Maggie Miles' "Shiver" is Sure to Get You Moving and Grooving

By: Chris Garcia

With a sleek bassline, snappy hooks and infectious chorus, “Shiver,” is bound to get you on your feet and onto the dancefloor. The song is an energetic explosion of euphoria that will loop in your head over and over. From the western hills of Northern Virginia, Maggie Miles, is a 20-year-old singer/songwriter. Her music draws on the complexities of human existence, dressed in fun pop grooves and disco tech. 

“Shiver” dropped today. The song begins sparse, with Maggie crooning, “Loneliness it’s invited/but loneliness/we all hide it/and bitterness is what we store inside.” On the next verse, a slick base line and disco beat enters, creating a light, happy soundscape for the listener. The hook is a snappy one-two punch of catchiness and attitude with a glittering synth in the distance, building the track before a shimmering transition explodes into a euphoric chorus. The chorus is a simple sing-along of, “Don’t let it get a grip on you,” with a catchy reframe in the background played on loop. The bassline and cheerful keyboard are reminiscent of a Charlie Puth song, drawing inspiration from modern pop and 70s disco. 

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“Shiver” is a fun track with the combination of soulful vocal delivery, grounded lyrics, and fun instrumentals create a release. For Maggie Miles this is just the beginning. 

Keep up with Maggie here. 

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Kayla Marque’s “Love Should Be” Video Is a Kaleidoscopic Expression of Self Love

By: Yoni G (Yugs)

Kayla Marque is a Denver native R&B singer/songwriter who has been performing and putting out her own music in the Denver scene for the last 10 years. She has released two singles from her upcoming double album Brain Chemistry (Left Brain/Right Brain). Her first single “Fold in Half” represents her left brain, most commonly associated with analytical thinking, and her most recent single, “Love Should Be,” represents her right brain, the creative thinking side. Where “Fold in Half” is grounded in reality both musically and aesthetically in its black and white video, the video for “Love Should Be”, an official selection at the 2019 Denver Film Festival, is bursting with color and kaleidoscopic imagery, a fitting match for the song’s ethereal production and tone. 

Kayla Marque. Photo Credit: Raleigh Gambino.

Kayla Marque. Photo Credit: Raleigh Gambino.

In describing her song, Kayla Marque relayed recently, “I wrote ‘Love Should Be’ years ago when I realized I actually had no idea what love was… When you truly love someone, whether its a relative, friend, partner, or most importantly yourself, that means you love them beyond beauty-- you love them when things are hard.” On this note both visually and musically, Marque’s song lets the listener feel the wonder and complexity associated with the feeling of love. As Marque sings, “Love should feel like water/Taste like chocolate/Burn like fire/Be the answer” to start off the song, her outfit and hair changes from blue to black to red and finally to white, each emphasizing a different type of her own beauty. 

Shot in the Paint Mines outside of Calhan in El Paso Country by director Mara Whitehead, the video utilizes mirror and kaleidoscopic effects on the stunning natural sights to give the viewer the feeling like they are lost in a beautiful psychedelic maze. The images swells together with Kayla Marque’s celestial voice and airy production which includes atmospheric synths, electric guitars, and minimal drums which echo with a resounding reverb. “Love Should Be” is a vulnerable and empowering expression and exploration of unconditionally loving every part of yourself; the calm, sweet, and fiery parts alike. 

Photo Credit: Thomas Crandall.

Photo Credit: Thomas Crandall.

Stay tuned for Kayla Marque’s Brain Chemistry (Left Brain/Right Brain), and check out “Love Should Be” at the Denver Film Festival tomorrow, Thursday, November 7 at 9:30PM at Sie FilmCenter; this Saturday, November 9 at 7PM at UA Pavilions; or Sunday, November 10 at 4PM at Lyric in Fort Collins. 

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Halloween In 'Mirrorland' with Earthgang Was An Other-Worldly Experience

By: Trey Karson

Fresh off the release of Mirrorland the Atlanta hip-hop duo Earthgang hit the road for the Welcome To Mirrorland Tour, stopping in three different Colorado cities Halloween week. The group, comprised of Olu (Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (Doctur Dot), have been taking the rap game by storm in 2019 alongside fellow Dreamville signees J.I.D, Bas, Cozz, and others with their unique sound and style, often being compared to a modern day OutKast

Earthgang.

Earthgang.

Starting off Halloween night at Hodi’s Halfnote in Fort Collins, CO was Pittsuburgh rapper Benji. Performing songs from his 2019 project Smile, You’re Alive! such as “Right On” and “Shine,” the emcee had the entire crowd off their feet and vibing straight away. Dressed as Olu from Earthgang, Benji engaged with the college crowd getting the entirety of the venue to “waterbend” with him while performing an unreleased track. By the time his all too short set was over, fans were drenched in sweat and ready for DUCKWRTH to come out and tear it up.

DUCKWRTH.

DUCKWRTH.

Known professionally as DUCKWRTH, Los Angeles rapper Jared Lee came out to cheering fans dressed as Diva from the popular video game Overwatch. DUCKWRTH kept the rowdiness Benji brought, rolling with tracks like “Fall Back” and “Start A Riot” before toning it down for slower jams like “MICHUUL.” Backed by his “plague doctor” guitarist and DJ, the set was filled with beautiful rifts, powerful lyrics, and explosive energy.

Earthgang.

Earthgang.

As the sold-out crowd squished and forced their way to the front, energy filled the air and erupted in cheers and screams as Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot made their way to the stage. Earthgang brought their signature Atlanta sound, playing almost every track off of their 2019 project Mirrorland. Mosh pits opened and fluids were flying as the duo transitioned from upbeat to soulful without even losing their breath. Along with the album, they also performed “Sacrifices,” “Down Bad,” “Wells Fargo,” and “1993” from the Dreamville compilation album Revenge of the Dreamers III as fans rapped along word for word. After exiting the stage, chants of “ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” from the desperate fans broke the sound barrier, and the duo returned immediately with “UP,” much to the crowds delight. The whole lineup stayed almost 40 minutes after the show for selfies and all fans waited for them in a very humble way, proving evermore why Earthgang and friends are selling out almost every show on tour. 

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Magical Moon Hammer Musketeers Release Latest Single "Slackjaw"

By: Julia Talen

The magnetic, musical mash-up, Moon Hammer, releases their sixth single, “Slackjaw,” today: a rhythmic, soulful, psychedelic song that showcases every facet of these artists’ talent. This ever-evolving and self-proclaimed “ragtag supergroup of Moon Magneteers” is made up of some of Denver’s best musicians including Sean Dandurand & Dylan Johnson (Dandu/Other Black/Retrofette), Ishka Bee Phoenix (Ghost Tapes), Megan Crooks (Ancient Elk/Other Black), Jeremy Averitt (Esmé Patterson), Neil Lyons, Kevin Netz (Yonbre), & Reed Fox (déCollage/Bun Bun). 

Mixed and mastered at Moon Magnet Studios, “Slackjaw” seamlessly melds different bits of the aforementioned artists’ musical styles. From Ishka Bee Phoenix and Megan Crooks’ soulful vocals to the electric dance vibes from Reed Fox or the mellow traces of Jeremy Averitt, this track balances and mixes all sorts of influence into the delicious musical potion that is “Slackjaw.”

Moon Hammer. Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Moon Hammer. Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

“Slackjaw” begins with a funky, percussive melody on piano and vocals that immediately evoked Janelle Monae. Shortly after the first verse, the “magneteers,” begin to drop in and add layers of their musical style and genre-casting body into the tune. Soon Phoenix and Crooks begin harmonizing (evocative of Ibeyi), spewing impeccable lyrics that detail themes embedded in this song: inner demons, shadows of the self, and haunting pasts. At this point, listeners are wrapped up in the refrain, “I walk three steps behind you/I walk too far to measure… I walk now.”

About midway through this song a distance from the rhythmic, funky first half begins to form as the “I walks” become echoey, meandering in the distance, and the vocals begin to sound like the inner demon the song speaks to. The edges of the tune become fuzzier as psychedelic/synthy elements develop while the song continues. 

Artwork by Ishka Bee Phoenix.

Artwork by Ishka Bee Phoenix.

The track then circles back from that murky distance, but there is a residual strangeness from that section of the tune, now blending with sounds that the song started with as the song closes. 

Ishka Bee Phoenix says that the writing process of this eclectic group of artists unfolds when “we all get together and drink shitty beer and laugh and hug and give each other butterfly kisses and sometimes cry, until someone asks, ‘Hey whatcha got?’ And the ideas just tumble out.”

The track embodies such a process effortlessly, without feeling overdone or too busy. There is a feeling of exquisite alchemy in this tune: everything fits, it draws you in deep and muddles your mind with that Moon Hammer magic.

If you’re hooked on this track like I am, see Moon Hammer’s recent live performance on PBS Sound here, and keep up with the moon magneteers at this link.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Yung Bae Plays Marquis Theater This Week

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Take classic funk and disco, tasty hip-hop, some anime and video game sounds, and mix them until you get to just the right consistency, and ladies and gentlemen, you got yourself Yung Bae

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Combining just the right amount of sonic from the 80s and perversion of the female character unique to Japanese anime, Yung Bae’s persona is at once repulsive, endearing and intriguing; just check out his Instagram for clarity. Without listening to his music, one might think the whole thing was a spoof. And, actually, it partially is, or at least the persona is. And that’s part of the appeal. 

After a two-year break, the release of his latest album, Bae 5 this past summer reveals the more mature sound of Yung Bae’s future of funk and really ties in the disco-funk-hip hop sounds. Yung Bae has gained his recognition and fanbase playing as supporting artist for GRiZ and Zedd. He has played major festivals including Coachella, Summer Camp, and Firefly and collaborated with artists like Flamingosis, Macross 82-99, and Tom Misch

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Bae’s music, though, is far from a spoof. It’s a serious disco dance party that takes you through time along with him in the future. It’s ok if you’re confused; it’s part of the journey. While he produces future funk sounds, he also takes you back in time with his signature remixes, revamps, and renditions of rhythm and boogie from 70s, silly 80s dance, 90s hip-hop, and aughts video game sounds. From what I hear, his live performances will suck you into a dance frenzy, and three hours later you’ll wonder where all you’ve been. Sounds fun, right? You’re in luck. Yung Bae’s upcoming show at Marquis Theater in Denver on November 1st is much anticipated, so get your tickets here.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Cous' Tunes Are Perfect for Your Fall Bonfire Plans

By: Chris Garcia

Cous has found roots in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her indie-folk music reminiscing about life's lessons, and creating a soothing experience for listeners. “Cripple Creek” is the first single from her debut EP Peripatetic, a word which can be defined as, “traveling from place to place.” “Cripple Creek” is a breath of fresh Colorado mountain air: clear, no unnecessary distractions; just a girl with her guitar and a story to tell. 

Acoustic guitar pulls the listener in with a pace that sets our journey off into the brisk air and trotting along somewhere, like a dirt road. Cous’ rustic voice begins with the lines, “I pulled out my lighter and a dirty cigarette,” setting the contemplative tone for the song. With minimal effects added to her voice, the singer sounds as if she’s sitting across a campfire from you, leading to an intimate experience. 

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The chorus is a simple sing-along with an “ah, ooh,” creating space for the listener to reflect on any experiences the song may provoke. The acoustic guitar, vocal performance and lyrics evoke nostalgia up until the last chorus, where a piano enters, playing a simple melody which shines through like stars twinkling in the night sky. The piano’s melody completes the campfire vibe, where Cous’ voice seems to sing into the clean mountain air underneath a night sky full of stars. With no drums, I almost want to toss in a hand-clap or two, as though I were around the campfire watching Cous myself, but it could also be distracting from the gentle voice singing across the way, so maybe it’s best as-is. 

Cous.

Cous.

The soothing track is contemplative but would be nothing without the vocal performance of Cous, whose voice, riddled with memories, experiences, and life lessons, carries the song. “Cripple Creek” is grounding. It moves us along through tough times at a steady pace, but reassures us that in the end, life will work itself out. 

“Cripple Creek” is available on all streaming platforms now. The debut EP from Cous, Peripatetic is available tomorrow, October 25th, 2019. 

Keep up with Cous here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Funeral Lakes' "Forest Burns" Draws from Current Anthropocene, Oil Spills & More

By: Julia Talen

On the tails of their latest single release, “Forest Burns,” Canada-based indie folk rock duo Funeral Lakes have slowly begun gathering buzz for their anticipated self-titled debut album, out December 1st of this year. Partners Chris and Sam joined forces back in the spring of 2018 through a shared bond around the disillusionment of the current Anthropocene, from which they draw much of their artistic inspiration.

Much like their music, the group’s name, Funeral Lakes, grapples with the opposing and all too prevalent forces of nature and destruction. Their third digital single “Forest Burns” is no exception.

The tune opens with smooth instrumentals and stark, lyrical imagery. The band’s sound immediately reminded me of classic indie favorites Arcade Fire and Bright Eyes. The tune dives into the story of big oil companies and their impact on the environment, specifically our forests. Dismal lyrics like, “I gotta head full of lead/ I’m already dead/ One spill to make a million sick,” echo these sentiments and call attention to the pressing issues wrapped up in climate change. Sam’s vocal harmonies sync with Chris’s, creating a haunting affect as the pair croons lyrics like, “That snake oil salesman is back in town again/ With pipeline oil spewing from his lips.” 

Funeral Lakes.

Funeral Lakes.

This single grabs at your heart as you drift along through it, witnessing the devastations Funeral Lakes points out. The young artists’ lyrics are especially impressive and telling, engaging listeners as the forests slowly burn.

Keep up with Funeral Lakes here and on Instagram for the latest on their forthcoming album and tour dates.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The Fremonts Return to Colorado for Encore Run of 'The Failure Cabaret’

By: Julia Talen

In April of this year, husband and wife duo The Fremonts produced a record of their live show, The Failure Cabaret, which ran for a stint at Still Cellars in Longmont. The show shifted in sound from their first full-length blues rock album, We Don’t Live There

The Failure Cabaret, as Justin Badger and Stephanie Dodd describe it, is “one part concert, one part confessional, and one part stand-up special,” and considering how this couple met, the culmination of a theatrical cabaret quite fits this musical pair.

Dodd (from Fremont, Nebraska) and Badger (from Fremont, California) serendipitously met in the Big Apple while performing on Broadway. They took their music out west to Boulder and only recently returned to the East Coast. But back with two live performances in Boulder next month, here are some highlights around what to expect.

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The Failure Cabaret opens with the tune “How Often,” an upbeat duet presumably about Dodd and Badger’s meeting with the lyrics, “How often do you meet someone that you actually love?/ Never and everyday.” An accordion and whistling pepper the opening, and entice listeners while building anticipation for more storytelling.

A few tunes later is one of my absolute favorites, “Songs About Babies.” As the show unfolds and explores the facets of Dodd and Badger’s relationship, it seems imperative that the question of having a baby comes up, and Dodd’s lyrics in this show tunes-y song are wonderfully witty. Her rich voice and resonant accordion playfully dance with Badger’s guitar, and carry this tune’s story with lyrics like, “Everybody wants a baby except me/ Oh no, I like my nest empty,” and “I wanna save my naughty parts for my man.” This tune was my show stopper.

Following this ditty was another of my favorites, “Kids Who Always Swim,” a song about resiliency’s connection to a myriad of life lessons, infused with personal monologues. The song declares that we are all kids pushed into the pool of life at one point or another, and we have to continue to tread and try to float. 

The Fremonts.

The Fremonts.

Also of note is “Fear of Consequences,” a gutsy political commentary simultaneously silly and brutally dark. The show rounds out with the title track, “We Don’t LIve There,” a mellow anthem about visiting places you used to live, and the marriage of memory and place.

The album feels like a diary into several chapters of this couple’s life. And aside from the clever writing, Badger and Dodds’ vocals harmonize and fold into one another quite effortlessly, as if they were meant to do this show together. The record is catchy, smooth, clever, and intimate.

Check out The Failure Cabaret’s encore run at eTown music hall on November 1st and 2nd in Boulder, and give the produced recording a listen as well. You can keep up with The Fremonts here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

TOOL Returned to Denver for 'Fear Inoculum' & It Was Everything We Hoped It Would Be

By: Trey Karson

If you’re a fan of TOOL, you’ve probably been patiently standing by for new music from the iconic psychedelic/progressive rock group for quite some time. Thirteen years to be exact. The group, consisting of Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Adam Jones (lead guitar), Justin Chancellor (bass guitar), and Danny Carey (drums), released their long awaited studio album Fear Inoculum in late August of this year alongside a U.S. tour supported by Killing Joke to finally bring the fans the new tunes and spectacular live shows they are so known for. Denver was lucky enough to be placed as the first show of the tour and sold out in less than ten minutes, prompting the band to announce a second concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center just one day after the first. With the line to get inside the venue a block long on either side, and merch flying off the table like hotcakes, it’s no surprise that TOOL’s return was everything we’d hoped for and more. 

TOOL.

TOOL.

