All Posts By Ragina Lashley

The State of Music: From Physical Sales to Digital Streaming

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As the technology landscape grows larger, the state of music changes from the physical to the digital. From being able to see the cassette or CD spin round, to now holding our entire music libraries or accessing them via Internet/Cloud-storage is definitely a sign of the times. What this means for us as the listener, the artist and those behind these platforms, varies upon each release and public perception.

As the Cassette Turns

Can you remember your first piece of music? I can. I was about five or six, and received two cassettes: Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Celine Dion & R. Kelly’s “I Am Your Angel.” That was back when record labels still released entire tapes for one promotional single, and the music quality never wavered. The art of the tangible is a real thing for some people, as being able to see, hold and interact with something gives it meaning. For music aficionados, may it be a vinyl record, tape or CD, having this and being able to find them (I was lucky to find some gems even in our local library), is highly important. With the release of the mp3 player, companies were dangling “unlimited access” in our faces. Some took the bait, finding no qualms with paying either $1.99 for a single song on iTunes, taking time and transferring their music libraries to their devices, or being the first to have the new album at the touch of their fingers. The rise of the Internet in the early 2000s caused debate among fans and artists, or artists and these new and budding music platforms. “Can I find and play that song at any time or do I have to do the work to upload it myself?” “Will I receive fair compensation for making my music available this way?”

The Catch Up Chart

Of course the shift from CDs to MP3 players meant there was less focus on physical units and more on digital streaming. The smartphone made it worse, focusing on Internet access, increased storage and touch surface area. Although CD stocks dwindled or phased out, the gap between longstanding organizations such as the RIAA and Recording Academy during the rise of streaming, narrowed. Music charting systems like Billboard created additional charts determining overall positions on the Hot 100 (Digital Songs, top weekly digital sales) and Streaming Songs (top weekly radio streamed, or viral videos or songs). Music certifications like the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) now recognize digitally streamed songs for platinum or gold certifications, and among The Record Academy, could also receive various industry nominations. Artists like Macklemore, Chance the Rapper and even PSY are examples of artists that found digital popularity and made their way into traditional radio streaming.

Right Here, Right Now

We’ve gone from sharing sites like Limewire and Napster to iTunes. Tried out and fought over recommendation-streaming like Pandora, but now with so many user-curated services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Music, the ball is in a listener’s court. If the general public didn’t seem to lean toward the digital world with curiosity, perhaps places like FYE, the Virgin Mobile store or Borders wouldn’t be so dead.

Maybe. But because issues of copyright will always be the question in the music world, artists continue to push for more control over having their catalogue available on these services and fighting for fair compensation. Regardless of what goes on behind the scenes, the state of music today, just means some are greedy and don’t care about the backstage battles. So long as the music is available, it can be said we will be around to listen, ready to take test how unlimited our access really is. But what if simply having our music streaming this way, isn’t enough?

Perhaps in the future, an audio-implant device? Too much? Maybe.

 

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The State of Music: From Physical Sales to Digital Streaming. Featured Image provided by Flickr CC License.

Artists We Wish Would Collab

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Have you ever sat down and wondered “What if?” while listening to your favorite artists back to back? As if the universe could hear you and these artists would feel compelled to come together, making your music library greater than it already is? Well, in some cases, some of our favorite artists have worked together, have thrown the idea out there, or have even crossed paths. Here are a few pairings of artists we wish would collab.

Adam Lambert X Demi Lovato

Both Lambert and Lovato made their strong voices visible on known networks; Lambert blowing viewers away on FOX’s American Idol, and Lovato intriguing preteens everywhere on Disney Channel’s miniseries As The Bell Rings. Although Lambert didn’t win AI, he continued to smash with his debut album, his later well-received albums, and touring with Queen. Lovato rose through the Mouse ranks with Camp Rock, her own tv show, and two hit albums. Things seemed a bit rocky for both (whether it be performance reviews or personal struggles), but Lambert & Lovato are dynamic singers who have certainly grown from the simple brash vocals and established vocalists. It would be very interesting to hear both harmonize and provide a soothing ballad or dance pop for the masses.

Agnes Obel X Julie Byrne

Both Nobel and Byrne are singer-songwriters with an affinity for atmospheric melodies. Obel takes a more classical approach with her inclusion of various strings, building upon her poignant piano plays, wistful voice and state of mind. Byrne takes a more folk approach with her poetic lyrics, unique vocals and gentle guitar. Obel’s first album Philharmonics was highly successful, broadening her appeal as three of its songs featured on American dramas (Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge). Her second album, Aventine, featured the single “Dorian”, bringing more attention (and Spotify streams). Her recent release, Citizens of Glass, showcases the artist trying different types of instruments and audio techniques. Byrne came to my attention during the release of her sophomore album Not Even Happiness, featuring folk with matured arrangements, contemplative lyrics, and critical acclaim. Its single, “Follow My Voice,” is the best example of her unique take within the genre. Because both artists are consistent and compelling in sound, it would be very interesting to hear an entire universe as both singers worked together.

Childish Gambino X Chance the Rapper

Both rap, sing and have created a notable sound for themselves and among their fanbase. Childish Gambino emerged as an outlet, producing various rap and hip-hop releases (firstly mixtapes) for internet music followers (and fans interested in Donald Glover) and those seeking refuge from the norm. The styles of Gambino emerged into various explorations of R&B, funk and electronica. The album Because The Internet was an interactive release, complete with a script, short film (Clapping for the Wrong Reasons) and continued noted features. Chance the Rapper grew viral with longtime listeners in his hometown of Chicago, with his first mixtape 10 Day, and subsequently with well-received Acid Rap. His style consists of layered and groove-laden instrumentals and sounds out of various samples or arrangements by Chance himself, who not only raps, but sings and plays the piano as well. The two artists actually crossed soundscapes during the release of Gambino mixtape Royalty for “They Don’t Like Me.” The introspective and confident lyrics, paired with both rappers playing off each other and the warped version of Dem Franchize Boyz’ “I Think They like Me” for support. Short and sweet, both artists came on the radar of their budding fan bases, and would return for another collaboration on Gambino’s Because The Internet for “The Worst Guys.” The only issue, is that Chance only features on the chorus! Another fair return (and lyric distribution) is surely due!

Gallant X FKA twigs

Gallant came to my ears with his ethereal cover of Foo Fighter’s “Learn to Fly,” but already had folks buzzing with his “Weight in Gold.” Showing impressive range, relatable lyrics and easy-going feel, Gallant toured with Sufjan Stevens, collaborated with Jhené Aiko for “Skipping Stones,” and impressed with Seal for Coachella ‘16. Gallant’s musical style ranges from electronic, alternative rock & R&B influences, with his vocals showing clarity, richness & emotion. FKA twigs is another artist transfixing audiences with her delicate vocals and stand-out production. She grew out of her background dance work for other artists, and continued on with music, generating interest with her style and her single, “Water Me.” Her appeal lies within her voice, experimental video and production style, merging electronic, pop, hip-hop and even industrial influences. A signature song for Gallant lies in Ologys “Jupiter,” and for Twigs, perhaps LP1s “Pendulum.” Both artists represent the unconventional becoming conventional. And hearing both voices (and falsettos!) with a unique production would certainly break sound-waves.

 

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Artists We Wish Would Collab. Featured Image Credits to Filip Van Lerberge, mercen27, Dominque Dinh, Alexander Kellner, Julio Enriquez, EWatson92

4 Artists Who Should Try Another Genre

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There’s been a few times we’ve listened to our favorite artists sing a particular note or cover a particular song, and us as the listeners choose to question what if they take it a step further? What if they create an original work in a different genre, giving us a seamless gift of music? With current works and vocal capabilities in mind, here a few artists who should try another genre.

Beyonce

An artist with a very flexible voice that spans numerous hits, stages and audiences, Beyonce is at the top of any list when it comes to venturing into another genre, and doing it well. With her most recent release Lemonade, she swam into various musical styles and spoken word, but her collaboration with Jack White for “Don’t Hurt Yourself” was especially thrilling for those stubborn to understand her artistry. Aside from it coming from a place of anger and betrayal, this song definitely showed her vocal capabilities to own a funk rock song with no hesitation. With something just as enthralling, intensive & a chance to show off her vocals, a performance-heavy track would be interesting to hear (and see!).

 

Let’s Try: Beyonce meets Lenny Kravitz’sTunnel Vision

 

FKA Twigs

This artist created a space for herself and her listeners, with her electronic, alternative R&B style & effortless performances. Twigs constantly pushes the expectations of her fans aside, keeping true to her sound but giving results that are unexpected yet still very much appealing and almost hypnotic to listen to. Twigs has a few songs where she gives her listeners a stripped-back feel such as “Good to Love.” Because her musical sound encapsulates her very careful and sweet sounding voice, it would be very interesting hearing it with more acoustic rock instrumentals that complement rather than take over her voice & songwriting.

 

Let’s Try: FKA Twigs meets The Cranberries’ “Roses”

 

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is an artist evoking classic and modern styles across her discography. Taking on jazz, glam and dance pop, house, rock and little bit of country, narrowing down what genre Gaga should take a gander at next gives pause. Though some didn’t care for it, “Perfect Illusion,” featuring production by Mark Ronson & Kevin Parker, definitely kept in-style with Gaga & showed she’s capable of continuing with a synth & rock infused track. It’d be interesting to hear her bring her extravagant vocals & poetic lyrics to a song with more synth and carrying beat (the Eurythmics anyone?).

 

Let’s Try: Lady Gaga meets Eurythmics’ “Forever”

 

Usher

Usher is an artist that got his start in his early years, and thus grew up with a variety of different sounds, and wasn’t afraid to make his velvety-smooth voice a part of it. Everything from classic and contemporary R&B, dance pop, hip-hop, trap, indie pop & electronica, can be found somewhere in his discography. Along with various appearances in time for his love life, Usher has caused various debates among fans regarding sticking to a sound that enhances his vocals rather than drowning it in heavy production An example of a mature sound was “Here I Stand,” that featured on his fourth album. The love ballad featured various instruments, like the keyboard, soft drums, and piano that were layered to give harmony to Usher’s voice. It was slow paced, but rhythmic. It evoked comparisons to Stevie Wonder influences with production from Drev & Vidal (Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild) and Polow da Don. It would be complimentary for Usher to try more within the soul genre among the wide universe that R&B has taken over the years.

 

Let’s Try: Usher meets Stevie Wonder’s “Moon Blue”

 

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4 Artists Who Should Try Another Genre. Featured Image Sourced from Wikimedia Commons. All photo credits to Yne Van De Mergel, Bobo Boom, RocBeyonce, and Eli Watson

Artists We Hope Drop Albums in 2018

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There’s a few things that I have to look forward to in the new year. The very same could be said for some of our favorite artists, who pour their joys and melancholies into albums that make up the soundtrack to our daily lives. For some, this requires no hesitation, and for others it requires careful planning and balance with plenty of expectations. With great hope and anticipation, here are a few artists whose albums we hope drop in 2018.

Drake

After Nothing Was the Same in 2013, giving us a new Drake to appreciate, in 2015 it seemed like he returned to ‘everywhere’ status with mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late with rapper Future, and his fourth album Views. Now it’s 2018 and aside from the standard “who is he with?” rumors, there’s also hope he may plan to return to music with his fifth album. Following the pattern, we’ve already gotten a mixtape, More Life in March 2017, and recently we’ve received Scary Hoursa two-song EP in early 2018. If we’re to guess, an album may very well be on the horizon later this year. Hopefully it provides a new look into the artist Drake is currently, but also shows where he sees himself with a progressive sound.

MGMT

This dynamic & psychedelic group has had their share of back and forths on their music, their label, and sometimes themselves. For much of my younger years, this group was one of my ultimates for their prismatic sound, until it seemed like they lost interest. They brought back life with their release of Congratulations in 2010 and a few questions with their self-titled in 2013. In October 2017, MGMT released “Little Dark Age” among various concerts along the way, and confirmed that they’ll be releasing their fourth album. Upon this new release, hopefully they continue to show confidence and enjoyment in the sound they’ve crafted for themselves, and continue to explore its depth.

Tycho

A chillwave project headed by musician Scott Hansen and a listen highly recommended if you enjoy synth, lo-fi and nostalgia. Tycho is solace for those seeking retrospect in their music experience with few words. Since 2004, 4 albums, 1 concept and notability for his musical direction, there is new excitement for this release. Hopefully it brings us to forward within ourselves as the listener, and forward into the strange time we’re in now.

Sophie

Placed on my radar after delving into Charli XCX’s EP Vroom Vroom, with no regrets & high praises assisting with her new direction on Number 1 Angel  (“Lipgloss” & “Roll With Me”), the electro-pop producer returned to the scene with comeback single “It’s Okay to Cry” in October 2017. The single was particular important because overall, there wasn’t much known about who Sophie is, other than their very creative and appealing take on modern pop music. The song itself, with breathy vocals & calm opening, it fades into a dramatic show of synth (getting borderline 80s retro near the end) as the lyrics speak of someone who appreciates a person for who they are and to show themselves. Its music video also reveals who Sophie is, with few distractions.  Here’s hoping this year, Sophie’s promised new releases continue to let us in to the artist behind the mystery.

Tinashe

Enjoyable, relatable & never-ending. Tinashe made a splash with her most known release “2 On,” and since then, her first album Aquarius has left the majority of newer fans, craving for more. With the well-received mixtape Nightride to quell the wait for her second album, a release I personally enjoyed. Her music is relevant for any mood, situation or context. Tinashe has been outspoken with her frustrations regarding her experiences with her current label, and the direction of her awaited release. In January 2018, she released “No Drama” with rapper Offset of Migos, and has plans to release another single until the the release of her sophomore album, Joyride. Aside from actually seeing the full release, hopefully it provides the dual-side to Nightride, and shows the capability of Tinashe as the mainstream artist she hopes to be.

Frank Ocean

This artist is purely about the music, and takes the word ‘art’ with great care. Ocean had everyone raving much of 2010 into late 2013 with his debut mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra and his first album Channel Orange. His collaborations with artists such as Beyonce, Odd Future members, Brandy, Pharrell & Jay Z, marked him a mainstream artist with no breaks from his musicality. In 2016, Ocean released Blonde and everyone went mad; pure excitement to see his development, and satiated cravings for more music. “Pink + White” is the very best example to showcase it for its ethereal & addictive vibes. Now it’s 2018, and Ocean has grown into his own, musically & personally, and sometimes lets us know what he’s thinking. Hinting there’s enough material for another album (see his Tumblr post), there are some fans wondering if this means it’ll be released by the end of 2018. There does seem to be a pattern (about two to three years) but here’s hoping the next one pushes boundaries on R&B with few outcries & lasting impressions.

Nicki Minaj

Minaj returned to her hip-hop roots with The Pink Print, previously released back in 2014. Since then, she’s had tours, makeup & clothing collaborations, but most especially feuds, family & features made much of 2016 & 2017 for Minaj. Aside from making it clear she’ll continue with acting (Her latest being Barbershop: The Next Cut alongside Ice Cube & Cedric The Entertainer), she made most with appearing on “Rake It Up reuniting with Yo Gotti, & “Motorsport” with Migos & upcoming artist Cardi B. Both songs made their way into the Top 10 on Billboard, but for some this isn’t enough. With fans lying in wait for new music, and those waiting with bated breath for a lengthy response to Remy Ma’s “Shether,” 2018 seems to be a do or don’t regarding the next step in Minaj’s position in hip-hop music.

 

Read more Music Articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credit: Drake Facebook.

Best Soundtracks of 2017

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Warning, subjective post ahead! My determination for what makes a good movie soundtrack simply lies in its ability to return us back to special moments in the film, moments that were carefully thought out with music added to enhance its effect on us, the viewers. For some, even if the movie wasn’t too outstanding, the music can be its saving grace. And in 2017, here are a few soundtracks that stood out.

The Results

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

This film is based on the superhero team of a colorful characters (they all still kind of weird me out), with stars, a major score, and nostalgia that I can’t help but feel, as most comic-oriented films tend to have. The soundtrack however connected with movie watchers who grew up in the comic-heavy, side-stepping & heavy pastels & some assortment of collection of fabric & hair products years. Then there are those who are too young to recognize the music. It opens with “Mr. Blue Skyby ELO (hear that great transition at 3:38!), which is always great for a montage or those life moments where you want to block out the madness. The release also closes with a punching synth of the teams’ version of “Disco Inferno” called “Guardians Infernoby The Sneepers and David Hasselhoff. DAVID HASSELHOFF! Not to mention the whirr & funk Parliament brings in the classic “Flashlight” & “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” by Silver are great for reminding us life is full of surprises and good music is ageless.

Fifty Shades Darker: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Hear me out. Well hear this soundtrack out. I promised you I wouldn’t watch it but to be fair, I skipped through all of those scenes. Yes, I thought I could get the price of a cable channel crime episode for about two hours. I was wrong. However the selected inclusion of all kinds of artists and genres piqued my interest to go beyond the film. There’s “Helium” by Sia which immediately caught my attention, and came at a cliche moment where the girl realizes she really loves the guy despite everything. There’s “Lies in the Dark” by Tove Lo, gritty & grating synth for after hours, and “The Scientist,performed by Corinne Bailey Rae in all her honesty. And then there was the dynamic “Not Afraid Anymore” by Halsey. Overall, what really dampened my disappointment definitely was the inclusion of tracks + artists suitable for your tastes at any hour of the day, or anytime of the year.

Baby Driver (Music from the Motion Picture)

We’ve all done it; you hear a song and can’t help but imagine a perfect scene to go along with it. That’s essentially how this movie started, which is pretty awesome and admirable. This film will be memorable simply for the state of awe I was in once I realized what was happening. A good chunk of the scenes carried out the same way it started, in the actors and their movement or behaviors all lining up. It was funny, helped me understand a relatives love for heist movies, and mocked any attempts I tried at recreating it during my time spent in Los Santos… Highlights were definitely opening with “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, a weird but melody-driven song, with a “look at me!” appeal rightfully placed in the film’s opening, as was “Chase Me” a hip-hop brash and full with heavy-hitters Danger Mouse, Big Boi & Run The Jewels at the end of the soundtrack. Then there’s “Neat Neat Neat” by The Damned, I have a small guilty pleasure for punk, especially for a bass as just hitting like this one. By all means, start the song over, and let “Debraby Beck mellow you out.

Again this post is extremely subjective, but we’d love to hear your vote for the best soundtracks of 2017, and here’s hoping this year movie releases make the competition even tougher.

Read more on Music at Clichemag.com

Moxiie Opens About About Her Song “Complicated” and Her New EP

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It was a fall afternoon; not too cold, not too warm, with sunny skies. Like most people would agree, it’s a good time to use the great weather as some healthy motivation. For upcoming artist Moxiie, it was a good time to go for a walk. While Moxiie enjoys staying active, another major form of motivation for her is, unsurprisingly, music. Alongside rap and reggae artists, she said, “I’ve been listening to a lot of Lauryn Hill lately…I’m sad I didn’t get to one of her shows!” I replied that it wasn’t a goal that was out of reach. She agreed.

Moxiie released her debut EP Jungle Pop in 2011, which contained elements of R&B, Caribbean sound, and electronic pop. In tracks like “Animal,” you can hear the delicate, yet strong elements in her voice, and in the bridge, her Haitian upbringing is spotlighted in the song’s instrumentals. In 2012, she released her first album Savage, which she co-produced alongside various producers like Peter Wade (“Babygirl” by Charli XCX & Uffie and “Feed Me Diamonds” by MNDR), Fredro (Alessia Cara), and REO, to further push the “jungle-pop” sound she was creating.

A strong example of all her jungle-pop vision can be found in “Anyway,” a track she and REO worked on together. In 2017, Moxiie still doesn’t see music as just a job or a way to relax, but one and the same, saying, “When there’s nothing else to do, it’s a task to complete, so I will go to the studio, run a track…[music] keeps up with discipline and exploration of self…so it’s definitely a bit of both.”

Self-exploration is another attainable goal, but it can also be seen as a task for any artist. Writing can be a way to find the mind’s deepest thoughts, and for Moxiie, her songwriting is and doesn’t start off with one thing in mind; otherwise, it defeats the purpose.

“I don’t force anything or try to settle in one direction,” she says. “I just focus on the feeling and my response is the truest response.”

For Moxiie, this is easiest when she’s at home, but overall following her own feelings and not the expectations of anyone else. Then there are the moments where inspiration hits you at unexpected times. I asked if there was any one moment that stood out and pushed her to get on a song right away. Moxiie recalls a time during a parade that led to a songwriting session: “Producer Fredro and I heard a sound during St. Patrick’s Day and we ended up working on my song ‘Anyway,’ just based on that one sound.”

Like many other songwriters, Moxiie was able to multitask and work on various pieces of the track over a period of time. “I can spend maybe one week on a song or even two years. Just because with that, there’s certain things maybe I wasn’t comfortable with or felt like changing.”

Moxiie says aside from personal deadlines on a project, she prefers taking a step back and assessing the song simply because it’s easier spreading her feelings across multiple ideas, remaining honest and fresh in their art.

Moxiie’s recent release, “Complicated” with Swish Allnet, peaked an interest in how her collaborations come about. She says, “It’s a mix of artists reaching out…sometimes someone’s working on a song, or knows someone and suggests we work together.”

Collaborating, Moxiie says, only just started this year, but being able to be neutral and add value to the music produced is important.

Aside from collaborations, there are the moments where Moxiie follows through with a vision from start to finish. Her song “Don’t See You” is a great example. It’s a chill, yet assertive and self-aware confession about someone who isn’t available in the utmost way—emotionally and without deceit. The video for the track is a standout, directed by Melissa Espinosa and with creative direction by the artist herself, oozing with her own cool factor and nostalgia of the 1990s.

“I wanted to translate the feeling of the song visually…I thought of all the references from the ‘90s,” Moxiie explains. “One reference in particular was a Calvin Klein ad. It was a mix of androgyny and freedom but a desirable aloofness. I wanted to show how even though people are standing close to one another, they’re not relating to one another. Kind of like living in NYC.”

Moxiie also explained that she wanted to give “an element of stillness and endlessness in a video,” and referred to the song’s subject as ghost-like.

Moxiie’s newest single, “Complicated,” is another track that immediately showcases her ability to get straight to her feelings, but allows for relatability and interpretation. Moxiie says past experiences inspired the track, particularly about her experience in the music industry.

According to her, there’s a lot of focus on certain values that gets her questioning her place in the thick of it all, but eventually there is acceptance. “One person can’t change the whole industry, but they can color it with their own perspective,” she says. “You also have to realize, that you can’t do anything alone and [sometimes you have to] accept what and how it is.”

