Denim Blù, the Toronto-based pop artist with Chinese roots, released his new single, “Extraordinary Feel (feat. Lizzy Clarke)” a hymnal-inspired pop-rock song. This track will be his first of 2021, following his recent entry into releasing original music that began in October 2020 with his single, “Burn” and adjoining remixes.
“Extraordinary Feel” finds inspiration in the Southern US and vibrant African-American church choirs singing gospel and soul music. Both artists came to find strength in each other’s talents when creating the single through a mutual effort.
The single became a magical amalgamation of song creation– crisp songwriting, a powerful vocal, and satisfying production. The gospel elements include prominent organs and splashes of bells over modern synths and classic electric guitar.
Infiltrating almost every component of the song– the lyrics, the production, and the vocal, with religious elements, Denim Blù is able to carry his message of a love that is almost divine in nature. The use of religious themes throughout the track breathes life and gives words to the once indescribable inner emotions.
“‘Extraordinary Feel’ is about the exuberance of falling in love, a love so hard that you’re willing to sacrifice everything for that person, the lyric ‘made a martyr out of me’ is a perfect example of selflessness that comes with this kind of passion.” – Denim Blù
Denim Blù is an emerging Toronto-based singer-songwriter whose identity and music reflect the cultural mosaic that makes Toronto’s music so universally appealing. He is a Chinese-born queer artist whose inspiration is born out of rebellion. Being Chinese, he is not supposed to be making pop music; he is not supposed to be gay; he is not supposed to emote sex. But, he does, proudly.
Denim Blù’s music training and influence span three continents having studied and composed in China, the UK, and Toronto. The product of his music is pure pop fantasy with emotional intrigue, drawing from blues, dance, electronica, and R&B elements, all while being unapologetically queer. His music delivers new-age pop with a story to tell.
New York City-based Pop/R&B artist and songwriter, Hunter Blair Ambrose released her new single, “Alone Together.” The single gives listeners the perfect closing summer bop while they begin preparing for Autumn.
Amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and a worldwide lockdown, Hunter Blair Ambrose found solace in songwriting and introspection, using this almost eerily quiet time for creativity and self-reflection.
When creating “Alone Together” she took 1980s bombast and met it with layered synths and soaring melodies after being inspired by The Weeknd’s pandemic era blockbuster album, After Hours. The single came together as a glittering, late summer disco banger with deeply reflective lyrics that a post-pandemic world can certainly relate to.
“ ‘Alone Together’ reflects a universal feeling of isolation, loneliness and melancholia felt around the world during 2020 met with my own reflections of failings in love.”– Hunter Blair Ambrose
Inspired by dark, synth-pop, chilling Toronto R&B, and the melodic hip hop of the 2010s, Hunter has created a sound that has been shaped by the music that has been the soundtrack to her life. Influenced by iconic artists such as Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Ariana Grande, Drake, David Bowie, Prince, and The Weeknd, Hunter creates immersive and well-rounded music along with an image that is equal parts provocative as they are compelling.
Shortly after the inception of her career, she enrolled in Boston’s Berklee College of Music and quickly emerged as one of the school’s many promising, young talents.
Following her departure from Berklee, from 2017 through 2019, Hunter wrote and produced material with her core creative team for her debut EP, Scorpio Rising(April 2020). The project was supported by the singles, “Right Now” and “November” which featured an interpolation of Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.”
Listeners can look forward to more singles and music videos dropping this year to immerse them deeper into the world Scorpio Season created when released in April.
Singer-Songwriter and visual artist Lyia Meta, and vocalist Audrey DuBois Harris get together to discuss their influences, creative processes and overcoming obstacles.
LM: What a beautiful voice you have. I’m absolutely blown away by your range!!! Your passion appears to be grounded in songs of faith and inclusion, especially your recent release LIFT EVERY VOICE.
ADH: Thank you so very much Lyia! I am intentional about creating positive, uplifting, loving and spirit-filled music that speaks to all people. LIFT EVERY VOICE is a project that was created with that intention in mind. I wanted to offer a collection of songs of unity and hope for the future.
ADH: What a rich and soulful voice you have! It has been a while since I’ve heard such a deep, beautiful, and smooth voice.
LM: I am humbled by your comments as I’ve always strived at improving my craft.
LM: What would you say is the most difficult part of being a vocalist? How do you keep your vocals well-tuned?
ADH: As a vocalist, my main priority is to maintain the health and vitality of my voice. That means staying on top of my physical health, getting proper rest, staying well hydrated, limited use of my speaking voice when I’m not singing, and dedicating time for vocal warmups.
ADH: Growing up in Malaysia, who were your biggest musical influences?
LM: My biggest musical influence was my father! He was a civil servant and the lead singer in a band. It sounds crazy now but back in those days, most government departments used to have an in-house band and my dad would perform. I was used to having musicians coming and going since I was knee-high! As I grew older, we listened to what was popular on the radio, but my favourite was rock and blues.
LM: We both have performed internationally and are always trying to increase that footprint. How does it feel to have to re-introduce yourself to a new audience? What has been your most rewarding, and most challenging, performance so far?
ADH: As a LIVE performer, I introduce myself all the time to new audiences. I also enjoy meeting new people and appreciate hearing how my music has moved and/or inspired them. One vivid memory is singing for President Obama in NYC. There was a hush in the room while I was singing, then the standing room only crowd erupted in cheers and applause. I don’t give much focus to challenges beyond trying to find a way to overcome them.
ADH: Your music stretches across several different genres. How do you define your personal sound and style?
LM: Like every singer, I’m in the moment and my favorite genre or style is whatever song I’m feeling. I find that doing only one single genre can be very limiting, I’m grateful that a variety of songwriters and producers have approached me to collaborate. I find that different genres help convey different emotions and nuances, but I always have to make each song my own.
