We fell in love with Colombian-American duo Salt Cathedral last summer when we premiered the rather exuberant track “Rude Boy.” Now we find ourselves equally enthused about new single ‘muévelo’, which BlackBook premieres here.
A languidly sensual charmer, with Caribbean rhythms and a breezy, insouciant vibe, the title actually translates to “move it” – and the lyrics playfully switch back and forth between English and Spanish, a first for the pair. Singer Juli (whose musical partner is the equally truncated Nico) has never sounded so captivating, as she holds forth on the very relatable subject: is this friend possibly more than just a friend?
“‘muévelo’ is playful and fun,” she explains, “cause it’s about low key liking your best friend. You know, that boy or girl that you have fun times with but you’re unsure whether it crosses over to actual crush territory? Growing up in Colombia, we’d couple dance to similar beats in our teenage years, hoping the one you liked would dance with you; and so this song is like bringing that feeling back – Spanish and all!”
The single follows an amazing collab with Big Freedia & Jarina DeMarco titled “Go and Get It.” Salt Cathedral are also working on their debut album, but no release date has yet been set.
Arthur Moon is not actually a person. Rather, it is the chosen nom de guerre of Brooklyn-based songstress Lora-Faye Åshuvud. And it technically encompasses the fellow musicians who count themselves as her musical accomplices: Wyclef Jean collaborator Cale Hawkins, and This American Life composer Martin D. Fowler.
Impressively difficult to pin down aesthetically, Noisey has compared her to Anna Calvi (we definitely get that) and Paper likened her sound to a Kandinsky painting (we get that too). And just in time for Pride Month, BlackBook is honored to premiere the equally iconoclastic but also impossibly catchy new single “Homonormo.” Over a languid, sensual beat, captivatingly effected harmonies make nice with Krautrocky organ swells and spiky calypso-flamenco guitar bursts – all without seeming the slightest bit over-concepted.
And it’s all about the dilemma of…assimilation.
She explains, “If we ‘settle down,’ do my partner and I become a part of some respectability politics nightmare, where gay people are only okay if they mimic the structures of straight society? Do we further alienate everyone who doesn’t want that/doesn’t fit that/can’t do that?”
At a time when the LGBTQ community faces increasingly direct threats to their basic human rights, not just here but around the globe, those questions could not be more relevant, or more poignant.
“Writing ‘Homonormo,'” she recalls, “I was thinking a lot about what it is that we have to gain when we fail at living within some prescribed definition of ‘success’ or ‘normalcy.’ Like Jack Halberstam says: ‘The queer art of failure turns on the impossible, the improbable, the unlikely, and the unremarkable. It quietly loses, and in losing it imagines other goals for life, for love, for art, and for being.'”
Arthur Moon’s self-titled debut album will be released on vinyl July 12, via Vinyl Me, Please, and on all formats August 2. A 10-date North American tour, opening for Oh Land, will launch on September 24 at the Bell House in Brooklyn.
What we’ve come to particularly appreciate about Björk, is her ability to stare our stark, bleak reality in the eye, and then artistically interpret it into something seemingly so magical and fantastical. But with her particularly visceral 2017 single “Tabula Rasa,” it did appear as if she’d been philosophically pushed to the limit of late, and was coming out metaphorically swinging.
And despite the song’s pensive, ethereal sonics, her lyrics genuinely do not hold back in the least. Indeed, one can easily imagine them directed at any number of the so many cultivators of corruption and purveyors of perpetual injustice who are so perniciously choking our ideological air at the moment. “We are all swollen / From hiding his affairs / Let’s put it all on the table / Let it all out / It is time / He mustn’t steal our light,” Björk bewails with the force of a dozen hurricanes.
Now she’s released a rather hallucinatory new video for the single – and it is, as we’ve come to expect, like nothing we could have ever imagined. Directed by Tobias Gremmler, in it we see her floating, and relentlessly shapeshifting, as if unsure exactly what form to settle on. There’s an almost eerily beautiful quality to it all, as Björk appears part human, part flora, sprouting, and even seemingly giving birth, just as she utters the words, “Tabula rasa for my children.”
