When 21-year-old soulful artist Kacy Hill was 16, working as a wedding
photographer in Scottsdale, Arizona, she probably never expected she would
become the face of American Apparel, and a common face in Kanye West’s music
videos and stage tours.
But when Yeezus heard the incredible subtle and versatile voice the
young artist had, he couldn’t resist signing her to G.O.O.D. Music—a label with
renown artists such as Malik Yusef, John Legend, and Pusha T.
And although young, Hill has a mature voice, and as a new artist, has
definitely hit the jackpot by touring with fellow prominent artist, Jack Garratt.
Coming out onto the stage of small bar venue BarbozaMonday night, the tall, slender,
and beautiful redhead dons a red velvet jumpsuit bedazzled at the neck and ankles.
Although Hill looks very mature, she exudes a childlike joy, giggling at the
audience members, still unsure of how to properly control a stage.
“I feel like I’m performing in my living room,” she exclaims, as the 200
participants of her show cheer her on in the small but cozy basement of the
Hill’s band is a three-man band, consisting of only her at the mike, her
keyboardist Max—a tall hipster with purple hair and incredible style—and her
drummer Val, an incredibly talented woman with the same amount of style as the
other two, both donning a white turtleneck sweater and black blazers.
Hill’s bandmates are obviously older than her and smile
affectionately at both Hill and each
other as the young artist stumbles awkwardly through track introductions and
audience banter, giggling, “Seattle, you are just so pretty, it’s so nice to
see your pretty faces.”
She is cute yes, but there is no denying the incredible power Hill holds on
stage with her voice.
Singing tracks off her EP Bloo,
including her famous single “Foreign Fields,” Hill’s voice is almost the exact
same as on the EP—a quality almost never found in artists that delve into the
electropop genre. It’s excitingly refreshing to see such a young artist , although
lacking of clear and confident stage presence, still maintain so much control
and soul in her dreamy voice. Her modeling past also shows, because even if Hill
can’t sweet talk her audience with suave charm, she does consistently look beautiful,
knowing her angles and light.
And although on a label that has had and still has artists that are big
in the hip-hop world, Hill’s soulful voice, reminiscent of Florence Welch (Florence & the Machine), James Vincent McMorrow, and even FKA Twigs, is a huge stepping stone for
G.O.O.D. Music. And maybe Kanye West signed her with an intent, adding her and
fellow singer songwriter Mr. Hudson, hoping to have artists like John Legend
influence these new artists to create more soul in their sound and diversity of
genre within the label.
Whatever the reason, we’re glad for it, because Kacy Hill is on the
come-up. With the announcement of the progress of a new album in store with the
collaborative assistance of fellow touring artist Jack Garratt (who helped her write the infamous song “Foreign
Fields” on Hill’s EP thanks to producer Rick
Rubin), the artist still has a lot to show us.
We see a lot of potential for an excellent debut album, especially using
her current EP as a marker for her composition style. Music-wise, Hill knows
what she’s doing, or at least how to use her resources, combining well-executed
electronic production with soft, delicate vocals.
Are we converted to this model turned-singer? We think so, and once you
listen to her EP, we’re sure you will be too.
…is what I was asking myself when I saw this video on my Instagram feed last week:
Kristin Kontrol is the new moniker of the lead singer/mastermind behind the Dum Dum Girls, Dee Dee (legal name Kristin Welchez). Judging from the video, this new solo project captures a brand new sound that is heavily electronic and synthpop. This transition may be surprising for older fans as the Dum Dum Girls have consistently fallen into the alternative rock genre over the past 8 years.
In a recent interview with Sub Pop Records, Kristin said: “The music is so different from anything I’ve ever done – I felt compelled to shed the alter-ego instead of trying to morph Dum Dum Girls into something else. I didn’t want to mess with that legacy.” It is unclear whether Dum Dum Girls will continue to tour or record another album in the future. In any case, this fresh new start from such a talented and creative frontwoman should be highly anticipated. Kristin Kontrol’s debut LP is expected to be released this spring on Sup Pop Records.
RAC lights up with a live band at ShowBox SoDo on Tuesday, Nov. 24th
Light keyboard filled the air and a soft beat emitted from the over-leveled speakers. With only half the room filled, the music blasted through the Showbox, piercing the silence until the crowd settled into the sound. The first opener, filouspulled out his guitar, bowed his head slightly and riffed over a reverberating female vocalist. The two instruments together, a midi setup and fx-ed guitar sounded like a chorus of chilled-out house music.
