Quin

QUIN, born Bianca Leonor Quiñones, is an American Afro-Latina singer/songwriter/producer born in Los Angeles, California. She describes her sound as “fantasy soul” (later introducing her label, Fantasy Soul, named after the genre she coined) and music that “has the power of versatility,” which I couldn’t agree with more. QUIN dropped her debut EP, Galactica in October 2016, which includes a feature from G-Eazy on the song “OVER AGAIN”. She describes the EP as “the first chapter to my Fantasy Soul Universe.” Her song “LIGHTSPEED” was involved in the Visions of Harmony project with Apple Music and NASA, which aspired to educate the public on the Juno spacecraft by combining science and art.

A year later, in September 2017, QUIN released her DREAMGIRLEP, which she called a sequel of her album Galactica, which features collaborations with Syd on the song, “Sticky Situation”, and the artist Buddy, on the song Happened to Happen. In August 2018, she released her song “Remind Me”, described by The FADER as “daydream-inducing antidote for all life’s worries.” Later that year, QUIN teamed up with Vans for a campaign highlighting the importance of creativity and personal style. Having opened for stars like Erykah Badu, Gnash JMSN, and heading a solo performance at THE FADER Fort at SXSW, AFROPUNK and Galore’s Girl Cult Festival, QUIN is more than deserving for a spot on your playlist.

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Tank and the Bangas

Tank and the Bangas is an American musical group based in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. They’re rise in popularity came following their victory in the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. The group was founded and fronted by Tarriona “Tank” Ball on lead vocals; Ball first gained attention as a slam poet. Other members include Joshua Johnson on drums and as musical director, Norman Spence on bass and synth keys, Jonathan Johnson on bass, Merell Burkett on keyboard, Joe Johnson on keyboard, Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph and Kayla Buggage on background vocals, Albert Allenback on alto saxophone and flute and Etienne Stoufflet on tenor saxophone. Writing in The Washingtonian, Heather Rudow described the group’s work as “lively fusion of funk, soul, hip hop, rock, and spoken word.”

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Zhu

Chinese-American musician and singer, Steven Zhu, aka, ZHU has been producing nonstop music since the beginning of 2014. Until the middle of 2014, Zhu remained anonymous, asking to be judged by his music alone.

Zhu’s first track, “Moves Like Ms. Jackson” a mashup of several songs by Outkast, was released anonymously in February 2014 and was positively received by blogs and reviewers covering electronic music. Other tracks appeared on the music streaming site Soundcloud throughout February and March, followed by an EP titled The Nightday in April 2014, which earned a number 1 play of the week on Triple J.

His debut album, Generationwhy, was released on July 29, 2016. The single “In the Morning” was released. After his Neon City Tour, followed up by the title track, “Generationwhy“, as the second single. He first premiered the record at Coachella 2016 during his closing set in the Sahara Tent. Zhu’s Coachella performance was praised, with a writer for the New York Observer suggesting that he could be “the next Daft Punk”

     Apple Music | Spotify

Heize

Jang Da-hye, better known as Heize, is a South Korean singer, rapper, songwriter and composer signed to Stone Music Entertainment.  After making her debut in 2014 with the EP Heize, she gained the attention of many new fans, after appearing on the second season of the South Korean reality show, Unpretty Rapstar.

Since then, Heize’s music has continued to capture the hearts and ears of many unsuspecting listeners. With the release of her fourth EP, Wind, Heize set a record for having every lead single top the music charts.

Famous violinist, Kaori Miyazono once said, “Music transcends words. By exchanging notes, you get to know one another, to understand one another. As if your souls were connected and your hearts were overlapping. It’s a conversation through instruments. A miracle that creates harmony. In that moment, music transcends words.” As such, you would be doing yourself an extreme injustice if you did not give Heize a listen.

