Drizzy shines some soothing vocals on his latest contribution to Majid Jordan‘s “My Love”— “I’m not your trophy, baby / I won’t let you show me off or shine me up,” he sings. Formerly known as Good People, Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman are an electronic, alternative R&B duo who met while attending the University of Toronto. In early 2013, they dropped their debut EP, afterhours, as a free download. And boom: later that year, Drake’s “Hold on, We’re Going Home” appeared featuring “Majid Jordan.” Majid is working on the follow-up to their 2014 EP, A Place Like This. Listen Up!
This blue-eyed beauty isn’t just a pretty face. Zella Day packs a serious voice and along with her sincerely written tunes; a mix of folk, synth and deep beats, Zella soothes the soul with her own multigrain brand of “Granola Pop”. Hailing from a small town in Arizona, Zella has been making herself known in Los Angeles with singles such as “Sweet Ophelia” and “1965”. The artist sat with us to dish details about her process, sound and upcoming releases.
LA CANVAS: How would you describe your music and your sound?
ZELLA DAY: Hmmmm…. Well the sound is definitely a concoction of all things that I am inspired by, strive to be, who I was, and who I am presently. I’ve been creating music for long enough to have made music that I didn’t like and wasn’t too sure about to right now where I feel like I’m expressing myself to my full capacity. My square one was an acoustic guitar and a coffee house, so there inlays flares of classic “singer-songwriter” vibes throughout the tracks. The music really started taking shape when I started implementing synths and programming big beats into the songs. Somebody once called it “Granola Pop”.
LAC: What is your inspiration for creating music?
ZD: I believe writers go through phases of inspiration. When I look back at my body of work I feel nostalgic with every lyric written. My head is in a different space everyday and music helps to document those spaces. I’m currently inspired by the major changes I’ve been going through in the past few months. I moved out to East LA by myself while dealing with one of the worst heart breaks I’ve ever endured.
LAC: What other musicians do you admire?
ZD: There are so many greats. I’ve always looked up to those like John Lennon and Bob Dylan, who I see as true poets that moved the world with their words.
LAC: You have some great singles out, is there going to be an album? If so, what can we look forward to?
ZD: Thank you! There is going to be an album released early of next year, but I’m anticipating the release of my EP thats out on October 21st. Baby steps 😉
LAC: Your performance at the Echo is quickly approaching, how do you prepare for shows?
ZD: I like to take my sweet time. The day before a show I make sure I do some yoga and have some quiet time. I find that it helps me to be meditative in the moments leading up to a show so that I can be fully present on stage and not have have mental chatter.
LAC: What is your favorite thing about being an artist in Los Angeles?
ZD: My favorite thing would have to be being a part of a thriving community with so much passion and grit. I find it enchanting that LA has so many talented people in it. This town is welcoming and competitive all at the same time which calls for GREAT art.
Check out Zella Day’s music video for her single “Sweet Ophelia” and don’t miss her upcoming show at The Echo on September 10th.
Throughout the past couple years, we’ve seen an emergence in what I like to consider folk-electronic music rising up from the depths of your favorite underground music venues into your SiriusXM radios. Although the genre has been steadily growing, it somehow has yet to move on as a passé movement in the scheme of genres making a comeback here in Southern California.
Since Sylvan Esso‘s self-titled debut this past May, they’ve set the bar to a whole other level with tracks that reverberate throughout and unique mixes of top-notch vocals and clean production. From front to back, Singer Amelia Meath (previously of folk trio Mountain Man) and producer Nick Sanborn have created an interesting mix of simple yet mysteriously complex tracks filled with layers of meticulousness that leave for an experience in itself.
The dynamic eb and flow of the album provides listeners with jams like ‘Hey Mami’ and ‘Coffee‘— both to be enjoyed with a pair of headphones or in your nearest hipster dance dive—I personally recommend Dance Yourself Clean at Short Stop. Before the band hit their two night sold-out shows at The Troubadour, LA CANVAS Magazine had a chance to chat with Nick about now, next and how the duo came to be.[separator type=”thick”]
LAC: Out of curiosity, Amelia, having played with the trio Mountain Man (a very folk centered trio, touring with Feist and such), did you ever see your musical journey translating over to a more electronic/instrumental world?
