Transform Your Ashes Into Trees with ‘The Bios Incube’

The Bios Incube

We believe in a well-designed afterlife. Why not? So much effort is put into curating our everyday lives, that it seems silly to let our values and taste die along with our physical bodies, right? Thankfully, the brains behind Bios Urn, a project that converted cemeteries into forests, have returned with a more advanced project, the Bios Incube, that lets you plant your ashes in a personal, minimal vessel for private display.

 

 

The process from cremated remains to lush greenery includes a sensor that sits on the soil’s surface to track and water the tree, using the Incube’s internal 3 gallon water tank. A smartphone app then connects with the sensor, allowing you to monitor environmental conditions, as well as what’s happening inside the Incube, from fertilizer to temperature, moisture to light exposure.

“The intent of the Bios Incube is to offer people a sustainable alternative for remembering deceased persons or pets in a natural and contemporary way. Everyone has the right to affordable, sustainable death care,”  according to Kickstarter. “The Bios Incube has been designed for city dwellers with limited access to natural land, those seeking an alternative to traditional burials, and for people who want to meaningfully connect with their loved ones who have passed away.”

We’re on board.

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Andy Warhol’s Upper East Side Studio Hits the Market For $10 Million

Photo via Cushman & Wakefield

During the early ’60s, Andy Warhol was working primarily as a commercial artist, having just begun to assert himself as a fine artist and local provocateur. In January 1963, he moved into an Upper East Side studio, his first private space, which was then an affordable fire house, available for only $150 per month. More than half a century later and following years of gentrification, Warhol’s historic site, 159 East 87th Street, is on the market for a steep $9,975,000 and “offers a developer a blank canvass [sic] to create boutique condominiums, a mixed-use rental or a luxury townhouse.” 

Six months before the iconic pop artist moved into his UES space, he’d established a polarizing name with his newly debuted Campbell Soup Can paintings. “In 1963, [Warhol] was only just becoming known as a fine artist, so it’s no wonder he didn’t invest in a fancier studio,” said Warhol biographer Blake Gopnik to Artnet NewsThe building was “a wreck, with leaks in the roof and holes in the floors, but it was better than trying to make serious paintings in the wood-paneled living-room of his Victorian townhouse, as he’d done for the previous couple of years.” Despite the shifty environment, Warhol still managed to create several pieces from his revered Death and Disaster series, as well as portraits of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.

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Brillo Box (Soap Pads), 1964 (Photo via MoMA)

Warhol’s lease ended the following May, more than half a year before he moved into his legendary Silver Factory and unveiled his 1964 sculpture exhibition, Brillo Boxes—work philosopher Arthur Danto labeled the end of art. “What Warhol taught was that there is no way of telling the difference [between art and non-art] merely by looking,” Danto said. “The eye, so prized an aesthetic organ when it was felt that the difference between art and non-art was visible, was philosophically of no use whatever when the differences proved instead to be invisible.”

The two-story building, located between Lexington and Third Avenue, is currently being used for art storage and marketed by Cushman & Wakefield as a “boutique development site”—a far cry from its humble Warholian roots and testament to NYC’s ever-evolving real estate landscape.

Retro Bookworms Run Rampant Through Berlin in Gucci’s SS ’16 Campaign

Photography Glen Luchford

Gucci, once marked by Frida Giannini’s glamorous interpretation of luxury, has undergone an eccentric renaissance with the help of new creative director Alessandro Michele. For SS ’16, the newcomer’s aesthetic approach was one that looked to the past, introducing a retro lineup of tailored bookworms from decades past.

Giannini’s full-blown lamé gowns were slimmed down to subtle golden details on floral appliques; Michele’s take on drama was seen in his bold collision of patterned fabrics and previously passé, oversized eyeglasses were asserted as the season’s must-have accessory. There’s a delicacy and rebelliousness to Michele’s work thus far—one that was much needed to make Giannini’s stagnant Gucci feel relevant.

For its newest campaign, Gucci paired up with fashion photographer Glen Luchford, who rallied a troupe of models to shoot in Berlin. The photo series oozes with captivating energy, as Michele’s colorful looks are juxtaposed against the city’s urban landscape. In one shot, we see a model carrying a peacock, while skateboarding, and in another we see bowl cut purveyor Peyton Knight waiting for the city bus and checking up on her manicure. See the full campaign, below:

 

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BlackBook’s Five Most Anticipated Music Projects of 2016

A new year means promising new music—previously unheard voices unearth to shift the cultural narrative and innovative sounds unfold to shake up industry norms. Reflecting back on 365 days, it’s always fascinating to see where music’s been and how it’s adapted over time—to look at which newcomers made the biggest splash and how their careers advanced from being an unknown name to a full-blown game changer.

We’ve examined some of our favorite under-the-radar artists, whose forthcoming music projects are guaranteed to win big in 2016. From pop songwriting’s best kept secret Sarah Hudson to Kanye West-approved rapper Allan Kingdom, here are BlackBook’s five most anticipated releases coming this year.

 

Sarah Hudson // Songs From The Sea 

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Los Angeles singer/songwriter Sarah Hudson has been slowly chipping away at her forthcoming six-song EP Songs From The Sea, recruiting names like Brillz, Ferris and Nico Stadi to craft her dreamy musical vision. Hudson first began penning this project five years ago, balancing her solo work with notable Top 40 collaborations alongside Katy Perry, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. This will mark Hudson’s first major release since her electro-pop band Ultraviolet Sound officially debuted back in 2011, and if tracks she co-wrote like “Dark Horse” and “Black Widow” are any indicator, Songs From The Sea is guaranteed to be pure magic. Listen to an Ultraviolet Sound throwback, below: 

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Allan Kingdom // Northern Lights

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2015 has been a life-changing year for St. Paul rapper Allan Kingdom, whose career was catapulted to another level when his “All Day” collaboration with Kanye West, Paul McCartney and Theophilus London dropped. With a Grammy nomination for the smash single now under his belt, Kingdom will finally unveil his newest album Northern Lights early this year. The forthcoming project is a follow-up to Future Memoirs, which featured a number of standouts from Kingdom’s Spooky Black collaboration, “Wavey,” to the album’s lead single, “Evergreens.” Listen to Kingdom’s “Take It,” below: 

 

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MUNA // TBD

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We first fell in love with LA-based outfit MUNA when the trio released “So Special” earlier this year, introducing a fresh brand of ’80s-infused indie-pop that embraces the power of lyricism and fills the void of queer female voices in contemporary music. The follow-up singles to MUNA’s breakout, “Promise” and “Loudspeaker,” were just as strong, solidifying these rising musicians as an indisputable band to know in 2016. Listen to our favorite uncharted anthem, below:

 

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Owen Bones // TBD

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Chicago-based artist Owen Bones chronicled stages of self-destruction this past year with his three-track release The Sabotage EP—an impressive, brief release that left us craving the next steps in his electronic takeover. Beyond production, Bones’ live performances have attracted underground acclaim, as he simultaneously DJs and monitors an interactive visual display to fuse the worlds of EDM and DIY performance art. The rising talent’s forthcoming project, currently unnamed, will feature collaborations with Mick Jenkins, Kevin Abstract, Myrone and Thirsty. Listen to “Super Late,” below: 

 

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Effie Liu // TBD

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The past year in underground pop was hot pink, thanks to California-born, New York-based up-and-comer Effie Liu. Previously known as Bebe Panthere, 2015 saw the singer carve out a new moniker and sound with island-infused tracks that merge airy, balearic beats with glistening electro production. If buzzy singles like “Getaway” or “Wings On Fleek” are signs of what’s to come from Liu’s official EP in 2016, the future is one worth watching for this radio contender. Listen to “Getaway,” below: 

 

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Blonde Maze’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ is a Surreal Alternative to Darlene Love’s Classic

Where Darlene Love’s 1963 hit “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” delivers a joyous, trotting doo-wop, New York-based solo project Blonde Maze approaches the holiday classic with a surreal, slowed down sensibility. Singer Amanda Steckler works through the lyrics with a striking vulnerability that’s echoed by her vocals’ hazy treatment. The familiar line, “Baby please come home,” unravels with a melancholic singe that was altogether absent in Love’s original. 

This self-proclaimed sensi Christmas song aesthetically aligns with Blonde Maze’s discography, having released this year her four-track Oceans EP that “represents the love, pain, excitement and longing that comes with being an ocean away from someone or something dear to you.” Each track portrays a different phase in this transatlantic journey, Steckler said. 

