BEYOND THE STAGE
BEYOND the stage
ADDIE WHELAN EDITOR IN CHIEF
ALICIA RANGEL ART DIRECTOR
DELANEY DEANGELIS DEPUTY EDITOR
GINA SCARPINO PHOTO EDITOR
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CONTENTS ON THE COVER
36 The Night Game 46 Bryce Vine 56 Transviolet
06 flor 14 Lewis Capaldi 40 Loote 51 Album Reviews 56 Transviolet 62 Nina Nesbitt 67 Playlist
04 Madison Beer 05 P!NK 10 106.1 BLI Summer Jam 12 The Academic 13 MGMT 18 Firefly Music Festival 24 Hayley Kiyoko 25 The Kooks 32 Bunbury Music Festival 44 Echosmith 45 Great Good Fine Ok 50 Kailee Morgue 54 Jena Rose 55 Half The Animal 60 Smallpools 61 Jessie Ware 66 George Ezra
lovelytheband ON THE COVER
MADISON BEER BAILEY FLORES - AUSTIN, TX - MAY 2018
BLAKE CHARLES - PORTLAND, OR - MAY 2018
WORDS BY KRISTEN HUMPHRIES AND PHOTOS BY BECCA MATHIAS
rom their hometown in Oregon to the Firefly stage, flor has cultivated a sound and following so particular, it’s impossible not to appreciate. Every ambient vocal harmony and warm shimmery riff transcends you into a dancey, feel-good place, or as vocalist Zach Grace puts it, “An ethereal, special, magical world where people can exist.” flor consists of Zach Grace, bassist Dylan Bauld, guitarist McKinley Kitts and drummer Kyle Hill. “The name was decided by Dylan,” Grace admits. “He was throwing ideas around and flor happened and we were like ‘that’s stupid.’” Bauld notes he forced the guys into the idea by creating a logo and all of sudden, flor stuck. “It fits our minimalistic style; it looks pretty and it sounds pretty,” Grace comments. This is perhaps the most important thing you should remember about flor—there’s nothing over-the-top or too glitzy about this band. They are a genuine, passionate group and it shows in casual conversation and on stage, whether it’s a headline show or a festival. “You have to work to attract people to your stage,” Kitts explains about playing bigger shows and festivals. However, the band is in agreement—both headline shows and festivals are equally as rewarding. “There’s something magical about playing to 300 kids in a club and everyone knows your song, but it’s also cool to play a bigger show and see people wander over to listen.” This was the case for this year’s Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware and you could feel the inclusive energy from the band. “We want everyone to be a part of it,” Grace mentions about the band’s live-show presence. “There’s a lot of ego in music and that’s so not existent with us; we could care less. If you like our music, cool. Come have a good time. And if you don’t, keep your stupid opinions to yourself! Haha, just kidding.” As proven on the Firefly stage, the guys are enjoying their time playing songs from their newest release, come out. you’re hiding—an album that was three and a half years in the making.
“When it first started, it was me and Dylan in his apartment in Pasadena, California,” Grace claims. “Then as the years went by, we were in his house studio recording ‘warm blood’ and ‘overbehind.’” “As Dylan was building out his studio, the album came along too,” Hill chimes in. “We did drums with John Fields and then sent everything for mixing in New York.” Though you can expect a more dreamy, altrock sound on this album, the band grew up with a few different influences. Bauld admits, “We grew up on pop-punk and pop-rock so Jimmy Eat World, Tegan & Sara and Passion Pit; those groundbreaking bands.” Grace adds. “Anyone who was intentional with their lyrics and being off-centered because we love Death Cab, Tegan & Sara and anyone who was approaching music a little left.” You’ll notice flor has the same feel—the kind where you’re driving in your car, time stops and the music transports you somewhere else. If you’re down for that floating-throughtime kind of feeling, you’ll be happy to know there’s more of it coming in 2018 and beyond. “We’re gonna disappear for a little bit [to write an album], but we’ll be back!” Kitts teases about future plans. For everyone who loves to dance, feel captivated by music and be a part of something wonderful, flor is your band.
5 SECONDS OF SUMMER
106.1 BLI SUMMER JAM PHOTOS BY AUDREY LEW
WHY DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T WE
5 SECONDS OF SUMMER
ALYSSA BUZZELLO - LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 2018
JOE HERNANDEZ - SEATTLE, WA - MAY 2018
LEWIS CAPALDI WORDS BY ADDIE WHELAN AND PHOTOS BY GINA SCARPINO
s soon as you meet or listen to 21-year-old Lewis Capaldi, there’s one thing that is extremely apparent: he exudes passion. As soon as he’s asked about music, he immediately opens up, sharing details about his life as a Scottish singer-songwriter. With a history of music, Capaldi revealed that he’s been writing songs since he was 12, performing for small bars and pubs since he was old enough to be up on stage. “I got into music because my older brother was always in bands when I was growing up. So I was essentially copying him. He’s six years older than me. I was 9 and he was probably 15, so he was 15 and because he started to play guitar and be in bands, I just like almost in a bratty way, ‘if he’s going to learn guitar, I want to learn guitar.’ So I started practicing guitar, playing and then writing songs, again, because he was writing songs. They were fucking terrible. He started playing gigs, so I started playing gigs at 12. We used to go always to bars and I’d have to have hide in the toilets at pubs and then play my set before I got kicked out. I did that for eight years, until I was 20,” he said. Growing up, Capaldi would write songs based off of what was popular at the time, what he liked the most and what he resonated with as both a listener and an artist. With influences across the board, Capaldi listened to almost everything, but continuously fell back on pop music. His extensive listening history caused him to draw influences from everything under the sun, including mainstream pop, indie-rock and even hard rock. Capaldi elaborated, “When I was 12, there was a band called Busted and they were like a kind of One Direction with guitars. Kind of like 5 Seconds of Summer. And [I listened to] my brother’s band and Blink-182, so that went for a while. When I was 9, I was listening to a lot heavier music than I was supposed to be because I was copying my brother.
