This Week’s Miami Happenings: Dynamo Duo; Wine In Joey’s Garden; Calvin Harris At Story

MONDAY: Michael Schwartz Comes To The Raleigh
Synonymous with good eats in Design District, chef Michael Schwartz is in a serious expansion mode. Coming on the heels of his recently opened The Cypress Room, Restaurant Michael Schwartz at The Raleigh is ready to open its doors to the tourists and the locals who wouldn’t be caught dead crossing the causeway over to the mainland. The quaint spot will continue on with the chef’s ethos of simplicity of food and drink. Expect the same epicurean execution here as with Schwartz’ District outpost, which will be implemented by Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink executive chef Bradley Heron and pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith.

Restaurant Michael Schwartz (1775 Collins Ave., South Beach,) opens today. For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Wine In Joey’s Garden
Joey’s is spreading the spring cheer by launching its Wines in the Garden program. For $30 a head, from 7pm to 9:30pm this Thursday, feast on an Italian buffet and tastings from Argentina’s Ferllen Winery and Vinifera Imports. Considering the expected herds making way to Wynwood, reservations are required.

Wines in the Garden kicks off this Thursday at Joey’s (2506 NW 2 Ave., Wynwood.) Check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

FRIDAY: Calvin Harris At Story
Loving the Calvin Harris’ “I Need Your Love” jingle featuring Ellie Goulding? Chances are he will be performing it this Friday at Story along with a repertoire of his other dance hits – like the one that gave Florence Welch some club cred – and make up Harris’ number one records.

Calvin Harris performs this Friday at Story (136 Collins Ave., South Beach.) For details check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s Miami City Guides.

Synth-Pop Singer-Songwriter Charli XCX Talks True Romance, Tasting Sweat, & Lena Dunham

Charli XCX is no newbie to the music scene, though her age might indicate otherwise to those not in the know. The 20-year-old Brit, born Charlotte Aitchison but recognized by her hotly debated stage name, has been making people move since she was an adolescent.

At 14, XCX was already on the radar, albeit far from mainstream, discovered on MySpace and invited to play raves at the weekend. An only child, her parents would drive her to and from performances—sometimes staying, watching on like ever-adoring chaperones—then take her to school come Monday. What might have remained a fond memory or a passing phase, however, evolved into a career, with a capital “c,” her warehouse party past giving rise to a girl who knew her pop hooks and dance beats.

The past half-decade has seen her morph from girl to woman, as well as release several solid songs, among them one of her best, “Nuclear Seasons.” At 16 she signed a record deal, catapulting the former club kid from promising act to legitimate artist with a single signature. For the past four years she’s worked towards today, which sees her major label release of True Romance. Her lyrical prowess and knack for catchiness continue to impress with this sweeping and anthemic debut, a 13-track album featuring favorites like “Lock You Up,” “What I Like” and “Cloud Aura.”

XCX, who also co-wrote Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” (which, if you’ll recall, was a huge hit following a particularly entertaining episode of HBO’s Girls) is currently touring Europe and the U.K. with Ellie Goulding, and will touch down in the States come May. New Yorkers can catch her supporting Marina and the Diamonds at Rumsey Playfield on May 29 and alongside Little Daylight on May 31 at Glasslands Gallery.

In the meantime, hear from the hard-hitting goth-pop princess herself. She’s got plenty to say, from her outlook on love (which she’s in, with Ryan Andrews) to her fantasies surrounding calling all the concert shots (think outlandish creative direction as it pertains to set design, à la Girls dreamboat douchebag Booth Jonathan).

You titled the album True Romance. Is this record the embodiment of “true romance,” to you? It’s such a bold statement to make. To say, like, Here it is. This is the definition.
This record is, for me, what true romance is. I’ve been writing the record for the past two to three years, but one song I wrote when I was 16. So, I feel like I’ve been writing this album as I’ve been growing up. Your views on love and life change over time. You experience different relationships, that kind of thing, and I think the record is kind of about that. It’s about love from different angles. Different periods of your life. There’s a bratty breakup song, when you went out with a bad boy. Then there’s a song about falling in epic, amazing, real, true love. And I feel like that’s what happened to me during the process of writing this album. I feel like I’ve fallen in love, massively. I feel like the record looks at how you can be on this love trip, in this dream state, but at the same time you can feel lonely and isolated. I think it’s interesting how schizophrenic love is. And that’s what the record is to me. It’s schizophrenic. It sounds that way. It sounds like love.

