Author Archives: Ash El Gamal

[TMN Exclusive Interview] A Conversation with Ásgeir at Treasure Island Music Festival

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Ásgeir
Dýrð í dauðaþögn

At this point, it’s far from a secret that Iceland produces some of the most uniquely talented musicians in the world. Acts like Sigur Ros, Bjork and, more recently, Of Monsters and Men have solidified the international awareness of Iceland’s magical music scene. Although each artist brings something vastly different to the table, there does seem to be a sort of ethereal, mythological nature that ties them all together.

In 2012, Icelandic folktronica artist Ásgeir emerged in his home country with his debut album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn, which broke the record for best-selling debut in Iceland surpassing some of his immensely successful predecessors. The ten-track project features Ásgeir’s phenomenal oft-falsetto Icelandic vocals over folky guitar and subtle electronic elements, most notably employed in the bouncy ”Leyndarmál” (later adopted in English as “King and Cross”). With his album owned by nearly 1 in 10 people in Iceland, Ásgeir took to spreading his music to a broader audience by releasing a fully English-translated version titled In the Silence earlier this year taking him around the world touring.

We had a chance to catch up with Ásgeir’s after his incredible set at this year’s Treasure Island Festival to discuss his musical background, home country and plans for the future. Give the conversation a read below and make sure to keep Ásgeir on your radar.

TMN: Tell us a bit about your first experiences with music and how you got started.

Ásgeir: I started playing guitar when I was about 6. My first guitar was a classical guitar and my parents are classically educated so I went to school pretty early playing classical guitar. Pretty soon after that, I started having an interest in writing songs. Then, I started listening to rock and grunge music. I eventually wanted to play electric guitar and started forming different bands. It pretty much started with my family who had a lot to do with encouraging me.

 TMN: What were some of the artists that you were listening to a lot growing up?

Ásgeir: I went through different periods. From 6 to 11, it was all Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica and that kind of stuff. At the same time, I was playing classical guitar and I didn’t really feel connected to the instrument until I grew up more at 13 or 14. At that time, I started listening to more folk artists. I got my first acoustic guitar with steel strings and that’s where I kind of found country music. Johnny Cash was one of my favorites and an Icelandic artist Mugison. Sigur Ros was always one of my favorites as well as Sufjan Stevens and Kelly Joe Phelps.

 TMN: Icelandic artists tend to have a very distinct, unified sound. How has that played into your music and why do you think that is?

Ásgeir: A lot has to do with just the music in Iceland and what we grow up listening to, which inspires us. I grew up in the northwest side of Iceland in a really isolated small town and I was always really close to my environment as well. I can’t really put my finger on what it is that connects us and makes the music how it is. But there’s definitely an Icelandic vibe and sound that comes from our unity. I think its just how small of a nation we are, how few people live there and everything like that.
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[Good Morning] Lion Babe – Treat Me Like Fire (Snakehips Remix)

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Lion Babe
Treat Me Like Fire (Snakehips Remix)

Snakehips have a unique capacity for suspending listeners in a perpetual state of summer. This morning, the UK production duo dropped some good vibes with their remix of Lion Babe‘s “Treat Me Like Fire.” This laid-back rendition adds some sunny guitar riffs, future-bounce elements and hip-hop percussion that, paired with the soulful vocals of the original and very brief cameos from Biggie Smalls and A Tribe Called Quest, make for the perfect song to wake up to. Check it and grab a free download here. Happy Friday, ninjas!

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[Hip-Hop] Chance the Rapper – No Better Blues

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Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment
No Better Blues

When Chance the Rapper speaks, or rather raps, people listen, and rightfully so. The Chi-town emcee is quickly approaching superstardom resting near the top of festival lineups and selling out shows around the country on a grueling tour schedule. In the last few months, Chance’s releases have been scarce but of an incredibly high creative caliber including a star-studded cover of the Arthur theme song and the bright, piano-laden “Tap Dance.” Today, Chance gives out another freebie for his fans and, as expected, its an unconventional, original cut.

“No Better Blues” takes the tempo, and Chance’s energy, down a notch, reminiscent of the track “Acid Rain,” with a soft piano background and minimal percussion. Lyrically, Chance builds a list of things he hates but, per usual, not in a straight-forward fashion as he creates commentary through conflicting views. Give this one a listen and grab a free download above.

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60+ Songs to Prepare for Treasure Island Music Festival in SF, 10/18-19 [Event Preview + Playlist]

timf2014-sfweekly-fullpgLineups for major music festivals often boast 100+ artists, which although in theory is a great concept, can end up being overwhelming and frustrating when you realize the impossibility of seeing every act on the bill. San Francisco’s Treasure Island Music Festival, a collaboration between Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, provides one of the few exceptions to this conundrum electing to go with fewer artists and alternating sets at only two stages. Having attended last year, we found this to be a genius, albeit seemingly obvious, solution making the experience far more relaxed for festival-goers without sacrificing any quality in the music. Aside from the unique arrangement, the backdrop of Treasure Island overlooks both the Bay and Golden Gate bridges and has one of the more stunning sunsets the Bay Area has to offer. For anyone who will be attending this year, we also highly recommend checking out the non-stop Silent Disco stage courtesy Silent Frisco.

To help you all prepare for what should be an amazing weekend of music, we’ve put together a massive playlist including every single artist on the TIMF lineup because, with no overlapping sets, you will actually have the opportunity to see them all. Whether you’ve already got your ticket, are still on the fence or can’t make it this year, we hope this serves as a fun, introduction to a dynamic collection of musicians. One and two-day passes for Treasure Island Music Festival are still available so, if you like what you hear below, grab your tickets HERE.

Day 1: 

Painted PalmsNoon @ Bridge Stage. 

Sounds like: San Francisco-based, psychedelic pop.

Painted Palms
Anna
Painted Palms
Here It Comes

Tobacco (of Black Moth Super Rainbow), 12:40PM @ Tunnel Stage.

Sounds like: In his own words, “I want to make you feel paranoid in a good way.”

Tobacco
Self Tanner
Black Moth Super Rainbow
Gangs in the Garden

ratking1

MUST-SEE: Ratking1:10PM @ Bridge. 

Sounds like: Gritty, high energy New York hip-hop.

Ratking
So It Goes
Ratking
Pretty Picture
Phantogram
Fall in Love (RATKING Falling Off Remix)
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[Hip-Hop] Rome Fortune – Small VVorld (Album)

Small VVorld

Atlanta has long been home to some of hip-hop’s most unique characters dating back to Outkast‘s emergence, which not only opened the doors for southern rap in the mainstream, but also gave ATL emcees confidence to be as epically strange as they are today. Over the last year we’ve seen artists from Young Thug to Raury rise to prominence and their vastly different styles are a true testament to the diversity of creative minds coming out of the area. In the midst of countless burgeoning Atlanta artists, Rome Fortune has managed to stand out carving out a multi-faceted sound all his own.

After a series of impressive releases, Fortune’s debut project premiered on Billboard yesterday and it’s a must listen for hip-hop fans looking for music that pushes the genre forward. Small VVorld has a distinct abstract feel to it as Rome Fortune delivers his laid-back vocals over a truly impressive range of instrumentals. Aside from far-out production courtesy a few of the South’s many talented beat makers, Fortune teams up with experimental, electronic producers Four Tet and Bassnectar displaying an aptitude for songwriting over dynamic production. Although the emcee features are light, his tracks with oft-collaborator OG Maco display a clear chemistry and the cut “FriendsMaybe” with iLoveMakonnen is one of the most fun, memorable moments of the project.

In some ways, Fortune’s steez on the microphone over ethereal production brings to mind the “cloud rap” popularized by Bay Area acts like Main Attrakionz, while maintaining Atlanta’s trap influences and developing a compelling narrative. The result is one of the most progressive, creative rap projects of the year that we would describe in short as cloud-trap rap. Stream the whole project, and grab the free download, below.

