Category Archives: Artist Interviews

[Exclusive] Interview with Artist On the Verge of Creative Fulfillment: Wafia

“I just want to create things that have a breath of fresh air”

Australian singer/songwriter, Wafia, is the next artist to watch for on your musical radar. Wafia is only 24 years-old, but her voice speaks wonders as she transcends barriers of genres and sounds. She is an artist whom has created a beautiful list of tracks to develop her artistry in a category known as “left-of-center”.

“Better Not” is her most recent release, which is in collaboration with renown electronic producer Louis the Child. The song is fun, light hearted, sweet and harmless. It carries your soul through the summer and reminds you of poolside gatherings, road trips, beach getaways, and endless days in the sun. The feeling emoted by the reverbs of this track is “feel good.” It’s the kind of song you would use to sum up what a good day would be like. It’s a summer lullaby that will blissfuly take you away to its own universe.

Nonetheless, the song is a heartbreak melody about not fooling m yourself when you see true love straight in the eye and then try to pretend it’s not real–how wrong you are.

Don’t overthink it
Let it go and try to trust the feeling
You know it in your gut you’re healing
From every time that you’ve been hurt before
I see it, I see it
It’s true love, don’t fake it
You better not, you better not

The lyrics, though short, and simple, really pack a punch when placed by the duality of these two artists. As I sat on call with the singer herself, I could tell in her soft-spoken, thoughtful voice, that every song is given much love and care.

When I asked Wafia what she was currently out in LA doing, she mentioned that she was out at Coachella performing with Louis the Child and is now just writing at the moment. (That’s always good news coming from an artist; it means more music!)

Now, being of Iraqi and Syrian descent, I was curious to know if her cultural influences were ever reflected in her music?

“I think it comes subconsciously, I realize I don’t need to make a great effort to include it because I think it breathes through me. I don’t need to include Arabic or something in everything that I do because just me existing in itself is me including my Middle Eastern background… Not every song calls for that kind of influence all the time. But I think it’s in my melodies, it’s in the subjects I talk about, but only if it’s required”, she responds thoughtfully.

I delved deeper into the sound that she does embody, which is something more “left-of-center”. I was curious to know if there had been a clear defined path to this sound, or if it was something she had to experiment with and decipher. “It did take time to figure out, but I came to realize that I love a lot of different music and that I kind of want to do it all. I realized that I want the common thread in my music to just be my voice, or my story, or my perspective, as opposed to a style of genre or a style of production. It took me 2 -3 years to figure that out. To me it’s all about what the song asks for. You know if a song wants to lean a certain direction or requires something, who am I to say ‘No no no’… it’s just about finding that balance I found.”

As mentioned earlier, Wafia had a chance to perform live with Louis the Child in front of 50,000 people at Coachella this year! The artist was not scared though explaining how it is easiest for her to perform for 50 people rather than for more than that. She considers it easier because she really can’t see all of the crowd’s faces and the stage begins to feel like she is “playing in my own world”, says the songstress.

To list just a few of the artists she wishes she could collaborate with, Wafia mentioned “there was a time I would have said Kanye, but now I’m not so sure” she chuckles,” I’d love to do something with like Kendrick or even like Pharrell–I feel like it would be cool to do something with Imogen Heap, ya , like something super unique and beautiful and soundscap-y”. The artist also mentioned how she would love to work with producer Brian Eno (James Blake) someday.

To her, a lot of her influences that shaped songwriting for her were artists such as Shania Twain (whom was the first artist album she was  ever given), SZA, and Solange. Usually, she would enjoy writing music to more melancholic tunes, but lately she’s been feeling less somber and more energetic and vibrant. “I’m more inspired by fun things right now, I just want to create things that have a breath of fresh air. There was a time in my life when I thought things weren’t dark enough…but now I just want to make music that makes people feel good”.

She continues, “I actually really love Drake–his production style is really inspiring to me–especially songs like ‘Passionfruit'”.

I then got to ask my favorite questions about what color she would describe herself as and it was awesome that her color to describe herself is “desert orange” and that her fun facts were that she speaks 3 languages: Arabic, English and Dutch, and that she has a toy poodle named Khalil (after the poet Khalil Gibran).

Her biggest advice to aspiring artists would be to “be patient and make sure you really know about your career and also how you want to be represented, before you bring anyone into your project, a manager, or otherwise. And hold on to your publishing for as long as possible.”

I was completely honored to speak to Wafia, because I can tell her work is going to exciting places and reaching new heights very soon. She is “constantly #ontheverge of creative fulfillment but never there” but constantly working towards it.

Follow Wafia on Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, and Website

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Exclusive Interview with South African Pop Producer Jason Strong

Remedy for our hearts

Jason Strong always knew music was his passion, correction, his obsession. I had the honor of chatting with this kind-hearted South African man about the journey to find his sound and post-college lifestyle in LA as an producer. With the music that he is putting out in the next few weeks, months, and hopefully years, there’s no doubt that we will recognize him as an established producer.

Strong’s skills are diverse and exhilarating. If you listen to the music, you can imagine colors, lights, and all things that shine. Each song has a personality of its own that then takes you on a trip around the world in a 12-track compilation. You can hear the precision in each  record as beats, rhythms, and tones are molded into a harmony that then is paired by an amplifying melody. The vocals placed over his tracks only then accentuate the sounds, making the song an ear-worthy piece. (Most of his work is co-produced by his friend Peder Etholm-Idsoee, from Norway.)

Much of his sound draws from his original roots. Strong was born in South Africa but lived in various places and traveled a lot. South Africa alone has 10 different languages. He also lived in Austria for 2 years and then Germany. He began playing acoustic guitar at age 13, and then electric at age 14. Much of his musical experience came from church, where he was surrounded by music.

The producer’s resumé could break world records with how much he has accomplished in such a short period of time. He earned a scholarship to St. Johns College (High school); he was the National Eisteddfod Academy winner; he was a Battle of Bands winner at multiple local schools; at just the age of 17, his own band back in High School called Vacant Sun performed in front of 5,000 people.

In high school, the pop producer admits that there was a phase when he was influenced by metal music. He then got into Brazilian and latin music to expand his style. “You want to get people to listen to the music in order to get on New Music Friday.”

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He performed as a soloist for symphony orchestras at age 17, was a selected attendee for the renown Graham’s Town Jazz Festival, and then happily received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, Strong worked under the mentorship of hit songwriter and American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi, where he was selected to be a part of a program she ran. The program was structured to get certain student producers, writers, and artists to collaborate with each other and then receive feedback from her. Berklee also gave Strong the chance to work alongside multi-platinum and Grammy winning mixer and producer Prince Charles Alexander, being one of the first students to graduate with a minor in Commercial Record Production (a creation of Prince Charles himself).

His music has been recognized all over the place and through a multitude of channels. He was the producer behind the critically acclaimed lead single “Ride” by artist Naïka, released via Capitol Records/Universal Music Group. He was placed placed #2 on Spotify’s Global Viral & US Viral Charts, and placed within the top 10 on Spotify’s Viral Charts in countries including the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Argentina & Australia. He has also racked up over 12 million global streams!!! To add to the extensive list already, he was the producer behind ‘Que Los Mares No Se Enteren’ by Nico Farias, which placed #1 on iTunes. What hasn’t he accomplished?

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You also can’t help but get excited that this young emerging producer has even been praised by outlets and figures such as
iHeartRADIO, EARMILK, Hype Machine, Trap Nation, Martin Garrix, and The Chainsmokers.

Strong is now out in LA, post-grad, where he’s pursuing his music full-time. “It’s kind of like blind dates when you get to LA and you’re trying to do collabs,” notes the instrumentalist. “The writing process is spent 1 hour getting to know each other and then the next talking about the things that are causing you trouble in order to write the song.” He notes that sessions can take up to 6-8 hours to get down a solid verse and chorus. He’d come up with the chords, then once the melody is decided on and the track is looped, they flesh out the “concept of the song up until the 1st chorus”.

Now for some rapid fire questions: Some of his musical icons include Max Martin, Timbaland, and Greg Kirsten. Taylor Swift is an artist he admittedly likes a lot, especially with her album Red, and mostly because her producer is Martin. If he had to choose one album to be left with in the world, it would be Switchfoot’s Vice Verses. The biggest challenge he believes producers face is creating something without caring what others think of it or you. He says, “Think of it as you’re creating just for yourself, instead of trying to rack up plays”. If he could ever collaborate with another artist, it would be between Lorde and Frank Ocean. His one word to describe himself would be “obsessive” (with the music).

So, now what should we be expecting from this curator of sound? “Something that’s unconventional, that’s fresh” remarks Strong ecstatically. His big advice to emerging producers everywhere: “Do something everyday. Obsession is key.”

Jason Strong is #OntheVerge of obsession.

Be sure to keep an eye out for this incredible man as he takes on the world one record at a time.

Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud

SazE Debuts His New Album, ‘SxS Out Now’: Listen

A new sound to look out for is this hip hop artist Saz, who goes by the stage name SazE.

Brooklyn-born, SazE has been creating and mastering his talent for some time now in order to become the next big rapper and producer. In a recent collaboration with producer DON, they put together an album that some could consider a fire record. With solid compositions, well-formulated melodies, and a lot of rhythm, SazE demonstrates his true skills in the riffing game and DON helps us explore the intricacies of song creation. As a former philosophy student at Brandeis University, it’s not hard to find that much of his lyrical writing style is influenced by his major.

Together, this duo make up the collective named SxS, which became the name of their debut album. I had a chance to ask the SazE a few questions about the creation of this album and where he sees himself going with his music. I had a wonderful time speaking to this thoughtful human being from topics of musical taste to human nature to history to emotions and life decisions. The man has been through so much, and like a true philosopher and story teller, he painted pictures of his experiences in these detailed and engaging ways.

The New Jersey-born artist was raised as one of three boys. His father was a Nigerian immigrant and his mother a black woman, and because of this home was filled with “color and flavor”. It was because of his brother and father though that SazE became interested in music in the first place, introducing him to music like Jay Z. His dad also taught the young rapper how to love and appreciate music from the speaker itself, feeling the vibrations and feeling the pride in the music.

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From that point on, SazE knew music was a path he wanted to pursue, and he actually wrote his first rap when he was 6 years old with the sole lyrics being “Why you messin’ with the old man?” He said that he then really started making music in 7th grade and deemed it to be his “emotional hard drive” as life’s hardships finally began to creep into his domain. His middle brother was autistic, but SazE said if there was anything that he learned from that relationship, it was empathy and compassion. Later on, his parents would divorce and this would thrust him into a darker place where things reminded him that love is nothing but BS and there are “dark sides to your parents”. To him, it was like the lights were suddenly shut off on him. “You learn about your emotions during times like those”.

In 8th grade, the artist would take part in a rap group, where he would focus on the concepts he truly wanted to touch upon: emotional relatability, concepts and ideas. He wanted to become technically proficient in his art, and each day he would perfect his craft more.

SazE would attend Brandeis University to pursue a degree in philosophy and from that he gained a love for indie-rock music. “I became obsessed with angst in college, especially with the melodies”. He admits that some of his influences included Arcade Fire’s album The Suburbs, and artists like Kid Cudi and Kanye West. “They inspired me to go for it… people will latch onto the sincerity of it [the music].” SazE still recalls, in 2011, his autistic brother died–the same day Arcade Fire won a Grammy for the record The Suburbs. It was a pretty symbolic day, one that still resonates in his heart and mind as something mysterious. “College taught me about loss–it widened my introspective scope”.

In 2012, the hip hop producer began making beats in college and would expand his musical abilities even more. “It felt like being god. It was like adding sounds in and suddenly ‘let there be snare'”. He faced ups and down throughout college and heartbreak from his first real love, but even then, he would continue onward in his musical pursuit to experimental enlightenment. Upon graduating, he moved out to Maryland and that’s when his studio album Sundown Therapywas created. “Sundown Therapy was a self-indulgent album. My introversion makes me so analytical even though I maybe able to express myself…just me, myself, and I are awkward”. He then noticed how upset he was where he resided and decided to make yet another big move back to the main city, New York. There he landed a job on Wall Street, but even then he realized something was wrong. The life he was leading and the job he had went against everything that he believed in. Morals were different, people were different, and it was a lifeless, creative-less environment.

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With a big heart and a large dream, he quit his job and began teaching so that he would have more time to pursue music. This is when he met Sean (DON), his producer friend from Chicago, whom he would develop SxS with. Off the album, SazE admits his two favorite singles are “Bungalow on the Beach” and “Paycheck”. If there was a way to describe SazE, it would be a mix between Kid Cudi and Kanye West, where Cudi’s darkness and mystery and West’s epic force and intensity intertwine.

I was curious to know who inspired this versatile artist, to which he replied that he loves Amy Winehouse for her honesty, Frank Ocean for his sincerity, and Lorde for being his muse (calling her “an unapologetic” songstress).

I had fun asking some of my rapid-fire interview questions such as: His one word to describe himself would be “creative”; he is #OnTheVerge of “gettin’ outta here”; and the one album he would be left with for the rest of his life if he had to only choose one would be Currents by Tame Impala (he deemed it to be the “perfect album” in terms of its content because it is all about life, existential angst, and it never gets boring).

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The poet is working on his forthcoming album now that he has a studio in his own house, so we should be expecting much more from him in the near future. In fact, look out for his music video that will be released on April 25th!

After our conversation, I am excited to see where this artist will take his creative, and where that will take him.

Be sure to follow these guys on Spotify, and listen to the album above! And check SazE out on Instagramas well!

[Exclusive Interview] with Billy Raffoul an Artist Determined To Grow

Billy Raffoul is an artist determined to share with the world his music that breaks hearts and helps feed the soul. His raspy and melodic voice will carry you away and will have you wanting more of his music.

That’s the only way you can describe the voice of the 23-year old singer/songwriter, Billy Raffoul. I had a chance to chat with him as he is on tour with ZZ Ward. Raffoul has accomplished a lot and is excited to keep continuing this path of creativity with each day that comes. The artist from Ontario, Canada, spent most of his youth with his professional musician father Jody Raffoul and his painter, writer, and teacher mother. With a steady background in the arts, there was no doubt that this young man was destined to find his way into the scene himself.

It was a pleasure to hear what Raffoul had to say. Soft-spoken and kind-hearted, Raffoul gave honest answers with pauses for thought, chuckles, and assertion. With his few releases out, we will be expecting a project out soon.

As young as he is, he has never let that phase him, especially since being surrounded by a musical and artistic family who have always been supportive of Raffoul’s endeavors as well.

#bonobospartner @bonobos

A post shared by Billy Raffoul (@billyraffoul) on

He recently released his acoustic rendition of his single “You Be Love”, which you can watch below. There’s something to be said when a voice can make you feel both safe and protected while also make you feel strong and forceful. His voice is corse, broken, yet strong all at once. It makes a perfect combination of something between a modern-day Bruce Springsteen and Jeff Buckley along with a bit of Hozier.

Raffoul had also released his new single “DarkFourDoor” which you can listen to now below.

The touring artist explains, “I spent all of January in the studio, in Los Angeles, so we really didn’t have any time for rehearsals. So we kinda just jumped into it after having 6 weeks off of each other. This tour started on the 30th, Salt Lake City, and it’s been amazing…it’s all very natural getting back to our first stretch after being away from each other.” He mentions happily how he has been able to get a lot of exploring out of this.

On tour Raffoul’s favorite snack aired towards the healthy side. “I love apples. My grandparents owned a fruit stand that they would sell during the summers in my hometown…so, I love like fuji apples. And for junk food, it would be peanut M&M’s, that’s my go-to. Today, we found a Tim Horton’s. Whenever we find one we always feel pretty happy.”

Of course, I wanted to ask how this mysterious, edgy character would describe himself, or I guess how his friends would describe him, to which he replied, “I guess it depends on the friend”. He then continues “I definitely have some sort of OCD”, chuckling. “Speaking for myself, I’m definitely determined, definitely very determined.”

The popular singer/songwriter of the track “Issues”, Julia Michaels, often writes with Raffoul. “We started writing 3 years ago, we’ve done so many songs together and in January we were writing together again. She’s great to work with, it’s kind of anything goes…I think it’s a really great dynamic…She was one of the first people I co-wrote with” comments the guitarist.

I then asked him of all the songs he has ever written, which would best describe him. “Ummm, I don’t know which one best describes me.” He pauses for a moment, laughs and you can feel how he thinks to himself about some of the songs he has written. “I have a couple favorites off the new album, but there’s one in particular called “1975” that is one of the oldest tracks off the album that I really like”.

The artist tells us that there’s a lot to be excited about including “a lot of new songs, lot of new stories”. He’s looking forward to showing people how he likes to write and the sound he likes to share.

I had to ask about how Raffoul is able to keep that majestic mane of his so in tact, to which he laughed and replied “I need to wash my hair right now.. it’s always ‘where do I buy your music and then followed by what kind of conditioner do you use?’ haha, it’s never really one kind of conditioner, I always say it’s whatever the hotel has.” He laughs again at his honesty.

What was great about this whole conversation was how real and authentic it felt. Raffoul has nothing to hide and is true to himself and his fans, and we can appreciate the authenticity he exudes.

“I’m excited to really grow this thing in music and I can’t wait to explore more of the world and meet more people and play my music. I feel like we started with a very solid base especially at the last show with the songs … and we’re all, me and my crew are very happy. The goal is to do it on a larger scale, so hopefully, maybe in the future, we’re getting to perform in bigger venues and climbing higher and having our own headlining shows” he says with enthusiasm.

There is no doubt that this will happen as the cards have already been placed in Raffoul’s favor. There is never a question of success when there is true talent behind the music.

Be sure to be on the lookout for the upcoming album and check him out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

[Interview]: HG Locks a Rising Hip Hop Artist On Tour With Fetty Wap

 

A Brand New Wave

HG Locks from The Bronx, New York never knew that his life would take a turn from better to best in just a matter of one incident. The now 24 year-old had an aspiration to make it into the NBA. However, after an injury that forced him away from that dream, he was left to find a new career path and new dream. That’s when the music kicked in. (Which you can get a taste of above!)

Locks who now has over 52, 963  monthly listeners and 1,625,001 million plays on Spotify, is a force to reckon with. He clearly found his newfound passion and did it well. Eventually, all of his recording and talk in town brought him and his team closer to the 138 Zoo Gang and to the famed hip hop artist Fetty Wap.

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I had a chance to chat with extremely humble man about the musical process, the tour, and who HG Locks is. He began to tell me how the “Hip Hop Game” for him started 5 years ago, when he was only 19-years old.

He began rapping after the injury and found that he was receiving a lot of positive responses about his music from his friends and the people who surrounded him.  “That got me thinkin’ that I could do this for real”, exclaims the artist.

Locks goes on to explain his experiences and lessons from being in the industry these days: “That’s one thing about this industry, there are no handouts. You’re still vibin’, you’ve still got a ways to go, but for sure there’s no handouts, because everything you see is through hard work and building from the ground up.”

Locks knows that in order to also make it in the sea of ever-evolving and over-saturated market, it’s important to work hard and put everything you have into the work you produce. In order to elaborate on how his music-writing process plays out he draws out an analogy to Planet of the Apes and says, “When I get in season mode, I get in ape mode, there’s no game time! When I get in season mode, it’s like let him  do his thing. My emotions are running, there’s a lot going on… I’m in my zone.”

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I asked what his new single “Brand New Wave” meant to him, and how the whole tour as a whole came about.  “‘Brand New Wave’ is about things that I want to do, I really want to enjoy, I want people get to see a whole different side of me” Locks responds. He then addresses his team, thankfully saying a shout out to his producer who got him connected to the collaborators as they fiddled around with the sounds. Locks explains to me with such enthusiasm and blissful pride how the song all just flowed from there, that moment in the studio.

He also filled me in that if he could collaborate with anyone at the moment, it would be Meek Mill. “When he speaks, people listen”, he professes. The artist lists out a few of his favorite artists including, Fifty Cent, Biggy, and Ja Rule (as well as others).

Locks is funny, he’s charming, and most importantly, he really is passionate about his craft. Now on tour as the opener for Fetty Wap, Locks has been growing his fanbase even more and expanding his listeners in farther places. “The tour life has been amazing. It’s a blessing first of all. First off, shout out to my brother Fetty Wap, shoutout to my team, and the production team. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. They show love, and I so appreciate it. But by far, the most fun part about these things is interacting with the crowd and fans, like I love that. I’m the type of artist, I’m going down there, I’m there in the crowd with you, I’m going to jump up with you. I’m not too cool to go down there and turn things up. Seeing they love it, the energy, it’s crazy.”

Behind the scenes, the lyricist details what is most important in preparation of a show: “I just try to relax, there are so many things going on before the show. You’ll be running around doing a million things. That’s the main thing, to stay relaxed, to stay calm, because when you hit that stage, even though it’s the time you go out there, you’re supposed to have fun. If you’re not having fun with it, that’s when things get all messed up and you’re not feeling it. Even though it’s your job, the number one goal is to have fun. Enjoy yourself, turn up, and that’s just how I feel. Everything else is a breeze.”

“Understanding the art and respecting. You have to respect everybody down to the production team. There are people that you have to pay homage to, even though they might not be in the spotlight all the time. I feel like people a lot of times get caught up in themselves they forget about people who do the little things. And the little things are things that will always count.”

“You don’t need yes men around you, you want people who will be honest with you, who will tell you you can do this better. because honesty is what will make you better”

They know that i can do better, and

Outside of music, Locks of course express his love for sports, more specifically basketball. “I’m a big sports man”, he says gleefully and proudly. He follows that with how the Chicago Bulls is his gavotte team, and then laughs admitting how he gets a lot of heat from people in New York for that.

So what’s this artist on the verge of? A whole bunch of new music videos and multiple projects, both solo projects and a few collaborative ones.

“Load it up and get it ready to go!”, Locks says forcefully and excitedly, ready to share his next wave.

Check out his socials to see what HG Locks is up to next!

Instagram

Twitter

 

[Exclusive Interview]: Adrian Daniel, The Man Behind ‘FLAWD’

A Dark Angel

Caution: This music is for the seductive and cynical souls. The sounds are charismatic in the most heartbreaking and savage ways.  Adrian Daniel is a Brooklyn native who intends to make his mark  on the R&B/urban music scene. The falsetto-ist who has been making music for sometime now has finally announced the release of his third project FLAWD, which is set to release on March 2, 2018.

Have you heard of him before? If not, now’s the time you do. The man is like a blend between The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and Bryson Tiller- a killer combo, no? Billboard, Complex, Beats1, Highsnobiety, The Fader, and others think so too. A storyteller from the core, his music is the making of slow, melodic, captivating tunes and harmonies. Without a doubt, his music is enchanting and mesmerizing as it takes you through the anti-wonderland, perhaps the apocalyptic version as Alice follows a rabbit down a hole to nowhere. It’s erotic and enigmatic.

Adrian Daniel is the product of a rich history, an artistic city, genres of soul, funk, and rhythm and blues, and dance! Younger Daniel has performed his dancing at the Apollo Theater and the Brooklyn Academy, but in 2012, that is when he turned to music as his primary focus. His sound is exciting and offers a new edge to the alternative R&B scene. His music has most definitely evolved and all on a spectrum of spectacular to amazing. Today, he releases his latest single “Deadly Attraction”, which you can listen to above!

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“My brother got me started in music. He forced me to to write songs and they weren’t good at that time haha. What I love the most about music is that I can say what ever I want. So instead of turning to social media to say the things I’m thinking, I can just put it in a song,” commented the artist who explained to me how he got his start in music. His influencers include a very eclectic bunch spanning various occupations outside of music too, such as Tim Burton, Steve Jobs, Quentin Tarantino, Pharrell, Michael Jackson, Zaha Hadid, Kanye West, and Goku & Vegeta.

As a man who goes very deep into the meanings and stories of his music, I wondered what the creative process behind this upcoming album was like. He elaborated: “Every time I start an album it’s mostly because I’m watching some movie and I’m thinking of creating the theme music for that movie. Then I start with writing the songs; The lyrics and melody. Then I sit with producers who I feel are inspiring me at the moment to create the sounds that go with those lyrics and melodies. We build everything from scratch and create this sonic sandwich that I hope goes down smoothly.” He continues on about the project: “Flawd is exactly what the title is. It’s me revealing and accepting the flaws of myself and other people. We often get in the way of our own happiness by our fantasy of what a relationship should be, and that could be friendships/ family, lover; Any relationship. Flawd is realizing we have wounds that we carry around with us that we don’t embrace and work on which leads to our own undoing in relationships.”

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A connoisseur of the tormented and loving,  you can hear the actual pain in his silky moans and the crying electric guitar chords integrated subtly within the compositions. His voice is so perfect to blend with other vocals as well! He mentions how if he could collaborate with anyone currently it would be Stevie Wonder, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Jai Paul.