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Kimbra

New Zealand singer and actress, Kimbra Lee Johnson, known mononymously as Kimbra, is a vocalist known for mixing pop with classic R&B, jazz and rock musical elements. Her debut album, Vows, was released in 2011, Include singles, “Good Intent” (my personal favorite), the winner of the Australian Recording Industry Association Award, “Cameo Lover“, and “Settle Down”. After the album’s release in North America, the numbers shot to 14 on the Billboard charts.

All of these accolades aside, most people recognize Kimbra as being a feature in Gotye’s song, “Somebody That I Used to Know”, which earned both Goyte and Kimbra the Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance awards at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. However, others (typically her “real” fans…and gamers) will recognize her vocals on the Sims 3, as a playable song, originally, “Good Intent”, but redone in Simlish, the gibberish-like language that the Sims’ characters are known for speaking. This version honestly, is just as good as the original. Kimbra’s achievements made her one of only three New Zealand singers to have won a Grammy. Kimbra’s second studio album, The Golden Echo, was released in August of 2014, and follow up album, Primal Heart in 2018, to much positive critical reception.

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Kiana Ledé

American singer, songwriter, actress and pianist, Kiana Ledé Brown has been making a name for herself, essentially since birth.  As a child, Brown began to regularly perform in school plays and beauty pageants while taking voice lessons and piano study. In 2011, Brown’s mother discovered Kidz Bop, a website for kids to upload and share videos of themselves performing, and, only rightfully so, uploaded a video of Ledé performing an original number on the piano, with Brown selected as a finalist. After performing Adele’s “Someone Like You” to earn her a place in the Top 4, Brown won the 2011 KIDZ Star USA Grand Prize out of 45,000 submissions, the largest national talent competition for kids age 15 and under.Image result for kiana ledeAs far as talent goes, Ledé has got a boat load of it. Expanding her endeavors, Ledé starred as Zoe Vaughn on the second season of MTV’s horror series Scream. Since then, she has put out singles on all major streaming platforms, such as “Fairplay” and, “Ex”, which have more than garnished literally millions of plays. From acting, to singing, to playing the piano, it is as clear as crystal that this talented young lady is quite deserving of the limelight.

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Anjulie

Canadian singer and songwriter, Anjulie, who has released one self-titled album, says that she is utterly “obsessed with music” and drew inspiration to become a performer after watching Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour. This obsession has been notably showcased on television. If you watch any of the MTV or CW shows, then chances are, you have heard Anjulie’s music without realizing it. The songs, “Rain“, “Crazy That Way“, and “The Heat” were featured on the MTV television series The Hills and “Addicted2Me” on The City. The single “Boom” has been featured on ABC’s Eastwick, The CW’s Melrose Place, The Vampire Diaries, and Canada’s Next Top Model. Anjulie has toured with Shwayze, B.o.B., Raphael Saadiq, and opened for Hedley on their tour in support of Storms. Still think you haven’t heard any of her work? Guess again. Anjulie was also the co-writer for “The Boys” by Nicki Minaj, and has written songs for Kelly Clarkson, Nicki Minaj, Icona Pop, Fefe Dobson, and Kreesha Turner, among others.

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Sam Era

“Life experiences, sometimes writing about what I have experienced is the only way I can deal with it and work through those emotions.”

Arizona is just teeming with talent, ranging from singers such as, Alice Cooper, and Stevie Nicks, to actors like, Emma Stone and Alexandra Ship; Arizona is definitely the place to find the gifted. As such, it is no surprise that this is where Phoenix’s newest R&B singer/songwriter Sam Era reigns from. A master of transforming the nuances of heartbreak and ended relationships into enthralling melodies, Era illustrates the darker side to today’s modern R&B sound. Era spent her early childhood years studying both the Classical, and Jazz music genres, pursuing her passion for music even further in college. Her music career officially launched when her cover of Beyonce’s hit- single, “Crazy In Love,” gained some attention, leading to her introduction, and collaboration with producer, Devon Hancock. Having released her debut single, “Nothing Was The Same” in September, her name has caught the attention of countless listeners on Spotify, boosting her amounts of listens to the thousands with ease. I had the immense pleasure of chatting with Sam about “Nothing Was The Same” and what projects are set to release in the future.

 

“Since your release of “Nothing Was the Same” your fan-base has only grown to higher levels. As listeners, I’m sure we can all draw our own conclusions about what the song is about, but I’m sure the fans would love to hear from you what the song is about.

“Nothing Was The Same’ is about getting your heart broken and the emotions you face while dealing with it. Ultimately it is a classic tale of unrequited love. Long story short: I really loved a guy, who didn’t love me back, but liked me enough to keep me around for when he was bored or didn’t have anyone else to keep him company. It made me feel so unworthy. However, at the time I was so blinded I really didn’t see it until much, much later, but I guess hindsight is 20/20 in both life and relationships.”

 

“Nothing Was the Same” tells the story of being in a one sided relationship, what other type of topics can listeners expect on your new project?

“A lot of relationship gone bad songs! I don’t want to say I’m a one trick pony but you’re supposed to write about what you know right? There are more heavy topics as well as lighter topics, one of my favorite songs on the record is a song called “About Me” which is a Jazz inspired party song.”

 

Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

In terms of purely musical career I would say Kanye.  Sound wise, so many people. A lot of 90’s R&B, Jazz, Classic Rock influences. Popular artists I look up to are 6lack, The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey, Drake, Alina Baraz.”

 

Who would you most want to collaborate with?

“Ahh, that’s a tough one!!! My dream collab would probably be The Weeknd.”

 

What inspires you the most to create your music?

“Life experiences, sometimes writing about what I have experienced is the only way I can deal with it and work through those emotions.”

 

Record label vs. Independence, which would you choose, and why?

“That’s so tough!  I think it depends on what you want!  Being independent is tough especially if you can’t financially afford to just be a full time musician.  But it does come with more creative freedom.  However if the goal is to get the maximum amount of people to hear your music a label would be a better choice.”

 

In Relation to the “safe job” vs. following your dreams, and having the safety net: Which would you recommend to fans trying to follow in your footsteps?

I say do both! Don’t put your dreams aside but don’t put your day to day well-being at risk either.”

 

When can we expect your new album? What will it be titled, and what platform can listeners find it on?
“January 11th! It’s called Songs for the Broken Heart, and will be available on all major [streaming] platforms.”

     Apple Music| Spotify

 

Billie Bodega

“Lighting is the biggest contributing factor to my inspiration. I see everything in pictures, and music adopts various colors for me.”

Los Angeles native, Billie Bodega, has been undoubtedly, and meticulously planning her musical debut, choosing NOW as the perfect time to unveil her mellifluous voice to the world. Although she is an actress, well-known for recurring roles in The Tracy Morgan Show (2003), Zoey 101 (2005), Movie Surfers (2006), and The Wrong Child (2016), Bodega, has been hard at work on an R&B project, surprising everyone in March of this year with the release of her smooth, and sultry vocals on her first single and music video “Ocean Blues.” Creating her pseudonym earlier this year, Bodega recalls, “[My name was] self-dubbed after a very lucid dream in which I was drinking a carafe of wine in a Grecian garden filled with goats”.

From a young age, she learned to play several string and woodwind instruments, and discovered both a love and passion for singing in her school choir. Though a musician, actress, dancer, and singer, Bodega also held a high value on the importance of education, prompting her move to Cambridge, Massachusetts to pursue her degree. Upon the completion of her studies at Harvard University, where she graduated with honors, Bodega returned to Los Angeles, where she began recording. November 2nd , six months after the success of “Ocean Blues,” Bodega released her debut EP,  Ko͞o dāˈtä. If I had to guess, I would say that Ko͞o dāˈtä, which is comprised of seven songs, collectively tells the story of regaining control, but why “guess” when you can find out from the source herself? I recently had the extreme pleasure of being able to chat with Billie Bodega to find out exactly what she intended the EP to mean, as well as to gain further insight into the budding R&B singer’s life as a whole.

Continue reading “Billie Bodega”

Dynamic Duo: VanJess!

“I want fans to get that we are trying to make real music. We put a lot of work into it. We want to bring something different, something relatable.”

VanJess, the Nigerian-American R&B duo, comprised of sisters, Ivana and Jessica Nwokike launched their musical careers while performing covers of popular songs on YouTube. After covering Drake’s club banger, “Headlines” the two sisters viral success skyrocketed their names into success, pushing the pair to pursue a serious career in music, outside of doing covers. The two, who are only a year apart, honestly look almost like twins, and rightfully so, they appear to have an unspoken bond that allows them to read each other’s minds, as they sing and dance in perfect harmony while they perform. Their sound is so impeccably mitotic, that at times it can be difficult to tell which sister is singing which part, as they flawlessly play off one another’s voices. Ivana, whose voice is deeper, will often be found singing lead (though they do switch as the song calls for it), while Jessica, whose voice is lighter, sings as the accompanying. Being inspired by Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, TLC, and Xscape, definitely shines through their 90’s R&B sound.

By 2011, the duo hired a full-time manager, and set on to record songs in an actual studio. In 2015, the two re-released their EP, 00 till Escape in 2015, which in turn charted in the iTunes top ten, trending worldwide. This success led VanJess to complete, and release their first full-length album, Silk Canvas in July of this year. Silk Canvass, which includes collaborations with Masego, GoldLink, Lil Simz, Leikeli47, and Berhana, is a soulful reflection and introduction to VanJess’ most vulnerable moments, speaking on the moments of collapse from heartbreaks, and also the  recovery process of arising with newfound confidence. Jess, of VanJess explains that “I want fans to get that we are trying to make real music. We put a lot of work into it. We want to bring something different, something relatable.” With that being said, you might as well get well-acquainted with VanJess, because their music isn’t going anywhere, but to the top of music charts! 

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ABRA

“I really wanted to start off with an attitude of confidence as opposed to the heartbroken stuff people are used to — that sad girl shit. It’s time to regain your self-esteem and know who you are”

Have you ever met someone who you cannot quite place into one category of— well, anything? This is essentially the case with the next artist. Is her musical style Synthpop, Electronic Freestyle, Alternative R&B, or Indie pop?  It is either none of these, or all of these, nevertheless, being unable to be labeled or categorized is typically what sets the truly special people apart from the norm, allowing their true charm to freely flow. Without further ado, today’s segment will be featuring the magic that is ABRA! Born in Queens, New York, to a family of missionaries, ABRA spent her early years in London, where her parents built the church they would ultimately work in. Her introduction to singing came from this very church, where she sang on the praise and worship team. After London, her family settled into the suburbs of Gwinnett County outside Atlanta. “When you move a lot like that, you’re always seen as the new kid,” she said. “I have a deep sense of non-belonging.” Music clearly became the one constant in a world of continuous change, which allowed her to perfect the craft that she is now known for.

