It’s been nearly three months since GRiZ released his sixth studio album, Ride Waves, which saw the producer branch out into new creative territory. The 14-track compilation featured collaborators such as Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, blending GRiZ’s distinctive funk and bass style with high-profile artists. Now, just a few months after the full Ride Waves album release, the producer is back with a brand new EP.
The three-track EP is titled Bangers.Zip and showcases GRiZ’s sonic diversity at its finest. The compilation begins with “Voodoo,” which blends heavy dubstep drops with light reggae melodies. Fans may also recognize “Ice Cream,” a track from the EP he’s been previewing on season one of his tour.
In addition to the Bangers.Zip, GRiZ has announced 18 new tour dates for his Ride Waves tour. The next leg of the tour will see GRiZ take on massive venues like Boston’s Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, Chicago’s Navy Pier at Festival Hall, Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, Los Angeles’ Hollywood Palladium, and Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. Find tickets and more information here.
Photo credit: @jsiegelphotography/Instagram
Firefly Music Festival may be an all-ages event, but one attendee’s behavior was certainly not PG. The Delaware camping festival had its eighth iteration June 21-23 in the Woodlands with headliners Kygo, Zedd, Tyler, the Creator, Louis the Child, Alison Wonderland, DJ Snake, and more.
On day two of Firefly, a 21-year old festival-goer stripped naked and streaked through the Budlight concert tent venue—knocking over DJ equipment in the process. According to the police, the man was a Delaware resident. Dover police Cpl. Mark Hoffman told a local paper that the streaker was arrested on misdemeanor criminal mischief charges and later taken to the medical tent for “a medical issue related to his intoxication level.”
Another festival-goer posted on Reddit that the streaker punched her boyfriend. Other users commented on their encounters with the streaker as well, with some also getting hit and others simply playing witness, but expressing concerns regarding the streaker’s safety.My boyfriend after being punched by the streaker! If anyone knows him let him know, no hard feelings, come over for a beer sometime! from r/FireflyFestival
H/T: Consequence of Sound
Photo credit: Jenna Miller / Delaware News Journal
Less than a month before the would-be third edition of SunSoaked music festival, Kaskade has confirmed that his beachfront brainchild will not be returning to Long Beach for its scheduled two-day run mid-July.
“…At a little less than three weeks out, it’s become obvious to me that we are falling short, and I’ve been left with an impossible choice,” reads a Kaskade-signed announcement via the festival’s homepage.
Kaskade was expected to headline the July 13-14 2019 iteration of the festival, alongside Maryland-born rapper, Logic, who, with the backing of Live Nation, was helping champion the festival’s production this year. Canadian singer/songwriter Grimes and Detroit’s Quinn XCII also topped the 2019 ticket. SunSoaked began in 2017, nearly tripling in size for its sold-out follow-up in 2018.
Though Kaskade has yet to expound on the particulars hindering the event, ticket-holders are expected to be fully reimbursed with no action necessary on their parts, per the announcement. With the festival front, an invariably volatile market as it is, more saturated than ever, SunSoaked is one of many promising festivals in recent years to officially fold. But discernment and transparency have certainly proven far more favorable in the long run on organizers’ behalves.
Photo Courtesy of Kaskade
Clarian‘s amid a streak of releases that have so far found homes on Culprit and Watergate. Now, he lends his masterful touch to a brand new project, HOKI.
“Almost Home” is HOKI’s first single. The nascent duo are coming up in the live space, where they’ve been honing in on a pleasantly melodic aesthetic that translates to easy listening. Clarian takes these motifs, already present in the original, and enhances them. The result is a beguiling tune, with its breathy vocals folding gently into sharp percussion and a reimagined melodic arrangement. In upping the tempo and emphasizing 4/4 time signature, Clarian has made “Almost Home” into an emotive dancefloor weapon.
“Almost Home” is also the first taste of HOKI’s album, which will be released sometime toward the end of 2019.
Photo credit: Marco Lammatteo
As the return of Swedish House Mafia continues to dominate headlines, one member of the Scandinavian trio in particular is still hard at work on his own solo productions. Indeed, Axwell—real name Axel Christofer Hedfors — is back in the fold to prove he’s still firing on the release front, delivering his first cut of the year entitled, “Don’t Worry.”
