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Brighter Days: Album Review

I like to think that the spring of 2016 is when I started to get into electronic music even though I know it was a progressive interest up until that point. There were several songs I had been listening to in 2015 through the beginning of that year but it was in spring 2016 when I actually got into an electronic artist, Australian DJ, Flume. Like I said though, by that point I was listening to several electronic songs regularly. One of those was the hit “Sweet Lovin'” by British electronic artist, Sigala.

I sampled a song or two of Sigala’s other music, but really only took a liking to “Sweet Lovin'”. Interestingly enough, it helped me bond with a fellow co-worker when I worked my first music festival that summer and I actually caught part of Sigala’s set at it.

Flash forward a little over 2 years since then and Sigala’s debut album Brighter Days is out. It was released last weekend. I wasn’t even aware that he had a debut in the works, but after releasing new music over the last 3 years since he stepped onto the electronic scene, it was bound to happen.

Sigala, better known to the world as Bruce Fielder, from Norwich, Norfolk, England released his first single in 2015. The single includes samples from the Jackson 5’s “ABC”. It debuted at number 71 on the UK Singles Chart, then hit number 1 the following week. Sigala’s second single “Sweet Lovin'” reached number 3 on the chart. In 2016, Sigala began touring. He played shows and festivals throughout Europe with three appearances in the United States, Ultimate Music Experience, Ultra Music Festival, and Firefly Music Festival. He continued touring mostly in Europe in 2017 and 2018 as well. In fact his appearances at Ultimate, Ultra, and Firefly mark his only U.S. appearances to date.

His first full length album Brighter Days came out last week on September 28th. The album features 16 tracks and includes many of his singles from the last few years like, “Easy Love”, “Sweet Lovin'”, “Say You Do”, “Give Me Your Love”, “Came Here For Love”, “Lullaby”, “Feels Like Home”, and “We Don’t Care”. Every song on the album is one that makes you want to dance. Sigala’s signature house/trop house/dance-pop style is evident on each track. The new album already features a few new bangers like latest single “Just Got Paid” featuring Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor, and French Montana and “Ain’t Giving Up” featuring Craig David.

Sigala is briefly touring in the UK this month in support of his debut’s release, but there’s no doubt that the release should bring more touring for the English producer. Hopefully he’ll be back in the states soon and I’ll have another opportunity to check him out. I’m proud to say that I was at one of his only U.S. appearances to date. I only stuck around for a few songs though so seeing him again would be amazing, especially since I got more into his music after I last saw him perform. Sigala is definitely one of my favorite electronic artists so I’m telling you now to go check out his first album before he’s appearing in a city near you! It’s great music to dance to, chill to, drive to, and especially work out to. It has kept “me coming cause it’s all that I need” so it’s safe to say that it might for you too and you won’t be disappointed!

 

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Cause That’s My Favorite Part

I know it’s been almost a month, but I spent 3 of the last 4 weeks traveling, adventuring, and working. August has been my favorite month of 2018 so far, and I feel so grateful for all the great times and experiences that came with it. So now that I’ve been home for almost a week and rested up, it’s back to blog business. I know I’d feel like a total failure if I didn’t write about this artist this year, because his song “NUMB” ft. GRAACE is one of my top two favorite songs of the summer and probably the year (even though it was released in late 2017).

Hayden James is an electronic music DJ and producer from Australia. He entered the music scene in 2013 with his single “Permission to Love”. He released his self-titled debut EP in August that year as well. Since then James has toured with Disclosure and Odesza, co-wrote songs with Katy Perry for her 2017 album Witness, and toured Europe and North America in addition to releasing new music consistently. Some of his singles include “Something About You”, “NUMB”, and most recently “Just Friends”. He is currently signed to Australian indie record label Future Classic, whose clients include the likes of electronic artists Flume and Flight Facilities. In 2015 and 2016 he received two ARIA nominations for Best Dance Recording for his tracks “Something About You” and “Just a Lover”, respectively. He has yet to release his debut album, but rumor has it that it’s in the works and releasing soon!

Hayden James plays a house style of electronic music. His downtempo style of sound gives his tracks an R&B type feel. It gives off a very sensual/sexual vibe. I would compare it to fellow Future Classic artist Flume, but it’s not quite as deep house as his style. At times, the sound does give off a Flume-ish energy though.