At age 14, having settled down in Atlanta, ABRA began playing the guitar, which led to the eventual uploading of her acoustic covers of popular rap songs to YouTube. From here, it was as they say “history”, as she was discovered by Awful Records founder and rapper, Father, who was intrigued by her covers, who encouraged her to make her own original music, which would later lead to ABRA joining the label in 2014. With a wide range of vocal abilities, ABRA’S debut EP, BLQ Velvet contained tracks with a completely smooth 90’s R&B vibe, leaving its follow-up album, Rose, with an even greater rewind in time, encompassing an early 80’s Pop and Electronic Freestyle. All the same, her latest project Princess, released in 2016, combines the best of both albums, playing on the soulful ambiances of BLQ Velvet, and the playfulness of Rose. Most artists (whether musically inclined, or not) can attest to the fact that there is much positive inspiration that can come from pain and despair, and ABRA, as a creative is no different here. “When I started out, I had a lot of pain on my chest and a lot of bitterness. BLQ Velvet was [a way] to make myself feel better. It was a really cathartic project. Ever since then, I’ve had a lot less spite-fueled successes.” In Princess, listeners can hear the shift in lyrics, as they give off more of an enlightened, positive mood, in comparison to her previous two albums, which have been more on the morose and vulnerable side. It is more than apparent that ABRA was in a place of happiness as she created this project, as she goes as far as to say that, “I really wanted to start off with an attitude of confidence as opposed to the heartbroken stuff people are used to — that sad girl shit. It’s time to regain your self-esteem and know who you are.” I couldn’t agree more. Now, if you’re looking for an artist who cannot be placed in a box of a specific style, because she literally has all the style in the world, ABRA is the artist to give a shot.

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DUCKWRTH

 

“I couldn’t really listen to hip-hop… I couldn’t go outside until I was about 16, ’cause my mom thought I was going to get shot in South Central”

You asked for it, and here it is: A new gem for you all to discover! South Central LA rapper, singer, and graphic designer, Jared Lee, more commonly known as Duckwrth (no relation to Kendrick Lamar) is literally on the brink of breaking out of the Underground status, and with good reason. Signed to Universal Records, (which might be the best option, as this record-label seems to allow him full creative freedom), Duckwrth, has opened for like-minded artist, Anderson .Paak, and continues to create his own high-energy, punk-rap sound.  He is also well-known for illustrating all of the artwork that accompanies the projects that he has released, in addition to creating the visual branding for artists like T. Mills and IAMSU!

Duckwrth, who considers himself a GPK (Grand Pastor’s Kid) was raised Pentecostal, where he was essentially sheltered from experiencing life to it’s fullest as a kid, “I couldn’t really listen to hip-hop… I couldn’t go outside until I was about 16, ’cause my mom thought I was going to get shot in South Central.” Still, he was able to break the mold, and create his own world through his art and music, going as far as releasing his first solo album, I’m Uugly, in 2016.The album was comprised of songs that covered love and even went as far as to address police brutality, which in turn, caught the attention of Urban Outfitters, who then booked him for their 2017 SXSW showcase. Following its predecessor’s release, An Xtra Uugly Mixtape, released in 2017, spreading Duckwrth’s music to an international level.

He now has hopes that his upcoming U.S. tour will expand to other countries. “For me to actually be able to go overseas is big because a lot of people from my neighborhood, they don’t even get to leave my fuckin’ neighborhood,” Duckwrth said. “I need that experience, ’cause I need to be able to take that back, and tell the people that are in my neighborhood that it’s possible, I did it.” For those of you intrigued enough to give this amazingly talented creative’s music a shot, Duckwrth is currently on the road, conducting his The Falling Man Tour, and will be in Dallas, TX. November 2nd. Obviously, I will be there, front and center. The real question is, where will you be?

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Noteworthy Artists

 

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”   — Plato

In a world full of mumble rappers, there still are amazing artists actually worth listening to. You just have to know where to start. For those of you who think today’s music is falling off, you might want to take the time to reconsider, and check these artists out (the list is in no particular order).

1. Earthgang

2. J.I.D

3. Duckwrth

4. Smino

5. Saba

6. Boogie

7. SiR

8. GoldLink

9. Kyle Dion

10. Masego

11. Elhae 

12. Jalen Santoy

13. The Internet

14. KYLE

15. Kali Uchis

16. Ravyn Lanae

17. Ruth B.

18. Jorja SmithJorja Smith

19. Isaiah Rashad

20. Ella Mai 

21. Trevor Jackson

22. Topaz Jones 

23. Noname

24. KWAYE

25. Doja Cat

26. Raveena