Browsing Tag

chillwave

Interview: Poseidon’s Alley led us through the ingenuity in his sophomore album, Blackberries, which unravels as a nostalgically juiced amalgam of prog-rock, synthwave and jazz

After pouring jazzy synthwave tones served with a slice of prog-rock panache in our ears with his sophomore album, Blackberries, the classically-trained LA-based artist, Poseidon’s Alley spilt his genre-melding secrets.

Poseidon’s Alley, welcome to A&R Factory! Can you tell us a little about your sophomore album, Blackberries?

“Thanks! Blackberries is an album that I would describe as genre-bending, groove-based instrumental music. It’s my second LP under the “Poseidon’s Alley” moniker, and I think personally it’s a big step up both production and composition-wise. Unlike my debut album — which I think sounds a little bit more eclectic, abstract, and overall happier — Blackberries is pretty moody throughout and tries to paint these dark, synth-y soundscapes layered with dreamy guitar lines that feel nostalgic, wistful, and even melodramatic at times.

I worked on the album on and off from 2018 to 2022, a period of time that obviously includes the pandemic as well as some personal loss that I went through. So, not the easiest of times for me, or most people, and I think you’ll hear that reflected pretty well through these mostly minor key vibes happening on the record. In fact, I actually let the album sit 85% finished without touching anything for over a year, before finally pulling myself out of the mire and finishing what I started. I called the album Blackberries in a little nod to the Pacific Northwest where they grow (and I live), as sort of a personal “silver lining” metaphor — that these thorny, painful plants still ultimately produce something sweet.”

It’s quite the melting pot of genres; was this something that happened naturally?

“Yes — my compositional style, I would probably compare to abstract painting. Other than the mood I’m in when I start a piece, I don’t really push myself consciously in any direction — I just go where my ear takes me. I actually kind of wish my music wasn’t quite so hard to pin down, because it makes it incredibly difficult to fit yourself in these narrow boxes that the big Spotify playlists kinda require you to be in. First of all, I make instrumental music, which is already sort of disqualifying yourself for a lot of listeners. Besides not having vocals, I’m too synthwave for the prog-style playlists, too guitar-forward for the synthwave playlists, and too complex for some of the lo-fi or indietronica playlists.

But at the end of the day, I’m going to follow the classic Rick Rubin advice and just make the music that I want to hear, rather than artificially trying to stick to a style just to more easily find an audience. And when people do click with Poseidon’s Alley — which, when they do, is thanks in large part to several smaller playlist curators who have found and generously featured me — the response I’ve gotten has been really encouraging to just be myself.”

The spacey amalgam of prog, synthwave and jazz is definitely something we have never heard before; what inspired the album?

“It’s a pure, subconscious reflection of the music that has inspired and impacted me the most in my life. Until my late 20s, I really mostly listened to (and played) guitar-centric prog rock. As a music student and professor, I’ve naturally gone quite deep into classical and jazz for years at a time. That background really forms the basis of the way I approach musical structure, which is classical, and the way I hear and think about harmony, which is jazz. And in the last few years, synthwave, chillwave, vaporwave, all of that stuff really scratched this strong nostalgic itch I have for the 80s and early 90s, and the vibes of the world during my early childhood.

Anyway, I think on most of the songs on Blackberries, the influences are pretty evenly blended. But you also have tracks like “Farewell, August Macke” which is like an “Alfa Mist meets Men I Trust”-inspired jazz tune. You can really hear the Dream Theater-esque prog rock influence on “Gatsby’s Green Light” and “Object Permanence” at the end of the album. And I think “Knight of the Mirrors” and “Rosa Californica” are the two biggest love letters to the retrowave artists that inspire me like Lazerhawk, A.L.I.S.O.N., Lucy in Disguise, and Eagle Eyed Tiger.”

How did your classical training interplay with writing Blackberries and bringing it to life?

“My classical training was the best thing that ever happened to me as a musician just in general because it gave me the context and tools to understand what I’m doing harmonically and melodically instead of just fumbling around in the dark hoping to get lucky. I’m biased as a music educator, but I strongly feel that internalized knowledge of music theory just opens up these amazing worlds of possibilities for a composer, and helps to push and evolve your ear in ways that make music more rich and exciting.

My classical training started with my amazing guitar teacher Rick Sailon who gave me a head start as a teenager, continued at Los Angeles Valley College and Cal State University Northridge, and finished after grad school at the University of Southern California. Once you’ve gone through that many years of thinking about music through this theory-based framework, it’s kind of impossible to turn it off. But I wouldn’t want to!”

Who was involved in the making of your new album?

“I wrote, played, and mixed everything on the album. My incredibly talented fiancée Monica does all the album artwork for Poseidon’s Alley. And it was mastered by Elliot James Mulhern who’s an audio legend in LA.”

You’re a part-time music professor too; what do you think your students would have to say about the release?

“That’s a great question — they’re usually surprised that someone who spends most of his time talking about Beethoven, Bach, and Charlie Parker creates music like this in his spare time, and not, like, string quartets or something. To my beloved students, all I can say is: smash that like and follow button for the Spotify algorithm!”

Are there any future releases in the pipeline?

“This definitely won’t be the last Poseidon’s Alley album. I feel my ability as a composer and recording engineer are getting stronger with every song I work on, and I’m excited to keep building on that. After the darkness explored on Blackberries, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next album is quite a bit lighter. I’m super inspired by the music I’ve been listening to lately including Khruangbin, Her’s, Men I Trust, Hello Meteor, and Pacific Coliseum. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear those influences reflected back on the next LP! But yeah, my focus for the next few months is on trying to support Blackberries and get it into the ears of people who would dig this kind of music, but maybe don’t know it exists yet.”

Check out Poseidon’s Alley on Spotify, Instagram and his official website.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Groove with the slow-burning melodies in Blac Samurai’s chillwave hip hop single, Match (All Black) ’21

With his poetic mind and the smooth, trippy flow to his tracks, it has become impossible to ignore Blac Samurai on his ascent from the underground. Soul Glitch is the second album to drop from the Southside Chicago-hailing urban alchemist; the standout single, Match (All Black) ’21, is a serenely sweet introduction to his dreamy sonic palette.

The trippy feat of chillwave delves into the future while keeping grounded and soulful through the intrinsically humanistic rap bars and slow-burning melodies. Unlike many artists taking influences from the OG rappers, Blac Samurai manages to pull something completely fresh. We can’t wait to hear what he muses next.

Match (All Black) ’21 is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Juice Patrol squeezed plenty of extra soul into his latest single, Timeline.

Before the grips of winter sink their teeth, get a taste of the Caribbean sun in the up and coming alt hip hop artist Juice Patrol’s third single, Timeline. The ambient grind and the hazy layers construct a mellifluously soothing platform for Juice Patrol’s soft, gentle and endlessly magnetic vocals to dominate as they work through the spoken word urban poetry.

The Ugandan-based solo artist used his fusionist genre and border-spanning sound to prove that soul can spark from the most emotionally fraught experiences. Timeline was inspired by a revolving door relationship and our tendency to turn a blind eye to red flags when affection and history are involved. Instead of giving it all in black and white, Juice Patrol added to the conversation in warm tones and kaleidoscopic colour.

With the depth and wit in the lyrics, Timeline makes you realise just how little nuance there is when it comes to lyrical introspection on toxic relationships. As for the chillwave vibe, you couldn’t ask for a sweeter vibe-out playlist staple.

Timeline is now available to stream on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Bodisaffa Music has released his cinematic chillwave single, Down.

The collective need for ambience and catharsis has never been greater; on that basis, up and coming electronic artist and producer Bodisaffa Music’s latest release, Down, can be considered serendipitously timely.

The downtempo lo-fi piano soundscape is intricate enough to keep your attention; the ease of the cinematic chillwave progressions means that you will quickly surrender your rhythmic pulses and unwind with the atmospheric and meditative soundscape. Placing this track on your playlists is practically a method of self-care.

Down is just one of the tracks which feature on the artist’s Chill Tracks EP; it is now available to stream in full on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Alice Payne – Visions: The Ultimate Chillwave Playlist Staple

‘Visions’ is the latest dreamily psychotropic dance-pop release from the independent Australian artist and producer Alice Payne. After releasing her debut synth-pop track, Drive, earlier this year, the hype is steadily garnering around her emotionally charged, sonically cathartic style.

The reverb-swathed soundscape starts with an ethereal indie trip-hop prelude before the downtempo four-to-the-floor beat starts to kick in to create a solid structure for the ensnaring track to capture you within.

With the teasing progressions, aural curveballs and enigmatic sense of intrigue in Visions, you couldn’t ask for a better chillwave playlist staple.