I first listened to Hayden James while working EDC Las Vegas. My best friend played “NUMB” for me while we were both hanging out in our team’s trailer. I loved it right away and encouraged her to keep playing the song on repeat. She did and we had a continuous impromptu dance party until I had to run an errand for our team. The song has since reminded me of EDC and some things that happened while I was out in Vegas. Despite the fact that Vegas wasn’t always the happiest of times, the song always gives me a good feeling, even if the memories associated with it aren’t the best and I love the song regardless.

Since May, I’ve been playing the song on repeat whenever I get the chance. “NUMB” also got me to check out more of Hayden James’ music and I’ve since become a fan. I was able to see Hayden James perform at Electric Forest where he played sets both weekends and played a DJ set during Weekend 2. I saw the entirety of his Weekend 1 set and was able to hear my favorite song live. I then heard it at both of his sets Weekend 2. I just happened to be exploring the Forest towards the end of both of those sets and went to listen to him purely just to hear my jam. It was dope.

I’m definitely looking forward to the release of Hayden James’ debut album. No official release date has been announced yet, but word is that it’s coming soon enough. If you’re into electronic music or house music in general, he’s definitely an artist to check out. His live set was a lot of fun too. He kept everyone moving the entire time. I guarantee you’ll feel the same way if you give his music a listen and who knows maybe you’ll be playing “NUMB” on repeat just as much as I have this summer.

Coachella Band Preview: Petit Biscuit

Hey! Hi! What’s up?! Coachella is this weekend!!! I’m not next level hyped or anything (<——— That’s a lie.) Last year I was pretty excited about Kungs playing Coachella. He was a slightly known, slightly up and coming electronic artist. This year I have similar feelings about Petit Biscuit, who is similar to Kungs in other ways as well. Both are French electronic DJ’s. Both are also pretty young. Kungs was 20 when he played Coachella last year. Petit Biscuit is a mere 18 years old.

Petit Biscuit is the DJ name for France’s Mehdi Benjelloun. He released his hit single “Sunset Lover” in 2015 when he was only 15 years old. Since then, the single has close to 285 million streams on Spotify and SoundCloud combined. Benjelloun played instruments growing up like the cello, piano, and guitar, but took interest in playing electronic music because of the variety of sounds he could create. He recently graduated high school and started university, but decided to take a leave to pursue his musical success.

His music style is a combination of electronic music genres. Spotify describes his music as being ambient, techno, and house. His background in classical instruments and his interest in electronic music allows him to express himself through the crossing of different genres.Vocal chops, which are fragmented vowels that act as melodic or percussive pseudo-vocal elements, are a big part of his style. His music reminds me of a combination of Odesza and Flume put together.

I first discovered Petit Biscuit while I was analyzing this year’s Coachella lineup. I never heard of him before that. As I was going through the lineup in January, I listened to his tracks and was pretty surprised by what I heard. I really liked it. Initially I had been listening to a lot of Odesza so I kind of got that vibe from the song “Sunset Lover”. Then after reading an interview with Petit Biscuit, where he described Flume as being influential to him as an artist, I was able to see that reflected in his music as well.

Coachella 2018 will mark his first major festival appearance. Petit Biscuit plays on Friday (Edit: He plays Sunday. Gotta fact check myself. Sorry about that!), much like Kungs did last year. Also like Kungs, I’m guessing he’ll play an earlier set at the Sahara Tent. If Sahara is your shit or you have an appreciation for electronic music at all, I highly recommend going to his set. He could be the next big thing in electronic music. I know you have zero time to listen to anything but here’s a few songs you should turn on if you plan on seeing him:

  1. Sunset Lover
  2. Memories
  3. Alone
  4. Waterfall
  5. Problems

As for me, I’m headed out to California tomorrow to work my second Coachella and be there for the third time. I didn’t think I would be back again, but after some positive peer pressure I decided to make it happen. I’m stoked and I hope I get to see some of these acts I’ve previewed the last 3 months. It should be amazing regardless. Happy Coachella and I’ll see you all on the polo fields!

