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The best of 2022 Pop Golf party playlist inspiration list.

As 2022 draws to a close, we’ve pulled together our top playlist inspirations of the year. From the return of Jamie XX to a very festive Elton & Ed, these top tracks are must listens to reboot your Spotify algorithm for the party season.

Jamie xx – LET’S DO IT AGAIN

Lady Marga MC feat. Doris of Five Star, Felix of Basement Jaxx Never Can Give You Up. (filmed at Pop Golf).

Rachel Chinouriri – All I Ever Asked

FLO – Cardboard Box

Charli XCX – Good Ones

Gorillaz – Cracker Island ft. Thundercat

Twice In A Lifetime – HYYTS

PHOEBE AXA – Panic

Ed Sheeran & Elton John – Merry Christmas

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Lady Marga

1.What’s the most important thing people need to know about you?
That I’m a people person, that lives, laughs, loves,that is my way of thinking I’m all about the good vibes,I have that lay back chilled attitude because life is to short so you gotta live your life to the full, be you, stay happy

2. Tell us about your new video
Well my video and song features my cousin doris of five star and felix of basement jaxx the song is a remake of my cousins five star top UK hit system addict,I’ve alway love the song since I was a kid and I wanted to do a remake but its done in away where its different to the original it’s very now.its fun,very quirky and everyone is a system addict right, alway on there phones, computers,laptop etc. So what you will see in the video is some elements of this but I cant give to much away. you will have to see the full video to get what I mean

3. Where would be your dream venues to play live and why?
Hmm good question well there are a few but I will name two. Wembley Stadium I did Wembley arena so now i want to do the Stadium and second it’s got to be the 02 arena

4. Some people write pop music off as mainstream and formulaic, to others it’s an art form that breaks all the rules and crosses boundaries into any genre it wants to. What does pop music mean to you?
A exactly that it’s art form that breaks all rules and crosses boundaries into any genre it wants to.

5. If you were a superhero what would your power be?
Invincible superpower so that I could never be harmed or destroyed have that power to live forever and ever

6. We believe music has the power to change the world, what would you use it to change right now?
It would have to be change the world to.to stop the war bring peace and harmony.to stop all the bad and bring the good,

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Raquel

Raquel

Raquel is a new rising star who hails from North-West London, she spent some of her young life in Columbia with her mum and sister which she shares on how this has shaped her sound. Not only is she a debuting singer and songwriter, she is also our resident Bar and Tik Tok superstar!

Raquel’s Single Esta Noche, releases 20th July 2022 which was inspired by a party that she had attended – which shows her inspiration is drawn from her own experiences, life and her emotions.

Describe your music style in 3 words:
Therapeutic, Truthful and Just me – I know that’s more than 3 words but that’s a hard one! – you wait for the rest of them Raquel!

Is there a figure in your life who shaped your taste in music?
My mum and my sisters, there would always be music filling the home. I would be able to tell what was going on in the house just from the music playing for example if mum was playing a certain playlist I knew it would be her cleaning time or Monica (sister) playing her garage would usually be chilling in her room. Juliana (sister) has shaped a lot of my taste and has introduced me to so many of my favourite artists from party next door to Tyler the creator. My Columbian heritage is also important to me and has had a big impact on my personal sound such as Reggaetón, Bachata, Salsa and the traditional Cumbia throw that in with some of my personal experiences in London.

I think I was also impacted largely by a singer I love named Selena Quintilla, she was such an inspiration and remains this way to me as she was a Mexican-American artist who broke into the mainstream music scene as well as being an entrepreneur, she had her own fashion line and it is something I want to achieve in my life.

What inspires you when you are writing and creating your own music?
I write all my music in studio and most of the time they start off as freestyles. My music is all inspired by how I feel in the moment. I work closely with my producer Jovis, sometimes I am just inspired by the beat that we created that day. I think the fact that my music is so spontaneous when being made really translates not just in my sound but also for those that listen.

Do you have to be in the right mindset in order to write your lyrics?
Yeah, I mean it’s not that I have to be its more that I kind of use my studio sessions as therapy sessions, so I guess if something or someone has really had an impact on my life good or bad, they’ll have an impact on my music in some way. I think a lot of people use music for different reasons, when they are deep in their feels whether they are happy, sad or angry and everyone has that one song they need. I know I do but I also use that time in the studio to record my feelings, I write my music for me but I hope it translates for others, if it ends up being that song they need to me that is a bonus and what I hope for.

Have you had any moments where there is a writer’s block? If so how do you get past that?
So when I feel intense emotions, I write and I use the notes app in my phone. A lot of the time it’ll manifest into a stream of consciousness poetry, in the words of Tyler the creator “This isn’t a song I just happen to rhyme when I get emo and find time to write facts” – if I am ever stuck I just head to my notes and my rhyming facts and most of the time it helps me be rid of the block

Are there any other forms of media that shaped you and inspired you as an artist, any films, art, fashion designers or eras that shaped your sound?
Selena of course, as well as the 90’s aesthetic had an impact, I love the fashion of the 90s, and that the music itself no one was scared to layer harmonies, its part of why I like some church music as Gospel is such a big sound – I am not afraid to admit I did sing in the church school choir when I was in High School, I just love the harmonies.

If you could voice one thing that you could have an impact in changing, what would that be?
Representation, there is a lot of parts of me that I feel when I was growing up that were not represented and if you don’t have that representation then you feel out of the norm. Not that being “normal” is in itself a thing, being normal is very much overrated anyway, but making everyone feel included. I’d like my music to be that “safe space” where people like me or feel like I do are able to feel seen. I want Latinos in the UK to know they don’t have to be in a box of the stereotypes that have been placed upon them. Yes I am Columbian and I love my culture, Salsa and I could eat empanadas everyday if I could but I am also not a “Spicy and Crazy” stereotype, I am a person who loves RnB and silly things like the colour of the sunset and the way water moves as well as so many other things, hopefully my music shows all sides of that.

At the end of the day I want people to know if they don’t already, that being authentically you, no matter who you are, even if that means you change it up every day or stay the same for years it’s ok. In fact, it is more than ok, it is something to be celebrated.

Who are your current favourite artists?
Ohhh don’t do that! I have lots! Ok so top 5, I think erm actually can I do 10? Obviously, Selena, Ariana Grande, Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean, Olivia Rodrigo, Whitney Houston, DVSN, Doja Cat, Ari Lennox, Phoney Ppl

Is there anyone out there at the moment that you would like to work with in the future of your music career?
Mostly Tyler the Creator, probably Doja Cat and Summer Walker, oh and Frank Ocean!

What is your go to Karaoke Track?
I will always Love You – Whitney Houston

In your opinion, what is the best pop song ever written?
Oh no, don’t do that – I don’t know I hear so many good tracks whilst working and the Fresh Friday playlist brings me new favourites each week.

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Eve-Yasmine

Hailing from North-West London, rising star Eve-Yasmine has collaborated with Casablanca based music producer Jewlz for her Pop Rap single ‘Lucky Dips’. The video shot at Pop Golf UK at her local BOXPARK Wembley is a rainbow delight. Directed by MontecarloDream (Afro B, Sarkodie, Papermaker Star) and starring choreographers & dancers MsLawrensky and Kim Stark.

We built music video themed Pop Golf to be the ultimate playground for pop lovers, so obviously we jumped at the chance to be the backdrop to Eve-Yasmine’s new video.