Of course, “tabula rasa” is Latin for “clean slate.” And considering the prodigious failures of men, it is surely time for a woman of her unstoppable force to step in and attempt to reset our reality.
“Break the chain of the fuckups of the fathers / It is time / For us women to rise and not just take it lying down / It is time / The world is listening.”
We are indeed, Ms. Guðmundsdóttir – we are indeed.
In an age when social media assures that everyone will be ever aware of what breakfast cereal and what brand of motor oil their favorite bands are partial to, Detroit’s The Bodies Obtained (a moniker nicked from the Joy Division song “Day of the Lords”) have maintained an almost absolute secrecy. Indeed, after eleven years and eight albums, they don’t even have a Wikipedia page.
But the prolific duo’s musical cup continues to runneth over. To wit, their ninth album, Fishtail, will be released this Friday, May 17 – and it pushes their experimentations with electronic manipulation and rhythmic peripheries to thrilling new frontiers. BlackBook – after enthusiastically debuting last year’s “Waxed Wings” – premieres here the first track from the new album, intriguingly titled “Public View.” It boasts one of their wickedest grooves to date, a berserk bombardment of galactic sounding synths, and a short machine gun fade out.
“‘Public View’ is a funky, bump and grind marching song in 2/4,” they tell us in a transmitted statement, “that has a bark-like vocal that starts rocking the political soapbox of what’s best for you, even if it’s not true.”
And in a post-truth world, what more could we possibly hope for?
By the time Olsson‘s inaugural album (the humbly titled) Millions debuted in 2017, he had already done songwriting time with the fabulous Ms. Charli XCX (“Body of My Own”), and sung in a London choir with some of the backup trillers for Sam Smith and Amy Winehouse. And of his Madchester-influenced first single “Hold On,” Noisey raved that it “blends baggy vibes with gospel goodness.”
He was also nominated for a Swedish Grammy for his kooky video for the song “U.”
In the interim, the iconoclastic songsmith (born Christian Olsson) decamped to Berlin for new inspiration. It eventually led to his follow up album Tropical Cologne, partly recorded in the Peter Bjorn & John helmed INGRID studio in Stockholm, and released last week by Universal Sweden.
The breezy single “Pink Rambler” shows him to have moved decisively on from the acid house obsession, mixing languid calypso vibes with opulent harmonies and clever lyrical couplets like “Feeling like a woman / Dressed up like a man.” While on “Some Summertime,” the smooth R&B grooves and lush atmospherics are singularly elevated via a sultry guest vocal performance by Grant.
We caught up with the OLSSON recently for a chat about everything from pissing off his demons to avoiding the nostalgia trap.
Your debut album Millions exhibited a mix of styles, from Britpop to synth-pop. What are some of your most pronounced influences?
When I started writing Millions, I felt totally uninspired of all current music around me – so I started collecting images from my upbringing in the ’90s, from raves, late night parties and visuals with strong and bright colors from that era, together with Madchester beats. The only thing I knew in the beginning was that I wanted to sound like nothing out there.
Now I’m mostly into rare Africa beats like Hailu Mergia, Khruangbin and everything Steve Lacy lays his hands on. He’s the next big thing.
Is your new album title Tropical Cologne a metaphor? Or do you really wear tropical cologne?
I feel we all want to be somewhere else. Everything is okay but nobody is alright, you know? We are all on the run and we wish we were on permanent vacation. From ourselves. From our surroundings. I wanted to capture this in something warm, decadent, romantic and perishable. And voila…Tropical Cologne.
What can we expect that was different from your first?
For me it’s still all about simple and beautiful melodies. During the whole period of writing and producing Millions, I was in a very disturbed state and told my demons to piss-off by making this album. I felt I had to write a liberating dance soundtrack to a 3AM after party. Tropical Cologne is more tomorrow’s hangover, maybe even finding clear purpose and starting to fall in love again.
