Author Archives: Ash El Gamal

Hayden James On His Musical Roots, Finding His Voice and Upcoming Releases [TMN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]


Hayden James
Something About You

For the first piece of exclusive content in Hayden James’ TMN artist residency, we’ve got an interview with the talented Australian artist! Peep the conversation below where Hayden discusses his musical roots, his success thus far and what he’s got in the works. If you’re not yet familiar with Hayden James give our introduction post a read and enjoy some of his fantastic tunes through out this piece. 

TMN: What was your first musical memory?

Hayden James: My mum playing the guitar. She would play Spanish style flamenco stuff. That and my parents listening to Lionel Richie records.

TMN: When and how did you first start getting into making music?

Hayden James: I started writing a few years ago. I used to DJ a lot so all the stuff I used to write was skewed towards playing in clubs I guess, as opposed to now where I’m writing more songs to be played whenever, wherever.

TMN: Your original music has such a distinct groove and emotion to it—can you talk a bit about some of the artists and sounds that you were really into when creating your debut EP?

Hayden James: Thank you! It’s really important that my music has that emotional element / connection with people. Artists that give that kind of feeling to me is Daft Punk, James Blake, Jai Paul, Odesza to name a few.

TMN: Did singing come around the same time as producing for you or was that a bit later?

Hayden James: It was pretty much the same time. I would write these songs and didn’t really know any singers, so I just sang on them myself as demos. From there I started to manipulate / pitch them. I never intended to sing really, but it has worked out so far ;).

TMN: So many artists need to flood the market with a slew of releases to get noticed but you’ve amassed a large following on the backs of a few quality releases. How meaningful is it for you to have such an avid fan base at this stage of your career?

Hayden James: Yeah it’s so crazy. I’ve only released 2 singles (along side an EP) to date. It’s really amazing to be able to tour so many places around the world with the music i’ve released so far.

Can’t wait to release more music really soon! Continue reading

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[TMN Exclusive Interview] The Underachievers: On the Road to Enlightenment

Evermore_ The Art of Duality
The Underachievers
Chasing Faith

In today’s fast-paced society, emcees have the power to play the role of modern-day philosophers, imparting beliefs and morals to followers through their own life experiences. While that connection proves little more than an afterthought in most cases, Brooklyn hip-hop duo The Underachievers approach their music with a distinct awareness for the message behind it–one that reflects their soul-searching and marked spirituality. Hitting the scene in 2013 with their debut mixtape, Indigoism, AK and Issa Gold impressed hip-hop heads with their quick-hitting lyricism all the while coating their rhymes in every facet of psychedelia, both lyrically and sonically.

Since that first project, The Underachievers have only gotten more ambitious displaying an ability to convey their musings equally effectively over head-banging and laid-back soundscapes. Their latest album, Evermore: The Art of Duality, sees them bringing both sides together for a culmination of the sounds explored in their catalogue thus far. As its name suggests, the project explores themes of dualism and inner-turmoil featuring some of The Underachievers’ most philosophically poignant lyricism yet. Aside from being split into two distinct parts, a chilled-out, thoughtful A-side and a more intense, mischievous B-side, feelings of contrast are deeply embedded within each song allowing the duo to explore duality on a multitude of levels.

We had a chance to catch up with Issa Gold about putting together a hip-hop concept album, the philosophy behind their music and the duo’s broader aspirations. Check the interview below and grab a copy of Evermore: The Art of Duality here.

TMN: How did you first get into rapping, and did you guys get into it together, or separately?

Issa: Well, AK started rapping at the age of 12 or 13, so he’d been in it for like 11 years and I started rapping around late 2011. He was the influence for me becoming a rapper. Originally, he was rapping and I was studying the Internet and figuring out ways you can blow up instantaneously using it. So I went to AK and I was like “Yo, I’ll be your manager, because I have this whole vision for how you can become famous.” At the same time, I was working on a clothing line to push this whole Indigo message that I had. After “managing” him for a week, I was in the studio with him just sitting there one day and I was like, “I’ll write a rap”–it was almost a joke at the time. It’s a song that ended up on Indigoism. It’s funny because that’s the reason that song has two verses from AK because I wasn’t even supposed to be on it. So, people started to motivate me like, “You should just rap. You should keep doing it.”

The next song we made was “The Mahdi” which is probably one of our biggest songs. AK was working with a producer at the time too, and the producer who made that beat was really big on us making more music together. So, I pretty much took my Indigo dream and the whole plan I had for attacking the Internet into it. AK was “AK The Underachiever” at the time and he was like yeah you can fucking join The Underachievers, and he took me under his wing. We pretty much blended the two movements of his being a musician and me having my own vision–and we were already on the same wavelength in terms of the message in the music. That’s how it really started–it was experiment-that-worked type shit.

TMN: How did you and AK first meet? 

Issa: With AK, it’s kind of funny how we met.

When I was younger, psychedelics weren’t as cool, especially in the inner city. Being black in the hood, doing psychedelics was pretty much the equivalent of doing heroine. Back then, me and my friend Juice (of Flatbush Zombies) were super outcasts in a sense because we did psychedelics and people didn’t understand.
So, one day I meet this kid named Jacob, random kid, we’re buying weed from the same drug dealer. We started talking, it turns out this kid does psychedelics. That’s the problem when you find someone who does psychedelics it’s like, “Oh, we’re family.” So he takes me to AK’s crib the next day, and AK is some rapper dude from the hood. Juice, Jacob and I are talking about psychedelics and AK just walks in the room and he’s like, “Yo I wanna try ’em.” We look at him like, “What the fuck, no way does this dude from the hood want to try psychedelics” and our friendship started from there.  Continue reading

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Walking Shapes – Feel Good (Jonas LR Remix) [TMN Premiere]

Walking Shapes
Feel Good (Jonas LR Remix)

When we first consume new material, there’s endless subjectivity that impacts our reaction from personal taste to current mood but, regardless of reason, every week there’s always one or two tracks that get the repeat treatment. Such has been the case with our latest premiere, a remix that we’ve only gotten more excited to share after a couple days of constant listening.

Walking Shapes“Feel Good” was easily one of the catchiest tunes on their acclaimed debut album, Take Come On, proving true to its name–a fantastically cheery indie electronic jam. As part of a 3-track remix EP for the song, the Brooklyn quintet enlisted an unlikely up ‘n comer out of Leeds, Jonas LR, to take on the addicting tune.

The resulting re-imagination takes the song from a summery day to a hazy warehouse party. Jonas LR pairs the original’s near-falsetto vocals with a distinct UK Garage-tinted backdrop creating a few moments during the intro in which lead-singer Nathaniel Hoho’s voice resembles that of Zhu. As the track progresses, though, the listener is continually pulled in by an evolving sound scape that takes advantage of the track’s electronic melodies all the while completely changing the context that surround them. Quick, stuttering percussion and various 8-bit sounds bring a playfulness that, despite the complete make over, in some ways matches the original.

Even though it possesses elements of various emerging styles, this one proves enticing largely because it’s not quite like anything we’ve heard before. If you’re dig this as much as us, definitely check out Jonas LR’s Soundcloud page where he’s already got a few gems posted. The “Feel Good” remixes EP is out now–you can grab a copy here. Also, make sure to check out Walking Shapes at one of their upcoming tour dates with Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes, listed below.  Continue reading

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Introducing our Next Resident Artist — Hayden James


In an age of constant hype and endless musical evolution, the task of distinguishing artists with true longevity from those with fleeting attachments to current trends proves nearly impossible. As music curators, and hopefully useful filters for an overwhelming influx of content, it tends to fall in our hands to predict the potential for this sort of transcendence amongst new producers and musicians often based off a single project, or even song.

When we first heard Australian producer/songwriter Hayden James‘ debut single “Permission to Love” over two years ago, we had a feeling the up ‘n comer was onto something special. The combination of his own soulful vocals with house-leaning, groove-driven production made for an irresistible sound–an emotional approach that has only become more crucial in contemporary electronic music since that time. Even today, “Permission to Love” remains in heavy rotation for the TMN Staff–a rarity with the fast-paced nature of music these days. Simply put, it’s electronic music that compels you to feel as much as it does to dance.

James’ subsequent self-titled EP, released on Australian powerhouse Future Classic, helped solidify that seductive style but it wasn’t until his hit single “Something About You,” which featured vocal accompaniment from the talented George Maple, that James truly cemented his spot in the mainstream. Aside from making its way into just about every publications’ best of 2014 lists, and rightfully so, the addictive jam could be heard in DJ sets in every corner of the world garnering support from artists across genres. Fresh off the heels of millions of Soundcloud plays and countless co-signs, James hit the road continuing to release impressive, versatile remixes, but also proving his abilities as a DJ and performer–playing sets worldwide including an appearance at Coachella this year.

With a distinguished sound that appeals to fans outside of just electronic music, a multitude of talents and the Future Classic crew behind him, Hayden James undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him as our Resident Artist. Stay tuned to TMN for the next month as we’ll be bringing you exclusive content from one of our favorite up ‘n coming producers. In the meantime, enjoy some tuneage from Hayden James below.

Hayden James
Permission To Love
Hayden James
No Time
Hayden James
Something About You
Say My Name (feat. Zyra) (Hayden James Remix)
Sundream (Hayden James Remix)
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[Hip-Hop] Big Grams (Phantogram x Big Boi) – Fell In The Sun

Big Grams - EP
Big Grams
Fell In The Sun

When we interviewed Phantogram a couple years back, one of the most exciting points of conversation was their rumored EP with Outkast‘s Big Boi, who they’d already worked with a few times with great success at that point. As of late, both have been sharing images from the studio bringing the hype to an all-time high for the long-anticipated project. Today, we get the first single from the Big Grams EP and it’s the perfect track to round out the summer.

With Josh Carter’s grandiose, Dilla-esque production and Sarah Barthel’s soaring pop vocals driving the vibe, Big Boi delivers perfect bars to match Phantogram’s enormous sound with his one-of-a-kind ATLien flow. “Fell in the Sun” truly embodies their irresistible collision of styles. Soak it in above–the Big Grams EP drops on September 25th and can be pre-ordered here.

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[Electronic] Tame Impala – Let It Happen (Soulwax Remix)

Tame Impala
Let It Happen (Soulwax Remix)

Belgian electro-rockers Soulwax established themselves as legends in electronic music over ten years ago just as the genre hit its stride in the mainstream. As of late, though, there have been scarce sitings of the pioneers–the most recent appearance being their fantastic remix of Jungle‘s “Julia.” It comes as little surprise that Tame Impala‘s phenomenal latest album Currents catalyzed new material from the trio who released a rendition of the hit single “Let it Happen” a couple days ago.

Initially, Soulwax draw the listener in with an arpeggiated backdrop keeping Kevin Parker’s vocals in-tact before dropping in a groovy bass line with steady, tribal-leaning percussion to match. As the song hits the 4-minute mark, the song’s interlude and distinct guitar riff perfectly accompany the rhythmic backdrop which takes over the remainder while interweaving various elements of the original. Running over 9-minutes, it’s the type of track that requires patience that’s well worth it–continually growing in appeal with every listen. There seem to be some hints on their social media pages and hopefully the inspiration Soulwax has found in these recent tracks results in some new original music. In the meantime, let this one sink in.

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[Chill] Hundred Waters – Show Me Love (Big Wild Remix)

Hundred Waters
Show Me Love (Big Wild Remix)

Ever since we were introduced to Big Wild, he’s continued to impress with his fearlessness to explore different soundscapes and styles. As he’s continued to rise, gaining fans at an unprecedented rate and touring with both Odesza and GriZ, his appetite for musical experimentation only seems to have grown–staying true to his moniker. His latest remix dropped a little over a week ago and marks his third chart-topping Hype M track. Unexpectedly taking on Hundred Waters‘ heart-warming acapella track “Show Me Love,” Big Wild proves his versatility keeping the relaxing vibe with an ambient backdrop and incredible usage of the vocal sample. Adding to that aura, Big Wild introduces slow-paced percussion and soaring backing synths that bolster, rather than completely change, the original’s allure.

Get lost in this beauty and grab a free download above. Also, make sure to catch Big Wild on his world tour with Odesza–dates here.

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