This track arrives out on Axwell’s label, Axtone Records, in collaboration with Redfield, aka Neil Barrett. Being a seasoned producer with releases on Spinnin‘, Armada and Big Beat, Barrett is a welcome addition to the renowned label housing.
“Don’t Worry” continues the trend Hedfors has been following of late, regarding the sonically sophisticated sound his catalog has exuded in recent years. Rather than the sensational, tear-jerking EDM appeal of Swedish House Mafia, this track represents a talent for restraint. The bass line is tightly wound to the drums creating a comprehensive groove that supports warm synths and succinct vocals.
In the context of Lil Nas X‘s release history, much like the horses of the viral hit, “Old Town Road” is now “in the back,” as the rapper’s debut EP, 7, begins to circulate. The eight-cut showing fittingly opens with the Billy Ray Cyrus-assisted remix of “Old Town Road,” in a nod to the track that first propelled the fledgling artist into mainstream prominence. A tough act to follow given its infectious, undeniably catchy appeal, “Old Town Road” precedes “Panini.”
The second song of the EP, “Panini” is further evidence of Lil Nas X’s acute ear for crafting tunes that are capable of securing smash-hit status. Lil Nas X scraps the country constructions of “Old Town Road” for favor of a half-rapped half-sung style that is traditionally hip-hop-leaning in its arrangement. To extend the country imagery of “Old Town Road,” “Panini” proves that Lil Nas X is far from a one-trick “pony.”
Lil Nas X calls on Cardi B for a feature on “Rodeo,” the sole collaborative effort of the production, “Old Town Road – Remix” notwithstanding. The remaining collection of EP inclusions illustrate a variety of musical influences to have been active in Lil Nas X’s development of the debut showing.
Photo credit: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Wingstop
The capricious New York weather looked favorably upon EDX‘s NO XCUSES boat party: a crisp breeze offset the warmth of the sun, as ticket-holders gathered on the multistory Hornblower Infinity yacht for a day soaked in house music. Produced in conjunction with Crust Nation as a part of the metropolitan event brand’s 2019 summer concert series, the NO XCUSES affair attracted Tom Staar and Antonia Giacca, both of which provided ample and animated support behind the decks.
The NO XCUSES cruise, hosted on June 15, afforded attendees an upbeat sonic release from routine, but for EDX, the event as more than just an afternoon well spent; rather, it was a culmination of decades of hard work in and outside of the studio, a live emblem of passion and industrious drive to chase a dream. Dancing Astronaut caught up with EDX after his vivifying set on board the Hornblower, to discuss the conception of the NO XCUSES party series, his Grammy nomination, his latest single, “Ubuntu,” and that’s just scratching the surface.
We are here for the 2019 installment of what has become an annual event, your NO XCUSES boat party. Can you tell me how the cruise has become a summer staple in the New York event circuit?
[My team and I] started doing [these kinds of] events a couple of years back. The first event actually was in Switzerland, in Surrey which is my home city, and we used that for a kick off of my first album, which was called On The Edge. It carried over to Miami for Miami Music Week about seven years ago, we went from Miami to Australia to São Paulo to Zurich to Vegas during EDC. I really love to play on a boat, which I’ve done in New York since 2009, always in the summer, so I wanted to do a NO XCUSES boat party. We did NO XCUSES bus tour, we did NO XCUSES at Webster Hall, across the nation, but I like the feeling of being on a boat: the wind, the water, everyone is happy with a good vibe, and that’s what my music is for.
[The event] is the second one this year. We have a bigger boat and more talent.
You were recently nominated for a Grammy for your remix of Charlie Puth’s “How Long.” Where were you when you found out about the nomination, how were you feeling at the time, tell me that story…
In 2009 I had a really big remix–which helped pave the career for Kaskade–[it was of] his track, “Angel On My Shoulder.” That was the moment when I started to step into the US market. The door was open and I was like ‘We really need to focus on the US, because one day the US is really going to blow,” which happened a couple of years later with the whole EDM movement, [when] raves went next level. We worked really hard picking the right songs, the right artists, and mixing them, with always having the idea, or let’s even call it the dream, of one day being a Grammy-nominated artist. It took us about 10 years.
I was on a flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Atlanta. I was connecting to play a show in the US, and I started to get all of these text messages from my friends: ‘Hey congratulations, congratulations.’ I actually slept the whole flight so the last hour before I was landing I turned on my phone and connected to the WiFi and I got this great news, and it was amazing because my partner Christian and myself worked really hard, over 10 years to achieve that goal. We went all together to the Grammys, it was like a family thing, because all of this happened because of teamwork. It was a really, really cool experience.
You’re very well known for crafting animated house remixes of original productions. What, specifically, attracted you to Puth’s “How Long”?
The reason why I picked “How Long” was because my niece–she just turned 18, back then she was 16–kept saying ‘You have to remix Charlie Puth, I really love him, please Uncle, please please.’ And I was like okay, I’m going to do it for her, and the good thing is, when I got that vocal sent over from the team at Atlantic and laid it into my set in the studio, everything went really quick, it was just the perfect vocal for an EDX record.
Generally speaking, what are the hallmarks of a song that you would go on to remix? What does an original production need to have in order to catch your eye as a track that would lend itself well to an EDX revamp?
I’m always looking either for the right melody, right chord progression, or just an amazing song, and if not an amazing song, then a vocal chop or small snips, a mini chorus. I’m always looking to a different edge, something alternative, something that I feel can make a difference when combined with my music.
Your radio show, No Xcuses, recently wrapped up its 432nd episode: do you have any big plans in store for the milestone 500th episode?
We’ll still keep going with the radio show; [we’ve been doing it] for eight years, every week, and it started just because I felt that I got all this love from my fans and a lot of support for my music in the US. And I was like ‘Hey, what can I do to give something back, to give something to my fans once a week for free?’ This started, and became part of my week, part of my month, and part of my life. We turned it into a radio brand to an event brand with a lot of satellites all over the world. It’s a great thing.
From now to #500, there will be a lot of music, a lot of touring. Once I wanted to do an event in the mountains, like NO XCUSES snow 500, 400, 300, something special, something out of the box to connect where I’m from with the music and the crowd, make a live stream and invite people to come over, fly people in. Maybe it will be #500, who knows, but we will make it creative. Maybe also it will be time to say goodbye, and start something new.
So switching gears a bit, but still thinking with the future in mind, specifically with respect to your label, you just released “Ubuntu” on June 21. Can you say anything about the making of the single?
I’ve been releasing so many songs, I did so many remixes and it’s been ongoing: a great journey for me. It’s always something special to have a new release. I still remember when I released my first CD in 1997 back in the day. It was such an exciting thing to hold your own CD in your hands. You went to the store, you turn it, and you read your name, and it’s very special. The whole digital era has changed a little bit, [because you don’t get that]. But every release is [still] so special, because when it pops up on Spotify, on Beatport, it still touches me. In that case I’m just a kid with a dream, and that was to make music and share music with the world. I started this journey over two decades ago.
On the production side, I’ve been releasing a lot of vocal tracks [including remixes]. So last year, I decided let’s go a little more club, and go back to the roots of where everything started. It’s now time for Ibiza, it’s summer, and everyone goes to the Mediterranean islands. Everyone wants to dance outside on a rooftop, or on a boat like we’re dancing today for NO XCUSES. And I wanted to give a diverse side of EDX to the world. So this was my new track, “Ubuntu,” which combines a little bit of old-fashioned drums and beats with a very chill vocal chop. It’s something more ethnic, more tribal, which is–I think–the kind of music that makes people dance the most. I was like let me do something that I feel is EDX, but is also right for right now, and for tomorrow.
How long did it take you to make “Ubuntu”?
In this we had four versions. So I started with old progressive beats, four-to-the-floor bass lines straight, kind of old in the untz untz untz sound. And then I was like ‘Come on,’ the melody with the steel drums is really cool. I produced the track last year for the summer, and then I decided to wait until summer the next year, because summer had already started. And I went back to the studio this year [to work on it]. The melody really stuck in my head, and everyone in my team’s heads, and we were like ‘Ok, we need to make it more fresh, more roomy.’ We had four versions.
How did you decide on a version?
I [went for] the less obvious version, the one that wasn’t [a version that was solely driven to] produce a hit. I just wanted a good club record, because I think that club records are somehow missing or not making it big to an audience.
Finally, Sirup Music: what can listeners expect from your imprint as 2019 winds down? Are there any new artists whom you might be bringing on board, or any noteworthy releases that may be in the pipeline?
We have a lot of records and different labels. It’s a huge team working on the label side. What I feel is very important, and what I tell my team all the time is to sign new kids who make music that touches. Don’t sign people who sound like someone else; who sound like the next FISHER or the next Gorgon City–I don’t want that. I want someone who sounds new, fresh, unique. [There’s a lot] to come.
Stream EDX’s latest single, “Ubuntu,” below
Each week, New Music Friday sweeps through with torrential force, showering streaming platforms with immeasurable amounts of new tunes. Just like Dancing Astronaut rounds up 25 of the biggest songs of the week for the Hot 25 Spotify playlist each New Music Friday, Lunar Lunes serves as a landing pad for SoundCloud users who want a whole new dose of tunes to kick off the work week.
Luca Lush has put a groovy spin on MAX’s “Love Me Less,” and HeRobust delivers his first solo venture of 2019, “BRUH?!” Dr. Fresch and VOLAC take to Tchami’s CONFESSION to release “Filthy” with Dread MC, and Sullivan King and Grabbitz team up for a powerful Monstercat collaboration, “Crazy As You.” Keanu Silva puts a bouncy spin on Oliver Heldens’ “Summer Lover,” and Kraysh returns to Mad Zoo to unleash “Void” with fknsyd. TheFatRat, Slaydit and Anjulie make a formidable trio on “Stronger,” and Ryan Browne brings the heaviest of bass on “BEATDOWN.” Alexander Lewis appears to “Soar” on his new original, and KARRA joins Tisoki on “Don’t Lie.” Lee Burridge and Lost Desert link for “Mibale,” and Baaku shares a remix of Madeon’s “All My Friends.” Saint Punk gives Win and Woo’s “Right In Front of Me” a deep and glitchy vibe, and Excision and Dion Timmer prove to be “Breaking Through” on their new collaboration.
The selection is updated every Lunes (Monday).
It has been years since we’ve heard from Wave Racer, though now the Aussie beatmaker is confirmed to be on the comeback trail, ending a more than two-year hiatus. Wave Racer, commonly credited as the creator of the vibrant “bubble-trap” sub-genre that would eventually give way to the advent of future bass, planted his flag at a time when dance music was at the peak of its global expansion. With a sound akin to the likes of Lido (Trippy Turtle), Cashmere Cat, and What So Not, and Ryan Hemsworth among others, the “Flash Drive” producer helped define an important moment for electronic music before disappearing in 2017.
Now, it appears a comeback is in order, after a quiet update to the Future Classic producer’s social media channels after years of radio silence. Best of all, according to a statement provided to Dancing Astronaut from Wave Racer’s management, “Wavey is finally back,” and “new music will be here very very soon.” To introduce the roll out, the producer’s team has also launched a call-in phone number— (415)-510-2415 so fans can preview upcoming new music. Stay tuned for more updates as the story develops, but for now, prepare for Wave Racer’s highly anticipated return.
LA-based DJ/producer duo Ship Wrek has been creating serious waves throughout the first half of 2019. Their Spinnin’ Deep release “Soul” hastily made the rounds in a number of DJ performances from the likes of Tiësto, Dillon Francis and Martin Garrix and in May, their Dog Blood edit of “Turn Off the Lights” began catching attention. During his surprise appearance at this year’s EDC Las Vegas, Skrillex teased the Ship Wrek version of the first Dog Blood release since 2013 and it quickly became a point of interest on the fan-curated 1001Tracklists.com. The duo is now treating their fans to not only the long-awaited bootleg after months of speculation and begging from the fans’ end, but also a complete five-track edit pack for DJs to employ this summer.
Each and every creation in the duo’s release is flooded with bouncy and enthralling four-on-the-floor house instrumentals. The pack launches with the aforementioned “Turn Off the Lights” bootleg and additionally includes takes on Mike Vale’s “Music Is the Answer”, a throwback version of “Smoke On The Water”, Dillon Francis & TV Noise’s “EDM O’CLOCK” and one extra flip of Dog Blood with “Break Law“.
The history of Avicii’s “Heaven” has been extensively documented from the moment it surfaced in his DJ performances throughout 2015. Briefly before his passing, the late producer made the ultimate decision after working on numerous versions of the single that he would use the Chris Martin-featured version for its official release. Just weeks preceding the late producer’s posthumous LP ‘TIM’, it was revealed that “Heaven” would be featured as part of the album, which was fully available on June 6.
In a behind the scenes video for “Heaven”, never-before-viewed footage depicted intimate studio sessions in 2014 between Avicii and Martin, where they worked on Coldplay material including “A Sky Full Of Stars“. Filmmaker Levan Tsikurishvili, who previously worked alongside Avicii on a handful of video productions since 2013, helped create an official honorary video for one of the album’s most notorious offerings within a few weeks of its release. The five minute video includes unreleased footage from Avicii’s 2017 documentary ‘True Stories’, that meticulously followed the producer’s struggles during touring life.
“Tim and Chris Martin wrote and recorded “Heaven” in 2014, with Tim producing the final version in 2016. About the tribute video: My name is Levan Tsikurishvili and I have been working with Tim since about 2013. During these years, we made 8 music videos, 3 concert movies and 2 documentaries together. In 2016, right after his last show, Tim, Tim’s childhood friend Awat, and I spent 19 beautiful days in Madagascar, ll Saint Marie. We spoke about everything, laughed, played monopoly, hung out with lemurs, and explored the entire island together. Now, two-and-a-half years later, I returned to the island to remember Tim, to honor his legacy, and to recreate the memories that will stay with us forever.
Note: This video is a collection of my smartphone videos plus some parts of unused material from the documentary Avicii: True Stories and newly shot footage. I also did some 3D animations in order to recreate the moments that I did not have any video material from.”
Featured image: Rukes
It’s been two years since Sam Shepherd’s last original release, but the UK-born musician, better known as Floating Points, is finally lifting off again with his new single, “LesAlpx.”
A departure from Shepherd’s freeform, jazz-garnished approach to electronic production that brought past releases Elaenia, and Reflections – Mojave Desert such widespread acclaim, “LesAlpx” is as club-centric as any Floating Points track yet. In a press release, Shepherd says that the new release came together “quite quickly, which helped to get rid of any desire to overthink the music – it’s essentially the sound of me having loads of fun with the machines in my studio and going back to basics.”
And while “LesAlpx” makes its return to the bottom line, it still holds tight the eccentricities that have defined Sam Shepherd as such a captivating producer. Unrelenting builds, shimmying percussion, and an utter playfulness on the knobs all add to the song’s signature Floating Points allure; but these same components become all the more spellbinding when woven into the latest single’s driving four-by-four beat and whirring bass.
Photo Credit: Up All Night
Many producers have that one song that not only catapults them into notoriety, but shapes what will be an avid and unwavering fan base. For 3LAU, that song was a joint venture with Bright Lights: “How You Love Me.” The track left its mark on both of the artists’ careers, and still remains a relevant fixture in the dance-pop performative space.
Five years after the track’s eminent reception, 3LAU and Bright Lights have crossed paths once more for “Down For Life.” The track opens to bouncing synths that frame heavily pitched-down vocals. The vocals are idyllically rendered to complement to the track’s pulsing house beat, inducing dancing from the outset of the track.
3LAU took to social media to address the fact that Bright Lights was not the centerpiece of the release, writing, “I was super nervous to release this song today because it might be the complete opposite of what you’d expect. Pitching down @brightlights333 vocals was an experimental decision, and it kept us from releasing the song for years until we got it right. So today, I’m incredibly thrilled by all the positive feedback from you, especially when we tried something new & out of our comfort zone.”
“Down for Life” is out now via 3LAU’s label, Blume.