Did the title come at the end?
The title came last, actually. It was kind of, like, a reflection. I never wanted to make a concept album and come up with the title track and write songs around the title. I wanted to write the songs as naturally as possible and as naturally as they came to me. It just so happened they were about love. Once I started writing them, I supposed that was an appropriate title.

Makes sense. Can you tell me a bit about being so young coming up in the music scene?  
It was kind of crazy. At the beginning, I was very, very excited about everything. I was 15, signing a record deal. I was so elated by it. So, whenever there were highs and lows—which there definitely were, and still are—I took them really personally. It was a quite traumatic experience making this album, especially when I was younger. It can be emotional making an album, putting all your thoughts and feelings on a CD. I found the industry very difficult. There were so many expectations I thought I had to live up to. I was unsure who I was. I wrote the song “Stay Away” then. I began to find myself and what kind of music I wanted to make. I feel like I’ve changed a lot. I realized I don’t have any criteria I need to meet. I’m just doing my thing. I’m not feeling like I have to please anyone.

Even with the tumult, it had to have been a blast.
It was really fun. When I was younger, I’d go to raves, and that was crazy. Then, I’d go to school on Monday, and that was weird. But, it was cool. I kind of feel like I got sucked into that. I’m glad I left that scene and started making real music on my own.

Oh, yes. You’re talented, your debut’s a gem and, on top of that, you’ve traveled the world touring in support of Coldplay, Santigold, Ellie Goulding. Was it difficult to adjust to the limelight? MySpace and late-night raves are one thing, but stadiums are another thing all together. That’s rock star status.
For me, I can’t think about going on stage as the “limelight.” I think about it as playing my songs for people and losing my mind. When I’m on stage, I feel completely free. I feel completely inspired. I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m getting lost in the moment. It’s like one big trip.

Speaking of trip, do you have a favorite place to play?
I love America. I love L.A. and I love New York. And I haven’t been there yet, but I know I’m going to love Tokyo so much when I go. It sounds so magical.

It does. So, which one: New York or L.A.?
I don’t know. People compare them, but they’re so different. It’s so difficult to compare the two. I feel like L.A., maybe, for me, just because it’s so different from London. Whereas New York is so similar.

Aww, shucks. So, do you have any down time when you tour?
Never. It’s constant. But, that’s fine. It feels good to play shows and have people come listen to my music. That’s really nice. I mean, it’s weird doing promo every day. You have to talk about yourself all the time, and I don’t really like doing that. It’s just strange. I’m starting to get used to it. It’s all right.

You’re adjusting. How’s tour going so far with Ellie?
It’s fun. The crowds are big. She’s cool. I think I managed to convert her into a platform shoe-lover. She tried on my Buffalo platforms and was like, Oh my god, these are amazing!

How would you compare the experience of performing at big venues versus small?
Playing big venues is always less personal. Like, when I was doing the Coldplay tour, there were, like, seven screens. Only the front, like, five rows can see you up close. But, in a club it’s wild. You can taste everyone’s sweat, which I really like. I feel so much more alive. You can really get in touch with the crowd and make it, like, an apocalyptic, end of the world party. So, I really like that. Obviously, it’s a dream to play in front of as many people as possible, so big stages are good. But, when I have my own massive shows, I want the walls and ceilings and floors to be made of screens. So you’re in a screen box. And it’s, like, my favorite videos and mash-ups of my favorite movies playing. It’d be a mindfuck.

Do you watch Girls?
Yeah! Like that artist [Booth Jonathan]’s thing. Exactly like that, except on a massive scale.

That’s also, as you know, the episode featuring the song you wrote, performed by Icona Pop.
That was really cool. I’m a big Lena Dunham fan. I feel like she’s this sexy, hilarious, fierce super-girl. So, it was really cool seeing her singing that song. It was quite funny.

Is Hannah your favorite character on the show?
I don’t know. I also really like Adam. And I really like Shoshanna. And I love to hate Jessa, because I know so many people like that and they’re so frustrating.

Do you have a lot of super-fans?
I do, actually. They’re all sweet, but they’re crazy. It’s cute, though. They’re all young. They message me all the time. Like, everyday. It freaks me out that my music can mean that much to someone. I didn’t have that. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have had the power to tell them, because I didn’t have Twitter. Now, everyday, you can build up this false relationship in your mind. It’s scary. It’s mad.

I’d agree with that. After all this, the journey so far, what do your parents think?
They’re proud. Whenever I’m in London they’ll come to my show. They’re really supportive. They took me to the raves when I was younger, came with me and were really cool. I’m really thankful for that, actually.