LM: How did you manage during COVID? With schedule changes, cancellations and constant uncertainty, how did you keep your body, mind and voice in shape?
ADH: To me, the pandemic reaffirmed that we are all connected. What happens to one person on the other side of the world affects each one of us just the same. I, like so many others, had great career plans mapped out for 2020. Although it was a time of great uncertainty and grief for us all, I made a conscious effort to remain positive, creative, and productive. My full project LIFT EVERY VOICE and the first single from that project We Shall Overcome was both recorded and released during that time.
ADH: What is your writing process like? Where do you find your greatest inspiration for new song material?
LM: My greatest inspiration comes from the world around me and how it affects me physically and emotionally—body and spirit. Spontaneity and inspiration work hand-in-hand for all of my pieces. The creativity road leads me to wonderfully strange outcomes and there’s a feeling of self-accomplishment once I’ve exorcised my demons! When a personal calm sets in, the song (or piece of art) just feels complete.
LM: I saw that you grew up dreaming of becoming the new Mariah Carey but your mother and voice teacher rightfully exposed and steered you to classical music and opera. Do you have any desire to try other genres, either live or recording?
ADH: Actually, that is a misunderstanding. The short version of the story is that when I was a little girl, my mother overheard me singing. She was very surprised by my voice and said that she would find me a voice teacher. To my 8 or 9 year old understanding, I was going to instantly become an overnight Pop star!! My mother encouraged and inspired me the most to move in the direction of opera. It became the foundation of my technique and preparation. My music now is definitely a fusion of differing genres. I’ve always believed that what I bring to the table is uniquely special.
ADH: During the pandemic and global shutdown, what were some of your favorite things to do to remain positive, productive and creative? Do you look forward to returning back to the stage for LIVE performances?
LM: I turned to my visual art to keep me sane. During the pandemic I drew almost a hundred commissioned portraits, two children’s album covers; designed the cover of my Metal single, painted art-glass surfaces; and wrote a few more songs that are now being demoed. I also participated in several online digital fundraisers,created my own home “studio” that I never needed before! I opened my own kitchen and cooked and delivered lunch boxes, pastries and cakes. In the course of this stopgap measure I was named a Eurasian Food Culture Heritage Food Ambassador by Eurasians International. Staying occupied in every way possible helped keep my creative side well-oiled. I am a live performer first. The stage and engaging with an audience will always be my first love.
LM: We’ve both strayed from our music comfort zones to try something new. What will you draw on for inspiration next and how will that affect your song choices? Where would you like to experiment in terms of musical “stretch” goals?
ADH: I draw my inspiration from different sources: culture, art, film, fashion, conversation and life experiences. As an artist, I need to constantly stretch and evolve. In terms of “stretch goals”, I think the next step for me is creating a lot more visual content/music videos for my music.
ADH: In addition to being a singer/songwriter, you’re also a visual artist. Do you consider your paintings and music as one continued form of expression? Or do you view them as separate aspects and forms of your artistry? Is your artwork available to the public for purchase?
LM: I don’t think I will ever be able to not express myself through art. It has become such an integral part of me. What I cannot express through lyrics, I express with my brushes. I dream in colour and I am always humming to new melodies and disjointed lyrics. In addition to my own art, I am a full-time commissioned portraitist.
Alex from the rock group Love District and singer-songwriter Ricky Mendoza got together to chat about musical influences, how the pandemic affected their music, and what is coming up next for them.
Ricky: I really love your music! I love the way the bass protrudes and how the synths vibe out a feeling of the music that I used to listen to when I first fell in love with music. And y’all do all this with a sound that feels new, yet retaining a retro spirit.
Love District: Thank you so much for the kind words! We’ve been working hard through the years and we’re glad that our vision is coming across as intended. We wanted our sound to have a nostalgic feel, but also refreshing and unique at the same time.
Love District: Tell us about your new single, “I Just Died.” I really enjoy the rawness of your vocals and the instruments.
Ricky: Thank you so much for the kind words. It is part of the new album called “The New Hurt” and it’s about a new love in my life. Here I was, inspired by love but the twist is that whenever there is a new love, there’s also a new source of pain. If anything happens to them it’s gonna hurt like hell.
Ricky: I’m really curious about the process of an artist/band and how the music actually gets made, so what comes first, the lyrics or the music? And how do the songs come together?
LD: It really depends on each song. We’ve written songs inspired by a melody, chord progression, a riff, or a phrase/idea. We usually start with a chord progression or a guitar/bass riff that the rest of the instruments would follow and build along to.
LD: Are there any current artists or bands that have recently influenced your music for this new phase of your career?
Ricky: Neutral Milk Hotel and Against Me! have been my north star for a while now. I love how NMH makes their folk songs sound other-worldly and magical, while Laura Jane Grace and Against Me bring brutally honest lyrics and an in-your-face punk rock; it’s inspiring.
Ricky: Can you walk me through the creation of “Feels Like Home”? Specifically, how it came together.
LD: Chris came up with the progression and the melody and brought it to the band. We jammed together for a while and worked out the format and different parts of the song before going into the studio to record. In the studio during the pandemic we were really able to take our time and dive deep into the song and really get the sound we wanted.
LD: As this will be your third album release, how do you continue to evolve your sound and progress from your old releases? Is there a concept to your album or do you view it as a collection of songs?
Ricky: All three albums are about phases in my life. The first one was about hitting my rock bottom and what it felt to be there. The second one is all about getting my shit together and trying to really discover myself and that is aptly named “No One Has Their Shit Together – especially Ricky Mendoza”. And shortly after the album came out, I fell in love and I felt like I was in complete control of my life. I spent five years living and making what is now, “The New Hurt”.