NICK SANBORN: I hesitate to speak for her, but she has always loved electronic music and pop and wanted to try something that was more accessible. Both of us have a bit of genre-ADD, and have hopped around a lot over the course of our “careers”.
We’re booked out for the extended foreseeable future, and working on lots of remixes and new stuff when we can. We’re just grateful to be out here and playing for more and more people, which we’ll continue to do as long as we can.
LAC: Having both come from what seems very different musical backgrounds, what brought you two together to experiment on what is now your signature sound?
NS: We were just big fans of one another. I think any time two people are fans of each other’s music it allows them to contextualize each other. The remix of Play It Right kinda took me by surprise – it showed me a way I could work with someone musically in a different way than I had been before, and thankfully Amelia felt the same way. We didn’t set out with any stylistic goals beyond accessibility, this is just the natural music we make together (for right now, at least).
LAC: Once you got together and did the first mix of “Play It Right” what was the tipping point when you decided, “Yes, this is the direction we are going to go, and we are going to rock it”?
NS: After that we started trading ideas over email, which was exciting but neither of us had any expectations. The tipping point for me was a couple months later, when Amelia flew out to Durham to hang and record vocals at my house. I had a solo show scheduled at Hopscotch (a festival here in NC) and asked her to join me to sing Play It Right, which I had been using as the closer to my sets pretty regularly. Something just clicked during that song (the first time we had ever been on stage together, in front of six or so people) – we both looked at each other afterwards and decided we had to see where it could go.
*We both look at each other and decided we had to see where it could go…
LAC: The songs “Coffee” and “Hey Mami” seem to building the most traction in the blogosphere, are those tracks in which you were anticipating to hit, or did you have other songs off the album which you’d really like to resonate more with listeners?
NS: Not at all. We kinda had no idea what to release as singles. We had already put out Hey Mami and Play It Right on a 12″ single (just because they were our first two songs), and so we decided to put out Coffee next just because it was an opposite vibe of the other two. We thought it was way more of a sleeper hit than a single, I mean, it’s such a bummer of a song in so many ways.
LAC: The album still seems to be building serious momentum since it’s release in May, and with a nation wide tour, what are you thinking is the next level for Sylvan Esso?
NS: Who knows? We’re booked out for the extended foreseeable future, and working on lots of remixes and new stuff when we can. We’re just grateful to be out here and playing for more and more people, which we’ll continue to do as long as we can.
LAC: I have to ask (sorry if this has been thrown your way a million times) but what is the meaning behind the name “Sylvan Esso”?
NS: It’s loosely based on a video game called Swords and Sworcery that both Amelia and I would highly recommend.
LAC: I am not sure how many times either of you have been to Los Angeles (we are very excited for your show at the Troubardour), but is there a spot in town that you must hit while you’re here?
NS: We’ve recently been addicted to this breakfast taco spot called Home State, so that’ll be on the docket. Other than that our trip will hopefully involve hugging my friend Spencer, eating bahn-mi at this pop up place by Jackie’s house, and taking a hike up several of your urban staircases.
LAC: If you had one thing to say to describe your current tour, what would it be?
NS: Fantastic and exhausting.
LAC: What are some bands or songs that you two currently have loaded on your playlists right now?
NS: The Lounge Lizards – Voice of Chunk (whole record), Jessy Lanza – Keep Moving, Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
[dropcap letter=”W”]HAT. A. PERFORMANCE. As Sonos Studio + Pandora executed a stellar, intimate concert this past Tuesday at the hippest LA venue, Charli XCX (she’s oh so good) stood front and center only to rock our socks off. “C’mon LA, you gotta fuckin’ give me some more!” teared through her mic as her #longhairdontcare swooshed from right to left – how do you like that, Azalea Banks, huh?
We were also front and center. Although we had to duck and dive from the swaying smart phones held up high to try to solidify each moment on an Instagram capture, we were too blasted with inspiration by the Londonite’s vocals, confidence and oh-my-STAGE PRESENCE. This banger has one long career ahead of her and the female band supporting her should have no problem riding that train too. When she belted Black Roses & gave I Want Candy a heckuva new twist, the ground shook with enthusiasm as crowd danced danced danced.
Have a look-see at some snippets from the intimate, hard rocking (WILD!) show:
Ah, a new year. Here’s to new adventures, ambitious resolutions, and, of course, new music. We’ve compiled a preview of some great new—and not-so-new—musical acts / tracks you should have on your radar for 2014.
FRIENDS: “Van Fan Gor Du”
Friends has been incubating in the indie buzzosphere since 2011 and are slowly garnering some well-deserved attention. Headed by Samantha Urbani, Friends is self-described “weird pop,” swapping genres for an infectious, funky album that’s filled to the brim with cutesy female appeal. The band is sure to kill it during festival season, the proto-funk beats providing the ultimate soundtrack when you and your besties are glazed and that dude keeps dancing on you, no, next to you, no, on you.
JAMES BLAKE FEAT. CHANCE THE RAPPER: “Life Round Here”
One of the best things to happen to hip-hop and R&B these past few years has been their head-on collision with electronic music, producing some incredibly catchy beats and reshaping their respective forms in a substantial way. James Blake and Chance The Rapper join forces for a hypnotic, tingly, remix of Blake’s own Overgrown track “Life Round Here.” It’s been one of our favorite remixes to come out of 2013, only made better by celebrated director Nabil’s music video.
(via Lindsay Zoladz | Pitchfork)
“Probably won’t make no money off this, oh well,” Beyoncé shrugs on her new album’s moody, amorphous second track, “Haunted.” And I say this with the requisite curtsy to the Queen, but: bullshit. True, in both content and form, Beyoncé is a risk—an emotionally candid, unconventionally structured experimental pop record that was released digital-only with absolutely no promotion—but we know now that she is going to make a little bit of money off this. Still, how could you not know all along that you’ve got a blockbuster on your hands, when there is a song on your record like “XO”?
“XO” is one of those big, boundary-obliterating pop songs that demands to be projected onto the sky, like the aural equivalent of a firework. There will be a supercut of people all over the world lip-syncing and doing cute hand motions to “XO” by the end of this week. It’s the Beyoncé cut that Ed McMahon would ride for. One of the guys from Skeleton Crew is going to propose to his girlfriend while “XO” is playing and she will say yes. “XO” is the reason why anyone you know who has said, “Yeah, but where are the hooks on Beyoncé?” did not listen to the entire album. Chris Martin is listening to “XO” right now, crying. And, because perfection is overrated, all of the flawlessness here is brilliantly undercut by that gravelly croak in her lower register when she growls, “Baby love me, lights out.” You kill us, Bey.
IMMIGRÉ: “Madeline Remix”
We have a confession. We like to believe it was the LAC crew that “discovered” DJ duo Immigré so we can cling to the backbone of their success when they blow up. Liberian/Iranian/American/European/Creatures-of-the-World, Jasmine & Val Fleury prove the amazing output of collaboration when cultures and music styling’s blend (If only the rest of the world would take their lead). The gals have been curating some fresh mix tapes since 2012, and will be making their rounds on the festival circuit this coming spring. Do yourself a favor and watch them spin live and with love.
WILD CUB: “Thunder Clatter”
This song isn’t particularly new, but it’s finally making its rounds this year, and we have a sneaking suspicion this is destined to be some kind of summer sleeper hit. The Nashville quintet just signed to Mom+Pop Music, and “Thunder Clatter” is a youthful, jubilant, celebratory tune that lends itself to an afternoon of drinking with friends.
KELELA: “Guns & Synths”
If you had to guess whose style Beyoncé might bite for her latest studio album, your guess would probably not have been a no-name LA R&B singer who hangs around with underground electronic producers. And yet that would not have been such a bad answer. Kelela’s blend of hard drum and bass and warm ’90s-style diva vocals made her mix tape Cut 4 Me one of the most talked-about of 2013. She’ll be performing here and there through 2014, including an appearance at SXSW. If you get a chance to see her, do yourself a favor and take it.
BLOOD ORANGE: “”You’re Not Good Enough” [ft. Samantha Urbani]”
Whether writing/producing wispy pop cuts for Solange and Sky Ferreira or releasing misty, meditative R&B (“Chamakay”), Dev Hynes is crushing it…in glossy black dancing shoes. Hynes, aka Blood Orange, sounds like Prince if Prince had been raised entirely at nighttime under Miami’s neon lights. “You’re Not Good Enough” is solid enough to be a massive hit but dude has stayed (largely) under the radar until the release of this album.
