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BIGSOUND day 1 wrap-up

Brisbane has once again been transformed into a new music haven with BIGSOUND rolling into town. With it, the annual music conference has brought some of the most hype-worthy names in music to play over a number of venues in Fortitude Valley.

It says something about the state of new Australian music that despite it being a lineup of many fresh faces, it stands up against many major festivals. In the past year, DMA’s have become NME darlings, Oscar Key Sung has become one of the internet’s most buzzed names and Tkay Maidza has attracted the attention of International producers Ryan Hemsworth and Bok Bok. The talent at BIGSOUND 2014 lineup doesn’t just stack up locally, the artists playing are garnering international attention as well with many of them likely to pop up on the SXSW roster next year.

Last night we took a trip deep into the Valley to discover and celebrate the state of Australian music right now. And yes, we can confirm that it’s healthier than ever. Spanning countless venues, we donned our runners and zig-zagged around the Valley to check out the best new talent and for your convenience, we overcame our lack of sleep to make a cheat-sheet of BIGSOUND’s highlights from night one.

Click on the tabs to move through the artists.

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Introducing Scarlett Rush and her debut EP, ‘Dark Nights’

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Australia has no shortage of great electronic/RnB female voices right now and Sydney singer Scarlett Rush looks set to join them based on the strength of her debut EP, Dark NightsDark Nights is a collection of late-night RnB tunes, peppered with electronic stylings that echo the sound of producers like Shlohmo and Giraffage. Lead single, The Morning is an effortless number, that sees Rush croon like Jhene Aiko, unphased by tempo or time. Throughout the EP she takes total control on songs like Jealous and also gets lost in hazy production like on Schemes. It’s a confident, assured debut that understands the sound-of-the-moment and uses it to its advantage.

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Yacht’s latest A/B side single ‘Where Does This Disco’

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Yes, you are seeing double. Yacht have blessed us with not one, but two tracks. Their latest track, a Gameboy-groove twist on the disco aptly titled ‘Where Does This Disco?’ as well as a remix of the song by Jerome LOL. If this isn’t enough to tickle your senses, the LA-based duo – who are currently on tour around the US – have developed their own app, Every Day, which suggests five interesting things to do in Los Angeles everyday. Not just a pretty sound!

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Genre-pushing pop princess pairings of 2014

popprincessSomething’s been happening in the world of pop this year. Well, duh. Let me rephrase. A lot  has been happening in the world of pop this year. From Beyonce’s sly-dog release of Beyonce, to the alarming growth that’s firmly attached itself to Nicki Minaj’s behind, to Tay Tay getting busy exacerbating racial stereotypes while she’s shaking it off to Lily Allen’s comeback tour, it’s been a busy year for pop and its chart toppers. Controversial MTV appearances and obligatory twitter beefs aside though, what’s really interesting is that, in its fatigued 2014 state, pop just isn’t pop anymore. Blame exhaustion or simply growing out of that awkward preteen stage, pop is increasingly becoming less and less like the pop of the the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Once guarded by boy bands in matching outfits and bad die jobs, pop was a pristine domain reserved for the Britney Spears’ and Christina’s -before she was X-tina – of the world. A clearly defined realm, with the occasional true diva slash pop princess flourishing amongst a sea of Mandy Moore’s and Jessica Simpson’s. This year however, those same pop princesses that, in say 1999 or even 2009, would’ve been left to their preordained place on So Fresh of Summer and Ryan Seacrest’s weekly Top 40, have become, for all intents and purposes, transcendent. Chameleon-like, female pop artists of 2014 are opting to work with some seriously unlikely producers, and no, we’re not just talking about the David Guetta’s and Calvin Harris’s of the world. Suddenly, Ariana Grande is bosom buddies with Cashmere Cat and Miley’s a female rebel with Alt-J. And, do you know what’s even more interesting? As pop fatigues of its own pop game, and grows out of its own pop boots, those same unlikely producers are choosing to work back and undeniably helping to carve a new path for the future of a now more mature, dynamic pop. Here we have a look at just 5 unlikely pop princess pairings released over the last year that are helping to push the boundaries of the genre ever onward.

Ariana Grande and Zedd: Break Free

When Break Free dropped earlier this year, Grande’s Zedd produced mega hit broke all the rules on its way to freedom. Music camps everywhere sat perplexed facing the same conundrum, to like or not to like. Here was a song with undeniable pop appeal. With vocals bellowing out from yet another sequin-clad Disney Channel escapee, and a house-anthem quality to its thumping bass and roller coaster rise and falls, this song was surely destined for Top 40 success, buoyed by the starry eyed 12 to 16 year old girl market, while simultaneously anticipating ridicule from more discerning music snobs. Remarkably, however, it wasn’t just the aspirational tweens that found themselves crooning along to Grande’s grammatically incorrect chorus. Zedd’s production gave not only the song a level of unexpected credibility, but Grande herself. Instead of lampooning the 21-year-old for, well, what else are Disney graduates for? Pitchfork evoked comparisons to “Swedish pop mastermind, Robyn,” while noting Grande’s “sky scraping voice” was in top form. And Slate called it a “soaring pop ballad… propelled by synth chords and a pounding bass beat.”

Ariana Grande and Cashmere Cat: Be My Baby

Grande’s debut album My Everything is riddled with collaborations from Nicki Minaj and Jessie J, to The Weeknd and Childish Gambino. It’s well and truly old news, but in case you’ve been living under a rock, everyone wants a piece of this intergalactic pop princess. Perhaps the album’s most unexpected cameo however is by Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat who, not only produced Be My Baby, but in more recent weeks has released an alternative version to the sanitised edit that made its way onto Grande’s album. Brimming with blippy synths, all out gun shots and punch-packing chorus breakdowns, Cashmere’s re-edit is effortlessly cool in a way that the original could never be. While superficially the two artists find fans in diametrically opposed walks of life, collectively the same-same-but-different tracks somewhat unashamedly demonstrate a rumbling conversation currently taking place between chart toppers and the underground. It seems intrigue and a genuine desire to bust genre wide open is a priority on all fronts at the moment: Alien-pashing pocket rocket or super-side fringed cat alike.

Miley Cyrus and Alt J: Hunger of the Pine

Of all the pop princess collabs on this list, Miley’s sample on Alt-J’s track Hunger of the Pine was critically the least well received. Lifted from 4×4, a non-single track on Cyrus’s Bangerz album, Sam called the sample “beyond clumsy,” while Bianca vilified Cyrus for bringing her “big wrecking ball” in and ruining the track’s chance of truly “happening.” Billboard simply lamented Alt-J’s oversight in not sampling Nelly’s verse from the same song. A non-appearance by Nelly on any track is already disappointing enough, let alone when it’s replaced by Miley. Hunger of the Pine remains however, a crystalline example of how reworks, samples and collaborations between unlikely bedfellows attribute a fresh sense of credibility artists and their music. Suddenly Miley was not just Miley of Robin Thicke infamy, but Miley, an artist in the eyes of incomparable (thank god) Alt-J.

Jessie Ware and Cyril Hahn: Tough Love

Labeled breakout producer of 2013, Cyril Hahn has steadily been making a name for himself remixing and sampling the lofty vocals of female artists at the top of their game. From Destiny’s Child, to baby sister Solange and Californian outfit HAIM to a truly x-rated, quivering pants-party rendition of Mariah’s Touch My Body, it’s not surprising that the Swiss R&B re-animator quickly turned his hand to Jessie Ware’s Tough Love. Described as “the missing link between SBTRKT and Sade,” Ware was praised for the release of her down-tempo R&B, synth-infused pop album (yes, there is such a thing), Devotion, earlier this year. While there ain’t nothing tough about the original Tough Love, when in Hahn’s hands, the breathy pop-ballad is easily transformed into a house beat that bubbles frenetically under a vocal tapestry rich in high highs and slow burn crescendos. A Hahn remix is quickly becoming the tell tale sign of a true pop princess. Watch out Ariana Grande, he’s coming for you.

Sia and Four Tet: Chandelier 

Sia’s Chandelier caught attention for a myriad of reasons. Firstly it was her bold, unapologetic announcement of return after an extended hiatus between albums. Secondly, dat video clip, am I right? And thirdly, the incredibly powerful press and TV talk show performances that accompanied its debut, all seeming to herald the return of this unique artist, while firmly maintaining her shadowy space, just beyond the limelight’s desperately creeping finger tips. Read, Lena Dunham’s doppleganger act on Late Night with Seth Meyers and her back-to-the-camera recreation on Ellen. Pitchfork claimed Chandelier made “her previously released solo material seem impossibly minor by comparison,” while our own writer Sam noted a presences of guts in Chandelier absent in the work of contemporaries like Katy Perry. In the face of such pop stardom, producers and DJ reactionaries have two choices, run in the opposite direction, save daring to take on soon-to-be pop classic or conversely dive straight in, rework and take the track in a totally new direction. For his take on Sia’s Chandelier, British producer Four Tet chose the latter. Stripping out the instrumentals, Four Tet left Sia’s impossible audio intact, twanging over an fresh hip-hop inspired beat and softly sparkling keys. Like the Cashmere Cat re-release of Grande’s Be My Baby, Four Tet’s Chandelier is more than a remix or mere dialed up BPM. It reinforces pop’s sky rocketing power to transcend what has been a chaste genre and a willingness on the behalf of certifiably non-pop producers to encourage this fresh approach to limits and genre. As Sam says, the Four Tet interpretation just “adds extra edge as if to take it from the hands of Commercial Radio and plop it in Triple J’s lap.”

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A.G. Cook gives How To Dress Well’s ‘Repeat Pleasure the PC Music treatment

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If you’re a regular on this website you’d be no stranger to the PC Music label run by British producer A.G. Cook. Love it or hate it it’s one of the most interesting labels in the world right now and A.G. Cook’s proved it once again with his PC Music makeover of How To Dress Well’s Repeat Pleasure. In true PC Music style., Cook manipulates Tom Krell’s vocal in the beginning before reigning it back in and letting Krell’s flawless melody takeover. The remix whips in and out of the absurd with a constant wave of synths providing some sort of regularity.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/howtodresswell/repeat-pleasure-a-g-cook-remix[/soundcloud]

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TĀLĀ drops the triumphant ‘Black Scorpio’

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We fell in love with London electronic artist TĀLĀ back in April when she released Serbia. At the time Bianca said “dance, tribal and R&B lines are blurred harder than Robin Thicke”. Today, she’s dropped a new track, Black Scorpio off a new EP named Aesop and she’s still blurring those lines. In parts it sounds like its straight from a spy film before dipping into delectable vocal samples and majestic trumpets. It effortlessly melds so many sounds into one that categorising it into a genre seems nonsensical. More exciting music from the producer/singer.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/talaofficial/black-scorpio[/soundcloud]

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A$AP Rocky jumps on Sam Smith’s ‘I’m Not The Only One’

artworks-000090531453-yy72cf-t500x500I’m Not The Only One is already a hit here in Australia but it looks like Sam Smith‘s label is trying to give the track a push in the US with A$AP Rocky adding two verses to the track. A$AP is no stranger to jumping on tracks to spice them up a bit. He’s done some stellar work on tracks like Lykke Li’s No Rest For The Wicked and Jessie Ware’s Wildest Moments. The track is pretty much left in its original form except A$AP bookmarks it with his rap, dropping lyrics about Beyonce, cheating and love. Aw.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/samsmithworld/samsmithasaprocky[/soundcloud]

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Introducing…Moving Castle

Introducingthe interns’ ‘Introducing’ series is a new segment focusing on labels and collectives who are making the music world infinitely more interesting in 2014. Each fortnight we’ll look at an individual or group of people that are spicing up their particular field starting this week with American collective Moving Castle.

It may seem lately that there’s been so much talk about PC Music on the interns that we’ve made it sound like a major label. It isn’t, in fact. In the grand scheme of things it’s very small and, while its cultural indent is progressively widening, there are plenty of other labels out there pushing the boundaries and churning out phenomenal music.

The collective in question today is Moving Castle. Run by four producers, Robokid, Hunt for the Breeze, AO Beats and Manila Killa, the label embodies a lot of what is exciting about dance music right now- it’s born in the heart of the internet, it’s culturally aware and most importantly, innovative. While together, they are being called a kawaii bass collective, their individual musical output is strikingly different. Between them, they oscillate from the kitsch, to the industrial with trap influences peppered in between. AO Beats puts it best when he says, “All of us have pretty similar taste in music but all have some unique stylistic characteristics that I think make the collective work well.”

Between them they’ve remixed Tinashe, Foster The People and Mariah Carey, predominantly reliant on the ever-changing trends of Hype Machine and a well kept SoundCloud. In a year they’ve released two compilations that gather together the group’s favourite producers including Dave Luxe, Vices and Ba-Kuura.

While the lack of information on Moving Castle may make it seem like they’re trying to be enigmatic, it seems rather that their existence is quite simple. As AO Beats put it to The Ripe, “We just wanted to create a collective of sorts that would allow us to support each other and our friends who all made similar kinds of music.” Their first step was gathering together their favourite producers for their first compilation which features tracks which have now had upwards of 80,000 plays on SoundCloud. Word of mouth travels at the speed of sound when the internet is involved and as such, in a very short period of time, Moving Castle has attracted many eyes and ears.

The feel of Moving Castle echoes that of physical music communities like the London grime scene or the rising Australian electronica scene, except the community is born online. Once, you’d start your career through hitting the clubs and getting your name out there by word of mouth but Moving Castle are proving it can be done the opposite way round. The four creators made their name online and have only recently started putting on club nights as Moving Castle and coming together as a tangible entity.

Their approach to releasing music feels as modern as their sound. Just by looking at their SoundCloud you can gauge a feel for how entrenched in music they are. Rarely, does a week go by where they are not reposting music or releasing some of their own. Each pushing the boundary just a little further whether it be by speeding up the tempo, tampering with the pitch or experimenting with beats. Their manager Brett Blackman seems to be drowning in new music. His Soundcloud is a goldmine of new electronic music, each week releasing a weekend playlist in excess of 30 songs. Given the fast-paced nature of new music online, it’s impressive to see a collective deeply aware of what’s going on around them and yet still boundary-bushing in terms of their individual output.

Below we have a look further into the sound of each of the four creators of Moving Castle.

Manila Killa

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Born in the Philippines, Manila Killa is making the most easily digestible music of the four. He’s remixed the likes of Lana Del Rey, Wet and The xx, keeping the melody intact but laying down twinkling beats and turning the vocal upside down. His knack is in taking nostalgic RnB tracks and flipping them, either slowing them down or speeding them up to reveal another dimension to the track. For Mariah Carey’s Shake It Off, he starts with a moody atmosphere before putting down that future bass sound that’s identifiable over the four Moving Castle artists. Away from Moving Castle, he’s part of the duo, Hotel Garuda, who are making brass-laden, funky remixes that are closer to nu-disco than future-bass.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/manilakilla/shake-it-off-manila-killa-1[/soundcloud]

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/hotelgarudamusic/sets/lana-del-rey-ultraviolence[/soundcloud]

Hunt for the Breeze

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Hunt for the Breeze is a 22 year-old American producer who intertwines best with Manila Killa, stylistically. Sonically, he’s the more relaxed of the four. His originals are atmospheric and full of delectable sounds, more focussed on detail than working you into sweat. His latest track, Aquanaut, is built from a sunshine-induced synth and lightly tampered beats that effortlessly carve out a Summer groove. One of his finest releases is his remix of Mariah Carey’s Your Mine, which sees him collaborate with Manila Killa for a track that is constantly slamming its foot on the accelerator and releasing it suddenly. We imagine HFTB is the man making sure it doesn’t speed. The restraint combined with the anarchy is what makes the coupling of the two producers so intriguing. Hot tip: Hunt for the Breeze’s Soundcloud is a treasure-chest of new music as he regularly reposts the tunes piquing his interest.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/movingcastle/youre-mine-hunt-for-the-breeze-x-manila-killa-edit?in=huntforthe/sets/remixes[/soundcloud]

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/huntforthe/aquanaut?in=huntforthe/sets/originals[/soundcloud]

AO Beats

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Speaking of anarchy, enter AO Beats. The New York via Massachusetts producer knows how he likes his bass and it’s throbbing. His tracks are characterised by high-pitched, kawaii vocals alongside cascading beats with thumping bass. He effortlessly speeds right up before laying right back in the beat and letting things move along at their own pace. One of his finest moments is his remix of Foster The People’s Best Friend with Jai Wolf. He uses Mark Foster’s psychedelic chorus and candy-laden hook to stir the beat into a flurry before dropping an almighty wave of synths and percussion. The sped up instrumental hook makes the track sound even more enticingly melodic than the original. The same can be said for his original tracks, although they tend to sit more on the side of RnB. His original, It’s Okay was one of the standouts of Moving Castle’s first compilation, spurred on by a delicious vocal sample that single-handedly drives the melody.

