SOUTH AFRICAN POP ARTIST LEE COLE HAS BEEN DROPPING A STRING OF HIT SINGLES IN THE LAST 3 YEARS & opened FOR GLOBAL ACTS RONAN KEATING & CALUM SCOTT. Find out more about LEE in the interview BELOW!
LEE COLE is an Indie pop artist from Johannesburg/South Africa. His music genre is considered anywhere between pop, post-teen pop and confessional pop. His raw vocals remind undoubtedly of Lewis Capaldi and Lee has already been coined the Lewis Capaldi of South Africa.
Lee Cole has released 9 singles in the past 3.5 years achieving over 2.5 Mio. Spotify streams. He also dominated South African Radio as well as charting within the top 5 of South African Radio’s Top 40 charts. 2021 also saw Lee perform at the prestigious South African Film & Television Awards (SAFTAs).
In November 2022 and in March 2023 Lee has been sharing the stage with global superstars Ronan Keating and Calum Scott and was the opener for their concerts across South Africa.
We sat down with Lee for a short insightful interview about his music, his live performances with global acts and his plans for the remainder of the year 2023.
If you are interested in his musical journey, you can follow Lee on his Socials below.
With your last single release „With Or Without You“, you experimented with a different Genre, something that we haven’t heard from you before. It´s an awesome song and we love the vibe and rhythm. What trends inspire your music and your current songwriting style? Where do you find inspiration from?
Yeah, With Or Without You was something a little different from me. I like experimenting a lot and enjoy taking my voice and sound to places `I usually wouldn’t go. I’m normally very in tune with global trends although when adapting and keeping up, I try and head in directions that still sound like Lee Cole. It’s a balancing act that usually takes a little time to get right.
Is there one track you feel especially proud of, that you could give us a little backstory on?
I would say I’m quite proud of my song I Don’t Wanna Wait. It was the first song that got people to sit up and notice me. It was also the first song that many people, upon first listen, reacted very strongly too.
Your music has always been very emotional and is about love and heartbreak. How does it feel to perform such emotional songs?
I’ve always been a very emotional performer; preferring slow, heart-felt songs to upbeat songs. I feel I connect more with my audience because of this fact, so to me it feels more natural.
You have already become an opening act for major artists such as Calum Scott and Ronan Keating. How did these performances influence and/or inspire you?
It’s been a crazy few past months getting to open for some insane major international acts. It’s been an honour but more so an affirmation that one day I’ll be there too. Life is really about full-circle moments I would say.
Who would you love to be on stage with in the near future?
I have many artists that I’d love to share the stage with one day but Billie Eillish and Adele would have to top that list. I just feel like I could create magic with either of them.
We know that you have a strong follower base on Socials and that you are very engaged with your fans and your community, which is awesome. Since this is all very time consuming, how do you manage your time on Socials and what platform do you get the most out of it and why?
Social media can be very draining: both emotionally and mentally, as well as physically with regards to time. I try to plan a lot of my social media in advance and try to create content that people can relate to. For me, relatability is key. On top of all that, I try to be as real as possible so that when my fans meet me I’m not too different to what they’re used to experiencing on my instagram or Tiktok etc.
What else do you have planned for the reminder of the year? Any releases that we can look forward to in 2023?
There’s quite a bit to look forward to this year and I’m super excited. When I eventually do release my new album, I think it’s going to be a brave direction for me and I hope it connects with everyone in the same way my previous records did.
the singularly unique pop artist keir releases 2023's brightest, best & most theatrical song 'lemonade'
Casually lifted from Keir’s astonishing self-titled debut album due 14th July 2023, Lemonade describes the spontaneous fireworks of a new partnership, a new thing, a new world – or as Keir puts it – “You enter the new world with somebody you barely know. You throw caution to the wind because you feel awake from the boredom of life before. This world has given you a new life.”
Lemonade practically fizzes with excitement - an excitement for life and the search for an “effervescence breaking free” moment that’s very rare in life. As crazy and, quite frankly, free as Queen’s more ebullient moments – did we mention the song was theatrical? – Lemonade is like a boiling pan of water, and yet, paradoxically, just another love song; it is perhaps this demonstrative insouciance that has persuaded Germany’s Late Night Berlin talk show to premier the song on Tuesday, May 9th, and a 45-minute ProSieben Music Special on Keir – a performance slot usually reserved for artists such as Arctic Monkeys and Metallica – to be scheduled to air at 11pm on 6th June. Altogether now: “Love, Death, Truth, Respect.”
Lemonade utilizes a common theme running through much of Ker’s material – mental health. For four years, Keir acted as a support worker at Dimensions in Bath, working with people who have autism and severe learning difficulties. For the record, he absolutely loved it, feeling “a deep connection to the people we supported and the darkness they felt.” Keir thinks this is because struggles with mental health run in his family. “A family member was sectioned when she was younger,” says Keir now, “and there’s something about dark inner turmoil I’ve always found an affinity with. My intentions are not to glamourise darkness, but to shine a light towards it. Music is my way of connecting the dots I suppose.”
Bristol-based Keir is already receiving huge and enthusiastic support from Spotify playlists duvet day, The Lovely Little Playlist and BBC Introducing.
“With a cynical but astute gaze on the world and musical talent in abundance, it’s only a matter of time until he’s regarded in the same realm as figures like Beck or Prince” – Wonderland magazine.
“An artist who changes everything” – BBC Introducing.
“This artist has looks and talent to suggest he’s going to be a major artist” – Louder Than War.
Lemonade has been released on 5 May 2023 through Vertigo/Universal. Keir’s self-titled debut album will be released on July 14th 2023.
Singer-Songwriter and entrepreneur Elina Filice has just released her new music video for her innovative single “Don't Let Me Fall”, which came out a year ago.
In her signature genre-defying fashion, the song features an anthemic hook over an infectious beat, pulsating with manic, driving energy. The song is about entangled mental health, and the weight of loving someone in a depressive decline.
The video shows this mental decline through visual frenzy and fervor. The destruction evokes feelings of chaos, anxiety, and a distancing from reality. Hands tug and prod at Elina’s body, representing the relentless pull of the darkness and a loss of self.