EARL SWEATSHIRT: “Chum”
A member of LA’s Odd Future hip-hop collective, the 19-year-old released the sleeper album of the year with Doris—an album light years beyond his peers. “Chum” is 4 minutes of intensely personal yet insanely catchy headphone rap.
TINY HEARTS: “Stay”
Comprised of singer DeDe Reynolds, jazz trained composer Tim K and producer Waajeed of Platinum Pied Pipers fame, Tiny Hearts came together on a fateful night in a bar in Brooklyn in 2011. Since then, the trio has relocated to LA, and wowed us with their debut Stay EP. Waajeed and Tim K create a gritty cocktail of melodic and lyrical potency, while Dede Reynold’s ephemeral vocals bring the whole thing home with an affect that combines a bit of enigmatic gypsy mysticism with a healthy serving of old Hollywood charm.
Just for this Vine:
While we’re a little biased (peep our Jan/Feb cover), Malaysian-born beauty Yuna has been keeping us above water and smiling while we wade through our most gloomy breakup moments, our career pitfalls, or simply, our Wednesday hump day. Yuna is audible euphoria, and just the ray of sunshine we need to kick ass and take names in 2014.
The olive-eating, Canadian-bred band Islands is back with their new video for “Wave Forms.” Directed by Strike Anywhere, the new vid follows Islands as they join a lone roller skater (played by Cory Zacharia) as he rolls through the streets of, ahem, Lancaster. Zacharia has been a recurring character in Mike Ott’s films, including “Littlerock,” “Pearlblossom Highway” and the upcoming “Lake Los Angeles.”
Cheers to a band that can keep our attention since the pimply, ForeverXXI days of 2006.
Check out the video below:
Last week, on our never-ending quest to stay up on the new new and the new new new, we stumbled upon Austin-based Whiskey Shivers on the LA leg of their summer tour. Among a consistent stream of synthetic pop beats and the over-reaching disney-stars-turned-musically-inclined-sorta-kinda-musician, it’s incredibly refreshing to see these guys actually play, well, instruments. With catchy rhythms, killer energy and impeccable musicianship, Whiskey Shivers turns traditional bluegrass on it’s head and has become our fave new “freewheelin’, trashgrassin’, folk tornado” band (and they’re pretty easy on the eyes, ladies.).
Before they darted up north on the 101, the boys caught up with us for one hell of a Q&A:
So, what’s up?
We’re currently piled into a van en route to Portland, Oregon, finishing out the last leg this three week run up the west coast before returning home, and then eventually east again. Basically just trying to spread and practice friendship all across this great nation of ours.
Can we get you something to drink?
Sure. Know anything that cures hangovers? Maybe a purple vitamin water? Gatorade? Pedialite? Micheladas? Do you have those in LA?
Great name! What’s the story behind it?
Haha thanks! I think a lot of people think it’s the DT’s but it’s actually that feeling you get right after a shot of whiskey. That hot feeling that shivers up your spine as you realize the nights gonna get a whole lot radder.
Dream music festival?
Well, we’re playing Austin City Limits, which has always been a dream being as how we’re out of Austin. Aside from that, I’d say Coachella, Telluride, or anything with Insane Clown Posse.
Rock, paper, or scissors?
Scissors. See attached image for our matching scissor tattoos.
Do anything last night?
I’m glad you asked. As a matter of fact we did! We played The Silvermoon Brewery in beautiful historic Bend, Oregon and a good time was had by all. Shortly thereafter we had what we call a cartwheel party.
How late did you stay up?
Three maybe? After the cartwheel party, we were lulled to sleep by the sweet voices of Andy Griffith, Opie, and The Darlings (or the Dillard’s, which is our favorite bluegrass band who had reoccurring roles in the show).
Meals or snacks?
I think we’re all pretty indifferent so long as bacon is involved.
Craziest road trip/tour story?
Something involving way too much Bartles and James and a ripped frenulum. That’s probably as much as anyone cares to know.
Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
Tia or Tamera Mowery, Barney Fife, Genghis Kahn, and Rachel Many.
Your biggest fan?
