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Cooper Phillip’s New Pop Anthem of Empowerment

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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. 

Watch her Empowering Music Video Here

Photo By: Alena Soboleva

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. 

Cooper Phillip | Instagram | TwitterFacebook | Website 

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Photos provided by: Alena Soboleva 

American Authors’ Latest Album Combines Familiar Sound with New Elements

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The third studio album, Seasons, from alternative band American Authors brings out some of their old familiar sounds hailing from the days of their first big hit, “Best Day of My Life”, while also exploring new elements and themes making it a perfect balance of honing in on what they do so well and not being afraid to explore the unknown. Their use of different kinds of percussion and choral elements really drives the album and makes all of their songs more like anthems than just regular old songs. With honest lyrics and melodies that are both catchy, interesting, and emotive, the album creates a cohesive work that is like looking at a cross section of someones life and all of the highs and lows, decisions, and consequences.

 

This collection of songs takes us through all kinds of stages and makes for an enjoyable listen. “I Wanna Go Out” is an ode to those nights where you go out despite knowing you should’ve stayed home but you just want to escape for a little. The chorus is fun and catchy, and the idea of “let’s get wild make a memory” is one most can relate to. A favorite from this album is “Neighborhood” which features Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE. The feeling this song portrays is a special one of both nostalgia and sadness, but also a sense of gratefulness for being in the position to leave and come back to a place, more specifically, your home. The album closes out with “A Real Place”, an honest and raw song, fitting for the title. With lyrics that accept responsibility and that desperately want to right wrongs, this song is a beautiful end to the album.

 

Strong vocals are featured throughout the album and the emotion behind them help tell the band’s stories. Making use of a wide array of instrumentation from guitar, prominent percussion, synths, piano, bass, and more, each song is distinct in it’s own right while retaining a consistent sound across the album. Where some might struggle to achieve this, American Authors has found a sound that is distinctly theirs and is almost malleable in that they are able to work it into all of their songs without sounding repetitive which keeps it fresh and interesting.

 

Watch the music video for “Neighborhood” here: 

 

Listen to more Music Articles at Cliché Magazine.

American Authors’ Latest Album Combines Familiar Sound with New Elements: Featured Image Credit: Spencer Kohn 

Ariana Grande Shares Her Personal Journey With thank u, next

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With her recent breakup and heartbreaking death of her ex, Ariana Grande has been channeling all her energy into her music. thank u, next, her fifth studio album, was just released on Friday, February 8th, and fans are going crazy for it. The album features 12 songs, 3 of which were released as singles before the album.

 

“thank u, next”, the title track, is a sweet tribute to Grande’s ex-boyfriends, thanking them for helping her grow. This song blew up, along with the music video that was released a little later. Then, Grande hit us with “7 rings”, a hip-hop type song that has everyone wanting to live a lavish lifestyle like Ariana.

 

 

The whole album is a personal journey for Grande and the songs represent that. During the past few months, she had to overcome a lot of obstacles and she shares that through her music.

 

Songs like “needy” and “fake smile” have slower beats and lyrics that fans can relate to, while songs like “bloodline” and “bad idea” have a more upbeat vibe that will make you want to dance.

 

Majority of the songs on the album have a slow, personal feel to them, highlighting the emotional road that Grande has been on. The album, while relaxed and ponderous, promotes self-care and self-love, which is something that Grande has really embodied throughout her life.

 

The album has been #1 on iTunes since its release, with multiple songs on the top 100. thank u, next is a deep, well-rounded album that has something for everyone. Grande’s emotional voyage is detailed in this album and she comes out on top. Fans are giving her so much love and are excited for more to come!

 

Read more Music articles at Cliché Magazine

Ariana Grande Shares Her Personal Journey With thank u, next. Featured Image Credit: Republic Records

“I See You” Shows a New Side of The xx

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London-based pop group The xx just released their new album on Jan. 13, 2016. Titled I See You, this album changes everything you think you knew about The xx. The group started “in a bedroom in south west London, after school, drinking too much Pepsi,” according to their Facebook page, and now they are on a European and North American tour and have released their third album. Looks like their bedroom got a whole lot bigger.

Their new album, I See You, is much more out there than their first two, but it works. The opener, “Dangerous” is a fun jump into the new album with great harmonies from the two lead vocalists, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim. This track has potential to be a dance track — it definitely gets the feet tapping. Later in the album, “Performance” changes the trajectory of I See You. With Madley Croft on vocals, she produces a haunting melody to capture the audience’s attention, getting goosebumps the whole way through. The album changes again with “On Hold.” This track starts as a soft piece with beautiful vocals and evolves into an enjoyable melody with some rhythm that will make you want to move, courtesy of Jamie Smith, the man behind the beats. The album’s closure “Test Me” really ties the whole album together. Croft’s and Sim’s voices clash to make a poignant melody with so much feeling behind it. This song tells the story of conflict and struggle that the group has had to overcome in the past years. Songs like this with deeper meaning are what makes The xx who they are.
Compared to their first two albums, I See You has something different. There is more emotion behind these lyrics and it’s much more expressive. The group reported that this album would have “a completely different concept” and that it did. The xx took a big risk making this album, but it paid off.

Read more Music articles on ClicheMag.com
“I See You” Shows a New Side of The xx. Image courtesy of The xx.

Blonde Roses Talk New EP Plans and Single “Bullet”

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A group who is unafraid to blend various sounds, New Orleans-based band Blonde Roses will soon become your new favorite artist after one listen to their new single “Bullet.”  A tight-knit group, Blonde Roses is a band that intertwines alternative, Southern blues, and rock. With Molly Portier’s amazing vocals, Harry Rosenberg on the guitar, Anthony Mikhael on the drums, and Albert Moliere on the bass, they can do no wrong. Their single “Bullet” promises refreshing revival paired with a hauntingly arresting music video with a vengeful twist. Along with their mixtape The Wooden Wings, the passionate group shows great promise as they embed personal strife with thrumming emotions in their music. Here, the group chats about their recent single “Bullet,” their creative process, and what we can expect in the near future.

 
Cliché: I love the name Blonde Roses; I feel like it fits perfectly. How did you come up with it?
Blonde Roses: Thank you! We really took our time coming up with our name because we wanted it to be just right. We wanted it to be totally “us.” The name Rose is not only my middle name, but also a name that a lot of our family members carry in some way. It’s really special for us to be able to honor them—our biggest fans. And, well, I’m blonde.
When and where did you guys meet? And when did you decide to do music together?
Before we were Blonde Roses, we went by the name The Wooden Wings. I started off this project when I was 15 years old playing acoustic coffee shop gigs. It got to a point where if we wanted to grow and progress in this project, we needed a band that could take us from coffee shops to bigger venues and bars. We were all really close friends prior to doing music together, so it felt really natural to work together creatively. We’re all on the same wavelength. Being able to continue writing and performing as not only bandmates, but best friends, is such a blessing.
Tell us something about yourself that you would want your fans to know.
That’s a really tough one because I feel like we’re pretty open with our fans. If anything, we’re quirky and awkward and we embrace it. Never compromise or change who you are because of what people may think of you. Stay true to you.
Do you think having been born in Louisiana has influenced and changed how you make music?
The music culture is so rich down here, it’s hard to not influenced by it. We are now more than ever really embracing our southern Louisiana roots. We’re really proud to showcase where we come from and who we are in our music. Our newer material is a lot more gritty and raw, and I can definitely say that stems from our influences right here at home.
I like how you guys blend different genres together. Will you continue with this trend or branch out and try another method?
I think it’s really important for artists to continue to push themselves out of their comfort zone creatively, and that’s why we love mixing and blending the different genres we listen to on a daily basis. The music we listen to falls all over the spectrum, so it really pushes us to take the things we love about each and make it our own.

Never compromise or change who you are because of what people may think of you. Stay true to you.

I heard you are heavily impacted by ‘60’s and ‘70’s music. How has that shaped your sound? Also, has the fashion of those times influenced your wardrobe choices?
We all grew up listening to music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. It was such an unapologetic, honest era of music. Music is at its best when it’s unfiltered and raw, and that is something we strive to do. I think it definitely has influenced my wardrobe choices to an extent, but I love mixing and matching styles from different eras.
For those who have not seen it yet, can you tell us the message behind your visually compelling music video for your single “Bullet”?
Our director, John Paul Summers, really wanted to do something different and daring with this project. We both agreed that it should play out like a mini-film rather than a typical music video, so we wanted to dive a bit deeper into the lyrics and really find a cool storyline to accompany them. “Bullet” was inspired by the cherry tree, which symbolizes the fragility of life. My character is stuck in this endless loop of destruction, but sometimes you end up really lost before being able to find yourself again. It was really important for us to make this character a really strong, independent female anti-hero, even if she is a terribly broken. She, in a sense, is acting as a “protector” for women who have been wronged by men.
The video for “Bullet” is so intense and femme fatale! Did you have fun making the video?
It was definitely a learning experience for me, that’s for sure! I had never dabbled in acting before, so playing such an intense character for my first time in front of a camera like that was super scary but also super awesome. Our director and his crew were incredible to work with.
What music are you guys listening to now? Do you guys have similar music tastes?
Our music tastes definitely vary, but we have some core influences we all love and admire. To name just a few: Muddy Magnolias, Grace Potter, LP, and Gary Clark, Jr.
You recently were touring all around Louisiana. How was the experience?
Having the opportunity to travel with your best friends and do the thing that you love…there really is nothing like it. Because of how close we all are, almost like family, we’re really comfortable with each other on stage and can easily play off of one another’s vibes. Playing live is truly one of the most exhilarating feelings.
What is next for you guys?
We are currently hard at work finishing up our debut EP set to be released early 2017, so stay in touch with us! We can’t wait to share it with you guys!
Read More Music Interviews at ClicheMag.com
Photographed by Julie Gautreaux