Elina says, “We wanted to show a chaotic downward spiral of self-destruction and loss of control. Two people tangled in an inescapable bond, desperately begging someone to save you when they can barely save themselves.”
The video was filmed and edited by Kim Philms, at Lunar Studios Toronto.
Elina Filice is gaining attention for songs that defy genre and interactive live performances. Her music is soulful and melodic while being influenced by blues and spoken word.
Nomadic by nature, Elina has entertained audiences across three continents. Her music has received critical press acclaim, worldwide radio play and official spotify editorial support. She is the founder of music marketing startup Drop Rocket, which empowers independent artists to take charge of their music releases through innovative management software. Elina is a strong advocate for queer visibility and regards music as a powerful tool for the queer community.
UK BASED PRODUCER TOM B RELEASES MELLOW NEW SINGLE 'SHE'S LIKE A DREAM' FEATURING LUCY WROE WITH CHARMING AND SMOOTH VOCALS
“She’s Like A Dream” began life as a phone recording of some piano chords, while Lucy told a story. This voice note then transformed into its current form, a noisy, trippy, sexy groove that relentless throbs until it abruptly cuts itself short.
Through the myriad of edits and sampling Wroe’s voice is peppered throughout, even before she begins to sing of infatuation, obsession, and adoration.
Lucy says “when I wrote it I was kind of imagining watching somebody, being in a room with that person you’re obsessing over, and watching them glow. Like when you’re in the middle of your first teenage romance, and you feel like an idiot because you can’t get your words out. Kind of how I imagine being a guy in school, walking up to these super confident girls, and being beaten down repeatedly because they have no idea how much you idolised them”.
Tom says “I’m incredibly, uncomfortably familiar with everything Lucy is describing, so this idea directly fed the continued production of the track, the way it moves and pulses, there's much more of a physicality to anything I’ve produced previously. I was listening to quite a bit of Beach House and Toro Y Moi while I was making it, I wanted to capture a dreamy quality that those artists seem to effortlessly create”
Featuring drums, piano (played by Philipp Koerver of German indie band Rooftalk), and double bass recorded on a phone, and guitars, keyboards and a variety of percussion instruments and mouth noises recorded at Tom’s home studio, “She’s Like A Dream” creates a layered, rolling sonic landscape to get lost in.
Born in West Somerset and currently based in London, Tom has been producing and engineering for other bands and artists since 2018, but now has turned his attention inward, creating the music he wants to hear.
“She’s Like A Dream” follows Tom’s debut 2022 EP “Little Songs” which was a tapestry-esque production calling card, reminiscent of lofi US acts such as The Microphones, Alex G, and The Books.
Tom continues “The ethos of the whole ‘Tom b’ project stems from me floating around during the lockdowns not knowing what to do with my life. Just do something. Anything. Record something on your phone, who cares if it sounds a bit roomy or dull, make something weird out of it, people might hate it, but at least you’ll have DONE something. It’s a weird counterpoint to Lucy’s imagined scenario for this song, someone just quietly in awe of something. It’s something of a rumination on inactivity I suppose.”
t.e.d is set to make her mark in 2023 with her new emotive single “Let Me Be.” The track showcases t.e.d’s stunning voice alongside glistening instrumentation. Paired with a vibrant melting pot of heartfelt piano lines, understated guitar lines and divine backing vocals, her vocals cut through the mix, infectious but emotive, working hand in glove with her well-penned and raw lyricism.
Speaking about the track, she says: “‘Let Me Be’ follows the process of realising someone isn’t good for you, and the eventual demise in a relationship begging to end. It represents a moment when I realised someone had created a toxic space for me, and the process of having to fight my way out before we could both let go. ‘Let Me Be’ is inspired by the human ability to change, and the battle we wage within ourselves to change things for the better.”
South African born Tanya Sholto-Douglas, known musically as t.e.d, has been a singer her whole life, but only fully began her journey into music at the age of 18. Now aged 24, she’s studying Popular Music at the University of Gloucestershire in the UK, with her music gathering tens of thousands of streams.
Originally, she made her debut with EP “halfpace”, a three-track E.P that showcased her unique and irresistible sound. She quickly gained online traction off the back of this, gaining a reputation for her powerful musical partnership that consists of indie-pop instrumentals and silky smooth vocals.
Sonically, it’s clear that t.e.d isn’t held back or defined by any genre barriers. Influences such as Daniel Caesar, beabadoobe and Rainbow Kitten surprise can all be found within her music, but these are executed through her own unique musical lenses. t.e.d is sure to make 2023 her year, and she’s an artist to keep on your radar.
Geo Aghinea is a Romanian born, London based independent musician who is constantly seeking to build their own sound world - in relation to how they perceive theirs through a synthetic mechanism - hearing aids.
Geo's debut single 'Bound To You', written by Geo Aghinea and produced by Thomas Harrington Rawle, is an electropop-ballad with an interesting electronic twist, encapsulating an innocent heartbreak. The production makes the track stand out within its genre - it grows as if it was a journey and becomes more ethereal and trance inducing towards the end with the arpeggiated synths and haunting harmonies.
Geo Aghinea says "I wrote this song 3 years ago and recorded it around that time. It’s both nerve wrecking and exciting to debute with something by Geo from years ago". The song drew inspiration from artists such as Labrinth and FKA Twigs, who continuously bend
the sonics of pop music. Geo's ultimate goal is to create emotive and immersive spatial soundscapes with their songwriting and vocals, either in the streaming world where listeners can feel transcended into new places or in the real world during their live performances.
The single is now available on all streaming platforms.
AN HONEST LETTER TO HER LISTENERS - SCOTTISH POP SINGER CHLOE ROZE RELEASES SELF REFLECTIVE SINGLE 'HYPOCRITE'
One night of February 2022, being forced to isolate alone in her flat due to contracting COVID, Scottish pop singer Chloe Roze grabbed her guitar and her phone, and pressed record. From that lonely and low moment, Hypocrite came to be. A self-reflective 3:41 minute track where Chloe Roze allows the listener to have a glimpse of an instance of intimacy and realisation in the artist’s life.
Hypocrite is Chloe Roze’s most transparent songwriting to date, with crude and upfront, emotional lyrics that explore themes of isolation, self-doubt, and self-esteem: “I wrote a song about wishing I could take my own advice.” The single displays Chloe’s vocal talent and intricate songwriting, in an intimate and powerful bedroom-pop ballad. Hypocrite is the perfect continuation to Chloe’s sonic universe and artistic vision, that over the last few years, and after the release of her debut EP “Free Falling“, and performing all around the nation, has now abandoned the deep isolation of the pandemic, becoming an honest letter to her audience. With themes surrounding sadness, loneliness, mental health and body image she exposes her struggles in her latest single “Hypocrite“.
Chloe Roze started performing at an early age, coming from a musical family she grew up around vocalists and instrumentalists who inspired and encouraged her creativity. Chloe wrote her first original song at age 14, which she released as a Facebook video, titled “We Should Know” a Christmas record tackling homelessness. The single received praise from her local community in Ayrshire, landing her with opportunities that essentially was the start of her impressive career. These include performing throughout the country at various events including private functions, community shows, and charity projects.
Chloe, originally from Ayrshire, moved to Edinburgh in 2019 to pursue her performing career whilst studying Drama at university. Initially she struggled to fit in and wrote lyrics in her diary about how she was feeling. Fast forward to 2020, the pandemic. COVID 19 resulted in Chloe feeling completely trapped with her feelings, she describes the experience as “vividly lonely”. This then inspired her to write her debut EP “Free Falling“, which was later released in April 2021.
Following the success of her release, she has since headlined concerts and events all over Edinburgh at venues such as Summerhall, Bannerman’s, Sneaky Pete’s Leith Arches and music festivals in Loch Lomond and Helensburgh. Furthermore, Chloe Roze found a place amongst the capital’s drag scene, and was invited and accepted to perform at their shows. Leaning into the world of cabaret, Chloe has produced her own variety and cabaret shows “Femme Fatality'' and “The Roze Garden'', “a safe space for all” to showcase their talents.
Chloe’s biggest achievement to date is successfully securing herself a show residency at one of Edinburgh's largest live music venues, Summerhall Dissection room. Singing for hundreds, she has gained loyal supporters through this show and is now a headline act with the event organisers 249 Nights.
Hypocrite was originally written as an acoustic guitar led track recorded onto an iPhone. The track was brought to life by close friend, flatmate, and collaborator AKELA at their home in Musselburgh. Marc Barnes, Chloe's father, joined AKELA and Chloe in making the final master of the track adding his own creative visions and self-created sounds to the song.
Chloe Roze states “Hypocrite is my most vulnerable work yet. I describe feelings I've never even shared with my friends and family through this song which is an overall daunting experience. The process has been educational, I have learned so much about myself and who I am through lyricism. I debated whether or not to release the single, as it always felt like my personal secret, a collage of thoughts I didn't want to share as I was afraid of judgement. I now gift this song to the world to show my own strength and personal growth and to invite others to be honest about how they truly feel. I hope my message translates to you all.”
G+UNENBERG was born as Daniel Grunenberg in the southern part of Germany. He showed musical interest at an early age, has learned to play the piano and started producing his own music at the age of 10. G+UNENBERG grew up with a tech-savvy father and built his first songs with a Yamaha DX7 on Cubase 2.0 on an Atari ST.
After listening to "Discovery" by Daft Punk in the early 2000's, he knew what genre he wanted to belong to. In 2010, at the age of 22, he formed the German electro pop duo 'Glasperlenspiel', which became one of the most popular pop bands receiving gold and platinum awards for their singles and albums. Their biggest hit 'Geiles Leben' has now amassed over 84 Mio Spotify streams.
G+UNENBERG is also a DJ and producer who has already started to stir up the dance pop scene in the German speaking countries.
With his new song 'Love Me Better", G+UNENBERG collaborates with the mysterious Lucifer and well-liked German pop singer Jona Selle and heads into a dance track with fresh, deeper sounds that dominates the song. Selle's edgy vocals and the catchy lyrics complement this track perfectly. They all wrote the song in 2022, when they met up for a Songwriting Session in Los Angeles.
In 2017 Hannah McPhillimy, aka ferna, moved to Michigan, USA for two years. This relocation inspired the sounds and sentiment for “New City”, the third release from her debut album, Understudy (out Spring 2023).
Exuberant synths, homemade drum kits (literally, made from a suitcase) and dispassionate vocals, this track visits both the euphoria of beginning again and the pain of having a reason to leave in the first place.
“Trying to hold onto a sense of who you are, while also shedding an old skin. It’s the tension between those things.” - ferna
The accompanying music video, conceived and directed by artist and film-maker Alice Eugenie, is a short film depicting relocation in another way: moving home. It shows the transplant of Eliza Frew, a Greta Gerwig-esque twenty something, back to her depressing hometown. Over the course of the video, she comes to reframe it as a humble paradise.
“One of the main themes I wanted to explore was the feeling of stuck-ness and overwhelm. I played on the origins of the song’s creation in the US by flipping the concept round, creating a character who has returned to seaside suburbia in Northern Ireland.” Alice explains. Both she and ferna are from the North Coast, where the video is set.
“Eliza traverses the lines between familiarity and alienation, mundane repetition and the feeling that nothing is the same anymore. Those of us with more temperamental sensibilities will find no issue with how quickly she arrives in her New City by the end of the track!”
Expanding on how they worked together, ferna explains: “Alice is the amazing artist behind the artwork for my singles, so it was special to have her create the video for “New City”. I gave her the freedom to interpret the song for herself and I love the result.
Although the character is dealing with a different move to what I wrote about, the questions are all the same: how do I reconcile my past with the life I have now? Is one better than the other? Is there such a thing as a ‘fresh start’?”
“The future is bright for ferna” – ATL, BBC Introducing
“One of Northern Ireland’s most adaptable and imaginative young songwriters”
Northern Ireland alt indie-pop artist Lauren Ann has released her new track "Blatant". The blistering new track sees Lauren Ann continue on her upward trajectory, exposing the depth of her song writing and the true grit of her musical prowess.
“‘Blatant’ is about a blunt end to a relationship that you cared about,” she explains. “It's about being let down by someone you didn't think (or rather didn't want to believe) could hurt you. It's about being left out in the cold, yet you still care for them even though they don't care for you anymore.”