This dude who calls himself Curtis McTurdis comes to all of our shows within about a 200 mile radius. He once walked from Austin to San Antonio to see us play.
If life could resemble any film…
Who would you hire to write your theme song?
Chingo Bling or Ke$ha. We can’t come to a consensus.
Blue or black ink?
Black. Like our souls.
Ever sit down in the shower?
Of course! That’s the only way all five of us can fit in.
When was the last time you really froke out on someone?
Thats hard to say. I froke at Andrew our bass player the first time I saw the word froke, which was right now. Does that count?
Oh, I met Paul Ruben once and froke the heck out. Not at him per se, but the same way that a 13 year old girl meeting Jonathan Taylor Thomas in 1993 might have reacted. Screams, cries, and awkwardly long hugs.
What’s the first thing you said out loud this morning?
I woke up to all the dudes singing This is How We Do It by Montel Jordan. I believe my first words were, “…so I reach for my 40 and I turn it up…”
Are you listening to music right now?
Yes! Chingo Bling.
Your dream project?
Literally, anything with The Muppets. Anything.
Where can we catch you next?
Well, I’m not sure when we’ll be back in LA quite yet, but if you’re worldly enough to escape to Texas, we’re playing Utopia Fest in Utopia, Texas on September 20th, and Austin City Limits on October 12th.
If you’re not worldly, Bobby’s going to be making his national television debut on Cops this fall. Oh, and of course, there’s always here: www.whiskeyshivers.com
If we gave you $50 what would you buy?
Cronuts!!!! Just kidding, those are awful. Realistically, probably $50 worth of Ranier Beer.
Last three google searches?
Taylor Swifts feet, “Taylor Swifts feet,” and “Taylor Swift’s feet.”
What are you doing later?
Practicing friendship up and down the coast!
Can we come?
We wish you would!
Visit the band’s website to sneak a peek at their upcoming tour dates.
British singer/songwriter Dan Croll has been hustling since his From Nowhere EP released in September last year. From a Time Magazine feature where he was dubbed Liverpool’s new golden boy to playing the Austin festival SXSW, Croll’s ode to the lighthearted melodies of Paul Simon combined with more eccentric chorus lines has pushed him into the limelight. No artist’s cross over the pond into the American music scene is easy (unless you are a slew of teen heart throbs), but Croll may win his audience over with the radiating good-vibe beats that are sure to be stuck in your head after a few listens. We decided to ask the UK native about his karaoke go-to and what he writes about when he’s not working on his next music venture.
1. What do you like to write about when you aren’t writing songs?
Stories I hear from friends or family, stuff that may later inspire a song. Yesterday my mate told me he’s going to do a drug test on behalf of a medical company, and one of the side effects is that it turns tears, urine and other bodily fluids fluorescent orange. I’d like to write a song about that one day.
2. The UK is loving the EP. How has the response been state-side?
The response has been fantastic, that first USA tour in March couldn’t have gone any better, and I’m really looking forward to heading back out in June!
3. What do you do when you are not making music?
Run, Skateboard, Cycle, Eat, Drink, and do Karaoke.
4. If you have a go-to karaoke song, what is it?
What a coincidence? Its definitely got to be Aha – “Take on me.”
5. What has been your favorite performance, and why?
Glasslands, New York. We sold out the place and performed a karaoke version of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” as an encore, what could top that? (Apart from maybe doing a karaoke encore of Aha – “Take on me”.
Check out Croll’s head-bob worthy single “From Nowhere” below, and make sure to catch his next appearance in LA at the Troubadour on June 28th.
I thought my appetite for 60s-girl-group-referencing indie-pop had been over-satiated by the presence of bands like Cults and Beach House.
But it seems London-duo Elephant have managed to carve out their own little corner of space in that otherwise bloated gut.
According to our sources, Amelia and Christian met at a party, got together to make music, but then had some sort of disagreement (which may or may not have led to Christian breaking his hand). They thought they’d never play together again.
Luckily, the two reconciled to record and release a new seven inch on Memphis Industries, resulting in the chilled-out, doo-woppy a-side “Skyscraper.”
“Skyscraper” mixes gritty layers of old analog samples with a deep, groovy bass for a vague hip-hop feel, making the track sound new and alluring despite an otherwise tired formula.
(Production is so important, y’all.)