A$AP Mob Takes Over with Their Album Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends

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Rising to fame after the successful release of their legendary mixtape Lords Never Worry in 2012, the A$AP Mob has continued to represent their roots in their chart-topping album Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1: Friends. In honor of the late co-founder of the A$AP Mob, A$AP Yams, the Harlem rappers come together to revere their friend and essential part of the group. A collaboration with new and old friends, the A$AP MOB proves once again to be a rap group not to mess with.
Founded in 2006 in Harlem, the A$AP Mob arguably changed how rappers introduce and produce their mixtapes. The production similar to an album rather than a mixtape, Lords Never Worry, sprung the Mob’s VIP rappers A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg into immediate fame. Following the success of the mixtape, A$AP Rocky has made a name for himself in the rap game with the release of his debut album Long. Live. A$AP and A$AP Ferg also releasing Trap Lord, cementing the Mob as a rap group that cannot compare. Despite the fame that has found them, the A$AP Mob was able to come together and produce music that sounds (thankfully) similar to their earlier work. A fun, gritty album with spitfire verses and beats produced by the greatests producers in the industry, Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1:Friends will be your go-to album to listen to this winter.
Starting the album in a more humble background, we find A$AP Rocky chatting with a local bodega owner. This proves how A$AP Rocky has not disregarded his modest roots but has shaped it to his music and persona. The first track on the album, “Yamborghini High,” is in honor of the late A$AP Mob founder, A$AP Yams who tragically passed away January 2015 at the age 26. Hitmaker Juicy J joins the crew, adding his talents to the track and perfectly including his skills with A$AP Rocky’s smooth bars. Keeping A$AP Yams dream alive with the album, the group talks about reaching “Yamborghini High.”

“Crazy Brazy” is a more fast-paced song with A$AP Twelvyy and Key! joining with A$AP Rocky. The single was released on the MTV LABS launch on Sept. 30, 2016. A$AP Rocky was quoted discussing the upcoming album, stating,“This is the Yams album we’ve been working on. We finally finished it. The Cozy Tapes album is called Friends Minus. It just features all of our friends and hip-hop associates and what-not, and people that Yams would have wanted. It’s an introduction to the new cozy wave. It’s really rap-punk meets alternative-underground.”
The third track on the album, “Way Hii,” features Wiz Khalifa, who partners up with A$AP Rocky and the crooner BJ The Chicago Kid adds his amazing vocals to the track to give it a dreamlike quality. A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa collaborate together as an unbeatable duo as they rap about drugs and getting high.
“Young N***a Living” is produced by Canadian producer DJ Smokey, whose beats are tough and addicting. A$AP Twelvy features on the track, spitting dope and catchy verses. A$AP Ferg mourns his recently deceased grandmother and his memorable verses including him expressing his frustration with police brutality, the oppression of African Americans, and how the harshness of the world drives him to drink. “Nasty’s World” features A$AP Nast taking the mic and freestyling with his smooth rapping skills along with hard beats. All about the money, the A$AP Mob dedicates the track “Money Man” to money and the luxuries it can and has provided for them. A$AP Rocky talks about getting money and being loyal to his squad despite it. Proving once again why he is the most successful rapper in the group, A$AP Rocky’s charisma and witty lyrics truly standout.
My personal favorite track, “Put That On My Set,” is featured in a 12-minute video along with “Money Man.” Produced by Lil Awree, A$AP Rocky presents a tough, gritty presence as he express his appreciation of women and money and a trace of violence of people owing him debts. Noting how the group has not only been popular in the United States but also internationally, the rap group expresses their happiness about their reaching music teaching overseas in “London Town.” The group also mentions how because they have been so successful, they have been able to purchase foreign luxuries like cars and designer clothes.

