Archive for the ‘Artist Management’ Category

Ricky Montgomery

Posted on: November 19th, 2022 by founder No Comments

Ricky Montgomery’s music was ahead of its time — literally. Four years after the release of his debut album, and a decade after he wrote some of it, the Los Angeles native’s indie-pop has been a balm in the midst of a heavy time, comforting listeners with warm melodies and relatable lyrics. It all started in July of 2020, when a pair of singles from 2016’s Montgomery Ricky — the gently swaying “Mr Loverman” and string-soaked stunner “Line Without a Hook” — took off on TikTok. “I think because we had a really traumatizing year, these songs kind of found a moment,” Montgomery says. “Because they’re all, in their own way, about traumas in my life.”

Now, with a fan base that’s all caught up, Montgomery is sitting on a trove of new music built on this now-familiar foundation: “Mr. Loverman” pairs intense family strife with soft acoustic strums that build to a rousing sing-along chorus; “Line Without a Hook” rocks a bit heavier, with strings and power-pop riffs weaving around cathartic one-liners that speak to the jumble that is one’s coming of age. He balances melancholy with a touch of sweet humor and loads of humanity. It’s no wonder these songs have racked up more than 210M streams so far, landing simultaneously on the Spotify 200 and Spotify Viral 50 charts — a feat few artists can claim — with over 50 entries worldwide. As of early 2021, Montgomery’s catalog was picking up 15M global streams weekly.

Montgomery began honing his singing and songwriting chops at age 14, shortly after moving from L.A. to Missouri. To flee the culture shock, he went underground, literally, shuffling through various bands in the suburban basements of West St. Louis County. “Music was just an escape from everything,” he says. “It was a way to go into myself and figure out how to have fun on my own.” In college, he found the fun he was looking for — and his first viral audience — on the now-defunct Vine platform, interspersing comedic bits with intimate music performances.

But in the summer of 2014, he released his debut EP, Caught on the Moon, and found himself climbing iTunes’ Rock and Alternative charts. His yearning to move back to the West Coast was palpable in those songs, and he knows it. “At the time, I defined my personality around wanting to leave Missouri,” he admits. “It was almost obsessive for me.” The success gave him the excuse. He dropped out, hightailed it to his hometown, and released Montgomery Ricky.

Of course, music careers in L.A. are rarely so simple. When things didn’t exactly take off, Montgomery swerved into The Honeysticks, a side project with a childhood friend meant to be an outlet for experimentation. In 2018, he took a year off of music. And by the summer of 2020, he was considering quitting entirely. Then the seemingly impossible — yet somehow inevitable — happened: Suddenly people were finding solace in his songs. Now, he’s using that momentum to prepare for the release of new music on Warner Records. While the songs will certainly be updated, Montgomery’s sincere songwriting will continue to shine through. “I just want to create something that can feel as special for other people as it is to me,” he says.

rainbolt

Posted on: October 21st, 2022 by founder No Comments

rainbolt (Trevor Rainbolt) is a 23 year old Creator and professional Esports Athlete. With an elite ability to identify a location in seconds by only looking at an image of a street, rainbolt quickly rose the ranks and has become the face of the GeoGuessr (the popular browser facing program with over 30M users that gamifies Google Maps) community.

 

Trevor began posting content on TikTok on January 1st, 2022 and immediately saw a meteoric rise in views, forming a budding new audience. With over 2.1M followers on socials, over 2.5M impressions per day across channels, rainbolt is the most viewed and consumed Geography content creator in the world.

Andrey Azizov

Posted on: October 21st, 2022 by founder No Comments

Andrey Azizov is an incredibly dynamic creative.  Both a musician and designer, Andrey has amassed an audience of over 400K followers for his multifaceted artistic endeavors.  Having worked with artists such as Bazzi, BROCKHAMPTON, Chelsea Cutler, Kevin Abstract, Glaive, Blu DeTiger, Alexander 23, and more, Andrey looks to shift industry norms, pioneering an audience that is hyper in-tune to both sonics and design.

Zolita

Posted on: June 3rd, 2022 by founder No Comments

For emerging alt-pop icon Zolita, every song begins as an elaborate movie in her mind, irresistibly rooted in both riveting drama and viscerally real feeling. A truly multidimensional artist, the L.A.-based singer/songwriter/filmmaker matches her fiercely honest musical output with self-directed videos, each revealing the singular aesthetic she honed in part through her studies in film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Recently signed to AWAL after earning massive success as a D.I.Y. creator (including over 140 million global streams to date and growing thanks to her recent acclaimed viral trilogy of singles), Zolita continues to share her most magnetic and polished work yet, a new EP and video series that spotlights her cinematic storytelling and her wildly catchy, newly unbridled sound. 

Zolita’s new single “20 Questions,” a pop anthem that blends shimmering textures and euphoric harmonies with themes of betrayal and taking your power back, perfectly encapsulates her pop-punk energy and gritty effervescence. Introducing a whole new cinematic universe and set of characters, “20 Questions” and its compelling music video (produced, directed, and edited by Zolita) confronts an unfaithful partner and takes cues from real life. “‘20 Questions’ was born when I was thinking back on an ex who cheated on me and all of the initial questions that ran through my head that I didn’t get the chance to ask,” she shares. “20 Questions” is the beginning of Zolita’s most ambitious project to date, one that will take listeners on a sonic and visual journey through falling out of love, falling in love again, and the time in between with guitar-driven pop gems, sparkly acoustic love songs, and meditative ballads. 

Receiving critical acclaim for the release of “Somebody I F*cked Once,” which was shortly followed by “Single In September” and “I F*cking Love You,” Zolita’s episodic viral trilogy of narrative-driven music videos were a sharp departure from the moody dark-pop of past efforts like her debut album Evil Angel and put a brilliant twist on the classic teen movie. Showcasing Zolita’s desire for LGBTQ+ visibility, the trilogy was produced, directed, and edited by Zolita herself (who played an essential part in everything from production design to casting) and also starred her as a cheerleader who falls in love with an artsy outsider named Gia. The “Somebody I F*cked Once” video went viral immediately after its premiere, amassing five million YouTube views in its first week alone. As a follow-up, the trilogy’s second installment “Single in September” introduced a heavy-hearted but exhilarating portrait of a fast-fading romance, built on a particularly poignant vocal performance from Zolita. Continuing the narrative arc of its predecessor, the video follows Zolita and Gia through the blissed-out whirlwind of summer love (sharing ice cream cones, making out in a topdown convertible), then crashes into the quiet heartache of their breakup. “I think it’s so common for people to believe that your first love is going to be your only love,” says Zolita. “I wanted to capture that feeling of trying so hard to hold onto someone, even though you’re in such different places now.” And with “I F*cking Love You,” the trilogy closes out on an unexpected and thrillingly joyful moment of reconnection. 

Born Zoë Hoetzel and raised near L.A., Zolita grew up in a highly creative family who nurtured her artistic side from a young age. To that end, she first discovered her innate gift for music by playing flat-pick guitar with her father (a bluegrass aficionado and longtime banjo player), and later began writing her own folk-leaning songs in her bedroom. “It was mostly something I did for myself, as a form of therapy,” she says. In high school Zolita immersed herself in photography, almost instantly unveiling her left-of-center sensibilities. 

Naming David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky among her favorite filmmakers, Zolita next headed to NYU to study film but soon found herself drawn to the world of music-video production. “It hit me that videos were a way to combine everything I love,” she says. “Not just music and film, but choreography, fashion, activism—there’s so much you can do in a threeminute time span.” After refining her stylistic approach by creating a number of videos for her own songs, Zolita had a major breakthrough with the spellbinding visual for “Explosion”—a deeply intimate track she wrote alone on guitar, then transformed into an epic yet slow-burning meditation on desire. With its heady collision of religious iconography and raw sensuality, the “Explosion” video quickly went viral and ultimately clarified Zolita’s intentions as an artist. “There were so many young queer people coming together in the comments and talking about how healing it was to hear someone sing about love between queer femme women, and I realized how badly that gap needed to be filled in pop culture,” she says. “That was the moment when I decided, ‘This is what Zolita is.’” 