She referenced a scene in The Devil Wears Prada where the protagonist slowly realized that even if you live a glamorous life, you eventually become blind to the glamour. Instead, it becomes a job to maintain, sometimes without any happiness at all. Within the music industry, Moxiie perceives those as wanting the idea of the illusion even though it can be a prison.

Growing up, music was a way for Moxiie to process her own feelings even when she couldn’t. “I always wanted to write songs, and as a kid, I struggled with intense and confusing feelings,” she explains. “Music helped me recognize and communicate the feelings that were hard to say aloud.” Now, she hopes her music can do the same thing for her fans.

Looking back on 2017, Moxiie says, “I wondered at times if I was crazy. I asked people, ‘Is [music] something I can do?’ I believed the dream so much, but I wondered if it could actually happen. So for the rest of the year, I just hope to continue releasing music.”

And for 2018? “I’ve learned not to wait for the perfect circumstances to release music and have more fun!” she says. “I want to go into 2018 with more freedom, knowing that I’m on the right path.”

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Moxiie Opens About About Her Song “Complicated” and Her New EP: Photographed by Fredro

Trending Music Mashups of the Year

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Music Mashups: a form of song that takes two or more relatively known songs, blending them without imperfections. This type of performance is great for easy listening but is also a platform for unheard sounds and newer artists. The most famous of my generation would be “Numb/Encore” with Linkin Park and Jay Z, so famous that for some, you can’t go without hearing the original works and the other song in between. Now that 2017 is coming to a close, here are some of the best trending music mashups of the year.

 

“Havana” by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug and “She Will be Loved” by Maroon 5
Artist: Cameron Sanderson
Based in London, England, with a full and emotional voice, unique haircut, and growing following, Sanderson continues to grow his fanbase. His sound shows influence from many genres like R&B, rock & electronica of the ‘10s, and modern scene. In his mashup of pop’s pervasive “Havana” and the beloved “She Will Be Loved,” Sanderson showcases the song’s sensibilities of the memorable and the yearning.
Check Out:Backstory” and “Quicksand

Mashup: “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, “Ready for It” by Taylor Swift, and “XL” by Fly by Midnight
Artist: Fly by Midnight
Based in New York, USA, singer-songwriter Justin Blythe & producer Slavo are the retro-pop duo who grows their fan base with viral covers and original works constantly known and appreciated in the modern pop/chill-wave scene. Their mashup of their original work “XL,” and Ed Sheeran & Swift’s latest releases, create the ultimate song for someone worth spending all their time and space with. And yes, there’s synth!
Check Out: “XL” and “Vinyl

Mashup: “Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi” by Radiohead and “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” by The Police
Artist: Elise Trouw
About: Based in California, USA, Trouw grows her fanbase by her love of contemporary and rock music. Blending and looping the signatures found in both band’s notable works (chords and bass line), Trouw continues to make it her own, carrying the mashup with lyrics of regret, reflection, and a bridge of someone unable to forget.
Check Out: “Unraveling

Whether or not you are musically-inclined or just have a really great ear, chances are there’s a mashup ready to jam out to or ready for primetime. With infinite streaming platforms, various instruments, and wide landscape for all things music, take a chance and support the many mashups or draft your own mashup for someone else to enjoy this year.

Read more Music News on ClicheMag.com

Trending Music Mashups of the Year: Featured image courtesy of Fly By Midnight

‘War & Leisure’ Album Review: The State of Miguel

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War & Leisure marks Miguel’s fourth album, two years after his critically acclaimed Wildheart. Upon news of an upcoming release, I expected nothing but consistency and something that will always be great to listen to. For some Miguel fans, Wildheart was too ‘classic’ but a departure from the Miguel they knew. For others, it showed his capabilities in reaching the artists influencing Miguel’s artistry. War & Leisure is an interesting title, but with changes regarding its initial single line-up, and hoping to speak more on the state of us and beyond, Miguel marks this piece a balance between the two spaces.

Highlights

Overall the album continues to show off Miguel’s artistry and even key artists that complement his work. There’s the hypnotic, alt-r&b track “Wolf,” with upcoming artist QUIÑ (Sticky Situations feat. Syd), who uses her sultry vocals to exclaim at Miguel’s revelations to his chosen, and the willing Red. There’s the sweet-titled “Pineapple Sky” and upbeat production from Detail (Beyonce, Wiz Khalifa, Akon), and soul influence on the recurring riff amidst the electronic influence, reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” (the song credits the original writing team as well). And then there’s the return of noted rapper and collaborator J.Cole, for “Come Through and Chill” in a jazz+rap track, and pearl-clutching and politically charged lyrics. Who else is able to compare the debate of American patriotism and racial identity, to thinking of someone at odd hours, for odd hours and being slighted?

The Stand Outs

Miguel’s art and its production is always something to admire and appreciate. With his continued involvement, and support and direction from key artists like Salaam Remi (Nas, The Fugees, Amy Winehouse), Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Fun.), Happy Perez (Miguel’s “Sure Thing,” Frankie J’s “Obsession”) Raphael Saaddiq and Kali Uchis (also featured on the tracks “Wolf” & the Spanish seduction of “Caramelo Duro” respectively), this album is rated R for “refined.” And there’s synth, which is always a tool for a dynamic track, a key element in “Told You So,” a bravado-filled, quirky yet ominous track reminiscent of something from the Tom Tom Club (“Vision of Love”) and plenty of apt guitar playing. Always a 10!

Survey Says?

The yin and yang of Miguel’s musical spirit, the dichotomy of the passion of humans, and the effects of it are clear in this album. Miguel explores more on the state of humanity with references to the Flint Water Crisis, Standing Rock, and protesting blind patriotism in “Now,” but stands strong with his appreciation for the form of someone he loves (“Anointed”), or once loved (“City of Angels”). If you’re looking for a taste of unfiltered and modern soul r&b, pop for any time of day, this is the album to get into.

Miguel isn’t for the faint of heart, but the world isn’t either; you can see this latest release as his, and perhaps our, latest confessions and preparation for something more. His solidification as an artist continues to be undisputed, and this album marks a proper release, keeping current and ahead.

Check out the album on Apple Music & Spotify

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QUIÑ Takes Us Out Of This World With ‘DREAMGIRL’

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2017 has been a special year for many artists for a variety of reasons, but for QUIÑ, 2017 has been all about her sophomore EP, DREAMGIRL. With five new tracks including collaborations with artists Syd (The Internet), 6LACK, and more, QUIÑ continues to do what she does best: create music that everyone can mellow out to.

 

Relatability is a learned or innate skill, and an important one for an artist to have in order to connect with their fans, and QUIÑ understands that most of all. “DREAMGIRL is for anybody who’s ever fallen in love, who’s ever been frustrated in love, who’s ever had to boss up on themselves, and understand their purpose is to love themselves and the love will work,” she says. “It’s for every single body who likes good sounds.”

It’s easy for some to take down lists, mark notepads of schedules and to-dos, but for a creative project, some artists have the ability (and even luxury) to be a bit more unrestricted with their projects; DREAMGIRL is an example of such personal freedom for QUIÑ. A story can start with a beginning, but it doesn’t have to. And sometimes, life itself isn’t so organized or controlled, and for QUIÑ, that’s how the EP was created.

“[It was] total free-form…I just make the songs until I see a story being formed, then I’m like, ‘oh, that’s what you were trying to tell me,’” she explains. “It’s like writing a book out of order, reading all the pages, and being the one that starts numbering the pages together to unlock the secret story inside.”

Her previous EP, Galactica, felt as though we were given access to a personal foray into parts of QUIÑ herself. “I was establishing the setting of my imagination, trying to figure the place out, finding out what it even is, what it looks like, and those discoveries are all reflections of my self-discoveries,” she says.

For those who are afraid to journal, sing, or even give form to the stories inside themselves, there may be inspiration waiting for those brave enough to take the chance. QUIÑ sees DREAMGIRL as her previous album’s sequel, saying, “We get to zoom into Galactica and find out what happens there, how I got there, and how I move around, which is through my dreams. It’s more specific. It’s a love story about falling in love and catching yourself before you lose yourself along the way.”

QUIÑ also sees her upcoming EP as a reminder: “It’s about reminding yourself of your true power, purpose, and not letting anything else get inbetween the you, in you,” she says.

On one particular song, QUIÑ likens the feeling of love like the ocean, and the “awakening” (when everything goes south) occurs when the boat passes through a sudden storm. The ongoing metaphors and the establishment of atmosphere QUIÑ crafts with her lyrics, melody, and overall production is what will definitely leave her current fans, and new listeners, eager to explore the world she creates within herself.

Life can be free-form, curated, or perhaps even edited, but producing every moment and opportunity with exemplary work in order to move on is a necessary skill, QUIÑ says. The artist says she’s picked up on this lesson during time spent with her collaborators thus far, which include Syd, G-Eazy, and gnash. She explains, “I’ve learned from all my peers that when you put in righteous work, you receive righteous blessings. You just got to stay on [your] job.”

Playing festivals like AfroPunk 2017 (her first one!) and Galore’s Girl Cult Conference, QUIÑ doesn’t see 2017 as a separate time, but as another moment for accomplishments. With firmness, she states, “I have many goals that need to be accomplished. Right now, I’m working on sharing my gifts with as many people as possible and gratefully going wherever they may lead me.”

This isn’t about the fame for QUIÑ, but a time to expose the world to her self-coined “fantasy-soul” sound, which she describes as three words: “Infinite, glittery, and versatile.” It’s fair to say at least a few tracks showcase the singer showing off her confidence (‘glitter’), and others multiple perspectives (‘infinite’).

DREAMGIRL is my baby and I don’t mind her being a place for others to call home when they might not know what to identify with,” QUIÑ continues. Perhaps just like a galactic belt, both QUIÑ and her listeners have the freedom to let tracks form the universe that makes up her overarching sound. Her words speak not as an invasion, but a careful presentation and subsequent invitation to who QUIÑ is and who she will become. Born from a family of music-lovers in Pasadena, California, (her mother a dancer, father a TV director and musician), QUIÑ appreciated music, and even crashed her family’s jam sessions with other musicians like Patrice Rushen, and later joined the school and church choir.

However, the attention and focus of an audience would give her pause, and she would’ve been content with being in the background. But that’s changed now with added techniques of relaxation and positivity before a performance. “I say my prayers and prepare my body to be a clear channel for my spirit to shine through,” she says. “It is pure bliss getting off stage knowing that people have been positively affected and I’ve done my job.”

DREAMGIRL’s first single, “Sticky Situation” featuring Syd, is the first story about being caught in a tricky romantic situation, but being able to snap out of it just in time. QUIÑ says her own experience “was something really, really sticky. I unstuck myself and caught a mood!”

[It was] total-free form…I just make the songs until I see a story being formed, then I’m like, ‘oh, that’s what you were trying to tell me.’

According to QUIÑ, her experience working alongside Syd was one of a kind. “She’s the chillest,” she says. “It’s the best when you are brainstorming with your friends and it’s something I don’t do often. Especially when working with another girlfriend, it’s super refreshing and easy.”

As for the rest of the album, you’re just going to have to listen to find out, but QUIÑ was pretty open about the album’s title. While some people find it challenging to put a name on a personal part of you, QUIÑ says it was easy as could be.

DREAMGIRL just came to me,” she explains. “It was an automatic thing that had been in my mind for a while, even while I was putting Galactica together…I already knew what this one was going to be named.”

For QUIÑ, this release marks her own experience with overall confidence and vessel for her own story. “I’m my own DREAMGIRL; the little girl is my dream self, a positive example, a lover, and a healer,” she says. “She’s my big self, my confident-in-being-my-confident-self, my being-open-to-share-my-diary-with-the-world self.”