Currently, Daniel is trying to expand his horizons, and is learning photography and interior design. I then had to ask my favorite question: If you could soundtrack your life to an album, which album would it be?

Daniel responded with, “This is an amazing question and it would be between My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy ( Kanye ) and Random Access Memories ( Daft Punk ).”

The sonic narrator then answered my other favorite question: if you had to choose a symbol, emoji, image etc. to describe yourself, what would that be?

“😑 & ⚡️”

Daniel’s thoughts on the music landscape of Brooklyn is extremely interesting, and one I think not many were aware of. “The music scene in Brooklyn is really tight and a lot of artist from here inspire me, but because of ego a lot of the time artist are afraid to say that they are inspired by and are fans of their peers. I don’t care about all that, if I’m fan you gonna know I’m a fan. I’m a fan that makes music at the end of the day. The band “Phony ppl” are actually the guys that inspired me to create my first project on my own. Watching them work on their music together and not relying on no huge writer and producer to make amazing music was incredible to see.” He humbly notes the people that give him that extra push, which shows that true character of the man behind the music.  His vibe is real too. It’s dark, creepy, and trippy– it’s got that beauty in ugliness sound.

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As recognized by VIBE magazine, “Brooklyn-bred singer [has] a trippy sound trip reminiscent of Frank Ocean meets The Weeknd meets Childish Gambino”. It’s true! He incorporates the falsettos, the slow-sexy tempo, the monologues, the voice recordings, and the warped voices that add a cinematic experience to his music. This perfectly brings us to the question of how the artist and his interests in anime and Marvel are incorporated in his life, sense of style, and artistic direction.

“They play a huge part. All the colors and aesthetic choices I end up using can be traced back to some anime or comic book character or show. I actually created a comic book character to go along with this album. If you go to my instagram and scroll down you can see him”. The artist fills us in on a little exciting animated adventure that we will be seeing then for the new production to come!

I then asked Daniel what is next for him? What does he want to do next?  He answered enthusiastically, “I really can’t wait to tour this music and perform it for people. It’s gonna be really fun. I’m always trying to better myself, so I make it my business to learn something new every year. I want to be the best version of myself, in every aspect.”

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The crooner is hitting the road as well to share the music starting in London and ending in the renown SXSW festival. He is know for his extremely entertaining performances, so if possible, try not to miss a chance to see him live. Check out the tour dates below:

FLAWD Tour Dates:
 Feb 22 - London, UK
 Feb 24 - Paris, FR
 Mar 7 - World Cafe Live - Philadelphia, PA
 Mar 8 - Songbyrd - Washington DC
 Mar 10 - Rough Trade - Brooklyn, NY
 Mar 12 - Middle East - Boston , MA
 Mar 13-18 - SXSW (official showcases TBA)

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Be sure to follow Adrian Daniel Online:
Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

 

 

Delving Into Rex Mac’s Talented Music: The Release of “ABLOOM” & More

He’s keeping it one hundo for us

Introducing a Massachusetts Asian-American native and a truly talented hip hopper in the scene, Rex Mac. This young lyrical master and hypnotic maestro has been working on music for years now.  He is also a journalist for Know Your Scene, but of course devotes his time and love to his one true craft.

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Since 2012, Rex has been transforming noise into ferocious, elegant tracks (but the passion really began when he was just 12). With a keen eye for the matching of sounds, this artist took his abilities to a whole new level when creating his recent project ABLOOM, which released this year. He demonstrates his competence and expertise in what he does each day, and it shows through the production of this album, which he did all on his own- wrote, produced, and mastered.

The songwriter mentions, “It took me four years to make Abloom, so I felt like a wholly new person by the time I finished it. I named the album after all of its songs were made, and the title just made sense. The image of a big, open flower that Abloom brings to mind was an effective way for me to visually reference vulnerability, honesty, life, the women in mine, and an overall born again feeling. Also, it’s kind of close to the word, ‘album,’ no?”

ABLOOM was created to discuss a deeper and darker topic that many are afraid to express transparently, and Rex made sure to be there to represent the masses. It is an album that touches upon the impacts of detrimental mental health and the thoughts and needs of those affected by it. With each track, he reaches into the soul and brings out the topics that matter most: doubt, self-love and relationships, and understanding. ABLOOM is bursting with various shining colors, vibes, and emotions. “Every song on Abloom tackles the idea of what it is to be your best self. For me, the album’s 10 tracks were simply the songs that materialized when I personally resolved to no longer let depression or anxiety suffocate my day to day. Those two themes have formed and still somewhat drive my narrative, but now I make my demons work for me. I use them as a means to let my listeners know they’re not alone.”

ABLOOM has received praise and review from such publications as Allston Pudding, Boston Hassle, Millennial Noise, and Mmmmaven.

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In an interview with Allston Pudding, the artist recalls, “Songs on the record that sound overly happy were actually made in moments I felt pretty down about myself and my lack of movement in life. In those moments, now that I look back, I think those songs materialized because I was writing love songs to myself in a time when I needed encouragement. ”

The album starts out with the title track, “Abloom”, which is the best intro for this compilation of ingenuity. Following that is “The World is Not Enough”, which is a fun, fast-paced single that kind of sounds like an acoustic version of a video game track. “East Meets West” is a witty tune that features a past GMAD-reviewed artist, Rowlan, a good friend of Rex’s.

