’m still not really a DJ because everything I do live is all done live.”

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I was curious to know how the amazing collaborations occurred and he was excited to tell the tale. “It was really crazy, I had written this song, and I knew that I really wanted a girl to be on the second verse and I was kind of looking through  the artists I really like and would really like to work with and then there was, you know, musicians we could probably get, and then there were musicians who were like ‘reach’ musicians and were probably people who were not going to do it, but let’s just ask, so we reached out to Yuna’s team, which I thought like ‘no way’, but she responded like a day later and  was like ya, ‘yup, that’s good’. The song was already written, I had already written her part, so she came in a week later and we recorded and it was done like a week later. It was really amazing. She’s so cool, we talk all the time, and she’s just a beautiful human being.”

“Then Nylo, she had done stuff for Zhu, and she like followed me on Soundcloud and I followed her back and that’s kind of how that started, and I was in the middle of a song that I wanted someone to sing on and I sent it to her and she just killed it”.

If you haven’t already seen the musician’s website yourself, then you better go check it out now because it is one of my favorite designs of a website ever. It perfectly portrays his music and how he wants you to experience his music and it gives each song a character of its own to play. “We kind of had this idea when I was still in the development stage, I had so much different music from like pure piano songs and to some that were dance/house songs, and we were trying to figure out how to make a branding fit this whole spectrum that of all the music that was being made of and we couldn’t figure anything out, and we reached out to this guy who does all of my artwork now with all of these ideas. One was this little bar, like this grayscale bar for a Soundcloud banner, and we all just kind of like, once we all saw that we all decided that that’s it, that right there was like the whole project, just that little bar, and we decided let’s put that on everything and kind of run with that, so we kind of decided that the bar would represent the range of music and the range of stories through the project. It kind of encompasses everything, when we reached out to Active Theory, we knew we wanted the bar to be the front and center thing, and that’s how it started and then it kind of started tumbling into more and more things like what if each bar represented a different song, and you clicked the song and you clicked on the bar and it represented a different experience and so ya, it was definitely a process of many different ideas.”

Speaking of ideas, as I had mentioned before, Fenn is a storyteller, and like any good narrator, he writes these stories down but in musical form. I wanted to know how the musical theory behind his music worked and how he approached the songwriting process. “I get asked this everyday, I write all the time, I have a notebook that I write stories in, kind of like a journal, so when I’m writing I just scroll through all my writing and pick out a story or an idea that I previously thought of, and mostly their just relationships… Sometimes the sound comes from the idea of the song or sometimes the opposite, the idea comes from the sound, there are so many different ways of going about songwriting.”

And like any artist, he wishes to evolve and transform his sound as much as he can. It’s a personal challenge he wishes to embrace, and that was one of the things he wanted his fans to take note of. “I think the biggest thing right now, what I want to get across is that no song or EP is going to be the same exact thing as the EP before. I know that people get crazy about when things are not the exact same, like ‘Oh, you got to make the same song as so-and-so’ but each EP is going to be a completely different genre and world than the one before it.”

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We then transitioned the conversation to have some fun, and get away from the seriousness of his career such as catch phrases, favorite artists to hopefully collaborate with and spirit animals.

He laughed at this one and confessed “it’s kind of a weird one but my favorite thing to say is “juug” instead of good, like ”oh that’s juug'”.

His dream artist to collaborate with would be Bon Iver. “Bon Iver, is just amazing, I don’t know if I would want to collaborate with him on a song, but just to play with him live on stage, would just be ugh, so amazing, I can’t, my first concert was Bon Iver…the other would be Marilyn Manson, first of all I think he’s a genius outside music, just politically, a super amazing speaker and really good person. And his music is just so far out there and on a different level “.

We also attempted to brainstorm a spirit animal and came across possibly a perfect choice. “Most of my music is really sad…so ya, like Eyore from Winnie the Pooh”. (Animal choice courtesy of my expertise).

Towards the end of our silly conversation, I asked him if there’s anything that we should be excited for in the coming future, to which he replied, “There is a new EP coming out… uhh haha how much can I tell you? Well, going on tour, and I’ll have more EPs out this year”!

It’s hard to believe that this budding 21-year old (same age as me!) has such a mastery in this art, and I was honored to be able to chat with him on what he is passionate form about. So… listen to his music above, drift away into this multi-dimensional world of sound, and be sure to stay tuned for when his new EP releases.

Also, don’t forget to follow him on his socials!

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[Exclusive]: Interview with the Next One to Watch Amy Shark

Someone to adore

Meet Amy Billings, also known as Amy Shark, from the Gold Coast. This Australian-born indie pop singer-songwriter and producer inspires with her beautiful, authentic sound. She has already reached 18 million streams on Spotify! The mistiness in her music is alluring and relatable as she croons the tunes we want to hear. Shark is best known for her hit 2016 single “Adore”, which was voted No. 2 on the Triple J Hottest 100. She released her first EP Night Thinker back in April of this year, which received great feedback from fans and listeners. Watch the riveting and well-choreographed music video for “Adore” below.

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With dreamy and angelic intonations, Shark serenades any crowd. As if listening to the winds whistling through the trees, her voice echoes on and on into distances far beyond earthly scenes. Her ghostly vocals are both gorgeous and haunting, keeping you in a purgatory of dreams. Yet, within all of this is a voice of truth that most artists aren’t able to capture. A personal favorite of her tracks from the project is “Worst Girl” ft. AllDay.

The artistry of this songstress sounds like a cross between Lorde and Verité combined together. Similar to her sweet voice, her kindness illuminated from her voice as she spoke about her musical journey with me. “I’m from the Gold coast in Australia, a beach town. It’s kind of known to be an area of party animals and trouble makers, but I kind of kept clear of that.” She giggles to herself.

“When I was younger, it took me a while to realize that I could be a musician, it wasn’t something I thought I was going to do, which is bizarre. But I liked stuff like film and acting and I did theater and I liked being behind the camera as well. I was a film editor as well at my old job, but when I was young, my parents had some videos of live music… so I was always listening to lyric heavy stuff.”

She continues to tell how it all truly began, the start of her love for music and where it got her to this point. “I got told by my grandparents that I had to learn an instrument whether I liked it or not, so I chose guitar, and I just got obsessed with it. That’s all I ever did, was just play guitar. I went to high school with some really great singers…” The humble songwriter never saw herself as a front woman, and so continued to be in a couple of bands. But at one point, she did sing for her bandmates who let her know that she genuinely had a great voice to pursue in the music realms. Her heart would always remain in writing, but once she started getting the rush of things from booking shows and performing, she realized she would really be going for it!

However, unlike a easy story of luck, the roads were bumpy and difficulty caused her a lot of trouble at the start. At that point, she took a hiatus to “work with a really great producer, not to chase labels, just to have something for myself”. Unaware that any of this would happen, the artist stepped away from the initial idea of being a musician for a little bit.

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“It was a journey man”, says Shark in exasperation and somewhat relieved disbelief. “It was a lot of tough decisions, getting nowhere, people saying stop making music. You go from not hearing from anyone and just getting nothing to then one day its just like my phone blows up with people trying to meet me. It’s for real.”

Though she messed with hardships during this time, Shark was lucky to have her boyfriend at the time as her biggest supporter whenever it got too rough. “I’m a pretty emotional person”, and whenever Shark felt that things were not going as planned, he would respond with “these songs are too good to stay in the bedroom or at the party”. He was her biggest fan that kept her going.

Her musical process is never a planned one, and a lot of time, it is as if her lyrics and tunes are living somewhere within the library of her subconscious just waiting to be used and checked out for another record. For example, for “Adore”, the process was a difficult one. She never wrote beforehand about lovey-dovey topics, and this was her one chance where she had the inspiration from a night before and about a person in particular that she went for it. At first it was frustrating, she grew impatient, and then play by play, the chord progression emulated that night she had in her mind and soon after verses, choruses, and bridges emerged from that.