From 2016 to 2017, the project and journey continues for DREAMGIRL, from the background to the forefront. QUIÑ says, “It took a while to be okay with saying these things out loud, so my whole life right now is a dream come true.”

With the release of DREAMGIRL, out now, and even more music to write, QUIÑ has faith in 2017 ending on a high note. “Looking back at me in the beginning of the year versus now, I think it’s cool…It just keeps going after this.”

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QUIÑ Takes Us Out Of This World With ‘DREAMGIRL’: Photographed by Tyler Adams

‘Double Dutchess’ Album Review: Fergie Never Left

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With first hints back in 2016, Fergie decided to continue her comeback into solo work and announced she’d be working on another album. Amidst the rumors (not true!) that she was leaving the Black Eyed Peas, Fergie released work for soundtracks, the mothers of the world, and everyone in the California/Bay Area. However, as pop music is concerned, it’s a lie to say no one wasn’t eager for music just as appealing as her solo debut back in 2006. Released on September 22, 2017, Double Dutchess is a work executive-produced by Fergie, eleven years since The Dutchess’ critical acclaim, after her news of separation from actor Josh Duhamel and new imprint Dutchess Music with BMG. With plans of more visuals for each song, here are some memorable tracks on the album.

Double Dutchess: The Tracks

Hungry (feat. Rick Ross) – The beat is quite interesting! I honestly thought my sound was glitching for a few minutes. However, the grand opening of the vocal sampling reduces to impatience as the two artists geared up to ride the beat. Fergie’s rapping wasn’t needed; however, Ross’ feature (although perhaps phoning it in? “I moonwalking on marble floors, Rick Ross, I’m just dripping sauce”) was enough to compliment Fergie’s hook and assertion that both have the means and passion to obtain all that makes us vs. them. To my disappointment, the song was over quicker than it started, but it was a very interesting opening track.

Like it Aint Nuttin’ – I appreciate the old-school vibes in Fergie’s flow and the modern instrumental. Fergie has an ability to make the simplest things sound quite animated and fun. This is a track that, although a bit repetitive, is entertaining (“Whatcha you gon do when I step in the place / betcha everybody gone rock to the bass / I get money all day baby like it aint nuttin’”) to include in any moment to laugh at the lyrics (“ladies rub on your boobies”??) or just blast through your speakers.

You Already Know (feat. Nicki Minaj) – We’ve got the old school vibes again, from Fergie’s vocals (her singing gives ’90s techno), the synth, and the “It Takes Two” and “You Already Know” samples. Unsurprisingly, will.i.am also had a hand in this track, who, with the Black Eyed Peas (and his own solo work), still rock elements of artists of their day but their own twist on it. After Nicki takes her turn on this multidimensional track, it turns from ’80s rap to techno to pure drums and soft jazz for the interlude. I’d consider the latter part of the song the third part, and wish it were longer. In this section, we had elements of Roger, as well as Fergie’s distinct sensual vocals.

Just Like You – This song feature trap and vocals right from the start. The production evokes an early 2010s vibe, but nonetheless is still appealing. Collaborators Youngblood (Chris Brown’s “Fine China” and “Autumn Leaves”) and Taylor Parks (former child actress, Mariah Carey’s “Infinity” and Fifth Harmony’s “Boss”), combine their writing skills here. Fergie speaks of a relationship and dinner setting gone to waste. The lyrics are memorable in phrases like “Who is this right here / she don’t look like me. / I’ve been sleeping with a demon, every night in my bedroom.” I appreciate the vocals and production in this song, but nothing stands out too much, except when Fergie sings: “Oops, look what you made me prove / I’m crazy just like you.”

A Little Work – The beginning starts to build (almost sounding like Coldplay’s “Fix You”) and Fergie pushes into the chorus by breaking into an age-old truth: “We’ve all got wounds half-open / We all can use a little work.” She creates a story of various people who have to work and “rise up into the Call,” and try to do the best despite our circumstances. This track is simple, but the hums and harmonies allow for a song grander than it seemed. With heavy hitters like Dr. Luke, Thomas Gad (co-writer for Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and George Pajon (a key figure pop and in BEP’s discography), it’s no surprise.

Life Goes On – Acoustic and Fergie go well together. The melody structure in each verse is highly addicting.  Then, the chorus breaks into moombahton to my slight dismay, but I still very much enjoy this song. This is a carefree song in both structure and lyrics. We have Fergie showing that she can do a little something during the rap bridge (for some reason I’m getting Left Eye vibes for just one second), and instrumentation of all the guitars and the drums gives us ska. Then, the switch-up slowly returns to the techno-based chorus, bringing it all full circle. All with a small acoustic fade out. It’s a decent track.

M.I.L.F $ – This is controversial in both song title and with a video that had sensible folks clutching their pearls. This isn’t my favorite track simply because of various elements that are entertaining to listen to (the verses, the underlying bass) and just too confusing to listen to. I try to pretend this song isn’t real.

Artists to Know: Twin Peaks Edition

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“What on earth do you know about Twin Peaks?” My mother nearly broke her neck amidst my announcement of my latest binge-watch. Twin Peaks is a show lauded (and sometimes prodded) for its surrealism, humor and drama-worthy subjects. An overarching tale of a small Washington town, grieving over the death of known teen Laura Palmer, creators Mark Frost and David Lynch teamed up with Showtime and gave fans Twin Peaks: The Return. The show sets on Laura’s promise to protagonist Agent Dale Cooper, in a dream in the famed curtained Red Room, “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” in a town now plagued by something darker and permeating through all within the town.