To compare and contrast Rex’s music, he reminds you of new day Cam Meekins meets old-school Snoop Dogg & Slick Rick. The music itself is an impressive experimental sound like Kid Cudi’s, but incorporating more 90s West Coast G Funk and Kanye West millennial, forceful simplicity. All the beats are melodious, which is what I think I love most about his music. A healthy balance of tunes and tones, with smart, sincere lyrics.

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“How To Be Alone” is a track about learning to be isolated with oneself . What is very artistic and intriguing about his sounds too are that many of them lead down an unbeaten path of tempo change and rhythmic distortion into a whole new sounding song. It gives listeners a chance at a fresh new experience all in the same the track. At the end of this song, it concludes with a little Frank Sinatra-esque riff, without the autotune and just the raw vocals of Rex, telling the sincere truth of emotion.

“Mantra” is a bumpin’ track that gets you movin’ to the tempo, and the strings are an interesting touch giving it a more spiritual experience.

The whole album in its entirety is like a spoken journal of a man’s thoughts and emotions as he goes through his day, in his own narrative voice and locked inside the chambers of his own mind. “Sonically, I had a blast making the beats for this album. They’re quirky… minimalist. I had the Konmari method in mind when I selected sounds for its songs. The song, ‘The World Is Not Enough,’ doesn’t have a single kick drum or hi hat. ‘Rogues’ doesn’t have a single snare. There are secret songs not mentioned in the album’s tracklist. I wanted to give listeners a deep world to wander”, relays the artist.

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The retro hip hop tunes are honestly really invigorating because we don’t really hear this kind of sound anymore. “One Hundo” gives  us a taste of that. The whines of the 808’s and the slow and smooth flow of the voice and words remind you to appreciate the history of hip hop. Rex perfectly reflects that sound. Definitely my top pick on the album!

I wanted to understand what Rex thought of the current climate of the Massachusetts music scene, especially since there are so many talented ones out there, but such an underground niche hidden beneath the surface of it all. He thoughtfully answered:

“People keep asking why I never moved to New York or Los Angeles upon graduating college to pursue music, implying that the creative grounds are infertile out here. I’ve chosen to remain firmly planted in Massachusetts because I see all of its personality and potential. This is why when I’m not performing I’m writing articles on Boston artists and their backstories. I’m invested in why people do what they do, especially in an area where the infrastructure isn’t as supportive as it should be. Human spirit in the face of resilience is gangster. I thrive off the energy of our underdogs and channel it into my own work”. The artist proceeds with his reasoning:

“Massachusetts is so heavily revered for its leaders and establishments..from academia, to medical advancement, to sports. But for some reason, only a small number of the scene’s current hip hop artists are brought up in national conversation. I’m happy for all of Token and Joyner Lucas’s recent success, but I see so many more hip hop folk out here really executing thoughtful, creative visions.”

He also mentioned that even the female music and art scene is rising and is very strong.  He offers a few suggestions of women that are currently making waves of their own to see for ourselves, such as Jamilah Unique’s multi-genre showcase Art Plug; hip hop artist Oompa’s album, November 3rd; Amanda Shea’s Hope Inc. Showcase; and Anna Rae’s All Together Now POC/LGBTQ/Female focused showcase. “Ultimately, I just want to see a futurist rise out of Massachusetts. I want to see a Kanye or Pharrell pop up out of Boston. I’m not sure who it’ll be, but I won’t stop working till I see that person emerge” enthusiastically chimes the sonic connoisseur.

Rex is working hard, and putting his heart and soul, and every inch of being that there is of him in it. He’s proving that and no question will this artist be able to rise to more fame in which everything will finally blossom and bloom into a stunning career.

To hear more of Rex’s tracks off the album, listen HERE.

Also: Check Out This Exclusive Playlist of Some of Rex’s Favorite Tracks Right Now Both In & Out of Boston!

Be sure to follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, and Soundcloud. Check out his site HERE.

An Exclusive Interview with Newest Member to Team Elysium John Lindahl

John Lindahl feels very lucky to have known his passion from the start.

He has the right to be! With a voice like his and a kind, down-to-Earth personality, no wonder he’s such a heartthrob. With the perfect retro-pop sound, he brings a new age flare to his fun, classic-like tunes.

As mentioned in a previous article, the pop star released his latest EP Changes, which includes six exciting and exhilarating tracks of his own and features the founder of Team Elysium himself, Logic.

I really enjoyed this chat with Lindahl as he explained how thrilled he was to have released this EP finally! He admits that he never really listened to it in full, only because it seemed weird at first, but by the time of our conversation, he gave it a run through. His final conclusions? Proud.

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The artist was originally born in Maryland, but grew up for most of his life in Southern, California, where he resides currently.

