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May 9, 2020 Interview with rising star Canadian pop singer Valdii

Interview with rising star Canadian pop singer Valdii

Pop singer Valdii originally hails from Canada, where he went on to study music in his native city of Toronto. In the years to follow Valdii was swiftly spotted by Warner Music, who signed him up to a major-label deal as the lead singer of Eleven Past One. Their debut release, ‘The World is Ours’, became a gold-certified smash hit earning over a million views on Youtube alone.

Choosing to strike out as an independent artist, Valdii released his first single, ‘Toxic’ in June this year. We’ve included his latest single, ‘Comfortable’ for your enjoyment below. It’s one of our favourite parts of the industry, watching the artists develop into their unrestrained selves. We decided to sit down for an interview with him and learn a little more about this rising talent.

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

Some of my earliest entries into music appreciation would have to be singing and performing with my older sister in our family home. We would put on ‘shows’ for our family where we would sing, dance and even have outfit changes. Also, I was raised singing in the Church, so I began to hone my singing voice and performing talent from there really.

If you could paint a picture of your unique sound, what would it look like?

Well, that’s a little difficult to answer myself, but I would have to say that my voice stands out from the rest. I’ve had many people tell me that there’s something about it. It draws people in. I think growing up singing gospel music is a bit of a reason for that. And when you put that kind of a compelling voice-over catchy pop production, I think there’s magic there.

What are some of your key musical influences?

I usually like to answer this question without quickly jumping to the most common Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston answer. I feel like my musical influences really stem from many different people. It could be my brother that influences me to be great because he’s so great at playing the guitar. It could be Justin Timberlake because he was one of the first big musicians I saw in concert. Mostly, when I’m making music and producing, I’m thinking of what music is most listened to and then I try and put my own spin on it.

What’s on your current playlist?

Sam Smith – ‘How Do You Sleep’, Ed Sheeran feat Khalid – ‘Beautiful People’, Old Dominion – ‘One Man Band’, Lewis Capaldi – ‘Someone You Loved’, The Chainsmokers & Bebe Rexha – ‘Call You Mine’, Billie Eilish & Justin Bieber – ‘Bad Guy’… I could go on, but you get the idea.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

Usually, I’ll set aside a certain time frame to have writing sessions/writing trips and I’ll team up with successful writers and producers to have these sessions where we just create together and we end up writing a song in a day or two then producing it right after that. I’m always jotting down ideas in my notes on my iPhone, whether it’s one word, a couple, a full sentence or even more. So most of the time on these writing trips I’ll go back into my notes and see what I’ve culminated over the past little while and I’ll pick and choose what I’m feeling to write about or what’s most important to me. Other times, I’ll just sit down on the piano and start writing spontaneously.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Honestly, being around a successful creative team gets my juices flowing. For me, it’s usually being in the right place and being surrounded by the right elements. I feel like that’s where my best music thus far has transpired.

As an artist, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?

I would probably change the way artists get paid, and how much they get paid for their music/craft. I think streaming has sort of robbed artists a bit, but I realize that this is where the industry has landed for now and you just have to evolve with it. Go with the punches so to speak. I think I’d also change the way radio chooses to play an artists song. If the song is a great song, I think music directors at radio stations should take a chance with it, like the old days, instead of waiting for the song to get millions of streams.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

It’s super amazing when you see and hear people singing the words to your song while performing

May 9, 2020 Interview with Manchester-based singer/songwriter Ellysse Mason

Interview with Manchester-based singer/songwriter Ellysse Mason

Manchester-based singer/songwriter Ellysse Mason began to make serious musical waves. In the last year alone she’s sold-out Manchester’s Deaf Institute, headlined Academy 3 and racked up over 1.5million streams for her debut single ‘Hunt Me Down’ on Spotify.

As she moves to bigger venues and festival stages, she is becoming a live act to be reckoned with. Dark, haunting melodies combine with deft guitar playing to create an ethereal, otherworldly sound that has drawn comparisons to Joni Mitchell, Billie Eilish and Massive Attack.

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

The first Artist I really remember falling in love with was Jack Johnson. I saw him on a video from a live show he did when I was about 12 and that inspired me to take up the guitar and perform. A bit further down the line, I discovered Joni Mitchell, in fact, I don’t even really remember when it was specifically. I was going down a bit of a rabbit hole of the 60s and 70s music and I just remember realising one day that I was a huge fan of hers all of a sudden. She definitely influenced my early vocal/writing style. As for production, I’ve only just started to think of myself in those terms, but I do remember the impact that Moby’s track “Porcelain” had on me and it’s still one of my favourite songs.

What are some of your key musical influences?

At the moment the stuff I’m listening to that’s influencing my material most is probably: HAIM, Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish and 1975

If you could paint a picture of your unique sound, what would it look like?

It would probably be a scene set in outer space… but weird.. If there was a 1960’s Motel/Diner on the moon… Something like that… With neon.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

I always put the melody first. Everything else comes after. But I do work with the production in mind for very early in the process. I always sit and write on logic just using it to play guitar or keys and vocals through, so I have the effects or the synths running right from the start and have an idea of the vibe from the beginning.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

When I hear a PROPER good tune. One that gives you the fuzzies. It makes me wanna write straight away.

As an artist, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?

At the moment I only really know one scene and that’s the one in Manchester. Everyone here supports everyone else. It’s a great place to be a musician so I feel really lucky to get to do what I do.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

My first big headline show was for my last EP launch and we sold out Deaf Institute in Manchester. It was amazing to play to a full house at a larger venue like that for the first time. I’ve played bigger shows since, but that one was really special. And the buzz you get from the crowd being fully involved in the music and singing along to your songs is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

I played at Band On The Wall last year and when I played one of my new songs (I Could Make It Better) as a solo performance in the middle of the set (I was playing a full band show btw), the whole crowd erupted, and then the applause just kept dying down and then swelling back up, over and over again, as you get at much bigger shows. It was such an amazing feeling!

What would you like to achieve with your music? What does success look like to you?

I just want to reach as many people as I can and hopefully make enough from each album so that I get to make another one… Anything else on top of that is just icing on the cake.

What’s on your current playlist?

Phoebe Bridgers – Dua Lipa – Sam Fender – Lana Del Rey – The Weeknd

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

The plan is to release a string of singles this year on the run-up to an album at some point in the not too distant future. With everything that’s going on, it’ll probably be a little slower than planned, but everything is still in motion, and once lockdown lifts I’ll be back to full speed!

Follow Ellysse Mason online 

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

May 7, 2020 Interview with London-based electronic/alt-R&B/Hip-hop duo E L E V N S

Interview with London-based electronic/alt-R&B/Hip-hop duo E L E V N S

London-based electronic/alt-R&B/Hip-hop duo E L E V N S made their debut in 2019 with their first single ‘Let Me In’ hitting Spotify’s New Music Friday on release day. They have been busy travelling between London, Paris, NYC and LA performing and finding artists to collaborate with, including getting endorsements from companies such as Soundbrenner and ROLI.

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

Gramm: I was lucky to be part of a band when I was 15 years old. My first gig was probably the best memory I have and also one of the reasons I’m into music. The excitement mixed with stress before going on stage became like a drug. I only started producing at the age of 25 and hearing the first song done from scratch without having to work with other producer was quite a proud moment.

Aurelian: I started playing the drums when I was 12 and I was listening to a lot of different things like Michael Jackson and Blink-182. I had a few bands and like Gramm, performing live became a drug. I would go to jam sessions and play with other musicians for hours. I realised I could produce and write music myself after listening to Ben Kenny, bass player for Incubus. He made an EP where he recorded everything and that was the moment I started producing but it only got serious in the last 5 years for me.

What are some of your key musical influences?

We take inspiration from everywhere, we’re like sponges that absorb anything that could be inspiring. We both listen to a variety of musical styles but in general, it gravitates around Hip-Hop/Soul with artists like Chance the Rapper, Aminé, Brasstracks, Anderson.Paak and Mac Miller, pop with Ariana Grande and Justin Timberlake and electronic with Snakehips, Kaytranada and 20Syl / Alltta. 

If you could paint a picture of your unique sound, what would it look like?

It would look like a KAWS painting,  lots of colours and dynamism.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

We really believe that the more people you work with the more magic you can create. But we don’t really have a specific process. We always start the two of us and then we send a beat to an artist we know or that we found on Instagram. We especially target some artists we love by scouting on Spotify and then reach out to them on IG. With overseas collaboration, most of the time artists would write, record themselves and send us the vocals. From then we wrap up the production. But sometimes we would have a session at ours or in a studio with some friends or artists and do everything in one day.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

We’re more coffee guys than juices so a nice flat white or latte would work best (laughs)! To be more serious, it is the vibe a sound or a drumbeat can create. Creativity is something you need to cease when it comes because you can’t invoke it. For us, it is a lot about the vibe and good energy that things, like travelling and being surrounded by cool people, bring to us. The opposite of quarantine basically (laughs).

As an artist, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?

Spotify should remove the number of streams, followers and monthly listeners like Apple Music does so people would judge less on the number of streams and focus more on the music.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

It is awesome! We can really feel the energy they bring and how they interact with us. As we feature different vocalist along with the show, the vibes change often and it keeps a nice dynamic. One of the best crowds we had was when we played Sofar Sounds, people are really here to listen to the music and you can bond with them easily.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

The most memorable one was being added to Spotify New Music Friday on our first ever release ‘Let Me In’. That was insane! We didn’t have any fan base, a few followers on Instagram but that was it (laughs)!

What would you like to achieve with your music? What does success look like to you?

We would like to do big tours, travel the world, connect with new people and have fun with our music. Obviously there is all the fame and being able to live off your music but when people move their head to the music and we can see them smile and enjoy, this is a success!

What’s on your current playlist?

There’s a lot of music but here’s a little list (laughs): 

Goner (feat. Audrey Mika) by Souly Had 

Blueberry Cadillac by Landon Sears

Blue World by Mac Miller

The Plug (feat. Drelli) by Party Pupils

Backyard by Kota the Friend

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

We are currently working on releasing a song a month and we’ve got some amazing collaborations mainly coming from the US with Atlanta based singers Zach Paradis and Jaylon Ashaun again and Danny Diamonds from Boston. We are also working on a new live set to perform when things will be back to normal after COVID-19!

Famous last words?

Hasta la vista, baby!

Follow E L E V N S online

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

April 17, 2020 Interview with music producer and singer Becca Stevens

Interview with music producer and singer Becca Stevens

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Becca Stevens continues her “WONDERBLOOM” campaign with a new full-length album, once again titled “WONDERBLOOM”, which was released March 20th 2020. The first track from the album is ‘Good Stuff’, 

Becca Stevens again defies all expectation, this time dreaming up a groove-heavy, dance-ready sound infused with elements of pop and funk and R&B. With its bright textures and uptempo rhythms, “WONDERBLOOM” also finds Becca achieving a profound complexity in her lyrics, ultimately redefining what’s possible in creating music that elevates and deities.

What are some of your earliest memories of music?

Rehearsing in the family band, the Tune Mammals! Getting in the stinky minivan and driving around to festivals and schools in North Carolina to perform silly/witty children’s songs with my family. Singing and performing in musicals on stage as a kid. Recording little clips of myself singing on a Fisher-Price tape recorder. Making up dances to MC Hammer and Paula Abdul. Making up rambling songs about literally everything. 

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

  1. I’m either inspired, or I have an assignment which leads me to seek the inspiration I need to pull me in.  
  2. I pick up an instrument and start noodling, or open GarageBand/Logic and record a drum loop or a bass line or a texture, or start journaling, or start singing a melody wordlessly or with words, or start walking in a circle and thinking, or lay on the bed and ask myself questions, etc… 
  3. I follow whatever part of the process is most inviting and serving the song to the best of my ability. 
  4. I try to avoid shutting down the process by listening to my inner critic too much early on. Keep moving. Follow what’s working. Don’t think too much. 
  5. I keep my eyes and mind open for sparks, or cues from the muse. (Once the inspiration is ignited, and the muse is involved it’s much easier to get along with my inner critic). 
  6. When I find the spark or moments that are working musically/lyrically/narratively, I write it down/record it/capture it in some way.
  7. When I lose the plot, I ask myself questions like: How can I best serve this song? Who’s speaking in this song? Where are they? What are they doing? What story are they trying to tell? Does the music tell the same story as the text? etc. I come back to these questions over and over and over again to reset, clarify, and refocus. 
  8. Stay committed till I find the feeling that it’s done. Like baking a cake, you can often smell when it’s done before you open the over to look. And I comfort myself with the knowledge that I can always change it again tomorrow. 

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

A balance of all three! Triangle! Triptych! Trinity!

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

My favourite responses though are when kids like my music. Kids singing or dancing along to my music is the highest form of flattery. When people tell me that my music has helped them through really hard times. I keep those words in a special compartment in my heart that I try to remember to draw from/remind myself of when I’m down about my career or artistry. Memorable responses have also been times when my music has disturbed someone so much that they felt the need to storm out in the middle of a song, write me a letter about how much they don’t like it or write a scathing review. Learning to lean into those responses as well and see a bit of humour in what’s happening there.

If you could put together a radio show, what kind of music would you play?

ALL kinds of good music. Music that inspires me. Traditional music. Music with beautiful stories. Music that defies categorization. Music from all over the world. I think I would choose a theme or feeling for each episode and make a playlist that plays into the theme or feeling… oooh I’m ready to start this radio show.

Name five artists and their albums who would appear on your radio show

1.Juana Molina 2.Bassekou Kouyate Ngoni Ba 3. Wye Oak 4. Bothy Band 5. Snoop Dogg

What would you like to achieve with your music? What does success look like to you?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you do, then you will be successful.” (Been digging around for who said this. I’ve narrowed it down to either Albert Schweitzer or the Buddha.) I would take this one step further and say if you love what you are doing, then you ARE successful. But like anyone I have dreams I associate with success in my field, like touring with my band in a tour bus, playing Madison Square Garden, winning a GRAMMY, or making enough money on the road that the schedule is less than brutal.

One last thought to leave your fans with?

Make the music/art/live the life that inspires you. If you create something hoping to impress others, and they aren’t impressed, then you’ve wasted your time completely. If you make something you aren’t terribly excited about and it does impress others, then you are known for something you don’t believe in. As long as you are creating things/making choices you believe in, then it is time well spent.

Follow Becca Stevens online 

YouTube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter