Hailing from the small village of Vittangi in the northernmost part of Sweden, is Yajna. A singer, sportsperson, and businesswoman, who has tried her hand at many careers, but always gone back to her ultimate passion – music.
Having grown up surrounded by music, her mother being a composer and organist in the local church, Yajna starting writing songs of her own from a young age, as well as becoming a star soloist for the local choir. However, in her teenage years, her talents saw her embark on a snowboarding career, going as far as to start her own company INACTION.
But in 2018, Yajna finally decided to follow her heart, to become a music artist. Her debut single, Natten Lång, was a storm of success across Swedish radio, but London was the place she found her true sound. It was there she recorded her recent trilogy, The Rising Phoenix, an epic and dreamy mix of soul and RnB.
The trilogy features singles ‘You Are Beatiful‘, ‘Femenomenal‘, and title-track ‘The Rising Phoenix‘. The songs take you on a journey through Yajna‘s life, from the ashes of her lowest moments, to her emergence from the fire. Ultimately, wishing to spread a message of hope, love and power.
Toby Tomtom is an artist who exists purely to inspire others to reach their potential in life. It’s a little known fact that he was the man who took a young, unsigned Alicia Keys under his wing – teaching her the skills to sing in studio and also wrote and produced her first demo played on New York radio NYC Hot 97. Before even that, Toby had won an accolade now shared by John Legend – an ASCAP Abe Olman Award, which is given top top-tier up and coming songwriters. Since then, he has apprenticed and wrote/produced with Kenni Hairston (notably famed for working with Lauper and Cameo and writing “Running Back to You” for Vanessa Williams).
Presumably channelling some inner Miles Davis, who he lists as one of his major influences, Toby is an avid trumpeter. Having attended a college scholarship learning jazz and classical disciplines he is currently passing on the knowledge to his 8-year old son, which has re-ignited the passion for his first love – music. Having had a longstanding partnership with his brother on R&B/ Hip-hop writing and production, their eventual split encouraged an expansion of his musical creativity and diversity.
‘Born 2 Be Free‘ was a track inspired by his youngest son, that encapsulates an uplifting message – in his own words:
“It’s my hope for every child in the world. Dance if you want, pray if you want, love who you want! No shackles… gotta fight to be free!”
With a hands on approach in terms of composition and production, Toby showcases an array of talent on vocals, trumpet, piano, bass, guitar and drums, which correlates into something bridging the dance/EDM spectrum during recording, but equally transposes into intimate guitar and vocal sessions when performed live. Toby has stated the importance of his acoustic guitar as part of his songwriting process, so perhaps ‘Toby Unplugged’ is a potential could be a concept soon to be realised. In the mean time, in the tradition of Stevie Wonder and Calvin Harris this one-man wall of sound is ready for his songs to touch the world.
There’s no escaping the excitement and anticipation for what is to become the first release from The Uprise – a new record label enterprise founded by NFL superstar and BBC Sport pundit Osi Umenyiora. Here we can witness an initial glimpse at the various twists and turns that have given rise to their premier starlet Andi McErnest and his lead track – ‘Baby Ur Cool’.
The story here began with humble roots as Andi (known as A.M) found creative means of expression through poetry after the tragic loss of his father around the turn of the millennium. It wasn’t long before his passion took a musical turn as he worked with producers for a number of months to make a sequence of initial demos as the foundations of his career took form.
After having moved back to his native Nigeria, and then back to the UK, A.M continued his venture into music and, under the name Authentiq, signed with underground record label ‘Titans Entertinment’. Alongside this, Andi also managed a degree of success as a budding entrepreneur, launching his own fitness company ‘Oneinamillionbillion’ in London, and later partnering his brother at ‘The McErnest Company’ based in Lagos, Nigeria where he became their first music artist in 2015.
The Uprise label has embarked on its own mantra, which looks to combine Brazilian-inspired street sound with UK grime to fulfil their vision of a Motown-style brand that draws upon the talent of their own roster of in-house writers and producers. This draws very much upon an uplifting idea that tries to connect people of all cultures and backgrounds with music as a means of universal understanding.
On this basis, collaboration between this particular label and artist needs no further explanation.
A.M draws on inspiration from a lengthy roster of 90’s and contemporary RnB and hip hop including Sean Combs, Pharrell Williams and Fela Kuti. Continuing in the vein of catchy electro RnB the track itself features a chilled, seductive half beat – easily accessible and looks set to saturate the sound waves in clubs across the UK very soon.
Coined as a “Dark Soul” artist, J.J Leone prepares for an October release of his new single ‘Reload’.
Already selling out the legendary Ronnie Scott’s, J.J is also championing a unique style, ‘Reload’ is a sound that is both contemporary yet refreshing to the R&B and Soul genres.
‘Reload’ features melancholic vibes that are becoming more and more prominent in contemporary pop music today, following the likes of Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd. Featuring croon-styled vocals, and an electronic backing.
What differentiates J.J is the song being led by the guitar – allowing for the cross-genre compatibility between his soul driven sound and recent post noughties indie textures such as The XX.
Whilst the tune has its comparisons with other pop contemporaries and artists who have followed suit with electronics mixed with instrumentation, the track does indeed hold well on its own, and importantly suits the contemporary music climate.
The songs structure sets the dynamics and feel of the song incredibly well, a strong crescendo element to the composition; J.J spaces out his resources well and does not go in with all guns blazing – creating more of an impact, and even though the conclusive guitar solo does feel slightly out of place upon the first couple of listens, and a breakdown may have potentially been more favourable, I feel it’s an appropriate risk and concludes the song in a gripping manner.
What ‘Reload’ does splendidly is capture the growing melancholic atmosphere that some R&B and Pop artists are incorporating into their work and putting a familiar yet original spin on it, creating a more accessible & enjoyable form of the sound.
‘Reload’ is out on October the 6th and is available to pre-order now. To keep up to date with J.J Leone and his upcoming release check out his social media pages below.
Calling all urban music fans, this is the video for you. ‘Video of the week’ goes to former innocent singer-songwriter Serena Kern, who has now ventured into a totally different style with her grime inspired new track ‘Drop Top’ ft. Ms Banks.
On the 12th of July I was very fortunate enough to be invited to NME’s first Under The Radar event as sponsored by Starling Bank, for a night of new music in one of London’s more quirkier venues.
Under The Radar is a showcase of upcoming talent; an opportunity to see some of the U.K’s hottest new acts in an intimate space before they play more crowded venues, an opportunity to see artists like these in a 300 capacity venue do not come around often.
The event was held at London’s Omeara in Southwark, with a cryptic looking interior and sporting a food court round the side of the venue, the venue suited an exclusive event. The sound in the venue brought out the best in the carousing bands.
The artists that were showcased – both London based were Anteros, a contemporary indie band with rock accessibility and Age of L.U.N.A, a rap/hip-hop group with a nostalgic element to their tunes.
The first of the two artists were Anteros, based in London; an indie band with rock accessibility, comparable to the Britpop bands of the 90s, with the grand stage presence akin to Blondie and an upbeat personality, a band with a catchy arsenal of tunes that got people dancing.
Vocalist Laura Hayden boasted a swagger that set the tone of what the band are all about, and the rest of the band are aware of this, presenting their own confidence and holding their own presence. The band capture their audience and know exactly what to do with them.
Anteros carry a set of tunes that are both catchy and well structured, fans or not, listeners will be unable to resist the urge to hum their tunes days after.
Source: @Anterosofficial (Facebook)
The next artist and final of the night were Age of L.U.N.A, a hip-hop/rap outfit also from London. An example of the finest quality of hip-hop in contemporary music. With a classic, nostalgic vibe to them a la De La Soul & A Tribe Called Quest, the trio got the room moving with ease and a charm to their performance that makes them unique in the genres climate.
The quality of performance spoke volumes, from the choreographed style of their stage presence all the way to their interaction with the audience. The intricate instrumentals the mixture in diversity of vocal styles, from Daniella Thomas’s smooth soulful vocals to the mixture of rap styles; slick to aggressive from Butch and Kyote, it made the trio constantly interesting to watch and listen to.
Halfway through their set they performed a mash-up of classic hip-hop tunes which got the room moving, Daniella Thomas also brought out a Saxophone and played the hooks to these tunes, which added to the performance and made it even more exciting.
Source: @Theageofluna (Facebook)
Overall, NME x Starling Bank’s first Under The Radar event was a success, an overwhelmingly entertaining show, the question is; how are they going to top the next one?
For Wyclef Jean protégé and R&B artist ImSoMaleek – 2017 could be a pivotal year with the U.K release of InsomniaK, carrying the torch for the new wave of Neo-Soul and a melodic memoir of new tracks.
One of these new tracks on the album is ‘Baby it’s You’ which features Bronx-born hip hop artist Denzil Porter; who contributes with a verse for the melodic croon.
With its noticeable influences, the song is able to stand on its own and shines alongside contemporary artists such as Frank Ocean. Accessibility to ImSoMaleek’s music ranges from the likes of the Drake side of current hip-hop to the Robert Glasper side of R&B, whilst maintaining a pop factor.
Songs on InsomniaK including ‘Baby it’s You’ feature an intricately thought out instrumental and soaring vocal melodies. With his previous experience in big time productions and his reflective and personal approach to InsomniaK, it’s no surprise that ImSoMaleek was able to produce a big sounding ballad such as ‘Baby it’s You’.
‘Baby it’s You’ is introduced with a “smooth-jazz” chord progression, and instantly sets the mood for the sentimental ballad. With an apparent homage towards predecessors of the genre from the early “noughties” such as Usher & Ne-Yo, with the soulful and melodic vocal style to the backing vocals which are very reminiscent of the aforementioned influences.
The lyrical content is endearing and stylistically recognizable to R&B fans both old and new. ImSoMaleek has executed a tasteful love song, that bursts with emotion, and Denzil Porters contribution to the song is also consistent to the lyrical theme and provides to the song.
ImSoMaleek’s new album InsomniaK is set to be released 21/07/17 in the U.K. For now you can check out ‘Baby it’s You’ here;
Alternative SoulSinger–SongwriterAdreyn Cash announces the summer release of his new EP featuring two massive tracks
The EP, set for release this summer, will feature his already huge track ‘Anthem’, and the powerful new ‘Tomorrow’ which will be released on March 9th. With a sound resembling that of Lana Del Ray, Cash’s unique tracks ooze passion and innovation.
The single ‘Anthem’, which was released earlier this year, has already had great success. Inspired by his initial struggle with his music career, Adreyn wrote the song to remind himself of his unconditional love for the industry. The EP is titled ‘Rich Girls Don’t Marry Poor Boys’, taking inspiration from ‘The Great Gatsby’, and reflecting that sometimes in life we must put others before ourselves. Adreyn’s EP is about art, creating something that is transcendent, innovative and truly artistic.
Crediting artists including Bruno Mars, Miguel, Prince and Frank Ocean as his inspiration, the EP features a mixture of songs, some which are socially and politically influenced, and some that are about fun and love. It is Cash’s own representation of his world; “I want my music to bring light and knowledge to my generation…painting a picture with my voice and my words”, says Adreyn.
Having studied Commercial Music at Canterbury Christ Church University, Adreyn has applied his knowledge and artistic creativity to produce well written songs with strong vocal performances. With big plans for the future, it is safe to say this extremely talented artist is certainly one to watch.
Hear ‘Anthem’ here: https://soundcloud.com/adreyncash
Official Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXV45Krswk4
With an impressive range of live shows under his belt, Adreyn’s attention has now turned to the release of ‘Rich Girls don’t Marry Poor Boys’ his first full length EP, set for release during August. The EP is an abundance of catchy rhythms and array of soul. The distinctive alternative/soul sounds delivered through his music are what make Adreyn Cash such an exciting talent. The futures bright!
Alyssa English will release her debut single on May 16th ahead of her forthcoming EP called ‘Girlfriend’, to be released May 26th.
Alyssa English is starting to be very well known in UK R&B circles. She has collaborated with dancehall giants BeenieMan and MaxiPriest and also recorded a track with the Award winning UK rapper Giggs, which will be on her forthcoming EP. Given the calibre of these artists and the fact that Alyssa is only a modest 18 years old, she’s definitely one to watch.
Alyssa was born in New York but later moved to Canada where she grew up in a world of music. Not only was she personally passionate but it ran in her family, as they were also musically oriented. Her uncle is in fact soul singer and songwriter SamDees, who wrote tracks for legends like ArethaFranklin, GladysKnight, WhitneyHouston and GeorgeBenson.
Whilst Alyssa can play piano and flute (just to mention a couple), it was learning to sing that her talents were spotted by her then vocal coach. One thing lead to another and her coach put her in touch with Kofi management where William Kofi went on to become her manager, who could see the potential in Alyssa’s voice. From then on she knew that a career in music was the only way she was going to go. At the age of 15 she took the bold decision to move to the UK to follow her musical ambitions, and it seems that this was definitely the right choice! This was actually what influenced the ‘Girlfriend’ track.
Alyssa’s title EP track ‘Girlfriend’ takes a lot musically from the likes of Jason Derulo, JoJo and other R&B stars. In making the track, Alyssa came together with top industry producer Livingstone Brown (Snoop Dogg, Nelly, Shakira), who also helped to co-write the EP, Mike Stephens (Musical Director for Take That) and Luke Smith (an infamous session musician who’s worked with the likes of George Michael to Chaka Khan) for the final product.
Having completed a tour of UK schools so far, she is destined for bigger things with this new release so make sure to keep an eye out! Watch the video for the lead track ‘Girlfriend’ here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A26vUi5yY1c Links
– http://instagram.com/avenglish https://soundcloud.com/alyssaenglishmusic