That’s awesome. I imagine a lot of parents wouldn’t be as nurturing when it comes to their young daughter rocking the sometimes seedy rave scene. You also dress pretty provocatively. From where does your aesthetic sensibility derive?
I’m really inspired by movies. The Craft. Clueless. Empire Records. I just love that nineties aesthetic. I like basics, grungy stuff. I’m a big fan of the Spice Girls. Some of their music videos are my favorites. Like, “Say You’ll Be There.” I feel like I came through the third wave of the club kids in London. I was watching Party Monster, finding out who Michael Alig was. Part of me will always be interested in that world. DIY, but high fashion at the same time.

So, do you have a dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with Bjork. She’s incredible. I admire everything she does. Her voice is like butter. So angry but so sweet and beautiful at the same time. I think she’s wonderful.  

Whose music are you really into right now?
Jai Paul. I’ve always been a big fan of his. Kitty Pryde. I think she’s really cute. I love her lyrics. I always listen to the same stuff on repeat. Like, Uffie, Kate Bush, The Cure. Robert Smith is, like, my hero.

Last but not least, what would you be doing if not this?
I’d be crying probably. 

Mutual Appreciation: Ellie Goulding and Fun. Cover Each Other

It turns out all of the people that the kids are listening to these days are listening to each other. Grammy winners fun. (Fun.? Or, I dunno, how about just Fun) covered Ellie Goulding’s "Anything Could Happen," while Goulding covered the trio’s "Some Nights." Both renditions are stripped-down versions of the original songs, and I can tell you that Goulding’s "Some Nights" is about forty percent less annoying than the original. Listen below.

[via VH1 Tuner]

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Ellie Goulding Enters a New Phase With Sophomore Album ‘Halcyon’

It’s a cool September evening in New York City, and the first thing Ellie Goulding sees when her van hits Manhattan’s Lower East Side is the Economy Candy shop on Rivington Street. She’s scheduled for an interview with ArjanWrites at the Hotel On Rivington as part of his HP series, but not before she stocks up on bags of candy. She promptly tweets about the experience and even adds the photo to Instagram. It’s that level of human interaction that makes Ellie Goulding such an accessible pop superstar. She’s also pretty damn talented.

The U.K. artist’s debut album Lights arrived in the U.S. in 2011, but its title track took a year and a half to circulate and make Billboard history as the longest climb to a top position on its Hot 100 chart. “Everything’s weird in my life. Honestly,” Goulding says, settling into the leather sofa in the hotel’s penthouse suite. “I can say that with absolute sincerity.” She’s clad in all black with the only hint of color being her pink-meets-flaxen hairdo. This past year she took a trip to southern Ireland to pen her follow-up opus to Lights, titled Halcyon. The greater whole of the project was crafted in the presence of water; makes sense considering a “halcyon” is a type of mythical bird that watches over the sea. She co-produced the album with Jim Eliot of Kish Mauve, and before deciding on the name Halcyon, the two went on a binge of the Orbital track “Halcyon and On and On.” The content reflected the name halcyon. “Like the bird, it represents peace and happiness, and I like the idea that even though the album is quite dark, it can still represent sort of some kind of hopefulness and truth,” Ellie explains of the project’s title. “So then I was like, fuck, I have to name the album Halcyon. A lot of the album is melancholy, but it shows glimpses of hope so, it just all kind of made sense.”

While writing Halcyon, Goulding had a few life-changing experiences. She parted ways with ex-boyfriend, Radio 1 DJ Greg James, at the close of 2011 and met current boyfriend Skrillex several months later. The two chatted over email before beginning a friendship that turned into a relationship. Halcyon reflects the despair of one love ending and the hope of a new one beginning. There’s still a certain degree of loneliness when two touring artists get together. “I still have this dark side, you know? I think even though I’m in a relationship, and a really good relationship it’s still lonely because we’re not always physically near each other. Also I’m still very confused over what happened with my last relationship,” she admits. “I think it’s just confusion, especially when you’re by yourself a lot. Things manifest, and it amplifies and gets more intense. When I’m by myself in a hotel at night, I have a million things running through my head. That’s how I end up with songs.”

