“Your sensual party record, straight to the point”
DJ Mag Staff
Friday, April 30, 2021 – 15:34
KG has dropped a new track.
London-based DJ and producer KG, aka “The Goddess of Rhythm”, has shared a new track titled ‘Koko’ feauturing British-Ghanaian artist Mista Silva.
Speaking about the single, which is out now via Black Acre, KG said: “Your sensual party record, straight to the point, I am expressing my sexual desires towards my lover. This has a South African ‘Amapiano-esque’ bounce to it with beautiful Ghanaian Akan Highlife influences. It is something for the Summer.”
The latest production from KG follows an EP last year alongside UNIIQU3, and a collaborative EP with Hyperdub’s Scratchclart.
Listen to ‘Koko’ featuring Mista Silva below.
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The music flows easily, entangled like vines, in a production constructed between Berlin and Indonesia over Zoom. But in these serene melodies, there is a plea for the ecosystem of North Sumatra.
Environmental consciousness has violently escalated in our lifetimes. We’ve gone from a crisis that loomed somewhere in the future to one that we live through, right now – the flood waters, sometimes literally, reaching our feet. The twin realities have arrived, and we’re now out of prevention and into coping. There’s climate change, already underway in rising seas and catastrophic weather and temperature rises. And the COVID-19 pandemic is a real-time zoonotic terror, an indication of our fragile species and the dangers of encroached habitat made personal and direct.
Okay. That’s all broad, abstract, and emotionally impossible to grasp. Plus, it’s depressing – and we’re mammals, too. In a real sense, we biologically needs some togetherness and to process this in a human way if we are to be effective in making our place in our ecology positive again. (Stressed primates aren’t so useful, as we are discovering first-hand.) So let’s all travel mentally into the lush environment of Bohorok district in North Sumatra, an island in the enormous Indonesian archipelago.
The landscape the artists pan us through is part of the tropical forests of the 2.6 million-hectare Leuser ecosystem. It’s home to the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, the gentle creature you see dangling in the trees.
Our friend American-born and Berlin-based Lyra Pramuk wasn’t able to be in the same room as Indonesian counterpart , so they collaborated over Zoom or sent sessions back and forth, they say.
It has a beautiful, liquid, free sensibility in the music. Actually, I’ve observed this in the past months – there’s some oddly wonderful potential in the latency in remote collaboration, if musicians have the ability to give themselves up to it. While that delay is a disaster for spoken conversation, musical exchange – once outside of fixed meter – seems to adapt naturally into a staggered dance across the milliseconds and timezones. (Goethe-Institut’s Virtual Partner Residency program assisted the exchange in the online space.)
Maybe it’s even better to play together over Zoom than to try to talk, and we’ve been doing all of this wrong.
Lyra’s digitally-layered chorus of overdubs is so convincingly organic that it almost blurs together, as though a chorus is blossoming out of the recording. The artists say they used Rani Jambak’s sampling of traditional Sumatran instruments, then built this lyrical serenade on top of it.
“We want to build a piece of music that reflects our hearts, that could show our deep hope for the environment and our dedication to its health,” Rani says in the Bandcamp description.
“We hope that our collaboration will stand as a powerful symbol for the potential of contemporary music culture to empower and heal across different cultures and traditions,” says Lyra.
I notice that apart from the title “Restore,” the sense of hope and music outside itself is embedded in the description. That aspiration to go beyond the self contrasts with the tendency to ego so often written into the DNA of music.
The music is futuristic, personable, and has this deep feeling of that liquid, gentle voice of Sumatran music. (Another bonus of more voices from across Indonesia in the international music scene has been to get the chance to appreciate the diversity, range, and complexity of cultures, plural, in the region – rather than take an exclusively nation-centered view.)
We don’t say this outright very often, but musical collaboration is often really challenging, even with similar musical backgrounds. What strikes me is that these voices are interwoven so exquisitely – they naturally resonate with one another.
There’s another dimension to this, which is that Rani and Lyra have also collaborated with the local NGO, Environmental Education Centre Bohorok (PPLH), which works on activism, education, and cooperative environmental activity in the region. That can comprise everything from a center that converts dung to fuel to taking schoolkids to check out a primate sanctuary. That organization released this statement to coincide with the music dropping on Earth Day last week:
“Environmental education and environmental awareness activities are still important for society today. Dynamic global life and rapid technological developments continue to threaten the environment, which is increasingly out of control due to activities carried out by humans ourselves, natural damage, deforestation, hunting of animals, damage to marine ecosystems due to accumulation of garbage, and others that have occurred directly in front of our eyes.
This intercontinental collaborative musical work by Rani Jambak & Lyra Pramuk is a strong sign and reminder for all the people of the earth who must be determined together to save the earth from the damage caused by sustained global warming.
In the commemoration moment of Earth Day 2021, we are still faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has almost changed the order of human life. The Restore Our Earth theme is an invitation to all people on Earth to be wiser in taking all actions related to nature and the environment. Together, we can prevent catastrophic climate change and environmental damage. Together, we can Restore our Earth.
One of them is by providing indirect support for earth-saving actions that can be done in various ways, such as supporting musical works as well as donating for forest saving activities and raising public awareness. This is so that people’s behavior and attitudes can bring more care to our environment, and provide awareness of the importance of protecting the environment so that it becomes a personal and sustainable agenda.”
Proceeds go entirely to support the PPLH Bohorok and its activities. You can check out the organization’s site in Indonesian and English:
And not only should you throw out any monolithic view you have of Indonesia – its third biggest city Medan is full of contrasts, a syncopation of colliding variety translated by Rani Jambak and Evi Ovtiana into a composition (also with some Goethe support):
“Crossing Indonesia’s third biggest city, Medan, will leave behind one impression in particular: an emerging and dizzying city that is diverse in ethnicities, cultures and religions,” she says – and in both these videos you’ll see field recording as central to her practice.
Some more collaborations of her are on SoundCloud. Ignore the single-digit listen counts if you’re among the first to scroll this deep into my article – SoundCloud isn’t always so popular in Indonesia.
If somehow you missed Lyra’s dazzling production imagination and vocal versatility, now is the time to find that anew, too (and it’s worth a dig into the earlier releases prior to the best-known Fountain, for a full range of work):
Todd Edwards’ back catalogue is set to hit streaming services for the first time.
New Jersey-born garage legend Todd Edwards is considered one of the early UKG pioneers, championing the sound in the early ’90s through his DJ sets and productions.
Now, Edwards is set to share his back catalogue on streaming services for the first time, with some of his biggest tracks — mostly never-before-released or vinyl-only records — set to hit platforms on the 7th May.
Incoming via Defected, the archive of productions will feature over 140 tracks including ‘Dancing For Heaven’, ‘Can’t You Believe’, ‘Never Ever Far’, ‘Winter Behavior’ and ‘The Dream’.
Speaking about the remastered back catalogue, Edwards said: “Finally! It’s been almost a decade since I got back the music catalog that helped define my career. Now it’s ready for re-release, and I am very happy it will all be on Defected Records, the perfect label to share my music with old fans and a new audience.”
The Todd Edwards catalogue will be made available digitally on 7th May 2021 across all streaming services and DSPs.
Over a year ago I announced that a vast majority of my back catalogue would be available again through @DefectedRecords after a lot of work from everyone involved and a global pandemic causing setbacks, I am beyond excited to finally tell you..(1/2) pic.twitter.com/7sCehtN1Hc
For over two decades, Simon Dunmore’s Defected has been dedicated to the finest in house music, from its label and numerous associated imprints, to its events and festivals. Still, it hasn’t all been plain sailing — Defected has traversed choppy waters to become the super-brand it is today. For a feature in 2018, DJ Mag spoke to Dunmore about the evolution of Defected.
This video, via Josh Is Making Music, takes a deep dive into the unique ‘Radio Shack Moog Synthesizer’, the Realistic Concertmate MG-1.
The MG-1 is one of the more unusual “Moog” synths, because it takes a lot of great Moog circuit designs, adds a cheesy polyphonic organ, ‘dumbs down’ everything for mainstream buyers, throws in some foam that deteriorates over time to goo things up, and packs it all into a funky and chunky hardware design.
It’s an oddball of synth history, but it’s also sought after because it sounds great and is so unique.
Check out the video and share your thoughts on the MG-1!
On Friday 30th July, GALA will host its biggest live stage to date, while also adding more of the capital’s selectors to its line-up. Peckham’s local record shop Rye Wax will also be hosting a programme of talks, discussions and workshops before performances from Rye Wax Residents. Among the live acts added to the Friday line-up are Steam Down Orchestra, experimental MC and pianist Alfa Mist, and Tirza, as well as Nabihah Iqbal, Oscar Jerome, and Berlin-based Wayne Snow.
In terms of DJing, Joy Orbison, Hyperdub’s Cooly G and Chaos In The CBD will step up for sets, joined by the likes of Rhythm Section’s label head, Bradley Zero, NTS favourite Moxie, Midland and Zakia.
Tickets for the weekender are sold out, and tickets for Friday 30th July are on sale here.
Supernovas is a recurring Dancing Astronaut feature dedicated to vocalists in the dance space who, with their own idiosyncratic vocal signatures and unique lyrical perspectives, have played pivotal roles in bringing electronic records to life. Each installment in the monthly series spotlights one vocalist.The serial continues with Supernovas 004: HALIENE.
250 to 300 songs.
In 2011, HALIENE had written nearly as many songs as there are days in a year—in one year’s time. She would record just 12 of them, but most fans haven’t heard a single one.
The LP that they would land on—her second—would release in Japan in 2012 as Ashes of My Paradise. Decisively electro-pop in composition, Ashes of My Paradise followed her debut album We Are One, released in March 2007 when HALIENE, born Kelly Melissa Sweet, was 18 years old.
Ashes of My Paradise, however, would not trace the steps taken by We Are One; it never came out in the United States, a reality that HALIENE attributes to its stark difference from We Are One‘s jazz and classical makeup.
“My label at the time just didn’t get it. It was too much of a departure from my first album, and they didn’t know what to do with it,” HALIENE told Dancing Astronaut.
She left her label shortly thereafter. Nine years later, HALIENE “thinks of that album as growing pains.”
According to Cleveland Clinic, growing pains refers to a “condition [that] can be very painful, but fortunately, it isn’t dangerous.” The definition holds true for HALIENE—they weren’t dangerous for the American singer-songwriter, whose prominence in the dance space derives in part from these growing pains. Before a single one of those 250 to 300 songs would be written for Ashes of My Paradise‘srecording consideration, HALIENE would reassess the source of her artistic ardor. Although she was “raised on jazz and trained classically, those aspects…[weren’t] necessarily what my heart truly gravitated towards,” she said. She elaborated,
“After that full record cycle [We Are One] and at the age of 19, I sat down and said to myself, ‘I’m going to figure this out, because what I’m doing right now just isn’t it.’ I started asking myself what I truly loved about a song. Was it the bassline? Was it the drums? Was it just the lyrics? Basically, I started A&Ring myself. I realized the one major sonic thing in common was electronic sounds. I set out to make a second album with these ideas in my mind.”
Though Ashes of My Paradise might not have been as direct a launchpad to what was it, the album—of which HALIENE remains “very proud to this day”—drew her increasingly close to dance music. With raw talent that was readily recognizable but no ready fit for pop music, HALIENE developed an affinity for the electronic genre that can be traced back to the first music festival that she attended, Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2012.
HALIENE told Dancing Astronaut of her introduction to dance music,
“I’d never felt at home in pop; my voice didn’t seem to fit the molds required. My songwriting was too ethereal for them. But when I found dance music, I felt like I found home. I knew more than I’ve known anything in my career that I found where I belonged. The fans of dance music were just like me, and the culture lit up my heart in ways that can only be described as affirmation that I was in the right place. What stuck out to me was the bitter lack of live singers in the space, but it didn’t discourage me. I saw it as an opportunity to start something new, something I knew I was uniquely made for.”
Looking back, HALIENE describes “The End”—her first original alongside Seven Lions—as a “dream come true”:
“I had been a huge fan of his production for a while, and when my publisher asked me if I’d like to write on some of his tracks, I jumped on the opportunity.”
Though “Rush Over Me,” released in October of 2016, would wait poignantly in the wings for a little over a year, that—rather than “The End”—is precisely where HALIENE and Seven Lions’ creative partnership began. HALIENE said,
“I actually wrote ‘Rush Over Me’ first, before ‘The End,’ but the latter came out first. Jeff [Seven Lions] really liked what I’d written for ‘Rush Over Me,’ so he drove down from Santa Barbara to work together on it. We finished it up, and he said he had another track for me, which ended up being ‘The End.’ I wrote it that day, and it came out on his Throes of Winter EP.”
One first would beget another, namely HALIENE’s first performance as HALIENE. When she stepped out onto the Webster Hall stage to live deliver “The End,” the liveliness and energy of the crowd assembled at the East Village hub of sonic activity inspired within HALIENE “something [she] had never felt before”:
“…[there was a] pulsing in me that was nothing short of truly coming alive. Performing for dance music fans is how I imagine performing at Woodstock must have felt, hearts that are as in love with the music as you are, living for every word, every beat and every moment. I thought to myself, THIS IS WHAT IT SHOULD FEEL LIKE, and I fell in love all over again.”
She wasn’t the only one to fall in love. Since her 2015 introduction to the dance context, HALIENE’s following has grown in step with her staggering, electronically facing catalog. From multiple musical go-rounds with the Ophelia Records owner to outings with Adventure Club and ARMNHMR, Tritonal, Gareth Emery, Excision and Wooli, Blasterjaxx, and Armin van Buuren, among many others, HALIENE’s vocals and singing-songwriting capacities have touched just about every crevice in this space, though she self-identifies trance and melodic dubstep as her wheelhouses.
And, the producers aren’t the only ones to embrace HALIENE, her celestial vocals, and her singing-songwriting ability, which infallibly stirs something within her streamers, no matter the dance subgenre. At mere mention of the name HALIENE, listeners at large—and certainly, the readers of this Supernovas feature—have a personal favorite penned by the Los Angeles-based creative that comes to mind. In recent years especially, HALIENE has objectively arisen as one of dance music’s most highly regarded voices, whether with a pen or a microphone in hand.
“I am so very grateful that once I found the right path, the world of dance music responded in turn and opened it’s arms to me,” HALIENE told Dancing Astronaut. “I think coming out of the gate with such a legendary collaborator was a true blessing.”
In the six years that have ensued, HALIENE has found that “there is a maturing process for a songwriter, just like there is for a human being going through the process of life.” As a younger songwriter, she says she was compelled to translate her own life experiences—what she’d seen, felt, and thought—into lyrics, though the urge to do so would diminish over time.
“Once you’ve written all that, purely out of the need to say something, that ‘need’ dissipates,” HALIENE said. “You find yourself then learning method—rhythms, rules of songwriting, concepts that are trending, styles or genres that are in, messages and lyrics that you think people want to hear, etc. [It’s] necessary learning, but in the logical-ness of it, after a while it begins to feel hollow, and you start to miss the innocence of not knowing any of the rules, just creating out of the need to create.”
This feeling can be a stumbling block for some writers, HALIENE acknowledges. Though it’s natural to trip over it, by now, her “time, work, and perseverance” has elevated her to a stage where she has “learned how to listen to a track and tell [her] what it wants to say.” With this literacy comes an acute sense of when to indulge instinct, when to follow form, and when to eschew it, she says:
“It’s when you begin to break those rules intentionally, keeping them when you want to, using method when you need it, but writing out of pure instinct only when vulnerability is what the song requires. Then, all that you’ve learned begins to mesh together into a true songwriter. Now, all of the things I’ve learned have become second nature to me, like breathing. But that is something I have spent 10,000 hours creating.”
This reflexivity also extends to her collaborative process. Her work with producers typically proceeds as a synergistic collision of creative energies during which she “can usually see [the] theme or world” that her partner is trying to create. “I walk into that world and it is my job to write a story within it. I combine it with my own world, so something truly unique is born,” she says.
Though HALIENE has been a consistent collaborator in the electronic space, in 2021, her listeners can anticipate a leveling of co- and solo projects. “Having done so many collaborations though, the time comes to balance that out. I’m definitely at the stage where I feel ready for an album of my own, which is what we’ve been working on for the past year,” she says.
She’ll pepper the year not only with some “huge collaborations” and some of her own originals, but also with strings of live shows—when it’s safe to return to stage. Her roster currently includes festival and club bookings, as well as several socially distanced acoustic performances, three of which have HALIENE stationed in Orange County from April 29 – May 1 for an acoustic dinner series, a format she’d dreamt about adopting “for years.” 2021, in sum, is “the year of building something new, of breaking the molds, of far off dreams becoming reality,” according to HALIENE. “I can’t say much more than that, but as the year unfolds, you will see,” she promises.
Not all of the molds to be broken, however, are singularly hers. In a theoretical bridge between Supernovas 003: Jonathan Mendelsohn and this present Supernovas installment, HALIENE underscores the industry’s historical treatment of singer-songwriters as secondaryto the producer as a paradigm on the precipice of a very necessary shift. In 2021, as an increasing number of vocalists and lyricists—the lifeblood of so many of the records that we know and records that we will collectively come to know—advocate for their equivalence, the lopsided mold of creative accreditation awaits its own shattering. And, though some systematic change comes later than it should, its delay does not render it any less important or impactful.
“I am thrilled to finally see a huge movement in the dance space that singer-songwriters are not just samples or features to be exploited. People are starting to recognize that the words the crowd sings back to you, we wrote and sang. Writing a song is just as valuable a contribution as making the track, and these singers and writers can be performers too,” HALIENE said.
“It is time to break the mold, because people are ready for it. It doesn’t mean the producer role is less than, but that there is room for all. I’ve had to push hard to be booked on for festivals and shows, despite having more fans, releases, and streams than many of the people on the lineups.
I’m grateful to finally be getting my own set time though. I know if I had just compromised my vision and become a DJ, it would have been much quicker and easier. Lord knows I had many very established DJs tell me I should just because that was the mold. But I wanted to do something bigger than that. I wanted to make a path for singers in the future. I wanted to make a stand that singers can have live shows in dance music too. We don’t all have to be behind the decks, we can be out in front of them, singing our hearts out, singing the words we wrote with you. It’s time, and it’s happening now! I’m so grateful.”
The “bitter lack of live singers” that HALIENE observed when she made her acquaintance with dance music in 2012 has been sweetened by her presence in the time since, such that the singer-songwriters to follow in her step might not ever look upon the space and see that paucity again. By so vocally—no pun intended—and inspiritingly existing in and contributing to the electronic culture, HALIENE has not only answered this “bitter lack”; she’s also been a catalyst for the metamorphosis surrounding the singer-songwriter’s stature in the electronic sector of the music industry.
Our interview ends with a particularly powerful profession from HALIENE: “Music is my purpose, [it is] why I believe I was put on this earth.” We, along with the vocalists and songwriters who will walk the trail she’s blazed, would wholeheartedly agree.
Stream HALIENE’s hand-curated Supernovas playlist featuring 10 of her songs below.
The feeling of seeing fan-recorded videos of new music—specifically of “Shadows”—from a true live atmosphere pop up on Twitter again couldn’t be described as anything other than a near out-of-body feeling. Ophelia Records has already been untouchable thus far in 2021, and the final form of Seven Lions, Wooli, and Amidy’s cooperative single-handedly erupted Ubbi Dubbi’s Texas mainstage, serving as the shutdown to the label boss’ day one performance. Now, just beyond the four-month mark since “Shadows” first broke out during Wooli’s Park ‘N Rave set, the three-manned collective is taking to none other than the melodic bass hall to supplement Ophelia’s already overcrowded ballot for 2021’s presiding original.
Hosting Seven Lions, Wooli, and Amidy on a collective banner was truly a blockbuster recipe, especially when considering the former two’s high-toned pair of collaborative predecessors, “Island” and “Another Me.” “Shadows” motors through a global rollercoaster of dubstep, rotating between a purebred melodic block and a stark, hard-hitting change-up enabled at the production hand of Wooli—of course—all while being routed by Amidy’s set of emotively drenched, sing-along vocals as “Shadows” steps back into the on-deck circle for its next in-person advent. For any questions as to how well music disseminated during the pandemic would migrate from headphone to festival stage, “Shadows” is an explicit answer.
Roska’s got that gas for sure. His latest remix of Gianna Lee and Andrea Valle’s “Gas” flips the original on its head with a spattering of snares and a hefty kick. The talented vocalists debut single with Andrea Valle is the latest subject of an update from UK Legend Roska, who gives the summer heater a dancefloor driven, UK Funky, Amapiano spin. Slamming kicks and Roska’s signature percussion transforms the brooding original into an undeniable, global body mover. There’s just something about Roska’s subtle style that makes this version of “Gas” high octane, a complete 180 compared to the slow moving and brooding original.
Back with his first studio album since 2018’s Ringo’s Desert, exalted house maestro ZHU shares his highly anticipated LP DREAMLAND 2021. For the third album of his career, ZHU pulls out all the stops, liberally deploying devastating bass riffs and groovy synth lines over his trademark brooding house sound. While the majority of the album leans towards the expected dark tone, several songs break the mold, including the ultra-groovy “How Does It Feel” with Channel Tres, the Rhodes piano ballad “SOCO,” and “Good4U” featuring rapping from lo-fi favorite Kota the Friend. Additionally, tracks like “Zhudio54” and “Yours” with Arctic Lake lean into ZHU’s signature deep house trappings while moving in fresh directions, keeping the album experience captivating throughout.
Although the wait for DREAMLAND 2021 was long, ZHU gave fans plenty of material to consume in the meantime. From hosting his first fashion show to performing countless breathtaking livestreams to sharing numerous artistically ambitious music videos, ZHU’s profile has only risen over the past few years. On top of his new ventures, the veteran producer has maintained a steady stream of high-profile collaborations, working with the likes of Jeremih, Bob Moses, 24kGoldn, Tchami, and several more. DREAMLAND 2021‘s featured roster also includes Tinashe, partywithray, and Yuna.
Swedish dance-pop producer Discrete returns with the dynamic, world-spanning single “Drown in Me.” The track pulls together artists from across the globe—Canadian pop hitmaker Kiesza, Icelandic singer/songwriter Ouse, and Colombian artist/actor Dylan Fuentes—uniting them in a technicolor swirl of pure pop energy. Discrete has spent the last few years developing a euphoric take on pop informed by the ecstatic sounds of dancefloors across the globe. “Drown in Me” is testament to this hard work, effortlessly combining the talents of three vibrant, diverse artists into one blissful output. Kiesza, Ouse, and Dyland shine while Discrete’s production shimmers in neon with a insistent driving beat and shimmering synths. First written in 2019, “Drown In Me” sat dormant until the strangeness of 2020 brought it out of hiding. The trio contributed to the song remotely but the intimacy and fluidity of the project feels like they were in the same room. The result is a bombastic romp with swinging percussion infused with Latin elements.
“Drown in Me” follows a productive 2020 for Discrete, which included the release of his debut EP, EXPLORE, a collection of dancefloor-filling tracks that demonstrate his ear for gleaming, gleeful instrumentals and winning pop melodies. Watch him in 2021 for more killer productions and earworm-inducing releases.