Listen, below, for all Blonde Maze’s bells and whistles (literally):

 

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Antony Hegarty’s New Single ‘4 DEGREES’ is a Powerful Cry For Environmental Reform

Photo by Inez & Vinoodh

Antony Hegarty, the otherworldly operatic voice behind Antony And The Johnsons, has teamed up with an unlikely pair of co-producers—Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never—to craft her forthcoming full-length album, HOPELESSNESS. Packaged with the fresh, new moniker ANOHNI, Hegarty has previously described the collaborative project as an “experimental electronic record with quite a dark thematic undertow”—a promise that’s upheld with the LP’s lead melancholic single, “4 DEGREES.” 

The track was released yesterday “in solidarity with the climate conference in Paris,” Hegarty explained on her Facebook. Lyrically, the singer reflects on her own destructive behaviors that affect the environment, challenging listeners to also “be brave” and “tell the truth” in order to create a new world. The title alone, “4 DEGREES,” seemingly refers to the scientific theory, which suggests it’d take a mere two degree shift in temperature for catastrophic doom to ensue.

“I want to hear the dogs crying for water, she wails, self-aware, penning what reads like an apocalyptic death wish. “I want to see the fish go belly up in the sea; And all those lemurs and all those tiny creatures, I want to see them burn.” Such extreme lyrics seem irrational at first, but considering our world carelessly ignores the realities of climate change, we’re all ultimately fueling global degeneration—inevitably begging to see these “tiny creatures” burn.

Hegarty first debuted the climate change anthem at Primavera Sound Festival last spring, unveiling the anticipated recipe of her organic vocals and powerful production from two of electronic’s biggest contemporary names. ANOHNI seems like an unlikely trio, especially considering Mohawke’s core contributions to hip-hop (Kanye West, Drake, Pusha T), but it’s a fusion of disparate sounds that really works; the monumental horns from Mohawke’s “Chimes” get strung throughout “4 DEGREES,” as incessant, tribal drums reinforce the narrative’s importance to create an epic soundtrack for a future climate-concious generation. Listen, below:

 

D∆WN (Dawn Richard) Releases Sultry, Electronic Cover of Adele's 'Hello'

Having infiltrated every corner of the Internet since being released, Adele”s 25 single “Hello” has been inevitably victim to a slew of covers—some good, some very bad. Singer/songwriter Dawn Richard, who”s been performing under the moniker D∆WN, dropped today her own unlikely interpretation of the piano ballad, transforming the track into a slow, sultry groove directed toward a past lover.

When Richard sings, “Hello from the other side,” the song”s message feels far less introspective than Adele”s—less nostalgic and more confrontational, oozing with a signature nonchalance that makes the ex-Danity Kane member so undeniable.

“I’m always skeptical best online casino about doing covers,” the singer told Pitchfork. “If I do them, I usually take them and morph them into my own. For example, when I covered Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” my producer and I sat down to create a distinct sound for the track. Recreating “Hello” was no different because I had the urge to cover it in my own way. I just couldn’t resist a record that was so well written.”

Say “Hello” to an Adele cover that you”ll actually enjoy:

 

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Top 10 Uncharted Pop Songs to Know Now

More so than ever before it seems impossible for up-and-coming artists to reach the ears of mainstream listeners. Perhaps today’s magazines are to blame, all hesitant to waste precious time and real estate on a fresh musician that can’t promise the thousands of clicks publications now need  to stay in business. (Writing about Drake will always ensure a stronger ROI than featuring a promising newcomer with less than 20 devoted fans, and that’s the sad truth).

When Selena Gomez releases a single, it receives attention that’s embarrasingly comparable to an Obama-related news story, while an unearthed musician’s latest effort might as well have never happened—mere stardust in the expansive online galaxy. To combat this norm, we’ve pulled together a list of our favorite sleeper singles from 10 deserving artists all well-equipped to take over pop radio. Because there’s more to this world than Beyoncé.

 

“Backbeat” by DAGNY

Here we have the absolute best chorus that music’s heard in the past few months, leave (maybe) Gwen Stefani’s tearjerker “Used To Love You.” There’s simply no chance this track couldn’t ignite any dull crowd, regardless of the demographic—it shines with an immediately engaging tenor, like feeling the warm spring sun after a long winter. With its bouncy percussion and bright piano melody, DAGNY’s “Backbeat” is everything delightful about pop music, wrapped as an irresistible radio contender. Listen, below, and resist (quite literally) skipping down the sidewalk:

