Browsing Tag

World Music

Take a Ride Through ‘Cardinal Drive’ with Tony Marino’s Piano Jazz Score

South Philly Latin Jazz musician and composer Tony Marino has been leading world-renowned jazz ensembles and producing original scores since 1975. His accoladed career that has placed swathes of scintillatingly sublime LPs in his discography is now home to his latest album, Original Piano Pieces.

The standout single, Cardinal Drive, is a cinematically rich composition that sets a debonair tone throughout the enlivening score, which simultaneously emanates a sense of melodic ease as Marino works through his globally respected signature flair across the ivories.

With reverence for a myriad of genres from across the world, the instrumental piece refuses to fit in a monocultural mould as Marino seamlessly shifts through a flurry of time and key signatures. In a frantically paced world, Original Piano Pieces flows with a tempo that will efficaciously compose the soul.

Listen to Cardinal Drive via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Anirudh Rajagopalan shared his secrets of success as a genre & culture fusionist composer, director and performer in an expansively exclusive A&R Factory Interview

A&R Factory sat down with the globally renowned fusionist composer, director and performer Anirudh Rajagopalan to get an insight into his multilingual and multisonical talents that have captured audiences across the globe.

Anirudh Rajagopalan, thank you for taking the time to discuss your impressive career as a music composer, director, and performer. We love how intrinsically you blend different sonic cultures from across the world. Have you always had a fusionist style?

I’ve not always had a fusionist style, especially when I was growing up in a household that was and is deeply rooted in Indian music. Indian music ranges from Carnatic Music, film music, Hindustani Music, and more. India’s musical landscape today is very vibrant and that’s where I really started. But as my awareness of diversity increased over the years, eventually so did my thoughts about listening to other kinds of music.

In school, I took Western orchestra, where I played violin in a traditional string orchestra for several years, and I would go home and hear Indian music. Part of me was wondering how I could fuse what I learned from my school orchestra with what I was hearing at home. I thought especially about how such genres can work together.

This idea stayed in my head for several years, until I could finally act on it when I used my first music software which had access to electronic versions of such instruments I was familiar with. So, given a blank canvas, I experimented and found that fusions could work anywhere and anytime as long as you are willing to put in the work and imagination.

What are your favourite genres to work with?

I am rooted in multiple genres of Indian music, but the two I am most rooted in are Carnatic Music and Bollywood.

We’re blown away by your ability to sing in so many languages, English, Tamil, Hindi, Spanish, German, Croatian, Korean, and Japanese, to name a few. Which language do you enjoy singing in the most?

I enjoy singing in Hindi and English. Hindi is the main language of Bollywood movies, which are famous all around the world.

You were born into a very musical family with family members making an ever-lasting mark in the Indian film industry; how has this affected your journey as an artist?

It has definitely affected my journey as an artist, as it defined where I started. My family continues to make strides in the Indian film industry and other places as opportunities arise. I was born into a family that is grounded in Carnatic Music. As I grew up, I watched my mother teach generations of kids the musical genre that she was trained in.

Eventually, I chose to play the mridangam, which is the main percussion instrument of Carnatic Music. Through over a decade of experience, I have begun to think of ways as to how Carnatic Music can find its way into the Indian film industry and other sections of the world. Carnatic Music has made its way into the film industry now, but I think it can have a much greater presence. I do not believe that any single musical genre has to be kept completely separate from the world, and there is room for every genre to expand, grow, and become more popular.

What are your Future Ambitions with Your Music?

I haven’t taken this sound across the country yet. I haven’t done anything like a tour or anything yet, but I look forward to finding such opportunities. As of now, I have taken my culturally fusionist sound through all streaming services. Maintaining these artist pages along with a website is how I have been going to get started. But I have performed Carnatic Music and Bollywood concerts for the past decade and overall, the reception has been positive as long as I performed to my best. I still believe I can eventually take my work to more places.

Given your success which has included receiving many accolades, you have surely got some advice to give to aspiring artists and struggling artists. What would your number one piece of advice be?

I would advise artists to start with a vision. My vision, as an example, is to fuse ideas and instruments from different cultures. I have been rooted in Carnatic Music, but I also have experience in Western Orchestra and am slowly getting into European genres. So, using the resources I currently have, I try to fuse what I have learned from each genre to make such works.

Most of my works have a good portion of a traditional string orchestra, but you will find some unique instruments in them. For example, maybe a glockenspiel, harpsichord, or piccolo has the leading voice. Or an electric bass keeps the bass platform up. I also use principles of Carnatic Music and Western Music Theory to determine beats so I can compose each line of my recordings so they sound pleasing to the ear.

I would advise struggling artists to keep networking and be open to new ideas and try as many as they can. You never know what might end up working.

What projects are currently in the works?

I just finished up a new album and a new single in the past month, where I explored making music that sounded more soulful. It is out on all streaming platforms (Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, etc.), and my artist name is “Anirudh Rajagopalan” (just my name). More information about my works and my life can be found on my website.

Listen to Anirudh Rajagopalan’s fusionist sounds on Spotify.

Follow the artist on Twitter and Instagram.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Interview: Marshall Stain Teased What’s To Come in His Debut EP and Spoke on Creativity

Ahead of the release of his debut EP, VILLAIN YOU LOVE, A&R Factory caught up with the dynamically contemporary world music artist, Marshall Stain, to discuss inspiration, creativity and the cutting-edge releases making their way to the airwaves.

Marshall Stain, welcome to A&R Factory! We loved your latest single, ZOMBIE; would you say you found your signature sound with this release?

“I wouldn’t necessarily say Zombie is my signature sound, to be honest, but it’s definitely inspired by the sounds I’ve been taking in, particularly Amapiano, and you kind of hear that with the use of the “log drum” on the hook.”

What is your songwriting process?

“It varies, some records start as a random melody that’s in my voice memos, and some are written according to where the instrumental takes me. I’m in between pen and no pen; it depends.”

Is there anyone else involved with the production of your music?

“Of course, mainly my engineer/producer who helps me steer the music typically in the postproduction phase to a whole new sonic direction. That is why I call every song I record an idea.”

And how would you describe your lyrical style? We’ve noticed you go dark with your song titles.

“Honest. The music will always reflect the place I was in when writing the song. So, when it’s all rainbows and sunshine, the titles will be parallel.”

Which artists had the greatest influence on you as an artist?

“A bunch, to be honest, because I used to rap, but it’s mainly been Burna boy, J Hus and Frank Ocean.”

Aside from other artists, what inspires you to write music?

“Artists always inspire me. I’m an athlete at heart; everything and anything can be competitive. I’ve written some of my best records after hearing a song and wishing I wrote it. I apply my own experiences as subject matter, but it all stems from the artists.”

What should we expect from your upcoming releases that are in the pipeline?

“Zombie is the lead single off my EP, which by the time this is published will be out. My debut EP, VILLAIN YOU LOVE, is out on the 4th of November, and I’m pretty gassed to share it with the world. The next EP is ready too. So, let’s see how soon it needs sharing.”

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Cagri Raydemir – Unscripted Surrender: Meet Your New Favourite Prog-Rock Pioneer

With vocal reminiscences to Serj Tankian’s softer vocal lines and the gypsy punk rogue Eugene Hütz, Cagri Raydemir’s latest single, Unscripted Surrender, featuring musician Salih Korkut Peker, is a charisma-fuelled feat of intellectually crafted prog rock innovation.

With 12 albums and 5 EPs under his belt, the Munich, Germany residing singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and audio engineer has notably poured blood, sweat and tears into developing a sonic signature that will leave a perpetual mark once you have been exposed to the achingly beautiful motifs that take his sound far beyond the standard bar for independent artists.

While the instrumentals refuse to bow to genre constraints and break the monocultural mould in the process of the progressions, Cagri Raydemir’s autonomously alternative sound compliments the lyricism which operates on a near philosophical level.

Unscripted Surrender is now available to stream on Spotify with the rest of his 2022 EP, Shortage of Identity. 

Review by Amelia Vandergast

World music goes pop in Paul Melia’s explosively artful single, Doctor in the Sky

Taken from the sophomore album, Moons Over Mountains, by the experimental artist Paul Melia, the standout single, Doctor in the Sky, is a fiery explosion of Avant Garde pop that breaks the monocultural mould with the exotic rhythms and jazz-derived world music synthetics.

Despite being in a strident league of his own, Paul Melia created the most visceral earworm of the year, complete with the capacity to allow you to transcend the drudgery of modernity. As for the music video, short of dropping acid, there is no better means of escapism as you explore a psychedelic world, complete with appearances from internet-famous cats riffing on keyboards and guitars and cringey moments from political pop culture. It is like the condensed version of Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation, with a soundscape that keeps on giving with every repeat hit.

The official music video for Doctor in the Sky will premiere on September 16th. Check it out on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Get your good vibes straight from the source in ORAL P’s blister of Afropop bliss, Give Me Love O

East Nigeria-hailing Afropop artist ORAL P has captured international audiences since his 2018 debut; in his first release of 2022, Give Me Love O, he’s as soulfully versatile as ever.

With its jazzy undertones and rich Afrobeat flavour, Give Me Love O falls into that rare category of music that throws away commercialism, embraces a brand of soul that knows no borders and oozes commercial potential as a result of the vibrantly innate good vibes. With Give Me Love O on your playlists, you will always have a source of serotonin.

The Radio Edit of Give Me Love O is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Rob Benny is ‘Still Searching’ for meaning in his percussive EDM single.

I’m not a big advocate of the adjective epic, but nothing else comes to close to encapsulating what the NYC electronica artist and producer Rob Benny conjured with his percussive EDM single, Still Searching.

With the world music overtones, there is a vital sense of spirituality in the progressive mix. Given that there is a fundamental lack of that around in 2022, Still Searching is a revitalising sensory experience, which affirms that even in the most trying times, there is still meaning and purpose out there; you just have to reach for it. Even though we are instant gratification-seeking creatures, meaning takes time to manifest. I couldn’t think of a better soundscape to drink in while we wait.

Still Searching is now available to stream on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Prepare to be torn from passive slumber with Cielo Pordomingo’s orchestral alt-electro feat of world music, Wake Up

Here to tear us from our jaded slumber with her spiritual synthetics is the alt-electro trailblazer, Cielo Pordomingo, with her latest single, Wake Up.

‘Enlivening’ scarcely cuts into the alchemy that the composer, singer, and producer used to reflect her soul in the orchestrally heightened single. It’s Europop meets Depeche Mode via Bond soundtrack with a classical chamber outro; need we say anymore? If we want to do Cielo Pordomingo justice as a lyricist, definitely.

Wake Up is far more than your average cry to people letting their lives pass them by. Pordomingo practically takes you by the hand to guide you through your awakening while addressing the problem of our tendency to waste existence by branding it as just another day. At this point, if she started a cult, I’d jump right into it.

Wake Up is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Emma Hunter contested the heteronormative hegemony in her latest single, Love is Not a Choice

With the hypnotic grace of medieval mystic, Oxford’s Emma Hunter demonstrated that there’s nothing unnaturalistic about deviating from the heteronormative hegemony with her latest single, Love is Not a Choice.

Queerness may seem like a modern phenomenon, especially in the vision of those desperate to stand on the neck of progression, equality, and acceptance. Yet, even the most bigoted view is bound to widen to the tune of Hunter’s signature flamenco guitar loops, art-rock percussion and arcane vocal layering.

The musicality that takes you on an intercontinental sonic trip runs at the same celestial level as the intrinsic sense of spirituality in the rhythmically arrestive production. Which once again sees Emma Hunter resisting the contemporary constraints of genre.

The official video for Love is Not a Choice, directed by Matt Trevor-Roper, premiered on July 8th. Check it out via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Ariana Saraha & Flight Behavior showed us the true tribal roots of folk in Grandmother’s Tears

Here to remind us of what folk music was before it was commercialised and dominated by The Lumineers is the world music album, From the Wild, from Ariana Saraha & Flight Behavior.

The opening single, Grandmother’s Tears, takes contemporary frustrative energy and stretches it back a millennia through a soundscape inspired by infinitely more than the grand sum of human construction and destruction. With each element of nature a potential muse for Ariana Saraha & Flight Behavior, it’s almost surreal that they’re of this era. After listening to the lyric “Grandmother’s tears, they have fallen. Four thousand years”, which will haunt my contemplation for quite some time, I scarcely seem rooted in 2022 myself.

Ariana Saraha & Flight Behavior’s album, From the Wild, is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast