M.I.A. FOSTER THE PEOPLE
SOFI TUKKER SAINt JHN ALLAH-LAS POND
NIGHT DRIVE B.A.G. (BLIMES X GIFTED GAB) KAUF
JAIALAI CESAR SANTALO LOVE, ABBEY
+ MORE TO COME!
M.I.A. // A.I.M.
Survivors of war, conflict and genocide live on as IDPs and refugees, dispersed across their homelands and the globe. They embody the violence that has displaced them into the unknown, into uncertainty and into camps and council estates. Survivors crossed countless continents, countries and borders, leaving behind their homes, lives and dead: only to be rendered invisible, silent and forgotten in exile; only to be told that their bodies might have travelled but their stories have not. Their narratives are construed as exchangeable, mutable and nuisance while their bodies are considered collateral damage. Survivors are treated as a surplus people whose very presence destabilises the status quo, whose voices unsettle the known.
As border-crossers, modern day nomads, governments worldwide have tried to clamp down on their movements by criminalising them and locking them up into camps and into poverty. The demobilisation of survivors led to the creation of new states for the stateless, separate and legally distinct from the territory they sought asylum in. BORDERLANDS. Borderlands are places doomed as hopeless, lifeless and futureless, where joy can never be traced, where dreams cannot be woven, where the everyday is thought to be absent. They are places where new global orders are created, where new encounters occur, where new cultures are formed, where new people are
British Tamil artist M.I.A, a survivor of Sri Lanka’s decades-old genocide against Tamils, is one of Borderlands’ many people. Surviving a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Tamils, she arrived in London in the mid 1980s as part of the first wave of Tamil refugees. Following her displacement, she was raised in a women-led household inSouth London’s impoverished peripheries. Life in a council estate exposed her to a patchwork of marginalised peoples and cultures, which later came to influence her art practices and created her unique refugee sound.
M.I.A is driven by the idea of rendering the nightmare of becoming a refugee into a dream. Though placed at the margins, M.I.A learnt to speak against power and its complex technological arms with the humble tools available to her. She mastered the art of creating music out of nothing, of rendering disenfranchisement into a powerful catalyst for resistance.
Album after album, from Arular, Kala, Maya to Matangi, she returned with power power and raised her refugee voice to create a global sound for those deprived of a voice. She taught others that she is broader than a border.
With her fifth studio album, A.I.M., M.I.A returns to her own roots as a Londoner of Tamil refugee heritage. She provides a future template for today’s refugees to narrate their own lives beyond the many deceased and beyond catastrophe. By centring the living, she forces us to look beyond the sensationalist news headlines and question what happens when refugees get out of their tents and become our foreign friends. She encourages us to think about the struggles in our very backyards, spaces that are kept in order by overworked and underpaid shadow workforces made up of refugees who ought to be void of stories.
A.I.M. gives us the tools to finally move from abstraction into a clear vision for a world where the refugee is no more an anomaly, but makes up a powerful majority. It aims to overthrow categories that she, as other refugees, do not fit into anymore and envision a world where the sky isn’t synonymous for death anymore, where the sea is no more the home of nameless cemeteries. A.I.M. is not just any ordinary album, it’s the climax of a musical journey which has taken us through a geography of exile to bring us right back into the backstreets of London, where survivors meet the living.
Founded in 2009, Foster the People achieved success with the 2011 release of its debut album Torches, which has sold nearly two million albums and over nine million singles worldwide. Torches features the #1 hit single “Pumped Up Kicks,” which was declared “the year’s anthem” by SPIN. Foster the People garnered three Grammy nominations for its monumental debut, including Best Alternative Album, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Pumped Up Kicks” and Best Short Form Music Video for “Houdini.” Supermodel was the second full-length record from Foster the People. Influenced by frontman Mark Foster’s world travels and shifting perspective, the album was recorded in studios around the world and features fan favorites including “Coming of Age” and “Best Friend.” The band’s third and latest album Sacred Hearts Club, released in July 2017, is a 12-track effort that joyously flexes the group’s creative powers, fusing neo-psychedelia, punk, funk, electronic, dance and hip hop. Foster points to the polarized global climate as being a catalyst towards a more thoughtful approach on the album, inspiring them to make something that was joyful and unifying. The band’s current single “Sit Next To Me” was described as “pure shimmering pop” by the Associated Press, hit Top 5 at Alternative Radio and recently debuted on the Top 40 airplay chart.
World leaders, powerful CEOs, and other fat cats could learn a lesson or two from electrofunk duo Chromeo, namely: know thyself, know thy vibe, and stay thy course. The rest of the population will catch up. Indeed, Chromeo is really good at being, well, Chromeo. The mission, the package, the vision — it’s been a straight shot of pure intentionality from the jump. Funk a game plan, Montreal natives Dave 1 and P-Thugg had a ten-year battle strategy: from cult 80s fetishists on 2004’s She’s In Control to indie blog darlings on 2007’s Fancy Footwork, to international touring sensations on 2010’s Business Casual, to bona fide pop stars on 2014’s White Women.
And guess what? Pee (still looking a smooth criminal in a Coogi) and Dave (ever the Semitic/Gallic heartthrob in tight pants) are back. Early 2018 will mark the release of the Funklordz’ fifth studio LP: Head Over Heels. The album not only elevates Chromeo’s blueprint of ass-targeting beats, melodic honey and clever lyrics about the foibles of contemporary love…it augments it with unprecedented conceptual cohesion, booming sonics and more collaborations than ever before. Session legends such as Pino Palladino and Jesse Johnson (The Time, D’Angelo) coexist alongside the likes of DRAM and The-Dream on this intricate and ambitious ode to funk music, orchestrated by modern day masters of the genre.
Consider the first single “Juice”, a hilarious paean to female power set to a buoyant California bop: it’s Chromeo at its biggest and baddest.
When asked to describe the various elements that came together to form their first full-length record, Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern—the duo better known as SOFI TUKKER—both let out a simultaneous laugh. “Lots of craziness,” says Sophie, “It’s the sound of traveling and excitement and new friends and endless shows and total exhaustion and learning more about ourselves through it all. It sounds like our lives.”
It makes sense that Treehouse, SOFI TUKKER’s sparkly new album, would encapsulate the sound of so much wildness. Since releasing their debut EP, Soft Animals, back in the summer of 2016, the New York duo have ridden a wave of attention that neither could have ever anticipated. The band was catapulted into the spotlight by the success of their first ever single, the genre-smashing “Drinkee,” which, after being featured in an ad for the Apple Watch, quickly went on to rack up over 45 million Spotify streams and snag a Grammy nomination—no small feat for a song adapted from a piece of Brazilian poetry and sung entirely in Portuguese, one of the languages that Sophie speaks and has a particular passion for. Before they could fully make sense of what was happening, the two found themselves playing in front of increasingly larger audiences, wowing clubs and festival stages all over the world. “The whole thing became a big exercise in learning to just go with it,” says Tucker, “The same thing was true about making new music.”
Recorded in various places around the world, the ten tracks on Treehouse reflect the wily, nomadic nature of its two makers. “We just worked whenever we had time, wherever we happened to be, “says Tucker. “We wanted to keep our forward momentum going, which meant recording and writing at odd hours between shows and on days off, no matter how exhausted we were.” The result is an album that takes the eclectic poetry-pop sensibilities of the band’s debut EP and blows them up to stadium-size. “An important aspect of the record is that we made it while we were on the road and playing shows,” says Sophie. “We tried the songs out with audiences, which really inspired us. If something didn’t connect the way we thought it might, we’d go back and re-work it the next time we were in a studio.”
The mania of touring and live-wire enthusiasm of the band’s live show are evident in tracks like “Fuck They”—the record’s emphatic first single—as well as songs like the Portuguese-laden “Energia,” the slick electro of “Baby I’m a Queen,” or the pulsing “Batshit,” a searing, bass-heavy pop banger that the duo finessed in their live set before recording. “For that song, Tucker gets to take the mic and I play the guitar,” explains Sophie. “When we have a huge audience of people screaming ‘I’m batshit crazy!’ back at us, it’s hard to explain how much fun that is. It’s really fucking fun.”
The give and take with audiences—and the feeling of creating a kind of ecstatic communal space—is at the heart of Treehouse, a record that seamlessly marries the vibe of classic house music with deft guitars and exotic percussion. “A Treehouse is this magical place where you can allow yourself to return to this childlike state of awe and creation. Anything goes in a Treehouse. We loved that idea because that is what we’re always trying to create—a safe space where everyone can experiment and be themselves. It’s this elevated space in nature that can bring you back to those childhood impulses and freedoms.” In a display of experimentation on stage, SOFI TUKKER play an eight foot tall MIDI drum sculpture of their creation called “The Book Tree.” Sophie and Tucker also bring this creative, community spirit to their sweaty, intimate DJ sets. “Whether playing live or DJing, we’re trying to bring that Treehouse mentality with us everywhere we can. It’s important to us to create a space where everyone in the room is expressing themselves with abandon, not just us on the stage.”
At a time when the world feels particularly chaotic, pop music not only provides a temporary escape, but also serves to connect us—even if it’s just briefly—to our core values of friendship, community, and togetherness. As Sophie and Tucker explain it, the music isn’t meant just to distract us, but to activate something. “So much of this record is about friendship,” says Tucker. “We made some really amazing friends in these different places around the world. You get thrown into these crazy situations and you become fast friends, but in the best sort of way, that way in which you immediately fall in love with each other and then you miss them when you leave. The energy of new friendships is one of the best feelings ever and that was something we wanted to harness on the record: this feeling of endless possibility.”
Those fast friendships manifest on the record both in terms of subject matter and collaborations. “Good Time Girl” is a collaboration with the band’s friend Charlie Barker, who also contributes artwork for the band, and on “Best Friend” there are appearances by the likes of Nervo and The Knocks. “It’s a bit like summer camp,” explains Sophie. “You meet people and in a few days you feel bonded for life. We go a couple months without seeing these people, and then you cross paths again and there is all of this excitement and inspiration, like ‘What have you been up to? How can we collaborate? Jump on stage with us! Let’s play on a song together!’ We just want to celebrate that feeling!” In the case of “Best Friend,” that spirit of friendship was infectious, as the song went on to become a Top 20 US hit at Pop and Alternative radio and earned all bands involved their first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 and US network television debut.
“One of the things that always fascinated me about dance music—house music, in particular—was that it came from this place of freedom,” says Tucker. “It came from these rooms where people went to feel liberated. When we felt this connection playing music for people, whether it was a hundred people in a tiny room or 20,000 people at a festival, we realized that connection is the ultimate goal. I don’t know if we really knew that when we first started touring, but once we did, that changed how we thought about making music. That became the biggest inspiration on our music moving forward. I hope this album shows that.”
SAINt JHN is the shadowy, slow jam-oriented recording alias of Brooklyn native Carlos St. John. A rapper, singer, and songwriter, St. John kick-started his career during the mid-2010s by co-composing material for Kiesza (“Bad Thing,” “The Love,” “Piano”), Nico & Vinz (the single “Praying to a God”), Gorgon City (“Doubts”), and Usher (“Crash”), a sequence of advancements catalyzed by industry veteran Zach Katz, who had heard an early song St. John granted to a fellow fledgling artist. As St. John continued to rack up songwriting credits for other artists, he started issuing his own material independently in 2016. Among the tracks that caught on most were “Roses” and “Reflex.” “3 Below” and “Some Nights” followed in 2017, the year he also co-wrote “Helicopters/Beware” for Jidenna and “Can’t Wait” for dvsn. St. John’s own “I Heard You Got Too Litt Last Night” was released in 2018.
Following their 2016 album Calico Review, Allah-Las return with Covers #1, the first in a series of EPs exploring tunes near and new to the band. For the debut EP in the series, the band offers renditions of George Harrison’s “Fish On The Sand,” Kathy Heideman’s “The Earth Won’t Hold Me”, 90s LA cult band Further’s “JO Eleven”, and Television’s “Hard On Love,” an unreleased song from the band’s Marquee Moon recording sessions.
Allah-Las recorded Covers #1 at the Pump House in Topanga Canyon while working on material for their next full-length release. The selections are comprised of old faves and newly discovered tracks that became ubiquitous sounds in the studio between album takes. The EP will be released on Mexican Summer on Nov 3, 2017 as limited edition 10” encased in a high quality embossed jacket and through all digital formats.
Allah-Las is composed of Miles Michaud (vocals / rhythm guitar), Matthew Correia (drum / vocals), Pedrum Siadatian (lead guitar / vocals), and Spencer Dunham (bass / vocals). On the road the band has built a dedicated following with extensive, sold-out tours and high profile festival dates.
What do you call a group of psychedelic songsters all grown up? A group who were often considered the younger sibling, who have come into their own? Artists who just released their best piece of work yet, and musicians who unleashed one of the rowdiest and strongest live touring sets 2014 witnessed? You call them POND.
2014 unveiled the full-formed POND and the Northern Hemisphere barely survived. POND supported the Arctic Monkeys throughout Australia and then jumped on the next plane to Europe. There, POND stunned audiences at Primavera Spain + Portugal, UK festival Field Day, and brought the house down, every night, across their UK/EU headlining tour. Touring with Nick Allbrook (Vocals / Guitar / Astronaut), Jay Watson (Drums / Vocals / Dad Jokes), Joseph Ryan (Guitar / Bass / Vocals / Actual spaceman), Jamie Terry (Keys / Good vibes) and with barely a breather between, POND tore through North America, with sell-out shows ranging from one coast to the next, bouncing between countries like a pogo-stick. Pond’s 6th album “Man, It Feels Like Space Again” hit the shelves January 23 (AUS) / January 26 (UK/EU) / January 27 (US) 2015, with more festivals and headline tours booked around the globe to showcase the new tunes and support this stellar album release.
“Man It Feels Like Space Again” was recorded in Melbourne Australia and once again mixed by buddy Kevin Parker. The band showcased “MIFLSA” songs throughout their first headline tour of the US in October. Starting at a festival in Mexico, heading to New England, traipsing through Canada, and back down the west coast, POND pondered, why stop there? After their sold-out Los Angeles Halloween show, POND ventured south to play music festivals in South America, where audiences exploded upon hearing “MIFLSA”‘s hits and partied-hard with the melodious entertainers.
Hailing from Perth, Australia’s POND formed in 2008 after good friends Joseph Ryan (Mink Mussel Creek), Nick Allbrook (Mink Mussel Creek, Allbrook/Avery, Tame Impala, Peter Bibby & His Bottles of Confidence), and Jay Watson (Tame Impala) hit upon the idea of an all inclusive, ego-free collaborative, so the boys immediately recorded their debut album “Psychedelic Mango” with a little help from good friend Kevin Parker (Tame Impala).
Since the beginning, POND wrote music and produced records faster than a label could release them. POND followed up “Psychedelic Mango” within months, releasing “Corridors of Blissterday,” a frenzied effort recorded live with an eight-piece band in 2009. A year later, their third album “Frond,” a kaleidoscopic classic, dripping with funk and falsetto, loosely inspired by a diet consisting only of Prince and Fleetwood Mac, delighted audiences Australia-wide. “Frond”‘s release finally realised industry attention and praise, solidifying the band and their music in its own right. “Beard, Wives and Denim,” their 4th album, was recorded on a farm a few hours South-West of Perth. “Beard, Wives, Denim” is a triumph of the eclecticism and good humor that drives POND.
Upon “Beard, Wives, Denim” release in March 2012, global attention shined its light upon the Perth gang. A North American tour ensued, smashing through 31 shows — including 8 at South by South West — where they were one of the most talked about bands of the festival. From there, they returned home to Australia and sold out a national tour before storming UK and Europe, causing NME to tout them as the “hottest band in the world right now” as well as proclaiming “Beard, Wives, Denim” as “quite possibly the best album released so far this year.”
In August 2013, POND gifted to the world their 5th LP in as many years, “Hobo Rocket.” “Hobo Rocket” is 40 minutes of perfectly imperfect emotion, challenging veteran listeners and music reviewers with an evolved and vigorous sound. Singer Nick Allbrook describes the release as the “…kind of mindset of finding our own little place in music, and being more of a functioning band, which is what makes it noisier and denser. This one we went as brutally hard as we would at a show. We wanted the songs to sound loose and live.”
Enthusiasts and music aficionados world-wide agree MIFLSA is POND’s most focused composition to date. This mirrors their touring efforts, dynamic and enthralling live show, media buzz and essentially, the maturation of a musical career a long time in the making. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing growing up, especially when it’s this much fun!
Inspired by sci-fi cinematic landscapes, Night Drive creates modern synth-pop that explores the darker currents of abstract emotion. Infectious melodies wrapped in thoughtful lyrics with pulsing dance beats unveil a stylish, energetic sound that has been featured in film, tv and radio around the world. Touring and opening for international bands such as CHVRCHES, YACHT, Robert Delong,Tesla Boy, Miami Horror and The Psychedelic Furs, Night Drive has quickly garnered a reputation as a captivating, must see live show.
Blimes (SF) and Gifted Gab (Seattle) breathe life back into the game with this classic back and forth. The witty duo play off each others words effortlessly and their chemistry is undeniable on “Come Correct”. Expect to see more of these two in 2018.
Gabrielle “Gifted Gab” Kadushin was born and raised in Seattle, WA’s Central District. Growing up in the church and singing in the choir, she was composing melodies and playing instruments at a young age. As well as music. Freestyle rapping in elementary school turned into Gab professionally showcasing her skills in major venues and festivals across the US. She’s opened for legends such as DJ Quik, Rakim & Slick Rick as well as write ups in major publications like XXL, VH1, Dope & TIME magazine. In 2016, she curated & headlined her own 8 city tour. Gab’s latest video gained viral attention. “Come Correct” The collaboration with San Francisco’s Blimes Brixton has gained 10 million views across platforms & counting.
From the heart of San Francisco, Blimes Brixton is an MC and vocalist armed with an unmatched passion for artistry. Her musical background extends two generations to a blues musician father and jazz musician grandfather which could justify her keen attention to musicality. Her distinctive voice is globally appreciated; early on in her career, the lyricist joined the likes of Too Short, Adam Vida, & France’s Scratch Bandits Crew on various releases and co-headlined a 25 city European tour with LA rapper Gavlyn. Most recently, Blimes’ undeniable talent and unique history as a battle rapper sparked collaborative efforts from hip-hop icon Method Man on their release of “Hot Damn” Blimes’ latest videos have gained viral attention. “Come Correct” the collaboration with Seattle’s Gifted Gab has gained 10 million views across platforms & counting. In 2016, Blimes established her own imprint label, Peach House Records, which is focused on highlighting talented women in the industry. Now in 2018, Blimes gears up to release a full length solo album Castles.
With his original productions Kauf has achieved the near impossible feat of making dance music that is also song led and lyrically deep. The rhythms, informed mostly by slowed down disco, support simple, emotive chord progressions with a melancholic bent. Dense layering, his own echo-laden vocals, and a penchant for distorted, imperfect sounds create the dominant motif, where the words sometimes ring out as if emerging from a barely remembered dream. His debut album ‘Regrowth’ was released in October with massive support from Spotify and iTunes, landing on 7 official Spotify playlists including ‘New Indie Mix’ & ‘Chill Vibes’, and 2 spots on Apple’s ‘Today’s Chill’. We’ve seen 5 singles alongside equally staggering remixes from some of the electronic world’s finest talents (Fort Romeau’s edit was released on vinyl via Permanent Vacation). Four singles charted on Hype Machine’s Most Popular Top 10 with Key to Life reaching #1, which resulted in Kauf entering the Top 10 of the HypeM 2016 Zeitgeist Chart. And ‘Regrowth’ peaked at #15 on the NACC’s electronic radio charts. He self-released his first single in 2011 – “Relocate” b/w “When You’re Out,” which quickly found its way into the hands of Dan Whitford of Cut Copy who released the “As Much Again” EP on his own Cutters Records. Kauf have previously supported Cut Copy, Elderbrook, Com Truise, Goldroom, Maribou State, Zimmer, Ceu, Public Service Broadcasting, and The Big Pink.
After the dissolution of his early experimental rock bands spurned the dive into electronic production and synth collecting, he is equal parts studio rat psychedelia obsessive and art-pop traditionalist. The rhythms, informed mostly by slowed down disco, support simple, emotive chord progressions with a melancholic bent. His forthcoming Regrowth LP mostly explores the small fractures within his closest relationships. They are the kind that have long been there, but were either willfully ignored or conveniently missed, like a tiny crack in the windshield that slowly creeps across, but eventually demands you take notice and make the repair before it shatters completely. There is the realization that a relationship with an ex-boyfriend was entirely superficial (“A Ruin”) and truly understanding why you’re in love (“Through the Yard”). Complicated family issues are the focus on “Turning,” “Key to Life” and “Pacify.” Though themes of denial and doubt run through the record, there is a palpable sense of beauty and hope. This is not an angst ridden record like the punk and alternative albums he grew up on, but one questioning the way forward. After the success of the previous singles ‘Through The Yard’, ‘A Ruin’ and ‘Key To Life’ all making the HypeM Top 10, and an LA residency @ The Echo with support from artists like Your Friend, Clara-Nova, and Vōx, Kauf is set for a promising year ahead. We are looking forward to building on that momentum in the coming months.
Jaialai is an American Rock band from Miami, FL, formed in 2016. It’s members are Jose Adames (Guitar/Synth), Richard Boullon (Drums), Mario Lemus (Bass) and Oscar Sardiñas (Guitar and vocals). They released a 4 song ep called “When I’m On The Run” in 2016 and have released more standalone singles afterward. The band are currently finishing their first LP which they recorded with Fabulosos Cadillacs producer Carlos Imperatori. Though their sound is self described psychedelic, they tend to lean toward shoegaze and have some garage rock undertones. With members of the band from Venezuela, El Salvador and of Cuban heritage, hints of their respective backgrounds and their local Miami culture show in their music and art.
Abbey is the 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist mind behind the Miami-born project, Love, Abbey. Her debut EP, Lost at Sea, contained everything from indie pop and alternative, to folk and orchestral ballads. In her upcoming releases, Love, Abbey continues to embrace this concept, performing with a full five-piece band. Playing every instrument and singing on every track, Love, Abbey hopes to bring a sense of authenticity into the music industry.