Featuring her North-Weezy twang, signature catchy ad libs and deep yet playful lyricism ‘Lucky Dips’ shares her rollercoaster ride as an indie artist self-funding, going broke and picking yourself back up again from a dark head space.

We caught up with Eve-Yasmine to find out a bit more about what makes her tick.



1. Describe your music style in 3 words.

Moody, playful, catchy. 🙂

2. What inspires you?

My life, feelings, melodic instrumentals…some of my favourite songs I have written happen very randomly and flow immediately, it’s magic experiencing that.

3. Your latest track ‘Lucky Dips’, where did it come from and how did it get its name?

I went to LA by myself in 2019 to meet with an A&R, make some new connections and create. The original plan of me being put into sessions didn’t happen so I instead took out a loan and thought I’m going to make the most of this trip. I recorded Glow Up, the music video for Wild Run, collaborated on many shoots and had the best time ever!

When I came back to the UK to return to my receptionist job that I didn’t want to do, I felt frustrated. I was on a rush hour train on the way home and the idea for Lucky Dips came to me on this train. I was sick of this sh*t, I didn’t want to be stuck in a uniform anymore, I wanted to express myself. Mi abuela (grandmother) reminded me ‘you’re an artist!’ It was literally representing how I was feeling and the desire to break out of this routine and at the same time being broke ‘I spend everything I have’ because I literally put everything I have into my music.

4. Where can we see you play live?

I’d love to perform at BOXPARK Wembley soon! I’m very local. My debut headline show was at the O2 Academy Islington and my most recent gig was on JBL’s Back to Stage at Between The Bridges which was such a sick gig! I’ve missed performing live and can’t wait to perform more. 

5. Lockdown was a tough time for the music industry, how do you think it affected you creatively?

It was tough however it really made me push myself as a songwriter. Prior to lockdown I literally had just quit my receptionist job. I jumped on loads of Instagram lives connected with different Artists, Producers, DJs and wrote the most songs I have ever written in a short period of time. I’m super grateful for that.

I taught myself how to do demo recordings at home and started posting videos this led to me writing The Healer which sen.tris then reproduced – that song has since been featured on BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Radio London, BBC Asian Network, Complex UK, Rinse FM etc! 

Due to my hyperacusis in my ears I’ve been on a recording break for a long while now but I am so hyped to eventually record these songs I wrote in lockdown.

6. Hot topic: Any big issues you think need addressing in the world, this is your chance.

Where to begin…there’s a lot of hypocrisy in this world. Treat others how you would like to be treated and stop being ignorant. Make effort to learn more about others’ experiences and be kinder!

7. Back in October we were lucky enough to have you with us at Pop Golf, how did you get on? Born to putt or needs some work?

Loved it so much! I recently went with my boyfriend too, he won haha but towards the end my scores improved! My Grandpa LOVED golf and I think of him every time I try. I need some work on my techniques but I’ll get there!

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Samuel Jack

Samuel

Who/what were your early musical influences?

Old soul, blues, Motown, roots music. Paul Simon, Nina Simone, BBKing, Sam Cooke, also got with old school hip hop like A Tribe Called Quest, KRS one, De La Soul – and of course Pop music of all sorts.

Any memorable gigs?

Glastonbury festival was an incredible experience, equally the Hotel Cafe in L.A was really special to me, I’d always wanted to play there it it was a really special night.

Where would be your dream venues to play live?

The Roxy theatre, The troubadour, Shepard’s bush Empire, and let’s Chuck Wembley in there too for good measure – they’re all on my short list.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

James Taylor, in Hammersmith, London. What an incredible songwriter that man is.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice that you have been given regarding your career to date?

Quite simply to persevere. And as a wise old man once barked at me, ‘there is no plan B’

Who are your current favourite artists?

Can’t help but be enthralled by Billie Eilish right now, I’m back on the Coldplay train at the moment too – also Loyle Carner is on my playlist.

Describe your music style in 3 words

Honest. Pop. Soul.

Is there a genre you would like to explore that you haven’t already?

I’ve been exploring more collaborations of late in the electro, dance space. I just love working with fresh perspectives, new sounds, and seeing what I can bring to the party 

How has Covid affected your career?

I was due to play my launch party for Empty Pockets Crowded Heart on March 23, 2020… which ironically turned out to be the exact day the UK went into national lock down. We rushed to film some like videos very quickly of some of the album songs, and from that moment the world stayed at home and any aspect of a ‘show’ revolved around people huddled around a computer screen. We immediately amended our release strategy over the coming 12 months, to drip the album out in 3 Volumes, and keep a stream of music flowing. The backend of 2020 I really got inspired back in the studio and got on a roll with writing.

What is your songwriting process?

I work in a few different ways. One is to bring a full lyric to the piano and feel out a melody informed by the words. Another would be the opposite of that; ie; to write music first then add a lyric after melody. Thereafter sometimes I work on the fly in the booth, using a track template me and a producer have built beforehand.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Ryan Tedder, or Fred Again – who’s the hot new kid on the block.

What does the future hold for Samuel jack?

So much. Touring, new songs, collaborations.

What do you miss most about playing live? / Do you have any live shows booked for the year?

My next headline is at Omeara, London – September 14th – it’s going to be an absolute belter. See you there 

What would be your go to karaoke track?

Days like this by Van Morrison

What is the ultimate pop song in your opinion?

Specifically it’s hard to say, but without question the ultimate pop song is something catchy, full of hooks and that has a lyric that resonates…maybe ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time…’ 

If you could describe your approach to music and yourself as an artist in three words what would they be and why?

Tell us a little about your recording process

My recording process varies, but in a nutshell I’m all about the vibe. If you’re on a roll and you want to write all Night, late at night, early in the morning, half-cut, happy, sad then so be it. I don’t like over thinking things and being strict. You’ve just got to let the good stuff come and when you’re in the pocket, you’re in the pocket.

Do you have any interests or hobbies outside of music?

I love to cook. Play football. Got to the pub. Watch live comedy. Check my Tinder profile for more info.

What is the main aim or message you are trying to communicate in your music?

That life is a full, enriching experience and although it can tear you down, there’s always a way you can build yourself back up.

What qualities do you think make a great musician?

Passion. Learn from the people you surrounded yourself with, and being enjoy engaging an audience

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David Davis


Chicago-born showman and vocal powerhouse David Davis, has become internationally renowned for his undeniable talent and electric energy.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and India Arie.

David’s brand of soulful songwriting has seen him achieve a variety of awards and glowing reviews, even receiving the seal of approval from the legendary Quincy Jones, having performed an epic 73-show residency at Jonesclub, Q’s” in Dubai.

We took the extremely rare opportunity of catching Davis in his downtime to discuss all things from his hometown of Chicago to self-care.

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Davis Davis smiling

What age were you when you began creating music and how old were you when you knew this is what you wanted to pursue?

So I started singing at age four, I began singing in church. And once I got a grip of that and was doing like solos and stuff in the choir, my parents thought I wonder what else you can do. So they put me in violin lessons and piano lessons and I just kind of grew my love for music through being trained to a young age.

That’s amazing. Is there a specific song that reminds you of your childhood, or growing up or reminds you of falling in love with music?

