August 2017

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Managing Editor: Addie Whelan Director of Content: Gabi Talisman Deputy Editor: Madeline Shiffer Deputy Editor: Delaney DeAngelis Art Director: Alicia Rangel Photo Editor: Stone Fenk Photographers: Addie Whelan Anna Xu Bailey Flores Chelsea Gresh Gabi Talisman Marissa Sandoval Stone Fenk Valerie McIntyre

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Writers: Abby Fox Addie Whelan Delaney DeAngelis Kara Johnson Kristen Humphries Lauren Klonowski Madeline Shiffer Maya Alfia Valerie McIntyre

@btsmag Beyond The Stage is a digital music magazine based in the United States. You can read Beyond The Stage online for free or visit our website to buy a hard copy. Previous issues are always available to read online or order in print. Read the latest news at:

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Barns Courtney Nightly Album Reviews The Sleepover Tour XYLO Brooke Hummel Zombies On Broadway Tour The Unlikely Candidates Playlist

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Bastille | Los Angeles, CA | April 2017 | Photos by Marissa Sandoval

Party Pupils | Chicago, IL | February 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

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Few people can say they’ve spent an afternoon in the desert

playing guitar while balancing a portable speaker in the back of their jacket collar. But for blues-rocker Barns Courtney, that’s just another day at the office. “We put the camera in the back of the SUV, then I got my tour manager and I said ‘Can you drive about 3 miles an hour and give me my speaker?’ And I put my speaker in the back of my jacket, like wedged it behind my head and I said ‘I’m going to walk behind the car, and I’m just going to lip sync the lyrics, and this is how we’re going to shoot the video.’ And that’s what we did!” This particular music video for his 2016 single “Fire,” took some wild turns from conception to production - including directors that scribbled a last minute idea in a hotel room - that paralleled his journey to rockstar status quite closely. “It was a shocking experience to suddenly have nothing, and to wake up as a 23 year old man with no qualifications, and all of my peers having graduated from college, going into a proper career. And I was stacking shelves, or handing out flyers or handing out samples of iced tea in a fake muscle suit and orange crocs,” he recalls about his early years in between labels. Those years are the core influence for his debut album, due out later this year. “This record has been very, very motivated and inspired by the drive to succeed and the idea that I couldn’t let my life degenerate into something other than a musical career”. But stripping the music down to its bare bones, there’s not much

to it. Classic rock and blues influences create the platform that Courtney builds his entire repertoire on - with the occasional ode to Kanye West, because why not. Looking up to fellow artists like The Black Keys and The White Stripes makes for a dynamic product from Courtney himself. His 2015 single “Fire” takes all of those experiences and influences and turns them into a gritty rock track that earned itself a spot in the Bradley Cooper movie “Burnt”. “For tracks like “Fire”, in particular, I was really trying to emulate the Kanye West “Black Skinhead” kind of sound, and if you listen you can hear the direct influence from the percussion, brass, the big tribal drums,” he told Beyond The Stage when we sat down to chat with him at the end of 2016. And those “big tribal drums” weren’t a short-lived experiment by any means. Shortly after speaking with Courtney, he areleased an EP titled “The Dull Drums”, compiled of songs that reflect all of his core influences, but still leaving room for new material in his upcoming album - including candid conversation bites. “The album was done a lot on the road since everything has been such a whirlwind,” he told BTS before starting to joke about the slight creepiness of having record label executives sit in on all of his interviews. But then he backtracks for just a moment. “I secretly record people and put them on my album. So there’s a couple of different people that you’ll hear in between songs and going into songs,” which only adds to the experiential nature of the album.

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“I want the listener to really feel like they’re there with me along for the journey. I want them to understand how the album was crafted and to feel like they’re a part of it”. And with the conversation pieces he’s recorded, there is truly a raw, authentic element that the listener is part of. But this is far from where the Barns Courtney story has begun, and even farther from where it will go. In his younger days, Courtney’s biggest dreams circled around playing a Switchfoot cover set in front of his high school crowd, which hasn’t changed much since gaining recognition. “I opened for Switchfoot the other night in Chicago,” he told BTS, the joy in his voice becoming audible through the phone speaker and his many hours of jet lag. “I used to walk to school or skateboard and I would listen to their tracks and I would imagine playing them at the school assembly, and that was like the coolest thing that my young teenage mind could imagine at the time.” And when Courtney, had the chance to tell Switchfoot of their influence in person, he took away more than just a memorable story to tell. “I think most of all it’s important to make sure you’re nice to people - that’s such a Disney-twinged lesson to take away, but it does make a difference...they were the nicest people that I’ve ever met”. So where does this leave us in the tale of Barns Courtney and the Strive for Success? A full length album, a headlining North American tour and even space... maybe. “I’d love to be the first person to perform in space,” he answers completely seriously, only laughing at himself when he starts to question if that’s already been done. There’s also talks of expanding his creative portfolio, thanks to the haphazard video experience he’s had thus far.