Photo Credit: EDM.com
Mark Ronson‘s approaching a renewed climb in his career as of late. His latest album Late Night Feelings is a culmination of these milestones, which include forming Silk City with Diplo, a contribution to the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack, and continued writing alongside acclaimed pop stars. The LP is star-studded, and his collaborative singles with Miley Cyrus in “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” Camila Cabello in “Find U Again” helped generate buzz for the project ahead of time.
Far more lies in store for this disco/popa fusion; it’s title track of course plays with the heartstrings, thanks in part to Lykke Li, as do “Pieces Of Us” with King Princess and additional Lykke Li collaboration “2AM.” The retro elements are nicely fused into more contemporary soundscapes, and overall Late Night Feelings is an accurate title.
Photo credit: Will Heath/NBC
Lee Burridge has ticked a lot of creative boxes in his three-decades-long career. The trailblazer helped import house and techno to Hong Kong, played a major role in the minimal house movement of the aughts, and more recently, has become a revered figure for his All Day I Dream parties and accompanying label. The brand and the label push an ethereal sound and ethos that encourages wistful moments of love and connection.
Its these themes that tie into Burridge’s next major endeavor: an album release alongside Lost Desert called Melt. With Lee steering the ship and Lost Desert doing the in-studio rowing, the two have been able to express themselves and their appreciation for music’s hidden powers. The LP is also Lee’s first. From the sounds of “Mibale,” its first single, Melt looks to be deep, melodic, and dreamy per their usual aesthetic. The lush tune sees Lost Desert and Lee reuniting with vocalist Junior, whose Lingala verses amplify the magic.
Melt will be released on July 19. Pre-order it here.
Photo credit: courtesy of Lee Burridge’s team
The Australian Invasion continues in the global electronic music space, and the six-piece Winston Surfshirt are one of the growing wave of notable acts. In fact, they’ve earned the particularly distinction from Sir Elton John himself as one of his favorite rising bands at the moment. Elton’s assertion makes sense; the outfit has a way of fusing multiple influences flawlessly into infectious tunes that work as well live as they do in a standard set.
Their latest single, “Make A Move,” continues this infectious trend. It’s a funk-infused record that sweeps the mind off to sunny places with vintage synthesis, smooth vocals, and catchy basslines. The tune’s easy going nature is that which Winston Surfshirt have become pros in creating, and feels wildy appropriate for the season of its release. Given the band’s timeless approach to their musicmaking, it’s no wonder they’ve already earned support from such powerful figures in the music industry.
Order a copy of “Make A Move” here.
Photo credit: McClean Stephenson
The Chainsmokers continued to flaunt their status as certified crowd pleasers from the TODAY plaza, where the duo convened with some of their recent collaborators to perform for the Today Citi Summer Concert Series. Ty Dolla $ign and bülow joined Drew Taggart to deliver a live rendition of their recent single, “Do You Mean.” The Chainsmokers also linked with Bebe Rexha. The versatile songstress stopped by to vocalize The Chainsmokers’ latest World War Joy offering, “Call You Mine.”
While The Chainsmokers’ set was primarily presently leaning in its focalization of the producers’ newer material, the duo nevertheless issued a nod to a celebrated catalog classic, “Paris.” Today’s 2019 programming touts a number of blockbuster artists, including Aloe Blacc, Lizzo, and OneRepublic, among others, all of whom are slated to perform later this summer. Watch The Chainsmokers’ Today set, here.
Photo credit: Galen Oakes
Berlin-based powerhouse imprint Steyoyoke has inaugurated its Paradigm series, which is dedicated to showcasing the next generation of innovators in the “ethereal techno” arena. The full compilation is filled with forward-thinking pieces, but one in particular stands out to us here at Dancing Astronaut.
It’s “Rue Meslay,” by fresh SoCal talents Bonsai and their collaborator, Shades Of Play. Inspired by the streets of Paris in which Bonsai member Tim Glusko spent time, the tune is moody, and deep, with carefully arranged sound design and twinkling instrumentation. Its undulating analogue synths shoot through the space like rain droplets, further evoking the haunting city atmosphere that helped catalyze the track. It’s near-impossible to not get caught in its wildly hypnotic web.
