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Question: What do Adele, Jessie J and Amy Winehouse all have in common?
Answer: They are all alumni of The BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. Hoping to add her name to that list of famous names is 18-year-old and recent BRIT School graduate Rainy Milo.
From the age of 14, the London-born singer/songwriter surrounded herself with inspiring people, including local musicians and arts collectives. The passion rubbed off on Milo, as she pursued her goal by adding vocals to a jazz-inspired hip-hop beat produced by BLCK RSSN, which she discovered while trawling through the internet. This later went on to become her first single ‘Bout You’ and gained the attention of Gilles Peterson for his ‘Brownswood Bubblers’ – a platform for unsung heroes and emerging talent.
On the back of the single, Milo released her debut mixtape ‘Limey’ in 2012. The mixtape, which was produced by Cole MGN, featured collaborations with Chet Faker and Ariel Pink, as well as a reinterpretation of Steve & Cockney Rebels’ ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)’. Despite attracting attention from various record labels, Milo turned down the offers as she felt it was too early in her career.
In April 2013, Milo releasing her debut EP ‘Black & Blonde’ on the Virgin EMI Records label. The extended play featured three tracks, including a cover of The Clash’s 1980 single ‘Bankrobber’ (ft. Kossisko). This later appeared as a bonus track on her debut album ‘This Things of Ours’, which was released in the UK in March 2014 (the American version is set to launch in April 2015). The record, which also featured the singles ‘Rats’ and ‘Bout You’, drew comparisons to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Neneh Cherry and Corinne Bailey Rae.
Rainy Milo is set for a big year in 2015, which includes an appearance at SXSW in Austin next March.
Despite having a name suggesting otherwise, SOPHIE is a male music producer based in London. The dance pop artist has preferred to remain anonymous, although, in a rare interview, he told Pitchfork that he chose the alias because “it tastes good and it’s like moisturiser”. If you think that’s bizarre, wait until you hear his music: a poppy and euphoric sound with high-pitched vocals over the top.
Whereas SOPHIE’s debut 2013 single ‘Nothing More To Say’/’EEEHHH’ didn’t have much of an impact, the follow-up ‘Bipp’ / ’Elle’ drew the attention of critics. ‘Bipp’ topped XLR8R ’s end of year list and placed 17th on Pitchfork Media’s Top Tracks of 2013, ahead of the likes of CHVRCHES, Daft Punk and Drake. In August 2014, SOPHIE returned with ‘Lemonade’ / ’Hard’. Within 24 hours of the song going live on SoundCloud, ‘Lemonade’ received more than 100,000 plays. It also appeared at #1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart and was played on BBC Radio 1.
The artwork for each of SOPHIE’s singles has consisted of colourful images of different shaped slides, which the producer refers to as “Homemade Molecular Cooking”. He explained this to Pitchfork: “Music as molecular gastronomy is something I like to think about. It’s about getting to the molecular level of a particular sound — realising what that sound actually is made of, and why it behaves a certain way when processed or cooked. Then you use those molecules to build new forms, mixing and re-appropriating those raw materials – and of course, it should be bloody delicious.”
Most recently, SOPHIE collaborated with PC Music to produce the energy drink-promoting single ‘Hey QT’ for singer/songwriter QT, one of the most love-her-or-hate-her pop stars of 2014. He has also written for J-pop sensation Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who has accumulated more than 60 million YouTube views.
If his music and persona is anything to go by, SOPHIE’s scheduled appearance at SXSW 2015 will definitely be one to watch.
Katie White and Jules De Martino are better known as The Ting Tings, an indie pop duo from Salford in Greater Manchester. The pair, who met through a mutual love of Portishead, are best known for their single ‘That’s Not My Name’, which stormed to the top of the Official UK Singles Chart in 2008. The track was taken from their debut album ‘We Started Nothing’, which peaked at #1 on the Official UK Albums Chart.
The follow-up to ‘That’s Not My Name’ also achieved chart success, with single ‘Shut Up and Let Me Go’ narrowly missing out on a top five spot. Whereas the next two singles ‘Be the One’ and ‘We Walk’ didn’t make a significant impact (both peaking at #28), The Tings Tings’ accomplishments didn’t go unrecognised. The duo won XFM Live Breakthrough Act at the Vodafone Live Music Awards 2008, as well as awards for best Festival Pop Act, Best Newcomer and Anthem of the Summer at the UK Festival Awards 2008.
Following a short break, The Ting Tings returned in 2010 with the Calvin Harris-produced single ‘Hands’, a standalone single which peaked at #29 in the Official UK Charts. Hoping to ride upon the success of the track, the duo released their second album ‘Sounds from Nowheresville’ in 2012. The record was greeted to a mediocre reaction from critics and listeners alike, only selling a mere 6,246 copies during its first week on sale. In October 2014, the duo released their third album ‘Super Critical’ through crowdfunding Web site PledgeMusic. The album itself proved to be a solid return for The Ting Tings, as they reverted back to the disco/funk/pop that made them so popular at the start of their career that was well represented by lead single ‘Do It Again’.
On the back of the ‘Super Critical’ album, The Ting Tings are embarking on a six-date tour of Canada and America in January 2015. This is closely followed by a scheduled appearance at SXSW 2015 in Austin and March.
Jessie Ware is a South London-born pop/r&b singer/songwriter who first came to prominence in 2011 when she appeared as a featured artist on SBTKRT’s self-titled album. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until a year later, when she released her debut studio album ‘Devotion’, that she cemented her place within the music industry.