We dove into topic spanning across the spectrum from his experiences in music to past concerts he went to things to be looking forward to, and for the season, what holiday traditions his family had. Lindahl began by explaining how his humble beginnings in music started at a really young age. He would find himself amongst performers and back stage with them a lot of the time, and his influences came from some of the legends such as Gene Kelly, Michael Jackson, and others. You can even hear it in his sound, a little George Michael here and a little Prince there, and more. He admitted that these artists “inspired me to perform and be on stage  and try to pursue my dream in that way… I’m lucky enough to have always kind of known what my passion was, which I know people search their lifetime for a passion, so I feel very grateful to have known what I wanted to do since I was 5 or 4!”

I asked him what song he is currently jamming out to, to which he chuckled and replied, “You’re gonna laugh, but I’ve been bumping “Gucci Gang” by Lil Pump.”

The last concert Lindahl attended was LCD Soundsystem, only showing you how big of a variety his taste in music is. “I went with Brian who produced the EP… and Daniel who played guitar for the EP. The light shows  were my favorite part of the show!”

I then wanted to get insights of what it must be like to be an artist now, so when I asked what’s his favorite part of the music industry, he genuinely responded with, “being an artist and creating music is definitely the best part, and all of the little victories to get along the way. Because there are the times where you get pulled down and shot down and you feel a little discouraged, so the little victories along the way when you pour your heart and soul and you start to see a little return on it I think is the best part.”

One of his close friends and co-workers happens to be Bobby himself, aka Logic! How they met was a serendipitous and sweet story of how Lindahl met Logic’s audio engineer and how through a few writing and listening sessions together, the two became friends instantly. That is when he introduced Lindahl to Logic, hanging out with him in the studio during the making  of The Incredible True Story.

I love music. #TBT 📸 @allyironsmorris

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Logic then decided he wanted to start this label (Team Elysium) and asked Lindahl to be a part of the formation of its foundation, and Lindahl couldn’t pass it off. “I feel like a member of his family”, so it only made sense for him to be apart of this crew of amazing and talented people.

As every album should have, Lindahl did have an experiential and eye-opening moment. “My biggest revelation [during the making of Changes] was finding that I was truly coming into my own,  as an artist and as a creative. I know that you’re always learning and that you’ll always get better, but I finally feel very comfortable in my own skin in the studio, on stage when I’m performing, the words that I’m singing, the way I’m conveying the message that I’m try to say. I think it was an overall revelation of comfortability with myself as an artist, which is great, because I have always struggled with confidence in myself, and now I feel like I have arrived today.”

My favorite song happens to be “My World” and “Contagious”, so I asked him what was the influence at least behind “Contagious?” “I’ve always loved ‘All Night Long’ by Lionel Ritchie or “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, all these fun records I’ve always wanted to capture and emulate. And I just wanted to make a really fun song about the power of music in general, because it is contagious, the one true universal language is music. I would say my main thing behind this process was I just wanted to make an infectious feeling that people would want to sing and dance to, and just be together with other people.”

If the young songster could collaborate with anyone, he explained that it would be artists like J.Cole, Ariana Grande, Kanye West, and Mayer Hawthorne, but he also say that he would be willing to collaborate with anyone.  He loves hearing their talent and finding what makes them uniquely their own being in the music scene.

Music is not the only area he shows talent in! He also dresses really well, so when asking about his fashion, he talked about how he goes about picking his outfit of the day. “I look kind of normal, and so do my clothes, but what I do have to do is make sure that my talent is extraordinary! So in my fashion, I try not to go too over the top. It’s the little things in my outfit that pop, nothing too extravagant…nothing that’s too insane, but something that draws your attention”. His fashion-icons are Michael Jackson and A$AP Rocky, and a few other artists, but overall, he explained how just by adding a denim jacket to a look, or wearing an all white outfit and pair of different colored shoes, you can really make a look pop in the chillest way possible.

Describing himself in one word? “Imaginative”, Lindahl elaborates, ” I’m such a dreamer to my detriment. I am always  looking at the future, and always think about if I do this, and if I do that, but I am very lucky to have parents and people around me who know my goals and dreams. My parents have been super helpful in creating an environment to show me how I have to work to achieve my goals, because if I didn’t have that proper training, I would still be dreaming and never act on it. I have to thank my mom and dad and the Elysium team for believing in me.”

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Being only 21, I thought it would be daunting to be in this scene of experienced pioneers, but Lindahl explained that there never was a disconnect, and he was always the youngest in the room, from the start, so he has grown up amongst these people.

“I never want to be the most talented or the smartest in the room, because I can always improve upon myself.”

So, what do we have to be excited for in the near future? Lindahl expressed his excitement of releasing videos to go along with the songs from the project! He sees it as being able to give every track it’s own moment. “I feel like ever song deserves a chance at its own visual.”

Since ’tis the season, I had to know if the artist had any special holiday celebrations or traditions that he did with his family…”My mom is driving my sister home from college, and we always go to a Christmas tree farm and play this intense game of tag. All my family are athletes, so it gets really crazy but it’s so much fun. We knock down so many of the trees”.

Off the EP,  the R&B crooner explained to me that “Changes” would be the the most important track in the project, but “Contagious” is the one that would best describe his demeanor in his current state.

What’s Lindahl OnTheVerge of? “Success.” TRUE. Check out my last article, check out his EP Changes below, and keep on the look out for this emerging artist!