We caught up with Sven Gamsky—known to fans by the moniker Still Woozy—during a virtual press conference earlier this week. After an exclusive early listen to his new track ”BS,” he joined Universal Music’s °1824 creative team for an intimate Q&A.
Gamsky has been redefining the bedroom-pop scene without even dropping an album. His single “Goodie Bag” has been a staple on indie- and alt-pop playlists since it was released in 2017, and the 2019 Lately EP saw collaboration with Omar Apollo and Elujay, amassing over a hundred million streams on Spotify alone.
“BS” is quintessential Still Woozy, bouncy and dynamic. It features everything that makes his music so irresistible and instantly recognizable—rich and spacey vocals, playful drums, and deep, zesty bass.
The lyrics are introspective and relatable, providing listeners a window into Gamsky’s mind as he wonders if his thoughts are working for him or against him. In the end, he says, it’s about striving to be the best version of himself.
The music video for “BS” is every bit as fun and whimsical as the soundtrack. Gamsky, donned in his signature bold colors, has a heart-to-heart with a floating brain and befriends a horse in the woods.
Since quarantine forced him to cancel his tour this year, Gamsky has had more time to relax, work on new music, and think about what’s next.
“I’ve been listening to the Dominic Fike album a lot… makes me excited to put out an album too because I have, like, a lot of different stuff.”
Gamsky’s knack for feel-good, beachy vibes has led to a massive fanbase across the globe. While he plans to keep creating music that makes him happy and piques his interest, he doesn’t want us to get too comfortable with any specific sound.
“I don’t want to be limited to just one thing… I have too many ideas to be stuck in one place,” he said. “I want to have space enough to explore and express all of myself.”
One of his greatest artistic influences, Gamsky shared, is his fiancé Ami Kahn-Tietz. She is the artist behind the vibrant, distinctive paintings and illustrations that comprise all of Still Woozy’s cover art.
“She puts art into every little thing she does,” he said. “Kind of makes her whole life into the art and I feel like that… has just inspired me.”
Despite the resources that come with fame (and a record deal with Interscope), Gamsky still produces all of his music himself—and he plans to keep it that way.
“I just love like playing with sounds and textures,” he said, leaning back into a pillow. “It’s so much fun to make beats… and just, like, create something from nothing.”
“Building from the skeleton outward and building the muscles… blows my mind a little bit.”
Gamsky doesn’t think there’s a right or wrong way to listen to his music, but he had a couple of recommendations for the ultimate Still Woozy experience.
“It kind of is a headphone experience,” he said, adding that he’s meticulous about mixing in little sounds and musical accents here and there to make each song its own little universe.
When you step into Still Woozy’s world of bright colors, flirtatious melodies, and luscious soundscapes, you just can’t help but stay a while.
DJ Lily Roth created this playlist with the intention of spreading head-bopping happiness to students at home, on campus, or elsewhere in the world. This mix calls for some serious dancing and singing which may minimize feelings of boredom or loneliness during quarantine/online schooling. LIL MAMA is sending health, safety and love to all the hot_wild_fun people listening.
Like a lot of college students, I decided to take the year off of college before actually deciding what to do with it. This is a playlist for feeling overwhelmed with plans and possibilities while simultaneously worrying that you’ll be sitting in your childhood bedroom for the next six months.
9 months into COVID, and the quarantines keep coming. Loomis ends its lockdown as South and Mathias both start their own. It isn’t what we wanted, but it’s what we got. What else can we do but drown our sorrows in a well-curated playlist?
Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Fats Waller
This is how it all begins. We know it is not ideal, but we still carry with us the optimism that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have nullified practically all social life—but we know the rules and so far, it’s alright…right?
Sound and Vision – David Bowie
We become wearier by the second as we stare at our same four walls and the fullest extent of our freedom from behind those pale blinds. We sit and wonder how to occupy our time in this seemingly endless expanse of consciousness amid our captivity.
Sorry You’re Sick – Ted Hawkins
For the friends who try to sustain us in any way they can. We may not be able to be with them, but their love-from-a-distance still touches our hearts. Like the song itself, these acts of kindness bring short, sweet bursts of respite to our ongoing struggle.
It Never Entered My Mind – Ella Fitzgerald
What were we thinking about at this time last year? “Once I laughed when I heard you saying / That I’d be playing solitaire / Uneasy in my easy chair / It never entered my mind.” Furthermore, we’ve gotten to point of losing all pretense. Doing your hair? Washing your face? Expecting to have any sort of social life? Instead, we just get up each day and sip on our orange juice for one.
I Want to Break Free – Queen
Cabin fever is beginning to set in. We’re wearing ourselves down with our own company. How much longer can we take this?
I Wanna Go Outside – Snoop Dogg
The hottest quarantine jam of 2020, and a voice for the people, courtesy of Snoop Dogg.
Chamber of Reflection – Mac DeMarco
After denial, anger, and bargaining, things are starting to look quite bleak. We try to content ourselves with the idea that soon things will be different—yet every day we find ourselves alone. Again.
Lemon Tree – Fool’s Garden
There is no more beauty. There are no more blue skies. We are surrounded by an endless spectacle of sourness as we sit and wallow.
Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan
Really, what did it ever feel like to be with other people? In and out of quarantines, lockdowns, social restrictions… we are facing a crisis every day, and what faith or hope do we have anymore? “In my hour of need / I truly am indeed / alone again, naturally.”
Nobody – Johnny Cash
Our mastery of cynicism has reached its highest highs amid our lowest lows. We have decided that it is time to give up on people altogether.
Alone and Suffering (Interlude) – Lil Ugly Mane
We are basically just crying in our beds, vibing to sad beats, and ruminating on our pain.
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
Okay, we are stronger than this. We know we will one day go on to live a life that extends beyond this room. We can make it through this little interlude and know that it does not foretell a greater pattern of misfortune. And until then, don’t you dare try and visit me!
What’s New? – Billie Holiday
It is the day we have been dreaming of. Those first, tentative conversations we’ve been obsessively playing out in our minds for weeks, or months even…yet could we ever have imagined how it would really feel?
Last weekend I took a road trip to Nebraska through Colorado and Kansas. All the states blended together with white rolling hills and the occasional windmill cluster, perfect for a naturally-induced ego death. My mind cleared into nothingness as the song “Sensitive” by Mr. Twin Sister came through my headphones. The ambient instrumentals and Andrea Estella’s eerie voice washed over me as I drifted into a trance. The chorus repeats the lines “Is this romantic dreaming?/ Is this just an illusion?” and then concludes the song with “A memory?”
The theme for this playlist is romantic dreaming, where you feel out of touch with reality because you are entranced by a memory or by a creation of a future memory. The lucid instrumental passages in the songs take you out of time; through romantic dreamings, illusions, and memories that leave you with all the fuzzy side effects of brooding for for an hour. Enjoy.
If you listen to rap and haven’t heard the name Jack Harlow yet, get ready. With the success of the rapper’s most recent single, “WHATS POPPIN,” we’re bound to be hearing more from him than just his name. 2020 is the perfect time to get acquainted with the Louisville, Kentucky native—he’s not yet done riding the high of his most recent album, Confetti, the project that’s best showcased his range, flow, confidence, and charm. In March he embarks on The Roaring 20’s Tour with Guapdad 400, touring throughout the United States through May. After streaming Harlow’s new single—and watching the accompanying, energetic music video directed by Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennet—the best way to get to know the “Hometown Hero” is to jump right in: whether you start with his recent work or his older tracks, you’re guaranteed a good time.
Harlow rapped throughout adolescence, selling CDs of he and his friends’ tracks at their middle school before posting his work on YouTube and Soundcloud in his early high school years. In 2015 he released The Handsome Harlow EP, followed by an album in 2016 entitled 18. It became the album of the summer for countless Louisvillian teenagers, especially my sister and I, who hailed from the same neighborhood as Harlow. That summer the air was humid and the music was hot. The bubbly track “Ice Cream” was blasted in my house, in my car, and with my friends constantly. Harlow’s music felt, to me, like a simultaneous celebration of living in and experiencing Louisville while optimistically looking and working forward to getting out. Harlow’s work, his older and newer stuff alike, perfectly captures the angst, energy, and ambition of living in a world somewhere between suburbia and the city. Though the sentiment I gather from his music—specifically the songs “Eastern Parkway” and “RIVER ROAD”—is one tied both physically and emotionally to my experiences in my hometown, overall his work is appealing and fresh. There’s something there for everyone.
Harlow’s music ranges from bouncy bops perfect for pre-games to slower, poignant reflections on struggles and successes—in his work you’re bound to find something to fit every mood. Harlow has a pretty impressive catalogue—every year since The Handsome Harlow EP and 18 Harlow has consistently released new music, singles and full projects alike. Around 2016 he co-created an independent record label and music collective called Private Garden. He constantly surrounds himself with other creatives—notably his longtime friends—including photographer Urban Wyatt whose work on film is featured in nearly every Jack Harlow project. He’s also influenced and mentored by well-known Louisvillian rapper Bryson Tiller, who joined Harlow for some bars on the 2019 single “THRU THE NIGHT.” The appreciation for culture, music, and art within Harlow’s collective is clear. It’s both strong in his music and energizing in his performances.
Most recently, Harlow and his friends can be seen in the music video for his latest single, “WHATS POPPIN,” hanging around at a diner—and for lack of a better phrase—basically just vibing. The energy in the video is as hot as Harlow’s lyrics. Most to all of the comments littered under the video on YouTube are positive—one person writes “Won’t lie, I came to judge, I left impressed,” another, “How tf did I never hear this guy? Fire,” while an older fan notes (in all-caps for emphasis) “My boy Jack Harlow on the map now.” The new single is currently featured on Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist and is steadily climbing the streaming platform’s charts, recently cracking the United States Top 50 at number 49. From here Harlow only intends to go up. It’s safe to say one can expect some fresh Harlow on the horizon in 2020 with his expressed plans for another full-length album and some more, new collaborations. Harlow won’t be stopping any time soon, making now the best time to get to know the Handsome, New-Balance-clad Harlow before everyone else does.
Clad in the sleekest of all black getups down to the polished Prada oxfords, cleanly-pressed Devendra Banhart sashayed on stage and silently announced to that he indeed was a fancy man. The stage was set with a giant tapestry that displayed Devendra’s hand painted ginormous flowers that mirrored the floral design on the cover of Ma, his newest album.
Ma is multilingual and multicolored, splattered with primary colors and songs that salute Carole King and John Lennon. He released three singles as a prelude to the complete album, each one wildly fun and widely different- “Kantori Ongaku.” “Abre Las Manos,” and “Taking a Page.” With each coveted single release though, my understanding of Devendra’s vision grew- this wasn’t about a cohesive musical aesthetic but rather, a cohesive concept. This album is about those who teach us, who impart wisdom, who guide us the world, and it’s about those who bring us into this world. The album is Devendra’s journey into him becoming a Ma. It is his statement of paternity and maternity. Yet, I was hesitant to like Ma. I couldn’t understand this new role Devendra had chosen to play.
I saw Devendra and his band perform in Boulder with my friend Mimi- we stood front and center. The best way I can describe the experience for me was the feeling of being a preschooler. I imagined huge bugs crawling across the stage, and felt as if every audience member was sitting criss-cross applesauce in a semi circle, googly-eyed. Devendra talked cryptically almost, telling us long, extended, made-up stories about socks and concerts he performed fifty years ago. The kick drum was adorned with a huge smiley face, with the Om symbol for its eyes. The flowers on the tapestry seemed to grow- or I seemed to shrink- becoming more like a child.
He began the concert by performing “Is This Nice?”, a soft song loaded with lessons on how to love and cry and create. Give this song a listen for references to John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy,” if nothing else. Devendra sang maybe 5 or 6 songs off of Ma before dragging a wooden stool and his acoustic guitar on stage and asking the audience what they’d like to hear. Some people ecstatically shouted their fave songs’ title, others widened their eyes and raised their hands waiting for teacher to call on them. I was in the second boat of people, and when called on, I requested Devendra play “Shame,” an old, silly song about boobs and playing in the sun. “Shame” is a song that encapsulated my former image of Devendra Banhart as an artist. It’s a song that makes you want to giggle and dance and let yourself be like your childhood self (the song does come off an EP called “I Feel Just Like a Child” after all). Devendra looked almost shocked at my request, it’s one of his oldest songs. He thanked me for asking to hear it, but said the band didn’t know how to play it. Admittedly I was sad. Unable to hear that song live! A minor heartbreak.
But thinking about it now, “Shame” didn’t fit into that concert. While I always thought of Devendra Banhart as having the fervent feel of a child, I had missed that he had changed. His music contained more teachings than before. It was less spastic. It felt put together and organized, in the way some parental figures do. Caterpillar has become a butterfly! Sprout has become a bean! Devendra has become a Ma!
You can read about Devendra Banhart, look at his tour dates, and access his music on his website, linked here.
I reached out to Julia Shapiro, indie rock singer and songwriter, as she prepares for Chastity Belt’s American Tour for their self titled album released in September. Shapiro is most known for her solo album she recently released as well as her lead vocals and guitar for all-girl garage bands Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who is She?
After Chastity Belt cancelled their tour last April due to “health concerns,” Shapiro ventured into introspective songwriting and mixing that resulted in her first solo album titled Perfect Version that captures Shapiro’s discontent with personal imaging and searching for self growth through musings of change and stagnation simultaneously. She then continued working with Chastity Belt and the band later released their self titled album on September 20. Capturing similar sentiments and instrumentals as Shapiro’s Perfect Version, Chastity Belt wanders through foggy terrain of a mental landscape of dissatisfaction while combating it with surreal optimism. I asked Julia some questions about her experiences with creating Perfect Version mostly alone and being back with Chastity Belt after a much needed break.
What have you been up to since the release of Chastity Belt’s album and getting ready for the anticipated U.S. tour in February?
We tour quite a bit over the fall. In October we did a European tour and then in November we played the East Coast. We’re also working on writing some new stuff.
How are you feeling about touring with Chastity Belt again?
I sort of have a love/hate relationship with touring. It can be really fun, but also super exhausting. It’s all about getting the right balance. I’m excited about this upcoming tour because we’re taking our Australian buddies Loose Tooth with us. It’s also our last tour for a while, so that makes it feel a bit more manageable.
What are the things you do to stay centered when you’re struggling on tour or dealing with the frustrations of the recording industry?
Take a walk, call a friend, try to remember to take some alone time. It can be hard to find the time to take care of yourself on tour.
Did your solo album and emotions you unpacked in Perfect Version influence Chastity Belt’s self titled album?
All the lyrics are coming from me, so yeah I suppose so. Some of my solo songs probably could’ve been Chastity Belt songs if the timing had been different — there’s not a huge distinction between my songwriting process when I do solo stuff and when I do stuff with my band, except I was maybe a little bit looser with the way I wrote lyrics for my solo album. It was a little bit more stream of conscious.
How does mixing and composing music alone compare to the process with Chastity Belt?
It’s a lot quicker cause there’s only one person to consult. It’s also hard cause you sort of have to trust yourself more, since you’re the only one making decisions. It’s harder for me to get as excited about songs when I’m by myself — it helps to have my bandmates around to encourage me.
How did you all start Chastity Belt and overcome gender barriers in garage rock? Any advice for college students (specifically, girls) trying to start a band?
Trust yourself, and don’t just blindly follow others advice, especially men who are out of touch haha. Check in with yourself and your bandmates every once in a while to make sure what you’re doing feels good, and ask yourself why you’re doing it.
Do you think Chastity Belt has evolved since you all started making music in college?
Oh definitely. We started out just joking around, we never thought the band would become this serious. We’ve learned a lot along the way. There’s no way to really learn how to make music other than just doing it and learning from your mistakes.
What kinds of music inspired the conception of Chastity Belt? What are you listening to right now?
Growing up I was really into Elliott Smith, and I still think he was an amazing songwriter. I also listened to Fiona Apple and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in high school. Recently I’ve been really into the new DIIV record. Those guitars sound so good.
Chastity Belt is touring the United States starting early February and will be performing in Denver at the Bluebird Theater on February 23.
DENVER—On a Monday night, the line to get into the brand-spankin’ new Mission Ballroom spanned the length of the 60,000 square-foot building, doubled back on itself twice, and wrapped around the front corner. Fans planning for a sweaty moshpit stood in shorts and t-shirts in crisp 30-degree air, huddling together for warmth. Once the doors opened, however, it was a matter of minutes before the whole line was inside and de-frosting.
Situated in Denver’s River North art district, the Mission Ballroom opened just months ago in August with a 4,000 person capacity and a concert calendar stacked with major national acts.
The venue already operates like a well-oiled machine—several entrances allow for speedy security checks, and once inside the building, conscious efforts to streamline the guest experience are obvious. A muraled archway leads into a second chamber, facing an expansive bar with the usual over-priced beverage choices and the option of a branded cup for cheaper refills. After grabbing a drink, bathrooms are conveniently placed on either side of two hallways leading to the main space—which was packed by 7:30 for an 8 o’clock show.
Unsurprising as the massive turnout for one of today’s most popular boy-bands was the demographic that showed up. Early 20-somethings abounded, but the crowd was dominated by teenagers and high-schoolers in trendy streetwear, tour merch, and borderline rave gear. Sprinkled in the crowd were older fans, too, but they stuck to the fringes as younger groups pushed up toward the pit.
L.A./ Chicago-based duo 100 gecs opened with a performance that seemed to draw mixed feelings from the crowd. Comprised of Laura Les and Dylan Brady, 100 gecs has created a refreshing if overstimulating tribute to the digital age through a fast-paced mashup of more genres than I can define. They’ve blown up in the past few months, but it was clear that many at the show hadn’t hopped on the gec-train – yet.
Their debut album 1000 gecs is a chaotic frenzy of death metal, chiptune, hip-hop, and explosive bass punches, initially striking the unexpecting ear as abrasive and overcomplex. But a close listen to “Money Machine,” for example, reveals creative and endearing lyrics like opening line “you talk a lot of big game for someone with such a small truck.” Sonically, the two have created an impressive, unique reimagination of digital music, weaving an almost tangible essence of internet sub-culture into their unrelenting barrage of angsty autotune and genre-bending production.
Their live show, every bit as turbulent as their online presence, capitalized on the chaos woven into 1000 gecs. The duo jumped around to muddled backing tracks, bathed in green light, while the crowd tried to figure out what they were experiencing; many joined in the moshing, and a few who came expecting Brockhampton’s more straightforward pop-anthems appeared to be caught off guard.
The lighting switched from sickly green to intense red, and for those hesitant to get on board with 100 gecs, slowthai was more their speed.
Born Tyron Frampton, the Northampton, UK rapper has recently risen to the headlines for masterful lyricism and bold political statements. After receiving a Mercury Prize nomination for his 2019 album Nothing Great About Britain, the 25-year-old wielded a model of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decapitated head during his performance at the September award ceremony.
Slowthai’s music is forceful, propulsive, and engaging, covering topics from drugs to politics to his childhood background in riding motocross. And his stage presence followed suit. Fuelled by raw, manic energy and probably a good bit of testosterone, he waved the mic around his crotch and jeered “sometimes in life people will talk shit to you. When they do, you say ‘get the fuck out of my face.’”
Slowthai ripped his shirt off just a couple of songs into his set. Standing still, I could feel the floor shake below me as the whole room opened up into moshpits.
He finished his set with a spirited rendition of “Doorman,” which chronicles a fling with a rich girl and uses allusions to addiction, the royal family, and a children’s show to blast Britain’s wealth disparity.
After slowthai’s explosive set, the crowd had a chance to cool down before their beloved headliner, Brockhampton.
In the early 2010s, now-frontman Kevin Abstract posted on a Kanye West forum that he wanted to start a band. Over 30 people responded, leading to the inception of Alive Since Forever and the subsequent release of the ASF EP in 2013. Over the months that followed, ASF dissolved and reassembled—about one-third of its original size—as Brockhampton. Since their 2014 inception, Brockhampton has released six studio albums, toured the world, and amassed a cult following.
Today, the boyband is comprised of 13 members: Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Ciarán “Bearface” McDonald, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Ashlan Grey, Robert Ontenient, Russell “Joba” Boring, Jabari Manwa, Romil Hemnani, Jon Nunes, Kiko Merley, and Henock “HK” Sileshi.
