HITS Daily Double
Rise/BMG’s Dance Gavin Dance scored the #1 Independent Album of the week with their set Artificial Selection, taking BMG’s recent tally of indie #1s to five, following chart-toppers by Blessthefall (also on Rise) A Perfect Circle, Godsmack and Broken Bow’s Jason Aldean (the last three of which ruled the chart consecutively). BMG U.S. Prez Zach Katz is doing some kind of dance of his own right now, though it’s far too avant-garde for us to understand. Seen just before enjoying some very independent beers during the Warped Tour kickoff in beautiful Pomona, California, are (l-r) the band’s Tim Feerick and Will Swan, Rise’s Sean Heydorn, the band’s Tilian, Andrew Wells, Jon Mess and Matt Mingus and manager Derek Brewer.
From humble beginnings to a worldwide presence, the team at Soulection, a community-styled collective, have focused their efforts on cultivating an emerging scene around progressive music. The initiative started in 2011, when co-founders Andre Power and Joe Kay teamed up to create a cultural movement around a genre of music that sparked their interests. Over the years, they (with the help of a tightly knit team) grew the brand, representing ‘the sound of tomorrow’. Amassing over 1m followers across Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms, it became clear that Soulection was illustrating the capability to build a one-of-a-kind digital experience. Starting out as a radio show and record label, which morphed into an artist collective and music platform, the crew demonstrates many forms of creative spunk. Their hefty roster of contemporary artists includes Sango, Ta-Ku and Lakim. Though the brand didn’t appear on Spotify until 2016, their presence as curators began as early as the Mixcloud days. From dipping their feet into the pool when streaming first became relevant, to making a splash when playlists rapidly gained momentum, Soulection has since amassed more than 44.6k followers across their network. Over time, Soulection’s playlist network has been able to promote various themes, moods and seasons. Curator Monty Anglade found his niche after launching their first community-styled playlist, Soulection Sunday. For the past year, the playlist has served as a growing haven for fans to discover new music that fellow Soulection supporters love. Anglade explains: “The playlist started out as a Twitter hashtag. Every week, I would ask our fans on Twitter what songs were stuck in their head. It ended up being a great success, so we expanded our efforts to Spotify.” Every Sunday, the playlist is switched to collaborative mode— allowing anyone to upload music onto the growing list." Anglade adds, “For me, you can never forget about the people that built your community. So I wanted to recognize them through the playlist." With 4k+ followers, the non-genre-specific playlist proves to hold a sweet spot for everyone at Soulection, where the team has been able to cultivate a familial brand that compares to no other. Intrigued? Click here to explore the rest of their growing endeavors. You can also catch a few of their artists performing at A Night at the Queen Mary (on Saturday, 7/28), hosted by the Soulection crew.
BY NICOLE GHAPGHARAN Colin Magalong—a San Francisco-born, L.A.-based artist—appears to be the newest act on the rise in the electro-funk scene. With his debut track, “Blossom” (released in early 2018), under his belt, Magalong has since put out three additional songs, accumulating around 200k Spotify streams. Discovery sites such as SubmitHub and Hype Machine play a big role for independent artists like Magalong, helping their music reach a wider audience. His "Bodies in a Room" was ranked #1 on SubmitHub's popular independent artists landing page, where outside bloggers report about who's trending. His six-track EP, Scrimmage, is set to drop late July, along with a set of music videos and remixes. Meanwhile, he'll be performing at festivals, such as Bonanza (6/23), and intimate venues like The Peppermint Club (7/9). And although dates are yet to be set, word has it that he'll soon be playing a round of shows throughout L.A. Thanks to curators at buzzing spots like Future House Cloud, which currently boasts over 120k followers across multiple platforms, artists like Magalong are finding support from an array of independent playlists that include Future of Pop. When I asked Future House Cloud Founder Bjarne Langenohl what his favorite part about curating is, he explained: “Supporting talented newcomers with our reach as well as our label artists.” Part of what makes curators like Langenohl special is their ability to support artists that are trying to find their niche in today’s market. While a majority of tracks supported by Future House Cloud comes from direct submissions, Langenohl also uses resources like SubmitHub’s popular page to find trending independent artists. To keep on discoverin', stream Future House Cloud’s playlist below.
L.A.'s intimate Moroccan Lounge welcomed independent artist Joshua Karpe, PKA Cautious Clay, last week (6/6). Dazzling with a stripped-down set, the show featured a collection of his releases, including tracks from his most recent EP, RESONANCE. For Clay, simplicity is bliss. He was accompanied on stage with only a guitarist and a drummer, though his saxophone and flute also had their appearances. The Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer recently made a splash with debut single “Cold War,” which dropped late last year. Since then, he’s released two EPs and was featured on Petit Biscuit’s “Wake Up.” His velvety vocals—complemented by a blend of R&B, modern electronica and jazz production—make it hard to believe he’s technically considered a rookie. An otherworldly troubadour, Clay will be kickstarting his fall tour with Alina Baraz (September) and Gallant (October). In the meantime, indulge in RESONANCE below.
BY NICOLE GHAPGHARAN L.A.-based artist Damyon recently released We’re All Dogs, a five song EP that’s both raw and well-crafted. With Damyon both playing guitar and providing vocals, the band includes Phil Guerrero on drums, Thomas Froggatt on bass and Jerry Borge on keyboard. Morgan Tashjian’s vocals are also featured. The gritty EP tugs at emotional strings with dark guitar riffs, while offering a juxtaposition between softer, stripped alt-rock tracks and grunge-rock. The lead single, “Get behind Me,” is a prime example of how production can be just as integral to the catchy-ness of a song as a strong chorus. Lyrically, the tracks are melancholy, and while the EP exhibits polarity when it comes to emotions, it's a commentary on all-too-real life experiences. Inspired by the sounds of Neil Young, The Eels and Kings of Leon, We're All Dogs is not one to miss. You can listen and find more information about Damyon here.
When I asked Scott Shephard, founder of FFConnect, where his passion for music came from, he explained it started in his early youth — routinely tuning into BBC’s Radio 1 Hip-hop show, hosted by Tim Westwood. His career in the industry, on the other hand, flourished after he secured a gig at Death Row Records. With his foot in the door, Shephard eventually decided to leave college and pursue a full-time career in the music industry, starting a digital content management company. He got an early start in digital marketing experience with help from Johnny Lawes, owner of Jago Management, and his career breakthrough came when he started working with R&B singer Mark Morrison.Between his work for Mack Life Records and roles as President of Global Music Group’s European division, Founder and CEO of digital media company SC923, and most recently a playlist curator for FFConnect–Shephard is fully embracing the digital age.Since the launch of FFConnect, Shephard has been able to accumulate over 22k followers on Spotify alone. While browsing through his network page, his playlist Caribbean Summer Vibes immediately caught my attention. Chatting with him about this specific playlist made his keen industry insight evident, so it's no surprise to find Caribbean Summer Vibes is the largest playlist both in follow-count and in artist streams. “What a lot of people don’t realize about Caribbean music, is that it's constantly impacting the charts. It’s always gone hand-in-hand with hip-hop and R&B–but you can also hear elements of Caribbean music in most of today’s pop music.” A favorite example of his is last summer's undeniable smash from Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee f/Justin Bieber, "Despacito." Ultimately, his playlist was inspired by the dance vibe that comes from Caribbean music and its a feel-good playlist you don’t want to miss out on. It features upcoming artists such as Ramriddiz and Samkul, while still showcasing internationally known artists such as WizKid and Stefflon Don. You can check it out below...
Decca announced today (5/30) that Jeff Goldblum is joining its roster and will be making his debut jazz record with the London label. After years of performing legendary jazz variety shows at Los Feliz's Rockwelll Table & Stage, Goldblum was apparently spotted by Decca execs on BBC's Graham Norton Show accompanying Gregory Porter on keys. While Goldblum is currently promoting the latest Jurassic World film with a reprise of his former role as Ian Malcolm, he is also due back at Rockwell this year to entertain the locals. While further details on the album's release haven't yet been announced, you can swoon over the above photo of Goldblum and a puppy in the meantime.
Last week (5/25), YMCMB's Drake posted an old black and white photo of legendary hip-hop producer DJ Premier (AKA Premo) to his Instagram story. Embellished with a scorpion emoji, it's likely safe to predict a Premo collab on Drake's forthcoming album, Scorpion. The hint comes on the heels of an interview Premo did on Michael Rapaport's I AM RAPAPORT: STEREO PODCAST. During the conversation, Premier named Drake as one of his Top 5 favorite emcees he'd like to work with, leading HITS staffer Max Lavinthal to speculate his admission would lead to a Drake-Premo collaboration. Check out his full rundown of the interview here. After the podcast episode, Rapaport posted this interview snippet on Instagram, tagging Drake. While it's impossible to say these events lead the pair to finally get on a track together, the new hint has certainly increased anticipation for Scorpion's release. Stay tuned for more Drake-related updates, and check out his latest release, "I'm Upset," here.
BY NICOLE GHAPGHARAN Singer/songwriter Saro recently dropped the highly anticipated visuals for his most recent EP, Boy Afraid, released with Mateo Sound in 2017. Debuting at Think Tank Gallery in the deep underbelly of downtown L.A., Saro's EP Audiovisual Exhibition was laid out in six rooms, each representing a song off the EP. The exhibition also featured live performances of a select three tracks from the EP.Directed by Merlin Camozzi, the visuals for “Boy Afraid,” “Sky Doesn't Blue,” and “Vapor” are striking, dark and layered with interpretive modern choreography. They captured Saro's vulnerability and emotional turmoil in a style that was equal parts evocative and hard to look away from. The crowd seemed to move with the artist as he made his way through the packed venue, demonstrating a magnetic quality in him. While he is not currently touring, you can catch the Novateur Entertainment-repped Saro at Bonnaroo 6/9. Pictured above sandwiched between HITS playlister Ranya Khoury (left) and myself (right) just before discovering the dangers of an open bar is an unimpressed Saro.
Sting and Shaggy held court at the Cannes Film Festival's closing ceremonies this week (5/21) performing "Morning Is Coming," a track off their collaborative album, 44/876. The album has been in the Top 10 albums charts in France, Poland and Germany for four weeks and continues to top Reggae charts in the U.S. The pair is headed stateside for a Good Morning America performance (5/25) when they'll also be dropping 44/876 - The Remixes featuring re-imagined tracks by the likes of Chris Baio of Vampire Weekend, Dave Audé, TropKillaz, iLLWayno and Cherry Cherry Boom Boom. They'll be taking off on a European tour over the summer, and return for a U.S. tour together in September, find more details here. Pictured above, shortly before digging into a refreshing platter of buttered snails, are Shaggy, Cherrytree Music Co. Chairman/Sting manager Martin "Cherry Cherry Boom Boom" Kierszenbaum and Sting.
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