[TMN Exclusive Interview] Chaz French talks Honesty in Hip-Hop, Inspiration and Overcoming Adversity

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Chaz French
Intro (prod. by Super Miles)

Authenticity has always played a particularly important role in hip-hop music for a variety of reasons. As an art form, rapping allows for condensed, concise and detailed lyrical expression often times putting artists in a position to reveal the depths of their personality or, in some cases, fabricate one altogether. The former approach lends itself to longevity and, maybe equally importantly, to differentiation because at the end of the day if an artist is truly being them self, no one can replicate the life experiences expressed through the music–offering a genuine connection with and impact on the fans.

Early last month, we came across Happy Belated, the debut EP from DMV emcee Chaz French. From start to finish, it may be one of the most honest records we’ve ever heard and, for Chaz, has really proven the perfect way to connect with, and continue to expand, his rapidly growing fan base. At only 23, he has already gone through a plethora of relatable life experiences from spending time homeless to having his first child to grappling with his inner demons and every last ounce of it is poured out in his music. Through its broad range of emotions and a pronounced duality, Happy Belated is not only meaningful but also powerful in its ability to inspire listeners to stay true to themselves, embrace their flaws and fuel success through adversity.

We had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Chaz French in-depth about a variety of topics ranging from his relationship with fellow rising star GoldLink to inspirations to religion and, just as we expected, he kept it 100% real. Read this deeply personal conversation and grab a free download of Happy Belated below.

Download: Chaz French – Happy Belated

TMN: You just came off tour with GoldLink in his supporting role for SBTRKT. How quickly did that all come together?

Chaz French: Me and GoldLink are like brothers. So, a lot of the tour shit that happened with us was organic. He’s always trying to set me up. We’ve got another record that we did on his now project that I don’t think I can speak on but we performed that record in his set. And it just escalated from there so once the SBTRKT tour happened, it was like, “Come on brother.” I did a couple dates. It was fun.

TMN: I know that you grew up on Gospel music around the house. When did you first get introduced to hip-hop?

Chaz: I always looked at music videos and stuff but really was just listening to hip-hop because that’s what everyone else was doing.

One day, I was watching MTV or BET and I saw the Kanye “All Falls Down” video and I was like “Woah, who is that?” I knew Kanye West, but that song did a lot for me. It was just so honest. That was the first artist that really got to me. Then, when I first heard Kid Cudi, I was like “Oh my god, this is so next level.” Not even the fact that you don’t know if he’s a rapper or a singer, or even just his all aesthetic. But I’m just really into honesty and it was the whole honest music thing. Those two really did it.
And of course, old Lil Wayne like Da Drought 3. Then, when I moved to Texas, I gravitated to the whole down south, chopped & screwed movement. It was just so dope to see as far as unity and their whole movement.

TMN: When did you first start writing raps?

Chaz: I was real young. I started writing raps just as a release. It started out as boredom. I was alway on punishment, I was always in trouble as a younger Chaz French. So, I would just be bored and always in my room. I did a talent show in 9th grade and the reaction was great. I was like, “I could take this, foreal.” Then, I started going through actual things—life hit me. I wasn’t always this honest rapper, this open guy. When life finally hit me, which was around 17 or 18, I feel like that’s when I grew more as a person, but I became a better artist as well. And I didn’t even know it. The bullshit I went through when I was 17,18,19, I didn’t know it was bettering me for now. Continue reading

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[TMN Exclusive Interview] Giraffage on his New EP, Musical Inspirations and The Based God

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San Francisco producer Charlie Yin, aka Giraffagepaints a radiant, colorful picture through his music. As a true student of R&B (seriously, he remixed The-Dream‘s Love/Hate album in its entirety), he has crafted an experimental electronic sound with the perfect sensibility towards the hits of the 2000s. His latest EP, No Reason, has a notable depth and cohesion that feels playful and supremely soothing, yet fully dance-floor ready. With its lush melodies and sonic plot twists, the project awakens an encompassing range of emotions and senses making for more than just an auditory experience. In a way, the music feels like a physical place with its ability to transport the listener to a whole new dimension–something we all need some times.

We were lucky enough to pick Charlie’s brain with a few questions about his new project, musical inspirations and dream collaborations among other topics. Enjoy this fun conversation and stream his phenomenal EP below. No Reason is out now via the always on-point Fool’s Gold Records and is available for purchase via iTunes. Giraffage is also in the midst of an international tour–check his upcoming dates here

Giraffage
Hello

TMN: When did you first start making music? And was there a particular album, song or artist who really inspired you at that time? 

Giraffage: I started making music near the beginning of high school. At the time, I was really into pop-punk and technical math rock stuff.

TMN: One of your original monikers was Robot Science. Do you see that as an alter-ego (like Caribou v. Daphni) or was that just the original iteration of Giraffage? 

Giraffage: I saw that as a learning experience more than an alter-ego, a lot of songs were just so unpolished and poorly mixed. However it did help me learn the ins and outs of releasing songs to an audience. Robot Science still has a special place in my heart.
Giraffage
Tell Me

TMN: The prevalence of soul & 90s-early 2000s R&B in the current electronic music landscape across sub-genres is hard to ignore. Both more broadly and for yourself, what is it about those eras of music that you think has brought them back to the forefront?

Giraffage: I think a lot of big producers nowadays were growing up listening to that era of 2000s r&b. As a result, the influence definitely carried through. For me personally, even though I love pop music nowadays, I think pop music back then had a lot more catchy hooks and overall more clever songwriting and technicality to it. People are starting to appreciate musicianship and that kind of stuff more than ever these days.
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[TMN Exclusive Interview] Talking G-House, Touring and Dirtybird with Shiba San

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The Key Ft Kelis (Shiba San Remix)

House music, which far outdates EDM as a genre, has a pretty fascinating history continuing to redefine and segment itself with each new generation of music. Withstanding the test of time effortlessly, House music today maintains relevancy by sticking to its core vision–keeping a dance floor steady grooving all night. Few artists represent that spirit better than Parisian DJ/producer, Shiba San, an emerging force partially responsible for the prevalence of the hip-hop influenced subgenre, G-House. Building each song around an enormous bassline, Shiba truly engineers for the club making his live sets infectiously danceable, often outperforming headliners at major festivals. Casual fans may know him best for his addicting hit single, “Okay,” which found its way into the sets of DJs literally in every corner of the world, but Shiba has also built a dedicated following on his Soundcloud almost purely through the posting of his flawless sets, which include endless unreleased originals and remixes. As of late, though, he’s been unleashing full versions of these potent tracks as he prepare to release an EP next year.

We had a chance to catch up with Lord Shiba, as we like to call him, about his inspirations, favorite places to perform and his future plans with newly joined label Dirtybird Records. Check out the interview below and enjoy some of Shiba’s gems, including his most recent remix above, through out the article. If you have a chance to catch him live (upcoming dates here), we’d highly recommend copping a ticket and bringing all the turn-up available.

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 I Remember (Shiba San remix)

TMN: First of all, thanks so much for taking to time to answer some questions! How’s the road life treating you?

Shiba San: Tough!!!!! It’s obviously nice to travel all over the world, meet new people and discover new music but I’m not getting a lot of sleep!

TMN: What is your first musical memory?

SS: Classical Piano.

TMN: You started DJing at a pretty young age in Paris. At that time, what kind of music were you spinning and how did coming up in that unique scene shape your sound?

SS: I started with Chicago House, then got into Hip Hop. I was nuts about scratching.

TMN: Artists such as yourself, Amine Edge & Dance are really bringing G-House to the masses. For those not as familiar, how would you describe the sound you guys are developing? And what is your relationship like with the Cuff artists?

SS: Amine Edge & Dance invented G-House. I was interested because the mix of hip hop with Chicago house sounds was getting me back to my roots/first love. I don’t really know the other artists from Cuff, I only released one EP on Cuff. Amine Edge & Dance are great people, they are friends, I love what they do and the way they are.

Shiba San
West Side Connexion (2014 Remake)

TMN: As a fan of both genres, I always love to see the ways hip-hop production styles trickle into electronic music whether it be in dubstep, trap or, in your case, G-House. Who are some hip-hop producers and artists, past and present, that have been particularly influential in your sound?

SS: I’m not sure they influenced me but DJ Premier and Pete Rock are my all time favorites. But I would say that DJ Mustard is the closest to the G-House sound.

TMN: On a similar note, if you had an opportunity to do a full project with a contemporary emcee or hip-hop producer, who would it be?

SS: Drake, Jay Z or Rick Ross.

Shiba San
Okay (Preview)

TMN: I’m sure you get a question about “Okay” in just about every interview, but it really does a great job of capturing your sound with its fat bass line and minimalistic big-house sound. What is your approach when you sit down to create a track?

SS: I don’t have a particular approach. I basically turn on the computer and play what goes through my mind. Sometimes it’s cool, sometimes it’s not. I make it rest for 2 days, if I find it interesting I keep it, if not I throw it away.

TMN: “Okay” dropped as part of the Dirtybird BBQ compilation tape. What’s your relationship like with the Dirtybird team and how did it come about?

SS: I met Claude (Von Stroke) in Paris when “OKAY” was already #1, it consolidated our relationship (laughs). I met the other artists from Dirtybird at the Hard Day 0f the Dead Festival. It was great, I’m a fan of most of them. Justin Martin is an influence for me. He came to the party in SF when I was playing, it was really special. I love this label and the artists from the label. I’m very proud to be part of it.
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[TMN Resident Artist] Fei-Fei talks about her music history, her debut album, and why her music is a lone wolf

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This month we have the wonderful electronic artist Fei-Fei taking over the Music Ninja website. She is one amazing musician and we are ecstatic to have her as the resident artist. I got a chance to sit down with her and talk a little about her music history, her current music endeavors, and what we can look forward to from her in the New Year.

TMN: Fei-Fei! Hey my dear First off, thank you so much for taking time to chat with us today!

FF: Thanks so much for having me!

TMN: Let’s take it back a bit here, talk to us a bit about musical background. Did you grow up in a musical household? Were either of your parents involved in anything musical? Siblings? You? Play in the school band or sing in any choirs?

FF: Yes music all day everyday. My Dad was a classical pianist, also played clarinet and oboe. My Mom used to be in the Chinese opera back in China. I tried suziki violin when I was 4 and hated it. Then few years later – I picked up classical piano and played for over 13 years. In grade school I was in the choir.

TMN: Who were some of your favorite artists to listen to back in middle school and high school? I feel a lot of kids really start to understand the music they like, or think is “cool”, when they are in middle school. College age is really where people find a taste. Tell us about your musical progression from middle school to college age.

FF: Everything! A ton of alternative, rnb and hip hop. Garbage, Nirvana, Mobb Deep, Smashing Pumpkins, NIN, Beastie Boys, Liz Phair, Jodeci, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Biggie, Tupac – and of course Wu-Tang.

TMN: Now when did you yourself start experimenting with electronic music? Tell us about the first time and what that felt like for you.

FF: I was at a friend’s house party and this amazing music was playing that I’ve never heard before. It was John Acquaviva & Richie Hawtins X-Mix-3 CD. After that I started going to underground parties by myself and just absolutely lost it. I decided at the first undeground I went to I had to be the person creating the music.

TMN: Now let’s talk a little bit about your sound, I mean I call your music electronic but it is really so much more than that. You have the ability to touch on so many genres and even non-genres. If you were to describe your own music to someone, how would you describe it?

FF: A crazy journey. All the ups, the downs and everything in between.

TMN: Where has been your favorite place to perform thus far? City and venue, and if they are different from another that’s fine.

FF: Its really hard to choose! Every place is different. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a 50k festival or an intimate 100 person club, it’s all about the vibe. Recently I played at 1015 SF with Purity Ring, Webster Hall (I love NYC), and Detroit always brings a dope underground vibe. Outside the states I’ve had a ton of fun in the UK – Nass Festival and Croatia – it was a super dirty warehouse by the ocean. And of course my own Feided parties in DTLA @ The Lash definitely go the hardest!

TMN: You have done some amazing remixes of some really great songs, for example your Banks remix, kind of obsessed with it. What do you listen for when you are considering doing a remix of someone’s work?

FF: I have to love the tune.

TMN: Now, this has kind of been a huge year from you, and everyone is taking notice. We have to say congratulations on the release of your debut album ‘Pretty Girls Don’t Hallucinate’, last time I looked it is already #15 on iTunes which is amazing. Talk to us about this album, what went into it, and how you feel putting it out there.

FF: It’s been so unreal. We hit #13 on the charts and was all over the iTunes front page with so many artists I look up to. I can’t even begin to describe how overwhelmed with the response so far. Everyday I think I’m going to wake up from this amazing dream. I can’t believe all the hard work is finally becoming a reality and it’s out! I’ve been a nervous mess the past month and especially the night before it dropped. Believe it or not I wasn’t even going to release any of it. I was going through some weird personal stuff in life and needed to get the emotions out – it was music I made for myself. It wasn’t until recently that I decided it was time to show the world a different side of me and see all the things I saw in my heard, all the emotions I went on during this amazing journey. The good, bad, wild and weird. It’s made me who I am today and I’m not afraid to show it.So this album is for everyone – all my friends, fans, my supporters and my haters. Everyone that’s ever come to a show, supported my music, taken a shot with me or been there for me in any way shape or form. Thank you for always believing in me.A big shoutout to everyone who’s worked with me on this project – you know who you are!

TMN: I can openly say, electronic music and dj-ing is a very male dominated industry. As a woman, talk to me about that and how that is for you. Also, what do you hope might come from more women in the industry and what would you say to up-and-coming female producers?

FF: I hate talking about it but it’s so inherent in our society as a whole. I say it over and over again, I’d rather be someone’s fave artist then someone’s fave female artist. Just making the distinction is extremely backwards and so many people don’t realize it. You don’t go around saying he’s my fav male singer or male lawyer etc. And I definitely don’t want to be treated any differently because I happen to be a woman. I avoid female themed branded events, stages, situations because that automatically separates the genders and works against what we’re trying to overcome. It’s not
about highlighting females it’s about gender equality and that affects both males and females. There are so many amazing and talented women paving their own paths right in the industry and that’s a good sign. Some are more vocal then the other, but my personally I like to keep my head down, do my own thing and be a role model for everyone – guys and girls. Wake up everyone. Talent is genderless. Advice for the ladies and the gents – you have to want it real bad and work super hard to earn your keep and overturn those stereotypes!

TMN: Talk to us about the upcoming year, which is quickly approaching, and what we can look for in 2015 from you?

FF: Promoting the album, tour and everything in between – it’s an ongoing process. It’s not like once the album dops – the work is done. I also have so many projects in the pipeline, but it’s definitely way too early to talk about that.

TMN: Fei it wouldn’t be an interview without a few fun questions for here we go, what is your favorite color lip-gloss?

FF: I’m so not a girly girl but…Clear shimmer with a hint of pink.

TMN: What is your favorite thing to mow down on? If no one is watching, name one food and/or meal that you go to town on.

FF: My Mom’s homemade dumplings at her restaurant – Dumpling Haus in my hometown. I won’t eat dumpling anywhere else because it just doesn’t even come close. But I’ll do that with or without people watching. I like to eat and I don’t care who knows it.

TMN: If you had to trade places with one person for a day, any person, female, male, who would it be and why?

FF: I wouldn’t dream of subjecting anyone else to the things that go on in my head.

TMN: Winter is quickly approaching, if you were stuck in the artic tundra and could only listen to one musical artist/group on repeat for a week straight, who would it be?

FF: Lately I’ve been OD’ing a lot on Caribou. Unreal that I’ve been sharing the charts with these guys and so many other artists that inspire me on the daily.

TMN: If your best friend called you tomorrow and said we are going on vacation to anywhere in the world that you want, where would you go?

FF: Spain. Costa Rica. Argentina. Tokyo. I can’t choose. Let’s just go around the world do it all.

TMN: Who is your musical man crush…and woman crush?

FF: Purity Ring. Also Grimes.

TMN: What is the weirdest thing a fan has ever said to you?

FF: You don’t want to know. I get a lot of weird messages. On the cool non-creeper side of things, someone recently described my album as an “underwater trap party”.

TMN: And finally the question we ask all artists, if your music were an animal, what animal would it be and why?

FF: A lone wolf. Bold, fierce and not afraid to take their own path.

TMN: Fei-Fei thank you so much again for taking the time to sit down with us! Have a great rest of the year and we cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for you!

FF: Thank you I can’t wait!

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Moors talks about their inspirations, Ferguson, and World of Warcraft [TMN EXCLUSIVE]

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TMN: Hey guys. Thanks for taking some time to sit down with us. Let’s talk about the tour at hand right now. You guys are cruising around with one of our favorites, James Vincent McMorrow. Did that have anything to do with your stellar remix of “Cavalier”?

James Vincent McMorrow
Cavalier (MOORS Remix)

Keith: Yes. We had done a remix of BATHS’ “Miasma Sky”, and I think some of his people heard it. So, they contacted us and asked us if we’d like to remix “Cavalier.” After he heard it, he became a fan as well, and made instrumentals to it. I was like, “I fucking love this,” and wrote to it. We sent the remix back and they really liked it and invited us to come on tour with us. It’s a really great opportunity for us to expand.

TMN: It’s an interesting contrast as far as a line up goes. You’re definitely playing for a crowd that might not be expecting what you guys do. How do you handle that going into each show?

Keith: I don’t really think about it too much. I think what we’re doing musically is kinda different. It takes a lot of courage to do something like this. I respect JVM for having that. We go into it just expressing ourselves. If people like it – awesome. If not – cool.

BATHS
Miasma Sky (MOORS Remix)

TMN: Speaking of that remix, we’ve been seeing an influx of that style lately – where not only is the music reinterpreted, but there’s also a verse thrown on to truly make something unique. Did James’ vocals inspire that verse?

Keith: His vocal style is different than a lot of shit than I’ve heard. To me, it has like a RnB-ish feel to it, which is something that I gravitate to quickly because I’m a big fan of RnB, especially that early 90′s shit. When I first heard the song, I thought he was black. Then when I saw him, I was like “ah, shit!” It just opened up my mind.

I think that’s what drew me to it. His lyricism is great too. It’s metaphorical and has you thinking a lot, and I’m a cerebral individual, so that shit just stuck out to me.

We always had in our minds that anything we remix, we’re going to try and put a verse to it. We’re going to try to remix things that aren’t traditional hip hop. We want to do things that challenge us and the listeners to get into something different. We think that hip hop is multi-dimensional, so we want to express that.

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RAC Talks about His Roots, the Blogosphere, and Andre the Giant [TMN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

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RAC
STRANGERS (PREVIEW)

As we get ready to welcome in RAC to the Mile High City, we were able to have a quick fifteen minute chat with him to talk about this tour. Before you head out to Gothic Theater tomorrow night, take a few moments to see what he had to share.

TMN: Hey Andre! Thank you for taking some time to talk with us today. Let’s kick things off by talking about your upcoming “Something Classic” tour.

RAC: Thanks! Yeah, I’ve been trying to organize my life! I feel like I’ve been working towards this for a long time, like months now. It’s nice to get things ready and get on the road. We’ve kind of switch things up a bit with this one – we’re doing a fully live show. It’s new territory. It’s a weird mix of nervousness and excitement.

TMN: We’re obviously excited to have you in Denver, but what are your thoughts about coming to the Mile High City?

RAC: I love Denver. It’s always a great time. I’m really glad that we finally get to do the live show there. It’s not like we intentionally skipped over Denver or anything, but I’m glad it’s finally happening.

TMN: So are we! Strangers was just fantastic, by the way, highlighted by your smash single, “Cheap Sunglasses.” It also features artists like Tokyo Police Club, Penguin Prison, Tegan and Sara, etc. This approach almost reminded me of a classic hip hop album. Talk to us about bringing all these acts in and why?

RAC: Thanks! (Laughs) Well, it’s kind of funny that you mention that, because I think that there is some of that mentality there. It’s clearly a feature record, and the reason why I went in that direction is because I can’t sing. I need singers! I needed someone to fill in that side of things. I wasn’t interested in doing the standard dance record. I wanted to do something a little different and work with artist I really like. It’s a wide variety of people – all that I like and have worked with in the past. I’m really happy it came together the way that it did.

TMN: You seem to be drawn to Kele, having worked with him on “Let Go” and remixing his tune “Everything You Wanted.” Is he one of your favs in the scene right now?

RAC: We go way back. Well, first of all, we’ve never actually met in real life. We’ve only spoke over email and whatnot, which is kind of funny. But, we kind of go way back. Before RAC, in 2005, I did my first official remix for someone and it was Bloc Party. So, they kind of kicked off a lot of things for me. We’ve been working on stuff for a long time since, so it’s nice to keep that going.

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Get To Know: Kove [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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There is definitely something about Kove. The UK based producer and DJ who was spotted by Chase & Status and snapped up by their label MTA Records, has seen a meteoric rise to popularity. Perhaps it’s the way he seamlessly moves from genre to genre – whether it’s the euphoric summer D&B anthem that was 2013′s ‘Searching’ or the classy house beat that was the recent ‘Way We Are’, if you hear a Kove tune on the dance floor, you will know about it. Now about to embark on a US tour supporting Netsky, he leaves his epic ‘Murmurations’ EP to continue doing the rounds across the globe. We caught up with Kove, otherwise known as James Rockhill, to get the lowdown from the man himself.

Having had such success from ‘Way We Are’ over the summer, did you feel an added pressure for the release of this next EP?

Not really, ‘Murmurations’ was really a response to ‘Way We Are’. Most of the tracks had featured in my sets over the Summer and I wanted to make something that was more focused on the underground.

‘Murmurations’  has a huge array of musical influences throughout; do you feel like this is a fair representation of you as an artist?

Certainly, I wanted to put something out that combined a bit of everything that was exciting me about music and I think ‘Murmurations’ reflects that. The way an EP is formatted, you can really throw anything in and not worry about the flow and context like you would with an album.

‘Feel Love Again’ is breathtaking, how did the collaboration come about and how was the process of working with (drum and bass producer) Dimension?

I’ve known Dimension for a while now and we’ve spent a lot of time in the studio. Normally we tend to muck about a bit, but with ‘Feel Love Again’ we really came together and combined our sounds perfectly I think. I came up with a basic loop and we pretty much finished it up in a day at his studio.

You have been delving in and out of the slower tempo bass/house music for some time now, what is currently your favourite genre to produce, play out and listen to?

I go through phases so quickly. I started making music at lower tempos before I started making D&B. I had been listening to and making a lot of house over the last few months but I was hit with a pretty bad period of writers block, so I started making D&B again, which has been really exciting.

‘VCO’ has seen you delve into garage style bass; will we be seeing more of this from future releases?

I never really try and predict what I’ll be putting out next but I’m enjoying the simplicity of making tunes like ‘VCO’. I also love a lot of the music that’s coming out from the side of the genre like My Nu Leng and Chris Lorenzo’s output.

When playing your live shows, has there been one track from the EP that goes off more than the others?

‘Feel Love Again’ has been going down really well, I think it’s probably the closest to my earliest output –  plus its a great tune for those huge double drops!

Where did the inspiration come from for the creation of ‘Still High’?

I’d been listening to a lot of film scores and ambient music so really wanted to try and transfer some of those influences and vibes into a D&B song. The tune came from the vocals which were an unused session pitched down and really glued the track together.

‘Drop’ is quite a diversion from what we have heard in the past, how have fans responded to this change in sound?

It’s been mixed! I wrote it as a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the whole big room house thing, over the top and a bit silly. It is quite surprising how upset people get about something that drastically different – I have and always will continue to try different things, it helps with learning new production techniques and keeps things fresh.

Finally, what’s next for the future of Kove? Where would you like to see your sound in 2015?

I’ve been writing so many songs recently that there should be a few vocal based tunes coming out, and there’ll be a few dance floor bangers in there as well!

Follow Kove: 

http://soundcloud.com/kove

http://facebook.com/koveofficial

http://twitter.com/koveofficial

http://instagram.com/koveofficial

http://www.kovemusic.com/

www.youtube.com/kovetv

 


Kove x Dimension
Feel Love Again
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