Stevie Wonder’s ‘As’, it definitely reminds me of growing up, because my dad is a huge Stevie Wonder fan, my mom’s also a huge Stevie Wonder fan, and it was just all that played in the household growing up! We’d be driving to school or wherever as a kid, I’m one of 8 kids, so we’d all be slammed into this big suburban car and my Dad, would be like: “Whoever knows every word to Stevie’s ‘As’ will get some ice cream”, if we could learn all the words to his favourite song because there’s just so many lyrics in that song. I must have been about four years old, but that song stands out to me as one of the most impactful songs growing up.

Is there an artist that like totally reevaluated the way that you perceive music?

Oh, I’d have to say Stevie again. I mean, if I can answer Stevie for both questions!

I remember hearing one of his songs in middle school called ‘Lately’, and that song approaches male vulnerability in a way that I had never really heard in music before, especially at the time in the 2000s. Most popular music was super macho, and for this just brilliant man to say, “Lately, I’ve been staring in the mirror very slowly picking me apart, trying to tell myself I have no reason to your heart”, just hearing someone be that vulnerable from a black male perspective, it really made me walk into writing for myself and embrace vulnerability and stripping any ideas of ego off of a song and just pursuing the heart of that song.

So looping back around to Chicago. Did that city shape your taste or as a person and artist?

Yeah, Chicago’s full of incredible live music, and it’s mainly in the kind of blues soul and even gospel area. So growing up around that, and being able to go to jazz brunches, and that type of thing for school outings, was definitely impactful. Chicago has a really good music education program. So I was really heavily involved in all the performance activities that you could think of, with educators that had you know, previously done music as a career or we’re extremely well educated and could communicate what we were trying to learn well.

How important do you think music is in education? Do you think there’s enough there’s enough funding and focus upon it?

I think it’s completely under-served and in proportion to the value it provides to kids. Even if you don’t become Beyonce, or become the next big thing or whatever, there’s so much that’s scientifically proven to benefit growth, music opens up your mind to thinking in different ways and creativity at a young age, it can really help you discover yourself and discover a different way of looking at things, even playing piano helps increase improve your typing skills. So there’s all sorts of ways that music is is integral in developing yourself as a whole person. I don’t relate to become a professional musician. And of course, it’s a really good emotional outlet as well, for sure.

Touching back on Chicago one last time, as a city which such a history of great musicians, is there a specific Chicago artist that you would say is your favourite?

 I would say of the current artists, I think Common is incredible. The way that crafts his lyrics, and his rapping is so phenomenal. This emergence of funk and soul behind rappers I just think it’s so cool, especially when he has more of like a spoken word thing going on. I find it combines the popular with, like, legacy music, which is perfect.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your career?

Oh, I think the overall umbrella is that when I was first beginning and starting out, I met a handful of people over the course of my career who would see what I can do, and they would try and shape me in the spirit of development, but make me somebody that I wasn’t and encouraged me to be someone that I wasn’t, basically trying to make me serve them with promises of a better career or getting my dream to happen. I really downplayed a lot of myself, and the things that make me special. I’m a queer black artist. That was something that, when I first started, wasn’t something you really talked about. I love how society today is becoming more embracing of people for who they are, especially as artists.

So I’d say like the biggest obstacles have been, quite honestly, moments of homophobia or racism within the music industry, where I had to decide after dealing with that for a few years, is this something that I’m going to allow to dim my light? Making several stands on that and saying, this is who I am, take it or leave it, this is what I created, take it or leave it. That’s really when opportunities started opening up for me, when I started being who I wanted and making what I wanted to make. I’m going to be who I am, I’d rather be known for who I am and struggle and then be successful and known for what I’m not and not be happy with myself.

So how much does your lyrical content to try and address those topics like racism or homophobia? Do you try and tackle themes like that in your in your lyricism or do you find it difficult to try and get that personal in your lyrics?

It’s a bit of a balance. So the first the first thing I’ll say is, the last track on all my all my albums always has some sort of social justice theme and goes straight to what I’m trying to say, I can not mince words. On my first record called Ordinary Day, that’s just what my opinion of the world is and how I see it and how I’ve been treated and where I want the world to go. But in a broader sense, I think being yourself is an act of resistance and an act of of political justice. By professing the love that you have in your life, that may not be conventional and that may not be along with the norm, I think that in and of itself is taking a stand, even if it isn’t explicitly rebellious or challenging, it’s more about connecting with people who understand you.

Do you struggle finding the right words to accurately communicate your experience? Are there any tips for other writers you can share to how you get into that space?

Yeah, I would say write what you know. That’s really the simplest way to put it for me, don’t write about something you don’t know about or about someone that you’re not. Because if you’re if you’re trying to put yourself in a position where you want to create something off of things that you don’t really understand or know a lot about, it’s a lot harder to write. Whereas for me, it’s just like, I just write what I know, I write what I am, what I experience and just tell the story and let people infer what they want from that. I found it very difficult to try, to write about a specific path of life that I’ve never walked on. Unless it’s a work for hire kind of thing, or writing for another artists, in which case, I usually like the artists or directors to be in the room so I can ask them their story, ask them what they want to write about, get their perspective, and put myself in their shoes. But when it’s for yourself, like honestly just write what you know.

What was your favourite song or album of lockdown? What’s kind of got you through?

That’s a really good question. There’s this band called MUNA that has this song called ‘Number One Fan’ and another song called ‘Stay Away’ their whole album is really good but those two songs in particular are amazing. The one called Number One Fan is all about self empowerment and well, if no one likes me it’s fine because i’m our number one fan. The groove is just so good. Being locked down, and deprived of things and people you love, I’d play that song just dance in my apartment and I’d just feel like everything is fine. Even though the world is burning, that song makes everything feel fine.

What is the most important song that you have written?

I’ve got to say, I think my song ‘Little Mo’ Betta’ is one of the most important ones I’ve written because especially in the last year and a half, positivity has been very important to stay out of the downward spiral. I’ve seen that song, sung in like different languages by people who have no experience of my culture, from completely different cultures and just instantly start smiling when they sing to it or dance to it. The ability to be able to spread that positivity in light of some of the heaviest stuff we’ve been through in the last year has been really important for me, and really, an honour for me to see.

When’s the most inspiring time to write your music?

If I haven’t written in a while, meaning like three days, I’ll start dreaming of songs. I’ll wake up in the middle of night and have to record something or like do a voice memo. So I’d probably say either early in the morning or late at night, after I’ve kind of incubated the idea in my brain.

What’s Inspired you recently?

Ah, I had a breakup. Last couple months, which was very, very inspiring. But I don’t actually find post breakup to be very inspiring. I find before it’s happens for some reason. I think this transcends just music, but we all have our suspicions and our body realises things before our mind does. So the month before that ended, it seemed to just be song after song after song, I found myself kind of putting myself in the position of if we broke up, what would I feel? What would I be like? How am I going to get through? How would it happen?

I know it’s been quite a creatively bankrupt year being stuck inside and doing the same things and the same routine. So to anyone out there struggling for writer’s block, have you got any tips?

Take care of yourself, I think self care is most important part to getting through writer’s block. A lot of the writer’s block is beating yourself up and thinking that you should be creative when you don’t feel creative. I kind of think creativity is more of a visitation than then like a trade, you have to just make sure that you have the right conditions for creativity, the best and one of the best ways, is to be rested and to take care of yourself and those days that you want to lay on the couch and watch Netflix and eat crap food, like just do it. No, you can’t do it forever. But eventually, creativity will come back once you feel better.

We all know those sessions which are forced and you create something you’re not super proud of, but those days when I feel blocked I’ll now think, have I gone for a run? Have I taken a shower? Do I even like myself right now? Because if I don’t like myself then why would creativity like to come visit me.

Is there a song that you wish you’d written?

I wish that I wrote ‘Case of You’ by Joni Mitchell. I’ve never heard a song that perfectly encapsulate what people are to us. The impact they leave on us after they’ve left. There’s a line where she says: I remember you told me love was touching souls. But surely you touched mine because part of you pours out of me. You have a thing where, after you’ve broken up with somebody, you do something that’s just like them or say something they would have said, or show some of the same characteristics, and it stops you in your tracks. It’s like, wow, am I that much of a sponge that I can like pick up these traits so fast when spending so much time with somebody? So yeah, it’s a beautiful song that really resonates.

If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would your dream collaboration be?

I would love to write a gut wrenching ballad for Beyonce. That’s the easiest answer, that voice is just so iconic. So I would love to write her a real tear jerker.

We try and ask everyone that we interview this question, and I know it’s quite a big one but… In your opinion what is the best pop song ever written?

Oh, no! Oh no, no!

I told you it’s a big one!

My instinct is telling me, that of all time, I’d probably have to say Signed, Sealed Delivered by Stevie Wonder. If I’m gonna have to put cash on that, I think it’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered. It’s so important and is the backdrop to every big life event for so many people, to every like iconic movie, it’s hard to imagine going through life without ever hearing that song. It’s it’s survived the test of time, like Gen Z knows about it. I’ve seen this all over the world, you can be anywhere and that song comes on and everyone, no matter what language they speak, will sing the hook, every single time. I haven’t seen that with many other songs.

Finally, what can we expect from your next release? What have you got lined up for us and what will it sound like?

I’ve got a project coming out, my full album will be out towards the end of the year but I have an EP for that album called “Future, fortunes desire”. The first song dropped on April 16th. I normally make records, where I go into a studio with 12 of my favourite musician friends, and we sit and we play and capture the performance, whereas now without the ability to do that. It’s been more about creating a performance and playing a lot of it myself and with my co producer. So this sound heads a bit more on the like electronic side but still has the kind of groove and soul to it, I’m known for!

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Chai

Chai

Japanese pop-punk quartet CHAI have established themselves as a ray of positivity within an oft-pedantic, processed and pessimistic musical landscape.

Across their previous two albums and electric live performances – renowned for their choreography and matching outfits – CHAI’s brand of technicolour punk had carved out an energetic and playful niche within underground pop’s live music scene, and communicated a message of unwavering commitment to self-love and community.

However, due the ongoing restrictions of the global pandemic the group were forced to stop touring and stay in, reflecting up the fabric of their work and their relationship with the outside world. As a result of this imposed exile, CHAI found themselves working remotely; trading song ideas over Zoom calls, and redirecting their focus into a more mellow and introspective space than ever before.

The result of which is WINK, CHAI’s third full length studio album and their most mellow, minimalist and most affecting and exciting songwriting yet. The album showcases the band’s range more so than ever before; featuring a diverse yet unified soundscape, punctuated with unexpected turns, collaborations and ideas.

WINK sees the band intentionally strip back their sound, from their trademark punk and power-pop exuberance for a more woozy R&B-inflected sonic palette. Whereas on past albums, one could expect to experience the maximalism of their live shows, replete with hollered hooks and caffeinated drumlines, WINK alternatively provides the listener with a more bouncy and mellow exploration into all things pop; channelling everything from Synth-Pop, City-Pop, and J-Pop with even a smattering of 90s G-funk and Brit Pop.

However, despite these changes, CHAI’s trademark brand of positivity still remains at the forefront of the project, functioning less as an inspirational anthem or energetic — but rather tender daydreams or a whisper of support.

CHAI themselves have stated that they came to see the album as a collection where each song is like a new friend, providing a level of comfort and reliance for themselves and their listeners to find solace in during a turbulent and uncertain time.

Perhaps the most notable motif across WINK is the recurring imagery of food. CHAI utilise everything from glazed donuts, to chocolate chips and salty salmon balls, as a means to effectively communicate gratitude and the simple pleasures and comforts we far too often take for granted.

Across WINK CHAI serve up a consistent helping of flavourful, joyous and unique pop gems – the perfect pairing for the post-pandemic summer and a much needed reminder to find joy, wherever and whenever one can.

Japanese pop-punk quartet CHAI have established themselves as a ray of positivity within an oft-pedantic, processed and pessimistic musical landscape.

Across their previous two albums and electric live performances – renowned for their choreography and matching outfits – CHAI’s brand of technicolour punk had carved out an energetic and playful niche within underground pop’s live music scene, and communicated a message of unwavering commitment to self-love and community.

However, due the ongoing restrictions of the global pandemic the group were forced to stop touring and stay in, reflecting up the fabric of their work and their relationship with the outside world. As a result of this imposed exile, CHAI found themselves working remotely; trading song ideas over Zoom calls, and redirecting their focus into a more mellow and introspective space than ever before.

The result of which is WINK, CHAI’s third full length studio album and their most mellow, minimalist and most affecting and exciting songwriting yet. The album showcases the band’s range more so than ever before; featuring a diverse yet unified soundscape, punctuated with unexpected turns, collaborations and ideas.

WINK sees the band intentionally strip back their sound, from their trademark punk and power-pop exuberance for a more woozy R&B-inflected sonic palette. Whereas on past albums, one could expect to experience the maximalism of their live shows, replete with hollered hooks and caffeinated drumlines, WINK alternatively provides the listener with a more bouncy and mellow exploration into all things pop; channelling everything from Synth-Pop, City-Pop, and J-Pop with even a smattering of 90s G-funk and Brit Pop.

However, despite these changes, CHAI’s trademark brand of positivity still remains at the forefront of the project, functioning less as an inspirational anthem or energetic — but rather tender daydreams or a whisper of support.

CHAI themselves have stated that they came to see the album as a collection where each song is like a new friend, providing a level of comfort and reliance for themselves and their listeners to find solace in during a turbulent and uncertain time.

Perhaps the most notable motif across WINK is the recurring imagery of food. CHAI utilise everything from glazed donuts, to chocolate chips and salty salmon balls, as a means to effectively communicate gratitude and the simple pleasures and comforts we far too often take for granted.

Across WINK CHAI serve up a consistent helping of flavourful, joyous and unique pop gems – the perfect pairing for the post-pandemic summer and a much needed reminder to find joy, wherever and whenever one can.


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Sophie Blair

Sophie Blair

What qualities do you think make a great musician?

I think first and foremost—authenticity. If someone’s able to take whatever intellect and technical skill and performing finesse and work that into a reflection of their life experience—that’s true musicianship to me. I see honesty as the most crucial part of creative work.

What is the ultimate pop song in your opinion?

I follow pop religiously, & the most recent release that’s blown me away is the new Kid Laroi song, Stay, featuring Justin Bieber. It’s genuinely a perfect pop song to me—every hook is flawless; the length is immaculate, every lyric, every eccentricity, every inflection is perfectly placed. It gave me chills when I first listened.

As far as one ULTIMATE pop song—I’d have to say Call Me Maybe 🙂 I’m a slut for Carly Rae Jepsen

Is there a genre you want to explore that you haven’t already?

I’ve found myself really fascinated by country music. I love the lyricism, I love the storytelling—that’s one of my personal favorite parts about songwriting—I love the culture of staunch, trained musicianship, I love the aesthetic—I honestly love everything about it. I especially love a challenge, and it’s something I haven’t dabbled in yet, so that makes it extra exciting.

Who are your current favorite artists?

I listen to a WHOLE lot of everything, but this summer it’s been yung lean, ecco2k, bladee, slaughter beach dog, juice wrld, pinegrove, nick drake, A$AP, Dominic Fike, and Skullcrusher

What was the first concert you ever went to?

I saw Fun. at Saltaire (in Salt Lake City, UT) when I was about 14–Tegan and Sara opened (I think they’d just released Heartthrob) and it was INSANE

Any memorable gigs?

My favorite was probably a music video gig I got playing viola at a local venue with The Killers. They were one of my favorite bands in high school, and we got to play Dustland Fairytale, which is one of my favorite songs, and the re-record featured Bruce Springsteen, who’s maybe my all-time favorite artist. I’m gonna remember that one forever 🙂

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Royal

royal

Royal is a rising rap star in London’s underground scene, a preacher’s son inspired by the power of gospel music, the bravado of hip-hop and the defiant nature of punk Royal’s music is truly something unique, refreshing and distinctive. Having made a name for himself accompanying East London musician Hak Baker on stage as his boisterous drummer, Royal is now poised for his own rise to stardom.

With a wide range of musical influences, and as he tells us, the tenacious drive to “not stop creatin”, could 2021 prove to be the year Royal breakout?

We sat down with Royal to discuss the importance of creative control, voicing emotions, and why you should never beg it.

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As an emerging artist trying to breakthrough within the internet age and the consistent demand for social media engagement, do you feel that there’s too much pressure to keep on creating in this day and age? How does that affect you creatively, does it keep you motivated or just exhausted?

I’m just I’m not stopping this year, because I’ve made the mistake before of making a song and then stopping and then going away for a while, so this year, I’m trying not to stop. I think that can be exhausting but I’m in a headspace right now, where I’ve got enough music to keep me going for about two years, I there’s already enough there. I don’t find it exhausting to keep making music because at the end of the day, that’s why I do what I do, I do it for fun. But what’s normally exhausting, is consistently promoting your music and sometimes social media is the only space to do that. Creating the music, yeah I can do that, and creating a backlog of songs that can keep me in people’s minds for a good few years, yeah, man, I enjoy the process.

I actually have become a bit obsessive about it, obsessive to the point where I want everything to be perfect. I just do everything myself, I’m even planning on running and my next music video. I gotta find the suitable venue, crew etc. and it takes up time. So I guess, it is exhausting to a point, but I love it, man, we do it for a reason.

So now you’re getting hands on with the music video, how important has creative control become to you in terms of visuals as well as your sound?

I think I think if you’re not in control of what you’re putting into the world, and how you’re being received then there’s no point in it. Yeah, in my mind, this is so important,  I couldn’t imagine having, not having the control over my music or vision it is very important. So yeah, I believe that every aspect of it from the ground up, has to be me.

And you’re still a fully independent artist at the moment, right?

Yeah, still fully independent doing everything myself. Finding everything myself.

So would that be a deal breaker for you, if label was trying to take more control out of your hands?

Yeah, definitely, because at the end of the day, what I’m doing now is the building blocks and I think, in two to three years, I would like to be in a position where I’m fully self sufficient. You know, if God willing I’m earning money, that’d be great, that’s why don’t do it for that. I am self sufficient now, so why would I want to get to a point where I’m not. In fact, I want to get to a point where I can say, why would I need a label? Especially, if they’re not going to give me control? That’s the point I’m trying to get down the line.

I think it’s easier now more than ever, to be an independent artist, making your own money and managing your own career, which is great. Though, if you were going to join up with anyone, is there anyone in particular that you admire that you think you want to be a part of?

Good question. I haven’t even thought that far ahead yet regarding any labels that I’d like to be a part of because I think when you do think about that too much that’s when it takes away the fun. If you’re constantly thinking, oh, yeah, I’d love to be part of that, or sign to them, you know, you’re not as focussed on your authentic output. I mean, I try to never go into this to beg anyone’s approval or attention, you know. I see a lot of independent labels throwing out good stuff, London has a good number of small independent labels, and imprints of major labels who I would be happy to be a part of because they’ve got something good going and good relationships with their artists.

I totally agree with you as well,  to be creating something for the sake of a goal isn’t as fruitful as actually creating for yourself.

Of course.

Another thing I always like to ask, and try and get an understanding of is how people get settled on their name. How did you settle on Royal?

When I was coming up years ago, that was just my name on the streets and locally. Actually, it was Royal-T, I know that there’s another producer called Royal-T now, but back in the day when I was coming up rapping and just on road with my friends and stuff like that was just my name. I can’t remember who it was that gave me that name, I think it was one of the older guys. We were trying to think of names and it’s just the way I am that he said royalty suited me and then they eventually kind of shortened it to Royal. So yeah, I think it was just the older guys that gave me the name, it just came about from just knocking about, i’m not i’m not gonna try to make up some amazing story about how I got called the name because there’s nor really any of that.

So what age were you when you were starting making music and rapping and getting this name?

So I started rapping probably when I was 14, writing lyrics, the first ever lyrics I spat over a beat was over a beat called DJ Mondie – Straight Riddim, that’s an old one and then 21 seconds by So Solid Crew. They were the two, the first two I tried to spit over and then from there I just started recording in my bedroom. I couldn’t afford like Cubase or anything expensive so I just had Mixcraft to record on, if anyone even knows it was like a cheap free demo, actually eventually I was able to buy and Mixcraft for about 70 pounds but it was so whack, haha.

So, is there a specific track, album or artist that totally changed your understanding of music?

When I was younger the Giggs albums influenced in a big way. There are others, but that’s the first that comes to mind. He was a big influence, I remember when I was about 14 or 15 it was all just Giggs. I used to rap like Giggs as well, at least tried to. So if we’re gonna talk rap-wise and flow, Giggs definitely inspired me. I’d listen to a lot of UK artists, Black the Ripper had a lot of tracks that inspired me when I was younger, there’s so many others that are just not coming to me right now. On the lyric side of things, that definitely came from Giggs and the Road rap era, there’s a rapper called Young Spray. But I used to listen to r&b as well, I liked Usher, the ‘Confessions’ album. When I first got a car, I had that album in my car for months. And when I was growing up, gospel music as well, Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond, was probably what helped me musically when I was younger. So I think that those people definitely influenced me. Then, you know, later on in life, when I started getting older, I linked up with a guy called Ali, who’s kind of helped me and mentored me over the years, making music and I was in a band with him and the band was like, kind of rock and roll mixed with grime, and blues. So and that was a band called Kings of The City. So there’s a lot, man, there’s a lot, I’ve got a lot going on my mind musically all the time.

I was going to say, is there like a figure in your life that shaped your music taste as well?

So yeah, my dad played the keyboard and piano. So definitely seeing him influenced me to pick up an instrument and start playing the drums. So I’m a drummer, originally, so there’s that and then yeah, like I said, when I met Ali, he introduced me to more rock and roll, people like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, that kind of music. Then, this is more recently now, I’d say my friend Has Baker, he’s had a big influence on me as well. Because his style is just, guitar picking mixed with more gritty  East London cockney vocals and melodies, he calls it G Folk. He’s a real creative, so yeah, when I first started with Hak’s music, and I started working for him and playing drums for him that kind of blew my mind as well. So, there’s no one person, I’d say it’s a combination of all of those things that I’ve kind of mentioned, that influenced and made me who I am today and I’m still growing as a musician and musically I’m still learning things.

Don’t say that’s the best way to be anyways, as an artist, like you’ve always got to keep moving forwards. So yeah, that was also something I wanted to ask, as you’ve grown older, how has the way you write and the way you approach writing and unwrapping changed?

Yeah, when I was younger I would have easily written about anything or just rapped about doing crazy stuff. Now I’ve gotten older, you kind of think about what you want to put out into the world, and now I try to write more about things that have happened to me or things that things that are important to me and things that other people can relate to. Because I think a lot of the music I was writing when I was younger was a bit senseless. I’ve always been a conscious artist, but there were more times when I was younger where I would have written something that was a bit senseless. Comparing that to now, where I think about everything before I put it out; double checking, triple checking everything I’ve done, to make sure that it makes sense. Because at the end of the day, you have to be real, you can’t just say anything, you have to just be yourself. If I want to speak about a heartbreak, I’ll speak about that, if I want to speak about someone who’s done me wrong or speak about my family issues, then I’ll do that too. I now know, what I should be talking about I know what I shouldn’t be talking about.

Is there an overall message that you want to communicate with your music, whether that’s through your lyrics, or just your presence and approach to the industry?

I think my next song will highlight this, the message I want to put out is that it’s okay to talk. I think it’s important because as men, we don’t talk about things and our feelings, even within my family I don’t want to speak about things. So the only way to get this stuff out is through the music because I don’t like to talk if something’s wrong with me, I’ll go for a whole few months, I can bottle things up. So it’s quite contradictory for me to be saying that it’s okay to talk but through my music, I’m trying to tell other people that also might have trouble talking that’s okay to let your feelings out. Everything I say in my music has really happened and it’s really, whatever is going on in my head you will hear, I transfer it all onto the music.

Do you think there’s still like a bit of snobbery, or bias against rap music? Do you find that people are less supportive of you trying to follow a rap career rather than a more ‘traditional’ music path, as say a drummer?

I think it’s changing now. I think it’s definitely different now than it used to be back back years ago. When I was younger people used to laugh, if we rapped or spat, over grime, they wouldn’t get it they’d just look at us and laugh. I remember in school, I went to a school out in the country, not even in the city or anything and there wasn’t a lot of people into ‘black music’ and I was one of the only black people in the school, so when we used to rap people used to laugh and just never used to get in or never even want to understand it. So now it’s definitely changed. I mean, you can see the drill thing. It’s young black kids finding that it’s literally possible for them to completely change their lives from making music and that’s a beautiful thing.

So yeah, there definitely was a snobbery and a kind of bias against the rappers and stuff because of all the violence and stuff that would happen around it, but I feel that people now know that this violence and stuff happens with or without the music. It’s happening anyway. I mean, some bad music might influence some people to do some bad things, but in my opinion, music doesn’t motivate you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise be capable of doing. So I think that the bias against the rappers was there for a long time, and it still is there, but there’s now a lot more positives that come from the rappers and the people coming out of that scene than before.

Another tough question but over the course of the last year, it really placed a spotlight on some of the problems still present within the music business. I’m just wondering if you have any reflections on how you would change things if you could?

I think trying to answer that is difficult. I think at the end of the day, when you talk about industry, we’re talking about money, right? A lot of the guys at the top in the UK, who have probably benefited greatly from these young black kids making music are white people. When you look at it like that, it’s easy to think how can we change that, and the reality is, you can’t, the only way to change that is ownership. But, I can still understand the major label pull when you’re an upcoming rapper and you start making some big songs, and you’ve never really had that much money, when you get this major label coming up to you and offering a 100 grand, or 200 grand, straight away it’s always gonna be a pull for these young artists.

There’s a few out there doing it independently, that haven’t signed themselves out and instead stayed independent, and I guarantee if there was more and there was more of an education about ownership about how these deals work then then the a lot of these kids would be better off. They would then know, if that’s what they want to get into in that certain stage, and maybe some of them they won’t need a label. So that’s it, I think Education is the key. There needs to be more of an education about ownership, and about how to how to keep your own rights.

I mean, I watched an interview the other day about Russ, the drill rapper from South London. He was talking about how he signed a contract for 30 grand and then they tied him in to a 24 album deal, and he was a big artist at the time, for the numbers that he was doing, that’s just that’s ridiculous. If he had someone to sit him down and and show another way, saying let’s do this for the next few years and you’ll be good anyway… But there’s a couple of independent labels doing right by the people at the moment, one I can think of off the top of my head is FAMM, with Jorja Smith and ENNY, they’re independent and they know what they’re doing.

So, following on from the importance of education, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve ever been given, and I hate to keep saying his name because he’s gonna get bigheaded over this, but it was from my boy Ali. He taught me a lot of valuable stuff, a lot of valuable things. Even though he’s a nutter, taught me a lot of valuable things and I can’t even think of anything specifically, cuz I’ve probably know Ali for a good 10 years now, actually probably longer, since I was young. He taught me some valuable stuff about the industry and he always just taught me, and I think it’s one of the most valuable kind of things I learned from him is, don’t beg it. People might not understand what I mean by that, but it’s like, always know your worth, you should never have to beg for someone’s time or attention.

That comes with the music thing too. Even if you’re out and you see other artists, there’s nothing wrong with showing appreciation and love, but I’ve been around industry people for a long time now and something you need to remember is that there just human as well. Often, if you want that collab with them, if you want that that feature with them, don’t act out of character and keep your composure at all times, because at end of the day less people will know and no one likes a beg. No one likes a beg man, there’s nothing wrong showing appreciation but if you feel like you’re begging, you probably are. Just do your thing, be a nice person at all times but just don’t beg it, if you feel the love isn’t being reciprocated somewhere then f**k it.

This isn’t related just to the music industry though, do your own thing at all times and just be be militant and vigilant because the world’s full of people that will take your kindness for weakness and flip it and make you look insignificant.

So speaking a moment ago about inspiring and upcoming talent, is there anyone that you’ve been listening to a lot over lockdown that you’d recommend?

I really like Tiana Major9 she’s an R&B singer, more Neo-Soul kind of vibes, she’s really dope. I like Giveon, I listen to a lot of R&B you know. I listen to this rapper Potter Payper because of how real his stuff is and how raw is and then also I’ve been listening to SAULT, I’m a big fan of them.

I can’t pronounce the name but Khruangbin they have music that’s got me through, so do Puma Blue and Arlo Parks. I like that stuff too, all the closer to indie stuff, and then I like the rap and the road stuff as well.

I get you, people’s tastes seem to be much more diverse because of streaming culture. Do you feel like you can’t just be a rapper anymore and have to be more diverse as an artist as a result?

I think I’ve always wanted to sing and I’ve kind of, over the years, developed my voice. My rap brain is still there, but I like coming more melodic now. I like putting down the melodies now that I can sing, so why not put the melodies in there? Yeah, man, I think it makes it more interesting when you’re playing with some nice melodies or something out of your comfort zone, it definitely makes it more interesting. I love guitar sounds, I love lo-fi keys. I think it just makes you extra creative, I’m feeling extra creative at the moment.

Is there anyone that you’d want to collaborate with in the future that like you haven’t yet? Who’s the dream collab?

Dream collab? Boy, that’s a good question. Robert Glasper, probably. Yeah, I’m gonna put it out into the universe now, if I could do a track with Robert Glasper and Brandy, or even another person would be Anthony Hamilton. If I could get on the track one day with Robert Glasper AND Anthony Hamilton, that might just be it man, I might just finish there. That’d be my goal. That would be mad.

What’s your favorite track at the moment?

That Tiana Major9 song it’s called ‘Exclusively’. It’s really chilled man, and there’s a lot going on in my life right now, so like that kind of soulful music helps me to chill out and relax at the moment. I think she’s from a gospel background and she’s from the UK as well, man. I don’t know the girl but I’m proud of her, I think she’s already won a BET award too, I think it was her track with Stormzy or something.

So when live shows happen again, who do you want to see perform first?

There’s too many, man. I know there’s a festival called Yam Carnival, there’s a few decent artist there. NAO, I’ve seen before but she’s a great performer. I’m a big fan of Afrobeatas well, when I saw that lineup the other day I thought that there were a few people that I’d like to go see, just for the energy man, I need some good vibes and some energy whenever this lockdown stuff is done.

I also want to perform myself, whenever it opens up again. I’m mainly looking forward to doing things myself or performing with Hak again, and Hak should have a big gig coming up this year…

Do you have any advice for someone that is hoping to follow in your footsteps and pursue a career in music? And what do you think is the most important thing to do?

Know what you’re getting into it for, know what you’re doing it for and why your stepping into it. If you’re thinking I just want to pay the bills off and want to be able to make money that’s the wrong reason and I’ll tell you why it’s the wrong reason; because you can go and get any job and do that.

I feel there’s so many people making music nowadays just because they can. Anyone can get a laptop, anyone can get a mic and think okay, I can put something out. I still ask myself that sometimes: Why am I making music? I’m making music because I don’t go a day without feeling the need to be creative, it’s not because it’s a choice. It’s literally not a choice for me. Any other real musician will say the same thing, it’s literally not a choice. It’s not a chore to go to the studio, it’s literally as though my brain is mostly creative, and it has to put this feeling or thought into a melody or into a lyric, and that’s why I do music.

So I’d say to any up and coming artist, know what you’re doing and know why you’re doing it, and be consistent from the get go. Do your reading, know your rights and read up on contracts, try and read up on everything.

Do you have a Guilty Pleasure track?

I don’t know if this is a guilty pleasure track but John Legend and Ludacris, ‘Tonight (Best You ever Had)’. It’s not too bad that one, but it’s the first that came to my mind. It’s a good song to play for the galdem, I’ll have to play when I’m with the wifey or something now, haha.

What is the best ‘Pop Song’ ever written?

First thing that comes to my head is 2pac ‘Changes’… You know what, I think that might be it. There’s a lot of other songs out there, but 2pac ‘Changes’, it’s a very important song, and it may even hold more weight now than before.

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Modern Aquatic

Modern Aquatic are a Cincinnati Indie rock band, touting influences such as The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, and Beach Fossils. Their heavily melodic and multilayered styling of slacker pop is the perfect backdrop to the sound of summer.

Starting way back in 2015, the band finally are returning from a long pandemic and study induced hiatus with new material on the horizon across 2021, in time for post-lockdown revelry.

We spoke to Geovanny Esquivel, the man behind the music to get a greater insight into the basics of starting and building a band, the best of modern indie rock and even the mystery of UFO’s.

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Hey, Geovanny, how’s Cincinnati? Are you from there originally, or just there to study?

Hey, it’s good and yeah, I did grow up here. I’m originally from Los Angeles, though, but I moved here when I was very young, five or six maybe, a bit too young to compare! But I’m still here, and now studying 3D design at University.

Oh wow, so does that mean you design all the album covers yourself?

Most of them, I think the Laurel Leaves EP was was an art piece by Cody Gunningham who’s a local artist, that’s my favourite one. But I’ve done everything else.

So, I always find it interesting to understand the origins of a band’s name, how did you settle upon Modern Aquatic?

So that was the hardest part for a while. I think, it was originally the name of one of our demos, one of the songs that we never released when we were starting out, we would just play it live. But yeah, the song was called ‘Modern Aquatic’ and we ended up choosing it because it was a good twist upon ‘The Life Aquatic’, you know, by Wes Anderson. I wanted to try to capture that sort of aesthetic and playfulness in the music somehow and it seemed like a good way to do it, and also our sound is very beachy, or surf rock inspired, which was something that we’re trying to go for as well.

I was wondering if it had something to do with the Wes Anderson film as your visual aesthetic, is very colourful, like most of Wes Anderson’s films. How and when did you decide upon that?

It definitely comes from that pop rock or tropical influence. I was really drawn to like, floral designs and artwork that, had lots of very vibrant colours, which was something that I wanted to communicate in the music too. So we got lucky partnering up with Cody Gunningham for that EP, because he does a lot of things like that, he has a lot of murals around the town that very colourful and very floral. I always thought that this would be perfect and that we should reach out to him and thankfully he was happy to partner up.

So now that I know you’re studying art and design, I guess I want to know if you have a favourite artist or someone whose style has influenced you and just your eye for design?

Oh yeah, Matisse, I would say was probably my biggest influence. I’m always trying to recreate artwork in his style, whenever I can.

How did you meet the rest of the group?

So our bass player, Max and I were in a different band together in high school. He has a brother and a cousin, that were in a different band at the time, and I didn’t know them. But after the band that Max and I were in broke up or we just kept doing our thing and then he put out the idea of having this brother and cousin join the band, and so we tried it and it really worked. We haven’t really been able to stop ever since.

Is there one figure in your life, who’s kind of shaped your music taste more than anyone else?

I’m the oldest in my family, so I think I’ve been the one shaping tastes really, I’ve definitely influenced my sister’s tastes a little bit, at least from what I can tell. As for my parents, the type of music they listen to wasn’t really anything that I was into. I do like it a lot, especially nowadays, but growing up I always thought like “Oh, no, I don’t love this”. For me it would be more about finding musicians on my own, like going to the library and picking up an album that looks cool and then figuring out my own tastes from there. A lot of it was thinking, I really like the look of that album cover, let’s see where this goes, I guess that’s really how I learned about indie rock.

So you grew up in the birth of the internet age, did you discover much of your music online as well? If so, who do you remember getting excited about discovering?

Yeah, I remember going on myspace a lot and just like scouring through all the bands, going down the rabbit hole and ending up somewhere that I never really expected. I think one of the bands that I was really excited about back then was Dance Gavin Dance. I’m not sure if you would have you ever heard of them, but I was really into that kind of music back then, the emo type thing. But yeah, discovering their webpage and how they decided to represent themselves visually was pretty cool to me. That’s definitely one of the big bands that I found online and got me really excited.

Was there an album that changed your understanding of music, or something that you specifically remember made you rethink what music was as a whole?

Oh, yeah, when I found out about The Strokes, I think their album ‘First Impressions of Earth’ had just came out and I thought, I’ll check these guys out and loved it so went back to the very beginning of their discography with ‘Is This It?’  And that changed everything for me. I thought I’d never heard anything like that and it made me want to write music in that style with like, catchy guitar riffs. Everything that they were doing, I was obsessed with it. Istill can’t stop listening to them.

Modern Aquatic

What do you think of the latest stuff from ‘The New Abnormal?

Oh, I think that’s their best album since ‘Room on Fire’. It’s really in the top three for me.

As you’ve grown older, how has your understanding and approach to music change?

Yeah, I mean as I mentioned before, I now like some fo the stuff my parents used to play when I didn’t before. I can see what they liked about that music, and it’s like regional Mexican music or Hispanic and Spanish language music. I started to see like, where other artists I like also took inspiration from, so when it comes to like Mac Demarco, I can sort of see where he got some of his sounds from and the connections between his stuff and some of the synth music that my parents would listen to. I don’t know really, just listening to music from different cultures I think can broaden your understanding of music and I can appreciate everything a little more. My tastes and my music has changed so much, it’s a bit more all over the place now instead of just pure rock music like it was back back in the day.

Do you try and bring any of your heritage into the stuff that Modern Aquatic does?

I try, I don’t know if it necessarily shows, but I tried to bring like some sort of tropical dance vibes into the music. But you know, it’s sort of what indie rock is already doing, like Vampire Weekend, there’s not a whole lot of bands like that, or were doing the same thing that they did with a great dancey tropical edge. But it’s definitely something I may try to do more of, in whatever ways I can.

Do you have any advice for someone who’s hoping to start a band?

I would say, don’t listen to people if they tell you that it sounds bad, or that you can’t do it. It’s definitely something that I regret, you know, listening to people who told me stuff like that. As long as you want to do it – do it. You’ll succeed as long as you love it, just try your hardest and if it’s meant to be it’ll, it’ll definitely happen.

Is there an artist that you’ve been listening to recently you’d recommend?

Yeah. There’s a band called Good Morning from Australia. They’re my favourite band right now, I just love everything about them. I just haven’t heard anything like that in a while, if not ever. Their first EP, the first time I heard that, it blew my mind – it’s perfect all the way through and I just wish I could write something like that. I’m definitely trying but you know, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do what they did, it’s so effortless.

Have you have you bought any new equipment or anything over lockdown?

Yeah, I just bought a Mustang Bass, which has been nice because I didn’t have a bass at all beforehand. So I figured, why not? That has sort of led to this little demo that I came up with a few weeks ago and it’s a little more shoegazey, a little heavier that what I’m used to. It’s kind of like a bit more like Alex G.

Is that what we can expect to hear next for Modern Aquatic when things when the world kind of returns to normal?

Yeah, I’ve been just trying to do whatever, trying to record whatever comes to me. So it’s been all over the place, that shoegaze idea that I came up with, then there’s a song that I’m trying to write the lyrics for that is more like simple and very chill, there’s like 20 guitars on it.

I’m obsessed with that Twin Peaks aesthetic, so I’m trying to write more music that wouldn’t feel out of place on that show. But when the band was practicing a few weeks ago, we came up with this Punk Rock song. So, it’s hard to tell where this is leading sonically at the moment. I think if we can we’ll put out an EP or an album with just songs of whatever style we want and you know, if people like then that’s awesome.

Do you feel that artists are expected to be more diverse in their sound nowadays?

I actually feel like it’s the opposite and people are often put into boxes nowadays. I wish it wasn’t, and I personally haven’t really paid too much attention to that because we definitely do want to do different things. If that is the way things are moving then that’s awesome, because more freedom to just explore different things you know can only be beneficial.

Modern Aquatic

So you mentioned Twin Peaks. Is there any other film or TV scores or just TV shows in general that have influenced you?

Yeah, the soundtrack to Submarine, which Alex Turner wrote. I think that definitely inspired me to write music, I always find myself listening to that. As I may mentioned before, Wes Anderson’s films inspired me aesthetically inspired me. But honestly, everything about Twin Peaks is really cool to me and has been a big inspiration. I am obsessed with the paranormal and stuff like that so I often try and convey that in my music as well, if it’s possible and appropriate.

As someone who is also interested in the paranormal, I’d like to know, do you have a favourite paranormal mystery, or anything?

I’m obsessed with anything that has to do with aliens. So like, the recent declassified videos by the Navy, that claim to have proof of extraterrestrial life, you know that’s pretty interesting to me. Having seen weird things myself too, that just makes all of that stuff more interesting to me.

Woah, what kind of weird stuff have you seen in Cincinnati?

I feel funny talking about this, so please no judgement, but anyway… My girlfriend and I were just chilling on the trampoline one night looking out for shooting stars and this weird light sort of seemed to be coming from a clear sky. It was such a clear night that you would be able to see where it came from if it was like an airplane, but it just it came and just popped out of nowhere. It then just seemed to get brighter and brighter, like it was getting closer. Then, it started moving to the left, in towards us and sort of flashed a light on us, like it looked at us. Then just took off. So yeah, we both saw that.

Woah, that’s crazy!

I guess there’s many things it could be but yeah, definitely an interesting experience.

So, bringing us back down to earth, what do you hope to accomplish over 2021?

Definitely to write a full album. Get enough new songs together to where we can start playing shows again, because we don’t really have that many right now and we haven’t been able practice in over a year now, actually. Our first practice back was like a month ago. I think.

That’s a bummer. How was is it reuniting with the band after so long?

It was weird at first. Because there was a period where we weren’t sure if we were going to get back together or not. But then we Kyle, our guitarist, he’s built this studio, and we all met up there and the first day, we just knocked out this punk rock idea that I had, just jammed on it. It sounded pretty legit already from the first go, and it just really gave us all the confidence to get back into it.

Do you find ideas flow much easier when you’re all together in a room than when you’re writing on your own?

I would actually say no. I realized this the hard way, but the best way is always to come into the rehearsal with an idea and then build it from there. Because when we just show up, it’s really hard to get started and most of the time nothing happens. I learned this a few weeks ago, but I need to come in and listen to demo and then we can just jam on it until it turns into the fully formed track here. But in terms of creating a concept, it is easier to think about it by myself I think.

When do you find yourself in the right headspace to write?

I would say definitely, at night, for some reason, it’s just easier to sit down and focus on your music. Or maybe it’s just more fun at night, I guess!

What is your favourite track that you’ve written? Like, what track that you’ve written means the most to you and why?

Probably the last one, it’s definitely more mature than the last songs. That’s the song that I did all by myself; wrote and recorded most of the parts by myself. I sort of wrote it for my girlfriend too  so, you know, it means a lot to me.

Have you got a dream collaboration in mind to like someone you’d really like to work with?

I mean, The Strokes would be like the ultimate honour.

If you could only have one and had to choose between Julian or Albert for the collab, who would you pick?

Julian, I think. They’re both really talented so it’s really difficult but Julian’s voice is so iconic. Outside of The Strokes I’d maybe pick Mac DeMarco, because he seems like a really fun person I think it would be a really great experience.

Have you got a guilty pleasure track, one that you’re ashamed to say that you love?

Yeah, let me see… I don’t know if this would be like necessarily be one to be ashamed of, but this song called Azul by Natalia Lafourcade, it’s like a really beautiful song.

That is a that’s a good option. In your opinion, what’s the best hit song ever written?

That’s too big a question for me to answer, but the best pop song right now to me, I think is The Difference by Toro Y Moi and Flume. It’s very poppy for my tastes I wouldn’t normally like something like that but I can’t feel guilty about that one because he just pulls it off so well.

Thanks for chatting with us man, is there anything else that you’d like to mention to our readers?

We should have new music coming out soon, hopefully. Nothing concrete just yet, but hopefully soon, look out for it…

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