Month: February 2019

Coachella Band Preview: Janelle Monáe

Another week in Mexico and another week wishing I was in Southern California instead. Don’t get me wrong I love being in a warm climate in the winter, I just wish there was less humidity here. California has that kind of weather and they have it year round. We’re a little under 2 months away from Coachella now. The clock keeps ticking. The weeks become less. The planning intensifies and the time to listen to this year’s performers decreases. This week I’m previewing a female powerhouse who will be playing her second Coachella.

Janelle Monáe Robinson better known to the world as just Janelle Monáe hails from Atlanta, Georgia. She was discovered in Atlanta when she was 18 by rapper, songwriter, and producer Big Boi of Outkast fame. Monáe was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas though. Upon connecting with Big Boi, she was signed to Bad Boy records in 2006 after Big Boi’s friend and fellow artist and producer Sean Combs (Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy) decided to take a chance on her. She initially released her first EP prior to her signing with Bad Boy, but her debut was then re-released with a slightly different title Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition). The record included two bonus tracks as well. It was received so well that Monáe earned a Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for her single “Many Moons”.

Janelle Monáe’s debut album The ArchAndroid was released on May 18, 2010. Since her initial idea with Metropolis was to create a concept album that was to be released in 4 parts, The ArchAndroid contains parts 2 and 3 from the concept. The album debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and earned Monáe another Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album.

She released her sophomore album The Electric Lady in September 2013. The album continued with the same sci-fi theme as its predecessors. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard Top 200. It was just prior to her album released that Monáe played at her first Coachella in 2013.

In 2015, Janelle Monáe created her own independent label Wondaland Arts Society (now known as Wondaland Records) in conjunction with Epic Records. Along with 4 other artists signed to her new label, the EP The Eephus was created. Monáe contributed to the EP with the song “Yoga”. She also collaborated with Nile Rodgers & Chic that year on the song “Pressure Off”. 2016 brought Monáe a new type of entertainment exposure when she appeared in Academy Award nominated films Moonlight and Hidden Figures. Prior to her film debuts, she voiced the character Dr. Monae in Rio 2.

Janelle Monáe released her third studio album Dirty Computer on April 27, 2018. It included the release of what was referred to as an “emotion picture”, which was a visual representation of the songs and story of the album. It debuted at number 6 on the Billboard Top 200 and has since received 2 Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and for Best Music Video for the song “Pynk”. Over the last year Janelle Monáe has toured and played the festival circuit in promotion of her latest release, which makes sense of her slated Coachella 2019 performance.

I would define her music as experimental. It’s experimental in the sense that it combines a variety of genres. It obviously infuses R&B, hip-hop, and pop, but also incorporates elements of soul, funk, and new wave. It’s musically advanced and brilliant, especially the concepts behind her music.

Honestly, I knew about Janelle Monáe as an actress before I knew about her as a music artist. Once I started seeing her name on festival lineups in 2018, I realized her talents went beyond film. I was introduced to her music this past fall, when a friend of mine told me to watch the Dirty Computer video. I did. I was impressed and I enjoyed several of the songs. There was also a lot of hype surrounding her from several of my co-worker friends who caught her performing at festivals or in concert last summer. Despite my exposure to her music, I can’t even say I’m a huge fan yet. I like her music, but I haven’t been listening to her constantly. I’ve just heard great things about her live performances, which is why I think her performance at Coachella this year is one that can’t be missed.

Janelle Monáe plays Friday. She’s billed as a top performer. To me, there’s no reason why she wouldn’t be playing the Main Stage right before Childish Gambino or overlapping his set and headlining the Outdoor Stage. Even though this will be her second Coachella performance as a solo artist, it’s not her second appearance. She joined Outkast on stage during their headlining set in 2014 and Grimes in 2016. I think she’s grown in popularity over the last year as well, which means her set will most likely be crowded. I’ll say it again…you don’t want to miss this set. Here’s a few songs you’ll probably hear during it:

  1. Make Me Feel
  2. Pynk
  3. Tightrope
  4. I Like That
  5. Django Jane
  6. Q.U.E.E.N.
  7. Yoga
  8. I Got the Juice
  9. Electric Lady
  10. Dirty Computer
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Coachella Band Preview: Mansionair

Hola! I’m back in Mexico this week, but still bringing you another Coachella band preview because we officially have 2 months to go. This week I’ve got a band for you that I first found out about during Coachella 2018! They’re due to release their debut album in 2 weeks, but they’ve been putting out jams for the past 5 years.

Mansionair was formed in 2014 in Australia when singer Jack Froggatt was invited to join producers Lachlan Bostock and Alex Nicholls on music they had been making. They released the song “Hold Me Down” in early 2014. It hit two million views in 2 months. The trio then signed to Glassnote Records and were asked to join CHVRCHES on tour.

