Serris – Korvau

Sometimes it’s not about dancing. Sometimes it’s about listening what’s happening, trying to integrate as the track evolves.

Tim Maillot aka Serris has set up a new electro track which kind of “abducts” you into a scenery with lots of room and space. He works with minimalistic elements and vocal samples that give you the illusion of standing in a cave with someone telling you something important. (Yeah, you know me…I like music to paint pictures in my mind. 😉 )
All what’s happening in the track evolves around a steady massive yet basic beat. This allows the listener to concentrate on what happens next BESIDES the beat. But don’t get me wrong, the beat itself isn’t boring or anything, but it doesn’t take away too much attention from the rest of the layered tracks. Since “Korvau” is not mainstream dance material but ambient electro, you can expect the unexpected with the changes happening throughout the song. My favourite part is the last third of the track where Serris let the distortion effects loose on the synth line. That requires sort of the guts to do so. Hard to describe, you should listen for yourself, you’ll know what I mean.

You will probably disagree on this one with me, but I like “Korvau” a lot. Just because it’s unusual, and the artist doesn’t hesitate to use all of his arsenal to surprise you as a listener. Being a producer, you have got the ability to try something different, and you also have to be that “brave” to expose that to the audience. Serris brings that to the table, and therefore he’s my pick of the day.

Jaїr – Restrained

It’s not always that easy to put a song into a category. Or a mood. Or a feeling. A purpose, a sense – you name it. Jaїr lets the listener decide what to feel with this track.

Jaїr Boekje managed to confuse me tonight. His track “Restrained” brings a lot of feeling to the table but at the same time does change a couple of times in a way that makes you want to rethink what you are listening to. Now, that’s either because the song is filled with emotion, or because Jaїr just didn’t want to focus on just one specific segment of the track.
Whatever the reason may be, this track has several segments which alternate between a huge soundcsape and those slower, chilling parts. There are a lot of pads, synths and guitar-like instruments used there. As soon as you got comfortable to relax on one of those guitar segments, there’s a build-up going for another wide-space soundscape, mixing it up with several reverbed vocal one-shots. I do like the analogue feeling of the guitar melody which then shares room with synth tracks. But, in my opinion, there are one or two changes made too often. As I said, I like to get comfortable with one segment or another, but this needs time. Changing the pace too often for me disturbs “the flow” of the track, so to speak. Besides that, I do believe that Jaїr FEELS what he is doing there, and that’s what counts. Plus that’s what made me recommend the track tonight.

In my opinion, “Restrained” is a great track, considering that it’s filled with a great soundscape and emotion (and yes, I’m also stunned about the fact that Jaїr is only sixteen years old). Great to hear that there’s a album of him coming out May this year. If he continues creating that kind of tunes, he’ll have plenty of surprises for us in store!

Willow Island – Mystical City

You gotta love two things for this one. Chiptune and a clean beat. If you do, you’re in for a treat.

Okay, I admit that you won’t get the ultra-clean high-level produced track with “Mystical City”. But it’s that simplicity that attracted me right from the first seconds. I love the general idea of the track. On one side you have that steady drum/percussion duo which leaves enough space for the synth line. And then you have those chiptune stabs hitting, reminding you (or ME for that matter) of what went on several years ago when EDM wasn’t even called EDM, hehe. You know the phrase “less is more”, right. Following this concept, 25-year old producer Ville Laakkonnen aka Willow Island created an interesting piece of music here. I like the fact that the track is not loaded with tons of several synth lines or many changes of drum styles. Instead the track allows you to concentrate on what actually is happening, and for me that is always a head-nod guarantee. (at work. Seriously, give me that in a club and you’ll find me on the dancefloor.)

What I’m slightly missing with the track is a bit more intelligent compression and aggression in the final mix. I know it’s hard to finalize a track to get it to sound good on all devices, but this one does sound a bit… flat regarding bass and synth, with the percussion and chiptune using too much of the higher frequencies. But hey, I’m not a DJ, so don’t mind my ranting about the mixing part. Check it out, you’ll know why I’m recommending this track tonight!

Infected Sun – Chilled Late Nights

Need something to listen to while relaxing? Something that sounds good in the background as well as played over headphones? Something that doesn’t distract you while at the same time filling the room with a nice smooth soundscape? Congratulations, you’ve found what you are looking for.

Justin Stephens aka Infected Sun followed a solid chillout concept with his latest track “Chilled Late Nights”. (Also with several others of this series (available on soundcloud as well). What caught my attention was his statement on facebook that he would set up a couple of tracks for pitching them to the “Cafe Del Mar” guys. Since I love what THEY are doing, I gave this track a listen. It’s all about what the song does to the mind, right? So, here’s what mine came up with instantly: shoreside, late at night, chilly breeze coming from waterside as you walk down the boardwalk, trying to find the next club to enter until the sun rises. So yeah – the title fits the track perfectly.
The artist mainly used several layers of synths alongside a bass line and a genre-typical “mild” drum beat and percussion layers. In my opinion the percussion is mixed slightly too aggressive, it probably would have been better to eq them into the middle bandwidth just to cutoff some presence. Justin uses a synth melody line there which reminds me a lot of these chiptune sounds, almost like this melody was used in some console game or something. But it really suits the whole track, and used in turns with a almost distorted guitar-like instrument the track manages to not get boring with too long repeating segments.

“Chilled Late Nights” is a solid track which you should give a listen to. Maybe we’ll meet on the boardwalk while searching for the next club to enter, hehe.

Grey And Scarlet J – A Light In The Dark

Let me draw a quick picture for you regarding this track: think about those weekends where everything seems right…you meet some friends, put on a nice dress and make-up (or a half-descent shirt, if you’re a guy 😉 ), and then you’re headed to the club. You’re standing there at the bar…and the DJ plays the track you’re about to read something about. Sipping on your drink, you’re enjoying the dancing boys and girls around you, grooving along to the track…Life’s great.

What caught my attention this time was the song’s drive, making your head move in rhythmic fashion from start to end. The song itself would keep that drive even without the vocals in my opinion, but since Grey aka Ross Hilliard teamed up with a skilled vocalist named Scarlet J, this tracks even puts on that …well, “extra portion of disco”.
The song includes a very fast bass line, mixed up with those funky guitar riffs when needed (again adding that disco feeling in the process). With the vocals blended in perfectly, this will go great in almost any DJ set, I guess. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the drum line seems a bit flat to me, maybe the mix could have been enhanced to give the drums a bit of extra kick. Also, when several vocal tracks are layered, they sort of blend too much together. Besides that everything else is straight forward uplifting and mixed solid.
No wonder, since Grey (also “Lieutenant Grey”) isn’t a newbie to the scene. You can see on his soundcloud account that he keeps his engine running fast, so to speak, teaming up with several other artists to produce a great amount of mostly house tracks in the same professional fashion.

All in all, this track is already a dancefloor resident in my opinion. I read on Grey’s soundcloud account that the full version of the track will be available around June this year, I hope there are several remixes done in the future, because “A light in the dark” has a lot of potential.

Mizuchi – The Delta V Space Lounge

Sometimes I need simply more space. Being able to just block all out, leaning back and enjoying something else than regular life for a brief moment. Today, Mizuchi was able to let me escape into space for a few minutes.

Listenting to the track he describes as being “Chill Space”, at first it sounded like a regular track to me. There’s a bit of a soundscape going on, mixed with several synth lines. What caught my attention was the time the drum set in and the synthlines were getting sharper… what started dreamy began to transform into something more. Blended with a soft percussion set, the room that track build in my head suddenly got bigger and bigger. With the usage of sonar-like sounds, it feels like taking a trip deep-sea (or space, for that matter…but I haven’t been to space. YET. 🙂 ) Great usage of the several synth and soundscape tracks without using them layered “too thick” together creates a track you should definetly give a listen to. Also, the final mix of the track is very good. After trying several headphones and speakers (because I know a think or two about mixing and mastering), I got no complaints whatsoever about the mix. Although I’m wondering why the track was cut off at the end, but maybe it’s part of a remix set or something.

In my opinion Benoit Aley Martin aka Mizuchi managed to use the synths in this track exactly how they were usually created to work. Wherever an arpeggiated repeating line is needed, he did that on the spot. You’re in for a solid chillout/electronic track here which I’m highly recommending whenever you need to have that additional space for a couple of minutes.

Spotlight: Djazel

image2netNowadays, taking it to the next level isn’t a very easy thing to do as an upcoming artist. We talked to Djazel, an aspiring hip-hop recording artist, singer/songwriter and model from Toronto about her career, her creative writing process, her projects and what needs to be done to make a name in the music business.

kms / How stacked is your schedule right now? Any upcoming projects?
Djazel / My schedule is extremely stacked right now and I know that as time goes on it’ll just keep stacking! I’m not complaining though, it’s a good busy.
I’m working on a few different projects at the moment. One of them is a remix version of The Checklist EP which I’m planning to release some time in October. Another project I’m working on is a weekly vlog. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to go on these huge rants and apparently it’s pretty entertaining. I’ve had quite a few people be like “you should really start a vlog,” so.. I’m finally doing it. I’m a passionate person as well as a bit of a comedian; I enjoy making people laugh and while I do exercise those sides of me through some of my lyrics, I’ll really be able to take entertaining my fans and my audience to the next level with my vlog. When I plan to debut it is yet to be determined; I still have a few things to take care of before I can pick a date, but I’m getting close!

image1netkms / Describe your writing process.
Djazel / Honestly, I know it’s strange but I get my best ideas when I’m in the shower so the biggest obstacle for me right now is not being able to record a voice note on my phone or jot anything down until after I’ve gotten out of the shower. I literally have to repeat the hook or the melody out loud until I can record it or write it down just so that I won’t forget it.

kms / Do you have any rituals or habits when writing?
Djazel / I never really consciously thought of it until now to be honest. One of my rituals is smoking weed. I’ll either roll something up, or smoke my bong and vibe out to the music to get in the mood before I actually start writing. It just helps me to focus and connect with the music. If there’s a certain emotion I’m experiencing, it allows me to narrow in on that emotion. If I’m trying to clear my mind, it allows me to do that as well. I guess you could say it’s a form of meditation for me. Another ritual is having to use pen and paper to write. I have a book that I write all of my songs and ideas in but if I don’t have it on me for some reason, I’ll write on anything, napkins, paper bags, scrap paper, my hand, absolutely anything I can find, until I can transfer the lyrics or idea to my song book. I can’t do the whole writing on my phone thing, it drives me fucking nuts. I may jot down an idea in my phones “Notes” if I can’t physically write something down for whatever reason but I always end up going back and writing it in my song book. Even when I record my vocals, I put my handwritten lyrics on a sheet music stand instead of reading it off of a phone or tablet. It’s just easier for me to read and easier for my eyes to focus on.

kms / Tell us a bit more of your writing process.
Djazel / My writing processes vary. I wouldn’t say I just have one. The writing process I tend to use the most is writing to an instrumental. Sometimes I already have a concept in mind, sometimes I don’t and I just write based on how the instrumental makes me feel at that time. I’ll sit there with the instrumental on repeat, writing section by section, starting with the hook and then the verses or bridges. I don’t usually write the ad libs or harmonies until I record the vocals. Sometimes I write lyrics without an instrumental and and look for a producer who can create the production that I envision for the song. For instance, I’ve written lyrics to a single drum line and I’ve written lyrics inspired by the melodies of classic songs as well as Top 40 songs. All of my ideas and concepts come from my life though, my lyrics always tell a story or have some sort of message.

_MG_0015netkms / Are you into collaboration projects? Or are you signed exclusively?
Djazel / I’m an independent artist and while I’m into and open to collaboration projects, I’m also very careful as to who I collaborate with. If I choose to collaborate with someone it’s because the collaboration makes sense for both parties involved and I feel that the other artist(s) work at the same caliber as I do or they have a similar mindset with similar goals. I’m just not trying to waste my time or creative energy on projects that won’t see the light of day just because people can’t get their shit together. A lot of artists don’t do the things that they’re supposed to do to show that they’re as serious as they say they are. I feel like if you’re an artist who’s serious about your craft, you should at least know certain things about music and about the industry, and the artists that don’t know or aren’t even interested in taking the time to research and learn those things are exactly the kinds of “artists” I stay away from collaborating with.

kms / Describe your experience with the music scene today. Is it alive (enough) these days?
Djazel / The music scene is definitely alive and well these days, especially with the internet and social media. There’s a real opportunity for artists to reach the masses globally, the tricky part is not only figuring out how to do that and how to stay relevant but also how to make a comfortable living doing it. People can argue that the music scene is dead, but in my experience it isn’t dead, it’s just changed and continues to evolve. The reality is that the “music scene” is primarily digital nowadays. People don’t really come out to your shows unless you have an impressive presence and following online. I feel like a lot of artists fail due to lack of originality and lack of a business mentality. They call it the music business for a reason and a lot of artists can’t even grasp that. The same people saying that the music scene is dead are the same people who don’t like or accept change. They don’t understand it so it’s just easier for them to dismiss it as dead.

_MG_0287net

kms / What would you change if you had the power to influence the way things are run in the music scene?
Djazel / If I had the power to influence or change anything in the music industry, it would have to be royalties for digital streams. A lot of big artists such as Taylor Swift have spoken out on this issue and continue to fight for change. We don’t even get peanuts for digital streams as artists, okay? We get the thin shells that separate the peanut from the thicker outer shell. It’s so crazy. Pharrell’s “Happy” track was streamed 43 million times and he only made like $3,000. That really puts into perspective what the artists (who don’t even come close to millions of streams) make in royalties. It’s literally nothing. It’s definitely not enough to live off of which is why a lot of artists have to rely on other avenues of making  income such as touring, merchandise, endorsements, sponsorships, advances, etc. It’s the biggest problem the music industry is facing right now and it’s something that should have been dealt with a long time ago through appropriate legislation.

_MG_0036akms / In what ways is “Djazel the artist” different from “Djazel the real/private you”?
Djazel / Djazel is the real me and I am the real Djazel. My name isn’t just a stage name, it’s actually my given birth name. The attitude and persona that you see isn’t an act, it’s me. It took me a lot of time to get to a point where I was confident and comfortable enough with myself to be able to not only do, think or say what I wanted or how I felt but also present that publicly without worrying about backlash and what people said or thought of me. I had to learn to fall in love with myself and let go of the insecurities or worries that held me back, basically emancipating myself from myself. I had to throw myself in unknown, scary, uncomfortable and intimidating situations just to grow not only as an artist but also as a human being. I’m not trying to put on an act and hide behind it, that’s the last thing I want to do.

kms / You’re also into modeling. How did that happen?
Djazel / Like I said in one of the earlier questions, it’s called the music business for a reason, and while you may think that music and modelling have nothing to do with each other, they actually do because both are under the bigger scope and umbrella of the entertainment industry. As someone who realizes, knows and understands all of this, I also realize, know and understand that to be successful in the music business, you have to be a multi-talent within the entertainment industry as a whole. You have to be able to offer more than one talent. You have to be a work horse making money otherwise you’re useless and easily replaceable. The competition is crazy so you always have to be one step ahead in some way just to stand out. You also always want to have your hands in more than one thing to ensure your security long-term. With all that said, I started seriously pursuing modelling as a way to promote myself as well as my music.

kms / Is there anything you’d like to do in the future that you haven’t already done?
Djazel / I want to go on tour in the future – provincially, nationally, and internationally. That’s the level I want to achieve. That’s the dream. That’s the goal. I’ve even planned and thought of stage design for future tours. I’d love to act, I think acting is so much fun. I took a few acting classes last summer and got a cute little acting certificate after I had completed my final assessment. I also have a few different ideas for novels and movie scripts that I’d like to write and pitch to production and publishing companies. There are honestly so many things that I want to do, so many things that I have planned for the future, but at the same time, I’ve also learned not say too much so you’ll just have to keep watching and listening.

kms / What do you recommend all the new unknown artists who struggle to get their music heard out there?
Djazel / Think long-term. Think business. Be prepared to invest in yourself and your craft. Promote yourself any chance you get and collaborate with other artists who are willing to promote you as well. Be choosey with who you create and keep professional relationships with. Don’t allow anyone to influence you, your art or your creativity – I don’t care if it’s your best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, mom, dad, sister, grandma, producer, bandmate, etc. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t be an artist and definitely don’t allow them to tell you how to be an artist. If this is what you really want to do, do it. Follow your dreams and your heart but take your brain with you. Be careful and cautious. Be guarded. Know your worth. Know your value. Be original and unique while still being real. Create your own lane. Prepare to fail repeatedly but also prepare to learn from those failures to create greatness and success. Most importantly, never give up!