Grant and Olsson
You recorded at the INGRID studio? Is there a real kinship amongst Stockholm indie musicians?
Stockholm has a really small artist community, I knew most of the INGRID members from before. I think we all did. I’ve been part of that collective from the beginning, and it makes full sense to be under the same roof, hanging out more and, by chance, even do something magical together. It’s pretty easygoing.
I think I learned early that you should surround yourself with amazing people. And then create music with them. Be nice and humble but don’t back off from your vision. Also music is a pure drug to me, but I’ve learned how to deal with it, to not overdose.
Your new single is “Pink Rambler” – have you ever seen or driven a real Rambler?
“Pink Rambler” is about someone who is rumbling around and rediscovering the world after being in hibernation for too long. But I’d love to drive around in my own Pink Rambler one day.
You mentioned that the song is about finding new hope. In these divisive times, do you feel a real sense of hope?
My music has an ambition, is somewhat hopeful…and I feel that I need it in a world where everything is free falling. It can’t get worse right?
Let’s hope not. But you sing, “I hate getting stuck in nostalgia” – yet isn’t all music making these days a product of nostalgia?
I really do hate nostalgia. I’m never like that. Maybe it’s because I also have the worst memory ever – haha. I’m obviously inspired by a bunch of old soulful crooners, but I always aim to do something new with it and move forward. As soon as I feel a song is too similar to something out there, I throw it in the bin. Maybe that’s why it takes me forever to finish an album.
There’s the line, “You’ve got your pulse against my skin / Even when I’m stuck in Berlin” – do you often get stuck in Berlin?
I moved down there after touring Millions and started writing for this album. I fell in love with the vibe – I’m not alone I know – and never thought I was going back to Sweden. I think I’ll always be stuck in Berlin in my mind, on and off.
You even worked with Charli XCX on her song “Body of My Own”? Was she as fun as she seems?
I really love writing songs for others, I’m trying to find as much time as possible for it. For me it’s the most playful process, and when you meet someone great to write with, you have no idea what’s going to come out of it. Charli is definitely someone who always pushes you in a totally new direction, she´s all about the music and a creative genius. Again, that’s the best thing about music, you can’t control it.
Finally…some Americans are going all hysterical about young politicians with “socialist” leanings. Could you perhaps tell us what is good about or bad about the Swedish system?
Sweden is nowhere what it used to be. I think we have reached rock bottom in terms of our state of the nation – sorry guys. But you know what they say though: the only way is up from here.
As the news flashing across our screens is apparently not getting better any time soon, all we can frankly think to do is dance while Notre Dame burns.
Naturally, Sofi Tukker are always first on our list these days for just such a remedy. And this exuberant R3HAB remix of their most recent single “Fantasy” is precisely the sort of Teutonic, retro-club-culture dancefloor stormer we need to sweat away the heartache. Of course, the track already sported those Depeche-like lyrical ambiguities we’ve always so dearly loved: “I want you to come closer / Maybe treat me better / Maybe a little meaner / Does it take work? / I hate when you can resist me,” confesses Sophie Hawley-Weld with a breathy desperation.
She and ST musical partner in crime Tucker Halpern electrified the Coachella crowds last weekend – watch a clip of their performance here – and they’ll be taking the stage in Indio again this Sunday. From there their current tour takes them to Australia, back to the US, and then to a series of festival gigs in Brazil and Europa.
With any luck, you can catch us catching them at Croatia’s INmusic Festival on June 26. Naturally, we’ll be right up front.
Springtime is at last upon us – and nothing soundtracks the season like something sleek and sexy.
To that end, BlackBook premieres here the alluringly sultry new remix of New York synth-pop duo Great Good Fine OK‘s sensual single “Easy” (which has racked up 2.2 million streams) by Barcelona DJ-producer Gavin Moss. Where the original was disco-smooth (think: Sade), Moss gives it a cool, housey remake, with a unstoppable groove and a palpable exuberance.
