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Sophie Gatward

A magnetic kind of melancholy

By | Featured, Music

This 24-year-old Angelino singer-songwriter mounts enchanting, effortless vocals on a daydreamy backdrop for an entirely timeless yet refreshing new blend of soul & folk music. Predisposed for musical merit, Williams continues the story set in motion by her father David Williams, whose guitar-playing genius lent itself to the likes of Michael Jackson & Whitney Houston.

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Writing her own chapter in the legacy, Williams has cultivated her talent from an early age. In 4th grade, she was selected to perform Hard Knock Life with Jay-Z for a TV special. Cut to today and she is still gaining nods in the hip-hop scene, most recently collaborating with Freddie Gibbs on his single The Hard.

Further proof of her ever broadening appeal can be found on YouTube, where her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams alongside Leighton Meester has acquired over 2 million views.

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Having given fans a teasing taste last year with her debut single, ironically titled, Keep Me Waiting, Williams released her 5-track The Lonely One EP on March 25, 2014. This was followed by national TV exposure on ABC’s Rising Star, which saw her being voted into the final by 4 million viewers!

Earlier this year you released your first EP titled The Lonely One. How would you describe it’s sound / vibe?
I would describe the sound of my first EP as melancholy/dreamy/soul/folk.

Dana Williams – The Lonely One

We love your cover of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, sung alongside Gossip Girls’ star Leighton Meester. We want to know why there are not more of these videos on YouTube – are there future plans for more poolside sessions?
We have had conflicting schedules over the past few months but plan on releasing more duets together! And, I am not sure if they will be poolside.

Dana Williams and Leighton Meester – Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life journey?
At this point, I am just proud that I have been able to continue to make music, share it with others, and follow my dream.

Have you ever leant towards a different career path, or have you always wanted to be a musician?
I always wanted to be a musician, but I have always been incredibly shy, so in college I considered being a poet. I considered just writing poetry and songs for other people and avoid performing my own music. But then I realized that my passion was performing my music for people and it honestly makes me the happiest to perform. Also, I can still write poetry and be a musician! 🙂

Dana Williams – Keep Me Waiting

Not everyone that knows about you, knows that your late father was a guitar player for Michael Jackson. That’s quite a legacy. How has your father’s influence affected the way you view music and the world around you?
Well, since I grew up in a musical family, music comes as second nature to me. It makes it more of a lifestyle. Whereas, when people ask me ‘what else would you want to do?’ there really are no other options, music is a part of my soul and I couldn’t live without it and I think that has a bit to do with the fact that I grew up around it.

When you were on ABC’s show The Rising Star you performed live to millions of people. We got goosebumps ourselves watching your powerful performance. What was going through your head while you were giving it your all on stage?
I was mostly just thinking: ‘everyone is staring at me, and I better not mess up’ because since it’s shot live, if you make a mistake it will be caught on camera and reported in the news and that was the most stressful thing for me. Performing for a live studio audience is weird, because when you play a live show everyone is there to see you and they know your music and they are into it, but for a studio audience, the energy is slow, the audience has to be quiet while we are shooting and everyone is sitting down, so they just sit and stare at you and it’s hard to tell if they’re enjoying it or not.

Dana Williams – Stay (Rising Star 2014 performance)

During your time on the show you were praised endlessly but also you were constantly being judged. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from the whole experience?
Well, there were some times where the criticism got to me. But at the end of the day you have to do what’s best for yourself. The biggest lesson I learned was that it’s important to connect with the audience (in this case….a camera). I learned a lot about my performance and how to improve upon that.

Give us your top three artists in todays scene that you’d want to work with.
Chance the Rapper, Spooky Black and Shakey Graves.

One reason why your songs are so popular is because real people can really relate to them. With your sound and the raw emotion you project in your lyrics, you manage to create this world that people already know. They get that feeling of ‘This song is about my life’ or even ‘I remember feeling that way, or being in that place.’ How does it feel knowing that you strike this chord in so many others?
It’s nice to know that I strike a chord with so many others. I write about my personal life experiences, finding love and then losing it, and I feel like love is something everyone can relate to. Every person loves. Even dogs love.

Dana Williams – Right Now

You’ve recently performed alongside rapper Freddie Gibbs at the 3rd Annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival. How did you and Freddie first meet, and how did you come to feature in his 2012 song The Hard?
I met Freddie through my cousin. He accompanied her to one of my first shows at a restaurant in West Hollywood, like two and a half years ago, and afterwards he said, “I like your vibe, let’s do a song together” and then we did! He pulled a few tracks for me, but the one that ended up being The Hard was the one that I think we both preferred.

Freddie Gibs – The Hard ft. Dana Williams

What would you say draws you in to this kind of real and gritty rap music… What resonates with you?
I’m not sure what draws me into any kind of music really. I just like good music. It doesn’t matter if it’s rap, country, blues, soul, classical, I am just drawn to good music and Freddie is a really talented rapper and that’s what draws me in.