A banger with the high-in-demand rapper Lil Uzi, “Runner” is all about bragging about the cash flow and proves how far and wide the influence of A$AP Mob has spread. Able to connect with newer and older rappers from all across the United States and bring them together for their album is impressive. Relating this track to the luxuries achievable with their money, “Bachelor” features the up-and-coming rapper Lil Yachty and perfectly blends the various rappers and artists vibes and sounds well.
The last track on the album, “Telephone Calls,” the  eccentrically dark rapper Tyler, the Creator joins the Mob. Successful since releasing his debut album “Goblin,” Tyler, the Creator has continued to remain relevant in not only music but fashion. Launching his own fashion brand called Golf Wang, the West Coast rapper joins along with A$AP Rocky, which hopefully means that there will be more future collaborations.
Read more Music Reviews on ClicheMag.com
Listen to A$AP Mob Takes Over with Their Album Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends: Featured image courtesy of Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends

Bitter’s Kiss Talks Her New EP and Future Projects

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Chloe Baker, also known by her compelling stage name Bitter’s Kiss, is a force to be reckoned with at the critical age of 15. Her music, which is described as earthy, transcendental, and nostalgic, physically manifests her teenage angst and melancholy. At such a young age, Baker has been busy traveling throughout Europe, releasing her own music, and adding her voice to 2016’s Life in Color Music Festival. Along with her thought-provoking sound, Baker easily acquires fans with her captivating music videos. Outwardly displaying her creativity through her artistic music videos, especially for her hit “The Rope,” Baker has gained popularity after the release of her self-titled album Bitter’s Kiss. Here, Baker discusses her concerns about younger artists in the music industry, her EP Love Won’t Make You Cry, future projects, and behind-the-scenes information on her music videos. 

Cliché: I love your stage name Bitter’s Kiss; it immediately sets the tone for your music and draws in listeners. How did you come up with it?
Chloe Baker: My first album was full of songs that explored taking the good things out of the bad things in life and finding the silver lining. I thought a good name to describe that silver lining was Bitter’s Kiss.
I believe that your music is relatable to all ages with the internal struggles you face and the heartbreaks. Do you believe that younger artists have more of an appeal over their audiences?
I like to make music that has a universal message. I want everyone to listen to my music and be able to take a look and evaluate themselves and the world around them. I think being young can be a trigger for some people to recall how they felt about the world at my age.
Have you received any criticism for being a young artist?
Not really, although some people have been surprised at the content of my songs. I have tried to surround myself with the most supportive people possible. I go to a high school that has an arts program so everyone is very understanding. I also have parents who support my career. which has been helpful.  
Your music has been described as moody, melancholy, and nostalgic. Have you integrated your own life experiences into your music?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been an observer. When life gets hard, I like to sit back and observe it rather than exist in the situation. I think my songs explore a lot of things I learned from observing the world around me.
Tell me about your EP Love Won’t Make You Cry. Were there elements you added that were not present in your album Bitter’s Kiss?
This EP took three songs on my first album and added some more current production. I also added two new songs: “My God,” which is about the irony of conflict over religious beliefs, and “Friday Nights,” which is about sacrificing yourself for someone you love. There is a video out for “Friday Nights” and there will be a video out for “My God” soon.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been an observer. When life gets hard, I like to sit back and observe it rather than exist in the situation.

As a visual artist, have you noticed a trend with the popularity of your music in accordance to your music videos?
I think videos are something people share with each other over the Internet more than just songs. My videos have created conversation and networking between fans, which has been great. I love videos because they bring the songs to life and make the concepts more concrete and relatable to people.
You have shot various music videos around the world. What has been your favorite country so far and where do you hope to perform next?
I went to Sweden for two weeks to do recording sessions and that was my favorite place so far. I would love to perform at a big venue in NYC because I’ve grown up close to the city my whole life. I’d love to give something back to a city that has been such a big influence on me and my music.
Have you found it difficult juggling school and dedicating time to your music?
Of course it is difficult sometimes, but whenever it has been hard, I tend to write about it and it makes me feel better. So in the end, I think it has only helped my music grow stronger.
Growing up, who were your favorite artists?
I listened to a variety of music from Carole King to Tupac, and a lot of rock and a lot of soul. I don’t think I had favorite artist. I do love the Beatles, but I think I just love honest, soulful music in general.
Have you set any goals for 2017 yet? Can we expect new music, videos, tours?
I am working on an EP right now which will be released in the new year. I’m building myself a team and training to get myself to the next level. Of course, I also want a good SAT score, but everything comes second to music.
Read more Music Interviews at clichemag.com
Bitter’s Kiss Talks Her New EP and Future Projects: Photographed by Dustin Rabin

Music, Touring, and More with Pop Band Nikki’s Wives

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A dynamic trio, Nikki’s Wives is an alternative pop band from Toronto who is ready to set their talents mainstream. Coming together to create engaging, stimulating music, Nikki’s Wives has learned to use their shared interest of music to become a like-minded, unbeatable trio. With Nikki Whitehead as lead singer, Dylan Lauzon on the guitar, and Nate Baylor on the drums, the group reveals a well-orchestrated chemistry performance on stage. Nikki’s Wives has been busy recently with the release of their EP For E-V-E-R, features on Fox News and NBC, an invitation to Victoria’s Secret parties, and starring on OnestoWatch.com and Idobi Radio. Creating music that speaks to our innermost feelings, insecurities, and daily struggles, Nikki’s Wives will become your new favorite group to follow on their path to stardom. Here, they delve deeper into the emotions behind the haunting melody “Ghost,” chat about the complexity of relationships and confidence in “Lonely Being Cool,” and talk going on tour with CeeLo Green.

Cliché: What inspired you three to get together? What is the creative process like with three different voices?
Nikki’s Wives: Nikki was doing this solo project and needed someone to play drums for one show. So, Dylan, who was working with Nikki at the time, called up Nate and asked if he could fill in. The show went super well and the three of us felt this insane chemistry playing together on stage. When the show ended, we all kind of concluded that this needed to be a band. The three of us have a great workflow while writing. It’s such an open and collaborative environment that everyone’s ideas always get heard.
Since you guys have such great chemistry on stage, what advice do you have for aspiring music groups?
I guess the only advice I can offer is to just play as many shows as you can. You can practice cool moves in the rehearsal space all you want, but the real magic comes from playing on stage in front of people. Going out on tour this summer really helped us find who we are on stage.
Tell us about your EP For E-V-E-R and the process behind it.
The story behind For E-V-E-R is actually kind of a crazy one. We booked the studio time before we had written any songs. So, we literally locked ourselves away for two weeks in Dylan’s basement to hammer out those six songs. I might also add that Dylan’s basement was unheated, and it was the coldest winter Canada had in like 10 years. Needless to say, For E-V-E-R definitely united us as a band.
You recently toured with CeeLo Green. What was the experience like going on the road with a famous artist? Any funny stories while on tour?
CeeLo was the most amazing person to go on tour with. His whole crew treated us like family and always made sure that we were well taken care of on the road. It was super cool to see this person you’ve grown up watching just being a normal person right in front of you. There were lots of nights where we all had a little too much tequila on that tour. [Laughs]
Tell us about your track “Ghost.” After one listen, I was hooked! It is haunting, melodious, and entrancing.
“Ghost” was the last song we wrote for For E-V-E-R, so it really encapsulates how we all felt about the writing process coming to an end. The two weeks spent in Dylan’s basement were just this whirlwind of creativity, and when that finally ended, we all felt this sadness about it. “Ghost” was kind of our goodbye song to the end of an amazing experience.
I have noticed that you three often coordinate with colors. Do you think the influence of fashion can help artists?
I think that fashion and music are very much intertwined. Fashion helps to visually separate groups from one another, and helps give them a unique identity. For example: Lady Gaga with her outrageous outfits or Billy Holly and his signature black frames. We like to keep to the guys wearing all white and Nikki wearing black. It’s a little play on the name “Nikki’s Wives.”

I think that fashion and music are very much intertwined. Fashion helps to visually separate groups from one another, and helps give them a unique identity.

What music are you currently listening to? Any favorite artists/bands?
We’ve been all over the place lately. Honestly, in the van we listened to so many classic rock stations that I now feel like I was alive in the ‘70s. But we’re all listening to lots of Tory Lanez, ScHoolboy Q, and 2 Chainz right now.
Tell us about the message behind your song “Lonely Being Cool.” The visuals for the music video are amazing and are parallel to the confident, determined vibe of the song.
Basically, we just wanted to write a song that described the feeling of being at a party and feeling like you don’t fit in. I think everyone’s had that experience where you know you’re liked and have friends, but you feel like everyone hates you or has forgotten about you. But it’s also about being confident and being you no matter what.
As a Canadian group, do you believe that you bring a different sound than other American groups?
We just do what we like and make music that the three of us want to listen to. We don’t really spend a lot of time listening to Canadian vs. American music, and how different they are from one another. I think you just gotta do you and make the music you want to hear.
What is the best advice you’ve received thus far in the music industry?
The best advice I’ve ever received was to “never stop getting better, because as soon as you start thinking you’re hot shit, you become shit.”
Can we expect any more music in the near future?
Yeah! We already have another full EP waiting in the wings. If you catch us live, you can hear some sneak peaks from that EP.
Read more Music Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Music, Touring, and More with Pop Band Nikki’s Wives: Photographed by Rachelle Curtis

Listen to Danny Brown Fight His Demons in ‘Atrocity Exhibition’

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Get ready to navigate through the downward spiral of Danny Brown’s psyche with his fourth studio album Atrocity Exhibition. With the help of the incredible producer The Alchemist, the album is haunting with its sheer honesty and is undeniably real as Danny Brown reveals the skeletons of his past. Unafraid to hold back, Danny Brown delivers his usual manic verses, ranging from low and serious to high-pitched and jittery, Brown gets real as talks about how drugs has affected his social life, his health, and relationships. A sort of therapy for the Detroit rapper, we are audience to Danny Brown’s therapeutic need to execute the demons from his past.

 
Atrocity Exhibition is a 15-track album that highlights how Danny Brown slowly unravels and spirals himself to Hell. The first track “Downward Spiral” is the overall theme of this album. Literally experiencing these depression, crushing emotions, Danny Brown seems incoherent and confused as he tries to navigate through his enhanced emotions. Because of this, we must weave through the lines of his neurotic paranoia and erratic words to understand the meaning. Complex with intricate emotions about depression and suicidal thoughts, Brown feels trapped by his addiction as it eats away at him. The track ends in an intense chorus: “Cause it is a downward spiral/ I gotta figure it out (out)/ I gotta figure it out (out)’ I gotta figure it out” and ends with his voice fading ominously in the background. The following track, “Tell Me What I Don’t Know,” gets more slow and serious as Danny Brown gets real about his background, his trouble with drugs, and growing up in a tough neighborhood. In various interviews, Danny Brown has talked about his hard past, his drug addiction, being a drug dealer, and his trouble with the law. Similar to a withdrawal, there seems to be a lack of emotion, which juxtaposes the previous track which was high with feelings and energy.

Expect for the mournful crooning of the South African singer Petite Noir, “Rolling Stone” is just as bleak as the other tracks. The beat is ominous and somber as Danny Brown talks about his loneliness. This two lines,“Bought a nightmare, sold a dream/Happiness went upstream” will strike you through the heart. A break away from the grave, introspective stream of consciousness, “Really Doe” is a personal favorite with an amazing triple threat features. The beat is tough as the Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) superstars Kendrick Lamar and Ab Soul and the elusive Earl Sweatshirt join in the dark melody. A whimsical chorus of bells flow along with raw, undignified talent. A nice surprise, it is only fitting that Earl Sweatshirt joins in, especially after his dark, hopeless album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt. No longer the kid who was sent to Samoa during the rise of Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt sounds more adult-like and mature on this track. “Pneumonia” is another favorite; catchy with ScHoolboy Q’s ad libs in the background, this is the type of song you can bump to in the car with your friends.
The majority of the tracks continue with the bleak theme of the album and the last track, “Hell for it” is a tell-tale sign that Danny Brown has reached Hell. No, this is not the most fun-loving project. Atrocity Exhibition is the type of album that reminds you are not alone in your struggles. Unafraid to reveal the troubles of his past, Danny Brown once again bravely strips himself bare to his fans in Atrocity Exhibition.
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Listen to Danny Brown Fight His Demons in ‘Atrocity Exhibition’: Featured image courtesy of Atrocity Exhibition

Why We Are Loving Frank Ocean’s Album ‘Blonde’

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Frank Ocean proves once again that you cannot rush perfection with his visual album Endless and Blonde. The original Odd Future crooner dominated the music world with the critically-acclaimed Channel Orange in 2012 along with his significant mixtape nostalgia/ultra. After bravely revealing that his hit single “Thinkin About You” was about a man, Frank Ocean took a hiatus after touring, going back to school and driving fans crazy. After the four-year lull of teasing singles like “Mezmerize” and “Hero,” heartfelt Tumblr posts, and the reveal of his previous title “Boys Don’t Cry,” fans were truly fearful that he would never deliver. But after four years of utterly maddening silence, Frank Ocean delivered another masterpiece, a true gift to music as each projects reminds us why Ocean’s sometimes nontraditional behavior has successfully reeled us in from the beginning. 

A day after releasing his visual album Endless, Frank Ocean released his second studio album Blonde. Endless was originally 140 hours but was eventually cut down to 40 minutes. Frank is seen “building a stairway to heaven” as the ethereal soundtrack is played. The music is calming as his songs thrum through and watching him work is eerily intimate.