“Our last release ‘Easy’ was definitely one of our favorites,” says GGFO’s Jon Sandler, “and it’s been awesome to see people connecting with it in different ways. It felt like the perfect song to have reimagined by other amazing artists. Hope you love these as much as we do.”
It’s take from their new three-track Easy Remixes EP, via Ultra. GGFO (Sandler and Luke Moellman) will also launch an 18-date North American tour in Chicago on May 31, sharing a bill with Vesperteen.
These are the first of many unrelated adjectives that flood your brain when you listen to London’s black midi. The quartet, all of whom are under 21, have little to say about where they’ve come from or what their point may be. They carry their audiences through swells of melodic passages, jazzy drumming and delightfully strange vocals that inevitably crash into a world of utter lunacy and terrifying dissonance. Noisy though they may be, they are precise to the point of fastidiousness, and creepy, with a daunting amount of self-control. Their myriad, opposing forces melt together in mind-blowing ways, coming off as a lyrically less intricate, heavy metal Talking Heads.
Comparisons really do black midi no justice, that said. And who really cares what most bands have to say? They are on a plane of their own bizarre, panicked creation, and it’s been a terribly long time since something this refreshingly insane has hit the scene. And as black midi shatters the stifling, if not vapid glass ceiling of their indie music peers, they breath new life into not only today’s atmosphere, but have laid new ground for the future by simply torching all expectations to the ground.
Their new single, “Crow’s Perch” (out via Rough Trade) takes its name in reference to the video game Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The accompanying video, directed by 17-year-old Vilhjálmur Yngvi Hjálmarsson (aka susan_creamcheese), reflects the frenetic energy of the song to the point where it can nearly be seen in plain sight with your eyes closed. Hyper, neon flashes punctuate montages of mundane, quotidian life teapots and bathroom tiles, amounting to another chapter of insanity that only black midi can create, as we anxiously await whatever they manage to cook up next.
They were arguably the most anticipated band at this year’s SXSW Festival, and that’s for good reason. Their burn is masterfully slow, and they put on one hell of a show. Already having sold out their first-ever, upcoming NYC dates, they are also making an appearance at the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer – but not before they kick off their European tour next month. Miss them at your own cultural peril.
Raw. Soulful. Organic. They’re words that the British pop sensation Jess Glynne used to describe a fellow star – but they are also easily applied to her. With her mop of fantastic, ginger hair, her sparkling blue eyes, an earthen purity of emotion to her voice and a purpose that transcends the ordinary, much less expected, it’s perhaps not a surprise that the 29-year-old North Londoner has managed to clinch more number-one hits than any female artist in the UK…ever. (That would be seven.) She’s also, remarkably, the only female to achieve a number-one album in her home country.
As far as rises to fame go, there are ones that are meteoric…and then there is Glynne’s – which could be said to be from another universe entirely. Her debut album, 2015’s I Cry When I Laugh, not only topped the charts and went triple platinum, but “Rather Be” also won her a Grammy for Best Dance Recording of the Year. Her collaborators have spanned from Rudimental and Ed Sheeran to Tinie Tempah and Macklemore, but Glynne in the middle always rings true.
She’s a girl, like any other, trying to find her way through life, romance, friendship and confusion. Never a victim and always a step ahead of herself, she strives to come out empowered. Her lyrics are both supportive and moving, and she never shies from sharing her vulnerabilities with what has become nearly the entire world. She certainly thrives where the average angel often fears to tread.
To her, it’s never been easy being a woman, much less in music; but it’s through the difficulties and often wild emotions that this shimmering diamond was cut.
In her own words: “I think I speak very openly and honestly and I’m not afraid to try anything.”
Glynne has just released her sophomore album, Always in Between, and is not only slaying the charts once more, but is also revving up to embark on a pair of very high-profile 2019 tours. The first will bring her stateside, sharing a stage with Leon Bridges; the second will see her on the bill with the one and only Spice Girls. It’s hard to say how to top the British pops more than she has, but give her time – there is certainly much more story still to tell.
