Facebook adverts are just as interesting as they are concerning. Over time, the social networking platform has managed to nail my complex taste in music, offering a mix of musicians I had never come across before. Most recently, the mysterious algorithms were responsible for me finding the Norwegian singer, Dagny, and her track, Wearing Nothing.
A pop-heavy blend of Kylie Minogue and Charlie XCX, Dagny encapsulates the soft vocals of the former, and the screaming cheerleader sound of the latter. It’s a flashback to the older days of pop with the singer, whilst also hanging on to the genre’s current style through sophisticated instrumentals.
Stripped-back (pun not intended), the chorus offers a sluggish, bouncy rhythm. The bass drum keeps the song in time, before a plucky guitar riff adds in an off-beat groove on top. Rather than being an excitable, loud melody, the almost anticlimactic drop sets a smooth tone fitting of the track’s meaning.
Whilst the pop industry descends into this weird tropical, calypso mash-up (which is, quite frankly, getting a little bit tedious), it’s refreshing to hear a pop song that offers a more chilled tone for people to listen to – and all thanks go to Dagny for that.
Whilst the original version of Don’t You Feel It showed that Sub Focus (real name Nick Douma) had adopted a more deep house style, it’s his latest remix with 1991 which takes us back to the drum-and-bass style of the DJ’s previous two albums.
It’s a remix fit for clubs and gigs. An atmospheric introduction calms the crowd whilst emphasis is placed on ALMA’s vocals, then it quickly progresses into the DnB at the centre of the track itself. However, the balance between vocals and rhythm isn’t exactly 50/50, with the song eager to progress to the next hook: a loop of the line I need to be close to you which repeats one time too many. However, when combined with the lyric don’t you feel it too, the rhyme and vocal melody fit together seamlessly.
As for the beat drop, the first half sees drums underneath the original chorus, before a synth tune is introduced. It’s the light trill during this section which is a joy to listen to. The blending of euphoric and fast-paced music, although unequal, keeps the track moving forward in a satisfying rise-and-fall motion – getting listeners excited for the next drop whilst also offering the space to breathe in between.
As a whole, this new remix seems to suggest that Douwma hasn’t forgotten the drum-and-bass vibe of his sophomore album, Torus. Now, with a third album approaching, here’s hoping the DJ establishes the perfect balance between old and new which will keep long-time fans happy.
YouTuber and singer-songwriter Emma Blackery’s latest EP Magnetised is, quite simply, an emotional rollercoaster. Granted, the record jumps between dance tracks (such as Nothing Without You and Don’t Come Home) and stripped back soul (in Magnetised and Instead), but all songs unite around the same powerfully honest tone. Over six tracks, the artist packs in a variety of feelings, accentuated with atmospheric instrumentals, to create the sense of ‘mending’ – the one word which Blackery has used to describe the EP.
Whether it’s a thanking an ex, moving reflections on unrequited love, or a dismissive ballad, the message in each track is conveyed with confidence by Emma’s voice and her choice of lyrics. It’s a skill which means that every song stands alone in its own right, whilst also contributing to a bigger picture. Similarly, for new listeners, there’s something for everyone. For fans of upbeat, drum-heavy pop, Nothing Without You or Don’t Come Home would appeal to them, country fans may sense a Taylor Swift vibe in Fixation or Human Behaviour, whilst those seeking catharsis may prefer the title track, for example.
Meanwhile, for fans of Emma Blackery’s YouTube channel, some songs will of course sound similar. Instead and Don’t Come Home have already been released to fans online, albeit in a different form. Now, with a refreshing studio quality to them (and even a complete redesign for Don’t Come Home), the two tracks take on an entirely new identity within the EP’s narrative. With moving violins melodies, Instead is even more emotional this time around, whilst Don’t Come Home is transformed into a sad poppy track which is in direct contrast to Nothing Without You.
As each track tackles a different problem in a relationship, Blackery has six tracks to demonstrate her vocal talents. The two ‘bops’ of the EP (the opener and Don’t Come Home) see the artist tackle and execute impassioned high notes, whilst the other, more stripped-back releases see Emma showcase her softer voice. As well as having a brilliantly constructed message at its core, Magnetised is the EP which solidifies her style as an artist.
It’s been nearly four years since Sub Focus (real name Nick Douwma) released his sophomore album, Torus, in September 2013. A drum-heavy collection of tracks perfect for the club, the record built upon the drum-and-bass style of his self-titled debut album. Yet now, the 35-year-old DJ appears to have spiced up his music a little. Nobody Knows, Love Devine and Lingua(feat. Stylo G) all contained edgy, deep house vibes with numerous musical effects. However, with his latest release – Don’t You Feel It (feat. ALMA) – the artist returns to somewhat familiar ground.
Of Douwma’s latest releases, Don’t You Feel It is the second single to feature credited vocalists. The first, which saw Stylo G take to the mic, involved more vocal distortion and a bouncier dance track. This time, with ALMA lending a helping hand, the song’s structure sees a return to the Torus days – with a clear voice (with no effects) and the build-up appearing in the chorus, not throughout.
With pulsing bass and simplistic rhythm guiding the song to the instrumental, the focus in the verses is very much on ALMA’s sassy, smooth and groovy vocals. As for the main melody itself, this is where long-term listeners can detect an evolution in Sub Focus’ style. Gone are the days of fluttering, euphoric dance, instead being replaced with a slightly tropical, heavy tone.
Whilst previous releases saw Douwma delve into a harsher club sound, Don’t You Feel It sees the DJ return to comfortable middle ground, with a strong vocalist and a progressive instrumental to boot.
Fresh off the release of his hit, Solo Dance, Danish DJ is back again – this time, with a high-profile collaboration with the British band, The Vamps on the track, Middle of the Night.
Unlike previous singles, Jensen adopts a more trap-like drop for this song. Hi-hat heavy drum beats and whiny synth make for an off-beat, slightly exotic feel. That being said, the producer is aware that The Vamps four-piece want a more emotional, heartfelt release this time as opposed to the club track with Matoma, All Night. At this point, it’s worth pointing out the band’s fondness to have songs with the word ‘night’ in them (All Night, Middle of the Night and Last Night being the three on the list so far). Thankfully, this song does well to stand out when put alongside the other two.
The track’s quiet tone – as previously mentioned – is also no doubt helped by the brooding, mumbling lyrics, with the occasional vocal outburst. The introduction of the complex drum beat in the second verse also allows for a bit more soul, whilst also rushing The Vamps to the next chorus. As much as the track should be about them, it’s Martin Jensen’s producing talents which really take centre stage here. Hot off the back of Solo Dance, the Danish DJ is making waves with this release. A big increase in his fanbase and a huge debut in the future looks likely.
You’d have thought that a song called ‘Symphony’ by the electro-classical band Clean Bandit would involve bursts of violin and cello. Yet, with orchestral flourishes only appearing in the background, it’s another pop song by the trio which has this imbalance between dance and strings.
It’s a track much like Extraordinary and Dust Clears in nature. Bouncy, light synths and snappy drum beats are at the forefront underneath the vocalist’s sound, with the occasional, classical flair. In this case, it’s the artist behind Lush Life – Zara Larsson – and sings with pure, soft vocals reminiscent of her ballad, Uncover.
This track came out on Friday – the same day that Larsson’s debut album, So Good, was released. In that sense, Symphony‘s delicate nature was the perfect track to coincide with the record. It shows Zara in her true form, displaying her vocal talent. For fans of Clean Bandit who have only just been made aware of the Swedish singer, it’s certainly a great way to introduce herself.
As Larsson’s vocals take centre stage (both in the song and literally in terms of the music video), everything else – including Clean Bandit’s contribution – feels somewhat supplementary. There’s even an orchestra in the video, despite the classic elements of Symphony not being at the forefront of the song. Despite the lack of strings and the absence of a move towards the style shown on their debut album (New Eyes), that is not enough to be dismissive of this particular Clean Bandit track.
As with every collaboration, the trio always manage to pick a mood and singer which work well together. In this case, Zara Larsson leads a soulful single complete with impassioned verses and fluttering choruses. It continues the pop vibe of Tears and Rockabye, albeit with a completely different tone this time round.
From modelling to acting and TV presenting, Italian singer Ginny Vee has tried her hand at a variety of professions before pursuing her passion for music. Now, she tells Liam O’Dell more about her journey so far – up to the release of her latest single, Give Me Dynamite.
A career in the music industry is something Ginny Vee wanted since she was little – helped by the fact that her grandmother was an opera singer and piano teacher. However, Ginny’s path to her dream job saw her follow a tough road.
One problem emerged after Ginny talked about her passion to her parents, who wanted her to have a secure life. “The thing was, I didn’t want to disappoint them, of course,” she explains. “So that’s why I went to law school and I went for different jobs at the beginning.
“The thing is, it was so strong inside me – the feeling that it was the right thing to do – that when I really sat down, talked to them and talked through all of my feelings, I explained to them why it was so important that I needed to follow this career. They understood.”
Did they understand immediately? “It took quite a bit,” she admits. “The real change happened when they came to see me singing in a live concert. They saw how happy I was to be on stage – how free I was performing and enjoying the feeling, the connection between me and the people. They saw that it was the right thing for me.”
Ginny’s music career so far has seen her spend seven years working with three other singers in the cover band, Belle Ma Belle, before going solo later. In 2014, she released her EP, Heaven n Back.
“I was experimenting a bit,” Ginny explains. “I was studying my style, trying to figure out which one was the best style for me. So recently, I signed with Subside Records’ Mind the Floor, and they are more into EDM and tropical house.
“I gave it a shot. We looked at several songs together and when I heard this one – Give Me Dynamite – I thought it was a really good song. I thought it was just the right one to go for this year. It felt very actual, very modern, and I really liked the feeling of it, so I wanted to try something different.”
Give Me Dynamite has the sound of a traditional Europop single: punchy chords, tropical synths and a catchy chorus all make up a bubbly single to prepare you for summer. With euphoric instrumentals placed under lyrics such as ‘love to hate you’ and ‘want another black eye’ – it’s an interesting juxtaposition.
“That’s the first impression you could have – ‘love to hate you’ is something very strong to say,” Ginny says. “Basically, what is underneath is a story. It’s a love story that ended not very well, but actually, the meaning of it is this girl… She still really believes in the fact that the story shouldn’t end, because the great thing in that story with the guy was the fact that they were fighting.
“So actually, it’s a positive thing about that,” Ginny explains.
As well as Vee providing vocals, DJ Steve Manovski also lent a helping hand on the single. The musician co-produced Sigala’s top 10 hit, Give Me Your Love, so it’s no surprise that we hear similar piano stabs on this track.
Despite the two working together on Give Me Dynamite, Ginny is still yet to bump into Manovski in person. “I actually never met the guy, which is a shame,” she laughs. “This is how it goes in the industry right now; most of the time, you don’t meet the people.
“In one day, I recorded the vocals and everything and my producer told me there was some great news – that Manovski agreed to work on the song.
“That was great news because I really like his job and I really like his work. When they told me, I was really enthusiastic about it, but unfortunately I haven’t met the guy yet. I’d love to meet him in the near future.”
Although that is yet to happen, Ginny believes the relationship between them was very good, calling Manovski a ‘very nice’ person.
“I’m really lucky,” she says. “I’ve been working with a very professional and great team – all of them are really nice people, so I can’t complain. I’m really happy about that.”
So what’s next after Give Me Dynamite? “It’s very early,” says Ginny. “The song has been out for a small amount of time and obviously now I really want to focus on the promotion. I’m doing lots of interviews and for this one, I’m doing a lot of radio interviews and performing to promote the song. Of course, in the meantime, I’m working on my future material – more songs, more material – because I’m working on a tour for 2017.”
“In life, I’m a really, extremely shy person. So I don’t really interact well with people – I’m private with everything, but when I’m on stage, I’m really free to be what I want to be. I’m really happy,” Ginny explains.
“I feel like I’m expressing myself completely and I feel free. I’m not afraid, I’m not concerned about being in control or anything, I just feel like I really want to be on the stage forever and never leave.”