Ricky:Is there a principal songwriter? Do several handle songwriting duties? And do y’all modify the lyrics to fit the music after the lyrics are written?
LD: Chris and myself are the main songwriters in the band. Either he or I will bring an idea or demo to the table and then we would work out the ideas together. We would get the rough draft of the song and then bring it to the band. In the studio, the songs naturally evolve. The rule that I follow is the “best idea wins” and “is it making the song better?”
LD: How has this past year during the pandemic and quarantine affected your ideas on music and being a musician?
Ricky: In terms of being a musician it was great to have time to actually sit and record at my home studio. I’ve recorded all my albums by myself but this one was particularly challenging because I wanted to go deeper as a musician and add different instruments that I had never played (accordions, theremins, trumpets, etc).
Ricky: As with any relationship, it gets tough to decide on certain artistic elements, career choices, lunch, etc. How do y’all make it happen as a band of four?
LD: That is something that we all are continually trying to get better at hahaha. We have been a band for a while now, and have developed a musical trust with each other that can only develop from experiences and failures. We are at a point where we can have honest and open communication as a team.
LD: With live shows being taken away, how were you able to adapt and still move forward as a musician?
Ricky:Live shows are a small part of my musicianship, so not having them wasn’t that huge of a blow. However, I really needed to take the time to record the new album.
Ricky: What habits do y’all attribute to your progress/success as artists?
LD: Keeping an open mind when it comes to creating a product as a band. We all are seasoned vets when it comes to playing music and have opinions or ideas that may differ from one another. It is important to listen and try new things or ideas and evolve.
LD: Talk to us about your band. Have you been playing with the same musicians for a while or do you like to switch things up?
Ricky: For the recording of my album, I did not have a band. Since this was a very personal project, I decided to record all the instruments myself. However, for live shows, we do have a band together and we’re all based in Austin.
Ricky: I see that y’all teach young children about music and its importance and I’m very curious to hear about your perspective on why music is important to our world?
LD: Music has played such an important role in all our lives and we have learned so many life lessons throughout our musical careers. We feel it is important to pay it forward when it comes to the next generation of musicians. We want to show our students that we are playing in bands and making music for the right reasons. There is no better feeling when we see our students start their own bands and create their own music.
LD: Are there any activities or hobbies not music-related that inspires you? Any other sources of creativity that could influence your music?
Ricky: Absolutely! I’m a total nerd when it comes to the science of storytelling, of how we all are connected by stories and the best possible ways to tell stories. Most of my songs are story driven, I want people to see themselves in the songs and relate at a deep level to them. After all, it’s about our human journey and how we fit in this weird, beautiful thing we call life.
LA-based singer, songwriter, and screenwriter Simona, has released her fierce music video for “Hot Fire.” With multi-platinum selling Producer Dakari on the track; “Hot Fire” is about female empowerment, feeling sexy in your own skin, but also about Simona’s struggles of leaving her life/family behind in Germany and pursuing her dreams in Los Angeles. Simona explains, “I tend to be a bubbly person for the most part but I do have a serious side, and I like to mix these emotions together while writing. The way I used to write was very dark and depressing; instead of being sad I realized I should be more positive about certain things, say what I’m really feeling, and turn it into a positive mood with a more serious message tied into it.”
Raised in Bulgaria and Germany, Simonahas always lived her life with passion and perseverance. “It was interesting growing up between two cultures, my mother comes from a family of Doctors and my father grew up in a village, everyone always knew I was an immigrant. Once he moved into the city, my father ended up working at The Embassy but eventually fled communist Bulgaria to provide a better life for our family, and this pushed me to become the hard worker I am today. I’m so proud of my heritage, but still decided to leave the country, just like my parents, in pursuit of my dreams hoping to repay them for their sacrifices.” she states. Even through her father’s initial disappointment of leaving her valedictorian past and Law School studies behind, Simona packed up her bags, moved to Los Angeles, and started waiting tables to get by. She further explains, “I’m my own boss now, I started writing screenplays and going into productions, and would rather go through the struggles to do this than sit in an office working on something I hate.”
Simona, being fluent in four languages [English, German, Bulgarian, French] has excelled her writing skills; which is how she got the opportunity to co-write an independent feature film while also landing a starring role in the movie, opposite Ray J, Denny Trejo and several social media influencers. While promoting her film during a radio interview, Simona met DJ Nasty who introduced her to multi-platinum selling producer, Dakari. Dakari produced her latest EP Addictive, which dropped May of this year and contains four tracks all written by Simona. The duo got along so well in the studio that they’ve continued working together beyond this EP, and currently have more music in the works that’s expected to drop later this year. In addition to working with Dakari; Simona’s undeniable talent has also captured the attention of Austin Brown, Michael Jackson’s Nephew and producer for artists such as Pharrell and Macy Gray, and Brian London [ZAYNE, JoJo], who will both be part of another track dropping later this year.
Toronto- based multi-hyphenated artist, Cameron Philip has released his single, “Arms Tonight,” continuing his five-year streak of very successful releases.
Produced by Good Charlotte’s Billy Martin, who is all too familiar with intertwining genres, “Arms Tonight” contains a rich blend of emo and angst perfectly suited for the teen within each of us.
The single fuses together a catchy pop tune with strong electronic elements that for a second, almost allows you to forget this upbeat track is actually a song about being too sad to continue living.
Canadian multi-genre artist Cameron Philip began his music career making k-pop dub/remix videos on Youtube. Quickly, Cameron amassed a purely organic and impressive following, millions of views, and a feature in Glamour’s “You Sang My Song,” where he caught the attention and several compliments from BTS after toplining “Black Swan” with his own rap verses.
