Sunday, 12 January 2014

Q & A with Lorde – The Wild Magazine

Lorde's a few things. Obviously, she's one of 2013's breakout pop stars. She's a talented songwriter, precocious and opinionated in a way that gives pop culture gossip bloggers plenty to work with (She badmouthed Lana! She badmouthed Selena Gomez! etc). And she's the owner of a really likable, husky giggle.

I learned all this when I caught up with her over the phone a few months ago, for one of The Wild Magazine's Youth issue cover stories. She was in a stereotypically rainy Seattle, and we battled our way through some awful phone reception to have a general chinwag on the music industry, her role as a new artist and everyone's obsession with her age. The results of our conversation are now live on the Wild's website, run with a beautiful editorial shot by Stevie Mada. To get your hands on physical copies, with other covers of Joey Bada$$ and Andrej Pejić, head here. And beware the jpg carousel glitch on that landing page. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Alphabeat's Stine Bramsen unveils debut solo single

Stine Bramsen—known to most as “the girl” from Alphabeat—is ready to do her own thing. After 10 years co-fronting and writing for one of Denmark’s relentlessly upbeat and almost gratingly joyous pop bands, the time’s come for Stine to branch out on a solo project.

Here, she shares her debut solo single, “Prototypical.” It’s a piano and drums-driven ode to maturing, and letting go of early-twenties cynicism. Or, as she puts it: “It’s really a very biographical song. I never thought that I would find someone who I would want to spend the rest of my life with. I honestly believed that that kind of love only existed in fairytales and not in the real world. And I had no idea that I wanted it. But it turns out I’m just as prototypical as everyone else.”

The single combines percussive minimalism with carefully layered vocal harmonies. A female choir edges into the mix, in a way that veers the song away from dangerously cheesy territory and more towards the unbridled joy Karen O and co employed with their choral arrangement on Mosquito’s “Sacrilege” last year.

I’ve been told, in an email exchange with Alphabeat drummer Troels Møller, to chill out on any break-up rumours: Alphabeat aren’t throwing in the towel by any means, but are taking some time to flex their creative muscles on projects outside the six-piece band that first found international acclaim with singles like “Fascination” and “Love See,” in the late noughties. This is Stine’s chance, and it sounds like she’s going to run with it.

She’s been working on a forthcoming album, with Danish producer Nicholaj Rasted, writing songs over the past year. There aren’t further details confirmed on a full-length’s release date from her yet, but keep up with her updates on Facebook and Twitter to hear about it in the coming months. In the meantime, “Prototypical” drops on Monday January 20th.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

On a Loop: Childish Gambino – 3005

Where do I even begin justifying blogging about a song that's been out for, like, two months? For whatever reason, in early January, I've found it impossible to listen to Childish Gambino's "3005" just once, in any single sitting. I've been waking up with it in my head, playing it before breakfast, bumping it at least four times at work on a typical day, and looping it in the evenings. So yeah, my apparent insatiable obsession will just have to suffice as an explanation. That's cool, right?

Gambino, the rapper/actor born Donald Glover (no relation), is back on form with Because the Internet, his new (and very trendily titled) full-length. Because dropped on December 30, when I was knee-deep in family hangouts and nowhere near an internet connection, so I've been rinsing the 20-song deluxe edition since my return to London. 

When it comes to this single, that combination of video game-like synth bloops, shuddery bass and Gambino's breathless yet languid delivery gets me. Every time. And hey, having the choice of two videos to watch makes it all that much easier to listen to the single a minimum of two times in a row, which as you can probably tell from my fangirl insistence in this post, is exactly what I'm after.

Watch both videos here. The first features former porn star and current model/spokesperson Abella Anderson, webcamming her way to the top of the 2013 lyric video pile. In the other video, Gambino rides around on a ferris wheel with a creepy-ass giant teddy bear—one who looks markedly worse for wear by the end of their time together (and BLINKS. Ugh).

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Song of the Day: Latasha Alcindor – MOMA

Self-proclaimed twentysomething Latasha Alcindor, a rapper and hip hop artist based in Brooklyn, blows hot and cold on her single, MOMA. At first she comes off tough, with lyric “niggas sayin’ I’m going too hard, I say y’all just showing soft. So I wipe my ass with all of y’all,” dropping within the song’s opening 30 seconds. But then she ends the swipe with a girly giggle, before breathily singing a chantlike chorus–and cheekily coopting the museum’s name into an innuendo, inviting you to, er, suck her MOMA.

The song hones in on self-confidence, self-belief and an unapologetic commitment to being creative, on your own terms. On a landscape populated by a handful of tough female emcees, she’s likely to sit filed near Lil Kim, Angel Haze and Iggy Azalea, flow-wise. On a first listen, she actually brought to mind New York-based teen Leikeli47, who first made waves online in early 2012 with her self-titled mixtape. Both Leikeli and Latasha sing in an offhand fashion, not unlike Azealia Banks on her early mixtape cuts, where the vocals aren’t meant to sound pretty so much as deliver whatever their lyrical message may be.

Amidst the chest-puffing and self-hype, Latasha touches on Martin Luther King, Jr and Trayvon Martin in a cryptic and undulating pre-chorus. She nails a naughty but nice delivery throughout. Beats crafted by producer Ken 10 hold the entire affair together, and make this a track I can’t seem to help but hit ‘repeat’ on. The barely-there three-minute length doesn’t hurt, either. For now, MOMA’s available as a free download via Latasha’s Soundcloud page, and she apparently has more releases and videos planned for the coming year. Let’s wait and see.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Watch: Self-Titled – the Making of 'Beyoncé'

After about three weeks of intermittent YouTube uploads, Beyoncé's released all five parts of her "Self-Titled" video series. In the clips, she talks through the conception and execution of her eponymous, surprise-surprise fifth album, dropped without warning in mid-December. In case, for whatever reason, you weren't aware that she unleashed 14 songs and 17 videos for the album on iTunes, all at once, she and her team have used these little videos to take viewers behind the scenes of the whole secretive affair.

As a post-release marketing technique, it's brilliant — sort of a welcomed antithesis to Katy Perry's Prism or Gaga's never-ending, torturous campaign for ArtPop (which, in the end, failed to deliver commercially). Nope, instead of inundating fans and the press with video teasers and Instagram teasers and Facebook fan page photo teasers, Bey was busy posting pics of her vegan cupcakes when Beyoncé landed on iTunes at midnight on December 14. Fair enough.

Amidst the "is she a real feminist? Can she ever be a feminist? What even is a feminist now?" thinkpieces that rose to the surface in the days after the album's release, these videos came to represent a polished, yet honest explanation for some of the record's eyebrow-raisers (she has sex! And she sings about it! etc). After enduring her HBO documentary when it first came out, something about these three- to five-minute videos seems more earnest and less over-thought, and in a way becomes a more worthwhile glimpse into her process as a creative and a businesswoman. So dive on in.

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