“Hey Seattle,” the beanie-sporting artist spoke before returning to his instruments. A faint cheer could be heard from the bar in the back.
Not phased by the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, Filous strummed along to dance-worthy tracks. Smiling all the while, the casually-dressed multi-instrumentalist switched between MIDI controllers, keyboards and his various guitars. As he slammed on the bass, the crowd swayed and lights flashed before us.
Filous introduced himself as an artist from Vienna. Over a few spouts of laughter, he further explained his adventures at Jack in The Box before playing his next song, “Coming Over” – a synth-heavy sound featuring the same summery guitar riffs that had been heard frequently throughout the set.
Light lyrics sprinkled throughout the song and the line, “All I can think about is coming over” repeated into a somewhat-tropical instrumental chorus. The hook brought many to the dance floor and the strobes shimmered among us. With all of his talents, I got to wondering why the microphone was placed so properly as if it’d be used whilst playing. All my questions were answered in a single breath as Filous pulled out a harmonica for his last track – blowing us away with his breath-induced harmonies.
filous wowed us with flawless multi-instrumentalism
After a short break, two musicians approached the stage. Both on drums, the two multi-instrumentalists represented the Portland-based Karl Kling. Arpeggios filled the air and a dimly lit duo sang indulgent lyrics over two sets of electronic instruments. A light up set of tools stood adjacent to a traditional drumset as the two musicians harmonized with one another.
We moved our bodies back and forth and a few other audience members joined us. Although I wasn’t there alone, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of standing that took place during this show. Of course, I could chalk it up to the fact that we were watching an opener, but since this is my last post for Rainy Dawg Radio, I thought I’d mention something that’s been bothering me since I moved into this city and began participating in the music scene:
Why don’t Seattle Concert-goers ever dance during openers?!
Their music is good. The dance floor is ready! If anybody has an answer to this question, myself and all of the touring artists in our area would like to know… Synced beneath the falsettos as the two men expressed themselves among a sea of careless Seattleites. Catchy riffs soared beneath existential lyricism as the band showed off their chops, from drums to loops and electric guitars, the multi-talented Portland band never ceased to amaze us.
Yet most of the audience remained unfazed while my date and I swayed just the same. Harder now. Deeper now. The harmonies seemed to strike nearer than before. Perhaps the volume kept increasing but something about the atmosphere above us kept me present as the fog filled the air and the band requested a dimming of the lights.
“Alright Seattle. This is dance time,” Karl attempted to work the crowd. But only a few cheers could be heard in response as many audience members lingered in the back – bobbing their head to the rhythm instead of shaking what their mamas gave them.
“So dust of your regrets” Kling sang, “Cus there goes the day again. Born into this world.”
Karl Kling sported two drummers and a sounded like Death Cab in a dance club
80s melodies and melancholy choruses led from one song into the next as the opening set came and went. During their last song, “Careful” the duo smiled as they witnessed some energy beginning to emit from the evening’s underwhelming attendees. As Big Data prepared their set, I prayed for a miracle that the dance floor would pick up.
Fog filled the air and screams rang out in support of the surreal visuals that began to appear so subtly behind a coordinated set of electronic musicians. A robotic voice could be heard from the pumped-up speakers and the band members began to move in tandem to a static beat. Almost inaudible, a set of muted vocals began to sing the opening lines of “Dangerous” and the crowd finally moved in-tow to the enthralling rhythm.
The two vocalists played off of one another flawlessly. Each computerized run ran into the next as the lights glimmered among us. The music enticed us to engage as Big Data entertained with alluring visuals above driving drums and guitars; all the while the two frontmen acted as conductors of the crowd below them.
Bobbing their heads back and forth to the ephemeral sound of their own creation, the crashes and clangs of the live instrumentation filled the set beneath layers of enchanting lyricism. All the while, the audience followed along in a daze, drunk in the sound of a presented simulation.
References to a computerized system filled the breaks between songs until the word, “Imagination” broke the sequence, “Your simulation is now complete.” The robotic voice complimented our enthusiasm as the lights reflected off the band-member’s florescent sunglasses.
As the lights continued to dim, the combination of the visual and musical performances pulled us in to a videogame-like trance – complete with the sounds of dial-up modems and mid-2000s internet references. Throughout the set, Big Data did nothing but entertain as our eyes reflected the shimmering stage above us.
With flashing lights and surreal digital visuals, Big Data drew the crowd ever-closer in a existential haze
Members of the other bands and backstage crew joined the band as they repeated their hit track, “Dangerous”
The crowd cheered and familiar faces replaced the physical places of Big Data’s digital revolution. Karl Kling and André Anjos (RAC) stood left and right of a headband-wearing frontman. Behind them, Pink Feathers (aka Liz Anjos) rocked out on a keyboard while a full-sized drumset stood lit and elevated above.
We moved in waves as the live band played covers and originals frequently associated with RAC’s collection of (re)mixes. Hiding behind a telecaster, André occasionally sang along and smiled all the while Pink Feathers and Karl Kling led the upbeat performance. The collection of Portland artists did not disappoint as the crowd sang along to their favorite tracks. From Odeszato The Postal Service, local hits were met with more energy from the audience as the four-piece band reworked popular songs with their disco-inspired beats.
“Hollywood” and “Let it Go” were met with thunderous applause as André stepped out into the center to wail over the beat with his electric guitars. The foursome played off each other splendidly, cracking jokes and smiling along to the energy brought from playing their songs live.
André Anjos leads his live band, shredding along with a pulsating performance
After seeing RAC in the past and wondering when he would break out from behind his turntables, I was inspired and impressed by the entire performance! Altogether, the variety of bands made for an excellent combination of Portland sounds that was able to break through the ever-famous Seattle Freeze.
“You’re so sexy!” someone screams behind me. Grimes, the sexy one, is playing The Showbox on October 28. She’s out of breath from dancing and jumping under bright green, blue, and pink lights despite a boot on her foot. I try to take a decent picture for this post before the next song, but it’s no use. She’s off again, headbanging so hard that some of her pink ombréd hair gets caught in her mouth. Next time, I’m bringing a photographer.
Grimes, the alter-ego of Canadian electropop musician Claire Boucher, had a contagious energy last Wednesday. She was as endearingly unpolished and bubbly as I expected; swearing about missing a cue and giggling over what a great crowd we were. Even though she was the usual rambling, swearing Grimes, the concert was well-executed. The lighting was beautiful–my favorite part was when laser lights made multicolored pin-points on the ceiling–and two dancers in flight suits and sunglasses worked the crowd.
Boucher’s high-pitched, dreamy vocals sounded stronger live, and her signature layered sound was present. The audience sang along with all of the favorites that she played off of her previous album, Visions (2012), and almost pulled her off stage when she reached out to touch people’s hands. Something that stood out the most were her collaborations with Canadian producer Blood (formerly Blood Diamonds, but according to Grimes “he doesn’t want to be a dick about blood diamonds”). “Go” is a track with stronger vocals than usual, and a drop. Featuring a smoke machine, it got the biggest reaction from the crowd.
Grimes also played a lot of tracks off of her new album, Art Angels, set to drop November 6. “Scream” features Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. Aristophanes wasn’t at the concert, but we got to hear Grimes screaming a lot. And let me tell you, she screams as beautifully as she sings. For her encore (even though she didn’t go off stage first because she thinks encores seem fake), Grimes played “Kill V. Maim,” inspired by her idea that The Godfather is perfect, but would be better if they were vampires. This track was simultaneously dark and danceable, due to harsh vocals and a bass-heavy, driving beat.
Lately, there’s been speculation and complaints that Boucher is selling out, partly because she was signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation in 2013. While she may be experimenting with a pop sound on some of her music since Visions, it is clear from seeing her live that she just loves making music. Boucher was completely genuine and proud of her new album. From the taste I got of Art Angels, I think there will be more variation amongst the tracks than on any other Grimes record; it’s clear that she’s drawing inspiration from genres other than pop. She might not be the same Grimes on her new album, but an artist can change without selling out. And anyways, as Boucher stated on her Twitter,
“endless speculation abt whether grimes will be a popstar seems 2 disregard the fact that I’m a paranoid recluse & i can’t even walk in heels.”