Cameron went on to win 2017 and 2018 “Hip-Hop Artist of The Year” at the Niagara Music Awards, as well as “Song of The Year” in 2019 for his single, “Pretender.”
Continuing with the momentum from the NMA’s, Cameron refused to take his foot off the gas pedal and released his first two full-length albums, Feelings and Failures and The Adventure, almost back to back in 2019. Both albums garnered over one million streams each and left this new artist hungry to continue surpassing any and all expectations.
“When it comes to music, Cameron Philip is no pretender.”–Thorold Today
When it seemed like the world was put on pause because of the global pandemic, Cameron continued working on his craft and released his first EP, Neo: Dreamland, in 2020. Although releasing an album as a somewhat new artist during the pandemic was a risk, it was quickly made clear the seven-track EP was going to be another hit when streams began coming through in the hundreds of thousands.
Cameron’s ability to be vulnerable very early on in his career and use his music to explore his own issues with mental health, love, life, and everything in between, interlocked him to his ever-growing fanbase in a deeply personal and relatable way that has directly led to his success.While still very much in his feelings, Cameron released his longest and most vulnerable album to date, Neo: Dreamworld, in 2021, and to no one’s surprise, it was yet another hit.
Currently, Cameron’s Instagram boasts a casual 123K followers, while his Youtube sits at about 729K subscribers and another 75K listeners/ followers on Spotify, not to mention the couple million streams he’s racked up.
As of now, he shows no signs of slowing down, which I’m sure his listeners are thankful for after the insanity that still very much is 2020 and 2021. Cameron is currently working on his fourth full-length album, Love Punch, which will be released this fall.
The transcontinental Pop Star continues to build a massive multi-lingual discography
Mumbai-LA-based pop singer-songwriter, Nikitaa, has released her latest single and accompanying music video, “Boomerang.” After a successful year of releases and a Netflix track feature, Nikitaa continues to build a massive multi-lingual goddess pop discography.
“Boomerang” was written and produced by Nikitaa and is her cathartic release and declaration of freedom from a delusional ex. After trying to make a friendship work with her ex, Nikitaa realized the relationship was more parasitic than mutualistic and it was time to cut ties.
Using guitar samples that reminded her of motion comics and superhero storylines, she parts ways with her usual upbeat pop sound for this single, choosing to lean more towards the hip-hop genre. Nikitaa collaborated with American rap duo, Flyana Boss, on “Boomerang.” The all-women hip-hop track penned by Nikitaa has also been co-written by Flyana Boss.
Opening up on the collaboration, Nikitaa said: “I went to music school with both Bobbi and Yinka and I’ve been watching them put out hit after hit since they’ve come together as Flyana Boss! They write so cleverly, unapologetically, and authentically. I have their music on repeat on my phone all the time. They were the natural first choice for me! So I hit them up, sent them the demo and they loved it!”
Nikitaa, who describes “Boomerang” as her personal “cord-cutting ritual,” wanted her listeners to hear the lyrics as a story and feel as if they were experiencing escaping this shady character she’s singing about firsthand. Continuing on her path to show her listeners a different side of herself, she put the darker-sounding single and music video together all at once, defying her normal songwriting routine and instead let her anger pour out freely and form itself into the perfect mixture of beauty and pain.
Intertwining cinematic sounds with a true orchestral bass instead of synth also helped her create the contrasting sound she had imagined.
“Overall, it’s an aggressive sound, but the vocals are still pretty, with some sparkle. I fell in love with the contrast and it reminded me of Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do,’ but with a sonically darker palette.” -Nikitaa
Born and raised in Mumbai, singer-songwriter Nikitaa, who has spent her recent years in LA mastering her art, is poised to be a breakthrough star on the independent music scene, creating a witty blend of sassy melodies, partnered with powerful lyrics that give added depth to each of her compositions. Nikitaa combines ethereal Pop/RnB with a subtle nod to the South-Asian soundscape to bring a new genre she calls Goddess Pop.
In 2020, the transcontinental pop singer has put out more than 4 singles – “Tum Aur Main”, “Universe,” “Goddess,” and “Clutch” and sang for a Netflix film Masaba Masaba and she promises not to stop.
A born entertainer, with the ability to transcend language, culture, and ethnicity, Nikitaa’s self-proclaimed mission as an artist is to break down barriers, shatter stereotypes and bring people together under the universal language of music.
This week we’re bringing together pop-rock artist LJR and alt-rock singer-songwriter Sandra Bullet. The two chat about their best tips for creating an irresistible music video, how to find new fans, and how to balance being a musician with juggling all the things.
LJR: Seems like we have a lot in common! I love that you switched from engineering to music (I did the same, also with an MS in mechanical!). How do you feel like your technical background has helped you in your music career?
Sandra Bullet: That is such a great question! Usually, people think that they are totally unrelated areas, which is definitely not true. It has helped me a lot in terms of organizing all the different tasks I need to do. I have a methodical approach to everything I do, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. Other artists have told me I’m the most reliable person they’ve ever worked within the music industry; and that goes a long way for me.
Sandra Bullet: It really is super cool that we have the same Engineering background! I see that you got into music when you were very young and had other people in the family who were into music too. So why did you decide to study Engineering?
LJR: I was really good at math and science, and despite a deep love for the arts, my family saw music as a dead-end career path for a long time. It also took me a long time to discover who I was and what I truly loved. On the way there, it seemed like a smart decision to play it safe and get a stable “backup plan.” I’m glad I finally got out of that mindset, but that only happened because of a lot of encouragement from my older brother Daniel challenging that narrative about the arts.
LJR: I see you’ve got your new album out! Can you tell me about the experiences behind it?