In 2015 the band released the EP Pick Me Up which featured their hit single “Hold Me Down”, a remix of the song, and 2 other tracks. They were also asked to join alt-J and Florence and the Machine on tour. They released the single “Easier” in 2016 followed by the hit single “Astronaut – Something About Your Love” in 2017. The 2017 hit reached number 44 on the Billboard Rock Airplay chart. The band also collaborated with electronic artists Odesza on their song “Line of Sight” also featuring WYNNE, which peaked at number 23 on Billboard’s Alternative Chart and number 37 on its Dance/Electronic Songs chart. Last year Mansionair dropped 3 more singles which will all be on their debut album Shadowboxer along with their latest single “Shadows”.

Mansionair’s sound is a perfect blend of alternative/indie rock and electronic music. Although their sound is definitely different, their style is similar to fellow Australians and Coachella 2019 performers RÜFÜS DU SOL. Their music has a darker, sensual feel to it though. It’s such a vibe to be honest.

As I mentioned, I first heard of Mansionair during Coachella 2018. We constantly listened to Alt Nation on Sirius XM on our drives to and from site each day and Mansionair’s “Astronaut – Something About Your Love” was part of the rotation during that time. There were several other songs that were continuously played on that station last spring and will always remind me of Coachella in some way. Mansionair was a part of that. It’s pretty cool that Mansionair already has that Coachella association for me since they’re actually playing the festival this year.

Coachella 2019 marks Mansionair’s first Coachella appearance. With their first album being released March 1st, the group will be touring and undoubtedly playing some of the festival circuit in the U.S. this summer. They’re already booked for Firefly as well. Mansionair plays Sunday at Coachella. I doubt they’ll be playing one of the main stages unless it’s an early afternoon set time. My guess is that they play Gobi or Mojave. The timing is in question though. They could easily play at any time of the day. Since Mansionair doesn’t have a huge discography yet, listening to all their tunes should easily prep you to see them. I guarantee it’ll be worth it too as these guys seem to be rising in their respective music scene. Before heading to see them at Coachella you should check out:

  1. Astronaut – Something About Your Love
  2. Shadows
  3. Easier
  4. Speak Easy
  5. Hold Me Down
  6. Technicolour
  7. Falling
  8. Violet City
  9. Pick Me Up
  10. The rest of their debut album!

Coachella Band Preview: Mac DeMarco

We’ve hit February. One month down, two to go until Coachella 2019. I hope you’ve been jamming to all the Coachella bands and prepping your flower crowns for the annual two weekend party in the Indio desert. This week I’m previewing another indie rock act set to make his third Coachella appearance this year.

Canadian artist Mac DeMarco came onto the music scene as a backing musician around 2008 shortly after he graduated high school in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He relocated to Vancouver but failed to reach success as a musician there. He then moved to Montreal in 2011 to work on a solo project. It was from there that DeMarco signed with Captured Tracks and released his first EP Rock and Roll Night Club. The EP lead the way to DeMarco’s first full-length album 2. The album received a nod from indie music outlet Pitchfork being labeled as “Best New Music”.

Mac DeMarco’s second album Salad Days was released two years later and again it received the same praise from Pitchfork. He released another mini-album/EP Another One in 2015. He also released an instrumental album that same year entitled Some Other Ones. Mac’s latest album This Old Dog was released on May 5, 2017.

Mac DeMarco has described his style of music as “jizz jazz”. I think it fits the indie music category perfectly. It’s something you’d hear at Urban Outfitters circa 2011. It’s super chill and vibey. Some might call it indie rock or psychedelic rock. It does have elements of both genres, but in my opinion it’s way less rock from what you’d consider indie rock to be and way more pure indie, if that’s a thing?

I found out about Mac DeMarco from a friend in 2016. He was playing a music festival that I had hopes of volunteering at that spring as well. I ended up volunteering at the festival but not seeing Mac DeMarco since he performed while I was on my shift. I did see one of his live sets in 2017 though. I was working Lollapalooza and I was supposed to finish at 10 p.m. that night but I was cut early. I realized I had some time so I decided to catch Mac DeMarco’s set since he was closing out the night at one of the smaller Lolla stages and I didn’t care for the headliners. The set was so fun. Seeing him live is nothing like listening to his music. He jams, gets drunk, plays crazy Vanessa Carlton covers and plays his tunes in the midst of all that. It’s a great live music experience.

Mac DeMarco plays on Saturday. I’m guessing he has a late afternoon, early evening time slot, but as for what stage I don’t have a great guess. It may even be possible that he headlines a smaller stage just as he did at Lolla in 2017. His music fits the chill Coachella atmosphere perfectly. Unless you’re a huge fan who wants to be front and center, this is a perfect set to catch while laying out in the field, sitting under some shade (if he plays in the afternoon!), or just relaxing while soaking up all those Coachella vibes. I highly recommend catching his set though because like I said his live performances are fun and highly crowd-oriented. You never know what you’re gonna get from Mac DeMarco. Here’s a few tunes you should know:

  1. Salad Days
  2. Chamber of Reflection
  3. Freaking Out the Neighborhood
  4. Still Beating
  5. Ode to Viceroy
  6. This Old Dog
  7. Honey Moon
  8. On the Level
  9. Let Her Go
  10. Another One

(and also Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” just in case that cover happens again!)