Opening up the night was the old-school London rockers Killing Joke. Performing hits such as “Eighties” and “Love Like Blood” like they just came out yesterday, the energetic band warmed up the Denver crowd and got everyone on their feet. Rocking out for just under an hour, the ravenous crowd was finally ready for the main event: TOOL.

TOOL.

TOOL.

Cheers of anticipation reached earthquake-causing levels as drummer Danny Carey began the haunting start of “Fear Inoculum” to the sold out crowd of 18,000 Denver fans. As each member of the band entered view, the screams only got louder, until finally all four of the fabled musicians were full-blown in the zone as if they’d never left. Behind a curtain of tassel, the group ripped through song after song, ranging from brand new releases including “Pneuma” and “Chocolate Chip Trip” to classics like “The Pot” and “Vicarious.” Maynard’s incredibly controlled and haunting vocals paired with his mysterious stage presence were undoubtedly a highlight for many fans, while both Adam and Justin flowed almost seamlessly with the drums Danny threw down. 

TOOL is not only known for their ancient and mystical sound, but also for their absolutely mind blowing live visuals unmatched by anyone else, and this go-around is no exception. Intricate lights, lasers, screen graphics, and a massive moving heptagram hovering above the stage were a staple of the night that left fans both audibly and visually astounded. In classic TOOL fashion, a strict no cell phone policy was in place for every concert goer, however after their hour and a half set and a short intermission, Maynard allowed the audience to pull out phones and record the last song of the night “Stinkfist,” much to the crowd’s delight. 

TOOL will always have a special place in music history, and we are incredibly blessed to be able to watch them perform almost 30 years since they began. Best of luck on the rest of the tour gentleman!

See TOOL in a city near you- tickets here. More photos from this show at this link.

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

After 250+ Shows on the Road, Whole Milk Are Back with a New Record

By: Norman Hittle

Whole Milk returns to the surf jazz fold with their latest four song EP Rockmelon due out October 19th. The duo from Denver, Colorado has been touring extensively over the past two years, having played over 250 shows on 14 back to back tours across 26 states. Now back home, they had the time to put some new material down and plan their EP release before hitting the road for the great state of Texas.

Whole Milk.

Whole Milk.

Stylistically, Whole Milk nods to 60s surf, bossa nova, and spaghetti western. Their two-voice lineup featuring primarily guitar and bass has elements of Cat Power and Kimya Dawson.

Being the first release from the band since 2017’s self-titled EP, Whole Milk brings forth a more mature and mellow feel. Though only four songs, the tracklist has an utterly lovely, minimalistic indie surf-rock vibe throughout that infringes on hopelessly romantic. I could easily see these tracks featured in some quirky independent Juno-esque films, where they would find a very comfortable home.

Keep an eye out for Whole Milk in the Denver area and other cities near you here. Also, check out their EP release show, tomorrow, October 19th. Event details here!

-Norman

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Yugs Makes Music to Soothe Your Mind & Unwind From the 9-5 Grind

By: Chris Garcia

“Music to close your eyes and smile to” and “dreamy grounded psychedelic lo-fi beats” are a few ways Denver-based producer, Yugs, describes his music. His latest album, People and Places, is a set of tracks that are reminiscent of a sunrise. The latest single from the album, titled, “Closed Eyes Smiling,” is a refreshing two and a half minute track where Yugs encourages listeners to be still for a moment, not with lyrics but with sound. 

Mixed with nature sounds, acoustics and electronic textures, “Closed Eyes Smiling” is a refreshing track. Upon first listen, the chirping crickets create a tone meant for reflection, as if you are quietly watching the stars up above. The acoustic guitar strums, ever so lightly, not to disturb your thoughts but to slow them down for you to be mindful. After about a minute, right when you begin settling into the acoustics, a light drum comes in from afar adding a beat that keeps the track flowing along. An electronic texture follows suit with a simple melody that sounds almost hidden. Listeners really have to be present in the music to hear the electronic texture or it can go unnoticed. It reinforces the purpose of the track: to be mindful. The song then ends how we began the journey, with crickets chirping and a simple guitar strum.

Yugs.

Yugs.

In a world that is moving faster than lightning, it can be hard to gain peace of mind from the hustle and bustle of this thing called life; always something to do, money to make, people to see. It can feel never ending. Yugs has the music to soothe your mind and unwind from the 9-5 grind. Yugs sends us back off into the world, hoping we stopped to smell the roses, or in this case, stopped to listen to his latest single. 

Keep up with Yugs here. 

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Music is Good For the Soul, But Our Musicians Are Struggling

The first week of October each year is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It is a time dedicated to advocating for better mental health care, spreading awareness about the widespread prevalence of mental illness, and fighting the stigma that is often associated with mental health. Despite how far-reaching mental illness is, people who suffer are often met with misunderstanding and a lack of adequate mental health care.

Musicians are no exception to suffering from mental illness. It is no secret that living the life of an artist can be challenging, but if music is supposed to be good for the soul, why do so many musicians struggle with mental illness? After all, music has the ability to calm the mind and allow people to relate to circumstances that they are going through. Many people also promote the healing effects of music therapy for behavioral health. If music is really that good for health, musicians should be some of the healthiest individuals on the planet. However, this misconception couldn’t be more wrong. 

The 73 Percent Report

The Record Union conducted a survey of 1,500 independent musicians asking them about their mental health. Unfortunately, the results were staggering. The study found that 73% of independent musicians claimed to have experienced difficulties with their mental health - including stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, 33% claimed to have experienced panic attacks and 69% suffer from depression. 

Although the numbers of musicians who struggle with mental illness are devastating, only 39% sought treatment for their symptoms. Similarly, only 33% of struggling musicians aged 18-25 sought mental health care. On the other hand, 50% claimed that they self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

These numbers are substantially higher among musicians than they are among the general population. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018. In conclusion, musicians are far more likely to suffer from mental illness than the general population. This poses the question: If music is commonly used as a form of holistic therapy, and is so good for the soul, why are so many musicians suffering?

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Musicians and Mental Illness

Many well-known artists have also spoken up about how mental illness has affected them. One of them, who is constantly in the media, is Demi Lovato. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011 and has struggled with substance abuse as well. Unfortunately, co-occurring mental illness and addiction are not uncommon. After all, people who suffer from mental illness are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse, and nearly 50% of people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness. In fact, we hear about co-occurring disorders among musicians all the time, from Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Mac Miller, just to name a few. 

While many artists struggle with it, sometimes to death, others use it as a method of empowerment. Take Kanye West, for example. He claims that his mental health condition is more like a superpower- it fuels his creativity. In addition, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, and J. Cole have also openly spoken up about having depression. Instead of fighting it or letting their mental health silence them, they speak out to encourage others to share their experiences with one another. Regardless of how musicians deal with their mental illness, the list of artists who struggle with their mental health is endless. 

Culture Shock

If you’ve ever moved to a new country, or from a big city to a small town, you are familiar with the term culture shock. It refers to a feeling of disorientation someone experiences when he or she is suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar way of life, culture, or attitudes. Culture shock can occur as a musician takes a leap into the spotlight. Between the stress of trying to get a big break in the industry, the constant criticism from producers, crowds, and media alike, the anxiety of performing, and the overwhelming fans that refuse to back off, it is no wonder that problems with mental health can take a serious toll on the well being of artists. 

The music industry is brutal, and many will spend years making the effort to achieve their dreams just to be told they aren’t good enough. Negative emotions can trigger self-doubt, depression, and even poor decision making. 

On the other hand, there are the ones who finally break through the industry into the spotlight. First, there are the media, following, dissecting, and often criticizing every decision made by artists. While there is plenty of good publicity, it is way more common to see bad publicity arise when a star is less than perfect. The media and the fans sometimes idolize the stars, dehumanizing them and expecting them to behave impeccably. These ideas put a lot of pressure on celebrities.

On top of the media and overwhelming fans, there also comes the pressure of performing. When performing, the stress response is heightened, provoking a fight or flight response that leads to increased awareness and adrenaline levels. Sometimes, this makes for better performances. For others, however, prolonged stress can lead to panic attacks and long-term anxiety. 

The combination of stress, lack of privacy, and pressure that comes from being a famous artist can lead many to self-medicate or neglect seeking appropriate treatment to care for their mental health. It is clear that the climate of the music industry can be toxic for some, so what can be done to improve it?

Something Needs to Change

Any great change takes time. The media isn’t going to stop condemning mental breakdowns of artists any time soon. Fans aren’t going to stop idolizing stars just because we tell them to, and artists are always going to face pressure before putting on a performance. The good news is that some artists are speaking up about mental health. More and more people are beginning to show compassion for mental health rather than judgment. 

Johan Svanberg, CEO of Record Union, stated after publishing the 73 percent study, “It’s time to put the state of our artists’ mental health on the agenda, before streams and commercial success.” After all, the music industry is well aware of the toll that fame, fortune, and rejection alike takes on the mental health of artists. 

Instead of treating artists as a money-making product, they should be recognized as human beings who have feelings and needs. Record producers and managers should implement regular mental health checkups and take action to prioritize the mental health and well-being of their musicians. 

Similarly, fans and the general population should start speaking up about mental health, too. It is crucial to learn more about mental illness and how symptoms may appear in order to gain an understanding of what others may be going through. Most importantly, allow yourself to see the person, rather than the illness. Share your own story about your struggles with mental illness and how you have found healthy ways of coping. The more it is spoken about with compassion and understanding, the more awareness can be spread. Fighting the stigma of mental illness is essential to encouraging people who are suffering to get the help they need. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, reach out. You can call 1-800-622-HELP to speak with someone immediately. Learn more about this hotline here.

Additionally, if you’re one of our Colorado readers, consider joining the Mental Wellness Meetup and check out this Colorado Crisis Services website too.

Venture Into Spectra Art Space's Psychedelic Portal of Purgatory with Synesthesia This October

By: Chris Garcia

If its name Spookadelia doesn’t have you intrigued, then its exhibitions will. Described as a “psychedelic immersive art and theatrical experience,” the spectacle opens this Saturday, October 5th from 7PM-11PM and is presented by Spectra Art Space and Synesthesia. 

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Spectra Art Space is known for their contemporary art exhibitions and detailed immersive experiences which cultivate and inspire creativity, and Spookadelia will be no different. Guests who dare to enter will embark on a narrative-driven journey through otherworldly realms and planes of existence. There will be a variety of installations created by local artists including Lexi Lund & The PussayHaus collective (who built Natura Obscura), DAS who will be working with Denver’s Meow Wolf, and the Spectra Team, who have created installations for the Underground Music Showcase Odyssey.

Venture in and be guided through this psychedelic portal of purgatory into the world of the Spectra Specter. It’s unquestionable that the experience will captivate you as each room and section is an immersive, interactive and mind-bending voyage. Expect to be challenged on social and environmental issues, and explore the layers of the human psyche, all while participating in a fresh take on the haunted experience. The installations and experiences are sure to frighten, but will also be family-friendly. In addition, the spooktacular exhibition will feature performance artists curated by Kayla Smith, whose involvement in local theater includes working with Adams Mystery Playhouse and Fearless Theatre

Starting this Saturday, October 5th and running through November 3rd, dive deep into the unknown world of Spookadelia! Experience the art. Immerse yourself in a new haunted experience. Open your mind. Tickets will be available for a timed entry which will give you access to the installation for an hour on the date specified; purchase them here!

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The Jonas Brothers Brought the Nostalgia a Decade After Their Last Set Pepsi Center Set

By: Taylor Naiman 

On Tuesday night, the Jonas Brothers took the stage at the Pepsi Center for their Happiness Begins Tour with the support of Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha. The trio have not performed here since 2009, and little did we know at that point that they would break up a few years later and pursue their own individual paths. 

Jonas Brothers.

Jonas Brothers.

Leading up to their reunited set, the Pepsi Center turned into a dance club, courtesy of Kevin Jonas’ DJ brother-in-law, Mickey Deleasa, who provided the warm-up for the main attraction. Looking around the audience, people were singing at the top of their lungs and dancing shamelessly to some of today’s hits like Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” as well as some jams from the 90s and early 2000s. 

The audience was composed of a huge female fan base of all ages: those who were captivated by the Jo Bros early on in their career, and those who have just began listening to their newest music. Many of the Jonas Brothers’ concert-goers are die-hard fans, and told me they traveled from other states for the show. One fan even remarked, “There were a few times I felt tears in my eyes” during the set, so it’s clear that this reunion is exactly what fans wanted. One thing was clear: These brothers have made a resurgence and a successful one at that. They came back as if they never missed a beat, and with a loyal base to follow. 

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Still, it would have been remiss of the JBs to not play songs from their youth, as these tracks were the foundation for their careers. Hearing the songs a lot of us loved in their early years like Mandy,” “Paranoid,” “Fly With Me,”“Play My Music,” “Hold On,” “Gotta Find You,” “Year 3000,” “SOS,” “When You Look Me In the Eyes,” “Lovebug,” “Tonight,” and “Burnin’ Up” was very nostalgic. This was the music some of us loved as kids, so it was a treat to see a band who is still just as fresh as the day they started. Many of us loved them when we were in our early teens, and now we can enjoy them in our adulthood as well. As they said from the stage while taking a shot, “When we first started, we were not able to drive, now we can drink with our fans!” Though it was unexpected, most of us agreed, “Let’s toast!” for this was a celebration in all respects.

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Compared to their early days, the Jonas Brothers now have vision, a specific sound, and songs enriched with infectious rhythms and evolving messages. Their show was a true production, from the storytelling visual clips evidencing their growth from boys to men, to their use of the color spectrum across the entirety of the stage. They had various outfit changes, but their most notable ones where brightly colored suits. There were fireworks, inflatable characters during “Cake By the Ocean,” and a fire display during “Burnin’ Up” that legitimately warmed the room. They introduced each track with a different, short metaphorical video ensemble to integrate their past with their future, them meeting their younger selves and taking their current ones on a journey. They targeted what their audience wanted by including an impromptu fan choice song into the mix, which for Denver was “Can’t Have You.” The highlight of the entire night was the “Jealous/Cake By the Ocean” medley. The tracks are from Joe and Nick’s solo careers, but when linked together, the group was able to explore new avenues to incorporate into their music.

It would not have been the Happiness Begins Tour if we didn’t get any tracks from the new Happiness Begins album, which shows a differentiated sound from their earlier material, with the assistance of a strong production team. It is fun, the beats are hum-worthy and have you clapping along. Their latest is a perfect combination of Nick and Joe’s individual sounds during their solo careers. We heard “Rollercoaster,” “Cool,” “Only Human,” “I Believe,” “Hesitate,” “Used to Be,” “Strangers,” and “Comeback.”

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Whether it was singing “Lovebug” 10 years later or hearing them close their set with “Sucker,” it was a blast to experience the nostalgia of the Jonas Brothers. If you have not stopped to listen to their new album, Happiness Begins, listen here. Their tour continues and we are looking forward to more music from the brothers.

-Taylor  

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Same Same But Different Festival Returns to Showcase So-Cal's Musical Talent

By: Benjamin Tillis 

This past weekend, a couple thousand outdoor-loving Southern Californians gathered for the second year of Same Same But Different Festival (SSBD). Taking place in Perris Beach, just a couple of hours east from Los Angeles and San Diego, this small and quickly-growing festival features up-and-coming artists as well as established musicians. Overall, most artists hail from the West Coast though, giving the event a homey and homecoming feel, which sets it apart from other festivals.

Lake Vibes. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey Photography

Lake Vibes. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey Photography

For such a small music and arts festival, it somehow still feels like there are endless things to do at SSBD. In addition to the music, SSBD hosted a myriad of local artists of all mediums, including live painters, ceramics, and more with a full lineup of workshops that included classes like “Mindful Eating,” “The Human Story,” “Abundance Activation,” and “Sunset Yoga”. Best of all, the festival took place right on the sandy beach next to the beautiful Lake Perris, so you could lay out and tan if you felt so inclined, or take an inflatable toy to the water and make a splash with other festival goers. The community-driven spirit around this event is one to be reckoned with.

Still, this festival is here for the music first and foremost, and the impressively eclectic and talented bands and DJs SSBD curates aren’t the ones you’re exhausted of seeing at every other summer music fest. This was immediately made clear by how varied the two headliners this year were: Friday night, Baauer was the main act, and he brought the energy for his entire 90-minute set. The “Harlem Shake” DJ threw in crowd favorites like “One Touch,” which features Rae Sremmurd and Aluna George, and he closed the night with his own remix to “Sicko Mode.” 

Elektric Voodoo. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey Photography

Elektric Voodoo. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey Photography

Prior to Baauer’s set were two separate San Diego-based bands, Fashion Jackson and Elektric Voodoo. Fashion Jackson, a returning band from last year, played their signature unapologetic surf punk rock jams. Before leaving the crowd wanting more, they closed with their rowdiest song, “Gossamer.” But what was so beautiful about this festival is that the musicians wanted to enjoy SSBD just as much as the attendees, so it was easy to make friends with the performers after their sets, especially those in Fashion Jackson, who spent plenty of time floating on the lake.

Elektric Voodoo brought their signature tropical jam band sound as the sun began setting. Equipped with two saxophone players and a myriad of different percussion instruments, maracas, and tambourines, the group did a great job of mixing up the vibes while also getting everyone ready to dance for Baauer. 

CAPYAC. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey Photography

CAPYAC. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey Photography

Saturday, the second and final day of the festival, saw equally memorable and varied musical acts. Another group hailing from sunny San Diego, The Moves Collective kicked off the afternoon with a set that can be best described as psychedelic bluegrass. Most notable was the fact that their horns player was continuously playing TWO saxophones at once. It was one of the most impressive things I have seen onstage in a while. 

Later on, CAPYAC, another act from last year’s lineup, played arguably the best set of the festival. Intertwined between their easy-to-dance-to funk songs, the eccentric duo acted out the roles of aliens that had just landed on Earth. Somewhere in this nonsensical story, they managed to sing an ad-libbed song which entailed them selling a loaf of bread on stage, and ultimately trading their loaf of bread for a banana an audience member was dancing with. It was bizarre, but hilarious, and it really brought the crowd together!

The Bread. Photo Credit:   Timothy Bailey Photography

The Bread. Photo Credit: Timothy Bailey Photography

Beats Antique headlined Saturday night. David Satori, who is also a member of Dirtwire, a band that played Same Same’s inagural year, showed off his musical prowess by changing instruments nearly every song. And to complement the group’s Middle Eastern flavor, there were incredibly talented belly dancers on stage, which made the set both a visual and musical experience.

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On both nights at 2AM, everyone headed to the Coconut Club, a small sandy dance floor that played house music until sunrise. It was the perfect way to wind down the night with new friends from the day.

SSBD is a true hidden gem of the California music scene. The people are there for a good time, the venue is beautiful, and the music will keep you dancing for hours. It’s more affordable than other festivals, and it’s only two days if you are looking for something a little more low-key than some of the 3-5 day fests. Stay tuned for the announcement of SSBD III! We’re really hoping we can return for another year!

For more information on Same Same But Different, visit the fest’s website. See the full photo gallery from SSBD here.

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.









Retrofette's Smart New Tune Adds to Infectious Corpus of Sweet Synth Pop Tracks

By: Julia Talen

Synth-pop band, Retrofette’s latest single and music video, “A House,” was actually the first song frontman Sean Culliton wrote. The tune’s synthy melody sears deep as the song swells, evoking musicians like Talking Heads, Hot Chip, and LCD Soundsystem.

The video, directed and edited by Dead Medium, opens with the four bandmates (Sean Culliton, Xavier Provencher, Ben Weirich, and Dylan Johnson) standing in line in front of a white backdrop in matching white turtlenecks, bopping their heads. It’s a silly and uncomfortable frame. As the song kicks into gear, a variety of friends begin to build a “room” of a house around the bopping group, complete with typical household items like a couch, a rug, and some plants. Shots and cuts overlay one another at the house shifts over the course of the intro from clean to messied from the party.

When Culliton begins to sing, the band starts cleaning the encompassing space from the aftermath (emoji balloons, a flipped over lawn chair, and strewn confetti.) After the first verse, we see friends begin to build the “lawn” of the house with a strip of faux turf and a piece of picket fence. 

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

All the while Culliton sings lyrics like “We live in trees with crooked ends/With crooked lives that twist and turn and bend,” and belts “Stays the same.” Culliton shares that the dance hit calls forth the idea that, “We work all day just so we can party all night. It all becomes so routine that it’s hard to know if we actually like it.” This explains the bland faces of the bandmates and the visual surroundings cycling through: the house, the party, the house, the party.

The video culminates into a big bash where the band is encircled by a swaying group of friends in matching white shirt/black pants uniforms. Confetti explodes as everyone stares into monotony. The silver lining to this bleak, provocative commentary, Culliton notes, is that through all the tedium, at least there are friends. 

This smart new tune adds to Retrofette’s infectious corpus of sweet synth pop tracks. Hear this song and more at one of the groups upcoming shows, October 10th and 25th at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox or October 26 at Washington’s.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Jay Som Is Bringing Her "Night Time Drive" to Denver This Week

By: Julia Talen

Melina Duterte, the L.A.-based artist better known as Jay Som, invites the DIY ethos of bedroom pop into her music. Her latest release, Anak Ko (the Tagalog phrase for “My Child”) was mostly written during a solo retreat in Joshua Tree, and is home to her bass-heavy track “Night Time Drive.” 

Jay Som says of the lofi, dream pop track, accompanied with a woozy music video, that night drives, “encapsulated [her] entire life for the past two years” and that she’s come to “[accept] it and [is] stronger because of it.”

The video opens up with a shot from the front car window as a headlight-lit road winds and whirls. The sound off the bat in this tune, along with Jay Som’s vocals, remind me in the best way of shoegaze-y artists like Frankie Rose and Widowspeak. The band in the vehicle appear exhausted and numb; emotionless. Frames of Jay Som with and without the band are layered with shots of blurred night scenes passing by, heightening the sense of movement and haziness as Jay Som sings, “So used to feeling numb/Shifting through the nighttime drive/We’ll be alright.”

After the first chorus the band shows up at a crop circle. They walk the circles and Jay Som sings, again invoking the notion of numb, rote movement through time. As Jay Som finishes singing the lyrics of this song, viewers see a shot of her in the van with the band, spotlighted with a bright light as she drifts into a dream.

Jay Som.

Jay Som.

A violin solo kicks off, and in Jay Som’s dream, we see night footage of an alien passionately hula-hooping and dancing through the crop circle, embracing the movement, the night time, the circle. The dream’s alien offers a resolution. 

Jay Som hits Denver tomorrow, September 24th at Larimer Lounge with Boy Scouts and Affectionately supporting. Hear this song and more blissfully dreamy tunes at this indie show, and keep up with Jay Som here.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

BANKS Took Us Out of the Greyzone and Brought Us Into the Light at Recent Denver Show

By: Taylor Naiman

Last Thursday night, avant-pop singer Banks, a.k.a Jillian Rose Banks, brought her lighting ensemble and edgy synths to the Fillmore Auditorium for her III Tour. Named after her most recent album, III, she chose this particular moniker “to symbolize a lifecycle.” After a small hiatus since her last album, with this release it’s clear that Banks has honed in on her vision and what she values as an artist in this industry. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

During her set, she took some time to share a beautiful poem she wrote called “Ode to the Greyzone,” and a quiet fell across the room. She added that this title was a potential contender for the album title before III was chosen. Banks does not define her chapters by a single word or title, but rather she wants to characterize it by the stage in life she is in. She has found an outlet through poetry and uses it to influence her songwriting. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Onstage, Banks was youthful and fun, with many people in the audience cheering, “I love her!” and “She is so cute!” Her Denver fans clearly appreciated this unique opportunity to gain a deeper insight into her spirit, personality, and the happiness she shared with the crowd while performing.

One captivating aspect of her performance was her light show; it appeared as though she was controlling it. Her light rig was other-worldly and vibrant, reminiscent of being in a hip, new nightclub where the lights constantly changed to match both the mood and tempo of every track. From the lights to the dancing, her set was purposeful. An emphasis of glow was placed on every color of the light spectrum, while Banks looked as if she was manipulating the placement of the light as she moved. Her movements guided these lights and she continued to influence their motion. Every component worked well in unison, and cohesively. Supported by her two matching backup dancers, there was a strong interpretive dance presence and a well-executed choreography.

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Banks’ set was sultry and undoubtedly classy. All of her dancers were dressed in black, and with a combination of lace and leather, Banks donned shiny thigh-high boots and a slicked-back bun. These fashion choices were definitely meant to look chic to match the edgy tones within her voice. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

The audience was able to hear a vast and expansive setlist from a few of her singles, and her albums The Altar, Goddess and a majority from III. Her music gave us all the R&B and alt-pop feels, but it was nice to see both variety and a sense of evolution over the course of her releases. Some of the best tracks from her show included “Till Now,” “Gimme,” “Underdog,” “Waiting Game,” “Propaganda,” “Gemini Feed,” and “F*** With Myself.” And if you weren’t dancing along, did you even feel the groove? To balance the mood, she sprinkled in some slower tunes too, including “Better,” “Contaminated” and “Drowning,” among others. Her encore ended with “Beggin for Thread,” and even though she seemed slightly worn out by this time, the audience was still full, and appeared pleased with a great performance. With a powerful voice that exudes a combination of soul and harmony all by itself, Banks has a voice that has to be heard live to fully appreciate it. 

Head over to Spotify and follow Banks for some more seductive slow jams, and to hear some of our favorites. Her tour continues here.

-Taylor

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

BABYMETAL Bringing Kawaii Metal to Denver September 27th

By: Jason Myers 

The heavy metal touring circuit in the U.S. is about to get a facelift over the next month. Kawaii metal kingpins BABYMETAL are heading out on their first U.S. headlining tour and it’s slated to hit 20 cities across the country from September 4th to mid-October. 

Photo per BABYMETAL.

Photo per BABYMETAL.

Seamlessly blending elements of death metal, black metal, and J-pop music, BABYMETAL have created a sound that is uniquely their own. As pioneers of the Kawaii metal genre, the band has released 2 albums to critical acclaim and has performed 4 world tours. Their new album, Metal Galaxy, will be released on October 11th, 2019. Check out their newest single, “Elevator Girl” to see what we mean.

BABYMETAL will be backed on tour (except 10/15-10/16) by Swedish heavy metal juggernauts Avatar. After 18 years as a band, Avatar have little, if anything, left to prove. They've released 7 albums, 2 EPs, and have garnered a faithful following through their chaotic and relentless live performances. Check out a live performance of their 2018 appearance at Graspop here.

Want to catch them in Denver Friday, September 27th at The Ogden? Get tickets for the tour here!

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Premiere: Rose Room's New Single “Fighting Feeling" Will Dig Into Your Bones

By: Julia Talen

Self-proclaimed “electronic soul duo” Rose Room recently finished up recording 7 singles, which they’ve been periodically issuing. In their latest release, “Fighting Feeling,” the Boulder/L.A.-based pair, Thomas LaFond and Dmitry Bolotny, have sculpted an alluring tune with delightful influences (think Childish Gambino and Glass Animals). 

The single opens up with LaFond’s smooth, breathy vocals, backed up by Bolotny’s funky, electronic keys. When the chorus hits, LaFond’s sexy vocal range shines through, as instrumentals pick up and the song takes off with the catchy lyrics, “Some inclinations bout the world you built for them/ you took too much/ you took too much.” 

Rose Room.

Rose Room.

The song unfolds into a narration about feelings; addictive feelings that entice and strangle. The track seems to follow a subject, and a voice hangs about which offers commentary that the subject is running from something. That sort of inner voice resounds throughout the tune instrumentally, as LaFord and Bolotony layer and escalate their instrumentals and vocals incorporating all sorts of stirring and soulful nodes.

After the second chorus, the song dives into a bridge that pulls listeners under. It’s murky and feels like we’re submerged below water, coming down from something. As the song continues, we swim up and the instrumentals and crescendo toward a soulful choral burst of air, booming the lyrics from that inner voice, “I know just what you need.” Is it a reprieve from the feelings? Is it facing the feelings? The track leaves this ambiguous, but its groovy vibe traverses many musical terrains and digs deep into your bones. You’ll want to listen again right away, so don’t be afraid to hit that repeat button.

The track’s out today! Keep up with Rose Room here.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.