Each member contributes something unique to the collective, from vocals to production to visual media direction, and the result is a boyband like no other. Their music addresses difficult topics like mental health and sexuality in plain language, often drawing from band members’ personal experiences, leading to music that advocates for acceptance and self-love in a frequently disparaging society.
The Mission Ballroom on Monday was a perfect testament to the spectacle of Brockhampton. Three massive, mirror-paneled crosses towered above the stage and LED panels lit the room from behind the bandmates.
Abstract hit the stage first, opening with his verse on track “ST. PERCY” from most recent album GINGER. The groups other five vocalists, Bearface, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Joba, and Matt Champion joined Abstract and the crowd went crazy.
Everyone who was hesitant to get down with 100 gecs and slowthai hit the mosh pits in full force when the group jumped into “ZIPPER,” a dynamic, quintessential Brochhampton anthem with opening lyrics “Pretty sure I’m maniacal, but what do I know?” Later in the track, Wood belted: “shoutout to south-central San Marcos, I got addicted to soft shell tacos.”
Mosh pits steadily continued, pausing only for “SUGAR.” The song is a cathartic, bittersweet ode to the love, late-night shenanigans, and drug-induced highs that populated the band’s younger years; it felt fitting, then, that the vibe of the room shifted from hip-hop show to high school dance as the crowd slowed down, swayed back and forth, and shouted along to the lyrics.
The crew closed with “No Halo,” and the end of the show was like coming out of a daze—one I didn’t particularly want to leave behind.
The Brockhampton boys have undeniably infectious energy. Their achievements over the past six years, from the popularity of each studio album to their notoriety for insane live shows, have enabled the rapid growth of a fanbase that knows to bring high expectations. They certainly didn’t disappoint.
DENVER —Just blocks from Coors Field in downtown Denver, the Marquis Theater is a low-key hotspot for local gigs and up-and-coming national acts. Tucker Pillsbury, aka ROLE MODEL, stopped by in November on his inaugural “Far From Perfect” tour.
The night began with Denver grunge-pop outfit Oxeye Daisy. Flamboyant, brightly-colored animal print attire added to an already energetic stage presence. While many garage-rock groups might find their sound muddled at a smaller venue like the Marquis, Oxeye Daisy’s music felt crisp and refreshing in a wonderful, grungy sort of way.
Nineteen-year-old songwriter Mills. was next, gracing the stage with a solo set. His voice, smooth as butter, sounded like a bouncier Lewis Capaldi. A wide-brimmed hat was the cherry-on-top of an outfit seemingly catered to his stop in the southwest. Mills. has created a space for himself in the oversaturated bedroom pop realm, working with ‘Surf Trap’ artist Felly on recent single “Water.” Already ahead of the game at nineteen, Mills. demonstrated a passion for music that seemed to tell the audience “this is just the beginning.”
After plenty of hype from the opening acts, ROLE MODEL burst onstage with a grin that had the whole room cheering even before the music started. The epitome of the teenage heartthrob, ROLE MODEL swept perfectly-disheveled hair away from his eyes as he scanned the room.
At first glance, ROLE MODEL feels like an unexciting archetype—another cigarette-smoking wannabe popstar with skinny jeans and edgy tattoos. But Pillsbury weaves a persona that tells us that he knows exactly what he’s doing, and his music is honest and raw.
His “Far From Perfect” tagline feels like an authentic testament to growing up in Gen Z, and recent songs like “minimal” and “notice me” are anthems of teenage angst and relationship troubles.
I was impressed that the 22-year old bedroom-pop icon, still testing the waters of national touring, brought along a live band—and it made his show fantastic. Even when he slowed down for a sappy, well-received cover of Hannah Montana’s “The Climb,” his energy was infectious. He bounced back and forth across the stage, wandered into the crowd, and never stood still for more than a few seconds.
After “thank you for coming,” the band dipped offstage for a moment before returning in full swing for a lively encore. ROLE MODEL closed the night with “girl in new york,” a smooth, catchy ballad of romantic dissonance.
ROLE MODEL’s stop in Denver was a dreamy, well-polished sneak-peek of what will undoubtedly be an ongoing rise into the mainstream.