The Checklist EP Artwork FRONTnet

Find out more about the smart and sexy Djazel and her recently released EP “The Checklist” using the following links:
> official homepage
> soundcloud account
> facebook account
> twitter account

To get in touch with Djazel, you can check her contact page.

dawn – alpha

Not too long ago I was doing a competition half marathon. When preparing for the start – warm-up, waiting for the thing to finally take place, building up momentum… I wish I had this track on my iPod with me.

You won’t get the ordinary dance tune this time. Sure, he also did these kinds of trancy tracks like “evolution”, but mostly you can rather expect the unexpected from Stephan Mueller aka dawnmusicberlin. As for the actual track “alpha”, he mixed together layers of synth with percussion, stirring it up with a minimalistic beat, and one-shot effects. What really made me recommend this track though was the constant tension of the track. Due to the several rises, hits and sound effects (which could be less dramatic at some times – they really “slap you in the face” sometimes so to speak – but that’s just my opinion. Plus, it’s maybe exactly what the artist intended.) the track keeps its pace, it feels like your pulse is rising while listening to it. That’s why I noted the runner preparation at the beginning, this track sort of triggers my brain to prepare for… I don’t know, something bigger yet to come. Also, it sounds like grand stage movie score sometimes.

Checking out some of his other work, I realized that dawn ain’t your everyday radio artist. It’s hard to tell where the musician ends and the artist begins with his work. In my opinion you got to have a mixture of both aspects in your songs, and he managed to do so. Listen for yourself, you won’t regret it!

SAAY – Lowkey

This track really is something for the soul. Not one of the quick tracks playing in the car stereo. Feels like someone handed you a warm, soft blanket on a cold night. In other words: my definition of R&B.

Since today was a very stressful day, I was searching for that nice, chillin’ tune to relax to. Hearing the first auto-tuned notes of SAAY’s track immediately made me turn up the volume.
Using a deep space bass, the song produces a lot of room for the vocals. From there on it’s an intelligent mix of percussion, layered synth and one of the softest male vocals I heard in a long time. Especially in the chorus the singer managed to build up what I like to call an “eye-closer”. He sung in all the vocal tracks to mix them togehter perfectly to create that …smoothness (in lack of a better word to describe it right now).
Seems that Saay Harris from New York is around the scene for a long time now…and hell, he’s here to stay! For “Lowkey” he teamed up with a producer called Rusty Harris who also did several other tracks with Saay and also with other artists like Danny Matos or Chica. Harris obviously knows what he is doing when it comes to mixing and mastering. Nothing disturbing happens in the track, everything is mixed well-balanced.
Just beacuse it’s my policy when doing a review, and also because I don’t want this to sound like Saay paid me to write this review, I have to at least mention one negative thing per track. So, this would be the slight overuse of percussion. On some points in the song the percussion draws too much attention from the voice in my opinion.

My advice for today is that you really give this track a listen. You’re in for a treat!

Slawder – Grime (Original Mix)

Accelerating in a tunnel. Almost no lighting, picking up speed very fast, not knowing where you will go. Then, finally, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You know wherever this tunnel will lead, you’ll be in for the ride of your life. That’s pretty much what kind of picture this song is drawing within the first seconds in my brain.

To be honest, first I thought about not recommending this song on the kms blog. At first I was distracted too much by all the layered tracks within those four minutes. Also, the lead synth is cutting the noise like one of those ultra-sharp fish knifes do a fugu. That’s definetly not everyone’s taste, so proceed with caution, hehe.
What really made me change my mind though was the way the changes are made in the song. There are several drops that are precisely done, giving me that “look out!” impression I really dig. One second you’re into the whole mix, then all of a sudden, you’re reminded politely (more or less) that you’re not there yet. Klick klack, there’s the reload sound of a shotgun. Yak yak. Vocal cut. Total silence. Bass drop. Practically all tools are in use to keep those heads up.

Newcomer Slawder aka Joey Claypool from Abbotsford, Canada did a solid job here. In my opinion, “Grime” really won’t be everyone’s taste – but this one will definetly get some eyebrows raised when played on a soundstage! All I know is: MINE went up when I heard that track! 😉 Visiting his soundcloud profile, you also can find several other original tracks of him.