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Pop/Indie Pop Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Biig Piig

Meet Jessica Smyth, better known as Biig Piig. Born in Ireland, brought up in Spain and now based in good ol’ London town, the neo-soul/hip hop singer has been gaining traction over the last couple of years with her silky smooth tracks and emotionally in-depth lyrics, taking inspiration from classical folk Irish music, Latin Jazz to modern indie and hip hop. But with that all in mind, you can’t hold Smyth’s music to just one style, I mean how could you with that diverse a range of inspiration? But her vibe is complete chill, as if you’ve stumbled into a run-down bar with the local jazz band pulling you in.

Smyth grew up in Spain and spent a lot of time in the Irish pub her parents owned there. Growing up around a pub setting definitely shapes you differently, as stated by Smyth before “I think you learn a lot about people when you’re surrounded by adults a lot of the time, they don’t treat you like a kid. Maybe that’s where the writing came from when I was younger.” And from living in Spain for so long, you start to learn the language which is where Biig Piig’s music gets interesting. Not only does deep classical Spanish music flourish throughout her work, but also slipping into the Spanish tongue giving her music this double-sided feel that’s irresistible. 

Biig Piig’s first single was dropped back in 2017 on Soundcloud, but that caught the attention of COLORS, who gave her a spotlight at their Berlin studios, helping her soon-to-be-fans find her sensual songs. Fast forward a year, and she released her debut EP ‘Big Fan of the Sesh, Vol. 1’ Further answering to the deserved hype and solidifying her fanbase. Tracks such as ‘Dinner’s Getting Cold Ft. Mac Wetha’, ‘Perdida’ and Flirt’ really demonstrated the talent Smyth has; lo-fi beats with velvet-like vocals to shatter dimensions.

Upon meeting Mac Wetha at sixth form after moving to London, the two have become good friends and regular collaborators within her own music and with their DIY Art Collective NiNE8. ‘A World Without Snooze, Vol. 2’ was released in 2019 and whisks you away to that special place in your mind where you can breathe easy and relax.

The track ‘Vete’ caught a lot of attention from the expansion of the smooth sound incorporating a cheeky bit of Sax to really hone in that chill Jazzy vibe. And thus Smyth signed to RCA Records, then immediately starting work on the final instalment to the trilogy. In November that year, she dropped ‘No Place For Patience, Vol. 3’. 

Really perfecting her sound here, it feels as if the journey had really taken you somewhere. The production of the song ties every little nook and cranny together into this ear-melting sound. Roses and Gold kicks off the EP, introducing some funky slap bass to shake things up whilst staying inside the proverbial box. Smyth does new things here but nothing feels out of place. ‘Lie to Me’ closes the EP and shows off some of the complexity to her lyrics; “I don’t wanna go, but this heart ain’t a home / Peace of mind, my peace is fucked. lucking out when he won’t listen / Risking trust to prove a point”. Smyth somehow just has this immense control of singing (in both English and Spanish) with such depth and on the flick of a switch completely nails these free flow rap verses which blend with her sound so perfectly.

Earlier this year, Biig Piig treated us to her political commentary of the 2019 snap election; ‘Switch’ which is a fitting title. This is a Biig switch indeed from her earlier work, fast-paced, angrier and with more drum ‘n’ bass inspiration. Smyth has said “I thought when I was writing it that it was about a relationship, but then I was like ​actually nah, it definitely isn’t. It’s that same hate but just for something else.” Switch is the kind of left turn an artist needs to take after solidifying their sound from 3 EPs worth of material. The track goes out of bounds but still suits Smyth’s voice, like something was suddenly realised inside her mind. The content of the song definitely needed a more prominent sound, so it all compliments each other ridiculously well really.

‘Don’t Turn Around’ was dropped in July this year and samples Love for the Sake of Love by Claudia Barry, more commonly known from being sampled in Montell Jordan’s Get It On Tonite. You may also recognize the directing style in the music video and you’d be onto something, frequent Beabadoobee video collaborator ‘Bedroom’ directed the song’s video, complimenting the sound of the track with a rich visual paradigm. Once again showing off her flow with some insanely catchy rap verses, bookended by delightful vocal hooks in the chorus. Lyrically being quite a jam-packed song as you’d expect with rap verses, but really shoving that emotion into the listener in a really exciting way. Smyth spoke about the song, saying it’s “my post-breakup, pre glow up tune. Finally getting to confidence through self-love and letting go of toxic relationships”. All we can take from it is that it’s such a good song and Biig Piig’s artistry really shaped it into something new and refreshing, leaving us with open arms for whatever her next outing may be.

Biig Piig is someone who needs no real introduction, just an open mind and a good pair of ears because no matter what the Irish-Espanol singer dishes out, it’s no doubt to be something that gets you hooked. In fact, Clairo and Billie Eilish have proudly announced themselves as fans, so why not join them? For once I can safely say that it’s right to believe the hype.

Like what you hear? Check out Biig Piig’s latest release and double single ‘Oh No / Liarh’ on Spotify.

Categories
Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Reviews

Hidden Gems: Soul Punk – Patrick Stump

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Patrick Stump’s first solo album ‘Soul Punk’, released during Fall Out Boy’s hiatus, this record is a favourite of mine and at the time, really showed off Stump’s talent in a way that no one had ever seen before. People knew he was a phenomenal singer, but this album showed off his skills in so many ways. Stump made a soulful, RnB, pop album, and played every instrument, wrote every song and produced every track. After being known as the singer from Fall Out Boy, here we got to see just how much talent was waiting to burst out of just one man. But despite generally positive reviews, the album didn’t do as well as it should have, and to this day is hardly known about unless you’re a pretty die hard Stump or Fall Out Boy fan. Stump commented on the record saying “When it comes to pop music, there’s this perception that all you have to do is press a button on your iPad, but I wanted to make it with love and put a lot into it. A lot of people asked, ‘Where did you get the drum sounds?’ I played them. ‘What synth plug-in was that?’ I played all the synths. ‘How’d you get that bass tone?’ It’s a bass. I really wanted to put in the effort, even if people might not notice.” to the extent of the album art as well, making a point of using real materials and not just photoshopping shapes onto the artwork. The record as a whole talks about greed and paranoia and the effects of which and how they influence each other, as well as dealing with innocence and even death. So on that cheery note, join me as I go through the hidden gem that is Patrick Stump’s Soul Punk. 

A complete U-turn from the pop punk roots of Fall Out Boy, now on hiatus, Stump sought out to make an album with a sound he wanted to make, with nothing out of bounds. Citing icons such as Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie and Bobby Brown as lifelong inspiration, Soul Punk delves into the thick sounds of the ’80s. After having the album finished, two version of a lead single released, and the album ready for a February release, Stump wrote ‘This City’, which made him decide to completely redo the record, releasing the equally brilliant EP ‘Truant Wave’ in it’s place and leaving the album to be released later on in the year. With this, Stump really outdid himself just with the quality of music we were yet to be teased with. We were teased with a version of ‘This City’ featuring Lupe Fiasco, a love letter to the city of Chicago, where Stump was born and raised. A catchy soulful pop song that talks about the ups and downs of your hometown, but how no matter how hard you try, “you can never take my city away”, giving off similar thematic vibes to the previously released ‘Spotlight’. Although these tracks talk about being yourself and who you are, Stump stated the album was written a lot in character rather than self retrospectives, which is rather a thankful sign when the likes of ‘The “I” in Lie’ is on the album, a song about being unfaithful to your partner, but tracked to a sugary suggestive sounding instrumental. 

‘Explode’, the albums opening track goes off with a bang unsurprisingly, an upbeat banger with Stump singing the oh so addictive hook “Clap if you’ve got a ticket to the end of the world”, a song that hints at the issues and pressure of commitment, something no doubt everyone has felt at some point, singing “If I’m never your hero I can never let you down”, metaphors about cutting the red wire to defuse a bomb. A song that definitely speaks volumes about being the lead singer of a band that just went on an indefinite hiatus. But the album is filled with wonderful moments such as ‘Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers)’, a song about drinking, with lyrics being slightly concerning talking about how you know that it’s unhealthy, drinking to forget, making mistakes and by taking “one more shot then I’m quitting forever – cross my heart, cross my fingers”. There’s some, kind of deep stuff sung over beautiful funk songs all across this album, it’s really quite something. 

The track ‘Dance Miserable’ is a really solid pop song with a filthy sounding synth-bass riff. Lyrically it’s wonderfully relevant about feeling hard done by, fed up and angry with the world, talking about the issues of climate change, unemployment, depression, government and politics. “The right side’s in the wrong – And what’s left’s just holding on – And the public has been privatised – But I believe in something here on earth” talking about the power of people, despite wanting to “Dance like you’re disappointed in the world” Later in the album we get the bittersweetly uplifting song ‘Coast (It’s Gonna Get Better)’, a brilliant song with the message of not giving up, how things get bad, but no matter how bleak things get, that things will get better. 

Track 9 on the album and we’re given the sexy hunk of a song that is ‘Allie’, a funky pop song with a powerful pop punk style riff and killer guitar solo in the later half of the song. In fact this album shows some of Stump’s brilliant guitar work that wasn’t so obvious during the earlier days of Fall Out Boy. Tracks such as previously mentioned ‘Run Dry’ and deluxe bonus track ‘Bad Side Of 25’ shows some stellar solos, something generally missing from mainstream pop songs, especially of the era, yet Soul Punk combines so many genres so fluently, nothing clashes or doesn’t work, it’s ridiculous how well put together this album is from start to finish. The song ‘Everybody Wants Somebody’ showcases some bombastic trumpets, a singalong anthem for anyone going through the motions of liking someone that doesn’t feel the same way. Altogether this album is just an hour of feel good crescendos, almost laughing at the shitty parts of life in defiance whilst you sing along to scenarios from how awful people can be to searching for animals you’re unsure whether they even exist.

‘Run Dry’ encapsulates the hidden/bonus song ‘Cryptozoology’, an interesting song thematically, exclaiming “I don’t have to prove myself to you”, begging the question of is Stump singing from the perspective of the animals whom existence is being examined? There’s a lot of metaphors spilled throughout the record, some even I haven’t figured out yet. This album is a little bit mad but it makes for a very interesting, but mainly fun listening experience. There’s just some things in life that can’t be explained all that well and are better off letting the work speak for itself and sometimes I feel that way about Soul Punk. 

I will briefly touch upon ‘Truant Wave’ as well as it’s almost the foreword to Soul Punk, it’s other half if you will. And if you like what you hear across Soul Punk then you should definitely go and check out that EP too because no doubt it’ll quench your thirst for more Stump funk. As stated earlier, before Soul Punk was completed, Stump wrote two versions of his song ‘Spotlight’, and subsequently, one version ended up on the album, with the other on the EP and both songs are brilliant but the slower pace of Truant Wave’s version of the song ‘Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)’ just really melts you to the bone, it’s a really sincere song about how you don’t need something or someone else to prove your worth, and that “You can be your own spotlight”, a message that I think is still relevant today that far too many people don’t think about. 

The Soul Punk era may have only lasted about 2 years in it’s entirety, with Fall Out Boy starting to write music together again just a year after the release of Stump’s solo outing, and for that it’s too bad because it’s a fantastic record with a groovy sound that may have been ahead of it’s time. But in retrospect, it’s wonderful to see and listen to as a gateway to the past, and the one good thing in hindsight of it not being particularly well known is that there’s a whole album (and Extended Play) of music that people can discover and enjoy even 10 years after it’s release. 

I shall leave you with the video that started it all, the sneak preview at Stump’s solo work from 2010, that later became ‘As Long As I Know I’m Getting Paid’ from ‘Truant Wave’, which is essentially the genesis to Soul Punk, which features the original version of ‘Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)’ mentioned above. But please make sure you check out this wonderful record that really should have seen the success of it’s emo band cousins. Top tracks here are ‘Explode’, ‘Dance Miserable’, ‘Run Dry X Heart X Fingers’, ‘Greed’, ‘Everybody Wants Somebody’, ‘Allie’ and ‘Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)’. Soulful songs you absolutely cannot go wrong with. Get in touch and be a part of the conversation. What did you think of Soul Punk? Any hidden gems that you think we should know about? Any artists you think we’d love? Let us know. 

Categories
BRIT School Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Maya Delilah

It’s so rare to find a proper up and coming artist to really dig into, but god am I glad I found Maya Delilah. For fans of Sycco, Her’s, Gus Dapperton, Clairo and The 1975; Delilah is someone you absolutely must get familiar with. Her debut EP Oh Boy was released at the start of July, a smooth, lofi, chill pop EP that just makes you wanna bathe in the sun and forget about your troubles, and experience the inner thoughts of Maya’s wonderfully playful world. 6 tracks of pure majesty, with phenomenal production, elements that sound inspired by Tame Impala, crossed with John Mayer adding the soundscape of Her’s baked into the musical pie that is Delilah’s Oh Boy. And the even better news? She’s already been teasing snippets from her second EP, yet to be officially announced, but damn does her new material sound just as slick as the songs on Oh Boy and I am genuinely ecstatic for it.

The fabulous video for her song I’m Just Stupid was shot from home during quarantine, and to help make the video, she asked fans to send in drawings to feature in the video, and as you can see, she got a LOT of drawings, which is a wonderful thing for an artist to do to engage with their audience, and something I sincerely hope she doesn’t grow distant from as time goes on.

Maya’s silky voice serenades you throughout the EP, taking you on a journey that just takes your breath away, which is ironic when you consider the title of the closing track, Breathe Easy. Delilah manages to blend such familiar sounds in such unique ways that make it feel like such a fresh sonic experience in the abundance of soundcloud and bandcamp chill hop artists looking for homes within your music libraries, Maya defies this, spreading a bubbly narrative of her life. Her songwriting ability is absolutely killer too, catchy hooks and riffs that just cut right through the mix, melodies that you just cannot get out of your head, it’s infectious. Not to mention the fact that she’s a ridiculously talented guitarist, with the comparison to John Mayer mentioned by fans on multiple occasions. I mean just listen to the solos in I’m Just Stupid and Breathe Easy and try to deny it. You can’t. It may be bold to say, but it’s true and that’s the tea sis. She even managed to write and release Safe, a quarantine inspired track back in March, so power to you.

She was featured on an artist spotlight for Marshall and it’s there where you really get a vibe for who Maya is, and you really start to see from the music she grew up with and how it’s moulded her style. It’s brilliant to see young musicians buzz with genuine creativity, who really know their stuff, appreciate the cultures and genres they’ve been introduced to, and be able to experience the glee that is their talent, not in uptight way, but to really see them have freedom and crucially, fun and enjoyment in their own music, all the while staying humble. Honestly it’s crazily inspiring.  She also delves into how she started writing, and like we’ve seen with the likes of Georgia, shows how these days you don’t need to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy to get signed and get your music out there. You can carefully craft your art at home, or as simply as singing and soloing over looped chords from a Boss Loop Station, you can build a following through apps like Instagram and TikTok. You can use your art and your passion and make a career out of it, and it’s wonderful to see.

She’s also been doing a fantastic job at inspiring young girls to pick up a guitar and get into music, utterly proving that girls can rock a guitar just as well as the boys thank you very much. Give Maya a guitar and a looper pedal and she could inspire anyone for hours, there’s just something so present about the way she writes, plays and sings her songs that can’t really be described. Whether it’s the relatable lyrics from waking up wondering where your cat is, to ignoring what others think about your relationship because you know it’s right.

Delilah is an absolute delight, and you’re a fool to not listen to her music and keep tabs on when more is due to arrive to melt our ears. You can follow her on Spotify, Instagram and even TikTok (@mayadelilahh) where you may even get a sneak preview of upcoming songs such as Moonflower.

Maya Delilah leaves you wanting more, and gives you this floaty optimistic feeling. Someone who really knows and has perfected their craft already at such a young age, the future for Delilah is going to blow up and we can’t wait. A hidden gen Z gem that you’re sure to revel in.

Top tracks are I’m Just Stupid, Tangerine Dream, Gato, URU, Breathe Easy and Safe. 

If you’re not listening to Maya Delilah, then Oh Boy… are you missing out. I leave you with the music video for her EP’s closer, Breathe Easy and just see for yourself. An upcoming artist that is not to be reckoned with.

Categories
New Wave Pop/Indie Pop Why We Love

Why We Love: Georgia

Georgia is a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who is lighting a fire under the feet of Electro-Pop fans in the UK. Her self-titled debut album, released in 2015, was recorded and produced single-handedly at her home studio in north-west London. After years of silence perfecting her sound and a nomination for a mercury prize under her belt since then, Georgia hits back with her brand new album ‘Seeking Thrills’ and has quickly gained recognition as one of the UK’s most exciting up and coming new talents.

Georgia’s music is exhilarating and energetic. Her sound combines the best of modern technology with classic synthesisers used on some of the most legendary 80’s records from Depeche Mode to Yazoo. Her rich, catchy melodies twist through Electro-Pop and House groves creating something irresistible to stomp along to. Both her albums are a true homage to the 80’s club scene. In many ways, Georgia’s sound feels almost a blend of the very best parts of older bands such as New Order and modern artists like MIA. This unique amalgamation has quickly earnt Georgia great attention from the UK music industry.

Growing up as the daughter of Leftfield co-founder, Neil Barnes, it’s clear that many of the inspirations of her father have influenced her own music. But make no mistake, Georgia has been pioneering her own fresh ideas independent from her fathers legacy.

Georgia studied music at The BRIT School where she developed herself as a drummer. I remember first hearing about Georgia while I myself was a student at BRIT. So I suppose I was given a very unique insight into the excitement she created at the school when she first hit the scene. After her single ‘Started Out’ was released, word spread through the school, and indeed around the rest of the industry, like wildfire. A proud moment for her peers, and by the time I had left, her picture was hung proudly inside the school.

I had the pleasure of meeting Georgia at BBC Introducing Live last year where she spoke in great detail to a room of young musicians about her process of writing and recording. It was an incredibly enlightening talk that she gave, and she showed these young creators that they no longer need to be able to hire a studio or sound engineers if they want to create music. I could see the confidence she installed in the eyes of the audience and she seemed to genuinely care about hearing the stories of young artists.

My favourite part about her talk at BBC Introducing was hearing her nerd out about her collection of classic synths. I especially love artists who know their stuff, and it’s that knowledge which has allowed her to create her special sound.

I think the biggest thing that Georgia and her music represent is the shift in the music industry over the last 20 years – no longer do you even need to leave the house to have a hit record, but don’t let it be said that it’s any easier. The thing that sets Georgia apart from DJ’s or other producers is her knowledge of classic production techniques and her talents for mixing songs as well as playing and singing, not to mention her incredible ability for lyric writing, which she says finds most difficult but takes inspiration from her idol Kate Bush.

I also need to mention her incredible on-stage performance. This is definitely what intrigued me about her – and whoever said a female drummer couldn’t perform live on Jools Holland AND sing AND look totally cool doing it?

At least through what I’ve seen, Georgia has been so incredibly inspirational to a lot of young musical, especially female talent, and shows that a young woman from London can accomplish so much without the need of assistance – Georgia is an artist who deserves our attention.

Her new album ‘Seeking Thrills’ is available to listen to right now.

Categories
Pop/Indie Pop Why We Love

Why We Love: Sigrid

Norweigan pop star Sigrid has been hitting the airwaves since 2017 with her debut single Don’t Kill My Vibe, but has been making noise in and around her hometown of Ålesund since she was 16. Since her EP’s ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ and ‘Raw’ as well as her 2019 debut album ‘Sucker Punch’, she’s been building up to be one of the most iconic and talented young artists we’ve seen in a long time, being crowned BBC Music’s Sound of 2018.

 

In a pop world dominated by men, manufactured stars, overproduced inhumanity and sadboy folk cheeseballs, Sigrid is a breath of fresh air. Firstly she’s incredibly natural, from the way she dresses showing she’s a person just like you and I, the way she’s not oversaturated in makeup and product to make her look as perfect as ‘humanly’ possible, to the way she moves and dances around the stage to her own music like anyone in their bedroom would to their favourite band. Secondly, the amount of talent that resides within this one woman is insane, not only does she know how to write a tune, she actually writes her own tunes, spending time writing songs on her piano, and transforming them into synth pop anthems in the studio. 

She’s given us songs like Strangers which in the charts reached the top 10 the week it was released, and Don’t Feel Like Crying, which turns a sad breakup song into a banger that makes you wanna dance with the biggest grin you can produce. Her vibe is infectious and her talent is undeniable. After hearing a few of her singles, her performance of Strangers on Later… with Jools Holland was what grabbed my attention and made me fully start to appreciate her as a pop musician. Her confidence and the way she absolutely owned the stage despite being fairly unknown at the time, her vocal performance which was completely on point, a voice that has incredible range, tone and even some raspiness when she wants to really shout, and her live music. Oh her live performances, not just some woman singing with a backing track, but with a full live band, which actually expands the sounds on her album, with electric guitars, vibrant synths, acoustic drums and her wonderful backing singer Kristina Skyberg who compliments Sigrid’s voice breathtakingly. Sigrid live is someone who deeply cares for the sound and ingenuity and it shows, her live band bringing her songs to life in a way that no upcoming pop star has done for years. 

Quickly Sigrid became my favourite artist of 2019, and one of my favourite artists of all time. She’s someone who cares, cares for her art, her audience and works hard to make sure every aspect of it is fantastic. Here’s to a bigger and brighter future of Sigrid’s music. You can see her at the Reading and Leeds festival 2021 next year, but if you ever see gig tickets going for a Sigrid show near you, I implore you to just go, you won’t be disappointed.