We want to know what you have lined up for 2015?

I have some new videos and music lined up which I am very excited about! I have been writing new stuff, so more content then last year I would hope! And some potential collaborations 🙂

Finally, looking back over 2014, what would you say is the most fun you’ve had?
The most fun I’ve had is probably playing shows with Leighton and singing duets with her. I really appreciate her support, and I love performing my music for live audiences!

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Dana Williams chose our Sunday Sessions this week. Click here for the playlist!

Follow Dana Williams on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or visit her Website.


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Getting High Off Indies’ Fantastic Five

By | Featured, Music

This group needs little introduction because the music really speaks for itself. A beautiful 5-piece indie/pop band made in Norway and wowing audiences across the globe. You won’t want to overlook this Gem.

Norway’s Highasakite make an adventurous brand of indie pop that is full of contrasts. Their melodies and instrumentation are bold yet sometimes understated, the ebbing of one allowing the other to flourish; whether it’s otherworldly vocals or the dynamic combination of synthesizers, brass and percussion. Following on from numerous international festival appearances, a tour with London Grammar and the EP ‘In And Out Of Weeks’, the quintet released their US debut album, ‘Silent Treatment’ in February this year (Nº1 on the Norweigan charts).

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NPR music writes: “The song titles on their 2014 album Silent Treatment seem more like chapter headings in a crime novel.” This sounds pretty cool to us, but what’s your take on this review? Was this the type of impression intended?
I don’t think we intended it to be like that, but it is kind of cool. The music is written as music and the titles referring to the music, but I like the fact that people interpret the music and lyrics their own way!

Speaking of names, you chose an intriguing one for your debut album. How exactly did you come to calling it Silent Treatment?
It was the subject of a longer discussion and we had many thoughts about titles. But Silent Treatment refers a lot to the lyrics and mood of the album.

Highasakite – My Soldier

Exciting stuff happening at the minute, you are going to be officially performing back in the US as of November 4th, starting with New York. What’s the atmosphere like at the moment within the band? Also, have you developed any quirky must-dos before heading out on stage? (Be it a handshake, prayer, group hug or is it just prep, prep, prep and GO?)
We’re a bit tired right now, it’s been a busy year for us touring since January, but we’re so excited about going back to the US. It’s one of our absolute favourite spots to tour and New York is always amazing!
We have a small hand shakey thing we do just before we go on stage. Trond and I also have to brush our teeth before each show, it’s been a thing for 9 years now!

Have you noticed any differences in the audiences you perform to in your homeland of Norway versus audiences overseas?
Well, of course the Norwegian audience know us and our songs a lot better, but we’ve been really lucky with the audiences overseas. Especially in Australia and Asia. Japanese audiences are a lot more quiet and the American audiences are more direct with their response.

Can you tell us a bit about the creating process when composing an original track… Is there a main influence? Who does what?
Ingrid (vocals) writes the main parts of the songs and brings it to the band. Then we work together, bringing all of our influences into each song. It’s a lot of hard work being five individual people with a lot of ideas and opinions, but it’s also a really good period in which the band strengthens.

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What was it like touring alongside London Grammar earlier this year?
Touring with LG was amazing. Great people, great crew and great venues. It really opened a lot of doors for us and was great seeing LG every night for two weeks!

Do you have a particular show or performance so far that really stands out? If so, what was particularly memorable about this one?
There has been so many this year, but maybe our release show at Rockefeller in Oslo, the first show in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, and a couple of the shows at the LG. All of them stand out because of the audience, the venue and the vibe in the band.


Highasakite – Leaving No Traces (Live from Rockefeller, Oslo)

Okay, spill the beans, who’s the cheekiest in the group?
We’re not spilling beans 🙂

A lot of people can be found raving about Kristoffe’s amazing horn-playing. They want to know if it’s going to be used more in your future songs and performances. After watching a clip of your Tiny Desk Concert we can see what they’re referring to. So, more horn playing to come?
First off, thank you for the kind words. Second off, of course there will be more horn playing!

Highasakite – Tiny Desk Concert

The more we learn about your band, the more impressed we become. So tell us, collectively, how many instruments can you guys play?
Haha, well we all play a bit since we’re all jazz educated musicians. But let’s not count, let’s rather surprise people when more instruments appear on stage.

What’s the hardest part about all this traveling that you do? As well as the greatest part.
Hardest part is being a way from loved ones. That’s difficult, but a part of the job. The fun part is of course seeing new places, playing for new people, meeting new people and eating good food!

If you could pick one word to describe your sound, what would it be?
Rich.

Highasakite – Since Last Wednesday

Finally, we have found, the profound yet tingling sensation of music emitted by Highasakite, has in fact left us, the listener, feeling high as a kite. In the best way. What does it mean to you when you discover people are experiencing your sound in this way?
It means a lot to us. We’re just so happy that people experience things with our music and that they come to us and say it!

Highasakite chose our Sunday Sessions this week. Click here for the playlist!

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Purchase Highasakite’s Silent Treatment on:
Amazon
iTunes
Wimp

Follow Highasakite on:
Official Website
Twitter
Soundcloud
Facebook
Instagram
Google+
YouTube


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Happy Birthday Eminem!

By | Featured, Music

The widely considered global god of rap, Eminem, turns 42 today. To celebrate we have a playlist of his top 10 latest hits straight from his official YouTube Vevo channel.

Along with his extensive career in rapping, record producing, songwriting and acting, he’s also a dedicated father to now 18 year old Hailie and adopted daughters Whitney, 11 and Alaine, 20. (How time flies!) We all recall his poignant song Mockingbird which told the story of their struggle as a family, released in 2004 featuring his girls when they were just tots. Now, 10 years later and Eminem is going stronger than ever. As of June 2014, he has been deemed the best-selling hip-hop artist of all time, having sold 45,160,000 albums and 31,000,000 digital singles. He is the second best-selling male artist of the Nielsen Soundscan era, and the sixth best overall selling artist in the United States.

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A very happy birthday indeed to Marshall Bruce Mathers III, Eminem, and The Real Slim Shady!

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1.) Guts Over Fear – Eminem ft. Sia

This conquering collaboration with Australian singer Sia is from his upcoming compilation album Shady XV. The track was officially released to iTunes late August of 2014 after premiering in trailers for the film The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington. The album now has an official release date of November 28, 2014. What’s so inspiring about this track is the clear message in his lyrics that we can all take with us through any obstacle we face in life.

2.) Headlights – Eminem ft. Nate Ruess

Released February 5, 2014 as the fifth single on his eighth studio album The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Eminem collaborates with band member from Fun, Nate Ruess in this touching song. Through the lyrics and music video we see a rekindling of love between Eminem and his mother. Over the years we’ve experienced through his confessionary songs and true-to-life movies that their relationship was at best dysfunctional. This one could be classified as a tear-jerker if you’re not careful.

3.) The Monster – Eminem ft. Rihanna

This is the fourth time rap sensation Eminem and pop sensation Rihanna, come together to make music history. Released back in 2013 on October 29, the song relates to the singers coming to grips with their inner demons.

4.) Rap God – Eminem

Premiering on YouTube back in early October of 2013, it was released as the third single from his eighth studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
Unbelievably, or believably, Eminem managed to spit a total of 1,560 words on this track, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for ”Most Words in a Hit Single.” The video also won the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Editing.

5.) Survival – Eminem

First released as a pre-order bonus for the Call of Duty: Ghosts video game. The song is the second single from Eminem’s album The Marshall Mathers LP2 and debuted at N°17 on the US Billboard Hot 100 before swiftly moving up to N°16.
The chorus features vocals performed by Liz Rodrigues of the music group ”The New Royales”

6.) Berzerk – Eminem

This was the first single off the album The Marshall Mathers LP2. The video won the Outstanding Video Award at the Detroit Music Awards ceremony, 2014. Debuting at N°1 on the UK R&B charts and obtaining a whopping 362,000 downloads in just the first week after it’s release in the US.

7.) Space Bound – Eminem

Shooting back to 2010 when Space Bound was released as the 10th track on his album Recovery. The song has an atmosphere of sadness and loss of hope reflecting Eminem’s love life. The music video features Sasha Grey, a former pornographic actress who plays the part of his hypothetical girlfriend. His girlfriend betrays him, and this sparks the two sides of Eminem to unfold, one loving and sensitive, and the other violent and crazy.

8.) No Love – Eminem ft Lil Wayne

Sampling the song What Is Love by Haddaway and featuring gangster rapper Lil Wayne, it was an interesting combination of sounds by two of the hottest MCs in the game. Foreseeably well received by fans worldwide, the music video follows the theme of bullying, and how retaliation against hateful people comes about.

9.) Love The Way You Lie – Eminem ft. Rihanna

The original demo to this song was written and sung by singer-songwriter Skylar Grey. Eminem took it a step up when introducing his intense versus and then had Rihanna’s powerful voice on the chorus. With five grammy nominations and multiple awards in pretty much every major ceremony in the industry, it is no surprise that the video clip broke a YouTube record when released for Most Hits in One Day, being 6.6 million.

10.) Not Afraid – Eminem

Released as the lead single on his 2010 album Recovery, it won:
Best Rap Solo Performance at the 53rd Grammy Awards,
Best Male Video and Best Hip-Hop Video at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.
Best Hip-Hop Video at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards and
Outstanding National Single and Outstanding Video at the Detroit Music Awards.
If that’s not enough to prove what a great song this is, then I don’t know what to tell ya!

Honorable Mention: The Real Slim Shady – Eminem

This isn’t a recent hit, but we couldn’t resist!


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