HITS Daily Double
This week's musical collection from your X-Interns features favorite tracks from the non-majors. Not all of them will be unknowns, but most have hardly (if ever) seen radio play. That said, they totally deserve to be played loud and proud. The playlist is just under-the-radar enough to prove we are in fact cool, despite the association with HITS.
BY RANYA KHOURYWhat happens when a lawyer and a grad student join forces to live out their passion for singing and songwriting? Expect magic, dedication and a whole lot of backbone. Philadelphia natives Matt Quinn (vocalist) and Sam Cooper (guitarist), lead members of Mt. Joy, decided to put their careers on hold, despite the underlying risk, to form a band and follow their dreams. The band started gaining momentum in 2017 after the release of second single “Sheep”—now totaling 7m+ streams. The bold move to focus their efforts got the attention of prevailing bands in the indie-folk scene, such as The Head and the Heart and Whitney, for whom they've opened. With surprises coming from every end of the spectrum, Mt. Joy continued to drop singles off their not-yet-announced debut album while playing festivals that included Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and SXSW.Now, almost a year later, they continue to sweep fans off their feet with the announcement of their full-length, as well as a tour supporting Neko Case; they kicked off the eastern leg last Thursday (1/11) in Massachusetts. With back-to-back showcases, interviews and appearances at festivals such as Shaky Knees, BottleRock and SXSW the band certainly has embraced their path to success. After years following their music, I finally had a chance to connect with the members of the Dualtone quintet. “We worked on the album over the course of about a year, with constant experimenting and tweaking. The final product turned out to be a collection of diverse songs,” said Cooper in answering a question about what fans can expect. “We can only hope people enjoy it as much as we loved working on it.” Their self-titled set will be available everywhere 3/2, and Mt. Joy will play their first post-release show in Los Angeles, where the band currently resides. Their most recently released track, “Jenny Jenkins,” dropped today; take a listen below. Catch them on tour while you can, with details found here.
Glassnote's Jade Bird, a singer/songstress included in BBC Music's Sound of 2018 Longlist and named one of Rolling Stone's Country Artists You Need To Know, just released her latest single, "Lottery."Building on the success of her debut EP, Something American, the U.K. native will be embarking on a European tour come March. All the details can be found here.
Through his album, The Thrill of it All, which rose to #1 in 2017 and remains Top 10 into 2018, Capitol's Sam Smith introduced us to YEBBA, the vocalist on “No Peace,” and the sole credited feature on his album.Previously known as Abbey Smith, the Arkansas native changed her name to YEBBA, a switch she made in honor of her late mother. Since performing original song “My Mind” at Sofar Sounds in NYC, the gut-wrenching ballad, which reportedly made Ed Sheeran cry, has pulled in more than 1.6m video views, resulting in a well-deserved fanbase.Comparable to the likes of Adele and Andra Day (as well as Smith), the independent artist started posting videos of herself singing on Facebook early in 2016. She has since provided backing vocals for Chance the Rapper and A Tribe Called Quest, opened for Sheeran, duetted with Smith and released her first single official, “Evergreen.”YEBBA embodies all the characteristics of a star and yet remains unique and authentic. She digs deep with her emotionally exposed lyrics and raw vocal talent, tugging at heart strings you didn't know you had. Albeit somewhat elusive at this point, she's an artist to keep an eye out for—and one that could be headed for greatness.YEBBA's repped by Park Avenue Artists. You can get more information on what's next for her here and listen to her performance of "My Mind" below.
BY KENZ MEADOWSBROCKHAMPTON, an L.A.-based hip-hop group that's been gaining notoriety in the alt scene, came out with a 22-minute movie, Billy Star. The group just did two consecutive sold-out shows at the El Rey that sandwiched a talked-about daytime performance with Tyler, the Creator at Santa Ana's The Observatory. Additionally, their New Years Eve "Prom" included a surprise performance from Billie Eilish. And with a North American tour on the ground, this short film shows they have no intention of slowing down. The film, about young love, is described as an American tragedy. I'll warn you now; it's going to break your heart, and is at times hard to watch. Both its aesthetic and storytelling prove particularly impressive, given that it was written in two weeks and filmed in just ten days.BROCKHAMPTON is a group that can address any subject matter. They're not limited in what they can accomplish, be it consistently producing great albums, putting on aptly hyped live shows or a making a movie. The full-length rendition of Billy Star is said to be headed to theaters soon, and I don't doubt they'll make it happen. Check it out below, and see all the other great visuals they've made here. Do your best to see them on their Love Your Parents Tour, much of which is sold out.
BY RANYA KHOURYHow many times have you heard this?: “Choose a job you love and never have to work a day in your life.” I’ve lost count. Confucius and clichés aside, there’s something valuable to take from this quote; passion is one of the most important qualities to have when it comes to a career. Consider the music industry. People who are passionate about music genuinely don’t mind working in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. Just look at Canadian playlist gurus Ryan Thompson and Ariel Carter for example. With early stints as producers and curators on Soundcloud, Thompson and Carter—founders of The Drunken Coconut, a marketing and consulting company that specializes in artist development—quickly realized how difficult the road to success can be for many talented but unknown artists. They decided to launch The Drunken Coconut in an effort to help emerging acts reach the next level. The company offers a wide variety of services for all artists and labels, beginning with The Husk—a user-friendly platform focused on growing an artists’ fanbase—and including an on-site blog. The pair have worked with hundreds of artists across various genres and countries, including names like The Chainsmokers and Alan Walker. Upon reaching a level of success with their artist portal, Thompson and Carter decided to focus more on their roles as playlist curators—this time conquering Spotify. They've since accumulated more than 63k followers. The kicker? The Drunken Coconut has only published three public playlists. Utilizing a submission hub, the duo gets around 6k track considerations per week, consuming their days with listening to music nonstop. “It can get a little overwhelming at times, especially because it’s only Ariel and I, but it’s all worth it in the end," says Thompson. "There’s a sense of enjoyment we get when helping an artist progress." Their most-followed playlist, Fresh Coconuts of the Week, features a diverse selection of artists, including DAVVN, Andrea von Kampen and lovelytheband. The best part is that it only features 20-30 songs per week, giving each artist a solid shot at being heard. Thompson also mentioned that out of the 6k track requests they receive, about 50 of those make it on their blog, where visitors can find pages devoted to "fresh singles," news and reviews. “It makes for a great read with lots of variety. Ariel and I love writing about the tracks that scream ‘Everyone needs to hear this right now!’” And with services that include artist advertising and producer tools, the company's website further proves the duo’s strong passion for music is clear. Check it out for yourself.
At the Spotify for Artists "Seven Digit Dinner" at The Church Key in L.A., a group of up-and-coming acts celebrated earning 1m or more streams on a song. The Kelis-hosted event included killer grub and libations, a DJ spinning the million-streaming tracks and, of course, cult-like worship of a giant Daniel Ek statue. In this shot, Daniel Linton of L.A. Riots and his guest pose with Spotify Head of Creator Product Marketing Preston Hershorn, who was one of the evening's presenters. Later, a blunt the size of a rolling pin made everything that much more streamy.
Darkroom/Interscope's Billie Eilish and Def Jam's Vince Staples sent ripples through the DIY community with the surprise drop of their collaborative effort "&burn" yesterday (12/14) only to land a listing on Spotify's New Music Friday. While on the surface it doesn't seem like the most likely pairing, they made something really unique and cool together. "&burn" features the high and clear vocals you can depend on Eilish for, as well as a biting verse from Staples. The lyrics reference arson in response to a broken heart—very on brand considering the dark horse each has tended to in previous work. The production—credited to her brother Finneas, who had worked on this track along with Staples—is certainly in the vein of Eilish's pre-established aesthetic.Following the new year, Eilish will be heading out on tour in the U.K. and Europe. Staples is going out with Tyler, the Creator for a North American run.
This week's Staff Selects playlist brings you the best of our mostly millennial X-Interns' youth. Behold the cuts that taught us how to dance and how to deal with the crippling realities of transitioning into adulthood. If we'd known we'd be interns at HITS someday, there'd probably be a few more songs of heartbreak and despair. Keep up with all our sonic musings right here:
BY RANYA KHOURYStreaming services like Spotify and Deezer allow users to connect with their followers on a uniquely personal level, promoting notions of solidarity in a way that other social platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram can not: Through carefully curated music. With mood-focused and genre specific playlists, these tastemakers possess a specific palette that connects them to their audience. In this way, users on both sides can experience a very human exchange through the enduring power of songs. And beyond its ability to generate warm & fuzzies, streaming has proven its potential as a strategic tool for personal branding and promotion, or even direct ticket sales. There’s no doubt the new listening model has shed some light on opportunities that were not present before. Myles Cooper, owner of Northern Streams Record Label—home to L.A. natives Addison, Happy Sometimes and others—is a prime example of someone who harnesses the power of streaming. Having seen early on the potential of growing his label’s brand via Spotify, Cooper and his team brought their promotional efforts in-house, as the streamery supported the label’s artists wherever possible. Although his involvement with playlist curation initially focused on his roster of artists, he has developed a yearning to support other local artists. “My greatest sense of satisfaction now comes from having a killer playlist," and the 30k followers he’s attracted certainly prove he knows how to make one. From the start, Cooper wanted to take a different approach to the curation process. Rather than sticking to a specific mood, his playlists focus on popular locations in Southern California, such as Joshua Tree and Venice Beach. Featuring a diverse lineup of artists, each playlist evokes the places they’re named after. Looking for a specific genre? You’re covered on that end as well; just search for Future Pop (14k+ followers) or the hip-hop-influenced Champagne Charlie. Cooper’s first release on Spotify, Indie Famous - Venice Beach, has now turned into one of the label’s most-successful playlists. “It was curated naturally. A couple friends and I were sitting beachside, watching the spectacular views of Venice Beach. It came down to the question of what record I would listen to while watching the sun descend and having a beer on a Friday,” said Cooper. With artists that include The Killers, Two Feet, M Phazes and Sean Bowe, you’ll be sure to set the perfect tone for your next sunset brew. And, to be clear, it doesn't matter where you reside; Cooper's playlists will transport you. Go ahead, explore away.
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