Coachella Band Preview: Kygo

Another week down means another week less to prep for Coachella 2018, but it also means it’s time for another band preview. I feel like I need to re-name this blog series. When I started it in 2015, I was mostly into bands. Since then, my taste in electronic music has grown. Also as you know, this year’s Coachella lineup has way less bands than in prior years. For now, just know that my band previews encompass singers and artists too, which includes this week’s preview as well.

Kygo aka Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll is a Norwegian DJ, producer, and musician. He started taking piano lessons as a child and continued until he was a teenager when he began to produce his own music using a keyboard and recording software. He was also halfway through a college degree in business and finance by the time he decided to pursue music full-time.

Kygo’s break-through hit came in 2014 when he released the single “Firestone” ft. Conrad Sewell. In the same year he was contacted by Avicii and Chris Martin of Coldplay to remix the Coldplay song “Midnight”. He then supported Avicii on tour.

In 2015 his music was featured in a trailer for the Ultra Music Festival, a well-known electronic festival that takes place in Miami, FL, as well as being a featured headliner for Lollapalooza. He also released 4 more singles that year which paved the way for his debut studio album to be released in 2016. His debut was released on May 16, 2016 entitled Cloud Nine. The album featured collaborations with several artists including John Legend, Angus & Julia Stone, Foxes, James Vincent McMorrow, Maty Noyes, and more. Kygo also played at the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In 2017 Kygo released two singles that lead up to an EP and his second full length studio album. The EP, Stargazing, included both singles “It Ain’t Me” ft. Selena Gomez and “First Time” ft. Ellie Goulding. Kygo’s second album Kids In Love was just released in November.

Kygo’s tropical house style originated from him trying to imitate his hero, Swedish DJ/producer Avicii. He eventually found his own sound by slowing it down into a dreamy, light synth type sound. He was really one of the first DJ’s to popularize the style which originates from deep house, a subgenre of house music.

I feel like I started listening to Kygo just because of my interest in his style of electronic music. Although he’s known as one of the originators, I discovered the style through listening to Matoma and Sam Feldt first. I’m not even sure when I first listened to Kygo. It was obviously sometime over the last 2-3 years and it was definitely the song “Stay” that I was into. I can’t even say I’m into that many Kygo songs. I was hooked on “First Time” last summer though. I honestly just think his Coachella performance will be fun because I like his style of music so I would totally want to catch his set if I was attending.

Kygo plays on Friday at Coachella. In my opinion Friday has the weakest lineup, but Kygo is one of the bright spots. He’ll probably close out the Sahara tent Friday night or he might even take to the Outdoor Stage as the last slot, which may overlap The Weeknd. Either way, there’s no question he’ll be a late night set. If you plan on catching him, I recommend getting there with plenty of time. No matter where he’s playing it’s sure to be packed. He’ll be setting the vibe for the rest of the weekend that night. To me, there’s something about tropical house being played in the SoCal desert amongst the palms that sets the mood. Here’s a few songs that will get you ready for that moment Friday night:

1. Stay (ft. Maty Noyes)

2. Stole the Show (ft. Parson James)

3. It Ain’t Me (ft. Selena Gomez)

4. First Time (ft. Ellie Goulding)

5. Kids in Love (ft. The Night Game)

6. Stranger Things (ft. One Republic)

7. Stargazing (ft. Justin Jesso)

8. This Town (ft. Sasha Sloan)

9. Firestone (ft. Conrad Sewell)

10. Raging (ft. Kodaline)

 

Coachella Band Preview: Gryffin

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’re a little over a month away from Coachella. One month. 30 some days. Can you feel the hype?! The time flies so fast once that lineup drops. That means there’s only a few more band previews left and limited time to listen to all your favorites in preparation for the festival. I’ve wanted to write this preview since January, but I’ve purposely held off so I’d have something to write about as the festival got closer. Out of the group of electronic artists performing at Coachella this year, there were two I was most stoked about. The first was Kungs, who I wrote about back in January (I was too stoked to save Kungs until now). The second is an artist known as Gryffin.

Gryffin, whose real name is Dan Griffith, is an EDM DJ from New York City. He’s also a talented instrumentalist. He started piano lessons at the age of 7 and played through high school, while picking up guitar along the way.  Gryffin attended college at USC and studied electrical engineering, but devoted his free time to making music. His intent was to make music for his friends to play at parties. He never expected to be making it for a career, yet here he is selling out tours and playing Coachella 2017.

Unlike most of the artists I preview, Gryffin has yet to release his first album. He is most known for his remixes and a few chart-making singles. There’s no doubt an album release is in the works for him especially with the original tracks he has dropped over the last year. One of his most well known hits and debut single, “Heading Home” ft. Josef Salvat, was released a little over a year ago. The song hit #1 on the Spotify Viral 50 Chart and also made the list of Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and Dance/Electronic Digital Songs chart. Last spring, he embarked on his first North American tour and sold out every show. He dropped a second single, “Whole Heart” ft. Bipolar Sunshine, on August 26th, which also hit Billboard’s electronic charts. It sparked another 10 show North American tour this past fall. A week ago, Gryffin released his third single, “Feel Good” with Illenium ft. Daya, and it already has almost 3 million plays on Spotify.

Gryffin classifies his style of electronic music as melodic house because he likes to incorporate piano and guitar into his music. It makes sense given his musical background. That’s the cool thing about his live sets though. It’s a blend between electronic and instrumental performance. Along with DJ-ing at his shows, he plays parts of songs on guitar and piano. It adds new elements to the music that you don’t necessarily get listening to a recording. This is something that takes his live performances to a whole new level in the electronic music genre making his Coachella performance one that you don’t want to miss.

I first heard of Gryffin within the last year and a half or so. I would see his name listed on song remixes, but I never listed to any of them because I typically don’t listen to remixes (except the Matoma remix of “Old Thing Back” because #fave). It’s mostly because I prefer the original version of songs, or the ones I was first exposed to, which I guess is strange when I think about it because I love covers. I think that it’s more so with remixes where you can have a non-electronic song that is electronically enhanced. That’s what I don’t really like since I was never big on electronic music. I guess you can say that’s changed now, but I still prefer original songs. Just this past fall, I heard Gryffin’s original song “Whole Heart” playing in the background of an end of the season highlight reel video for the Washington Spirit of the NWSL. I really liked the song and added it to my Spotify playlists as well as to my iTunes. About a month later, I heard “Heading Home” and added it just the same. Just a few days ago I heard “Feel Good” for the first time and I’ve been so hooked on it all week. I had it stuck in my head yesterday. It’s a great song, and I believe it has a ton of potential to surpass the success of Gryffin’s previous singles.

Gryffin plays Saturday at Coachella. It’s his first Coachella appearance too. I expect he’ll play the Sahara Tent, but I don’t expect his set to be super late. As I said, his performance will be one you don’t wanna skip especially if you’re into electronic music. Even if you’re not, his hybrid live performance style might be something transitional for you. I’d love to catch his set if I had the chance. Gryffin doesn’t have many original tracks you’ll need to prep with, so I’ll include some remixes as well. Here they are:

  1. Heading Home
  2. Whole Heart
  3. Feel Good
  4. Desire (Years & Years) Remix
  5. Animals (Maroon 5) Remix
  6. Youth (Troye Sivan) Remix
  7. Talking Body (Tove Lo) Remix
  8. Clearest Blue (CHVRCHES) Remix
  9. Beggin’ For Thread (BANKS) Remix

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: Kungs

Another week down, 11 more to go. It doesn’t feel like it at the end of January, but Coachella will be here before you know it. That’s why it’s time to preview another band performing in Indio this year. Like last week though, this week’s preview doesn’t feature a band (maybe I should change the name on these previews). It’s an electronic artist named Kungs.

Kungs is a French DJ whose real name is Valentin Brunel. He’s also only 20 years old (and freshly 20 might I add because his birthday was in December)! He grew up interested and involved in music with influences from his parents especially his dad who introduced him to rock n’ roll as well as other genres. By the age of 17, he began writing his own material and posting it to the internet. His remixes of Bob Marley’s “Jammin'” and Lost Frequencies’ “Are You With Me” as well as his Lana Del Rey “West Coast” cover ft. Molly have several million views on SoundCloud and Youtube. What turned into his breakthrough hit was released almost a year ago. It’s called “This Girl”, which he remixed. It was originally a 2009 song by Australian funk band Cookin’ On 3 Burners. It turned into a massive hit worldwide and paved the way for Kungs and his debut album Layers. The album was just released on November 4th.

Kungs electronic style is mostly house music. His particular style blends different genres of music together, which is what he aimed for on his debut album. I listened to the album a few weeks ago right before the Coachella lineup dropped and each song brings a different vibe. Besides “This Girl”, two of my favorites are “Don’t You Know” ft. Jamie N Commons and “Melody” ft. Luke Pritchard of The Kooks. I feel like both of those songs blend house with rock and indie rock, which might be why I like them so much. The album is so good that I actually took a little break while writing this to buy it online. So worth it. It’s that good.

I first heard Kungs via Instagram. A girl I follow posted a video with “This Girl” playing in the background. I didn’t take an interest in the song and it was kind of just “background music” for me. A few weeks later I found myself stuck with part of the song in my head and I couldn’t figure out where I knew the song from. It took me about a day before I realized it was the song from that Instagram video. Then about 2 weeks after that I stopped to visit my cousins before heading to the NWSL Semifinal. At dinner on the night I visited, my cousin started telling me about a song he was currently addicted to. It was, of course, “This Girl”. I didn’t recognize the song title or artist when he told me the name (cause I actually didn’t know who the artist was or what the song was called from that Instagram video), but once he played it I realized what I was listening to. The following week I added the song to my workout playlist and to my iTunes too. I was hooked on it ever since. Like I said I listened to Kungs’ debut album a few weeks ago and loved what I heard. I can’t wait to have the album in my grasp. Until then, I plan on doing some serious listening on Spotify.

Along with Coachella, Kungs is booked to play Europe’s biggest electronic music festival, Tomorrowland. I highly recommend seeing him play Coachella this year more than any other artist or band I preview. He’s already blowing up and there’s no doubt if he continues making solid music he’ll just get bigger. He’s not a highly billed artist at Coachella this year either and in my opinion there’s something special about seeing a band or artist before they reach headlining status. That’s not to say he won’t be given a spot later in the day. The kid has already opened for David Guetta on tour so I wouldn’t put it past him. He plays Friday. Here’s what you should know if you plan on seeing him (and you should!):

  1. This Girl ( vs. Cookin’ On 3 Burners)
  2. Melody (ft. Luke Pritchard)
  3. Don’t You Know (ft. Jamie N Commons)
  4. Crazy Enough (ft. Richard Judge)
  5. Are You With Me (Kungs Remix)
  6. I Feel So Bad (ft. Ephemerals)

Honestly, just listen to Layers and you should be good.

Coachella Band Preview: Matoma

We are officially 10 days away from Coachella 2016! Get hype! With the festival beginning next weekend, there’s only so much time to preview artists for this year’s event. I seriously hope you’ve been listening to your favorite Coachella 2016 acts for the last several weeks or more because it’s so much better when you know all of the songs during a set instead of a couple. I have more tunes for your Coachella prep this week and an in depth preview of an EDM DJ that I briefly spoke about in my Coachella 2016 lineup release post.

Matoma a.k.a. Tom Stræte Lagergren is an EDM DJ and producer from Filsa, Norway. He was involved in music from a young age as a classical pianist, but eventually wanted to get into some different aspects of music. After buying a computer and software for basic music production, he started producing his own music. He came on to the club scene in 2014 with a few remixes, but his biggest hit so far has been his remix of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Old Thing Back”. The remix was a charted single in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and New Zealand. Since then, Matoma released his debut album, Hakuna Matoma, in November 2015 and has created plenty more remixed songs.

Matoma’s music fits into a particular category on the EDM spectrum, tropical house. Tropical house music is a subgenre of deep house and ultimately house music. The music uses synth and a 4/4 beat which is standard for house music. What sets it apart is the more uplifting, relaxing, airy type of sound. The instruments used have that island vibe hence the “tropical” aspect of it. It’s also a bit slower than deep house and doesn’t have the pumping beat associated with house music.

As I said in my earlier blog post, I first heard of Matoma because of his “Old Thing Back” remix. It was one of the first EDM style song in addition to RAC’s music that I actually enjoyed. I don’t listen to Matoma’s other stuff at all, but if I were heading out to Coachella this year, I would definitely want to catch his set strictly because his music fits the Coachella vibe perfectly. In fact, the tropical house style is the genre that captures the essence of Coachella best.

Matoma plays Coachella on Saturday. The set times and stages haven’t been announced yet, but my perfect version of a Matoma set would be as the sun is setting on an outdoor stage. With the palm trees, desert breeze, and the ambiance of the entire festival, I feel like that would be the perfect setting for his music. He’ll probably just end up in the Sahara tent though. Either way, I have a feeling his set will be fun, chill, and filled with dancing. To get you ready for the Matoma set, here’s a few tunes you should know:

  1. Old Thing Back (Matoma remix)
  2. Find Love (feat. Dboy)
  3. Running Out
  4. Knives
  5. The Wave (feat. Madcon)
  6. 2 AM (Matoma remix)
  7. Stick Around (with Akon)
  8. Feeling Right (Everything Is Nice) (feat. Wale and Popcaan)

Coachella Band Preview: The Chainsmokers

April 15th, Day 1 of Weekend 1 of Coachella 2016, is one month and 4 days from today. It’s the home stretch since the tickets officially went on sale and the lineup was released in January. This week’s preview features two EDM DJ’s who’ve been making their mark in music since their inception in 2012. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m not an EDM fan at all. I typically follow the indie music scene. It seems recently though that I’ve been contradicting myself when it comes to EDM. I actually do like the occasional electronic/digital dance song. When I do hear a song I like though, the music has indie roots, which is the case for some music by this week’s preview duo, The Chainsmokers.

The Chainsmokers are made up of DJ’s Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall. The duo started playing club shows together in September 2012 in New York City. Their indie band remixes are what first gained them attention as well as their original songs “Erase” feat. Priyanka Chopra and “The Rookie”. What gained the duo worldwide attention was the release of their single “#Selfie” in late 2013-early 2014. Since then they’ve collaborated with various bands/artists on several original songs and released their first EP, Bouquet, in October 2015. Their debut album is due out some time this year and the first single from the album, “Don’t Let Me Down” feat. Daya, was released in February.

Their music is obviously EDM (electronic dance music), as I stated before, but can also be considered dance, house, club, electro house, or progressive house. As I also said, they do have indie roots as noted from their remixes and I think it shows in several of their original tracks. That’s why I actually like a few of their songs despite not being an overall EDM fan.

I first heard of The Chainsmokers because of “#Selfie”. I hated the song. I still do. I’ve actually never listened to the whole song because I think it’s pretty stupid. In fact, I barely realized “#Selfie” was a Chainsmokers song until I started researching the group for this blog post. I thought I first heard The Chainsmokers in September of 2015, but I guess that’s when I actually got interested in some of their music. Thanks to recommendations from my favorite soccer player’s monthly playlists I heard several of the duo’s remixes and their song “Roses” feat. ROZES. It took me a few times hearing “Roses” to get into the song but eventually I got hooked. Within the past few months, I added a few more of their songs to my Spotify playlists.

This year marks the first time The Chainsmokers will play Coachella. After seeing the crowds that EDM sets draw last year, there’s no doubt that The Chainsmokers set will see a huge crowd at this year’s annual music festival. The only conflict would be is if another big EDM act plays at the same time. They play Sunday along with fellow EDM acts, Major Lazer, KSHMR, Flume, and headliner Calvin Harris. Supposedly their sets are wild, fun, and a giant party-like atmosphere that reflect the personalities of both Taggart and Pall. The set will most likely be filled with energy. To get you prepped, here’s a few of their songs:

  1. Roses (feat. ROZES)
  2. #Selfie
  3. Don’t Let Me Down (feat. Daya)
  4. Kanye (feat. sirenXX)
  5. Until You Were Gone (with Tritonal feat. Emily Warren)
  6. The Rookie
  7. Let You Go (feat. Great Good Fine Ok)
  8. New York City (feat. Victoria Zaro)
  9. Erase (feat. Priyanka Chopra)
  10. Split (Only U) (with Tiësto)