The Aussie sweetheart admitted she would describe herself as someone who is “different”, someone who loves her music with all of her mind and heart, enjoys trashy, guilty pleasure shows like One Tree Hill, flips 25 coasters at a time, and loves the movie Jaws and the actress Julia Roberts.

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What should we be expecting from Shark? She will be going home to record the album and then she will be back in the states with some exciting news about a tour to come with a couple of bands she can’t disclose now, but from her voice, I could tell she was thrilled about the opportunity!

“People in the states are just SUCH passionate music lovers here” Shark emphasizes with glee. She continues, “when people are trying to come to my shows multiple times…[it’s a] pretty amazing feeling.”

With confidence, the indie-pop musician told me the one thing she would want her fans to know:

“I want them to know that I write absolutely everything and I don’t co-write with anyone. And in the studio I have every last word. I’m actually a pain in the ass like that, my label might want to take stuff out and I’m obviously headstrong about that, and everything that I put out music wise is gonna be at the best possibly quality, and absolutely raw and honest and true and 100% my self.”

Currently, Amy Shark is preparing for her tour in Australia starting as of July 23rd in Eastwood and ending on December 2nd in Paddington.

It was an absolute pleasure to speak to this budding artist and I can’t wait to see where she goes next with her music!

Follow Amy Shark on social media for more!

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[Exclusive] Interview with Coast Modern on New Album & Fav LA Tacos

Take a dive into their chill, tropical sound waves

This dynamic duo, made up of Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp, is up to something and that something is their forthcoming debut album which is to become the perfect set list of jams for you this summer! The expected release is to be July 28th, so be sure to mark your calendars for when this special day arrives.

A new track we have gotten a taste of is their recent release “Dive”, which is a single off the upcoming compilation. Billboard said “Here’s another certified jam to add to your summertime playlist, courtesy of Coast Modern.”

The best way to describe their music? I’d say it’s the sound of Weezer’s Island in the Sun meets the Beach Boys in a wistful indie dreamland of sorrow and bliss. When you hear their music, you are transported to a sort of middle world of dimensions where  you really have no cares at all and just let the music take you away in this endless stream of consciousness. I decided to take a dive with the guys and learn more about the makings of their sound and little more about them in general.

The guys are always known to be fun and cheeky, and so I thought it would be fun to ask a few unconventional interview questions to set the right scene.

#tbt 💪pumped to do this stuff again next month. 👀 u soon‼️

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When I asked 1/2 of Coast Modern about their sound and the genre he perceived themselves as, he replied “It’s funny that before we signed our publishing deal our record deal, I didn’t even know that alternative was a genre, and that kind of surprised me when that was a thing.” He continued to explain the concept behind their recently released track: “when we wrote ‘Dive’ we were kind of trying to capture that nostalgic, youthful excitement. Maybe it’s like fresh love, maybe it’s like exploration. It’s also just very tropical vibes.”

Coast Modern quite literally tries to aim for their namesake, “modern”, in the sense that they are pushing the boundaries of their alternative pop peers and hoping to create a genre where they lead the way all the way through. In other words, their genre could be considered a misfit of alternative rock bands as their pop/electronic influences seep into their old school, beach house aura.

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Similarly, these boys are masterminds behind their brand, utilizing bold, colorful graphics behind their cover art and marketing to match their eclectic sound. Trapp, who writes and produces everything with Atlas as well as sings when they perform live, explained that “early on we knew we wanted something that was bold and had lots of colors. We dug through some artists that were great at that, and luckily the first choice we had, Dai Ruiz, knew exactly what we wanted. She was awesome and we’re glad that we’re still working with her up to this point.”

He stammered for a bit when I asked who were his favorite artists, and justifiably so. “Like I have a thousand answers,” he laughed in exasperation. “Like when I was younger discovering music, it was of course like Led Zeppelin, but I’ve been so inspired in the past couple years by so many artists. Errrr, I don’t even know where to begin. I’d say Dessert, they put out a single last year called “Eyes Wide Shut”, and it comes to my mind because of how fun it was. The most ill party vibes, and I call it “ill” because they played a 90’s hip-hop sample with this very underwhelming melody over it, and the juxtaposition is just very inspiring. There’s also a band called Mini Mansions that I liked and then this collaboration project called Soft Hair that did a song “Lying has to Stop”, and it’s like butter to your ears”, he says excitedly. You could just hear the passion in his voice as he named these artists.

Trapp went on to tell me that his soul song would have to be the classic “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. Why you ask? “Because I got this feeling when I was younger that there is something much deeper than what is sitting on the surface of the lyrics, and  it was the first time I ever got that feeling, so it really stuck with me. Like instead of talking about sitting  on a dock talking about watching time pass, when I heard it, I got this really deep sensation that it’s actually about like going through different lives and eternity, so it gave me this weird out of body experience and it stuck with me.”

I had to ask where their dream place would be if they could perform anywhere, to which he replied jokingly (but pretty seriously) “In space”. LOL. Then he followed that response by saying that he would also like to perform somewhere in Asia, like Japan.

The boys’ history goes way back, but for Colemann specifically, it started back when he was 18 producing for all kinds of rappers and singers, then inspiring to pursue his own music career. The LA scene was a great stepping stone for the boys to get their music out there.

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I asked him what would be his favorite taco place in LA if he had to give us advice. “I really like janky places, not trendy ones, so I would have to say King Taco, Taco King, …” If you couldn’t tell, he likes his regal tacos. “Really the jankier the place, the better it is haha!”

One thing Trapp can’t leave without is his spare guitar, which sits in the back of his truck for whenever inspiration strikes. The guys plan on having more releases and projects coming out down the line in the next 5-10 years, so fans will be on the look out.

After releasing their hit single, “Hollow Life”, the LA-based act has released numerous tracks to keep their musical mojo momentum going. And it only proved to be true as their were garnering air time from notable organizations like SiriusXM Alt Nation and KCRW. They received set time to perform  live at SXSW, and they were able to open on tour with BORNS, The Wombats, and Temper Trap! Quite the resume they have here. Blogs and fashion press would find them and only help build their name and publicity, and they continue to grow and become more well known as people begin to recognize their powerful and well-crafted sound.

I asked Trapp what they are on the verge of, to which he replied, “being a ‘meme’– we want to be a part of the internet. But as much as we want to be a meme, we’re also doing everything we can to like like make life more physical and to make our brand really something that you can touch…”

It was a pleasure speaking with Coast Modern and I look forward to hearing the full-length album!

Find Coast Modern on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Instagram

 

[Exclusive] Interview with UK Electronic Outfit Fenech-Soler at The Middle East

“London’s got me dreaming of you…”

Well, if not London, then at least these vibrant characters, Fenech-Soler, have got you dreaming. UK electronic outfit are back with a technicolor sound they call Zilla and it’s a wonderful compilation of rejoicing for the sounds of music. This recently released studio production includes 12 strong tracks that all embody a different tune & tone to cater to all types of musical tastes!

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With eclectic sounds and positive vibes, the music instills an energy into any room that is lucky enough to host their shining compilations. Zilla is an album that will uplift spirits and will have you jamming along to its metallic dance music. Utilizing elements of techno-pop beats, 80’s melodies, and disco-funk ballads, theses two English brothers create a synergy between synths and sounds!

One of their lead tracks off of the album “Kaleidoscope” now has a wonderful visual to accompany it; you can see it below:

Recently, the boys had a performance at Cambridge, Massachusetts’ well known venue, The Middle East, with opening act Knox Hamilton.

I had the pleasure of talking to Fenech-Soler, pre-show, about their talented creations and to find out more behind them and the music.

When I introduced myself to Ben and Ross Duffy, they were both smiling, excited to be interviewed, which of course made me thrilled to speak with them!

“We are a band from the UK, from a small little village called Kings Cliffe, which is a farming village in Northhamptonshire, England and that’s where we’re from.”

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PC: @NeeluMedia

The dynamic duo went into the story of how this all started for them which began when they grew up around instruments, especially from their musically-affiliated father who was very much into the bluegrass/country world of music. Then as they grew up, they turned towards dance music and Ross started a band, which Ben eventually joined. “After that we were in a lot of embarrassing teenage bands, and then we just started recording music at home ourselves on our laptop and that then transformed into playing gigs and becoming a solo act.”

I was very curious to know where the eclectic sounds of their genre came from. “Ultimately, we were always influenced by electronic music, that was kind of the spark that led us to make Fenech-Soler…if you kind of draw line between the DJ world and the dance music and the band world, that’s kind of where we place ourselves, certainly from a live perspective.”

PC: @NeeluMedia
PC: @NeeluMedia

Their influences stem from notable acts such as Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, and other modular stuff, as well as some late 80s and early disco work and indie-rock tunes. “Those are kind of the melting pots of our musical influences,” says Ben. “We’re bad about being decisive, it may be our downfall,” Ross admits. But what they call their downfall, could easily be considered their expertise in this fun, captivating project they released back in February!

The album was named after their close-friend Zilla, a named they always loved, something they considered different, and a word that not many people have heard before. For them, this musical process/journey has been quite the ride and has been extremely riveting and fulfilling. “We’ve gotten to perform for our friends and family and we’ve gotten to travel the world…We take so much from that.” Fun fact? This electro-rock/pop pair performed at the Russian Summer Olympics once!

PC: @NeeluMedia
PC: @NeeluMedia

I then proceeded to ask Fenech Soler if there was any song from the album that they felt they identified with best, or would consider their soul song?

“Cold Light, is one of the few songs that if we went back to it, we wouldn’t want to change anything about it because we were really in it when we made it. Very happy with it sonically,” recalls Ben. Ross followed up by also noting that his favorite song would be “Kaleidoscope” just because “it felt like everything we were trying to achieve along the process of making the album, it was pretty much the last song we wrote…” Ben then jumped in, “it wasn’t the last song we wrote, but it was definitely the turning point. It was the most emblematic song of the ‘Zilla‘ sound, and right after that, the rest of the record fell in line really quickly.”

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When I asked them the birth of the band name, they both chuckled and Ben replied, “the band name, it’s a weird name, kind of a made up language… People always say it wrong on the radio.” [Fen-eck Soh-luhr] in case you were curious to know yourself.

We then went on a bit of a tangent to discuss the music indsutry itself, and kind of how hey made their way into the scene. “A lot of what we did was find our way through the music industry by talking to people… Music in its essence is subjective, so it’s good to kind of chat and meet people… and it’s super connected.” It is always good to talk about the music with to share each others’ ideas, opinions, and perspectives.

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PC: @NeeluMedia

Where does Fenech-Soler want to perform next? They said they would love to perform on the beach, at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, and in Japan! The two were witty and funny

Like always, I had to ask these guys what they are #OnTheVerge of … and they told me….

After the interview, the guys prepped for the performance and when they entered from stage right in jackets bedazzled and frilled, the crowd went wild, and immediately their music filled the room with color and excitement. Their charisma spread throughout the crowd and the contagious sounds of optimism carried us through the night.

Listen to their album Zilla here now:

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And be sure follow them on social media here:

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[Exclusive Interview & Spotlight]: KAYTRANADA & Cadence Weapon Initiate You to the Crew with This Fire Track

Here’s your next banger!

It’s eclectic, suave creation only reminds us that KAYTRANADA is an underrated producer, but it also notifies us that Cadence Weapon is a rapper who slays.

This track is intense, it’s killer-  it’s a mellow rager! This record will have you bouncing throughout the room and will prepare you to lead a riot in your living room hangout!

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Cadence Weapon
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KAYTRANADA

The chilling “woo”s and the raindrop synth tones mesh in this perfect concoction of sound, circling around your intoxicated thoughts. It has been a while since there has been a unique, fresh hip hop sound like this and this is a record that deserves to be heard all around!

“’My Crew (Wooo)” is an anthem. Let’s be honest. It’s underlying message is to unapologetically be yourself, be what and who you want to be, and to forget all of the haters. The artist explains that, “there’s a sense of personal freedom that’s unique to Montreal and ‘My Crew (Woooo)’ is a representation of that feeling. It’s the Brooklyn of Canada. It’s where every artistically minded person goes to freak-out for a few years and find themselves. The music scene in Montreal is very insular, you’re always meeting friends and making music. I met Kaytranada while DJ’ing in Montreal a few years ago and we’ve become friends. ‘My Crew’ is a song about defying the labels that people try to place on artists. Is it underground? Mainstream? Conscious? Trap? Who cares, as long as it sounds dope.”

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What’s dope about Cadence and KAYTRANADA’s collaboration is that the single stands out on its own without any help at all. It’s a breath of fresh air and an intoxicating incantation that keeps you in its trance. The weird beeps and bops and the monotone vocals are what carries the charisma and brings the creature to life. In fact, it is as if these artists are method acting to the sound. His oddity reminds me to that of Earl Sweatshirt’s and Tyler, the Creator’s– both hip hop pioneers.

Of course, I had to get an interview with these musical masterminds. When asking Cadence to introduce himself, he casually and enthusiastically replied:

What’s good? I’m Cadence Weapon. I’m originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada but I live in Toronto now. I’m the former poet laureate of Edmonton. My dad’s from Brooklyn, he was a DJ who played hip-hop and funk on the radio so I grew up around rap. He came to my junior high graduation rocking a DMX …And Then There Was X promotional long sleeve shirt. I first started playing shows as a member of my uncle’s funk band when I was in high school. Used to hang out in the electronic and experimental music scene in Edmonton, that’s around the time I taught myself to make beats. I made my first album Breaking Kayfabe when I was 18.

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I wanted to know about how he was able to reach KAYTRANADA and how this dynamic duo came about.

Kevin (Kaytranada) and I ended up DJing a party together a few years ago in Montreal at Cabaret Underworld. This was before he had put out an album or most of the remixes. Every song he played that night was a totally insane beat. Just banger after banger. I asked him after, “Who made all those tracks?” and he was like, “Me!” I was amazed by how immediately distinctive his sound was. We stayed in touch, he hit me with some beats and the rest is history, remarks the man of melodies.

He continued to elaborate to me where the inspiration for this innovative track came from:

It’s inspired by the late night party scene in Montreal. I lived there for six years. I met so many free-spirited creative people while I lived there and it really influenced me to experiment with my flow and just be more open-minded. Montreal is like an artist colony. Pretty much every artistically minded young person in the country lives there for at least a part of their 20s and usually together in the same neighbourhoods. It’s also really cheap to live there so people can focus on making art instead of struggling to make ends meet.

I used to DJ afterparties a lot when I lived there and “My Crew (Woooo)” is my way of trying to harness the energy I felt playing those parties.

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The conversation already was getting so intriguing, but wait, there was more! I asked him, “what have you been up to the past five years? And where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and very confidently he exclaimed:

Over the last five years, I put out my album Hope In Dirt City, released a book of poetry and toured the world. I spent a lot of time writing in different forms: songs, music journalism and poetry. I was DJing a ton in Montreal, promoting shows, making remixes for people. Then I moved to Toronto and started putting together the album I’m working on now.

When I first made music, I just wanted to make the weirdest shit I could possibly make. I didn’t care who liked it. But now I make music with the experience of the listener in mind. Five years from now, I’d like to have a few classic albums under my belt. I want to produce for other artists, own some companies, manifest my creativity in different ways.

I then wanted to have some fun and ask a few out-of-music questions such as, “what is your soul song?” and “what gets you up in the morning? What is the motivation?”

“Goddess of Love” by Royal Flush. It has this epic, hypnotic quality to it, I’ve listened to it on a continuous loop for hours before.

and…

I look at my actions very analytically and think deeply about how to become better at everything I do, whether it’s rap or just life in general. Striving for improvement is what gets me up in the morning. That and the thought of a Raptors game being on later that day.

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I then proceeded to conclude our interview by asking him a question that had been lingering in my head for a bit, “in your own personal opinion, what makes a hip hop track stand out?”

When a rapper’s unique character shines through. It’s easy to just make some shit that sounds like everything else. It’s harder to bring people into your world.

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Be sure to follow these guys on social media for more epic music rants!

Cadence Weapon

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KAYTRANADA

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[Exclusive Interview]: Man Behind “Panda”, Menace Unable to Receive Award At Grammys Because of Visa Ban

An elephant in the room

or a panda in the song. Menace, who is the mastermind producer behind Desiigner’s “Panda,” a Billboard chart topper, is proud to know that he was nominated for “Best Track” at the BET Hip-Hop Awards and a Grammy. However, the issue lies in the fact that despite all of this success, this notorious UK producer hasn’t been able to obtain a visa to come to the US.

From Rochdale, Manchester, Menace, or Adnan Khan, is born to Pakistani-immigrant parents. Menace’s team reached out to me to conduct this exclusive interview with this humble musical genius to tell his story and share what he’s been up to in the meantime since crafting the hit. (You can find the interview below). Ever since the tyrant took over office, families and lives have been altered and deterred and broken. We are disqualifying those who deserve to come to share their work with us! We are disqualifying people who deserve to come over, who are completely harmless, who have love here and who have futures to tend to. Life was not meant to be limited and rejected nor was it meant to be dusted off, signed away, and turned down.

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It has been over a year now that Menace has been trying to cross the pond with a bucketload of prestigious award nominations and collaborations just waiting to happen for him. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop our twisted and convoluted politics from banning this artist from our grounds. Even with “Panda” going 4x platinum, Menace still hasn’t been able to meet Desiigner in person! How crazy is that? Can’t even shake the hand of or hug the person who helped bring your music to the world!?

While he’s been patiently waiting for his window opening, the 22-year old has not been wasting time and has actually been producing a new project called The Beat Tape Vol. 1. The DJ has been inspired by notable music legends and tycoons such as Jay-Z, Dr. Dre and Scott Storch, the producer of hits like 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” and Fat Joe’s “Make It Rain.”

The record connoisseur jumped into this world of hip hop during his pre-teens, more specifically, when he was 12 years-old, and from there, he built himself a disciplined schedule to produce 2-3 beats a day! As he got older, he started selling his completed works to rappers who needed baselines and instrumentals. Before the fame, Menace was a mobile phone repairman and on the side, as a hobby, would crank the tunes, create the beats, and post them to YouTube for all to hear. Eventually, with just a simple listen on YouTube and a call, Menace found himself answering the phone to a manager asking for his permission to use his song on Kanye’s West latest hit album Life of Pablo.

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This young producer, beat maker, business man, and A&R talent representative is thriving, and is still so fresh to the scene with his complex instrumentals that create the perfect formula of sound. It is a crime that such talent can not come to even receive his own award and recognize his appreciation. But of course, he is not the first of these stories. He told The Rolling Stone

“It was a couple of days before ‘The Life of Pablo’ was released that we heard about the feature on it. He [Kanye West] wanted to put ‘Panda’ on his album because first of all he was feeling the vibe to the production, and he also wanted to put his new signee [Desiigner] onto his album.”

The sample was found on Kanye’s track “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2.”

If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard the song yet, listen to the song below:

Furthermore, this electric, hip hop composer, was not completely new to the talents of musical production fame though. Before “Panda,” he was found working with Young Noble, a member of Tupac’s old group the Outlawz! (As noted by Rolling Stone). He began posting beats on his website to build their brand and voice to the general audience of listeners, and from all of this came the beat that ruled the air and sound waves and became the raging hit of the 2016th year…

“You are now listening to the hottest producer with the hottest beats on the net. Menace.”

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Here is our exclusive interview:

Neelu Mohaghegh (NM): How did you get involved in the music scene? Specifically, hip hop?

Menace (M): I got introduced into the music scene when my dad played a lot of music. From the ‘80s, like Michael Jackson, I’ve been raised on music. That got me interested in making music. Then I started to get interested in the background music, the production side and that’s one of the main reasons why I produce today.

I got into hip hop in high school. Where I live in Manchester, hip hop is the main genre that everyone listens to. The hip hop I was into was either produced by Dr. Dre or the old school East Coast / West Coast producers. I was listening to it every day. I was downloading instrumentals of big hit songs onto my MP3 player and I would listen to them day in and day out. It was mainly on my commute to and from school. Then onwards, I started to ask around how people made beats, then I googled it and came across a program called Fruity Loops, watching tutorials on YouTube.

NM: Why do you produce music?

M: I love music. It’s not something that I’m doing to show people that I’m cool. It’s a way for me to express something without opening my mouth. When people hear my productions, they can understand how I’m feeling through the music. I can reach a wider audience through my music than through any other medium.

NM: How did you get your stage name?

M: It was given to me back in high-school when I was I was a badly behaved student. Kids and my teachers used to call me a menace. I took the persona and ran with it.

Many more to come

A post shared by MENACE 🐼 (@menacegotbeats) on

NM: What inspired “Panda’s production? And how did you link up with Desiigner?

M: I’m heavy into comic book collecting. One of my favorites is Batman, with the darker feel. When the beat was released on YouTube, way before Desiigner purchased it, it had the picture of Joker and Batman. Desiigner simply purchased the beat. I first found out it was being used on Twitter by someone else. Desiigner posted the song on YouTube and it started to blow up on its own. Eventually, he got signed off of it.

NM: What was it like earning all of those awards for your track with Desiigner?

M: It was a very proud moment in my life. I was very honored to receive those plaques and awards.

NM: Explain to us the songwriting process for you—what’s that like, and what was the sudden success of “Panda” like?

M: You need to have a dope hook – simple but catchy, and a verse that isn’t too complicated. I usually start to develop the hook first, it sets the mood.

NM: In response to the Grammys, I know that you have been struggling to receive your visa in order to come to the states. What has that been like?

M: The wait has been the hardest part. I’ve had to miss out on a few big ceremonies like the BET Hip Hop Awards, for which I was nominated for “Best Rap Song” and I wasn’t able to come to the US to do press.

NM: What do you think of this situation and what can we do to fix it?

M: If there’s enough evidence out there for people to prove that they’re coming here for a reason, like for work, then they should obviously be allowed.

NM: What is your favorite thing to do outside of music?

M: I like to stay active and healthy like go to the gym.  And also I’m very keenly interested in automobiles. If I’m not making music, I’m watching programs on cars or reading about them online. Or going to garages or showrooms themselves. I’m into all types of cars, it’s hard for me to choose a favorite.

NM: What do you hope to see change in the music world?

M: I want to see producers get the same type of shine that rappers do. When a record is produced, there’s the artist and there’s the producers, and it took both of them to make it. They are equal partners in the creative process.

NM: What are your plans for the future?

M: To keep going and become a big brunt in the music industry. To disrupt the music industry.

NM: What is your identity song, or soul song? (It can be your own or some other artist’s work that you just have a deep connection with.)

M: Drake – “I’m On One”

NM: Now, because we’re a college-targeted publication, we always like to ask our artists a tag line to fill in the blank, so Menace, what are you #ontheverge of?

M: Success!

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Well, there is no doubt about that- success is in his past, present, and future! Such a talented young man with so much to offer. How many more people will we ban? America, you will lose everything. You will lose culture, you will lose diversity, you will lose any spirit, and you will be nothing without the world around you. Isolate yourself more, and soon you won’t have anything to offer.

Please help this story be heard, please share the love, and let’s bring music and so much more back to this country.

To see Menace’s work, follow him and check him out on:

SoundCloud

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