Bonsai have been working diligently cutting their teeth in the Californian underground circuit, establishing themselves as formidable talents within their niche. Associated closely with Jeremy Olander and the Vivrant brand as well, the duo will be opening for the Swedish icon at his upcoming show in Washington DC on July 11. Get tickets here, and be sure to keep close watch on Bonsai as they ascend the house and techno ranks.
Photo credit: Spawnzone Photos
Kiesza became in instant star in 2014 when her impassioned vocal tune “Hideaway” caught America’s ear and became a smash radio hit. Marquee talents rushed to work with her, and soon we saw the rising Canadian talent’s name appearing alongside projects like Skrillex and Diplo’s Jack Ü, Duran Duran, Djemba Djemba, and Bakermat. It’s clear that she’s poised to be an enduring force within the pop and electronic arenas.
Life hasn’t been free of struggle for this singer, however. Before becoming a full-time musician, she knew a life of heavy discipline and grit via training in her home country’s military. Hardship also struck right as she hit her prime, when a terrible car crash left her with a near-career-ending brain injury and no choice to but to take a couple years off to focus on returning to full health and stability. If we know anything, however, it’s that Kiesza is an enduring character—and her unrelenting passion for her craft ultimately translated to an inevitable return to the arts.
“Sweet Love” thus serves as powerful comeback single, and a public expression of Kiesza’s shift in paradigm. Her recent struggles have given way to a different outlook on life and what’s important, and as a result, we see her taking a more stripped-down, raw, and emotive approach to her music making. “Sweet Love” is simultaneously haunting and wistful, allowing her crisp voice to take center stage while subconsciously communicating a hopeful message. It’s interpretive accompanying video is a visual manifestation of this new direction.
We caught up with Kiesza upon her new tune’s release, digging into her new inspirations and direction, her artistic journey, and beyond.
“Sweet Love” is a bit of a change of pace for you sonically. What led you down this direction, and how was the process in choosing a producer/collaborator that could help you realize your vision?
On this next musical chapter, I’m taking my audience on a more expansive musical journey. I came up as a songwriter on the New York music scene, so pushing boundaries with writing and dipping my toe into uncharted genres has always been second nature to me. That’s why I felt it was necessary to go independent for this next leg. I see this as a chance to evolve and expand in so many directions. But don’t worry, there is lots of dance music on the horizon! “Sweet Love” is a special song. I wrote it with the same baritone opera singer that sang with me on the first of my Halloween series, “Phantom of the Dance Floor.” His name is Philippe Sly and I asked him if he would ever be interested in writing a song together. He hesitated at first, but what I love about Phil is that he is so open-minded, and ultimately he just dove right into it with me! My friend Kid Harpoon joined us in the writing room. It was an amazing songwriting session and I have always loved this song. I struggled to put it out while in the major label system, so releasing this is so exciting. It needs to come out of hiding!
When it came to producing “Sweet Love,” it just so happened that while I was in Denmark, I showed the demo to the production duo Namafalcon, and they immediately had ideas that were aligned with my own vision for the song. I always go where the enthusiasm is strong and where the creativity starts to flow. Once we got going, it was effortless, and I love how it turned out.
The lyrical content and the dancing in the music video give off a very nostalgic, “young love” type of tone [in our subjective opinion]. Was this inspired by an early love in your life, or a profound experience where you really felt “love” for the first time?
It’s definitely painted with those emotions, both “young love” and even “forbidden love.” The feeling of already being so deep in, that you know there’s no turning back, while all-the-while trying to reconcile with the sense of underlying risk that comes with it.
Do you feel your sound evolving toward this softer, more sentimental direction or do you think you still might be involved in the dance music sphere as a vocalist in the future?
It’s about to become quite a musical rollercoaster ride, as I’ve been on a rollercoaster myself, both in life and in the industry I’m in. I think by now I’ve felt almost everything there is to feel on some degree. Extreme love, unimaginable loss, the fulfillment of dreams and the rush that comes with it, self confidence, self doubt, winning and then losing, an open road that ran straight into a brick wall, and then the sense of being derailed completely and without warning, followed by the struggle of fighting my way back. I have a lot say now. A lot to express. To vent. But also a lot to be thankful for.