Sandra Bullet: It’s just a dream come true! These songs are my first compositions. Some of them were made 15 years ago. I was in a band that played just for fun, and so we never recorded anything properly. I always believed in these songs though, so I always had this idea of releasing an album with all our compositions. In the process I decided to reach out and include my former band members, and that brought us close to each other again, which was such a wonderful feeling! And sharing it with my fans, there are just no words to describe it.
Sandra Bullet: I love all your video productions! How did you get into video production?
LJR: Thank you!! I learned video because I thought I needed kick ass music videos to get attention online. Of course it helps, but it wasn’t enough to build a following without more consistent content. I loved Boyce Avenue, so I tried to figure out where they put their lights and what gear they used, and built a custom rotating camera rig to get moving angles without a camera man. I also learned a lot from some friends of mine who knew film and photography and just tried creating things I liked. I also learned a TON from YouTube tutorials.
LJR: I’m a huge videography nerd and shoot all my own videos too; what got you into doing your own video work and how did you learn it?
Sandra Bullet: It started out of necessity to be honest, just like many things I do today. I’m a curious person, and I’m a fast learner. My creative side has the vision, and then my methodical side steps into action and makes it real. And I have a lot of fun with it! I learned it all by myself, watching tutorials and experimenting. You can learn pretty much anything online today. I started with small edits, then with my Bulletized covers I took my editing skills to a whole new level.
Sandra Bullet: How do you feel now that you’re about to share your first album with the world?
LJR: I’m so excited!! With all the covers I did, I feel there’s a level to which I never showed the world all of who I am. I’m excited to share more of my journey with the world, and I’m hopeful that it helps people know they’re not alone.
LJR: Doing all the things you do in your own music business is really hard, and I rarely meet anyone who is able to manage everything on their own and produce quality material. How do you balance and prioritize everything so you get it all done?
Sandra Bullet: It is hard, and I’m still learning how to do it. I’m always taking notes and I follow my calendar strictly, but the most important thing I’ve learned lately is the importance of saying “no.” I am invited to be part of many cool musical projects and it’s hard for me to say no; as a result I ended up doing a lot of studio work for other artists in the past, and I never had time for my own music or my fans. Now I choose my work carefully. My music and my fans are my priority, and that’s the way it should be.
LJR: How do you find new fans and run the business side of things? Do you run ads, post a ton on social media and YouTube, or TikTok?
Sandra Bullet: I started growing a following 2 years ago, when I was invited to start live streaming on a new app. I started connecting with my audience and that’s what motivated me to start working more on my own music. I was never a social media person and that held me back for quite some time. All the fans I have right now found me through live streaming, other artists I worked with or through my Bulletized covers on YouTube. But lately, I’m investing a lot of time in understanding social media and finding new fans this way. I know my target audience and that is already a huge advantage.
Sandra Bullet: What’s next for you? What would you like to see happening next in your musical career?
LJR: After this album finishes releasing one song at a time per month and I (hopefully) get some traction online, I really want to put together a band and tour in 2022. I also have a bunch of individual singles (some old and some new) that I’d like to start releasing as well that didn’t really fit onto the album.
LJR: What is coming for you in the next 3 months?
Sandra Bullet: I wish I could say live shows, but with the pandemic, I don’t think that will be possible; so I’ll be focusing on growing my following and reaching more people with my music.
Something I’m also really trying to do is showing musicians here in Portugal that you don’t have to be famous or know the right people in order to make a living as a musician.
I will also be producing and recording an album for another artist. We are in the planning phase now and I’m really looking forward to that project.
Hailing from Maryland, LJR is a tenacious and passionate pop-rock artist who strives to empower and inspire his audience to live their lives to the fullest.
LJR has opened for platinum-selling singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and acclaimed duo A Great Big World, and his distinctive, resonant style has won him fans around the globe.
LJR is currently preparing to release his 12-track debut album “When the Sky Began to Fall,” which he will share with fans one song at a time beginning on April 30. Recorded over the course of three years, the album promises to showcase LJR’s brilliant songwriting skills and will serve as a testimony to the last decade of his life, detailing his personal evolution through discussions about his insecurities, relationships, and journey through faith. “I hope it brings a deep joy and hope to people’s lives,” he shares about the album. “I’m also really excited to create sacred moments with people at shows. I think those times are opportunities to share the deepest parts of ourselves while freeing others to do the same.”
Sandra Bullet is a Portuguese alternative rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with an indie twist and an old school sound.
Besides her solo career, Sandra also collaborates with other artists in other genres, and as a streamer, she performs weekly online concerts on YouTube and Twitch. She sets the bar for all independent artists out there, showing them that it’s possible to be a musician without musical education and without labels, and that nowadays any artist can produce, mix, master and release their own music. Although she loves working with other artists, streaming, and crafting her extravagant “bulletized” covers, her main goal is to work more on her original music and share her sound with everyone!
For Fans Of: Avril Lavigne, P!nk, Alanis Morissette
This week’s feature presents dance-pop icons Brandyn Killz and Bryce Bowyn discussing their latest singles, songwriting and production processes, and how they’ve been handling the pandemic.
Brandyn Killz: Your newest single “Ruthless” is such a bop! What’s the story behind the song?
Bryce Bowyn: Thanks Brandyn! “Ruthless” is about a guy I was rebounding with after a nasty breakup. He didn’t really understand boundaries at all and was very manipulative. I like to consider myself a nice person, but I was sick of being heartbroken and disrespected so I decided to be the heartless Casanova for once.
Bryce Bowyn: I remember listening to your song “Bones” last year and being blown away. It feels like such an amazing throwback to late 2000s electropop, like Kesha or Femme Fatale-era Britney. What draws you to that particular sound?
Brandyn Killz: Thanks so much. Yasss, that’s exactly the vibe I was going for with “Bones.” To me, that sound is such a mood. I get so happy and energized when that sound hits and it’s hard to stay still. I can’t not dance, and nobody’s unhappy when they’re dancing 😝
Brandyn Killz: Your songs seem to always have a personal touch and go really deep. What song of yours is your most personal & why?
Bryce Bowyn: I would say with each release, my songs have become more and more personal. My song “Nostalgic” was the first time I really addressed my own relationships rather than writing from the lens of a character. That song is about romanticizing dark times in your life and realizing you’re happier in the present.
Bryce Bowyn: The production on your tracks is immaculate. Tell me about that. Do you work with producers, do you produce yourself, or is a combo situation?
Brandyn Killz: Aww, thank you so much. I am very hands-on when it comes to everything I put out. I generally always work with producers in getting a foundation for a track, and then I’ll add all kinds of synths and random sounds. I record and produce all the vocals, and complete most of the post-production as well. It’s been a crazy learning process, but I’m gettin’ better with each release.
Brandyn Killz: How has the pandemic and the last year affected your music, life, and career?
Bryce Bowyn: I would say the pandemic made me go back to square one and re-invent everything I was doing. It’s the one silver lining of this mess. With all the isolation and downtime, I’ve written some of my best work. All of the songs on my upcoming EP were written in the first few months of quarantine. Being able to access that creativity also helped with my social anxiety surprisingly. All in all, I think I’ve come out of 2020 more confident and sure of myself.
Bryce Bowyn: What was your most challenging song to create and why?
Brandyn Killz: “Outta Control” was the most challenging. It’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever written, but getting it to sound like I wanted it to sound was a hurricane. It was one of the first times I had to pull rank with a producer and basically say “This is how it’s going to be.” It definitely taught me a lot, but the finished product is exactly what I dreamed of.
Brandyn Killz: Take me through your songwriting process. For me, it takes a village. How do you make it all sound so perfect and so easy?
Bryce Bowyn: I would say I start with a concept. I take tons of notes on my phone. Whenever I think of a good lyric or concept, I write it down. Then I’ll go for a walk or something that doesn’t require too much focus and the melodies start to pour out. From there, I’ll sit down at the keyboard and find the chords.
Bryce Bowyn: “Losin’ It” is such a banger. I can’t wait to see a crowd lose their mind to it once we are all safely able to party together again. What inspired that track?
Brandyn Killz: OMG, I can’t wait to perform that song. It’s going to be wild. The song was inspired by a friend that was struggling with addiction. It was just my anthem to let him know that I’m always here fighting for you and I’m not gonna give up on you. A way to give him and anyone fighting the good fight a reminder that I’m your #1 fan and we can win this thing together.
Brandyn Killz: What’s the most challenging part of being an artist in 2021?
Bryce Bowyn: Being an independent artist in 2021 often feels like a Herculean task. You’re in charge of everything. You’re the talent, the producer, the writer, the manager, the promoter, etc. It can be very overwhelming. It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself.
Bryce Bowyn: What’s one non-music positive thing that you took away from the hell that was 2020?
Brandyn Killz: It’s been incredibly fun getting so much extra time with my husband while the world was falling apart. All the laughs, binge-watching, good food and quality time has made life consistently feel almost normal.
Brandyn Killz: I’m on pins and needles waiting for more of that ‘Bryce Bowyn’ sound. What do you have coming up that you’re most excited about?
Bryce Bowyn: Well, an EP is for sure on the way and I couldn’t be more excited. We just filmed the video for “Ruthless” and I think it’s going to be wild and unlike anything I’ve released yet. And I have some conversations brewing about live performances. Hopefully, with the right safety measures and whatnot, we can do some shows by the end of year.
Bryce Bowyn: What made you want to create pop music? Is there a particular cultural moment that made you say “I want to do that”?
Brandyn Killz: I’ve had such a huge love for music in general since I was young. But pop music and the fandom that comes along with it has always fascinated me. Michael Jackson. Beyonce. Lady Gaga. Britney. One Direction. The way their fans absolutely adore them. I just want to be loved. 🤣 But in all seriousness, seeing the power that music has to inspire, heal, hype, and change people is why I create.
Bryce Bowyn: And last but not least, it’s time to spill. What’s next for Brandyn Killz in 2021?
Brandyn Killz: I am working on the title track for my next EP as we speak. It’s another banger and I’m really happy with the “dancier” sound that I’m playing around with these days. That should be out in late May. And I’m really hoping to be able to shoot a fun music video for it as well.
About Brandyn Killz:
If you were to combine the soulful stylings of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, then mash them with contemporary electronic acts like Galantis, you’d end up with BRANDYN KILLZ.
Brandyn is a San Diego-based producer of what he dubs electronic soulpop, a fierce blend of pop and modern electro with tendencies echoed from the classics of the ‘70s and ‘80s. While electronic at heart, Brandyn’s music is built on a bedrock foundation of analog-meets-digital and incorporates a plethora of live instrumentation rooted in rich drums, along with detailed synthwork and edits. The result: ridiculously catchy tunes that are “all electronic & dangerously pop,” as his fans call them.
Intent on inducing feelings of empowerment and independence, Brandyn’s infectious songs are often anthemic in nature. For him, music serves as a form of release and escape; a place where he can be whoever he wants to be, and where he can invite his listeners to do the same, even if only for a moment. Above all, however, Brandyn desires to create something new, timeless and different in the LGBTQ+ community, which he is a proud member of. With every song he releases, he aims to bring his fans “Closer to Closure,” helping them navigate a positive headspace while dealing with heartbreak, loss, anxiety, and other complex emotions, and bring them back to the dance floor.
Brandyn is also a professional ghostwriter with tracks that have been featured on radio and top 40 albums. With 10 years of music production experience under his belt, his artistic persona serves as a brand new outlet through which he can showcase his unique approach to electro soulpop. He is currently preparing for the release of his next single “Losin’ It,” which is set for release on March 5.
Dance-pop singer-songwriter Bryce Bowyn has established himself as an unstoppable force in the industry thanks to his utterly hypnotic brand of uncensored, unfiltered dynamism.
Based in Washington, D.C., Bowyn’s anthemic electropop tracks have captivated audiences throughout the nation’s capital and beyond. Delivering story-focused songs like “Nostalgic,” a club-ready ode to romanticizing young heartbreak, and “Just Love Me,” a smash inspired by the beauty of queer nightlife entertainers, he effortlessly pulls listeners into his ethereal world and invites them along on an incredible journey of endless entertainment.
An innovative audiovisual artist and self-proclaimed horror buff, Bowyn ignites his tracks with esoteric and evocative music videos that provide a dark edge to his irresistibly sweet, addictive melodies. The demonic, skin-crawling bloodbath of “Nostalgic” and the sultry, mermaid-themed saga of “Cabana Boy” turn up the heat, showcasing the complex and expansive spectrum of the talented visionary’s extraordinary creativity.
Drawing inspiration from iconic pop legends like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, Bowyn’s live presentations combine his infectious synth-driven tunes with high-octane spectacle. From his explosive performance at Pittsburgh’s 2019 PrideFest to the critically praised show BRYCE: Hydrogen Blonde (Capital Fringe 2016), he never fails to bring the house down with tight choreography and dazzling theatrics.
Bryce Bowyn is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has garnered high praise from outlets such as The Art of Being Queer, the Q Review, and Culture Fix. In 2021, he will continue his reign as one of the most brilliant figures in pop music today with the release of scintillating new singles and a bewitching EP, which promise to enthrall and mesmerize his fans all over again.
Why Italy Should Win the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest? Eurovision week is upon us again with the semi-finals already well underway. But as the remaining entries battle it out to qualify for the 2021, there is already one entry that has got everybody talking.
Italy have not won Eurovision since their second triumph way back in 1990 but their long wait for victory could about to be over thanks to their latest entry entitled ‘Zitti E Buoni’ and performed by Maneskin. The bookies also rate their chances and have them as favorites in the latest Eurovision odds just ahead of Malta. Here’s why we think the band from Rome should take top spot in this year’s competition.
Who Are They?
Maneskin are a four-piece band who have all known each other since school. They are led by singer Damiano, with Victoria (bass), Thomas (guitar) and Ethan (drums) completing the line-up. They have been playing together since 2015 and are known for their diverse musical influences drawing on many genres include rock, pop, punk and rap. Oh, and in case you are wondering, the name means ‘moonlight’ in Danish, the native language of bass player Victoria.
Why They Should Win
The first word that springs to mind when describing Maneskin’s entry is ‘energy’. While some other entries (we’re looking at you UK) are pleasant enough but ultimately fall flat, Italy’s entry is just bursting with intensity and raw power. The song grabs you from the first beat and doesn’t let go. During the first 30 seconds, the band lures into the song with irresistible charm and once you’re inside, there’s no escape until the final chord rings out. The song never quite strays into novelty territory retaining just enough edge that you can enjoy it without feeling guilty.
If that’s not enough to convince you, just check out their performance and costumes. The band don’t just sound great, they also look amazing. The make-up, the clothes and the attitude all epitomize the spirit of Eurovision, which was taken to new levels by Finnish group Lordi in 2006.
It’s no surprise Maneskin are already a popular band in their home county as they look totally at ease on the stage and just ooze charisma. When they sing “Siamo fuori di testa, ma diversi da loro” (we are out of our minds, but different from them), you just know they mean it.
Italy face some tough competition despite being the favorites. Just behind them in the winning odds Eurovision 2021 list are Malta at 4/1 after storming through the first semi-final with their entry ‘Je Me Casse’ by Destiny. Also well fancied are Thursday’s semi-finalists Gjon’s Tears who will be performing ‘Tout l’Univers’. All three songs represent different styles but all have the quality that makes them stand out amongst the entries.
With the UK’s entry amongst the favorites the finish last despite James Newman’s strong pedigree as a songwriter, we’ll need someone else to cheer on and this year, we are throwing our support behind Italy.
After spending her formative years in a punk band and inspired by other LGBTQIA artists, Ramona Blue decided it was time to carve her own path. Confined in lockdown and reeling from her ex’s infidelity, she penned her first single, “Curious,” an empowered assertion of her worth. To anyone else coping with the aftermath of cheating, she wants to emphasize that it’s a problem with them, not you. Stream “Curious” below and follow Ramona on all her socials HERE.
Cliché: When and how did you get into music? Ramona Blue: I began with being really into musical theatre when I was a kid and I was always obsessed with different singers and how they sang the way they did. I was very inspired by strong and powerful singers like Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato from a young age but then grew and began listening to EVERYTHING ranging from Lana Del Rey to Muse to Rico Nasty. I like to listen to a range of music so I can inspire myself in all different areas and come up with something really uniquely personal and ‘me’. I started my own post-punk band with some of my close friends when we were 15 and spent three years playing gig after gig. It was so invigorating to be a young teenaged girl and to feel the entire room of like-minded teens screaming your songs right back in your face. I decided to branch out as I wanted to create my own sound from all the music I’d been listening to and to find who I was as an artist without any labels attached.
The LGBTQIA community is a central part of who you are. How do you identify yourself and how does that influence your music?