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©Boys Don’t Cry and Def Jam


Similar to Ocean’s first album Channel Orange, Blonde features 17 tracks. Each song is uniquely different as it touches on different messages and tests new sounds and productions. Each track is crafted differently, tackling various conflicts and elements. Blonde is an innovative, bold, and imperfect album that showcases Ocean’s nontraditional views of music and emphasizes his levels of maturity. Weaving a story, the artist warns us of the perils of peer pressure, staying to true to oneself, and distancing yourself from materialism. There were a lot of individuals who helped him put Blonde together: Andre 3000 (who raps on “Solo (Reprise)”), Pharrell Williams, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West–who hilariously wrote a poem about McDonald’s for the ‘zine. Admitting that he was not completely oblivious to his fans suffering, Ocean wrote to his fans on his Tumblr after the release, saying: “I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE MAKING ALL OF THIS. THANK YOU ALL. ESPECIALLY THOSE OF YOU WHO NEVER LET ME FORGET I HAD TO FINISH. WHICH IS BASICALLY EVERY ONE OF YA’LL. HAHA. LOVE YOU.”
His first track “Nikes” comes along with a true artistic majesty of a music video. Vivid in color, truly enthralling and outlandish, it is what you would expect from Frank Ocean but more. With splashes of gold, girls swimming in water tanks like mermaids, and glitter rain, Ocean entrances us once again with his creativity and sheer brilliance. The video also pays respect to the dead. Pimp C is mentioned, A$AP Rocky appears holding a picture of late A$AP founder A$AP Yams, and Frank laments the death of Trayvon Martin, singing, “RIP Trayvon, that n***a looks just like me.” If you have not posted Ocean’s first line in “Ivy” (“I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me”) under any of your Instagram pictures, you are obviously slacking. With a truly sweet, dreamy quality to his sound, Ocean reminds us why we fell in love with him in the first place. He always describes turbulent relationships, a tugging back-and-forth, yet he always adds a romantic element to his music, a yearning for acceptance and love that we can all relate to.
“Pink + White” is another addicting track–a dreamy melody that will leave you in a state of bliss. Ethereally raw emotions about love, Ocean compares it to heavenly feelings. In his moments of positivity and romance, he reveals conflicts both external and internal once again. Also, Beyoncé appears in the track, harmonizing with Ocean in the background and adding to the beautiful sound.
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©Andrew Chin / FilmMagic


Mama Ocean has all of us feeling guilty in “Be Yourself” as she adamantly preaches the faults of smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. She advises her son to be true to himself, not be like other people his age. Mama Ocean chastises young adults who use drugs and alcohol, deeming that it will affect their interests and lives. The love in her voices and her concern is heartfelt but also stresses the theme of rejecting materialism. Ocean switches from faster-paced songs like “Solo” to slow and sensual songs like “Self Control,” “Close to You,” “Godspeed,” and “Skyline to” where he laments how fast summer goes by. In his track “Nights,” Ocean reveals how he had to pause his education when Hurricane Katrina hit. After the devastation that still haunts New Orleans, Frank then turned to music. The song is addicting and honest, resembling the night with its slow and intimate sound. Andre 3000 surprises fans with his spitfire verses in the track “Solo(Reprise).” A surprising but pleasing twist, fans have missed Andre 3000’s energy and have become impatient for the original Outkast member to release more music.
The reception for Blonde has been mostly amazing with fans pouring their love and acceptance for Frank Ocean all over social media. There are a rare few who make the mistake of comparing Blonde with Channel Orange, but they need to understand that Frank Ocean composed music for different parts of his life and the sounds will never be similar. Blonde is another patient, beautifully crafted album from Ocean, and he retains the ability to steal our hearts and love with his heavenly sweet voice. Hopefully, his next project won’t take four years–a girl can dream!
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Why We Are Loving Frank Ocean’s Album ‘Blonde’: Featured image courtesy of Boys Don’t Cry

ScHoolboy Q Tops Charts Again with ‘Blank Face’ LP

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After the chart-topping success of his first major-label debut album Oxymoron, ScHoolboy Q, also known as Groovy Q, has faced high expectations with the recent release of Blank Face LP. Luckily, the West Coast rapper has not disappointed. Never sticking to one sound, ScHoolboy Q is a hard, gritty rapper with an unique vibe that sets him apart from his East Coast brothers. ScHoolboy Q is also able to masterfully “break the rules” with rapping, mixing his verses and, at times, taking a more aggressive take to his tracks. ScHoolboy Q has mentioned in interviews that he views rappers who play by the rules as “boring.” Through Groovy Q’s verses, we enter a twisted path through the depth of his mind, filled with dark revelations and hardcore bars.