Dancing has always been my medicine, and for this reason I will always continue to write dance music. But now you’re going to have a bigger window into who I am, as the songs unveil themselves. I’m sort of moving in all directions at once I guess…expanding.
You’ve definitely been stepping into your own power artistically as of late. What advice can you offer other young musicians who might be struggling to find themselves or assert themselves in this crazy industry?
True, as difficult as it is to cut through all the noise, it’s ultimately an amazing time to be an independent artist. There are so many avenues and unique pathways for new musicians to share their art with the world. The secret is to just keep at it and be willing to work harder than you ever could imagine. When you feel like giving up, you just keep going. And it’s important to be critical of your own music. That may sound harsh, but no one writes a hit song every day. I write bad ideas all the time. You just have to have the guts to throw your work away when you know it isn’t strong enough. And simplify as much as possible. There’s no getting around hard work. And be willing to adapt as the winds change. Expect the unexpected, and give it right back.
As a songwriter, do you have any particular routines or techniques that help you get the lyrics flowing when working on a project? What do you do when faced with writer’s block?
Movement in general helps stimulate ideas. Going for a walk, or riding a bike. Even taking public transportation helps me come up with ideas, believe it or not. Anything that puts you into a flow state.
Let’s poke a bit more into your past here, as we’re a dance site and we first learned about you through your numerous high profile collaborations. How did you first end up getting involved in this side of the music world, and what methods did you use to get your self out there and get noticed by the likes of Jack Ü, Bakermat, Djemba Djemba, etc?
“Hideaway” was my bridge from the realm of the unknown into the limelight. It was that song that paved the way for all the collaborations that followed. When it comes to collaborations, I just go with what feels right. I usually collaborate with people that resonate.
What is your favorite aspect of the dance music scene in general, and the crossover/pop world you’ve found yourself in more recently?
Dance music brings people together, and it makes people happy. Even if it’s just for a moment, when you’re dancing, you always feel good. You don’t have to think about the things that are weighing you down. In that moment, it’s just complete suspension. The new music I’m releasing knows no boundaries. You’ll never know what’s coming next. Sweet Love is a song that allows me to tell a story. It harkens to that familiar lure of lust becoming love. Sometimes the purpose of a song is to be heard. And some of my music in this upcoming chapter will be those songs. Songs with stories, or messages, where the lyrics matter. I try not to make my dance songs too complicated lyrically, for the simple reason that I myself prefer dance songs to be simple and light hearted, when I’m dancing to them. But I have a lot to say, and the time has come to go deeper. I want to share more of who I am with the world.
Finally, the number one question: what’s coming next down the Kiesza pipeline?
For starters, I have more songs written then I know what to do with. But once I get started, there’s no more stopping. I’m really looking forward to lots of collaborations, and expressing so many different sides of my personality through the upcoming music and performances.
Photo credit: Rasmus Luckmann
It’s been just a little more than a year since Avicii, known by friends and family as Tim Bergling, passed away, but the Swedish producer continues to make his mark on fans worldwide as his third full-length album, TIM, reaches the summit of Billboard’s Top Electronic/Dance albums.
Following in the footsteps of 2013’s True and 2015’s Stories, TIM is Avicii’s third LP to hit No. 1 on the US dance music charts, and with good reason. The rave DJ-turned-Grammy-nominated producer always had a knack for writing arrestingly heartwarming melodies, but Bergling’s maturation as a musician also came with a great deal of respect and appreciation for his peers, particularly singer-songwriters. True to character, TIM is 12 tracks deep and presents just as many collaborations, incorporating talent from industry goliaths like Imagine Dragons and Aloe Blacc.
The success of TIM isn’t just a celebration of the life and music of Avicii, but a testament to his values as a creator. With all of the album’s proceeds going to the Tim Bergling Foundation and further remixes from fellow legends like Tiësto, it’s clear that the beloved Swedish producer’s legacy won’t fade into darkness anytime soon.
TIM was released on June 5 and can be purchased here.