He was listening to Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold. When I turned 12, that’s when I started listening to blink-182 and Busted came along. They were making pop music, but with guitars and I thought that was so cool. When I started playing shows, Ben Howard was a huge influence for me. [Howard’s] music has gotten less and less commercial and I think that’s what he wants to do. His first album was very acoustic and lyrical and folky, that was kind of a big influence on me. He’s a guy with an acoustic guitar and he’s writing all of these songs that are kind of poppy and they ended up on the Charts in the UK. There’s also a Scottish artist called Paulo Nutini, he kind of had an amazing first album that was pop music. Then he went away for three years and then came back with an amazing album, it was folky and Scottish and it was just amazing. I didn’t start listening to full on pop music until I was almost 18. So if it was in the charts, not the charts like the album charts, but if it was the singles charts, I would completely shun it because I didn’t think it was cool. When I was younger, I listened to like Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys and indie-rock music. […] So now I’m more into indie-rock bands, which is cool.” Capaldi’s own style of music has launched him into the public spotlight, drawing major label attention, performances around the world and even a few of the top music festivals in the world.
“Festivals in general are amazing experiences because it’s cool to see people walk past and you can see the moment when they hear you sing and they want to walk over and stay,” he said. “The real success is pulling those people in and seeing them from a distance perk their ears up and walk over.” While festivals bring a large crowd, Capaldi has also performed to thousands, opening for artists like Niall Horan and Sam Smith. “I say this in a few interviews, but Niall Horan is the nicest guy I’ve met in music, just the way that he carries himself is ridiculous. He’s just so nice. Sam Smith is the same. When [Smith] performs, it’s like a two hour long show and he’s just smashing all of it vocally. He’s definitely someone who I can learn from too. His show is just to a T every single night. For me, I don’t really move around a lot on stage yet, so headline shows are still a little bit weird for me because I’m not used to doing them yet. I’m used to sitting up there with a guitar and trying to make people like me and enjoy my music. For that as well, [Niall and Sam] are really good at making it a show. And there needs to be aspects of a show. And mine right now is very much more a gig. So hopefully at some point, I’ll add those elements in. Maybe the next American show. For the time being, I’m going to be staying put,” Capaldi said. In his most recent performances, Capaldi has also incorporated his newest track, “Tough,” which just came out a few weeks ago. Speaking with BTS, Capaldi noted that the track was actually written almost a year ago, with dozens of versions, mixes after mixes. The track eventually went back all the way to the original demo and was finally released to the public.
“I would write a passage about what I thought would be a heartbreak song. I hadn’t done it and I hadn’t experienced it. I was also very reluctant to talk about my feelings and when I speak about myself, I’m terrible about articulating how I feel,” he continued. “In the end, it makes you think about what you’re feeling and experiencing. And once I started doing that and co-writing and pulling my personal experiences out of me. It definitely helped a lot more. ‘Bruises,’ which was the first single we released last year was one of the first proper songs written about a relationship that I had.” As Capaldi launches into stardom, performing at festivals, continuing a leg of North American tour dates and more, he continues to promise for more music. “We’re playing a lot of festivals over the summer. We’re coming back here after playing a lot of festivals in Europe and then coming back to play at Austin City Limits. That will be good, I’m looking forward to that. I think we’re doing our biggest European and UK Headline tour so far as well so that will be this fall. [. . . ] I think that I’m ready to go. There will be a lot more music and a lot more shows.” With a smile and a nod to his listeners, Capaldi leaves us with one final note: “brush your teeth.”
Although Capaldi’s songs are relatable and personable, he also noted that he just recently started writing songs about his own thoughts, feelings and relationships. Using co-writing as a leap, Capaldi learned to start writing songs about his own life just last year.
FI RE FLY
MUSIC FESTIVAL PHOTOS BY BECCA MATHIAS
THE NIGHT GAME
FOSTER THE PEOPLE
PAIGE FARROW - CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 2018
GINA SCARPINO - BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 2018
lovelytheband WORDS BY LAUREN KLONOWSKI AND PHOTOS BY ALYSSA BUZZELLO
n the span of just three years, lovelytheband has morphed from just an idea from vocalist Mitchy Collins’ head to a chart-topping indie rock band. After opening for bands like Dashboard Confessional, Incubus, Jack White and AWOLNATION, writing and recording their forthcoming record, Finding It Hard to Smile and gearing up for their own headlining tour, it’s safe to say the trio has had a lot going on. After meeting in Los Angeles in 2016, Collins, guitarist Jordan Greenwald and drummer Sam Price came together and immediately began rehearsing and recording some of the tracks that Collins had already been writing. Shortly after that, they got signed to the RED record label and have been killing it ever since. Since the three members all come from different backgrounds, their music taste does, too. Greenwald says, “The fact that we all have different influences kind of makes it all come together as what lovelytheband sounds like.” They definitely have a unique sound. Indie rock seems to be the most present label for them; but there are definitely hints of pop, rock and even a bit of soul throughout their music. The trio uses words like “cinematic,” “honest” and “emotional” to describe their music. In terms of artist influences, however, they all have been obsessed with the new Drake record, Scorpion. They love “everything, from Drake to Meatloaf,” Collins says. Price follows up with the fact that they all “listen to New Music Friday and just listen to everything that comes out, honestly.” With this variety of artists, it is not hard to see how their music can be so genre-fluid. The group’s single, “Broken,” was a massive success. It went to number one on the top
alternative charts and quickly became a crowd favorite. On their reaction to the song getting charted, Collins says, “It was definitely surprising, especially with it being our first song out of the gate. We are really fortunate and I think it’s really beautiful that people are interacting and connecting with the song like they have. It was a song I wrote when I was having a rough go of it. The lyrics kind of fell into telling myself, ‘It’s alright,’ and ‘You’re not your problems.’ That is what I always turn to music for, people saying things that I don’t know how to.” The single is off of their full length debut album, Finding It Hard to Smile, which is set to be released August 3. It has been a long work in progress to say the least. “This album kind of took my whole life to make. We’ve been kind of slowly hacking away at it and piecing it all together,” Collins says. As far as influences for the record go, all of the guys point to life as they know it. “It’s basically about the trials and tribulations of being a human being,” Collins remarks. The completion of this record is definitely a big milestone for the group. After years in the making, it is finally complete and they are more than ready to share the new music with their loyal fans. “We hope they love it,” says Price. The guys talk about the difference between releasing their EP, Everything I Could Never Say, that dropped last September and releasing this new album. “We used to talk about how the EP was like knocking on the door of lovelytheband and now the album is like inviting you in to have dinner with us,” says Greenwald. Musically, the EP and album differentiate a bit too. Price says, “There is literally ten more songs on the record than the EP so it shows a lot of diversity, but it still all sounds like lovelytheband.”
The fans have already been so supportive you can really tell that the band is working hard for them. “We just hope the fans get more of an insight to who we are through the album,” says Greenwald.
kind of comes full circle. The people that are supporting you and listening to the songs, streaming the songs, buying the songs and telling their friends about the songs. Without all that, it’s just a song,” says Collins.
Now that the record is finished they’re all set to hit the road. They are currently performing in a string of festivals for the remainder of the summer before embarking on their very own tour. “The shows have been wonderful so far and we’ve gotten a lot of chances to play and meet some of our heroes,” Collins says.
While 2018 might already be over halfway over, lovelytheband does not plan on slowing down one bit. “We’re going to Europe and the UK for the first time, with some of our very close friends, 5 Seconds of Summer, so that’s definitely going to be fun,” says Collins.
Touring is definitely one of the highlights of the job for the guys of lovelytheband. They talk about how one of the best parts of touring is of course, playing shows and meeting fans but also getting the chance to explore cities that they might not have gone to otherwise. “On a past tour we had some days off in Portland, Maine and ended up having such an amazing time there,” Greenwald remembers. When asked if they have a favorite city they like to play in, Greenwald says, “I think every city definitely has its own thing that makes it fun.” Collins agrees, but also adds, “New York. We love New York.” With such a jam-packed past few years, these guys have a lot to be proud of. Despite their first single debuting on the alternative charts, Collins says that the biggest achievement for them as a band is, “the community that we seem to be building within the fans, and what we see online. Just having a supportive group of people, that’s what’s really cool.” The band really attributes the success of lovelytheband to the fans thanks to their dedication and cultivation of people to this exceptional community.
As if that were not enough, they are heading out on their first headlining tour in the fall. “That is going to be exciting, we are bringing out a bunch of bands for that. We’re most excited for the headliner to have it be our show,” Collins remarks. “We’re also excited for the music to help people and the album and that whole process,” Price chimes in. It goes without saying that lovelytheband is a hard-working group of artists. With their soulful infectious indie rock tracks topping the charts, opening for one of the biggest pop rock acts and preparing for an album release, they really are going all in. We look forward to all the things these guys will get into in the future. We know it is only up from here.
“We can only put songs out. Yeah, I am proud of what we have done, but it’s all in the fans’ hands. That’s the best part. When you feel that connection, at the shows and everything
THE FRONT BOTTOMS
BUNBURY MUSIC FESTIVAL PHOTOS BY CHELSEA GRESH
THIRD EYE BLIND
BLACK PISTOL FIRE
THE NIGHT GAME WORDS BY DELANEY DEANGELIS AND PHOTOS BY BECCA MATHIAS
fter fronting the band Boys Like Girls and spending a few years as a songwriter, Martin Johnson is back making music for himself with The Night Game. With only a few singles released, The Night Game has found themselves collaborating with Kygo, touring with John Mayer and playing huge festivals like Firefly and BottleRock. “I was making music for other people and [from] 2012 through 2015 and was sorta kinda feeling a little, is the word ‘disillusioned’? Is that the word? Like when you’re just feeling empty, like the tank’s empty. Just, I don’t know, I missed the kid that got his first Fender guitar at seven and was looking at the mirror like, ‘I’m gonna be a rock ‘n’ roll star,’” said Johnson. “I missed singing, I missed playing shows, so I locked myself in a studio and I just started writing songs just to write.” Johnson has written for several big name artists, including Jason Derulo, Avril Lavigne and Gavin DeGraw. Though he’d written multi-platinum songs, he missed writing music for himself. “You can get sucked into this L.A., co-writer, corporate kind of like ‘lets keep the lights on and pay the mortgage circle—and it sorta killed music for me a little bit,” he explained. “I love all that stuff that I did during those years, and I met a lot of cool people, but I wanted to see if I still really loved music.” Unsure if he should “quit and move to Nebraska or try something new,” he just started to write.
the debut self-titled album, set to release September 2018. “You know, I think like halfway I started to realize I was having fun again,” said Johnson. “It’s been a little difficult just letting my guard down with it, ‘cause it’s like I just wanted to remember why I liked music.” When Johnson began to write for himself again, he said that he stopped listening to the radio so he didn’t accidentally rip off any songs or be influenced by popular music. “I would listen to the radio and kinda chase, so I didn’t do that with this record,” Johnson explained. “I was really just listening to cassette tapes and vinyl and whatever CDs I had on tap. Sorta like physical; like good old days. I turned on the radio recently and I’m just confused and feel old.” Happy that he’s created music that he likes, he describes the sound to be “free.” “The joke about The Night Games is ‘sports, sex and the United States of America’” he explained. “But also a bit of honestly, some nostalgia for youth, and trying to find the dream again. Whether it be love, the future, the United States, or whatever it might be, trying to find the hope.” The Night Game’s first single was “The Outfield” which mixes 80s rock with the sound of Johnson’s older songs. With only this track released, the band was invited to open for John Mayer.
“The songs at the beginning were really depressing. I didn’t know what it was going to be and I didn’t know what it was going to be for; maybe I was just writing for myself, and [it] turned into this record,” he said. Co-producing with François Tétaz, he said it took about four years to put together
“I mean the thing with John that was really, really beautiful is he heard the song on Spotify and immediately wanted to bring it on tour, not knowing anything about what I was really, and he didn’t know anything about my past or anything like that,” Johnson explained. “It was so humbling ‘cause it just spoke about the music. I was worried about making this record, ‘cause it’s really tough to get a second chance, and even if you do, a lot of people kinda just associate you with your past,” for which Johnson feels no shame. “I don’t have any apologies to make, I’m not embarrassed about anything, but at the same time, musically, getting older, it’s like, ‘Man, I used to make pop, like pop-punk music and wear really tight pants’—you know what I mean? And it’s like, yeah, you don’t really wanna necessarily do that when you’re a little older, so for me, it was really validating to have an artist that I respect in that way to just really sort of come to the plate and say, ‘I’m really up for this.’” With five singles out, The Night Game’s sound is clear, but each song is a little different. “Bad Girls Don’t Cry” is just a fun, catchy, freeing summer song. “Once in a Lifetime” is a softer, melodic sing-a-long track. “Kids in Love,” in collaboration with Kygo, is another 80s nostalgia song. What started out as a party anthem, Johnson reworked his most recent single, “American Nights,” after noticing the duality of classic American songs like “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp and “Born in the U.S.A.” by
Bruce Springsteen, that had a focus on the people rather than the party. Johnson shared that “American Nights” is “a little bit of a diary of the people and kinda what that means to me, and hopefully provides hope.” As for the rest of 2018, Johnson has a lot to look forward to. Alongside his debut album, he has a world tour coming up, as a supporting act and as a headliner in Europe and America. Johnson describes the writing and recording process of the album to be long, but it’s done and mastered and he is just excited to get it out. “It was a lot of trying to find more than music, you know?” he said. “I was really trying to find love and truth and who I was again, ‘cause I maybe lost it a little bit.” As for what he hopes fans get from his music? “Just a sense of inclusive enjoyment, you know? [I] hope they get to feel like they’re a part of it and like they relate to it on a level that’s outside what’s going on the fuckin’ social media or whatever it might be. It’s just about the music.”
WORDS BY NICOLITA BRADLEY AND PHOTOS BY GINA SCARPINO BTS
mma Lov Block and Jackson Foote have been working together ever since their college professor paired them up for a project. Foote describes their first writing session together, “It was literally magic. We wrote an awesome song, considering it was five years ago and we had never written together before.” After encouragement from that same professor to keep working together, the pair signed a songwriting deal with Universal to work on songs for other artists. Most notably, they helped co-write “No Promises” by Cheat Codes ft. Demi Lovato. Block and Foote worked for Universal as songwriters for two years, eventually moving their way up to an in-house spot in New York. This is where they started working on their artistic project under the name Loote - a mashup of their last names. Loote released their debut single “High Without Your Love” in May of 2017. They released two other singles before finally putting out their debut EP, single. this June. Writing and recording songs for the project was extremely time consuming. Block says, “We sat in a dark room at Universal and wrote for a year. We have a studio set up in our little writing room so it’s just Jackson and I recording until it sounds perfect.” Foote chimes in, “We are really fortunate to have a space there. It’s kind of shared, but mostly ours. It’s where we’re most comfortable and it feels like home to us.” That environment was the perfect setting for the duo to write an album that bursts of vulnerability. Emotions are complex. While we constantly search for some black and white view of the world, Loote tries to focus their songs on the middle ground we all find ourselves stuck in. Foote describes the music as “Deeply personal. It’s a midpoint of two people - sad but celebratory.” “A cry jam!,” Block added. “We’re still growing as people. Being conflicted is something that should be normalized, but people don’t really talk
about it. Nobody knows what they’re doing, but they’re learning as they go along. Our music is all of our ups and downs in song form.” Their most recent single, “Your Side of the Bed,” explores those muddled feelings. They seamlessly wrap high energy pop beats around lyrics like, “I can’t sleep cause he’s where you’re supposed to be.” Although Loote has been writing together since college, some songs take longer than others. Block notes, “Sometimes the general idea of a song comes together really quickly, and you like the idea so much that everything has to be perfect. We are very picky.” Collaboration comes naturally to Loote. They look for that same quality when it comes time to feature an artist on one of their songs. Recently the duo released a song called “Longer Than I Thought,” featuring Joe Jonas. The song is extremely personal to Foote. He shares, “I left college and came to the city. There was this one piece in my past that I should have been over, but I wasn’t. When we talked to Joe he told us an ex of his lived in the city.” Block adds, “He felt the same way and wanted to be part of it. There wasn’t a team of people telling us to do this. It all happened organically.”
Authenticity spills into their performances. Loote kicked off their first time on the road by opening for Eric Nam during his North American tour. Foote says, “Tour has been absolutely fantastic! Every night we get to play a show that’s better than the last. Getting exposed to Eric Nam’s fan base has been insane; they’re so receptive of us. We’re so lucky.” Performing live gives Loote the opportunity to connect with people on a whole other level. It’s what makes live music so special to experience.
Writing music is what drew Block and Foote to the music industry. The ability to create something out of nothing and connect with other humans is pure magic. They spend so much time together that close friends refer to the pair as “a high functioning dysfunctional not dating married couple”- which they told us in perfect unison. Loote is truly just getting started as artists. After a performance at Billboard, the two will take a vacation and then start working on an album. Foote mentions, in passing, that they’ll probably go back on tour sometime in the fall. No matter what their next official move may be, Loote will be working in music for years to come. We can’t wait to hear what they make next.
ALICIA RANGEL - AUSTIN, TX - MAY 2018
GREAT GOOD FINE OK BECCA MATHIAS - PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 2018
BRYCE VINE WORDS BY SAMANTHA ANEED AND PHOTOS BY BECCA MATHIAS
assionate, driven and confident are three words often used to describe artists. Those three words all describe Bryce Vine. Vine is a rapper, creator, thinker and hip-hop artist who quickly went from being a small town secret to a household name. From signing to his first record label to having a song on the radio, we spoke with Vine about all these things and more. When it comes to music, Vine is no stranger to the process. He got his start in the industry as an independent artist who made himself known with just his DJ, manager and talent. After years in the industry, Vine signed with Warner Bros. Records, and that was just the start of his rise to fame. Being an independent artist can be very complicated, and Vine noted that it was a lot of work. “It was a lot of work on the independent side. I mean, I don’t know how Chance The Rapper does it. It’s a lot of work. You really learn to do as much as you can before someone kinda helps support, which is the label,” said Vine. “My manager and I have done everything from like getting into a pool together to shoot a promo video and you know we have even slept in crappy hotels and have slept in the desert and like we have done everything. After you have done all that and learn how to do it gracefully, then it’s great when you have a team that can come help support it and make the process easier and expand it. You definitely appreciate it. I am having more fun now than I would have if this happened five years ago.” Before signing to the label, Vine released numerous singles and two albums on his own. “Lazy Fair” came first in 2014 with “Night Circus” following in 2016. After signing to the label, he released his first single “Drew Barrymore,” which quickly jumped to the top of the charts and began playing on the radio. “Drew Barrymore” is the first song of Vine’s to have radio play during his career. Vine creates music with eccentric beats, sing at the top of your lungs lyrics,
perfect for driving. “My music, it’s like feel-good rap mixed with rock infusion stuff sometimes,” said Vine. “It’s like the music you listen to when you’re with your best friends driving down the freeway.” Vine is an artist who is able to tell a story in each song, put a massive amount of effort into each verse and have the final product be an absolute banger. Each song is unlike any other, he creates a new beat for each song he releases and has made every album very diverse. Each artist is different when it comes to making music or finding the sound they want to brand as their own. For Vine, he is still searching for that. His music has always been great, but he knows he can make it better. Vine was quick to tell us that his new music will be the same Bryce Vine sound we all know and love, but better. “It’s more of the same just elevated. Good vibes. I kinda like found my zone of who I want to be as an artist and things are moving so it’s fun to write in this environment,” said Vine. “I just keep trying to get to the next level, like the next song I wanna hear, that doesn’t exist already.” Fans are the backbone of an artists career. Vine is not shy about the fact that he has an amazing fandom who supports him in every way. Whether it’s waiting in line all day at a show, or constantly requesting his song to their local radio station, his fans are very dedicated. Vine takes the time to connect with his fans via social media and after his shows as well. At each show you can find Vine right beside his merch table taking the time to talk to each and every fan that waits in line, he pauses for pictures and autographs all while building that personal relationship with them. He will stay all night and talk to them, and when it’s time for the venue to shut down and he still has a line, he asks everyone to wait outside and comes out to talk to them then and that shows that building those relationships is important for him.
“I don’t know why more artists don’t do it, man. Not only is it great for them, it’s good for you, like it refreshes me. Even when I am getting tired and feeling stale. When I can’t come up with stuff in the studio and I read a couple things from fans and the music means so much to them, it gets me excited to write more,” said Vine. “So like to respond and have them be excited that you responded is totally worth it. It’s something that a lot of people miss out on and maybe it’s because they get big too quickly but since I have had to do it as a process to get bigger it’s like dope and I know them by name when I see them at shows. The personal connection is really cool.” Outkast, Gorillaz, Kid Cudi, Third Eye Blind and Frank Ocean are a few of the artists that have influenced Vine throughout his career and even now. As far as non-musical artists, Vine shared he is influenced by a few books. “‘Blood Meridian’ by Cormac McCarthy is my favorite book of all time and ‘Travels’ by Michael Crichton made me want to be a novelist at some point,” he said. Luckily for fans, Vine decided to stay on the path of music. From the start of his career until now, Vine has remained the same. He is a very humble, genuine and down to earth guy who creates good music and leaves a positive impact on his fans. If there was a message he wanted to convey, it would be basically not to be a complete jerk. “I would want to tell people that uh, hard work pays off. I try to be good to people who are good to me,” said Vine. “Like you pick the right people around you and you try to not to leave your legacy as someone who is a piece of shit.” Touring is the greatest thing for an artist, they get to play their songs live and meet with fans. It is something like no other. Vine loves to tour and does it often, whether he is opening for someone or on his own tour, he tries to tour as much as possible. “The people I get to tour with, my DJ, my manager, my videographer, my drummer, all these guys they’re just like great people and their characters and they’re fun and BTS
then meeting all the fans, man, I like people so it’s fun to be around good people and play music around good people,” he said. “It’s like the environment I have always wanted to be around. It’s moving all the time. You’re always in a different city and like you’re there for one day so you go to the best pizza place and then you run to the next place. I love the motion of it.” With every good tour comes an even better setlist, but with so many songs to perform how can one choose a favorite? It came easily to Vine. “My favorite song to perform is ‘Sour Patch Kids.’ It just goes off no matter where we are, no matter what people’s moods are, they go from zero to 100 real quick and my DJ plays a trumpet solo. The energy is just like nothing else,” he explained. Vine has had an exciting few years, from signing to a record label, to hearing his song on the radio for the first time, to finally finding his zone and the sound he wants to create. We know there are only good things in store for him in the upcoming years. As for what’s next for Vine, fans can expect a lot of good music. He just released another single, “On The Ball,” and will be releasing another song titled “La La Land.” In addition, he is touring with the artist MAX and plans to head back to L.A. to write and create more music. Bryce Vine is a name you will come to remember and not forget due to his talent, his music and his genuine artistry.
KAILEE MORGUE GINA SCARPINO - BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 2018
ALBUM REVIEWS Electric Light James Bay Republic Records Four years, a few Grammy nominations and a new haircut, James Bay is back with his second album, Electric Light. Bay’s second album could have been a dramatic reinvention. With the mainstream success of Chaos and the Calm, it could have been easy for Bay to transform into a more commercialized, pop-rock sound. Instead, Bay sings about navigating love with rock centered music that incorporates a little bit of R&B and a little bit of synth to create a unique sound. It’s not a dramatic reinvention, but a natural progression for Bay. One example of this natural progression is “In My Head.” One of the more experimental tracks of the album, it’s catchy, poppy and different. From the catchy chorus to spoken words, synth and more, it’s a little all over the place, but Bay’s vocals pull it all together to make a song that just works. The album consists of 14 tracks, including two short “skits.” After the intro track, the album begins with “Wasted on Each Other,” a guitar driven track that introduces the listener to the new James Bay. “Wild Love,” one of the first songs of the album to be released, is great and “Just for Tonight” is a reminder of what Chaos and the Calm sounded like. “Fade Out” is a little funky and definitely stands out as one of the best on the album. The only critique of the album are the two “skits,” “Intro” and “Interlude.” The two tracks just feel a bit out of place. Perhaps if there was a conclusion or outro it would have felt more cohesive, rather than disrupting. Overall, Electric Light is a great second album from James Bay. It’s different, but not a dramatic change. It’s distinctively his sound, and we can’t wait to see where his music goes from here. 4/5 - Delaney DeAngelis Download: “Wild Love,” “Fade Out” and “Just for Tonight”
Youngblood 5 Seconds of Summer Capitol Records After a bit of a hiatus, we finally were blessed with a third album from 5 Seconds of Summer. Many fans waited for the band to drop some new tunes and they were finally granted with a new song earlier this spring. “Want You Back” gave fans insight into their new sound. The album leads into a more 80’s glam rock vibe with the pop we were all hoping for. With more synth and more power, this album is definitely ready to be one of your favorites this year. The album starts out strong with the catchy title track, “Youngblood,” which is sure to hook listeners from the beginning. The boys have matured and have taken that and threw it straight into this album. After a bit of a slower track, “Lie To Me,” the album drives straight into pure hits like “Valentine,” which is an uppity song with a very driven chorus, and “Talk Fast” which goes straight back to the days of 80’s hair bands. With songs like “If Walls Could Talk” and “More” with catchy beats, it is hard not to put on your dancing shoes and put the album on repeat. The song “Empty Wallets” is another standout track that has a hard-hitting chorus that many can relate to. The album also features strong vocals from each member of the band. It is so awesome to find a band with so much talent vocally from every single member. They have taken their experiences and written some great tunes. 5 Seconds of Summer really put their heart, souls and everything in-between into the making of this album. Everything about this album just screams how the band has matured and finally found what they truly want to be putting out into the world. With their fans also growing up and maturing over their hiatus, the album is a perfect fit. It also is a driving force for new fans to really see that this band is not messing around. They are sticking around for the long haul. 5/5 - Chelsea Gresh Download: “If Walls Could Talk,” “More” “Babylon”
ALBUM REVIEWS Saved Now, Now Trans- Records Following the release of 2012’s Threads, extensive touring and creative differences delayed new material from Now, Now. This put into question the actual status of the group. In 2017 the now duo finally released their first single in years, titled “SGL.” The track is an acronym for ‘Shotgun Lover,’ and is a song that symbolized a new beginning for the group who embraced a new indie pop sound laden with their emo roots. One year after that, KC Dalager and Brad Hale’s comeback album, Saved, was finally released. At its surface, Saved is an indie pop album with modern characteristics, but after further listening, it’s far more complex. Hale compliments Dalager’s airy vocals with spacious, hazey and melodic synths, delayed guitar and drum pads. Dalager’s production on Saved resembles the work of Jack Antonoff and seems Bleachers--esque. The upbeat nature of the songs disguise Dalager’s more somber lyrics. Religion is commonly referenced throughout the record, as Dalager often speaks of her former relationships and compares physical love with salvation. Lines like “You touch me like an angel / But you kiss me like a sinner” and “Like an angel waiting / I let you surround me” from “Holy Water” and “Powder,” respectively, are prevalent throughout the album. Though she’s surrounded by angels and demons, saints and sinners, Dalager’s sense of loneliness remains as she cries out for attention and affection. Hale’s production and vocal distortions add to the solitude, and create layers and distance to be felt within the songs themselves. Now, Now has been renewed. The digital production behind Saved elevates the duo and adds to the lyrical intimacy and intensity. Additionally, Dalager’s unedited breaths bring a sense of urgency, difficulty and helplessness to the already powerful tracks. Now, Now stays true to themselves while evolving their sound, and this seamless progression is exactly what the duo needed as a reintroduction to fans new and old. Saved is a dynamic album that overall took six years to make, and it was well worth the wait. 5/5 - Joe Hernandez Download: “Set It Free,” “Drive” “Holy Water”
Love Is Dead CHVRCHES Glassnote Records Since first entering the music scene, the scottish pop trio CHVRCHES has had a huge influence on the growth and evolution of the pop genre with their heavy synth electro-pop sound complemented by vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s high soaring vocals. Their debut album The Bones of What We Believe shocked listeners as the group proved the type of success that emerging 80’s synth pop inspired bands could have, and the group rose ever higher as they outdid themselves with their sophomore album Every Open Eye. Seeking to do so again, CHVRCHES enlisted the help of two outside producers for the first time, Greg Kurstin and Steve Mac, as well as adding touring drummer Jonny Scott. After having so much success previously without help from producers, it’s strange to see the band welcome outside help at this point in their careers. However, it worked to their advantage. Out of all his excellent work with a variety of artists, one of Kurstin’s biggest accomplishments is the pop transformation of Tegan and Sara in their album Heartthrob. While Kurstin produced a majority of the album (nine songs), Mac made his mark on Love is Dead most notably with the synth and drum heavy anthem “Miracle.” The result of their joint efforts is a collection of songs that diversifies CHVRCHES sound and is a reflection of the current climate and the accompanying emotions of disappointment, heartbreak, openness and hope. Another highlight on the album include “My Enemy” which features The National’s Matt Berninger. Mayberry and Berninger compliment each other well in this haunting ballad as they trade off between verses and choruses. This gives the illusion that the pair is having a conversation. The song details how a love can fade and transform into something darker, and this progression is further depicted by Berninger and Mayberry building off each other. CHVRCHES is a band associated with arenas and festivals, and Love is Dead is a powerfully crafted tool with booming songs that will echo through venues and across fields. Mayberry has always been open and vulnerable with her lyrics, and this record is no different as Mayberry includes her transparency with politics and fear for both the present and future world. The repetition of phrases and words mold Love is Dead into an earworm with melodies, anthems and ballads sure to stick with you. 4/5 - Joe Hernandez Download: “Forever,” “Wonderland,” “Miracle”
ALBUM REVIEWS Shawn Mendes Shawn Mendes Island Records As the almost 20 year-old transitions from a YouTube kid to an adult with longevity in the industry, Shawn Mendes’ self-titled is a 14-page diary entry. It’s the first time Mendes can be honest about his personal life, from mature relationships to reaching the legal drinking age in Canada—and he doesn’t let you forget either one in the classiest way. Though early releases like 2011’s Handwritten felt like a group of pop writers at a table feeding the listener clichés, Shawn Mendes is an admittance of what’s really on his mind. He speaks on the gun-control debate on “Youth” with friend and musician, Khalid. “Lost in Japan” is essentially a “wyd?” text with a groovy, clap-along beat overtop. Though—in natural Shawn Mendes fashion—he doesn’t skimp on the love and heartbreak songs, and he nails the authenticity of what it’s like to long for someone. “Why” asks the question we’ve all text-drafted to that one person, but deleted out of fear: why are we ignoring feelings that we know exist between us? For the first time, you see Mendes at his most vulnerable and much like his influences, he’s become a storyteller. “Where Were You in the Morning” is an easy John Mayer-influenced stand out from the bluesy guitar tone to the call and response vocals following the bridge. The song details an accidental one night stand, where Mendes expected more time with the one he was falling for. If “falsetto” can be a theme for an album, this song is the perfect motif and the rest follow suit. You only have to listen to the first few seconds of “Fallin’ All In You” to notice the skippy, fast-paced vocal patterns à la Ed Sheeran. Though it’s easy to spot other voices and hands in the making of the album, there’s a reason it’s self-titled. Mendes is explaining himself in every way from who helped him get into music to how he’s building his own voice. Nothing better serves this ideal than the opening track, “In My Blood.” It’s a slow-building intro that leads to an in-your-face, polyphonic chorus (think: Kings of Leon). Mendes describes this song as the most personal and it shows in the lyrics, “Laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing / I’m overwhelmed and insecure, give me something.” It’s an honest account of not accepting defeat, but feeling close enough to it that you’re at a loss. Unlike songs prior to this album, Mendes takes off the listener’s rose-colored glasses and walks them through his reality. Shawn Mendes feels like the beginning of a long-term career for Mendes. While drawing from past and present influences, he’s cultivating and perfecting a sound uniquely to him. If this album is any indication for the future, Mendes will be around to write many more pages in his musical diary. 4/5 - Kristen Humphries Download: “Where Were You in the Morning”, “Fallin All In You” and “Why”
ALICIA RANGEL - AUSTIN, TX - MAY 2018
HALF THE ANIMAL BECCA MATHIAS - PHILADELPHIA PA - MAY 2018
TRANSVIOLET WORDS AND PHOTOS BY JOE HERNANDEZ
aybe you first heard of this band when you caught their opening set while they toured with Mikky Ekko, Twenty One Pilots or LANY. Perhaps you caught one of their music festival sets or watched one of their late-night TV talk show performances. Finally, you could be a fan of One Direction’s Harry Styles and remember him tweeting lyrics to their song “Girls Your Age.” Now signed to BMG Records and currently finalizing new music, the alt-pop quartet Transviolet proudly makes their return on their first ever headlining tour across the United States. It hasn’t been the easiest road for Transviolet, as a shaky situation with their prior label, Epic Records, left them at a standstill for a year. With the departure of L.A. Reid from the label, the group was left in the dark and without a representative. What followed was a complete restructure of the label, and with the label’s gears moving slowly, the group decided it was best for Transviolet to move on. Now on a smaller deal with BMG, and keeping things slow to explore the opportunity and relationship with the label, Transviolet finally has new music they are excited to share. With just the final mixing to be done on their upcoming EP, Transviolet is set to release their next single, “Undo,” July 13 before the EP’s September release. The two singles, “Bad Intentions” and “Undo” will represent the two pillars of what the EP will be. “Bad Intentions” came from the disco and dance influence from listening to Blondie, David Bowie and The Bee Gees, which was then channeled and transformed into the Transviolet sound. “How can we make a party song that’s still true to who we are?” asks the band’s vocalist, Sarah McTaggart while reflecting on the song. “‘Bad Intentions’ came out of just that. Being at a party, creeps creeping, and you don’t really care about it.” Judah McCarthy, the group’s guitarist, adds “‘Bad
Intentions’ is one side of the bio work. It’s the more pop-centric, upbeat, party song style. And the next song, ‘Undo,’ is the other side. It’s a little more somber and true to older music we’ve put out.” “In true Transviolet form, we like to release bodies of work that have a variety,” adds McTaggart. “We’re never going to release a compilation of songs that are the same thing. It’s always going to have highs and lows, and dynamics, in the body of work. We hope to achieve that with our new EP.” McTaggart writes from a place that is personal to her and what she’s feeling at the time. Oftentimes, these songs and lyrics come from experience. “Usually what I’m feeling is all about self-expression and female empowerment, and being able to be who you are fearlessly,” she says. It can be difficult at times being this open, especially for artists. “It makes it harder when something is rejected or people criticize it because it’s not something that’s separate for yourself. It’s you they’re criticizing. So if you put your soul on the line, you draw it out there, and someone says they don’t like it - it’s personal.”
It’s even harder as a band on tour and opening for someone else. More so for an artist like Twenty One Pilots or LANY, the opening band is playing in these big rooms and playing for a crowd that isn’t their own. Often no one has even heard the opening band’s music before. It’s an exciting opportunity to play the large venues and introduce music to these crowds, but there can be insecurities that come with it as crowds may or may not accept the opener. McCarthy went on to say, “There’s always going to be crowds where you can just tell they’re not feeling it or it’s just not your demographic. But you still have to put on a show for the people that are there for you and you have to look past it.” That’s what makes this first ever headlining tour so special for Transviolet. “Being the headliner, it’s been really moving to come to all these cities and realize this is our fanbase. These people are here for us, and it’s really cool,” said McTaggart. “And when you do play for those rooms that aren’t your fans and you win them over, it’s the most satisfying thing. Like, you’ve never heard
our music before. You just came, discovered us for the first time tonight, and now you’re dancing and singing. It’s awesome.” Every band and artist’s stories and experiences are different, but they all have learned things along their journey. Transviolet shared their own messages and lessons they’ve learned: “Stick to your guns and trust your gut. A lot of people are going to have opinions and tell you what to do and will say to do something that doesn’t feel right. Some will say it’s industry standard, but if it doesn’t feel right say no. I don’t want to do that.” “Keep writing. If you want to put out a song or an EP, write a hundred songs and pick the best five. That’s because your first five songs probably aren’t going to be the best or competitive to the people who have written hundreds, but keep doing it and trust yourself. Don’t try to copy anyone else or be the next, whatever, artist, be you. Being your version of you is going to be the best version of anything you ever make.”
BECCA MATHIAS - PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 2018
GINA SCARPINO - BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 2018
NINA NESBITT WORDS BY MADELINE PAIGE AND PHOTOS BY GINA SCARPINO
t was kind of one thing after another from there.”
24-year-old Nina Nesbitt’s seemingly quick rise to stardom came from some of the most unsuspecting and humble beginnings you can think of. Born in a small village outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, Nesbitt taught herself to play guitar through YouTube tutorials before starting her own channel. That YouTube channel has led her to support some of the biggest names in music including her current dates alongside Jesse McCartney’s Better With You tour. “It’s a really different audience from what I’m used to,” Nesbitt says. “They scream a lot which is funny. I feel like I’m in The Beatles every night. I think it’s opened me up to new people.” But we have a feeling there’s something more that makes Nesbitt feel a bit like the other famous McCartney. Her raw talent taked the stage and maked an audience instantly fall in love with her music. Catchy pop beats can seem easy to come by, but for Nesbitt it takes more than that to write a song worth performing and her latest project is living, breathing proof. When asked about her favorite song she’s written, there’s no hesitation in her answer. “I would say ‘The Best You Had’ is my favorite,” she says. “I had the lyrics for six months, there was five different versions of that song so it felt like a proper achievement when it was done”. And that hard work has only just started to pay off. Nesbitt has already released three wildly successful singles from her international debut studio album with another song titled “Loyal To Me”, set to drop later this year. Along with this new era of music comes other professional endeavours for Nesbitt - she officially co-wrote her first music video for the single “Somebody Special” in 2017.
“That was the first music video that I had a part writing the script for. I wanted to try something new and different,” she told BTS. With almost two million views on the video alone, Nesbitt explained the meaning of the video. “It’s about a couple who are in an emotionally abusive relationship, the guy is a complete dickhead to the girl, me”. Writing from personal places seems to be a running theme with Nesbitt, coining her specific genre as “Suburban Pop”. “It’s very poppy and I think it’s quite international, but I grew up in a small village and I’ve lived quite a normal life, I’m not from a big city”. But there’s usually more than meets the radio hits. Nesbitt credits some of her biggest influences to the lyrics of the female artists that pushed the limits before her. “Alanis Morissette is my biggest female influence. Taylor Swift was the reason I picked up the guitar when I was 15,” she says. “I think strong females that write their own music and are very lyrically led have always inspired me. I love how fearless Alanis is with her lyrics, the Jagged Little Pill album inspired my song ‘The Best You’ve Had’. She doesn’t hold back, she says things that people maybe think but don’t want to put on paper”. Nesbitt has shown herself as a uniquely talented artist from all sides of the process, with more than eight EPs under her belt. With that talent comes tremendous growth, showing up the most in the track that almost wasn’t, “Loyal To Me”. “‘Loyal to Me’ is inspired by nineties R&B music,” Nesbitt begins before revealing how close she was to never recording it. “It’s actually a song I never imagined for myself... I wrote it with a girl band in mind. And then I was like ‘no, I’m going to keep this’, it’s quite funny and I feel like it has a place on the album”. There’s no doubt that it does.
“Loyal To Me” begins with a slow build that Nesbitt has almost perfected throughout her career, leading into a chorus that hit the beat almost as hard as it hits the heart. Lyrics like If you have to question ‘Is he loyal to me?’ / Then he’s probably not / And you should probably leave bring out a TLC-esque level of heartbreak protected by a thick shield of empowerment. There’s never a moment of defeat within the lyrical subject matter of toxic relationships, instead a strong female influence to understand your own true worth. “I played it live and the reaction to that one was just really good”, Nesbitt says in regards to the highly anticipated release. And without ruining too much of the suspense, all we’ll say is that we’d do almost anything to secure a spot to hear this song live. With a literal track record as extensive as hers, it’s almost impossible to think of where to go from here. But that’s not even a second thought in Nesbitt’s mind. “I have the new single coming out - I’m shooting a really cool music video for it so I’m excited. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, so I think it’s going to be good.” But her to-do list for the remainder of 2018 is far from complete. “UK festivals, and then I’m coming back with MAX! I love MAX, he’s one of my favorite new artists, and then doing a tour with Lewis Capaldi, he’s amazing. Then I’m coming back and doing a headline tour here next year”. Needless to say, we’ve started a separate calendar of our own just to keep track of all of the milestones Nesbitt is sure to hit this year alone. But until you can jam out to all of her latest bops on your own, make sure to catch her alongside our past cover star MAX this fall.
ADDIE WHELAN - CHICAGO, IL - MAY 2018
PLAYLIST 1. Fire That Burns - Circa Waves 2. California - YUNGBLUD 3. Fast Slow Disco - St. Vincent 4. Born to Be Yours - Kygo and Imagine Dragons 5. Lonely Alone - Chelsea Cutler ft. Jeremy Zucker 6. Judas - Goody Grace 7. MY2 - TS Graye 8. Younger - Ruel 9. Noises - Pale Waves 10. Old Fashioned - Panic! At The Disco 11. Your Side Of The Bed - Loote 12. hold on - flor 13. alone time - lovelytheband 14. Piece Of Your Heart - Mayday Parade 15. ILLUSION - Jubel, NEIMY
ECHOSMITH | PHOTO BY ALICIA RANGEL