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The question we must face is this: does Blank Face LP surpass Oxymoron? Or do they both excel in different degrees? Oxymoron was a debut major-label album that shook the foundations of hip-hop in 2014, successfully topping charts and becoming one of the MVP’s of Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). After the release of Blank Face LP on July 8th, the album reached number two on the Billboard 200 and was the highest selling album in its debut week. Blank Face LP reveals a maturity through ScHoolboy Q’s music as he samples different sounds and tests the loyalty of his fans while tackling various elements of hip-hop. Oxymoron consisted of all hits and club-bangers; the memorable tracks “Man of the Year,” “Break the Bank,” and “Collard Greens” continue to be fan-favorites, but supporters can appreciate Groovy Q’s ability to make music that is not only mainstream-friendly, but also true to himself and the struggles he has faced throughout his life. Growing up from the tough streets of “Hoover Street,” ScHoolboy Q is able to move past his mistakes and focus on today’s issues. Weaving dark, haunting stories that reveal a more “otherside of the tracks” outlook, ScHoolboy Q is able to learn how to cope with his hellish upbringing through Blank Face LP
The album is composed of a lengthy 17 songs, with a surprising 11 features. Normally rappers are criticized for filling up their album with too many features and not enough solo tracks, but ScHoolboy Q does not allow the featuring artists voices overpower his own. Featuring Kanye West, E-40, Vince Staples, fellow TDE labelmate SZA, Miguel, and various others, the album caters to all the highs and low of summer. Three themes are relevant in the album: mellow, gritty tracks, club-bangers that help Groovy Q rise quickly to the top, and smooth, catchy songs that will help sway the skeptics. “Gangsta” rappers are consistently criticized for solely catering to one specific audience, but rappers like ScHoolboy are able to provide for various audiences and still hold on to his “gangsta” rapper image.

The more somber, thought-provoking tracks that takes us to the tough streets of LA are: “TorcH,” “Lord Have Mercy,” “Groovy Tony/ Eddie Kane,” “Str8 Ballin,” “Black THougHts,” and “Blank Face.” The track “Kno Ya Wrong,” though mellow, is a moment of realization for ScHoolboy Q as he realizes the faults in his past. Currently playing on any radio station, “THat Part” features Kanye West, and together they are an explosive force. Though not as lyrical as his other songs, “THat Part,” “Ride Out,” “Tootie Knows II,” “JoHn Muir,” “Dope Dealer,” and “Big Body” are club-bangers. [They’re] fun party songs that can–and will–get everyone out of their seats. Momentarily breaking away from the hard beats, ScHoolboy Q slows it down with the haunting melodies of “Neva CHange,” “WHateva U Want,” and the sensual seduction of “Overtime.”

The Blank Face World Tour has also been announced. The rapper will be performing throughout the rest of the States and I am extremely excited that he will be playing in New York City. Blank Face LP is another win for Top Dawg Entertainment, and I cannot wait to see the follow-up.
Click here to see if ScHoolboy Q is coming to a town near you!
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ScHoolboy Q Tops Charts Again with ‘Blank Face’ LP: Photo provided by consequenceofsound.net and thestashed.com

Fallon Has Arrived

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Jimmy Fallon, SNL alum and all around funny man, debuted as the new host of The Tonight Show this past week & absolutely killed it. Fallon’s first show pulled in 11.3 million viewers, which didn’t break the numbers brought in by Leno’s final show, but was still respectable for a new host. (Eonline) The show’s official guests were Will Smith and U2, but it wouldn’t be Fallon without a few cameos from his famous friends (Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Mariah Carey) to name a few.
One of the best skits of the night was Fallon and Smith’s “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” video, which brought about gut busting laughter (at least from my end) mostly while watching both men do the “Carlton”. (Eonline) Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans unite. (Clip under!)
Will Smith & Jimmy Fallon Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing
Throughout the week there was more hilarity when Michelle Obama and Will Ferrell visited the show to guest star on the popular Late Night sketch, “Ew!” prompting more tears of laughter.
“Ew” with Will Ferrell and Michelle Obama
Jimmy Fallon had an incredible first week as the new Tonight Show host. With guests from Will Smith to Michelle Obama, everyone is sure that Fallon is the real deal. We wish him continued success and officially welcome him into our homes as the new host of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon!

– by Amanda Sikoral

(Photo courtesy of Eonline)