The lead single from the album ‘Running’ proved particularly popular, largely down to the remix of the track from electronic music duo Disclosure. Whereas the following singles ‘110%’ and ‘Wildest Moments’ failed to make a significant impact on the charts, the album certainly didn’t go unrecognised. ‘Devotion’ debuted at #5 in the Official UK Albums chart and was also in the running for the prestigious Mercury Prize award in 2012 (alt-J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’ went on to win). Ware was also nominated for Best Female Act at the MOBO Awards in 2012 and 2013, narrowly losing out to Emeli Sande and Laura Mvula respectively.
In October 2014, Jessie Ware released her second album ‘Tough Love’, which charted at #9 in the weeks of its release. The title track from the record peaked at #34 in the UK Singles Chart to give Jessie Ware her first UK Top 40 single. However, ‘Say You Love Me’ – the second single from the album which she co-wrote with fellow singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran – proved to be her most successful release to date, reaching #22. ‘You & I Forever’, the third track to be lifted off ‘Tough Love’, is currently scheduled for a release on the 12th of January 2015.
2015 looks set to be a big year for Jessie Ware, as she embarks on a 20-show headline tour of the UK and Europe in January and February, which includes two dates at the London Brixton Academy. She’ll be following the tour up with a scheduled appearance at SXSW 2015 in March.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 3rd December 2014 at 12:00 pm
There isn’t a lot of information out there on the band Dead Ceremony. In fact, when I submitted their name to our North East friends The Tipping Point, I was going off the one track of theirs I had heard up to that point, the tantalising ‘Losing You’. So what are the basics we do know?
Dead Ceremony comprises four long-term friends: Christopher Stewart (vocals/keyboards), David Trevillion (production/drums), Neil Allen (guitar) and Harry Pearce (synths/bass). The band are from Kent, which seems to be a hotbed of activity at the moment, with fellow Southern brethren Syd Arthur and Get Inuit just two acts we’ve written about recently. Having been tipped by the BBC’s regional team in the area, naturally both BBC Radio 1 and 6music went gaga for the group upon hearing their debut single ‘Heartbeat’, leading them to be featured on BBC Introducing and played by presenter Huw Stephens in June 2013.
The summer of 2013. Hmm, that seems a long time ago, doesn’t it? I’m thinking that perhaps they’ve been in hiding to hone their sound, biding their time until they unleash their best work on the public in sparse little trickles. If that sounds familiar, it should be: previous BBC Introducing acts Delphic and Glass Animals have been notorious for this. I’m betting this patience will prove important in the band’s story as it moves forward, as they carve their own niche in the current electronic music world: plenty crowded, but always roomy enough for one more deserving entry. In the absence of Delphic, Dead Ceremony’s latest reveal to the wild, ‘Losing You’, is a down tempo slow burner that isn’t intended to cause manic scenes at the indie disco.
While the song has touches of that intellectual James Blake-y vibe, there is no warbling (thank you), and far more important in my book is its indie pop sensibility. On paper, its brilliantly massive synth beats recalling ‘80s club hits, combined with Stewart’s solemn vocals singing his oh so wistful lyrics, sound like a musical experiment gone wrong that should not work. But it does. Once they’ve got a large enough group of songs to release – I’m going out on a limb and assuming there will be an EP first, maybe multiple, before we ever see an album out of them – I’m predicting certain radio stations on this planet will have this band in a death grip. The Dead will dance. Stay tuned…
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 1st December 2014 at 12:00 pm
If you’ve ever visited Australia like I have – or perhaps you’ve looked at one of those rotating physical globes all of our social studies teachers had back in the day, because my guess is that teachers today don’t have them (?) – you will notice that the country down under is about the same size as the continental United States. Meaning it’s a Very Big Place. Despite their country’s size, it’s a lot harder for bands there to get noticed globally. My last Bands to Watch feature was on High Highs, a duo from Sydney who now called Brooklyn home. Drum ‘n’ bass gods Pendulum moved from Perth in Western Australia to make a go of it in London; after Pendulum called it quits, Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen’s new electronic vehicle Knife Party is doing extremely well. Today’s Band to Watch are from the same Australian town as them; however, I wonder what would happen to today’s Band to Watch if they decided to leave the sunny life behind. The dangling carrot chance for success might be too great for them to say no, but I fear for a possible change in outlook – and sound – if they ever moved.
The lo-fi slacker sound has served fellow Aussie Courtney Barnett well: in case you’ve forgotten, the Melbournian had a prominent Park Stage placement at this year’s Glastonbury, and she’s had successful tours this year in both the UK and America. (To be honest, I’m still confused by her popularity: I want to have fun at a concert, not be lulled to sleep.) Braves also take the lo-fi approach but run in the opposite direction, yet with just enough restraint to keep them from becoming uncontrolled hellfire punk. The Perth foursome are an unsigned band for now, but I suspect they’ll find a UK label home soon enough.
In ‘Seapunk’, the title track of their latest EP released in September, they recall the amusement of early Howler and Vaccines tracks (geez, where are *they* now?) while avoiding the darker corners as our Martin described as “chilled-out obscurantist rock” of Happyness. They’ve been tagged on their triplej unearthed page with the Drums, though a tune like ‘Losing You’ suggests a better comparison might be perhaps a sped-up Life in Film. ‘True Feelings’, one of the EP’s standout tracks, is so melodic, if you closed your eyes, you might imagine a ’60s band playing this song, except now as the song has been brought into the 21st century, the producer sped up the tracking, making it 100% brighter.
We’ve got enough sadness in this world. Maybe we should leave it to some upstart kids from Oz to make it a better place? (I like to think the opposing pizza slices on the top of their press release I received are supposed to represent yin and yang.) Well, to make life easier for everyone with their joyful music at least. You can help continue Braves’ journey by buying their music off their Bandcamp.