Visions is now available to stream on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Catherine Duc serves synth-crafted ambient nostalgia with, ‘Remember When…’, featuring Jonas Isacsson.

For her latest release, ‘Remember When…’, GRAMMY-nominated composer, multi-instrumentalist and remixer, Catherine Duc, teamed up with guitarist Jonas Isacsson to create a synth-crafted ambient nostalgia hit that will allow you to drift back to the 80s via the soaring guitars and delicately arranged glassy synths.

So far in her career, Catherine Duc has received a GRAMMY award nomination for Best New Age album in 2016, scooped the award for instrumental artist of the year during the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2006, and remixed for the likes of the Corrs and XYLO.

With her intrinsically connectable sound and the emotions she’s able to evoke through instrumentals alone, we’re sure that the accolades won’t end there.

Remember When… is now available to stream via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

London electro-pop duo ColourTelly released the most relatable single of the year with ‘Paranoid’.

ColourTelly

For their latest single, London-based electro-pop duo ColourTelly explored paranoia in the age of disinformation, as the soft jazzy hip hop tones gently resound, hushed vocals quiescently relay observations of disillusion and distrust. The succinct poise of the vocals in Paranoid allows the message to hit even harder than it would if the lyrics were forcible. You can sense the frustration and exhaustion which manifests when exposed to such relentless pedantic conflict.

Speaking as someone who has heard their fair share of ‘lockdown inspired’ singles, Paranoid is easily amongst the most profound and provoking. Here’s what ColourTelly have to say about the single;

“The lyrics bemoan the confusion of the Covid age. An age where through lack of clear leadership and infinite sources of conflicting information, rational thinking has, in the minds of many, given way to fear. The song asks simply whether in the face of adversity humanity is capable of composure or whether as a species we are too anxious and reactionary to forgo panic buying and other such self serving activities. Is it really the virus we are afraid of or ourselves?”

Paranoid officially released on April 24th. You can check it out for yourselves via SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

The Mermaids have made their sensual synthwave debut with ‘L’auntre’.

Stockholm’s indie synth-pop outfit The Mermaids have made their debut with the atmospherically sensual bi-lingual track, ‘L’auntre’. Any fans of the Midnight, Gunship, Wolf Club, St. Vincent or any other act experimenting with retro-inspired chillwave tones will want to delve into the ambience of the polyphonically immersive single.

With the glassy notes brushing up against the moody pulsating throbs of the bassline in the unapologetically 80s-inspired mix, L’auntre is contemporary as synthwave gets, which undoubtedly puts The Mermaids in good stead for success in the future. You’ll want them on your radar with chilled summer nights being not too far in the distance.

L’auntre is now available to stream via Spotify.

Connect with the Mermaids via Facebook. 

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Ricky Akira transcends the notion of genres with his authentically amorous latest single

https://soundcloud.com/rickyakira/donnie-we-will-be-stars

London-based artist and producer Ricky Akira’s latest single “Donnie We Will Be Stars” proves that the concept of genres is pretty much outdated. Instead of trying to find their own sound within a pre-existing one, Ricky Akira went all-out with the authenticity in this endearingly masterful release which your soul won’t fail to recognise.

With playful polyphonic tones contorted into tranquil and cathartic rhythms, the instrumentals will make sure that you’re hooked into the progressions. While Ricky Akira and their female guest vocalist will run you through a sticky-sweet tale of romanticism and ambition.

The ‘cute factor’ may be high with this release, but Ricky Akira’s sound is anything but novelty, it’s a sure sign of amazing things to come for the charismatically magnetic artist. Watch this space.

You can check out Donnie We Will Be Stars for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Slip into David Taylor’s transcendently light mix “hours”

Australian Electronica artist and producer David Taylor has recently released their distinctively sweet Lo-Fi Chill EP 050392. The perfect introduction to their catharsis-spilling sound is “hours”.

The hazily blissful track which comes with slight Chill Hop nuances may not easily squeeze into any constrained branch of Electronica, but it does ooze potent and organic good vibes. With the warm tones and the transcendently light textures, hours is an incredibly easy track to slip into and get pulled along by the seamless reverb-soaked progressions.

It’s not every day we can say the Electronica we hear serves up plenty of soul, but discernibly, David Taylor isn’t your average producer. After hearing their latest release, we’re stoked to hear where their sound which drips with commercial potential takes them next.

You can check out David Taylor’s EP 050392 for yourselves via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast