The 19-year old Venezuelan reggaeton singer is a voice for today’s young people, advocating for self-love and authenticity with catchy melodies and silky-smooth vocals. “Volverás” is one of those songs you can’t listen to just once—before you know it, it’s on your driving, cooking, homework, and shower playlists (not that I would know).
Carmen says the track, her first to be released via Capitol Records, is about taking care of yourself and choosing to be surrounded by people who support you.
Negative people will come along “and sometimes because you don’t want to be alone, you let them be there… But it’s better to be alone than in bad company,” she explained, during a virtual press conference with Universal Music’s °1824 creative team. “You have to love yourself before you love someone else… not only in love but in friendship.”
“Volverás” is a collaboration with Tainy, the Puerto Rican producer responsible for Cardi B’s “I Like It” as well as numerous hits from reggaeton superstars like Bad Bunny and J Balvin. In an industry dominated by men, Carmen said she’s determined to keep making bilingual bops and inspiring young, Latinx female artists to join her in taking over the scene. She’s already making waves and we can’t wait to see what’s next.
Following the August 21 release of his album SuperGood, rapper and multimedia artist Duckwrth joined Universal Music’s °1824 team to talk creative process, musical inspiration, growing up in LA, and more.
Duckwrth has been a refreshing, unique voice in the rap scene since the 2015 release of his project Nowhere. Recent tours alongside Billie Eilish, Louis The Child, and EarthGang have put Duckwrth on the map—equipped with a tenacity and artistic toolbox rare of upcoming artists, it’s clear that he’s only going up from here. Duckwrth’s musical versatility is vast, enabling a diverse but still cohesive sound with gritty, heartfelt, story-driven lyricism atop a mixture of bass-heavy hip-hop beats and 70s inspired dance grooves.
SuperGood is comprised mostly of the latter, full of dreamy, buoyant melodies and funky drum riffs. The 16-track span is an upbeat, playful, and honest exploration of experiencing new love—the insecurities, the eagerness to show off a little, and the excitement of the unknown.
“It’s a rhythm project. So I want people to dance, to groove, to bop, to move,” Duckwrth said. The album was written in January, when Covid-19 was barely a blip on the radar. At the time he was excited for a new year, but as the world went on lockdown the album’s sound and story greeted a new reality—one that arguably needed it even more.
“It’s already its own affirmation, like when you press play it’s supposed to make you feel super good,” he said. “I feel like it came right on time, where people need to feel the best that they can at this moment.”
Duckwrth explained that the project is like “the yin and yang” to THE FALLING MAN, his 2019 EP, which delves into the character of a king who “falls to his demise because he doesn’t know love.” SuperGood, on the other hand, is all about love and what it feels like to meet someone special.
“A lot of it has to do with me taking this girl out on a date. Going to different venues, and like also different fantasies and ideas that I have of her before we actually go on the date… it’s like a story, as if you were watching a Netflix show,” he said. “It’s a story to take you away from your current situation.”
Beyond the love story, Duckwrth explained that SuperGood draws inspiration from the music and aesthetics of the 70s.
“Such eclectic style… the music was so colorful and the album covers were so beautiful, you know, so I kind of wanted to tap into that,” Duckwrth said.
“I really feel like the 70s, especially for black people, was a time of celebration. We just came out of civil rights, and black people started to gain certain freedoms… you know, it was a celebration. So within that, when black people start going back to who they are, and their original essence, a bit of magic happens.”
For Duckwrth, growing up in Los Angeles during the 90s and 2000s was beautiful, but difficult.
“It’s always sunny, the beach is always crackin’… it’s kind of like its own little weird utopia, but on the same flip side, it was a lot of trauma,” he said.
“Diamonds come from, you know, the roughest type of situation. So I think by being raised specifically in south-central Los Angeles it gave me a backbone—so when I deal with corporate America, I don’t take no bullshit, you know, because I learned to survive duckin’ bullets… it just taught me all the methods I needed to get the things I need to get as an artist, as a man, as a businessman.”
Growing up, he always knew creativity to be part of his DNA—and central to his future, too. When he was young, a stranger approached him at church and told him he had a calling; the message has stuck with him since.
Duckwrth’s knack for blending musical styles comes from his eclectic taste. In the studio, he said, he’s most inspired by the feelings and chord progressions of soul, gospel, and jazz. On stage, however, it’s a different story.
“When I perform, it’s strictly punk. Like thrasher, hardcore. That’s my shit… they just perform with such a conviction, you know, and it riles people up and get’s the fire started.”
As Duckwrth sets his sights on the future, and starts working on the next album, he said authenticity and self-love have become a priority—especially during the pandemic.
“It’s been a it’s been a really crazy year. So it’s like, I don’t think my artistry needed as much love as my human did.”
“I feel like there’s a way to portray a healthy artist, and that’s through just being true to yourself, you know, and I think that’s how you make the best music,” Duckwrth said. “And that’s the music that lasts… that’s the music that becomes people’s favorite albums.”
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.
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.
DENVER – Bedroom-pop sensation Gus Dapperton made a stop at the Gothic Theater earlier this month, accompanied by Spencer., and blew us away with soaring, emphatic vocals and dancing so spicy that it should have been a fire hazard.
Starting the night off with groovy neo-soul and hip-hop-infused jamming, up-and-coming R&B artist Spencer. had our hips swaying in no time. Spencer. hails from Rochester, New York and – at only 19 – is far beyond his years. His rich, deep voice takes center stage in much of his music, and – paired with lively guitar riffs and nifty basslines – Spencer. cooks up a delicious lo-fi aesthetic that feels intentional without trying too hard. As the band jammed and Spencer. sang from behind pink, retro shields, I couldn’t help but dance along.
After a set break that felt like forever (as they always do), Gus Dapperton sauntered onstage with a big grin and his own pair of tinted sunglasses. Donning his trademark baggy pants and a (presumably thrifted) sweater, he wasted no time, jumping right into “Verdigris” – the first on his most recent album Where Polly People Go to Read.
Gus Dapperton, steadily picking up steam since the success of his 2017 single “I’m Only Snacking” and its endearing music video, has created an eccentric and captivating character. His music provides an intimate and emotional catharsis, with raw, seductive melodies and bouncy synth grooves that practically make you get up and dance along.
He kept the room dancing all night, occasionally pausing his songs to give the crowd an ear-to-ear smile, playfully tease his guitarist Yendawg, and chat with the audience in a sly, puckish tone that was the cherry on top of an already masterful persona.
Where Polly People Go to Read is a chronological, revolving account of love and heartbreak, and the intensity was evident onstage as Dapperton belted out ballads like “My Favorite Fish” and “Coax & Botany.”
Dapperton’s performance was a perfect mix of the raw, heartwrenching bellows characteristic of his most recent album and the goofy, endearing antics that populate his music videos.
His performance was engaging, energetic, and chaotic in the most satisfying of ways, leaving the audience clapping for more – and myself with sore calves from so much dancing.