Her own experiences are the launchpad for her imagination to take those stories into bigger directions. It’s also about staying true to who she is. “My songs are centered around heartbreak and anger. I didn’t want to write love songs as it’s not who I am. So I ended up doing break-up songs instead.”
Having already earned praise from artists including Sir Chloe and Starcrawler, Lauren Ann’s upwards trajectory continues in the coming months with the release of her debut EP. Between her limitless potential and people like Olivia Rodrigo reintroducing guitar to the mainstream, Lauren Ann’s talent can take her to the top.
“Back at school, most people didn’t understand or like this music. I remember on non-uniform day, I’d turn up in grunge clothing and loads of dark make-up, and people would be like, ‘What’s she doing?’ But I liked it, so I did it. But it’s becoming a lot more popular. Now I want to play music for a bunch of people and become the best I can be.”
With a fiery mix of grunge dynamics, garage rock exuberance and a hooky pop edge, Lauren Ann's music feels like a natural hybrid between grunge’s original wave of killer bands, but with a flavour of contemporary practitioners such as Sir Chloe, The Regrettes and Milk Teeth.
A key component of her recent rise was working with producer Declan Legge (Jealous of the Birds, Ciaran Lavery), which helped shape her raw songwriting talent into fully realised productions. By the summer of 2021 she put plans to study law on pause, and signed to Dublin label Faction (James Vincent McMorrow, All Tvvins) on the same day that she left school. It's a phenomenal achievement for someone who only started writing songs a year before.
With performances at Ireland Music Week 2021, and high profile support slots with New Dad and upcoming ones with SPRINTS, Lauren Ann has truly been establishing herself as one Ireland’s most exciting new talents.
Fly the Nest (aka Stephen Cooper) started playing music at a young age, performing in various bands. He started his solo project Fly the Nest two years ago, inspired by a life of moving from place to place. When not writing music for an advertising company in LA, he may be found working on his unique blend of film-inspired anthems, which he calls “cinematic rock.”
“I wrote this quite a long time ago.” So says Stephen Cooper, the mind behind Fly the Nest, of his latest single, ‘Say Hello’. “Now just seemed like the right time for this song.”
Featuring a blend of Fly the Nest’s signature cinematic rock, and a newly intimate subject matter, Cooper explains that this song sees him writing purely from the heart, a departure from some of the more global themes of his discography to date. This song permits a certain sentimentality for both Cooper and listeners. “Something doesn’t work out, and you’re waiting for that person to come back - you could nearly be waiting till you’re an old man. It gets into that.”
The track is built out of a haunting atmosphere, and a fascinating coupling with what Cooper describes as a “90s oasis vibe”. “I like to keep that cinematic vibe going through my songs. The emptiness of the start, by the end, it’s all built up. And yet this song is simple - it’s about the power of someone just saying hello.”
‘Say Hello’ was written by Stephen Cooper, and produced by Pete Doherty. Its artwork was created by Julien Jensen, and seeks to evoke a sense of idleness, and a longing for contact.
Over the course of their two albums to date, Klangstof have earned tastemaker tips from Clash, Complex, The FADER, The Line of Best Fit and Wonderland while also enjoying landmark moments such as becoming the first Dutch band to play Coachella and winning Best Alternative Act at the Edison Awards (the nation’s equivalent to the Grammys).
Fuelled by a rush of creativity, they spent 2021 away from the public eye. It resulted in not one, but two new projects: their eagerly anticipated third album which will follow later this year, plus the new ‘Ocean View’ EP which will be released on March 4th. Klangstof today share the first taste of the EP in the shape of its title track and lead single.
The ‘Ocean View’ single provides that the wait has been worthwhile. Downtempo beats and foreboding beats dictate the initial atmosphere, but the ambience then breaks like sunrise with a dreamy soundscape topped by Koen van de Wardt’s elegantly ethereal vocals. It possesses everything that fans have come to adore from Klangstof, but again evolves their sound in a forward-thinking and streamlined direction.
The song’s roots emerged a few years back during sessions in Los Angeles between Koen and bandmate Wannes Salomé. Initially titled ‘We Tried, They Failed’ - an inside joke referencing how unproductive that session was - it later morphed into ‘Ocean View’ with the help of fellow bandmate Erik Buschmann. Lyrically, it finds Klangstof relishing the uninhibited freedom of creating back music at home in the Netherlands without expectations from outside influences.
As Koen explains, “The feeling of being trapped that we had in LA is now completely gone. ‘Ocean View’ is like looking into an open world, a mirror of ultimate freedom. The song’s story is now the complete opposite of what it was originally about.” Wannes adds, “Where the verses used to be cynical, now they are now sincere.”
The rest of the four-song ‘Ocean View’ EP offers an exciting and candid glimpse into the band’s current direction. It’s informed as much by open-ended experimentalism as it is by the inspiring connection of simply being able to again perform together as a band. The result is a natural, almost laid-back approach which allowed the album’s sonics and emotions to fully flourish.
The entire ‘Ocean View’ EP was quickly put together after their next album had been completed. The songs were written in two months, and then recorded in just five days with producer Thijs van der Klugt in Studio Kabaal in Haarlem. It was subsequently mixed by Sam Petts-Davies (Radiohead, Frank Ocean) and mastered by Heba Kadry (Björk, Big Thief, Deerhunter).
Koen recalls, “Since we hadn’t been able to play live together for a while, we felt the need to record these tracks sitting in a room together, playing the songs from start to finish as a group. Most of the tracks have been recorded in just one or a few takes. The whole process was very refreshing, the energy in the room was incredible. We honestly think we’ve never sounded as much as a band as on this recording.”
Klangstof will follow the EP’s release by embarking upon an extensive European headline tour, which commences with a London gig at The Lexington. They are also confirmed to play a series of summer shows with the legendary Pixies. Find out about their upcoming tour dates here https://www.facebook.com/klngstf/events
Cork (Ireland) based singer/songwriter/producer Fintan McKahey has just releases a new single “Amber” on 11 February 2022. The delicate indie/folk song features Fintan’s signature sincere, brooding vocals, panned wide for an intimate listener experience, as well as slick production and reflective ambient sounds.