Don’t forget to check out Art Angels when it drops this Friday (11/5)!
Jaapur’s latest release starts out as a series of digital noise. Its momentum and tones feel like a throwback to the over-dubbed days of 8-bit remixes. A series of high and low pass filters add dynamics to the track, which make “Double Much.aac” an excellent introduction to the eclectic (yet satisfying) Organic.
The second track, “Conclusion.txt” starts out quietly as it, like the other songs on the album, plays off of the various computer file-naming conventions. Bass-heavy and trance-like, the contrast between synths and snares provides a basis on which to build a vibrant system of sounds. The melody alternates between instruments, each subsequent variation adding to the last. Towards the middle of the track, the rhythm becomes increasingly danceable, each instrument battling for its turn in the spotlight.
Following the quick-to-end instrumental that came before it, “Effigy.jpg” traces the line between highs and lows. Each synthetic instrument stays within its chosen scale – the unique sounds finding their individual places in the track. Various voices interrupt the flow, interjecting with plays on the name of the song. Although the bass line leaves something to be desired, the catchy chorus makes this track one of my favorites on the album.
The album continues in various forms, the tracks in themselves progressive as they build along with the broken pieces of the same theme. An occasional rap-track, featuring iamlogan and (most likely) Jaapur himself, can be found on the album – the flow, slow to match the tempo.
From disco beats to trance suites, Organic takes us back to a time before heavy-hitting bass lines ruled the boiler room. Be sure to take a good listen to the standouts (embedded below), “Akebono.flac” and “But Do You Know” which features Sarah Rain, Jaapur’s IRL sister, on vocals.
I know it’s not Thursday but it’s never too late to throw it back for a super rad musical innovation of the past. On January 31st, 1955, the Radio Corporation of America debuted Victor: the world’s first electronic synthesizer!
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument that can produce and mimic a wide range of sounds, from a guitar or a person’s voice to a bird chirping to sounds that can’t even be heard in nature. Nowadays, you might associate them with music that sounds like this:
Electronic duo Daft Punk is well-known for playing around with different digital synthesizers. “Da Funk” is a super catchy example of their signature synth sound.
But wait, there’s more! Electronic and house music definitely don’t have the monopoly on the synthesizer.
Mmmmm, sounds like the ‘90’s.
In the years since Victor’s introduction, synthesizers have progressed in leaps and bounds to the point where they can now be found in pretty much every genre of music. The quality of sound produced by a synthesizer can be changed by a number of factors–whether it uses analog or digital signals, for one, or how the signals are filtered and processed. Synth sound can be programmed or controlled with the voice. They can also be used to sample music, or take a sound from one song/recording and use it in another, with or without alteration. There is nearly nothing a synth can’t do. The RCA really did us a solid with this one.
Music can be related from all over the world. From the south-eastern shores of Brazil to the Pacific Northwest, artists are always coming up with new forms of expression – especially in the realm of electronic. This week, two musicians have released the perfect example of a such a connection.
Brazilian dream-pop experimentalist, Kid from Amazon put out a tape last weekend that’s done nothing but displace my concept of reality. As I walk the streets of Budapest, soviet trams passing by, Musgo Vibes breaks through the monotony with its nu-disco beats and ambient vocalizations. Check out the stream (and download it for free) in the BandCamp player below:
Slow and relaxed at first, the tracks begin to build off of with one another between waves of enchanting synths and samples. As one becomes comfortable with the constant state of disassociation, a state of comfort is pursued through tracks like “Shy” and “Lugares”. Yet, as “Summer Haze” breaks and fades, the album returns to its Brazilian trance – birds chirping between cracks in the rhythm.
As my weekend came to a close, the Kid From Amazon was kicked off my “Now Playing” list by Jaapur’s latest release, the first of many continuous mixes of all his previous albums. This Oregon native provided the perfect contrast to the dream-state that MusgoVibes, had put me under. Check out Tension below (free download):
Glitchy and poppy, the mix does nothing but keep my head bobbing. And as the tracks meld into one another, the album has become my new playlist for any dark and gloomy day.
Both musicians, though thousands of miles away from one another and myself, have managed to make this freezing cold how-can-this-still-be-fall weather feel a little more like summer with every bass-line, synth-riff, and break-beat. Check out their respective BandCamps here and here.