Ellie is escorted into another section of the hotel, before reemerging in a blue leather jacket and white V-neck tee. As she heads to the HP main stage to begin her talk with Arjan, her Beats By Dre commercial is shown on computer screens. A tour with Katy Perry, performing at the royal wedding, spots on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Saturday Night Live were all sizable milestones in Ellie’s career thus far. That’s not including her early achievements of winning the coveted BBC Sound of 2010 award and the Critics’ Choice Award at the BRIT Awards that same year. All of that was pushed to the back of her mind though when creating this new album. “I really had to ground myself to stay away from that and stick with what I was doing,” she says later on of the album’s direction. While there’s a strong Pop influence on Halcyon—evidenced by the album’s torch single “Anything Could Happen” along with the Calvin Harris cut “I Need Your Love”—there’s still a level of sonic purity that hasn’t been diluted by the saccharined mainstream. “That was something that I was never really going to do,” Goulding says. “Like, I love pop music, but there’s different degrees, I guess, of pop music. I would say that this album is very pop—it’s very repetitive, it’s very simple. It’s very melodic and the choruses are big. In a lot of ways it is a pop record, but it’s also kind of…” She trails off. “It’s darker.”

While sitting in a big uncomfortable chair at the heart of the small stage, Goulding makes jokes about her pants being “noisy” and seals answers to Arjan’s questions with a giggle. She’s still not totally comfortable with being a celebrity. Her eyes change shape, though, when snippets of the album are being played. The versions are chopped in a weird way, and while still remaining polite, it’s obvious Ellie isn’t thrilled with the edits made to her work. It’s a clear indicator of her connection to this album. Lights was written eons ago, but Halcyon is still fresh in her mind. “The fact that I can even remember writing tracks and where I was—I feel a lot closer to it,” she says. “That last album was just like, damn, I wrote it so long ago, and I can remember writing it but, like, you change so much! Especially in the climate of what I do, especially, I feel like I’m in a different place every day and I’m meeting different people every day, and I’m having to grow up quickly and having to move on real quick. That means that Lights is just a lot further away to me than it is other people, I think.” While she had a hand in production on the last album, she’s listed as an actual producer on Halcyon, explaining that the subtle vocal nuances scattered throughout the work are the result of her being much more comfortable and familiar with her voice. “My voice requires so much attention to me. I’ll know if the slightest thing is out of tune or if something is a little bit weird. It’s so cool to know something so well,” she says. “I used to record demos with just my guitar and my voice and didn’t give a shit about how it sounded. Now I do.”

While this next phase in Ellie Goulding’s career is certainly not her last, she’s still accomplished a lot in music thus far. Her fan base has reached mass hysteria, but she’s still one with the people. That’s the battle cry of an everyday girl doing extraordinary things, while still having fun doing it. “I posted a picture of me [on Instagram] in these latex pants and everyone was just like, ‘White girl ass!’ Like, nearly every other comment,” she jokes. “I’m just like, I thought I had a pretty substantial ass.”

Ellie Goulding Drops By the Hotel on Rivington For a Chat

It was just two years ago that we watched a then-mostly-unknown Ellie Goulding take the stage at New York’s Hiro Ballroom, causing the hearts of so many young girls in the audience to flutter. She’s since taken this nation, and much of the world, by storm, winning the hearts of nearly everyone, regardless of age or gender. So it was a particular treat at The Hotel on Rivington on Friday evening to share an intimate moment with the charming young lass from Hereford (that’s in England, by the way), as ArjanWrites.com launched the new ARTIST#TALK series, sponsored by HP and Windows (who were also showing off some fancy HP Beats technology). 

Arjan Timmermans chatted her up about her strikingly lovely new album Halcyon, to be released this October on Interscope. Indicative of a palpable musical maturation, debut single “Anything Could Happen”, which was sampled for the assembled, is melancholy and uplifting in equal measure. Mlle. Goulding commented that she loves to write songs, “that give people hope, in the least cheesy way possible.” Having retreated to the isolation of Dingle, Ireland to conjour Halcyon, we can expect a finished album (produced by Jim Eliot) that draws just such hope out of the forced introspection of loneliness. Indeed, another track, “My Blood”, teased at the event, recalls that other most brilliant of English eccentrics, one Kate Bush. Ellie, it seems, has been growing up in public.

[Photo: Tracey Hawkins]

Ellie Goulding Drops New Song, Video For ‘Hanging On’

Ellie Goulding does not have the spinning peppermint bra of Katy Perry or the tabloid-baiting love life of Rihanna. But she consistently puts out good music without any need for bells and whistles. (The fact that she performed for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding reception should not be held against her.) Earlier this week Goulding put out a new single, Hanging On, featuring Tinie Tempah, and yesterday she dropped the music video.

In other news, Ellie Goulding’s single Lights also hit the top five this week, following a new high of sales by her album of the same name. The Guardian teases that Goulding is at work on her second album with Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia.

 

In the mean time, she’s offering a download of Hanging On for free.