Fintan describes it as, “A love song through & through.” He says, “I was stuck in a rut for months, until my partner and I got the unexpected news that we’re going to have a baby.” He goes on to say, “After that everything just started flowing, it felt like I finally had something to say again, intensely inspired by awaiting our baby boy and writing this song for the woman I love.”
The song features Kealan Kenny on pedal steel and Fintan himself on drums, giving it a more folk feel than his recent releases. The song was recorded and produced by Fintan in his newly built space, Ivy Hill Studios.
Fintan McKahey is a low-fi indie singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer from Cork, Ireland. His EPs and several singles have achieved national radio play and press acclaim. He has performed headlines and showcases in major venues across the country. Though Fintan loves performing, his true passion lies with creating in the studio. He creates music that is spacey, chill, and at times experimental and psychedelic.
Since the onset of COVID, he has been busy building Ivy Hill Studios. He was named a Hot Press Magazine “Hot for 2021” artist, performed at the Hot Press Y&E Series, and did some successful ticketed live streams. Recently, Fintan made it to the final five of Hot Press’ radio initiative, ‘Irish Music Month.’ Out of 125 artists shortlisted, he was selected by Cork’s 96fm, which resulted in an outstanding performance at the final showcase in the Academy.
My Twisted Heart is an alternative genre-blending hip hop artist, and the brainchild of multi-disciplinarian musician Po Ki Ching. in Hong Kong, and whose life journey has seen him live both there and in Ireland, where he studied at UCC, in Cork.
Developing an interest in singing and playing covers from a young age, while listening to canton pop, j-rock, and k-rock, his creativity blossomed when he met fellow Cork creatives Outsider YP and Kestine, with whom he formed ‘Outsiders’, a creative collective, in 2017.
He has gone onto collaborate extensively as part of ‘Outsiders’, contributing to their output over the course of the past few years, culminating now in an upcoming slew of single releases, and the hotly anticipated ‘Heart Leak EP’, due for release in January 2022. My Twisted Heart reflects on relationships, weaving experiences of relationships in Ireland, and injustice in Hong Kong, on the first single off his upcoming debut EP ‘Heart Leak’.
“On the surface, this song is about an individual who feels trapped in a relationship and wants breathing space.” says My Twisted Heart - the moniker of Po Ki Ching - of his new single. “But it has another meaning to me. It reflects my feeling towards Hong Kong – where I grew up, and where injustice was and is still happening.” A collaboration with fellow Cork artist Outsider YP, it sees someone speaking to their beloved, whether person or city, “Sinking to that bottom/You’re not dragging me down”. The pair both contribute vocals, engineering the track together.
Following the release of their debut album, SMALL TALK, Soda Blonde are back with special stripped-back EP, I Still Have Feelings for You, which was released on 26 November 2021 via Velveteen Records. The EP features 4 beautiful, never-before-heard versions of 4 tracks from the album.
The debut album from Soda Blonde may be called Small Talk, but if there’s one thing the Dubliners do not do, it’s mince words. Out earlier this year via Velveteen Records, the entirely self-produced album saw the group reflecting on their twenty-something experiences with refreshingly honest transparency.
“To put it simply, Small Talk is about life in our 20’s,” says Faye O’Rourke, Soda Blonde’s enigmatic front woman. “Every part of us is in here, both subliminally and literally. Lyrically, this record is like a collection of my flaws and insecurities. They’re lingering awkwardly by the bar at a crowded social gathering, waiting to integrate with the wider world”.
All four band members (O’Rourke, guitarist Adam O’Regan, drummer Dylan Lynch and bassist Donagh Seaver-O’Leary) are seasoned musicians, despite their youth. They have been playing together since their early teens, with their previous band – the internationally renowned Little Green Cars, whose seminal debut album skyrocketed to number one on the Irish album charts. O’Rourke is the first to admit that when Little Green Cars called it a day, she felt lost. But a career shift for the four musicians wasn’t in the cards – and Small Talk was self-evident proof, different than anything the group had released before, but carrying on its back all the things they’ve learned.
Now, fresh from the release of the album, comes a special EP featuring new versions of album tracks: with strings versions of both ‘Tiny Darkness’ and ‘Choices’, an early demo of ‘Swimming Through the Night’ and the title track to the EP, a single version of ‘I Still Have Feelings for You’.
Between sublimely arranged strings, radio-ready melodies sit plain-spoken truths and the hard-learned lessons of a group still at the start of what is sure to be a long journey. Undeniably a coming-of-age record, Small Talk was a dazzling portrait of someone who isn’t afraid to hold the messy parts of herself up for questioning, and the ‘I Still Have Feelings for You’ EP is a brilliant extension of this.
1. Tiny Darkness (Strings Version)
2. I Still Have Feelings for You (Single Version)
3. Choices (Strings Version)
4. Swimming Through the Night (Early Demo)
Johannesburg-based singer-songwriter, Lee Cole returns with yet another brilliant power ballad as he releases his brand-new single ‘Cold’ on 3 November 2021 across all digital platforms.
Following the success of a string of hit singles with ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’, ‘Pink Dragons’, ‘Honey, Let Me In’ and most recently ‘Emotional’, Lee has managed to create hit after hit with his music. With a swarm of chart toppers across radio, Lee returns with his latest single ‘Cold’.
The single entangles beautiful orchestral parts, creating added powerful moments within the popular ballad sound that has defined Lee Cole. Produced by Lee, he delves into the development of the song and how the production led to the final version he released, saying “The production of the single started off with the idea of creating something very ghastly and haunting. As I produced the song, I slowly began to play with the idea of creating one big resolution within the song and I thought a string section could best bring that to life. The end string section has 12 different string parts all coming together in the end creating that resolution while still keeping the song haunting and ghastly.”
Lee shares how the inspiration for the single came about, saying “‘Cold’ was a song I wrote while in the USA in 2019. I was there for 3 months and was at quite a low in my life. ‘Cold’ represents change to me. It’s about admitting that maybe you don’t know how to love and that the person you’re trying to love is better off without you. Its bittersweet because on one hand you don’t want to feel lonely; you crave that companionship, but on the other hand you keep hurting the people closest to you because you’re scared to love.”
‘Cold’ is the last single out from Lee Cole’s debut EP and the body of work will be made up of songs such as ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’, ‘Pink Dragons’ and all those released in 2020 and 2021, with the EP available following the release of ‘Cold’.
Hailing from Australia, Erin Foster’s homegrown bedroom pop is packed with eco friendly glitter, potions and emotions. Writing songs from a young age, the self-taught musician utilises stylistic production to encapsulate the essence of euphoria, glamour and cool girl. Taking influence from pop alumna Ellie Goulding and Lights, Erin manifests a niche blend of heartfelt electronica as a means to dance away your woes.
'Friends' is the third single after 'Birthday' and 'Sometimes' have been released earlier in the year. The new track is about feeling unworthy - ‘I’m punching above my weight, they say you like me, there’s no way’.
Written during a challenging time at university, ‘Friends’ encapsulates feelings of inadequacy and struggling to measure up to your peers - 'my whole life has been lonely, don’t know why you’d want me'. The vulnerable and melancholic lyrics are accompanied by downtempo drums and dreamy soundscapes.
Erin will put out more singles throughout next year 2022. Stay tuned!!
dream eyes releases new song 'heaven', a touching reflection on resisting fantasy and making reality beautiful
If you ask Dream Eyes about his name, you’ll get some insight about who he is, and what makes him special. Born Tadhg Collins, in the village of Monagea, near Newcastle West, in Limerick, the music he makes now, all began with a difficult accident.
“Yeah, all these songs were after the accident, in 2019,” he explains, speaking of his growing discography, of which ‘Heaven’ is the fourth single in just over a year.”
“I grew up in a small village called Monagea – it was good! Away from the noise of the city. And I played guitar and sang since those days.”
“I was in a motorbike accident, and got hit by a car, in 2019. Yeah, it was quite a big change in my life actually.” “My left arm was paralysed for a year and a half,” he smiles, with his characteristic brightness and calm, “It’s slowly kinda coming back to life again…!”
The life-altering accident caused Collins to move towards electronic sounds, “I wasn’t able to play acoustic guitar for a long time, so I played synths.”
‘Heaven’ is a slice of rich reflection on this theme. “The synths in the verses, I think they’re ethereal, and dreamlike – it’s this idea of the sweetness of staying in your head.” Collins’ low vocal melody rides an airy, smooth production like a steady wave.
“Then the hook is harder hitting. I wanted to pull away from that dreamlike place.” Here the production ramps up, with Collins’ vocal picking up, and charging with a healthy frustration at living in a daydream.
All this is quite beautiful to take in, when you consider that this song, is the putting into practice of these ideas for Collins – a young artist who decide to take what was beautiful in his dreams, and make them a reality. With his singles going from strength to strength, on ‘Heaven’ benefitting from co-production from collaborator Kieran Lane, recorded in Sun Studios, and with mixing by Kieran Lane, and mastering by Chris Le Dantec of Draftlab Mastering, the future is bright for the thoughts and fantasies of Dream Eyes.
Irish multi-instrumentalist Abbacaxi has served a long and proper musical apprenticeship. Now
stepping out on his own, he has a fresh and heartfelt sound that brings positive vibrations and good times. It draws on his love of jazz, funk and disco with very modern dynamics.
Abbacaxi contemplates the need for simplicity with his new single 'More Than I Need' which glides from funky 70s Disco to classic House.
"I wrote this track because I was getting tired of the unpredictability of certain things in my life, which had great value. Over time I started to feel that perhaps less is more. Maybe these things weren't as important as I initially thought, and life could be just as good without them."
Hailing inspiration from the wonky feel of old-school disco, Abbacaxi add’s simplistic liquid bass lines with a nod to artists of the 90s like St Germain and Laurent Garnier.
Abbacaxi is an intentional misspelling of the Portuguese word for pineapple. With that fruit's sweet and juicy associations, and the extra 'b' a subtle nod to Abba's sing-song disco sounds, you have a big hint at what to expect from Thomas's music. Though his fun, effervescent character is reflected in his music, he is just as able to break your heart with his melancholic chords and neo-soul vocals. Musicians as versatile as Abbacaxi don't come along too often, so strap in and enjoy the ride.
Northern Ireland alt indie-pop artist Lauren Ann, who signed with label Faction Records the same day she left school, has just released her first single with the label 'Lucy'.
Having built a following with songs she released herself while still in school, Lauren Ann began working with producer Declan Legge (Jealous of the Birds, Ciaran Lavery), who helped shape her raw songwriting talent into fully realised productions. By the summer of 2021, music was clearly Lauren Ann’s destiny and she put plans to study law on pause and signed to Dublin label Faction (James Vincent McMorrow, All Tvvins, Sorcha Richardson).
A song about a love triangle among friends, ‘Lucy’ reaches new heights in her songwriting in every aspect - from the wider range and deeper emotion of Lauren Ann’s vocal to the gnarly rush of the guitars and a stripped-back breakdown. Lauren explains... “It’s about being in a relationship and then one of your friends is getting involved. You’re not angry at them but you’re also not happy about it and don’t know what to do. There’s also a bit of envy in there too, because they’re cooler than you and you’re scared that they might take this person that you like.”
It’s a concept that’s indicative of Lauren Ann’s wider lyrical approach. Her own experiences are the launchpad for her imagination to take those stories into bigger directions. It’s also about staying true to who she is. “My songs are centred around heartbreak and anger. I didn’t want to write love songs as it’s not who I am. So I ended up doing break-up songs instead.”
The 18-year-old always had a passion for music, her father’s love of classic rock being the impetus that inspired her love for Pixies, Nirvana, Suede and Muse. And she has been a budding musician ever since she hit her teens, when she traded violin lessons for her first sessions on guitar. Then when COVID hit, her family decided to shield to protect her vulnerable father. “I didn’t have much else to do, so I started writing songs,” she recalls. “I was hiding them from my parents because I didn’t want them to know. But then I wrote ‘Don’t Take It Out On Me’ and I was really proud of it. So I showed it to them, and everything started from there.”
With a fiery mix of grunge dynamics, garage rock exuberance and a hooky pop edge, ‘Don’t Take It Out On Me’ feels like a natural hybrid between grunge’s original wave of killer bands, but with a flavour of contemporary practitioners such as Sir Chloe, The Regrettes and Milk Teeth. It’s an even more remarkable introduction when you consider that Lauren Ann recorded it at home on GarageBand, recording vocals, guitar and bass herself and adding programmed drums.
Her second single ‘How It Works’ proved that her debut was no fluke, something that was underlined with ‘Angel Eyes’. The size of the reaction grew in tandem with her confidence. Seeing her school friends share the QR code for ‘Don’t Take It Out On Me’ was a boost, but things kept scaling up. Her first release of 2021, ‘Angel Eyes’, was chosen as BBC Radio Ulster / ATL Introducing favourite track of the month, while the first seeds of critical acclaim came when the new music bible Nialler9 included her in their list of the best new Irish artists.
Having already earned praise from artists including Sir Chloe and Starcrawler, Lauren Ann’s upwards trajectory continues in the coming months with a set at the Ireland Music Week and the release of her debut EP. Between her limitless potential and people like Olivia Rodrigo reintroducing guitar to the mainstream, Lauren Ann’s talent can take her to the top.
“Back at school, most people didn’t understand or like this music. I remember on non-uniform day, I’d turn up in grunge clothing and loads of dark make-up, and people would be like, ‘What’s she doing?’ But I liked it, so I did it. But it’s becoming a lot more popular. Now I want to play music for a bunch of people and become the best I can be.”
Hot on the heels of an RTÉ 2FM Track Of The Week with previous release ‘Breathe Easy’, Limerick four-piece Raging Sons are keeping the momentum with their new single ‘Square One’.
With their debut album ‘20:20’ set for release on 22 October 2021, ‘Square One', mastered by Robin Schmidt (The 1975, Sam Fender, Nothing But Thieves) is their fourth recent single, and a fire-starter. “We like to think about the ‘history’ of our songs, their story and musical evolution from one to the next,” explains Adam Reeves, the band’s drummer. “And this song… this is the sound we were striving for, all through the process recording of our album.” Guitarist Colum Kelly nods in agreement. “Yeah. ‘Square One’ is it, the sound we were working toward and a window into our future.” Raging Sons are a band that nearly weren’t.
After splitting up for a period in 2018, the band reconvened. “Yeah, we split up actually, for a moment,” says Adam. “Then we were like, no, hang on – there’s something special here, something worth fighting for.”
Colum chimes in again, “Yeah, it was silly, we knew we weren’t really done but we were frustrated with ourselves and how things were going. Shortly after we got back together we started working on the album”. Almost three years on, it's hard to believe Raging Sons ever faltered. ‘Square One’ showcases gorgeous synth melodies, roaring guitars, meticulous drums, all forming a hurricane around simply solid four-piece music making. Each of the band’s songs features a rock-solid musical core, with rich ornamentation. ‘Square One’ perfects their method.
Both Colum and Adam speak openly about the bands that have helped them figure out the sound which is gaining them notice, whilst ironically sounding strikingly unique. They are brutally honest. “I hate that bullshit – when other bands and artists repeat the trope ‘it's hard to say what we sound like, our sound is so unique…’” says Colum. “We’re not really afraid to talk about other bands and artists who have influenced us. We're all influenced by something - we're a mix, of course, of who we listen to, both individually and collectively – and that’s good. We’re not entirely unique. How can we be? Everything is derivative of something.”
Despite saying this, Raging Sons remain difficult to place. ‘Square One’ is evocative of bands like U2, Nothing But Thieves, and Muse, all at once. On top of this, the band have more recently steadily increased the incorporation of synth and electronic sounds into their music. “Yeah. It’s an evolution you’ll hear throughout the album.” "We love electronic based music. It's something in all of our tastes, in the band. We’re big fans of The Slow Readers Club, Public Service Broadcasting and Depeche Mode, for example.
There was a time when we were writing music that wasn't really congruent with the music we listened to and loved. We were just writing to write, playing to play. Now we don’t do that. Now we play the kind of music we love. The kind of music that feels authentic." Colum says, contently. It’s a contentment that shows itself in the good health of Raging Sons rich songwriting. Long may they create music which is in harmony with what they love – alt rock, indie and pop listeners far and wide are the ones who stand to gain.
Speaking of ‘Square One’, “a serendipitous, happy-accident moment," is how the band describe its creation. "We didn't have a prolonged amount of time to write, arrange and prepare this song, like we usually do, like many of the other songs on the album" Adam says. In fact, Colum, Adam and bassist Damo hadn't heard the song for longer than 72 hours, when it was brought to them by songwriter and vocalist Fint, before the four of them had it done, dusted and recorded.
"There's a different feeling with ‘Square One’, a rawness, a naturalness which came about on the day. It was a really fresh song when we recorded it – we just had fun in the studio that day - this song is what came of that.”
The lyrical message of the song concerns a call to arms. "It’s partly about challenging those around you to fight for a collective cause, to persevere through conflict and to raise the game for a shared goal,” says Adam. Fint Tynan’s emotive lyrics invite listeners to “choose your side, your side or mine.”
‘Square One’s’ music video further explores this - a devastating, black mirror esque production directed by Shane Serrano of Crude Media which explores how new technologies can destructively influence human behaviour and how the chase for viral moments can lead us down dark paths. A young child discovers a phone at a birthday party, and is driven by an excitement at the possibility of online acclaim for the bloody and brutal. It’s is not for the faint of heart, yet depicts a reality which hides under the surface of the social media services we all use. Raging Sons are using the medium of art they know so well how to wield, to observe the human condition, ask interesting questions and start uncomfortable conversations.
Manchester’s The Slow Readers Club, are back with their latest and most anthemic single yet, ‘Tell No Lies’; a huge synth-driven alternate anthem ready-made in time for the band’s long anticipated – and three times rescheduled – UK Headline tour kicking off on 25 September 2021 at the Foundry in Sheffield. The tour was originally penned for Spring 2019 to coincide with the release of the band’s Top 10 album ‘The Joy Of The Return’.
The single, co-produced by Steven Ansell of Blood Red Shoes and the band’s long-term collaborator Phil Bulleyment is accompanied by a brand-new music video featuring Line of Duty star Craig Parkinson aka DI Matthew “Dot” Cottan. Parkinson plays the extravagant faith healer who meets his match when he encounters protagonist and lead singer of the band, Aaron Starkie.
The collaboration with Parkinson came about through an unlikely meeting between BBC 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins and The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess:
“I met Craig at Kendal Calling, he was stood talking to Chris Hawkins and Tim Burgess at the time. It was one of those weird things where you feel like you’ve met before, I think Chris saw me trying to figure it out and then pointed out that I would know him from Line of Duty” Starkie recalls.
“We since got chatting on Twitter and he let us know that he was a fan of the band and kindly offered to be in the video. He’s a top bloke, so generous with his time and brought great energy to the shoot.”
‘Tell No Lies’ provides a step forward for the band, a fresh new larger sound, one that is made for a live audience - yet still stays true to a blueprint that has become synonymous with the band’s success to date.
Speaking of the track, Starkie notes:
“The song is about music’s ability to transport you somewhere else and take away your anxieties for 3 minutes or so. Lyrically it’s a bit of a conscious departure from our more introspective, existential, doom-laden stuff that we are known for. Feels like the world needs upbeat tunes now, as real life has been bleak enough.”
Irish indie pop artist Brí has just released a stunning single and accompanying video for her new song 'In My Head' and is also announcing her highly anticipated debut album 'Hide', which will be released on 22 October 2021.
Following on from her debut track, 'Low Supply', Offaly artist Brí sold-out her Whelan's headline show, received high praise from a multitude of blogs and radio and was selected to perform at Beatvyne's Music X Tech Experience. While 2020 saw performances at Whelan's Ones to Watch, The Ruby Sessions, headliners in The Sound House, Spirit Store and festival line-up announcements such as Vantastival, 2021 has seen Brí building momentum for her anticipated debut album.
About her debut album, Brí says..."'The theme of my debut album grew from my song 'Hide'. I've always held other people's opinions above my own and let fear hold me back both in music and in life. This album embodies the fallout and the resolutions that stemmed from this into many facets of my life. A loud theme that has been reinforced since the album's inception; the entire process of making 'Hide' in itself, has forced me to trust my gut and to honour my vision. '..From now on I won't hide.''
Her new single and video 'In My Head' continue Brí's journey as one of the country's most exciting artists. With each of her previous 5 releases Brí has gained more and more plaudits and more and more fans, as people appreciate a true original artist that mixes stellar song writing with fascinating visual accompaniments to bring the listener deeper into her world of self discovery and awakening that most can relate to.
Cork (Ireland) based singer/songwriter/producer Fintan McKahey returns with a new single “Lost Balloons”. The lo-fi acoustic song is emotive and nostalgic, featuring Fintan’s signature smoky vocals and pristine production. A mellow beat is met with layered guitars and ambient sounds.
In this song, Fintan reflects on how the pressures of modern life can get overwhelming. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that things aren’t always within our control.
Fintan says, “‘Lost Balloons’ is an ode to the slow life, a gentle reminder to take a breath and let life unfold at its own pace. Letting go can be the most liberating feeling there is.”
The song was recorded and produced by Fintan in his newly built space, Ivy Hill Studios. Built by Fintan and his team during COVID-19, the studio offers a variety of audio and visual services.
Fintan McKahey is a low-fi indie singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. An active artist since 2016, his 2019 sophomore EP “God Games” received critical acclaim as did his several 2020 singles, achieving national radio play and press acclaim.
He has performed in major venues across the country, including support slots for the likes of The 4 Of Us, The Scratch, Junior Brother, and Roisin O. Though Fintan loves performing, his true passion lies with creating in the studio. Writing and producing from a young age, Fintan creates music that is spacey, chill, and at times experimental and psychedelic, incorporating influences of bedroom pop and trip-hop.
Since the onset of COVID, he has been busy building Ivy Hill Studios. He was also named as a Hot Press Magazine “Hot for 2021” artist, performed at the Hot Press Y&E Series, and did some successful ticketed live streams.
"When I started out, this is what I wanted to do."
Gavin Conway never dreamed he'd be able to play music as a career. But before long, the young Dubliner began receiving attention as a house DJ in his early 20s. "The DJing took off, so I went with it. And don't get me wrong - it's been great. But writing my own songs, as a kid, was always the goal. Now that I’ve done this, these songs that are on the way, it’s really exciting.”
On ‘Throw A Stone’, Conway’s very first song as a singer-songwriter, guitars and his distinctive knife-like tenor are front and centre. ‘00s and ‘90s flavours are present, as well as nods to classic Manchester acts like Stone Roses and The Charlatans. Donal Bowens, long-time friend of Conway and popular drummer on the local Irish music live scene, delivers a stylish performance on the drums, and Conway’s thoughtful and accomplished vocal soars over the top.
The chorus hits lightly, confident in its power. A bright feeling pervades, as Conway invites his listeners to 'throw a stone'. Asked about what this means, Conway is visibly pleased. "One thing I'm proud of on this song - there really is meaning in every line. It's for each person to find their own version of what this song means. Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors." The second verse introduces a reserved but palpable electronic bass line, keeping the track engaging from start to finish.
Conway began his exploits in music in secondary school, whilst playing music with friends, before attending Ballyfermot Rock School.
Once his ability as a DJ was discovered, he began being asked to run his own nights, before going on to play the well-loved Ultrafestival in Croatia, hosting shows on Phever Radio and DriveTime, and setting up the Dublin house music collective, Seshin. Gavin Conway has also become known for his work raising vital funds for Cystic Fibrosis through 5K runs. All the while, a desire to play classically crafted songs on the guitar never left him. "I had loads of songs written. I just never got a band, never got around to doing anything with them. That was until the pandemic hit."
"Dan Cullen came onboard to help with production, and really helped me craft the song, and get it to the finish line. He’s always had my back through the process, and been a good friend to me. We recorded it with Chris Browne in Studio 44, in Swords.”
All this is just the beginning for Conway’s new chapter as an artist, and he bears all the energy of someone with dreams that won’t go away in a hurry. “Playing someone a song you wrote is personal. It's really special, and I’m so glad to be finally able to do this.”