So summer is just around the
corner and the concert season is heating up! Within just these past three weeks
since our latest New Music Mix, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to catch
Yelle otherwise known as the French
equation to Robyn, British musical
prodigy James Blake with Active Child, and Swedish indie singer Lykke Li live in concert. All were
equally awesome in their own right.
I have not had quite as much fun
at a show (probably since first seeing Robyn in concert) as I did when I saw
Yelle. Going into Yelle’s show I was only familiar with a few of her songs. The
TEPR remix of “A Cause des Garcons” was
posted on Perezhilton.com a few years ago and I knew that this gal had
something special, especially after the video went so viral.
Her latest hit “Safari Disco Club” is one
of my favorite pop songs this year. And even though I don’t quite understand a
word of what she is saying (and I took 8 years of French), I don’t feel like
you need to in order to enjoy her music. I thoroughly enjoyed her show start to
finish, not really having familiarity with any of the songs, and that doesn’t
often happen for me. I typically like what I know.
Yelle in concert
The energy at her show is what
is just so remarkable. She has the “It factor,” star power, she commands her
audience. Not to diss on Robyn, but I feel like comparing one to the other,
Yelle makes more of a lasting presence in her shows than the Swedish pop star
does. When Yelle walks on stage she owns the room, she owns the audience, and
after her show I wanted to own everything she has ever made. And I will see her
again very soon trust me. Keep your eye out for future Yelle dates.
Next I got to check out the sold
out show of UK producer, composer and much buzzed about musician James Blake with opener Active Child. Many of you I’m sure are
not that familiar with Active Child,
but it’s the latest project of Philadelphia choirboy turned indie pop musician Pat Grossi. While he relies on a harp
as a major component of his show, Grossi’s voice is the finest instrument on display. His show was nothing short of spiritual and hymnal and
James Blake has been garnering
praise from every music critic on the planet. He is the breakout star in a new
wave of post-dubstep influenced musicians and he has single-handedly defined his own genre which
relies heavily on silence accompanied by dubstep beats. His cover of Feist’s “Limit
to Your Love” is his finest piece and that which got me hooked on the man’s
style, while “The
Wilhelm Scream” made me a fan.
The live versions of both these
songs are just not quite as enjoyable as the recorded ones though. Like a high
school kid with a new subwoofer in his car, he jams up the bass way too high
and it actually made for an unenjoyable, unendurable experience at times;
however, despite this I have never seen an audience be so respectfully silent
during a show. Which was a neat sight.
Just last night I caught Lykke Li’s performance at Chicago’s The Metro. On a recent episode of Glee Tina Cohen-Chang perfectly described the budding artist: “she’s Bjork meets Florence + the Machine and a promising new talent.” Lykke Li’s sophomore album Wounded Rhymes just so happened to be released the exact same week as Adele’s 21 and after giving both a listen, I left enjoying Wounded Rhymes a considerable amount more. Which could be fighting words, but I honestly believe it’s that good.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ms Li’s works, her earlier experimental sounds with hits like “A Little Bit” and “I’m Good, I’m Gone” off her album debut Youth Novels made her an indie darling at her onset. Her latest album has shifted her sound noticeably into a more pop direction while still maintaining the uniqueness that brought her appeal. Her single “I Follow Rivers” is a perfect example. Her show last night was magestic and beautiful and well worth catching if you have the chance. Check out Lykke Li’s Tour Dates.
is disappointing. While I’m not even a fan yet of Tyler, The Creator’s music, he is already alienating an entire
audience by his disrespectful response to Tegan
& Sara regarding the homophobic subject matter in his lyrical content.
I got into a “which came first the chicken or the egg-style” debate earlier in
the week regarding whether or not music with homophobic content does in fact
shape the listener. I of course leaned towards the side that it does. I think
that those who have the power to influence others should use that power towards
positive change, and Tyler, The Creator’s homophobic jargon needs to be
discontinued if he really wants an outstanding career in the music marketplace.
Let’s hope this interaction leads to some change in this budding artist.
So it’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and I got the pleasure of
interviewing a pop star on the rise, former Nickeloden Spectactular! star Simon
Curtis. He recently participated at ArjanWrites.com’s “Superfraiche”
Showcase in New York City alongside Sky
Ferriera, an artist we here at AfterElton.com predicted
would break big in 2011. Past Superfraiche performers include V.V Brown, Dragonette and Scissor
Sisters’ Del Marquis, so being included is both an honor and a compliment
It was his first trip to New York City and he also just got
back from London, another first for the young artist who only launched his
music career online a year ago with the release of the well-received debut
album 8-bit Heart, which can still be
downloaded for free online at Simon-Curtis.com.