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“NoLo” by Grace Mitchell

Lifted off Grace Mitchell’s impressive five-track EP Raceday, “NoLo” is a fairly straightforward, easy listen, packed tight with exciting subtleties that add dimension to this bright pop winner. Rumbling guitars swing happily alongside nostalgic backup vocals, as Mitchell’s earthy alto drives the song toward a smooth, passionate chorus. “How do you know what the top looks like when you’re living on the bottom?” she questions, before slipping into an unexpected autotuned bridge. Listen below, and imagine yourself cruising lakeside with a bike basket-full of daisies (It’s very that):

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“Young Heart” by FREJA

To fully understand Denmark’s FREJA, you’d need to indulge in her “Young Heart” music video—a fantastic Godard-inspired clip that makes everyday backdrops—trailer and amusement parks, hotel rooms and empty beaches—feel far from mundane. The scandinavian singer’s sound is sonically charged with 80’s synth-pop luster and lyrically armed with the campy “hopeless romantic” archetype that’s in this case, simply irresistible. Listen, below, and lose yourself in a banging pop song that breathes life into a trend-driven landscape:

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“Kimono” by MNDR

Having co-penned tracks with major artists like Kylie Minogue, Rita Ora and Santigold, it’s time for LA-based singer/songwriter MNDR to have a major (well-deserved) moment in the spotlight. Following her standout 2012 LP Feed Me Diamonds, including the fiery cut “Faster Horses,” MNDR has released “Kimono,” which is featured in a teaser for season 11 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Her stylish new single is the musical equivalent of Bianca Jagger posing on a white horse in Studio 54—quietly retro and slicker than a Tom Ford runway. Listen, below, and imagine yourself strutting earnestly with a Diana Ross ‘fro and RuPaul’s highest platforms:

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“Intention” by Kiiara

Despite being a staple soundcloud artist, Kiiara’s yet to cross over into the Top 40 pop playground. Her sexy single “Intention,” produced by Casper & B, is equally sophisticated as it’s prepped for the foggiest underground nightclub where all shameless 4 a.m. ventures are happily overlooked. Part of the reason why this chorus is so unbelievably infectious is that it’s coincidentally set to the same beat as TLC’s 1999 hit, “Scrubs.” Listen, below, and you’ll see what we mean:

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“Loudspeaker” by MUNA

LA-based outfit MUNA—armed with an all-woman roster—is the most important on-the-rise band, right now. Lead singer Katie Gavin’s walls-down lyrics are brutally honest, while still sounding “pop”—a seamless marriage of style and substance that’s terribly difficult for most to nail. The band’s third single, “Loudspeaker,” is their strongest yet with a chorus that will have you screaming to the stars and never once questioning yourself. Listen, below, and remember the moment you first hear MUNA before they inevitably reach stadium-sized success.

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“WorkX2” by Annie

Norwegian dance-pop icon Annie delivers exactly what one would expect from a Norwegian dance-pop icon. Listen to the Richard X collaboration, below, and let “WorkX2″ be the reason to spend an extra 30 minutes at the gym:

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“Dancing Thru It” by Mr. Hudson

After making a comeback appearance during Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreaks concert last month in Los Angeles, Yeezy’s longtime collaborator released “Dancing Thru It”—a somber, melodic cut about the singer’s “dark days” that sonically picks up where tracks like “Supernova” and “There Will Be Tears” left off. Mr. Hudson’s softly autotuned vocals strongly soar above the song’s cloudy, puttering production, making his sorrows sound beautiful, per usual. Listen, below, and bow down to UK’s most emotive crooner:

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“Play It On My Radio” by Niki & The Dove

Mirroring a soundtrack to some sunset-framed finale in a fuzzy ’80s film, Niki & The Dove’s latest effort is warmly nostalgic, like the melancholic sister to Madonna’s palm tree floor-filler “Holiday.” The harmonious single finds the Swedish duo reveling in a more muted soundscape, pulling out Phil Collins-style vocals from the pop grave and pairing this with richly organic synths. Listen, below, and allow yourself to melt into this soothing stunner:

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“Doors” by Cardiknox

The Cardiknox we saw open for Take Me When You Go singer Betty Who more than a year ago is not the Cardiknox we see today. A NY-based duo that once felt lost in the greater pop landscape has returned powerfully, armed with a more refined, mature sound. Happily on the outskirts of overworked trends this time around, “Doors” reads like a genuinely pensive effort, centered simply on the difficulties of  life. “When I’m diving in the deep, won’t always land on my feet,” sings lead vocalist Lonnie Angle with believable intent. Listen, below, and welcome a newly refurbished Cardiknox into your life.

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