We caught up with her as she prepped for her tour of America, to chat about insecurities, riding on horses with girls, and what we all have to learn about life through music.
You shell out number-one hits the way one may pistachios. Are you sometimes surprised by how it’s turning out?
I don’t think surprised is the word. I feel like I’ve worked hard for a long time and that’s why people succeed. If you put the work in, at some point you’ll find success. I’m very grateful for it and I’m very blessed that it’s worked out the way it has.
Would the nine-year-old Jess have ever guessed she’d one day go on tour with the Spice Girls?
If you had told her that she would be standing onstage with the Spice Girls, she would have laughed in your face and said, “good one!” But if you told me it was true, I would have been running around the house screaming and telling all my friends!
How does the Jess Glynne of today feel on stage, compared to the one from 2015?
I know myself a lot better and trust myself more. I’ve grown. I’m a stronger performer. I’ve learned how to be onstage and really love it.
As a woman in music, how has the process been for you as you rose to success?
It’s not been easy at all. There are so many turns and so many put downs along the way. It’s genuinely harder as a female to connect and get people to believe in you. But you know what? I’ve enjoyed every minute of it because it’s been so amazing. It’s just given me determination and made me work harder. Every inch of success I’ve gotten along the way seems even better just knowing that nobody can stop me from doing what [I’ve done].
Many of your songs are a breath of honest, fresh air, with messages of self-empowerment. And everything from your body image to sexuality gets bravely explored in your music. Is it a genuine reflection of who you really are?
You’re absolutely right. The writing and creating process are about self-reflection for me. I reflect upon what I’ve been through – the highs and lows and what is in the current moment. It’s also to teach myself a lesson and remind myself of the things I forget constantly.
Do you hope that your listeners will perhaps take a cue and be more open in their self-discovery too?
Yes, once I create those songs, it’s a really nice feeling to know that I can release [them] into the world and potentially help people. I always hope that when people do listen to my music that they listen to it from their own point of view. I want people to relate to the lyrics and let that make sense of their own lives. That’s what I do, I listen to artists who inspire me, and I listen to what they have to say and relate that back to myself. And that’s what’s so amazing about music – you can’t buy those feelings and you can’t buy those moments.
Your lyrics point back to insecurities…not wanting to have them, not wanting to admit that you do. Where are you today in relation to some of the feelings that were exposed on your last album?
Everyone has insecurities, it’s a part of life and growth. At the moment I feel like I’m in an okay place. I’ve had a lot of lows, but my insecurities have to be my friends at times. You have to learn to live with them, look at them as positively as you can, and learn to deal with them rather than push them under the carpet. That’s what the song “Thursday” represents.
What inspirations and experiences have gone into Always in Between? And what does that phrase mean to you?
It’s a story of emotions and a journey of everything I’ve been through over the past few years. My life has been in between for that long, through relationships, through work, through traveling, my friends, my family. Everything has been so in between in my life that I began to look at it in a negative way. I felt like I could never really find a balance. But I eventually came to realize that it’s not always about being one way, or being balanced. This is just where I am. I have my personal life and my friends and family and the people who really know me from that little girl growing up; and I have the people who know me through my music and my fame. And that essentially is my life, I had to come to a point where I accepted that.
Who are the girls you are riding horses with in the “I’ll Be There” video? Why are you riding with them?
The [Excaramuza] Charras girls. It’s a sport in Mexico. They all ride and do crazy things on horses. The reason I chose them for the video is that riding is a really empowering sport. I horse rode from a really young age, it was my lifetime hobby. It can come across as something quite masculine, but it can be truly empowering to see females on horses in control.
You’re touring with Leon Bridges, who BlackBook interviewed recently. How do you feel that your music intersects with his? What do you admire most about him?
I love that he’s a raw, organic artist and that he has such soulful roots. He’s a really cool guy and a great performer, very inspired by culture and fashion – he does what he knows best works for him. He doesn’t follow trends, and I find that really inspiring. I’m very excited to go on tour with him!