Robokid

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Robokid is a 22 year-old Boston producer who has his hands in a number of different collectives including Peachboiz and Lifted Contingencies. His music combines the kawaii aesthetic of anime, sprinkles in RnB with a touch of Sad Boys to it. His releases alter through each different collective. Through Peachboiz, he’s serving up candy-filled tunes born from video games while for Lifted Contingency he’s just released Panther- a mature, restrained cut that’s dark and introspective. His tracks through Moving Castle sit somewhere in between. Hyper Beam, for instance, is characterised by perky, striking synths and down-trodden beats that mix a cloudy atmosphere with a sunny disposition. It seems Robokid is a man with many different modes just like any product of the internet.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/movingcastle/hyper-beam[/soundcloud]

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/lifted-contingency/robokid-panther[/soundcloud]

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Free Download: Baauer & Boys Noize’s massive new track, ‘Fire Like This’

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Dance heavyweights Baauer and Boys Noize  have collaborated to make the anthemic Fire Like This. Bass-heavy and accentuated by a heavy, gritty bassline, the track highlights both Baauer’s trap aesthetics and Boys Noize’s techno technique to create a thumping dancefloor tune. The intensity is curbed slightly by a looping schoolyard chant which pays homage to the Miami hip hop group Anquette’s 1988 single, Janet Reno.

Download Fire Like This for free through Baauer’s Soundcloud below:

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/baauer/fire-like-this[/soundcloud]

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SBTRKT recruites Raury for new track, ‘Higher’

We’ve already heard the wonderfully weird, New Dorp, New York and the Sampha-featuring, Temporary View and now SBTRKT has dropped another track from Wonder Where We Land. This time around he’s recruited 18 year-old hype-artist Raury for some hip-hop meets electronica perfection. SBTRKT lays down a moody, twinkling instrumental but leaves the spotlight to Raury, whose raps sound flawless. They come together best on the chorus where the song crescendos for a gospel-like moment. SBTRKT elevates the synths while Raury croons, “higher, higher, higher, higher”. It’s yet another triumphant cut of the new album which is shaping up to be one hell of a record.

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London artist Jones drops her debut, ‘Deep’

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London is churning out female artists at the rate of knots at the moment and the latest to rave about is Jones. Details are scarce about Jones but what we do know is she’s just dropped her debut, Deep, and it’s a stunningly well-polished tune. For the track she worked with Jai Paul’s brother, Anup, who made a name for himself with Nao on So Good. Together they’ve crafted a synth-RnB number that has the same aesthetic as a Dev Hynes production. Jones sounds comfortable and comfident lying right back in the beat and delivering a intoxicating vocal. The beat is characterised by a bassy-thump and warm, enticing synths. Line of Best Fit speculates that she may have been signed to 37 Adventures, the management company started by former head of A&R at XL Records, Nick Worthington, who’s signed the likes of Basement Jaxx and The Streets in his career. If so, she’s in good hands and so she should be, this is brilliant.

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Flight Facilities premiere ‘Two Bodies,’ the first single from their debut album

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We’ve been waiting with bated breath for Flight Facilities’ debut album, Down To Earth, to finally drop and today, we had our very first taste of what’s to come. Premiering on Triple J, Two Bodies is everything you can expect from the elusive electronic duo. It’s dreamy, steamy and has the perfect vibes for when the album drops in Australia this coming Summer. The starry-eyed, effortless track transcends to new heights through romantic synths and a steady bass, further elevated by the heavenly vocals of Emma Louise. The Sydney duo have said of their guest vocalist:

We’ve always wanted to work with her and we kind of wrote ‘Two Bodies’ with her in mind. She’s an amazing songwriter and vocalist and she killed it. It probably took three days to record and then six months to mix. We’re perfectionists. It’s a lust song, they’re Emma’s vocals and lyrics for sure. It’s about something very personal to her – I think we’d be in a bit of trouble if we were to divulge [without her permission].

Down To Earth will be released in October and reportedly will be in excess of illustrious guest appearances, including Reggie Watts, Owl Eyes and Bishop Nehru. See below for info on joining the Mile High Club when Flight Facilities tour Australia this November. 

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/flightfacilities/two-bodies-feat-emma-louise-extended-version/[/soundcloud]

Flight Facilities tour

Thursday, November 6 – HQ, Adelaide Buy tickets 
Saturday, November 8 – Capitol, Perth Buy tickets
Thursday, November 13 – The Forum, Melbourne Buy tickets
Saturday, November 15 – Tivoli, Brisbane Buy tickets
Thursday, November 20 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney Buy tickets

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