 

After a month of watching both original seasons, the film Fire Walk With Me, and the deleted scenes, I was of course late but managed to watch the revival’s remaining episodes with bated breath along with everyone else. Visual art and accompanying music is a reliable way for emotional response and providing information. Throughout the show, elements clearly showed we weren’t in the ’90s anymore. We are surrounded by electronics, a plethora of ways to light a stage, and an expanding demographic (ages 17 to 35) open to new and upcoming acts, more accessible than before.

There were just about 13 artists who made their way to the “Roadhouse” stage (now “The Bang Bang Bar”), and we give you four artists to know: The Twin Peaks Edition.

The Chromatics with “Shadow
Electronica, Chillwave, and a group with four members out of Seattle, Washington. Their music (featured on other shows like Bates Motel, Mr. Robot, and Gossip Girl) is familiar for those with ’80s nostalgia (and too young to remember, but obsessed with it). Singer Ruth Radelet sings of a person too unfamiliar and a dream of escaping long gone. They were the first group featured at the bar. With at least one character struggling with a crazy relationship and slowly losing them to drugs (and maybe something else), this isn’t a coincidence, but nice foreshadowing.

Au Revoir Simone with “A Violent Yet Flammable World
Synth, quirky, and smooth. This group based out of Brooklyn, New York showed off their best expressionless faces, instrumentals, and musings (and great harmonies) of a strange world. The track evokes traces of sounds of The Postal Service, Depeche Mode, and La Roux. Definitely memorable and another element showing Twin Peaks in a new age.

Sharon Von Etten and various artists with “Tarifa
This song is definitely poetry if you listen carefully, over the rising harmonies, guitar, and soft horns. It definitely evokes a bit of sadness and contemplation over that last time with someone you love. Keep it, feel it, and replay it.

Julee Cruise with “The World Spins” (featuring the Chromatics)
A definite return, as Cruise is best known for Twin Peaks’ theme “Falling,” and her melodic sound. This track is a soft lullaby for one of the best dreams you could ever have. A plea for normalcy, and intimacy, in a world that doesn’t wait, the song whispers sadness. This same song had key character Laura Palmer break in tears, as well as other characters, as they felt sadness or realization in their own lives. It was a nice touch to have both a new generation of musicians, and a hailed one such as Cruise, featured on the stage together during the series two-part finale; the pan and fade from dark forest to the red-curtained stage, and the starting melody played. Priceless. It continues to be a personal favorite, as gave hope Laura gets a second chance.

Take a chance and get into these artists, but definitely watch an episode of the Twin Peaks: The Return. As a lover of music, sometimes a scene adds a great touch to a great piece of music. If by some chance, I live the same moment with my mother, asking what on earth I know about Twin Peaks, I’ll tell say I believe the show is about everyone. And if she or anyone doesn’t like or believe my response, that’s okay! Time will be different, but the world continues on whether the answer is, or nothing at all.

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Artists to Know: Twin Peaks Edition: Image courtesy of Au Revoir Simone/YouTube

Positive Vibes with Singer/Songwriter Sabryna

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There are a few moments in our lives where we take a step out of our comfort zone, smooth the wrinkles off a decent outfit, and pray our nervousness reads minimum, all for the sake of saying a simple hello to someone new. For artist Sabryna, she’s taking the full plunge and going straight ahead with her intentions, but in a different way: lending her voice through music. Her single “Try It” is the latest release by the New Zealand artist, who is ready to lay everything out on the table for her fans and listeners.

 

Since calling Los Angeles home, Sabryna is no stranger to different places, people, and experiences. She says having an open mind and an open ear is the key to why her music is bringing everyone together. “I think the beauty of travel is learning that even though we might live in different countries with different cultures, at the core, we are all the same,” she said.

Just Like You

How relatable an artist is, especially in today’s music scene, determines who stays on the playlist and is worthy of being a place of comfort or support. “We all want the same things and feel the same things,” Sabryna said. “To me, that’s super inspiring. I want to write songs that are internationally relatable.”

New Learning Environment

In today’s environment, if you’re using your college experience while seeking your true passions, it’s truly an accomplishment. Having attended Berklee College of Music, Sabryna welcomed all with open arms. “Berklee exposed me to so many different styles of music,” she explained. “I learned a lot at Berklee, but more so from my peers than in the actual classroom.”

What’s a more perfect music lesson than a jam session? Sabryna said, “I remember playing and jamming out with my friends after class and trying to absorb everyone’s different style and creativity.”

That was the moment that changed my life and I haven’t looked back.

Following the music is something Sabryna is used to, even if she needed a little push during her guitar lessons at age 8. “One day in class, I was singing along to my guitar and my teacher heard me and told my mom I needed to really pursue singing because I had a special gift,” she explained. “That was the moment that changed my life and I haven’t looked back.”

Flash forward to 2017 and Sabryna is working with artists such as Candice Pillay, Dem Jointz, and Hannibal Hector and uses their experiences to guide her and develop the artist she wants and believes herself to be.

“Candice is a super talented songwriter,” she told us. “She taught me a lot during my first year in L.A., and I definitely look up to her.”

When asked about the others, she continued, “Dem Jointz is dope. He is a one-man band and helped orchestrate my session with Usher, which will go down as one of the most memorable sessions in my life. I will always be thankful for that. HNNBL is my brother. We recorded my entire upcoming EP together and I loved every minute of it. I’m grateful to him for helping me develop my sound.”

Try This, Hear Her

With “Try It” featuring Josh Pearl, Sabryna releases this song as a way to reveal herself to her fans. “It’s like our first date,” she explained. “We’re both getting to know each other, testing the waters, and it’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.”

Artists wouldn’t be anything without their fans, and Sabryna continues to emphasize the importance of her connection to them. She hopes that with each release, it’s something both fans and herself can be proud of. “I hope my fans can get to know me better as I continue to put out more music this year,” she said. “We can grow together, but most importantly, have FUN together!”

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Positive Vibes with Singer/Songwriter Sabryna: Photographed by Shawn Artero