As he gears up for the release of his sophomore album, which he predicts will
be even more successful than his first, which was downloaded over 200,000
times, we catch up with the artist who is still unsigned, as he plans a summer
tour, releases a new single “Superhero” on iTunes,
and talks about his lucky break at a Britney
Spears singing competition.
AE: So you’re
presently based out of LA but tell me about where you’re from exactly?
SC: I’m from Oklahoma. I was born in Michigan. I lived in
Hawaii briefly, but I was raised in Oklahoma.
AE: So you’ve been
all over. Would you consider yourself an all American/Midwestern boy at heart
then? Or are you more Hollywood these days?
SC: I don’t really
know. I’m just me. That’s a tough question. I never really think of myself in
categories, so that’s a little difficult for me to answer. I feel like I’ve moved
on past my Midwestern southern roots, but I feel like I’ve retained my manners
that I was raised with… a blend of both, I guess.
AE: You seem very
well spoken and very polite, which is evident to your good upbringing.
SC: Well thank you. I’m kind of a misfit wherever I go. Find
me a new city and I’m probably inclined to say I belong there. That’s why I’m so taken with London right
now, and feel like I finally belong somewhere. Then give me six months there
and I’m sure I’ll be wondering what am I doing here?
AE: Well so you just
released a new single “Superhero” on iTunes and I’m curious are you going to be
giving your next album away for free like you did with your first one?
SC: No the album is for sale. The single is for sale and is
up on iTunes, Amazon, and Zune. The same will be true with the album.
AE: Are you going to
be working with the same producer, Jeff “Jadion” Wells,” that you worked with
on 8bit Heart?
SC: I did work with Jeff again on this album, and I also
worked with Frankmusik and some
other producers as well but those songs are not going to be on the album.
AE: Really? Did you
not like the direction of them or are you going to save them for a later date?
SC: I wanted to save some songs, but I really look at albums
telling a story and kind of being a complete package, and that cohesion
is a really big component for having a full comprehensive album that does tell
a story and that has a message. I recorded over 20 songs for this album but the
final track listing is going to have 14. It was more of an issue of putting out
the best, most cohesive album possible, as opposed to just being like “oh put
this song that I did with Frankmusik on here because he’s famous.” His songs
are amazing, I love them, but as far as going raw on this album, it’s just stronger
AE: Was that someone
else’s input that you took to heart or was that your own opinion when you heard
SC: Oh no, that was me, everyone else thinks I’m stupid for
not including this in there because he has the name and it could bring
attention to the album, but I believe very strongly in what I do, and
ultimately it’s a one man show, so I have the ability to make the decisions to
say no I think this is what’s best for my album and for me. I think the people
who loved my first album will respect that and I think they’re going to love
this one even more, because honestly it is such a better album. It’s above and beyond. I’m so proud of it.
AE: Aw I’m excited to
SC: Yeah I’m really, really amped about it, I was just
listening to mixes before you called. The album is almost completely finished.
There’s probably three songs left to be finished. We’ve been doing remixes for
AE: Well good because
the last album was excellent and for someone’s first album it was very
impressive. So this new one will be exceptional. So how did you and Jeff meet?
SC: I met Jeff in Tulsa, OK where I’m from. I spent the
summer in Nashville working as a counselor at a Jewish Community Center day
camp with my best friend. My mom called to tell me that this big Britney Spears singing competition was
coming to town, called the Britney Spears Samsung Superstar Karaoke Tour,
hosted by her management. You basically had to sing very American Idol style Britney Spears’ songs and the grand prize
winner Nationally got to be in Britney’s next video and got to record a demo
with Rodney Jerkins and got the
chance to be signed with a management deal with Johnny Right and Larry
Rudolf. I won the Tulsa one, and Jeff was there because he was a local
producer and he gave me his card, and he said he was putting together a
boyband. Now this was in 2003 and I kind of laughed as soon as he walked away
with my friends because this dude was putting together a boyband in Tulsa. But
a month later I decided to hit him up because I wanted to hear his tracks and
we’ve been working together ever since. I’m now the godfather to his child.
AE: Wow sounds like
you were at the right place at the right time. Well so on a different note, what
artists are you into right now?
SC: I’m really, really excited for Neon Hitch’s new album. The buzz single she released “Get Over U”
is so good. I burned myself out on Sky
Ferreira’s new album. She’s really sweet, and I just did a show with her in
New York. She has such a good voice. She really impressed me. I got to hear
some of her stuff last summer when she was working with Frankmusik. And that was at a really early stage when she was
working with him. At that point I was kind of unimpressed with her voice. But
when I heard her sing live, I was like ‘oh my gosh, you’re legit, this is
awesome.’ And then her EP came out and it was perfection. This past year of
course Robyn took over the world.
And then Britney Spears is always
there because, well she’s Britney Spears
AE: Have you taken a
listen to Gaga’s new album that leaked online this week?
SC: I downloaded it, and have skimmed through it. I can’t
really give a fair assessment to it yet. I think I’m going to really like
“Government Hooker,” that was my favorite, and I loved “You And I.” The
production on that totally threw me off, I was expecting another “Speechless”
and I had no idea that Mutt Lange
produced and it sounds like Shania Twain,
so I love it.
AE: So what was it
like performing at ArjanWrites’ Superfraiche showcase this year?
SC: It was amazing. I had never been to New York. That was
my first visit to New York City. It was such an incredible show. It was in
Brooklyn. It was a sold out show with Sky Ferreira. The crowd’s response was so
warm and passionate, which was very unexpected that the crowd went as crazy as
they did, especially after everything I had heard about a typical New York
audience, especially in Brooklyn for a pop artist. It was such a positive
experience. I sang a Britney Spears a cappella song that was the highlight of
AE: Which song did
SC: I sang “Hit Me Baby
(One More Time).” The show was the week Femme
Fatale came out and I like to sing a cappella at my shows because when you
sing with a track, and the track has backing vocals on it, it can kind of cloud
your voice. Typically at shows I like to have a moment where I stop and very
AE: So what’s next for
you? You have this album coming out. Are you looking at embarking on a tour?
SC: My immediate next step is I’m taking meetings with Music
Managers and I’m trying to get a booking agent. My biggest goal this summer is
that I’d like to go on a small club tour and get an opening act. I’ve done
several shows this past year, but they’ve all been one-offs, not a proper tour.
So I’m really exited to do my first tour. In the immediate future I have a new
single coming out soon and then the album shortly after that. I’m keeping my
fingers crossed that people will take to this new album they way did to the last
one. I’m pretty sure they will because this one’s so much better.
AE: Well the first
one was great so you’ve got me excited for it. What’s on deck for the rest of
SC: I’m about to go do cardio. But I’d rather be laying out
outside drinking a mojito
AE: Well I’m about to go for a run too, and I know what I’ll be listening to… your new single “Superhero.”
So I listened to Lady Gaga’s new album Born This Way, and I have to say it’s
surprisingly not the sophomore slump that I had predicted.
definitely no “Poker Face,” “Telephone” or even “Bad Romance”-style megahits on
the album, there are an abundance of quality well-produced beautiful tracks
that exemplify just how amazing a singer this Gaga gal is. If anyone had the
chance to hear Gaga premiere her third single “Edge of Glory” on Saturday Night Live over the weekend,
then you know what I mean. The song has this anthemic, almost Olympic
opening-ceremony greatness to it. It’s very enjoyable and quite the antithesis
to “Judas,” a song that I despise and when the music video premiered I could
not bring myself to watch with the audio playing. Another outstanding song on
the album is “Marry The Night,” which will surely be a single. “Heavy Metal
Lover” and “Electric Chapel” are both heavily infused, some might say
influenced by Robyn style
electro-pop, which I of course love.
Overall, Born This Way is a solid effort by Gaga, and while the general
public opinion has not been so kind to her first singles, I think taking a
listen to the full album will win some over. I’d give it a B+.
So what singles have I been obsessing over lately?
Well here goes…
1. The Good Natured
– “Your Body Is A Machine.”
If you like the Cranberries,
then you’re going to love The Good
2. Bon Iver –
song “Calgary” is as good as any Bon Iver song I’ve ever
heard. And I had been worried that by teaming up with Kanye West this
past year on West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy could
have been a double-edged sword. Could all this mainstream attention cause
this talented ensemble to lose some of what made their music so special? After
a listen, I’d have to say “No.”
I have not
liked a song with minimal lyrics quite this much since Eric Prydz
put out “Pjanoo”
4. Calvin Harris
& Kelis – “Bounce”
Calvin Harris has
teamed up with Kelis on his latest
single “Bounce” and it is a musical marriage well worth hearing. Kelis sounds
as great as she did on her Flesh Tone album,
and Harris brings his A-game on the beats.
5. Lady Gaga –
“Marry The Night (Zedd Remix)”
will rock your socks off. Guaranteed.
Swedish House Mafia – Save The World Tonight
This song is one that I’ve been dying for an official chance
to share with you guys. Swedish House
Mafia are a super-group of already established House Music DJ’s from Sweden
consisting of Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso and this is going to be a stellar hit for these
guys, a David Guetta/Kelly Rowland
“When Love Takes Over” sized mega-hit. You heard it here first.
Beyonce – “Girls Who Run The World”
B has released the video for “Run The World (Girls).” I’m
not really feeling this single, what do you guys think?
New York City-based duo Cults
have released a beautiful video for their single “Abducted.” It’s super indie
at it’s best and easily likable.