DOWNLOAD: Rome Fortune – Small VVorld

Rome Fortune
The Experiment feat. OG Maco (Prod By Cubby)
Rome Fortune
4 Seasons feat. OG Maco (Prod By Dizzle)
Rome Fortune
Why (Prod By Pat Lukens)
Rome Fortune
5 second RULE (Prod By SuicideYear)
Rome Fortune
Workin Gal (Interlude) (Prod By Lava Dome)
Rome Fortune
Workin Gal (Prod by SuicideYear)
Rome Fortune
FriendsMaybe (Feat. ILOVEMAKONNEN) (Prod. By Money Karlo)
Rome Fortune
No Evidence (Demo Prod By Blood Diamonds)
Rome Fortune
Flashback (Prod By Bassnectar)
Rome Fortune
Suit Case feat. OG Maco (Prod By honeycoma x SuicideYear)
Rome Fortune
BONUS: One Time For (prod Four Tet)

 

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[Hip-Hop] Chaz French – Happy Belated (EP)

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On the intro track of his debut EP, DMV native Chaz French tells the story of his temporary homelessness, struggles with alcohol and troubled youth through his experience in a nearly fatal car accident. It’s a hell of a way to introduce yourself to an audience, but it also sets the tone for Happy Belated, one of the most honest, personal hip-hop projects we’ve heard in a long time. French paints a pretty vivid picture of himself with his music employing a verbal dexterity and variety matched by few emcees over strong, diverse soundscapes. More impressive than his savvy on the mic, though, is the cohesiveness of his EP taking the listener through life’s up and downs.

Happy Belated has a distinct trajectory almost divided into three acts. “Intro” leads into the downtempo, introspective “Watcha Know” before French transitions, through the slightly more upbeat “YNN,” into a booming trap section seemingly capturing the joys and struggles of his demons. Exiting the highest energy portion of the tape, Chaz calls on fellow DMV emcee and one of our favorites, GoldLink, for the memorable “LMGLML” and the two have a chemistry that is extremely promising for future collaboration. The tone of the final few songs come out as overwhelmingly positive considering the pain expressed prior tying together with “Before I Die,” about redemption and getting himself together for his people.

Although its vastly different musically, Happy Belated has the autobiographical, coming-of-age feel that Kendrick Lamar‘s Good Kid m.A.A.d City had in portraying what its like to grow up through adversity. Through a broad range of expression, Chaz French is able to provide a candid, sincere depiction of himself in a way that is sympathetic, rough around the edges and inherently human. Listen to a few of our favorites from the mixtape and grab a free download of this evocative project below.

Download: Chaz French – Happy Belated

Chaz French
Intro (prod. by Super Miles)

Chaz French
YNN (prod. by Kal Banx)

Chaz French
Erryday Stuntin ft. Eddie Vanz (prod. by Hovey Benjamin)

Chaz French
LMGLML ft. Goldlink (prod. by Kris Minor)

Chaz French
Primavera  ft. Eddie Vanz (prod. by Hovey Benjamin)

Chaz French
Before I Die (prod. by Super Miles)
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[Experimental Electronic] Mr. Carmack – Drugs (EP)

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Mr Carmack
Rappers Rapping Rap
Mr. Carmack
Kick It Up
Rich Homie Quan feat. Young Thug
Get TF Out My Face (Mr. Carmack Remix)
Mr. Carmack  
Spring Shit Ft. Jacuzzi

Just about anyone who surfs Soundcloud regularly is familiar with the talented Soulection producer Mr. Carmack. His unique production style is all over the place in the best way possible drawing from all spectrums of electronic sounds and beyond. Carmack releases tunes in a raw, and rare, fashion almost in a stream of conscious with informal titles that give a glimpse into his creativity and allow his fans to feel a unique connection to his musical personality.

At midnight a day ago, Carmack let loose a long-anticipated 17-track EP titled Drugs featuring many releases he had already shared on his SC stream, or during live sets, along with some brand new collaborations and remixes. Included in the project are far-out takes on hits like Future and Pharrell‘s “Move that Dope,” Major Lazer‘s “Aerosol Can” and Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan‘s “Get TF Out My Face” along with a stellar original collaboration with fellow up ‘n comer Jacuzzi. The Drugs EP highlights Carmack’s wonderfully strange quirks and makes for a high energy, often 808-backed, listen fitting for a dance part of any size. You can stream a few of our favorites above, but head over to his Bandcamp to stream the whole project and grab a copy at any price (including free) that you’d like.

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