"You and I" is the first track from Anja Kicken's debut EP. The song immediately delivers a warm and romantic atmosphere with minimal keys and a sample of a crackling fireplace. As Anja's vocals enter the mix, my expectations are set to hear an intimate piano ballad, but a deep, groovy synth and rock beat arrive to subvert them. The track is still totally a love song, written for new lovers, packaged in a downtempo/indielectro/R&B wrapper. Listen to this when you're feeling both wistful and hopeful - Anja won't let you down.
Who are your biggest influences; who inspires you?
I'm influenced by everything from Rage Against the Machine to J.S.Bach. Phantogram, Bjork, Sia, Led Zepplin, Queen, The Glitch Mob, I would say i'm influenced a lot by any music that has a very dominant emotive quality. If I hear it, and it makes me feel something, then I like it!
Why did you start making music?
I started making music I think because I have like tons of feels haha. Music has been the thing in my life that has been a total outlet and like so foundational, it's always there for me, I can always depend on it, and it's so fun. It's like my best friend, or like a whole community I'm in - but all my friends are waves.
Your EP "Century of Self" was released in February this year, what influenced the sound and songwriting for the tracks?
This EP is really a collection of singles that were all written over about a year, with the exception of one track, Pangea. I had written that song years previously, but it suddenly felt relevant in my life again. Since I had never really been able to capture it well in a recording I thought I'd try reworking it. Ultimately I was really happy with how it came out! As far as the sound of the EP overall I'd say I'm really interested in the convergence of analog/organic sounds and digital/electronic sounds. That intersection is really interesting to me so I continue to try new things, bringing together "real" instruments with virtual ones but still maintain that emotional connection that I feel is so central. I write, play all the instruments, sequence all the sounds, produce and mix everything on this record.
What's your songwriting process?
I usually start on guitar, I've been playing guitar since I was a child and it's super easy for me to get my feelings or inspiration out of my head or my heart, then through my body and instrument, then into the air that way. It's really easy for me to write whenever I'm feeling really strongly about any particular thing, then I just channel that feeling like a lazer and music comes out of me. I usually start with just like some chords that feel right and then the melody develops around the chords, words start coming in to describe what I'm experiencing and then through lots of iterations the lyrics form. I really spend a lot of time on lyrics even though I think most people really don't care that much what I'm saying. It's important to me and part of making something that is true and real, which I feel like is really important culturally right now. Then I kind of deconstruct it and start recording sounds and creating beats and stuff - sometimes from start to finish it's the same general vibe - but other times what I started with on guitar sound legit nothing like the final thing.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
I would say almost all of my lyrics and music have hidden meanings, or things that are so particular to the story of the song that they would be a little puzzling to try and figure out. I've done lots of things that way I guess when I stop to think about it, encoding meaning in the lyrics is really fun for me, I've even hidden meaning in binary code in lyrics before.
What are your future plans for your music?
I want to continue to create and explore that intersection of the real and the virtual, I see the genre I'm trying to create as kind of an expression of augmented reality, where I'm using computation to enhance the landscape of sounds in real time. I'm constantly looking for ways to be more emotive on the digital side, and create my own human/computer interaction devices and setups so I can interact with the sounds physically. I also want to get better at sharing what I've made because I put so much effort into it! I think there's nothing better when I hear some music that happens to be just right for the moment, and makes me feel fully alive, so if I could ever share something that does that for someone, or just helps them through their day, I'd be mega stoked. I need to get better at social media and promotion things - I'm awful because I spend all my time creating stuff and thinking about creating stuff then it's hard to have energy left over for that part - which I think happens to lots of us! So super grateful to be on your blog!
What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
The visual art, poetry, performance art, and music of all of my friends!
"Not Your Type" is one of Bailie's most recent tracks, currently released on Soundcloud, but I'm hoping for a wider release on other platforms. The song begins with an atmospheric synth and Bailie's vocals, which remind me slightly of Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast, though Bailie's lyrical content isn't quite as dark. The track eventually adds layers of glittering arpeggiated synth, drums, and additional electronic sounds. Even though the composition is built with electronic elements, the fabricated ambiance manages to have an acoustic feel about it. "Not Your Type" is a breakup song meant for passing ships in the night - sometimes people just don't line up - the track is sad, but hopeful.
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"Hebedo" is the second single released from Apoptosis, and it showcases Liyv's ethereal voice and her talent composing experimental soundscapes. The track begins with some skittering electronic sounds over a deep synth and playful keys, pulling back as Liyv's vocals add new depth. I can't help but think of Megan James' (of Purity Ring) vocal stylings as I listen to "Hebedo" - spritely and playful. The song takes quite a few turns in it's short duration, making the experience feel much longer than in reality. I can only compare the track to a piece of origami, a piece of paper deliberately folded to create something three-dimensional. Put Liyv's music on and take a long walk - I guarantee she'll add a bit of magic to your day.
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The audio aesthetic, matching tones, timbre, the development of the groove throughout the song - all these variables play into what makes a groove legit. Tiger Mimic approaches grooves with a focus and swagger that only maturing musicians can achieve. It's about picking spots, biding time and knowing when to "open up." The guitarist's tone selections through out the lead lines show attitude without blowing the spot up. "I Took Off My Body" is dripping with sensuality without being transparent, giving the song depth. These are hallmarks of a song that will leave your ears happy as it plays on repeat. Bravo.
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"Atomic Love" showcases Djan's skillful combination of acoustic and electronic sounds. It's a fun, sprightly song with a pop melody. The track begins with a couple measures of nothing but strummed guitar, then the rest of the musical elements join in. Djan's vocals are lovely and fairy-like. Her playful way of singing combined with the acoustic sounds of the song remind me a bit of Sixpence None The Richer. However, the electronic and spacey sounds that ebb and flow through the track add to Djan's unique sound. "Atomic Love" is a song for the lovers who find themselves unable to think straight. We all need a little "Atomic Love" in our lives - it's satisfying, overwhelming, and might just blow up!
The track begins with a stripped down rock beat, then introduces a deep bass and sparkling keys. The electronic elements inform the listener that the song is more than it appears, and finally a playful electric guitar chimes in. The instrumentation composes the stage for an atmospheric alt-pop song - much more chill than what you'd imagine if asked to listen to a new K-Pop song. "Disappearing Ways" is an anthem for the change of the seasons, for moments that slip between your fingertips. Sit back, relax, and let it all fade away.
Built on a great groove, the progressive influences of the production do a great job of throwing some listeners for a loop. I began the song expecting certain turns and actions and after a few bars, it became apparent that we were headed down a different musical path. Lord Dodongo guides the listener through a gauntlet of guitar phrasing and groove turns that in some ways remind me of The Mars Volta, masters at defying sonic expectations. The guitar lead lines are well placed, sharp and well executed. "Red Swine" painted my mind with thoughts of serial killers, violence and debauchery...and I liked it. This song is right at home on a Halloween playlist. Lord Dodongo - you nailed it. I would love to see a video for this.
Her song, "Chambers," from her upcoming EP of the same moniker, demonstrates her ability to merge genres to create a humid, dreamy atmosphere. The track begins without waiting to showcase the lush soundscape with creamy synth and 'verbed-out vocals. A simple drum track and bass are added, serving to deepen the sonic experience - becoming more intricate and groovy as the sounds erupt, overflowing as the song comes to an end.
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