Since the arrival of “Explosion,” Zolita has gained lavish acclaim from the likes of Billboard, i-D, Paper Magazine, V Magazine, Out Magazine, NYLON, Gay Times, Dazed, and Interview while further pushing her boundaries with releases like “Holy”—a darkly hypnotic track for which she created a dystopian narrative short, centered on a female student who joins the girl she loves in leading a rebellion against their cult-like patriarchal schoolhouse. In the making of her latest body of work, she achieved yet another milestone with the production of “Somebody I F*cked Once,” whose guitar-heavy and galvanizing sound defines the next era of her music. “For a long time I was bouncing off other people and exploring different ideas for my sound, but ‘Somebody I F*cked Once’ was a real a-ha moment,” says Zolita, who recorded the track with L.A.-based producer Hiser (Chloe x Halle, Hey Violet). “It makes so much sense to go for something more guitar-driven, considering my whole experience of growing up playing guitar.” 

Zolita is also focusing her seemingly limitless creative energy on developing her live set. “I’m excited by the idea of combining a very conceptual, theatrical stage show with music in a more pop-punk vein, because I don’t think we’ve seen that before,” she says. And as she’s learned on past tours (including a nationwide 2019 run with electropop star XYLØ), the live show allows for an extraordinarily close connection with her audience. “I talk to people online all the time, but to hug the people who’ve supported me is so amazing,” she says. “I love it because I never hear things like, ‘I’m so obsessed with you’—it’s usually something more like, ‘You really helped me embrace my queer identity.’ One of the most important things for me is to normalize queerness, and to show happy endings for queer people. I never thought of that as a kind of activism before, until I saw firsthand what it can actually do.”

Ida Mae

Posted on: January 20th, 2022 by founder No Comments

For nearly two straight years following the release of their critically acclaimed debut, Chasing Lights, Ida Mae lived on the road, crisscrossing the US from coast to coast as they performed hundreds of dates with everyone from Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss to Marcus King and Greta Van Fleet. And while those shows were certainly formative for the electrifying British duo, it was what happened in between—the countless hours spent driving through small towns and big cities, past sprawling suburbs and forgotten ghost towns, across rolling plains and snow-capped mountains—that truly laid the groundwork for the band’s transportive new album, Click Click Domino.

 

“Coming from England, the US feels like this incredibly vast landscape full of freedom and isolation and beauty and tragedy and lostness all mixed together,” says Chris Turpin, who co-founded the duo with his longtime musical partner, Stephanie Jean. “Driving over a hundred thousand miles for months on end, we couldn’t help but be inspired by it.”

 

Written primarily in the backseat of a moving car, Click Click Domino embodies all the momentum and possibility of the great American unknown, offering up a series of cinematic vignettes full of hope and disappointment, promise and regret, connection and loneliness. The songs here are raw and direct, fueled by an innovative mix of vintage instruments and modern electronics, and the performances are loose and exhilarating to match, drawing on early rock and roll, classic country, British folk, and 50’s soul to forge a sound that’s equal parts Alan Lomax field recording and 21st century garage band. Turpin and Jean produced the album themselves, recording primarily on their own in their adopted hometown of Nashville during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the collection is certainly bolstered by appearances from high profile guests like Marcus King, Greta Van Fleet’s Jake Kiszka, and Ethan Johns, the heart and soul of the record remains Ida Mae’s enthralling chemistry, which has never felt more vibrant, ambitious, or self-assured.

 

“Working just the two of us, there’s always been a bit of a Bonnie and Clyde aspect to what we do,” says Turpin. “Spending all that time driving around America, though, things took on more of a Steinbeck or Kerouac feeling. We were on an journey of discovery together, and every day brought us closer together.”

 

Now married, Turpin and Jean first met a little over a decade ago while attending university in Bath. The pair bonded immediately over their love for the sounds of bygone eras—Turpin, the old-time guitar work of Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, and Mississippi Fred McDowell; Jean, the timeless vocals of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Bessie Smith—and quickly earned rave reviews everywhere from the BBC to the NME with their raucous first band, Kill It Kid. Starting over fresh with a new group named for Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee’s “Ida Mae,” the first song they’d ever harmonized on, Turpin and Jean relocated to Nashville in 2019 and released Chasing Lights to similarly widespread critical acclaim. Rolling Stone hailed the album’s “stomping swirl of blues and guitar-heavy Americana,” while The Independent lauded its “retro lustre” and  “impressive experimentation,” and NPR’s Heavy Rotation called it “tightly drawn, harmonic and hypnotic.” The music helped earn the duo a slew of support dates with the likes of Greta Van Fleet, The Marcus King Band, Blackberry Smoke, Josh Ritter, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The Lone Bellow, as well as performances at Bonnaroo, the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival, and Switzerland’s Zermatt Unplugged.

 

“We just said yes to everything and played every single chance we got,” says Turpin. “We started off at barbecues and dinner parties and it snowballed until we were onstage in theaters and stadiums playing to thousands of people every night.”

 

To call the band’s tour schedule relentless would be an understatement. On one particularly grueling occasion, the duo played a headline album release show at Omeara in London’s South Bank, then hopped a flight to straight to Kentucky, where they landed just in time for their second performance of the day, a tour kickoff show with Blackberry Smoke at the Louisville opera house. Rewarding as it was to play for audiences all over the world, the rigors of the road left little time for traditional writing sessions, and when a friend came onboard to help with the driving, Turpin jumped at the opportunity to retreat to the backseat with an iPhone full of voice memo melodies and a notebook packed with potential lyrics.

 

“I’d curl up in a ball with my headphones on and start trying to match bits of music I’d recorded at soundchecks or in hotel rooms with words I’d jotted down whenever something inspired me,” he explains. “It was a process of sifting through this scrap yard of ideas until something synced up, and then running with it from there.”

 

When it came time to record, the band had planned on working once again with legendary producer Ethan Johns (Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, Kings of Leon), who’d helmed Chasing Lights back in England. With COVID-19 taking international travel off the table, though, Turpin and Jean decided to forge ahead and make the record themselves, leaning on everything they’d learned collaborating with Johns and other top shelf producers and artists over the years like T Bone Burnett (Elvis Costello, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss), M. Ward, Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile), Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes), and Mike Crossey (The 1975, Arctic Monkeys). Working out of their house in Nashville, they set up a series of bare bones recording stations and began cutting tracks together in one or two take performances, embracing the spontaneity of the moment and relying on the intuition of the live show they’d spent the past few years perfecting.

 

“We’d come straight home from tour when COVID canceled everything,” says Turpin. “We had the gear and we were road ready, so we didn’t want to overthink it.”

 

Where Chasing Lights was the sound of a band just beginning to discover their true potential, the performances Turpin and Jean captured for Click Click Domino showcased a duo confident in their powers and hungry for fresh challenges. The pair pushed themselves to break new ground on the record, both as artists and producers, experimenting with a bold palette of colors and textures and following their insatiable creative curiosity wherever it led them. The resulting leap forward is palpable on every track, a distinct elevation in ambition and execution that reaches back into the past in order to reimagine the future.

 

“Our goal was to take our sound further than it’d ever gone before,” explains Turpin. “We wanted to get heavier and open things up and weave together all these different strands of what we do in one place.”

 

After capturing the foundations of the album live America, Turpin and Jean sent the music back to England, where Johns and Nick Pini added drums and bass. Meanwhile in Nashville, the duo continued fleshing out the rest of the arrangements with a broad array of instruments they’d acquired during their travels: a century old parlor guitar, a gut string banjo ukulele, a vintage Japanese drum machine, a 1920s mandolinetto, analog synthesizers from the ’60s and ’70s, a Beatles-esque mellotron, even a Native American buffalo hide drum.

 

“Clashing all these different instruments from different time periods together was a chance for us to reframe their context,” says Turpin, “as well as a way to pay homage to the land that inspired us. We get thrown in with labels like ‘Americana’ or ‘rock and roll’ a lot, but truth be told, what we do is a weird cacophony of all these different eras and influences coming together.”

 

That much is clear from album opener “Road To Avalon,” which mixes Appalachian folk and Celtic mythology into an otherworldly, transatlantic dreamscape. Like much of the music on Click Click Domino, the track embodies a sense of motion and longing, a search for deliverance somewhere beyond the horizon. The hazy “Line On The Page” recalls Sticky Fingers-era Stones as it meditates on the magnetism of the road, while the searing “Long Gone & Heartworn” mixes pub rock charm with punk rock snarl as it tears on down the highway, and the rowdy “Deep River” follows two lovers with big dreams who leave home only to find themselves lost in a system beyond their control.

 

“I don’t really think of this as a political record,” says Turpin, “but there’s no way to write about what we saw traveling around America over the past few years without some of that darkness seeping in.”

 

Indeed, that darkness looms over the collection like a storm cloud threatening to break at any moment. The eerie “Little Liars” teeters on the brink as it grapples with truth and consequence; the ominous “Has My Midnight Begun” questions how to carry on in the face of so much turmoil; and the blistering “Click Click Domino” lands somewhere between Pops Staples and Jack White as it reckons with a culture driven by clickbait and instant gratification.

 

“That title track was written to push back against a modern world where everyone wants to look and sound and dress alike,” says Turpin. “When everyone’s trying to do the same thing, you just wind up with a bunch of dominos in a pack.”

 

Ida Mae, on the other hand, have always managed to follow their own compass. And as Click Click Domino proves, the best stories are often found off the beaten path.

Samia

Posted on: June 23rd, 2021 by founder No Comments

Samia’s 2020 debut album, The Baby, was a testament to her impressive vocal might, irresistible tunefulness and vulnerable lyricism, both clever and illuminating in equal measure. Drawing widespread acclaim from Pitchfork, Stereogum, NPR, NME, The Sunday Times, and others, the LP more than delivered following the promise of early singles like 2018’s “Django” and 2019’s “Ode to Artifice.” After emerging as one of the most exciting up-and-comers in indie rock, Samia released a companion album this past January titled The Baby Reimagined, a collection of covers and remixes featuring Bartees Strange, Anjimile, Field Medic, Palehound, former tourmate Donna Missal, and more. 

Samia spent much of 2020 in self-reflection, and she also made various life changes that left her feeling more earnest and centered. “I got back into therapy and started thinking about boundaries, I moved to Nashville, I did yoga sometimes,” she says. During this time, she wrote a handful of songs that make up Scout, a new EP that’s out everywhere now. “These were pretty much the only four songs that came naturally during this time, but I think they really mirror my emotional experience this past year,” Samia says.

While The Baby leaned more on self-deprecating humor, Scout was born out of a need to “honor feeling secure in what [she] had to say.” Lead track “As You Are” revels in the preciousness of unconditional love (“When somebody loves you / They take you as you are,” she belts in the chorus) and floats delicately with graceful vocals and steady percussion. Staticky guitar number “Show Up” is an acknowledgment of personal growth, and its unwavering desire for wholesome joy really tugs at the heartstrings (“Nothing could ever stop / my ass from showing up / to sing another song for the people I love”). The EP is packed with reverence for life’s ups and downs, but more than anything, it’s an ode to loved ones.

The compassionate glow of this EP partially stems from her new Nashville surroundings, as well as her recent experiences “feeling genuinely loved, making new friends, and holding onto old friendships.” There’s a palpable intimacy to these recordings, whether it’s the voicemail murmurs of “As You Are,” the heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics or the piano twinkles throughout. It’s reminiscent of that reassuring exhale in the mirror after an imperfect yet fulfilling day. As Samia puts it, Scout isThe Baby‘s slightly older sister letting her know that everything is gonna be alright.”

The EP title is a nickname of Samia’s, and it’s a fitting nod to the record’s benevolence. “My partner calls me Scout,” she explains. “It’s just a word that implies bravery to me. I always picture a little girl with a sash and badges basking in her autonomy selling Samoas.” Whether you’re a girl scout trying to gain confidence or an adult who needs reminders of our inability to make everyone happy (“Elephant”) or the untold power of being there for someone (“The Promise”), this EP is an unashamed loving nudge.

Ross Copperman

Posted on: February 12th, 2021 by founder No Comments

Ross Copperman has spent the last decade helping some of the biggest artists in the world use their voices. Now, he’s rediscovering his own.

“I definitely lost my voice as an artist along the way, but it’s always been in me,” Copperman says. “I’ve found it again.”

The GRAMMY-nominated hit songwriter and mega-producer isn’t complaining. After penning smashes that include over 30 No. 1 songs and other chart climbers for stars including Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney and P!nk, Dierks Bentley, and so many more, as well as producing acclaimed and GRAMMY-nominated albums for Urban, Bentley, and others, Copperman is grateful. He sees his immersion in the art of others as a gift––evidence that he’s been serving artists and sounds they were meant to make.

But it’s time for Ross Copperman the artist, a blockbuster songwriter-producer and nuanced pop stylist, to be heard himself. “I’m not walking away from what I’ve been doing, but my passion for being an artist never really went away,” Copperman says. “This whole process of recording my own releases has been cathartic.”

Hope, joy and gratitude pulse throughout Somewhere There’s a Light On, a five-song collection of Copperman’s shimmery Southern pop that marked his return as an artist. Featuring back-to-back singalongs and Copperman’s ferocious musicality, the EP is radio-ready piano, staccato percussion, synths, snaps and smooth vocals, with country music’s love of cohesive narratives. “I’ve always liked to write songs to live in any world and not necessarily be too specific to genres,” Copperman says. “It feels like pop has really been influenced by country writing in the last few years.”

Copperman co-wrote Somewhere There’s a Light On with favorite collaborators, including a pair with Ed Sheeran. “I’ve never loved two songs more than ‘Electricity’ and ‘Therapy’ in my life,” Copperman says of the EP tracks he wrote with Sheeran. “We were pitching them to country artists, and I had this realization: ‘Wow. I think these might be my songs.’”.

Reflecting on his return to the artist’s seat Copperman shares, “All my artist friends have been really encouraging. It’s really made me think about how for 10 years, I didn’t want anyone to know I’d ever even been an artist.”

Copperman is known today as an elite producer and the writer of career-defining gems for other artists, but his professional story began with his own record deal in the UK in 2006. His solo debut gained considerable traction on the strength of songs including “As I Choke,” “All She Wrote,” and more, which also found featured spots on American TV shows. He was on the way up, and yet, Copperman felt compelled to do something else. He walked away. Copperman moved to Nashville, drawn to the city’s songwriting tradition and relative proximity to Roanoke, Virginia, where he grew up playing the piano. In Nashville, he became a student of songwriting, increasingly respected not just for hits, but for his relentless work ethic and kindness. Copperman also fell in love and got married, and then became a father to three––all while building one of the most impressive behind-the-scenes résumés in music.

After helping launch careers for some of country music’s biggest stars with songs that have become fan-favorites and staples in their catalogs, the man behind a decade of sound for Music City is coming full circle returning to his roots as a solo artist. Copperman shares, “Finding love, becoming a dad, helping other artists find their voice…all of this life I’ve lived has informed my new music. Without those experiences, I’m not sure we’d be here at this moment with these songs.”

“I’m so happy and filled with such a profound sense of joy and optimism for the future. I’ve always felt like my purpose in writing songs that I record would be to share joy and encourage somebody who’s down––to know there’s a light on somewhere for them,” Copperman continues. “I’m inspired and also, feeling a little vulnerable which feels good. I’m excited. It’s my next chapter.”

Currently, Ross is in the process of releasing his next project “Human”, a 12-part series of tracks released monthly throughout the remainder of the year. “2021 represented a cathartic journey for me — releasing my first material as Ross Copperman in years.  In many ways, after years of writing and producing for others, it was an opportunity for me to find my own voice again.  I learned so much through that process and am so incredibly proud of what I put out into the world. Through that experience, I was reminded that years into my adult life, I am still figuring things out: who I am, and what matters most to me. The process of writing and recording songs as my own acted as such a powerful vehicle for me to process these thoughts and my own personal growth.  It ignited a journey of self discovery, and taught me that there is so much more still left to explore. This year, I want to take you on that journey with me as I continue to learn myself. I will be releasing a song each month throughout 2022 — starting this Friday and ending on December 2nd. This body of work will be a true reflection of myself and what matters most to me. I cannot wait to share it with you.

Francis Karel

Posted on: February 9th, 2021 by founder No Comments

Growing up in Indonesia, the only American music Francis Karel heard was the biggest of the big, the massive pop hits that had what it took to cross borders and leap continents. Given that he was raised on a steady diet of global smashes, it makes perfect sense that Karel would learn to write his own.

“That’s the kind of music that hooked me,” he reflects, “songs that were instantly catchy and memorable but still felt so fresh and original. It’s the kind of music I dreamed of making myself.”

Take a listen to Handle With Care, Karel’s debut EP, and you’ll find he’s more than living up to those dreams. Written and recorded in LA, the collection marks the first entry in a bold and ambitious trio of releases chronicling a yearlong journey of infatuation and heartbreak, hope and disappointment, growth and discovery. The writing is raw and honest here, marked by deep and unflinching self-examination, and Karel’s performances are devastatingly vulnerable to match, his lush, breathy vocals delivered with a mesmerizing air of confessional intimacy.

Born and raised in Jakarta, Karel first rose to fame online, where his jaw-dropping voice quickly went viral and earned love from high-profile fans like Benny Blanco, Meghan Trainor, Zedd, and Bebe Rexha. Before he knew it, Karel was becoming a pop star in his own right, racking up more than 2.3M followers on TikTok, amassing over 20M streams on Spotify, and landing tour dates with multi-platinum powerhouses like MAX and Andy Grammer.

Laufey

Posted on: January 27th, 2021 by founder No Comments

Laufey (pronounced lāy-vāy) is a Los Angeles-based singer, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist whose transportative jazz songs about young love and self-discovery are filled with wonder and wanderlust. Raised between Reykjavík and Washington D.C. with annual visits to Beijing, the Icelandic Chinese artist grew up playing cello and piano, inspired by her violinist mother and music professor grandparents, and became hooked on the jazz standards of Ella Fitzgerald after digging through her father’s records. The 23-year-old musician merges these influences in her dreamy tunes, swiftly attracting a Gen-Z audience online after releasing her debut 2020 single “Street by Street.” Already having made her live TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel and recording with London’s legendary Philharmonia Orchestra, Laufey is breaking down the barriers between pop and “high-brow” genres, connecting listeners across generations.

Laufey’s breakthrough came instantaneously with “Street by Street,” written while she was attending the Berklee College of Music on a prestigious Presidential Scholarship. It reached the top of the Icelandic radio charts and blew up on TikTok and Instagram, bringing her fans in Billie Eilish, Willow Smith, V of BTS, and dodie, who collaborated with Laufey on 2021’s “Love to Keep Me Warm.” In the two years since, Laufey’s ascent has also included winning Best New Hope in Jazz and Blues at the 2021 Icelandic Music Awards, going on her first tour opening for Ricky Montgomery and Alexander 23, performing a stunning in-studio live session for KEXP, and getting her own weekly series on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds, “Happy Harmonies with Laufey.”

Laufey continues to bridge musical worlds with her debut album, Everything I Know About Love. On the record, she blows up intimate coming-of-age feelings into grand cinematic moments, as sweeping orchestral arrangements mingle with delicate acoustic guitar and Laufey’s jazz vocals that recall golden-age Hollywood musicals. Laufey wrote the songs during a period of transition into adulthood, as she moved out of her parents’ home and navigated new young adult relationships. She co-produced every song, played cello on over half the tracks, and did extensive composing and arranging throughout the project, working with producers Leroy Clampitt and Spencer Stewart. Following her critically acclaimed 2021 Typical of Me EP, the new project sees Laufey maturing and returning to her roots in every sense: Her twin sister and mother both contribute violin, and on the title track, the trio play together in familial harmony. 

“It’s about dealing with growing-up. It’s also very ‘hopeless romantic,’” Laufey says of Everything I Know About Love. “All the songs are based on my personal experiences in the past years, but the way I write about them is like fiction. A lot of these things that we go through in life are a little difficult or bleak, and I try to create magic out of those moments, whether it’s heartbreak, or having a crush on someone, or never having been in love.”

Much like how Chet Baker’s vocal style is often compared to his understated trumpet voicing, Laufey’s rich alto resembles the deep, woody tones of the cello that she played from an early age, encouraged by her mom and grandparents who have all taught at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At just age 15, Laufey performed with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, but she only began writing her own songs in her early 20s, translating her love for Gershwin and Ravel into contemporary jazz that at once feels nostalgic and fresh. With the release of her new album and set appearances at Newport Jazz Festival and Montreal Jazz Festival later this year, Laufey’s rise shows no signs of stopping. 

mazie

Posted on: December 8th, 2020 by founder No Comments

“There’s something really dark and existential about my songs,” says mazie, “but at the same time, they’re all wrapped up in this bright, playful, sugar coating. I’m always trying to walk that line.”

Indeed, mazie’s music is built on contradictions and double negatives, pairing bleak, fatalistic lyrics with shiny, alt-pop arrangements as infectious as they are unpredictable. Mixing modern malaise with vintage psychedelia, her writing exudes a childlike innocence, but with an eerie, off-kilter twist, like watching old home movies through a funhouse mirror. There’s nostalgia in her hypnotic performances, to be sure, but it always comes laced with dread, with an impending sense of doom fueled by a world in ever-deepening crisis. And so mazie smiles and laughs as she steps into the abyss, because if the world’s about to end, why not at least have a little fun with it?

“So much of what I consume on a daily basis is really heavy political content,” says mazie, who devotes much of her time outside of music to social activism. “I think anyone who knows me would say that I’m a pretty happy person, though, so I end up with this music that sounds very upbeat and whimsical even though it’s about loneliness or isolation or anxiety.”

Born in Albany, Georgia and raised outside Baltimore, mazie fell in love with singing at an early age and spent most of her childhood studying classical and jazz vocals. By the time she hit her teenage years, she was writing her own music and recording it with her neighbor, Elie Rizk, who was teaching himself to engineer and produce in his basement studio. The two were deliberate about their search for a sound, though, and spent years experimenting and collaborating before they landed on “no friends,” mazie’s breakout 2020 debut. Clocking in at less than two minutes, the utterly addictive single exploded online, earning widespread acclaim and quickly racking up millions of streams.

“We were in total shock,” says mazie. “That song really defined the project for us, and when it started going crazy, everything just accelerated.”

In the months to come, the pair would follow it up with two more singles, the lilting “i think i wanna be alone” and trippy “sippy cup,” both of which arrived to similarly rapturous responses. Like “no friends,” the tracks were deceptively cheerful, full of jaunty melodies and earworm hooks and accompanied by DIY artwork and videos that resembled outtakes from some deranged children’s TV show.

“Leaving childhood is tough,” says mazie, who recently relocated to LA. “You’ve got to come to terms with the fact that life is hard, that your family isn’t perfect, that the world isn’t such a good place after all. I wanted to find ways for the music and the visuals to reflect that uneasy transition into adulthood, that feeling of growing up in the midst of all this chaos.”

And while mazie may be a stage name, it’s certainly not a character. The emotions behind the songs, the highs and lows and pain and hope and sadness and joy, they’re as real as can be, even when they all happen at the exact same time.

“When I’m writing a song, I’m kind of putting my feelings under a microscope,” mazie explains. “I’m zooming in and blowing them up and exaggerating them to their extremes. It’s a way of not taking myself too seriously, of being able to laugh at all these conflicting things I’m feeling once.”

Happy and sad, bitter and sweet, vulnerable and guarded, mazie is full of contradictions, and that’s just the way she likes it.