“For ‘Glitter and Gold’...I strung together a bunch of music videos and took cliff notes, and what I wanted was to have kind of a dual set that I could walk between with one being like an insane party and one being more of a chilled out [scene] with me on the sofa”. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly the scene Courtney was greeted with on the day of the shoot. “What I ended up with was me in front of a projector with a dude stroking an alligator on the belly, and some random other scenes that I had to fight tooth and nail to get in. So the whole thing doesn’t really make sense,” he says, quickly turning the all but failed video into a more optimistic experience. “I think that [music] videos and video making are a learning process and that it takes time to get it right,” he says, reflecting on his experiences of how differently visions and executions can be between artist and director. “I’m hoping the next [video] - no, I know the next [video] is going to be good. I’ll invoke the power of the cosmic owl to make this right.” While we haven’t seen the next visual product of Courtney’s learning experiences, we know we can’t wait until we do. And the biggest dream of 2017? Well, that might take some extra help. “In 2017 I am going to shave my body until it’s hairless and sacrifice several small animals to invoke the mighty powers of the planet Thames to get a number one album”. But just in case, we’ll make sure to keep our fingers crossed too.

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For full tour dates, visit

Japanese House | Chicago, IL | February 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

Mayday Parade | Pittsburgh, PA | April 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk


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From writing and recording a four song EP in an apartment,

to opening up for Kesha less than a year later, Nightly has been on the fast track to overnight success. After uploading their perfectly melodic breakup track “xo” to SoundCloud without a band name, the Nashville-based cousins Jonathan Capeci and Joey Beretta quickly received positive feedback. The electric altpop duo, appropriately named, seemingly rose to fame overnight by using the combination of authenticity and online presence. Nightly, translating to “night, love you” in text language, sets a precedent for the band’s aesthetic and lyric writing. It was this impressive, and perhaps intentional, cultivation into a modern 2017 band that landed Nightly a spot on everyone’s playlists. “Every time we would try and leave the music scene, we couldn’t,” Capeci explains, “(Nightly) started out just for fun and we decided we need to make something out of these songs.” And that’s exactly what they did. The innocent summer jam sessions in a tiny apartment turned into the band’s most recent release, the Honest EP. Among the four tracks on the EP is Nightly’s most popular, “xo.” “It was literally that easy,” Capeci admits about the writing process, “We walked in that day with an idea: ‘I love you, but I gotta let go, xo.’ And it was done in forty-five minutes.” Though it seems like Nightly has had significant luck, Capeci and Beretta can owe it all to hard work. The duo, having recorded songs in October and shopping them around in March, received offers from small indie labels. It wasn’t until they released “xo” that

bigger labels, like their soon-to-be label Interscope, became interested. It wasn’t much later that Nightly began to play shows to large numbers, one of which was opening for Kesha’s arena tour. Beretta programmed a light show to accompany the band’s performance. “We’re just having a great time and working hard,” he explains. But what can one expect from a Nightly show? “We like to get people hyped. The best is when they sing along,” dishes Capreci. It’s evident the band is all about the good, natural vibes – all of which is certain to continue in their future endeavors. The band plans to record more music in Los Angeles and tour for the rest of 2017. So, if you have yet to experience Nightly in its new and enticing glory, check out the Honest EP and stay tuned for what’s to come (because it’s going to pretty epic).

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LANY | Milwaukee, WI | May 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

Zara Larsson | Chicago, IL | May 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

Catfish & The Bottlemen | Austin, TX | May 2017 | Photos by Bailey Flores

ALBUM REVIEWS Last Young Renegade All Time Low Fueled By Ramen All Time Low is letting their guard down. ATL returns with their seventh studio album, Last Young Renegade and this record appears to be their most honest work yet. Tracks like the pop-infused single, “Dirty Laundry” which broke into the US top 40 chart and the track “Ground Control” which features alt-pop duo, Tegan and Sara show songwriting growth and authenticity that hasn’t been seen in their work before. Some may experience some Future Hearts deja vu when listening to songs like, “Nightmares” or the anthemic title track. Both of these have that upbeat rock sound they crafted for the last effort that really made it unique from all their other albums. In addition to being more open, it really feels like the band have reached their full potential. The last record was really heading somewhere for All Time Low, and they saw more mainstream success than they had in the past. Last Young Renegade is a perfected version of that. One of the stand out tracks on the album is definitely “Life of the Party.” With a catchy chorus and a self-discovering message, this is sure to be a crowd favorite. Another highlight is “Dark Side of Your Room.” Being one of the most upbeat tracks on the album, this will be a great song to see performed live. The chorus is one that will be sure to stick with you and you’ll probably catch yourself humming it after hearing it only a few times. The album then comes to a close with “Afterglow,” a slower synth pop punk anthem that will be sure to hit home and is the perfect way to end to this new chapter of All Time Low. 5/5 —Lauren Klonowski Download: “Drugs & Candy,” “Dark Side of Your Room,” “Life of the Party”

Gone Now Bleachers RCA Records If you want your summer to mirror a John Hughes film, you might want to assign Bleachers’ sophomore album Gone Now as the soundtrack. Between the 80s synthpop influences and the introspective, thought-provoking themes, this album is a perfect balance of hopeful and nostalgic. With Jack Antonoff (lead vocalist) writing, recording, and producing everything in his own room in Brooklyn, Gone Now feels like a series of personal journal entries where every listener can relate. You can hear remnants of the New York City streets in the background. You can admire the storytelling that personifies in the manner of spoken word. And you can feel that transcendence through a specific time period. Antonoff said it best in his interview with Entertainment Weekly, “A good vocal take with a siren in the background is way more interesting than a prestine vocal take that doesn’t have as much heart.” And that’s what makes Gone Now so inviting – the amount of heart, personality, and passion behind it. All of these elements happen in the big choruses like “Don’t Take The Money,” “Hate That You Know Me,” and “I Miss Those Days.” The infectious melody and gang vocals featuring Carly Rae Jepsen are what make “Hate That You Know Me” an instant favorite. Though it isn’t just the instrumentation that makes this album noteworthy, as the lyrical epiphany hits home in “Everybody Lost Somebody.” A song about going through the worst moments and moving on from them, Antonoff sings, “Come on, motherf*cker, you survived, you gotta give yourself a break!” The most significant theme of this album is just that – it’s okay to mourn the past and it’s okay to miss it, but you have to move forward anyway. The noticeable production faults of found-sound are evident, but that’s Antonoff’s intention. It’s meant to have the “interrupting” noises of recording in a home studio in Brooklyn, rather than a perfectly sound-proofed studio. The only major criticism of Gone Now seems to be his excessive vulnerability of emotions like love and sadness. Since when is the vulernability of innate human emotions a problem? We certainly believe this is what makes Bleachers’ sophomore record one of the most innovative and substantial records in recent years. Gone Now lets the listener assign memories to each song, growing up with a soundtrack of their own. 4/5 — Kristen Humphries Download: “Hate That You Know Me,” “Everybody Lost Somebody,” “I Miss Those Days”

If you ever imagine yourself in an indie movie that takes place during the summer, After Laughter would be the soundtrack of that movie. Paramore takes their “retro” alternative pop to a new level.

After Laughter Paramore Fueled By Ramen

With a heavy use of synth, After Laughter is a breath of fresh air filled with catchy tunes like “Pool” which makes you feel like you’re at a beach party. The album can be said to be a perfect summer album. The album has a bit of island-like influence, but that is also where the “retro” pop-like sounds came in too. We hear the influences and sounds in tracks like “Tell Me How,” a slow down relaxing track and “Fake Happy,” a track that would fit all too well on a indie movie soundtrack. Paramore has experimented with their sound with each album that they have released and with After Laughter, they have succeeded once again. 4.5/5 — Valerie McIntyre Download: “Pool”, “Fake Happy”, “26”

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ALBUM REVIEWS hopeless fountain kingdom Halsey Astralwerks Halsey’s sophomore album hopeless fountain kingdom is pop album with a bite, a narrative exploration of a love that causes more problems than it solves. The album is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, arguably the most iconic piece of literature in the English language, featuring a infamous romance with a hefty body count. This isn’t the droll and boring Shakespeare of the academic sphere but one that echoes the aesthetic of Baz Lurhmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet. The swords are guns and puffy sleeved tunics are traded for sleek leather jackets. This is the aesthetic that echoes the album artwork – bright colors and slashed photos, something beautiful that is broken. If Halsey’s first album was the color blue, melodramatic and saccharine sweet, than this album drips in red and gold, speaking of decadence, love, and violence. The album opens with the play’s prologue, used to let the audience and listener know what the story is and what will happen. There will be no happy endings, but there will be a love that conquers hate. This was Shakespeare’s promise years ago and Halsey’s now. The album is a less melodramatic and angst ridden than the singer’s first but there are still lyrics that pack a punch and lines that, combined with Halsey’s impeccable voice, hit hard. The album has a strong narrative arch, many of the songs fit well within the album but there are a few that can stand on their own. The sound is a mix of the cool pop electronic of Badlands with more bright hits of sound from the use of orchestral strings and brass. This is an album that will benefit heavily from the music videos that accompany it, where Halsey will be able to tell the whole story that is being attempted in the album. The album, like the play it feeds from, is about love that can be found in a place devoid of hope. This is a love that overcomes the hate surrounding it and that is a message that the world is currently in desperate need of. 4/5 – Kerry Kraemer Download: “Alone,” “Walls Could Talk,” “Hopeless”

Adornment Grayscale

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Divide Ed Sheeran Atlantic Records Ed Sheeran fans have been waiting what seems like years for new music. And now after his long hiatus, the U.K. singer is back and better than we ever thought possible. Divide isn’t much like his last albums, and that’s not a bad thing because it reveals his growth as an artist and songwriter. The album opens up with “Eraser,” which is an interesting way to open but it’s good nonetheless. The track will get stuck in your head more than you’d like to admit, but you can’t complain. The lyrics are exceptional, and that is living proof on the track that follows. “Castle On the Hill” is where things really start to get going. The track reflects on where Sheeran grew up, and has become a fan favorite among many. “Shape of You” is another highlight on the album. The radio is obsessed with it, and we can’t blame them. It is undoubtedly one of the singers best radio hits. But Divide isn’t just filled with radio hits, rap beats, and nostalgia. The album has moments of what Sheeran does best, love songs, and the sound of his acoustic guitar. “Perfect,” is a song that will sure enough be played at weddings for years to come. Other highlights from the album are “Galway Girl,” and “Bibia Ye Ye”. The two tracks are catchy, infectious, and demonstrate Sheeran’s growth lyrically and musically. Bonus track “Nancy Mulligan” should have been the regular release and not the deluxe, seeing as it is one of the best on Divide. As a whole, Divide wasn’t created to please critics, but to please the fans. Sheeran has achieved this with great strides. The album is astonishing for its ambition, honesty, and growth. Sheeran should be proud of the product he’s made because it’s by far one of the best albums of 2017 we’ve heard so far. 4/5 — Kara Johnson Download: “Galway Girl,” “Nancy Mulligan,” “Perfect”

There’s something about self-reflective transparency that’s universal in music. It’s discussing taboo issues like mental health, drug addiction, and loneliness – the topics very few deem worthy of casual conversation. This intense, personal storytelling and the strong, catchy hooks are why Grayscale’s Adornment is perceived so well. It’s the very reason fans relate to this album and why it’s one of our favorites from 2017 so far. Songs like “Beautiful Things” and “Mum” are Collin Walsh (lead vocalist) at his most intimate and raw. “Beautiful Things” is an ode to those with depressive and suicidal thoughts, as he sings, “I’m begging you please, if you go, you’ll miss all the beautiful things.” Sometimes we all need the friendly reminder that life gets better. Though the honesty of “Mum” is where the album hits the hardest. The lyrics, “I used to pray the summer sun could warm your bones and pull out all the drugs,” tell the story of a son grieving his mother’s loss to addiction. In a world that seemingly glorifies drugs, specifically the music industry, it speaks volumes for Grayscale to combat that ideal. These emotionally driven narratives are why fans connect with the band so intensely.

However, the most notable track is the polyphonic masterpiece that is “Fever Dream.” The chorus feels like a punch in the face with screaming, passionate vocals and the verses have an irrefutable, grooving bass riff. Second to that is “Forever Yours” because it reads like modern poetry: “All the promises, vows under the covers / We would play pretend, my love, but it was real to me.” It’s this beautiful songwriting that seems effortless to Grayscale. And it’s the main reason why Adornment is an incredibly cohesive album, without a single track faltering. 4.5/5 — Kristen Humphries Download: “Fever Dream,” “Forever Yours,” “Beautiful Things”

ALBUM REVIEWS Lovely Little Lonely The Maine 8123

Harry Styles Harry Styles Columbia Records

The Maine has been a band for over ten years and it’s no secret that group has changed since their pop-filled The Way We Talk EP and debut album Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. However, it’s been a gradual change. Their sound has matured over the years, diving deep into honest and sometimes dark lyrics and evolving into more of a rock band. Their most recent release, Lovely Little Lonely, is a complete masterpiece. The Maine is a band that knows exactly what their sound is and what they want to convey to the world.

Harry Styles is the male pop-star we’ve been needing. We’ve had enough with the typical route of a guy leaving his band, becoming independent, shaving his head, and doing the same R&B music that’s been done a million times. Styles knows what he wants and brings us a serving of a reminiscent yet fresh sound as he channels 60’s and 70’s artists like David Bowie and The Rolling Stones; his resemblance to Mick Jagger would’ve gone to waste if anything was different. Styles’ self-titled debut solo album presents us with his newfound freedom to finally represent himself as the music industry’s new, token, bold rock star.

The album opens with “Don’t Come Down,” a pop-influenced track that’s upbeat and catchy, the perfect song to hook the listener into the album. It’s the perfect addition to any summer road trip playlist. The album transitions into “Bad Behavior,” which was the first single released from the album. The catchy track is somewhat reminiscent of “English Girls” from their previous album, American Candy, not only instrumentally, but also lyrically.

The best part about this album, arguably, is Styles’ ability to transform his voice to fit anywhere. From dramatic ballads like the lead single “Sign of the Times” to twangy folk like “Two Ghosts” to rambunctious rock like “Kiwi,” Styles not only sings with a perfect tone but also a perfect amount of emotion, almost transmitting that emotion directly to the listener. It makes the listening experience entirely more enjoyable.

The album transitions into the 34 second song, “Lovely,” then moves into three incredibly written songs, “Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu,” “Taxi” and “Do You Remember (The Other Half of 23).” “Taxi” is arguably one of the best songs The Maine has created to date--the lyrics and instrumentals are perfectly paired. It’s catchy, it’s a little sad, but it’s perfectly representative of The Maine. The second half of the album is filled with more great songs like “The Sound of Reverie” and “I Only Wanna Talk to You.” The song “Lost in Nostalgia” is much different than their other songs, it’s a little funky and a perfect song to dance to. The album closes with “How Do You Feel?,” an upbeat song dealing with emotions and sadness.

Though he was in a pop boy band only just a short year and a half before his album came out, Styles’ songwriting ability is clearly much more developed and mature. His newfound ability to write about things so personal is notable here, discussing topics that we wouldn’t dare to hear about on a One Direction record. One Direction is not Harry Styles, Harry Styles is not One Direction -- and it’s never been so clear before this record proved it. 4/5 — Maya Alfia Download: “Kiwi”, “Sweet Creature,” “Ever Since New York”

Lovely Little Lonely is just one of The Maine’s many great albums. Each song is perfectly written, created and produced. As a band under their own label, they are able to create an album that is truly theirs and what they exactly want it be. Due to this luxury, the band has matured and really sharpened their talents to create amazing albums like Lovely Little Lonely. 5/5 — Delaney DeAngelis Download: “Taxi” and “Do You Remember (The Other Half of 23)”

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Daya | Cleveland, OH | March 2017 | Photos by Chelsea Gresh

Tom Chaplin | Chicago, IL | January 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

The XX | Pittsburgh, PA | MAY 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk

The 1975 | Pittsburgh, PA | MAY 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk

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Dua Lipa’s “New Rules”. The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down”. COIN’s “I Don’t Want To Dance”. Charli XCX’s “Boys”. What do these viral and radio megahits have in common? Emily Warren. An alumna of New York University’s Clive Davis Institute, she signed with Prescription (Rx) Songs in 2013, two years before she graduated. Ever since, Warren has written for huge stars, like Melanie Martinez, Shawn Mendes, Little Mix and more. She’s written--and been featured in--multiple The Chainsmokers songs, and spent time on tour with the group. For Warren, writing for other artists has helped her write music for herself. She’s highly involved with the artists she writes with. Rather than fitting a song to an artist, she writes specifically for the artist. “My process with other artists has become very much like a therapy session - I want to know what’s on their mind, what’s been bothering them, and then I find that after some time the song sort of materializes,” she explains. “I’ve very much applied this method to writing for myself.” Since signing in 2013, Warren’s credits have taken off, seemingly not only to do with her talent, but the substantial way she takes on collaborating with other artists, very unafraid of the personal, channeling it into their work. Warren stressed the importance of storytelling in her songwriting, calling making music “magic” and making sure it is true to the artist. For herself, she describes her music as honest and organic, something that isn’t “trendy or of-the-moment.” Looking at the range of artists she’s written with, and the resulting music, the idea that Warren is in it for the long hall definitely becomes apparent. A song might be in the top 10 now, but Emily Warren is always one step ahead, working on what comes next. Not only does she collaborate with songwriters on tracks for other artists, but Warren isn’t afraid to go for it on her own. After working on her songwriting career, Warren has started her own pop solo project, including her song “Not at All,” which was featured on MTV’s Skins. “I always wanted to do it deep down, but I was sort of waiting for the right moment,” she said, “Focusing on writing for the past three years has taught me a lot. It’s made me confident in my songwriting. I also wanted to wait until I had something to say and knew exactly how to say it,” she added. The methodical, no nonsense, not seemingly anxious to leap ahead attitude has certainly served Warren well as her songwriting and solo pop career has progressed.

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Warren describes the experience of songwriting for big artists as surreal and exciting--it’s not something that she takes for granted. “I love working with people that I admire as I can learn so much collaborating with them,” Warren explains. “It’s also been really rewarding to take part in helping get their own personal stories out.” Clearly she has a knack for doing just that, working in conjunction with some of the biggest artists in pop music today, while also working on solo music with her own voice and experiences as inspiration. “They’re both equally as fun and in totally different ways,” she explained, speaking to writing with others compared to writing for herself. “Writing my story and performing it is an incredibly rewarding experience, but I also love being able to take part in making that magic happen for someone else.” Warren is incredibly successful at such a young age, and she credits the best piece of advice she’s received about working in the music industry from none other than Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers. “[He] once told me that the number one thing you need to make a song is confidence. We all have different music that we grew up on, things we like and don’t like - so we have taste,” she said. “We know what we think is good and what isn’t. If you can remember this when you’re writing a song and be confident in your own ideas and decisions, you’re on the right track.” For her part, she’s inspired by John Mayer, Regina Spektor and “Of course, The Beatles.”, but clearly can jump in across the board. As for upcoming projects, she can’t reveal much, but hinted at songs with Melanie Martinez, David Guetta, Sean Paul, a solo single and an album slated for the fall. For the rest of 2017, Warren said, “I hope to just be able to continue doing what I’m doing now, making music every day.” We certainly don’t think that’ll be a problem.

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THE SLEEPOVER TOUR Photos by Addie Whelan



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We The Kings | Pittsburgh, PA | February 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk

Never Shout Never | Pittsburgh, PA | April 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk

Words by Abby Fox | Photos by Sara Feigin

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With over a million hits on Soundcloud, a stellar EP,

a number of singles, and a feature on a song by the Chainsmokers, XYLO is on the rise. This American brother and sister duo consists of lead vocalist and songwriter Paige Duddy and musician and songwriter Chase Duddy. The pair went from being an internet sensation to working with the chart-topping group the Chainsmokers in the span of only a few years. With their emotional electro-pop sound and a newly released single, XYLO is becoming one to watch in the music industry. Despite being siblings, the decision to form a music group did not come quickly. Chase was busy working on adverts and writing musical compositions for brands, and he was co-writing with some other songwriters when he began to get bored of composing instrumentals. He invited his sister Paige over to a writing session and as he remembers, “she almost didn’t come, because she was mad at me at the time,” but their working together has surely paid off. In this internet-driven age, it didn’t take long for Chase and Paige to get noticed. After posting their song online, they received a huge positive, and somewhat unexpected, reaction that “motivated us to keep getting together and working together.” Chase notes that it’s hard to judge whether or not a song will elicit a good response, but, “we really got validation from the fans online.” XYLO’s first self-released song, “America,” was actually written for a Kendall and Kylie Jenner campaign with Pacsun, a clothing company. The track soon hit over 1.5 million listens on Soundcloud and scored the number one spot on Hype Machine, a website that shares new and interesting music. Chase and Paige realized that they had something special, and they “got [their] ducks in a row by getting a manager, a lawyer, and a publicist who specialized in representing DJs and electronic artists online.” The duo’s following grew rapidly. They caught the attention of a popular YouTube channel/music producer MrSuicideSheep, which expanded their fan base even more because “they’re basically tastemakers for electronic music.” When asked about getting discovered in the vast online world of music, Chase answered, “I believe the cream always rises to the top. Eventually, if you have something good, you’ll get discovered.” This has proven true for XYLO, and it continues to apply to more and more talented artists who are emerging with online fan bases. Many musicians dream of getting signed to a record label, but the reality of the major label system is often different from what artists expect. Posting music independently on Noisetrade and

Soundcloud is a way to have total control over releasing songs, and these music platforms also serve as an outlet to build a following for very little money. Now, after signing with Sony Music, there are many more people involved with making decisions, so being able to grow online and build a brand independently before getting thrown into a major record label was a perfect start for the duo.

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and waiting a few months before getting a call to come into the studio to record the song together. Getting the chance to work with The Chainsmokers was an exciting moment for XYLO. It was inspiring to be in their presence because “they’re on fire right now,” as Chase says. “It was so cool for Paige and me to be around that high energy.” Well, that energy clearly rubbed off on XYLO, who have continued to rise in fame over the past few months. Their “Get Closer” music video, released in late 2016, is emotional and intense. In the video, Paige is seen trying to reason with her love interest as they slowly become more and more distant. The chemistry between the two girls is captivating. The neon lights, lasers, and fog all play into the emotion behind the lyrics, and add to the energy of the visuals.

Paige and Chase come from a musical family, and their grandfather’s license plate is actually what inspired the group’s name. Their grandfather, Joe Porcaro, was a professional percussionist and jazz drummer who played on multiple film and television soundtracks from the 60s to the late 90s. Chase explains that “he’s literally the reason that we’re musicians.” When everyone in the studios started getting custom license plates, their grandfather chose ‘Xylo’ – short for xylophone. The name resonated with them, and they liked the idea of honoring their grandfather’s influence on their lives. At the beginning of 2016, XYLO released their first EP containing all of the singles they had come out with so far. After the EP’s release, the duo hit the road on an American tour in support of it. Since then, XYLO has released a number of singles including “Dead End Love,” “Get Closer,” and most recently “I Still Wait For You.” They also used their success to make a statement with the track “Fool’s Paradise” – a commentary on the current U.S. political climate. The group describes their sound as “dark alternative pop” and along with the hip hop-inspired beats, XYLO’s music appeals to a broad audience. Paige’s breathy and passionate voice has been compared to the likes of Lana Del Rey and Lorde. Last year, XYLO was featured on a song with The Chainsmokers, who have been dominating the pop and EDM scenes in recent months. Chase explains that the EDM duo helped launch XYLO, recalling that “Drew is the one who kind of discovered us and shared our music with Adam, their manager, who actually signed us at Sony.” The musicians had been in touch with each other for a while before they collaborated, and they often talked about working together. One day, The Chainsmokers finally sent over a track. Chase remembers sending back a rough demo

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Paige and Chase embody a classic musical success story. They have rocketed from obscurity to major recognition in the matter of months, and their dark melodies and atmospheric pop make them stand out among their peers. XYLO’s journey has been full of surprises, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

Cold War Kids | Chicago, IL | March 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

Alice Cooper | Midland, TX | May 2017 | Photos by Bailey Flores

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It’s rare that we hear of a popstar under the age of 18 striving to make a difference in their community. But with more than 100,000 followers on Twitter and an extremely active presence on social media, Brooke Hummel puts her all into everything that she does.

With a passion for music and a plan to change the future, Hummel created an anti-cyberbullying non-profit that encourages teens to stop hiding behind usernames and be the best they can be.

With a combined 4 million views on her EP on YouTube, Hummel’s music has begun to impact the demographic that truly needs to hear the message she’s creating. “My sound is definitely a mix of all of the most popular and most unpopular things. So I always pride myself on not sticking to one genre. So I can have pop on there, I can have country on there, I can have R&B, I can have trap. So my sound is basically like one of everything,” Hummel explained when we met with her.

“It’s called Stop, Block and Tell, the website is It started because I was bullied myself in high school and I didn’t see anything in the media or anything that was my age demographic that was putting an end to it. There’s National Anti-Bullying Awareness but none of them are reaching out to teens one on one, which is what I wanted my organization to do. So that’s why I started it, I didn’t see anything in the system so I wanted to be the system and make it happen for other people,” Hummel said enthusiastically about her initiative.

Hummel was sporting a lanyard advertising Good Times Live, an influencer collective event based in Chicago that drew thousands to a nearby hotel. Hummel was later performing to a strong social media savvy group of fans, eager to live tweet, snap and post on all of their social platforms.

Not only does Hummel speak at each stop of the “Stop, Block, Tell, Tour”, she performs a set of songs, which have earned her premieres on AOL, People, J-14 and more, eager to share Hummel’s music and message.

“I think [social media is] important because you can reach out to everyone. You don’t just have to reach out to the people that you travel with or that are in your city, you can reach out to them overseas. I mean I have people following me from Japan and they’re some of my biggest fans, but I’ve never even been there and I have no idea what it’s like. And it’s so crazy that they’re following me over there and listening to my stuff. So it’s important because you can reach out to everyone,” Hummel said about her fans.

She continues to connect with that fan base, especially through her personal social channels, which drive attention to her initiative, but also her recently released EP.

“Honestly I look at [social media] every day,” she continued. “I try to do this every single day, I look into all of my accounts and I read all of the comments and I reflect on how many people took the time and sit, out of their precious time and watch my stuff. It just blows my mind. It’s one of the most humbling things ever, because all of these thousands of people are taking the time to do that. That’s really what’s pushing me forward.” She also continued to tell us about her new sound and how it continues to grow and develop, but pulls from genres from all over the place. “My big inspiration currently has been Michael Jackson. I’ve been watching a lot of his older performances and just him growing from Jackson 5 until he was growing to create all of these great albums, mostly because he did everything himself. He didn’t rely on anyone else. He produced his own music, created his own choreography and wrote his own lyrics.” Recording her first EP, she spent time reflecting on her past experiences in order to create music that really related to her audience. “My EP is all based off of real experiences that I had during the summer. So it’s the Brooke Hummel EP, so we were doing #BrookeHummelSummer16, because it was every experience that I had. So whether it was fun or a breakup, its just a lot of crazy different things that a teen would go through. But we just turned it around and made it into music. Basically, I wanted anyone of any wavelength to be able to connect and relate to it.”

Creating those experiences from real life events also pulled from her non musical inspiration, who helps drive her towards success and her passions. She explained that her influences help her to continue to grow both her image and brand as a musician and organizer of change. Hummel strongly relies on her family and friends, but cites Carrie Underwood as a major influence too. Hummel explained, “Obviously it’s still kind of a singer but she’s such a good person in her everyday life. I watch a lot of her interviews and I just am fascinated about how humble she is.” These influences, her passion for advocacy and her passion for music have all created her a place in pop culture, earning her the attention of a few major news outlets, like J-14, People and AOL. Each of which promoted Hummel and “Stop, Block and Tell” to thousands of readers worldwide. Hummel explained the first time she noticed getting the attention and how it began to shape who she is today. “It was definitely an ‘oh my gosh’ moment, like this isn’t a game anymore. I’ve been following them forever, I was the little girl who got the magazines and the cut outs and put them on my walls. And then I’m sitting in their corporate office and getting ready for them to interview me, it’s like ‘oh my gosh what is happening!’ And I’ve met so many amazing people through it all and it’s all about connecting and creating these branches out to all of these organizations.” Moving forward, Hummel continues to strive to create more music, interact with her fans and spread her experiences with bullying, hoping to help teens in the future. She connects with fans daily on social media, writes songs that her teen audience can relate to and acts as an advocate for those in need, constantly striving to be the best she can be.

ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY Photos by Valerie McIntyre

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Against The Current | Cleveland, OH | April 2017 | Photos by Chelsea Gresh

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The Fat Jew | Chicago, IL | February 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

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The MAINE | Pittsburgh, PA | APRIL 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk

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Mike Posner | Chicago, IL | April 2017 | Photos by Addie Whelan

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COIN | Pittsburgh, PA | February 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk

Words by Lauren Klonowski | Photos by Anna Xu

Texas indie alt-rock band, The Unlikely Candidates, sat down

with Beyond The Stage and chatted about the history of the band, Jimmy Fallon, Texas and what they are looking to do next. The Unlikely Candidates are known as a five-piece alternative group, but before today’s current lineup, there was Cole Male, Kyle Morris and an acoustic guitar. “Yeah, Cole and I, we’re from this little town called Keller, and we knew each other growing up, both into that whole Warped Tour scene in the area. We became friends, but it really didn’t cement until we got drunk at a friend’s house. He kind of knew how to play guitar, and I probably sang around people maybe once ever before,” Morris remembered. “I think I still only kind of know how to play the guitar,” Male chimed in. “Yeah, he knows slightly more now. But, yeah, as a joke we played a couple songs—totally joking—and for some reason, while everyone’s laughing and we’re playing these awful songs and doing terribly, something in my mind was like, ‘This is it. I have arrived.’ Which made no sense at all, but then I asked him, ‘Hey, that was fun the other night. Do you want to play a couple songs and see what happens?’ And we did, and it was terrible, but it was good enough for us to realize that maybe there was something there. I don’t really know why we kept doing it. We must have just both seen something in it that was worth pursuing, and we wrote enough songs to play the shitty Warped Tour venue. And we did, and never looked back,” Morris recalled. The acoustic duo lasted for about four years, then The Unlikely 48 | BTS

Candidates really started to take shape and resemble more of whatit is today. Kevin Goddard, Brenton Carney and Jared 30 Hornbeek join the lineup and together they take the sound in a different direction - alternative indie rock. After mastering their sound, they had set their goals on one thing in particular: radio play. “We do have songs that cross over into the indie sphere, but for the most part we’re always aiming to have a single on the radio. We’re aiming for as much reach as we can get. If the indie people like us, that’s awesome. If the mainstream people like us, that’s awesome,” Morris said. “We just want people to like us, please,” Male said. “It came from a long list of other, much more terrible names that we crossed out until we found that one,” Morris answered when asked how the name The Unlikely Candidates came about. Male mentioned how the name represents them as individuals. “Yeah, everyone thought we were terrible, and no one wanted us to do this. And the name worked. It’s still basically the same, even though we’re a little further down the line,” Morris explained. Considering the current political climate, their name seems to represent more than just themselves. “We totally could have cashed in on that, but we always stayed away from political ties. It wasn’t even that [Trump, politically charged climate], it just seemed too easy, and I didn’t want to make it cheesy. It would have been super easy, but we just haven’t done it. Probably dumb on our part,” Morris concluded.


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The band is now based out of Fort Worth, Texas. When asked if they would ever consider relocating to more of a “music hub” the guys say for now, they are happy to remain with their Texas roots. “The thought’s always there, but living in LA and playing in a band at our level, we’re literally scrounging to pay rent or living on my parents’ floor,” Hornbeek pointed out. “There’s a good indie scene going on [in Fort Worth], but, really, I think all bands want to get closer to where people can help them, so it would make sense for us to move to a music hub at some point. But right now we’re fine. We’re staying off the crazy LA substances and away from the crazy people,” Morris said. “Our sound is different than what’s going on in Forth Worth. There’s not much alternative, pop type things that we touch on going on there. We stand out in a good way and a bad way,” Male added. With their love of their home state, it would make sense that they would miss it’s comfort when on the road. For Unlikely Candidates the hardest things to leave behind in Texas are the kolache and the Chick-Fil-A’s. Speaking of kolache, many fans would probably be surprised to know that Hornbeek and Male had their very own kolache company. For those who may not know, kolache is a dessert pastry with fruit in the center of it, often served with coffee. “Cole and I pretty much started doing it just to pay rent, and we put a whole logo together with his face [on it]. We went over to Brent’s dad’s bar, The Chatroom, and we just started slingin’ ‘em. Then we started making money, and getting drunk, and hanging out, and

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making kolaches all weekend long. It’s funny because around the area, people start noticing Cole as the kolache guy. So people will come up and be like, “You’re Cole-achie, right?” Male said. If given a really good listen, a The Unlikely Candidates song may appear to have some political themes underneath. “I do layer a lot of political stuff in, but it’s always in the second or third layer. I use the mechanics of a relationship song as kind of a metaphor for whatever political issue, so I can be that band and not be that band at the same time,” Morris explained. “Which really means that I’m not that band, but I gotta put it in there somewhere.” The group released an EP, “Bed of Liars” in February of this year. Most of the band agree that their favorite track off the new EP is a song called, Violence. “I tied it to a domestic relationship that had gone bad, but really it was kind of about a lot of police brutality that I kept seeing year after year. That shit kind of bothers me, so that’s what I wrote it about,” Morris said when asked to describe the writing process for the track. Figuring out what makes a song a “good song” is very subjective - it can look like one thing to a person and something completely different to another. Hornbeek said, “I guess it comes down to the chords and the lyrics and the vocals.” While Morris said it’s a song that has, “catchy melodies, and a good, simple message.”

Hornbeek also mentioned the one and only Jimmy Fallon and a segment on the late night talk show, The Tonight Show, where they recreate well known songs using only children instruments. “I love seeing what Jimmy Fallon does with his toy breakdown of a song, and he’ll have The Roots behind him with the artist up there singing, and they’re all playing little children’s instruments. And it’s still a great song.” Male pointed out, “You can’t play a shitty song like that. It’s just not going to work.” “We really just want to play on Jimmy Fallon,” Morris laughed. Looking over the many years of being together as a band, they can all agree that they have grown as individuals and as a collective group. “We didn’t know how to play at all. I think we’re still

learning, and now we have a full band,” Morris pointed out. “Yeah, it used to be just me and Cole working with an on-site producer, and now me and Brent do pretty much everything inhouse,” he continued. It’s no secret that The Unlikely Candidates are gaining some serious momentum. “Our new EP is out. It’s all new songs. We haven’t released music in almost three years. “Bed of Liars” Come to our shows, grab a physical copy,” Male said. Looking to the future, these guys are ready for just about anything that may come their way and we will be waiting for their inevitable rise to stardom (and their future appearance on Jimmy Fallon).

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FRANK IERO & THE PATIENCE | Pittsburgh, PA | MAY 2017 | Photos by Stone Fenk

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Lewis Del Mar| Photo by Bailey Flores