Lostboycrow has been on Sunset’s radar for a while now. He’s currently one of our favorites to lead us into the 2016 music year. With first making waves on Sunset back in April of 2015, the music in which he describes as happy, sad, sexy, and dance, began when he made Los Angeles his new home and was fortunate enough to record a few songs with his good pal, Dylan (Flor). From there on, Lostboycrow was born. One of the first things we asked him was why Lostboycrow? Is there any significance to the name?
“I wanted the name to reflect the sentiment behind all of the art I create, a banner I could hold above every song and feel good about. It’s about having a vision and telling a story; “Lostboycrow” comes from the legend of The Lost Boy told by the Crow Nation – a people whose culture is centered on both of those things. I feel close to them and they inspired me to create and dream with others.”
Hit the jump for the rest of the interview and EP!
You may not know the name Xander Singh, but there’s a high chance that you’d recognize much of the music he’s helped make for the past several years. After spending about two years playing small gigs under his own name, Xander Singh formed the group Pepper Rabbit, whose hit song “Older Brother” is one of my all-time favorites. The band lasted for about 3 years, until one day in 2011, when Xander Singh posted a message on Facebook announcing that Pepper Rabbit would be breaking up. A mere eight days after his last show with Pepper Rabbit, Xander got a call from some of his friends from Boston asking to join their band. Turns out it wasn’t just any band — it was Passion Pit. Sounds like a dream, but what he didn’t yet know is that only three years later, he’d be forced to leave the band for serious health reasons. This is the story of Xander Singh, a man who, practically overnight, went from feeling on top of the world to hitting rock bottom. Continue reading “[Interview] Xander Singh: The path from living the dream to hitting rock bottom” »
One of the biggest laments in journalism is that you can never get a sense of personality over the phone. That’s true for a lot of people, but not fast-rising 22-year-old MC Kyle, whose sheer attitude and energy ooze through even a quick chat while he hustles to a meeting in Los Angeles.
He pauses in the middle of answers to comment on a man who has parked himself in front of an automatic door, and goes off on a tangent when I ask him what flavor of chips he’s just purchased. But at no point does this come off as the Ventura, CA rapper being unengaged with the interview, he answers every question thoughtfully and deliberately, even as he weaves through clots of foot traffic.
His earnestness and ability to jump from subject to subject are two of the things that have helped Kyle grow a large, rabid fan base, all of whom are currently blasting his second LP, Smyle, on repeat. With thousands eagerly anticipating the follow-up to his rollicking 2013 debut, Beautiful Loser, Kyle said he did feel more pressure stepping back in the booth.
“I felt more expectation to actually try and say something. I felt more burden to make something that had a little more emotional effect on people. It wasn’t just about Kyle having fun anymore,” he confessed.
That sense of responsibility manifested itself in a more mature, and occasionally darker record, that goes places that his free-spirited first release didn’t touch on. The production is bigger, more varied and anthemic, while Kyle’s bars are sharper overall. Fortunately though, they’re not devoid of the sarcasm and wit that makes him so unique.
“I wanted to switch it up a lot, I wanted to be dynamic,” he explained. “There’s a lot of albums, especially ones right now, where they find a good formula like, ‘If I do this, I add these trap drums to this type of thing it’s gonna be a good song.’ And then they choose to make the same song 13 times with a slightly different topic.”
Smyle is most certainly not that type of record. Even when the tracks don’t entirely come together, you can’t help but applaud Kyle for stretching himself as an artist and not sticking to the electronic-influenced, synth-heavy sound that got him his first taste of fame.
“Even if I’m better at making a ‘Don’t Wanna Fall in Love’ than an ‘All Alright,’ I’m gonna try and do it because life is dynamic,” said the rapper.
Kyle’s gameness is one of his strongest qualities as a musician, and played a huge role in how one of Smyle’s biggest tracks came together. He first met Chance the Rapper while opening for the Chicago MC in Santa Barbara, and the two quickly became friends. It was during a late night studio session with producer Nate Fox, a member of Chance’s Social Experiment band, that single “Remember Me” came into the world.
“Nate came over to my house one time. It was one of those perfect dream type situations, where all the stars aligned. I’m sitting there working on a song with Nate and he looks up at me and says, ‘Chano’s here.’ I was like, ‘What? Really? In Skid Row at 3AM?’ And Chance was like, ‘You know what, I got something for this song…’ It wasn’t the typical, play a beat, write a verse songwriting. We really connected on the project.”
Over a bluesy, piano-powered instrumental, Chance croaks out the cigarette-stained hook, giving Kyle free rein to assess fickle relationships through the lens of his newfound fame. The candor and wit are expected at this point, but they’re used in new and exciting ways. Even though “Remember Me” is a somber record, it is a tremendous accomplishment for an MC establishing his footing.
Despite all of this, Kyle still has to deal with being branded as a “pop rapper” for his upbeat sound. While he’s not angry about it, he’s quick to make it known that that kind of shorthand simply misses the mark.
“Everybody wants to label something…but me I want to express all avenues, all the shit I was influenced by,” he said. “I have made a pop song, I’m not a pop artist. I’ve made a boom-bap song, I’m not a boom-bap rapper. I’m a rapper, singer, dancer, dude, artist, that just makes music.”
Nov. 1 @ Reggie’s Rock Club (Chicago, IL)
Nov. 3 @ The Studio at Webster Hall (New York, NY)
Nov. 5 @ Vinyl (Atlanta, GA)
Nov. 7 @ Fitzgerald’s (Houston, TX)
Nov. 10 @ The New Parish (Oakland, CA)
Nov. 28 @ The Majestic Ventura Theater (Ventura, CA)
For a product of a fight between two rival bands, Oh, Be Clever has shown a surprising grip on the concept of harmony. Behind the powerhouse vocals of singer/songwriter Brittney Shields, and the master of all trades production and writing skills of Cory Layton, the group has crafted a perfect combination of indie, electronic, soul, and pop music with a ceiling that has yet to be seen. I recently sat down with Cory and Brittney to talk music. Hit the jump to read our conversation.
Kevin Abstract makes it well known that he has a lot of heroes. In attempt to emulate his heroes while also discovering his own sound, his producer Romil and he turned in the 12-track MTV1987 LP that I consider the year’s best album. So during this live interview (that you may be viewing after the fact when it’s not live), I will be talking to Kevin about his heroes, his album, and his quest of becoming the most popular artist alive, and I will be discussing in depth the making of MTV1987 with the suddenly iconic duo.
EDIT (6/2/15): Kevin Abstract’s MGMT asked for the interview to be taken down. Sorry for any inconvenience.
From an outsider’s perspective (no pun intended), it could be easy to discredit G-Eazy‘s success, saying that his brand is “manufactured.” It could be easy to say that this faux-retro brand he has built from nothing is just a shtick to set him apart in an over-saturated hip-hop market. Once you witness his “shtick” firsthand, you realize that maybe his brand is manufactured to set him apart in this crazy game. It doesn’t matter. G-Eazy is a smart guy–a graduate of Loyola University’s Music Industry Studies program. He knows what he’s doing, and maybe his image is a calculated attempt at monetizing nostalgia.
But image only gets you so far.
These Things Happen will be G’s first commercial album. The man is treading into the deep waters of actually asking his fans to purchase his music! But what I saw when I interviewed young Gerald was an experienced yet still hungry rapper with a smart style, a loyal fan base, and an unending supply of good music and ideas–not to mention, he is one of the most genuine artists I have ever met. Like, he lives exactly what he raps. In our interview, the Bay Area rapper talked candidly about the challenges of tour life, the details of his come up, rap disses, his favorite brands of whiskey, and of course, the making of These Things Happen. Pre-order the album on iTunes now or buy a physical copy on June 23rd. Continue reading “[Interview] G-Eazy: “This Is Where It All Starts”” »
Today, MisterWives released their debut EP Reflections. I was able to interview the lead singer, Mandy, about the EP and other fun tidbits. In a quick sum up, the EP is filled with different tunes for your listening pleasures that’ll have you moving and grooving. It’s a solid debut, and one that should gain some rotation in your iTunes/Spotify. Hit the jump to check out the interview and directly below that, the EP.
Antonio Paul is a sort of genre-bending, indie rock duo from Australia. They have sporadically released music over the past few years and have grown to be one of the most adored bands in my iTunes. Their songs have soundtracked some major events in my life, so I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to interview them just a few days ago. We talked about the 2010 blog hit “City Dreams” which sparked their career, the animated series Adventure Time, and their love-hate relationship with technology.
Sterling Fox (born Brandon Lowry) is a songwriter from New York via Pennsylvania. He is one of the many talented writers working behind the scenes on hits like Gym Class Heroes’s “Stereo Hearts” and Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” (literally, Fox co-wrote and co-produced the first and co-produced the second). It is a good lifestyle–being able to do something you love professionally–albeit sometimes frustrating not being publicly rewarded for your work. This is the music industry, and there is talent everywhere. With recent features on tracks with Avicii and Skizzy Mars and his own burgeoning solo career, Sterling is finally getting some of the recognition he deserves. I was lucky enough to interview the rising star and discuss his work with mainstream artists, his love for NYC, and what is next for pop music.
And yes, he is on Sunset Selections, our biggest mixtape of the year, dropping this Thursday (10/10).
Jay Z‘s Magna Carta… Holy Grail came out to mixed reviews, and while there is definitely some denying it as a great “project,” there is no denying how influential its creator is and how influential individual songs from the project already are. To the casual observer parts of this album find Jay Z desperately trying to adapt to the meme-driven, Internet culture with popular (seemingly silly) lyrics like “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford” and “Cause somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerkin’.” Truthfully, however, it shows a 43-year-old smartly poking fun at our lovable generation of misfits. The album as a whole is a generally enjoyable listen with beats that both successfully and unsuccessfully borrow from past hip-hop sounds.
So you didn’t like MCHG? Fine. You preferred hyphenated Jay Z? Okay. Still, watch this interview–if anything just to get a peak into the mind of a very creative person. BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe does a truly remarkable job of moving the interview along and maintaining a casual environment of open conversation.
Music can be simple and not basic. That, to me, is what Marika Hackman represents. She takes simple ideas and expands them into almost-medieval folk tunes with the help of her producing partner Charlie Andrews, who recently produced Sunset favorite Alt-J‘s record An Awesome Wave. The two first partnered up on Marika’s debut mini-album That Iron Taste and look to continue their partnership with an upcoming follow-up EP. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the young singer-songwriter. Below we discuss her dream musician, her working relationship with Charlie, and how this was almost definitely her favorite interview ever. Also, I discover what “taking the piss” means.
Hit the jump to read our full interview with Marika Hackman… Continue reading “Interview: Marika Hackman” »
If you’ve been keeping up with Sunset this summer, you know that Bipolar Sunshine has been a large part of our season soundtrack. With just three songs out via his Aesthetics EP (purchase here), Adio Marchant, a former Kid British band member, has transcended basic radio sounds to create picturesque escapes through sweeping melodies and genre-bending vocals. We were fortunate enough to interview him recently and talked about his record label, favorite songs of the year, and thoughts on free music.
Hit the jump to read our full interview with Bipolar Sunshine… Continue reading “Interview: Bipolar Sunshine” »