I personally identify as a Lesbian woman and have felt so grateful to have such supportive family and group of friends who accept and love me for me. In fact, I never actually ‘came out’ as I never felt that being gay should be any different from straight. I just date who I love and that’s that. I always listened to my friends’ stories of their struggles with coming out and not feeling free and comfortable to fully be themselves and I just always felt that there was a lack of mainstream representation of LGBTQIA artists in the media. I feel that if there were, more young children would feel comfortable and identified, regardless of what their family believes in. I wanted that to be an integral part of my music and brand because I lacked a role model growing up and I want others who lack the support I so luckily had to feel that they have that, no matter where they are in the world, through my music and my message.
Who are your favorite LGBTQIA artists?
I think the main one is Lady Gaga because, not only is she bisexual but also used the FUCK out of her platform and success to stand up for the LGBTQIA community. I always found that inspiring considering she is one of the biggest artists in the world where most artists would shy away from supporting a community in fear of losing followers or money. Demi Lovato also raised me and her coming out was another major inspirational moment for me. Later on, I got into a variety of LGBTQIA artists from Hayley Kiyoko to this really underground girl punk band called GRLwood.
How would you describe yourself as a musician?
Blunt, feisty and strong. I won’t ever sugar coat anything and will always be 100% authentically me within my music and my identity.
What has your experience been like within the music industry?
Interesting. When I was in my band, I experienced a fair amount of misogyny from industry people making comments like ‘you’re good at punk for a girl’ and just a lot of general demeaning. Patronising and belittling comments. Things like this never affected me because, growing up with such a strong-headed mother who always taught me that all humans are humans regardless of anything, I always felt I was fair game and that me having a vagina changes nothing. Having spoken to a few different labels, managers and agents throughout the last three years has really made me realise that the industry is a business and that artists aren’t seen as anything other than money makers which can be discouraging when you are trying to create your art, but once you learn how to use this to your advantage and essentially become an entrepreneur, you won’t be manipulated easily. I am still learning myself and growing every day.
Talk about your debut single, “Curious.”
I wrote this track around a year ago when the first lockdown started. It was one of the first songs I wrote on my own and it was a MASSIVE confidence boost for me and really the moment that I realised that I had something there. I always knew I wanted this to be my debut single because I think it really shows the attitude I want to bring to pop music and all the rest of my songs. Pop needs more anger and more fire and I want to bring that.
The song is about an ex who cheated on you. Did writing the song help you in your healing process?
Yes! Of course. Music is therapy and always will be.
How did you move on from that betrayal while keeping your self-worth and confidence intact?
Someone betraying you like that is so damaging but I learned that it’s nothing that I am lacking but they evidently need to fill some hole in their soul that is missing that has nothing to do with me and my worth and my confidence in myself and my love will always stay.
What advice can you offer to folks dealing with infidelity or dishonesty in their relationships?
Toss away, forgive and move on. Don’t be scared to trust and love again. Your love and generosity is so powerful and trumps all dishonesty and negativity. Do not waste time trying to understand why or find the ‘reason’ because there isn’t one and they will most likely try to make you feel responsible for their deep rooted issues. You gave all your love and they didn’t cherish it so it is ultimately their loss. Your love and time is too precious to be wanted on someone who would rather give it away.
What are your plans for the future?
I am planning on releasing 3 more tracks this year for you all to stream until your ears bleed. 🙂 I have so much I have to share with the world and I am never stopping until my message is heard.
Read more Music Interviews at ClicheMag.com Ramona Blue Has No Time for Lies in Debut Single, “Curious.” Photo Credit: Kasia Dabrowka.
Cooper Phillip’s “Not Perfect” is an empowering track narrates embracing your true self and knowing your self-worth. Cooper Phillip has garnered acclaim from the likes of Hollywood Life, Earmilk and PopDust to name a few. She is also known as an Instagram influencer and has gone viral on Spotify and YouTube, receiving over 15 million streams to date.
Russian born, Los Angeles based pop soul artist Cooper Phillip succeeds in capturing the undivided attention of listeners across the globe. With her intense drive, soaring vocals and passionate songwriting, Phillip is elevating herself to the top of her genre.
Born in a small town in Russia to a family of accomplished classical musicians, her early years were shaped being raised by her grandmother and aunt while her mother, a master violin player, toured around the world with various symphonies. This separation led Phillip to take comfort in music where she was enamoured by the vocal stylings of Ella Fitzgerald. A young Phillip taught herself Fitzgerald’s songs inside and out, noticing every nuance of phrasing and jazz intonations. Phillip eventually enrolled at the prestigious Moscow State Classical Academy where she studied classical piano, music theory, harp, jazz, blues, ballet and voice. The songstress worked diligently to expand her vocal range and control, taking everything that came in her path and feeding off of the challenge.
Recognizing her daughter’s talent and charisma, Phillip’s mother gave up her flourishing career to accompany a young Cooper on tour throughout Russia. Determined to pursue an international career in music, Phillip moved to New York City at the age of 17. With barely a dollar to her name, the singer worked and hustled, performing in weddings and clubs and sleeping in the storeroom of a restaurant where she sang. It wasn’t easy but she would not be deterred. After a few years in the city, Phillip jumped at an opportunity to sing at an important gig in Los Angeles. She never went back.
Phillip’s music features an underlying theme of strength, grace and empowerment. “I believe we underestimate ourselves often and our fear takes over. My goal is to show people that they are stronger and can do much more than they think they can”, she admits. Using true life stories, hardships and experiences, the songwriter emits authenticity and courage throughout her music.
Cooper Phillip has seen success with her previous single garnering over 10 million listens online. She has also developed an impressive and loyal fanbase, particularly on social media and has performed at some of Los Angeles most prestigious venues.