Optycnerd & Play Pat Join Forces For 'Nonfiction' EP

By: Norman Hittle

Denver’s latest collaboration EP Nonfiction brings OptycNerd and Play Pat together with four tracks that are certain to get some winter dance parties grooving. Check it out:

OptycNerd is an electronic hip-hop/pop duo based in Denver. After meeting at a party and realizing they both had the same first name, Chris Kimmel and Chris Scott knew immediately that they had to form a group. Over the past few years, the Chris' have been crafting their sound and building up their body of work, including their released December 3rd single “Apollo” which is currently in the top 10 running for 93.3 KTCL’s Hometown for the Holidays - and you can vote on until December 12th!

Play Pat is an indie hip-hop artist with a great deal of work under his belt, including his most recent November 2017 release “Uber to Space”. Although he seems to keep his personal information under the radar, Play Pat has a solid SoundCloud following, including multiple tracks with over 10k+ plays- no small feat!

Optycnerd with Play Pat.

Optycnerd with Play Pat.

With their Nonfiction collaboration, both artists bring a solid hip-hop/rap effort to the table, featuring sounds reminiscent to Disclosure, Macklemore, and even nods to artists like Kendrick Lamar on their track “Photoshoot”. Yet, this isn’t the first collaboration these artists have had together, and likely it won’t be their last. Back in September, they combined their powers for the first time on the single “PM AM,” a far more pop/hip-hop oriented track.

Keep up with both acts via their social media, and keep an ear out for more material to be released. These guys are serious about content creation, so if you like what you hear, keep checking back!

-Norman

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

LA's RL Grime Has The Current Seat On EDM's Throne

By: Shivain Chopra

The Electronic Dance Music, or EDM genre of music can be traced back to the 80’s, with the onset of club culture, but it didn’t truly gain mainstream popularity until the early 2010’s, when the term “EDM” was coined. With the new decade of EDM came the subgenre of dubstep, with acts such as Skrillex and Flux Pavilion making news worldwide. As with all genres, EDM continued to evolve, with dubstep fading and giving way to other sub genres, such as future bass and trap. Although future bass has established itself as one of the most popular EDM subgenres on the scene, counting Flume and Odesza as its most well known acts, trap continues to gain traction, with Baauer being one of the biggest names in the game. A slightly lesser known, but immensely talented DJ is now taking over not only the trap scene, but the entire electronic genre as a whole. Based out of Los Angeles, RL Grime brings hard-hitting, bass-heavy beats that could get even the most timid of people moving.

RL Grime.

RL Grime.

Born Henry Alfred Steinway, RL Grime grew up in Los Angeles, going on to attend New York University for their Music Business program. After college, RL Grime moved back to Los Angeles, joined the WeDidIt collective and released his Grapes EP. In June 2012, RL Grime teamed up with producer Salva for a remix of Kanye West’s “Mercy,” earning over 8 million plays on his SoundCloud. A year later, his High Beams EP debuted at the #1 spot on the iTunes Electronic Chart. Playing off the success of his first two EPs, RL Grime released his first studio album Void, with big names such as Big Sean featured.

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The appeal of RL Grime is unlike any other EDM artist. His songs have a strong emphasis on bass that radiates throughout the bodies of his fans. This, in addition to the use of instruments such as the trumpet in “Tell Me” and exotic samples of voices and other sounds such as in “Kingpin” creates an immersive musical experience. Often times, RL Grime also chooses to use more grimy and raw sounds to create a darker mood, while maintaining the grooviness that comes with EDM. Everything comes together with a gradual rise in tempo, leading to a beat drop so strong that no listener can refrain from breaking out their moves.

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With his exponential rise to stardom, RL Grime recently announced his second studio album, Nova, due to be out later this year. In addition, he just started his Nova tour, with stops across the country, including Denver and Los Angeles (which has already sold out) in November.

Keep up with RL Grimes here; catch more tour dates on his website.

-Shivain

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

Iolite's Fierce Start In The Denver Music Scene

By: Sierra Voss

2016 was a huge breakout year for Denver’s music scene. Nationally recognized artists with local roots including Nathaniel Rateliff and Trevor Rich have been doing their part to put the city on the music map. Will 2017 bring Colorado another local breakout artist?

Meet Iolite (Elina), born and raised in Arvada, Colorado. Iolite hails from a family of musicians who immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1996, and at only 17 years of age, this pop artist is already making a name for herself in Denver. In 2016, Iolite independently released her first single “Spinning.” She garnered some definite buzz for the track and placed in the top three finalists for Channel 93.3’s "Hometown for the Holidays" event this past December.

Iolite.

Iolite.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Iolite about her musical journey, and I came to learn it has been far from the the norm:

So when did you start writing your own music?

I started writing when I was about ten or eleven years old. Ever since then, I knew [music] was what I wanted to do. I was in a program called Two Roads, where you go twice a week [to their classroom] and the rest [of the program] you’re homeschooled. I graduated early mainly because I wanted to focus on my music and spend a lot of time writing.

Tell me more about your name Iolite- what does it mean?

Iolite is a gem stone. It was pretty random how I came up with it. I literally sat on Google and randomly generated words until I found one I loved. It just seemed to fit.

Take us inside your writing process.

My process is always developing. I think of a melody first and record it as a voice memo on my phone, then I sit down at a piano and really build it out. After that, I bring it into a studio and work with a producer to create the full track. It’s always a bit of a different process for each song, and I collaborate with a bunch of different producers. It’s an open, collaborative process.

What does an average day look like for you?

My normal day is waking up, doing some online college courses, and then I start writing. I always spend time every day playing classical piano too. My day is mainly based around my music.

We know your family is musical too. Tell us more about that.

My parents are both musical. My dad had thirteen brothers and sisters; all of them were very musical. I am one of six kids, am the second youngest, and am the only girl. My three older brothers had a band called Everfound growing up and a lot of my childhood was traveling with them on tour across the US. My family have been a huge inspiration for me and still are. It’s really awesome when you get to pursue something you love with the people you love, so it has been a blessing to have brothers interested in the same thing. One of my brothers is now a producer in Nashville, and is actually one of the main producers I work with currently. I’m sure once I go on tour, my brothers will come with me whether they are my band or are just holding the tour together.

What's your dream venue to play?

Red Rocks is definitely my dream venue.

What does 2017 look like for you musically?

I just started releasing music in 2016, so I will just keep writing and putting out a lot of music this year. I hope to play some shows throughout 2017 as well.

Keep an eye out for new music from Iolite on her Soundcloud, and in the meantime, take a listen to her latest single “Bloodstream” below:

-Sierra

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

Magpie & Dear Rabbit Tell Us Stories Of Life On The Road + Play Lost Lake This Tuesday

Zach Dunn of Denver's Magpie.

Zach Dunn of Denver's Magpie.

This Tuesday, January 3rd, Denver’s Lost Lake will be hosting two of Colorado’s road-worn artists: Zach Dunn of Magpie and Rence Liam of Dear Rabbit. Both call the state home, but both seldom play shows around the good ‘ol C.O. because of busy tour schedules. Dunn, who started playing in the mountains of Telluride followed by a stint in Denver, actually resides now in Moab, UT. He plays with various musicians around the country, bringing them together for shows under the Magpie moniker. And Liam, who has traveled solo (as R E N C E) and with a band (as Dear Rabbit), can occasionally be found in Colorado Springs when he isn’t on the road. Their Lost Lake gig next Tuesday is only $5 in advance, and together they’re ready to warm you up from any post-holiday blues! Grab tickets while you can, and in the meantime, learn how they got their start in the music world, and check out some of their crazy tour shenanigans:

How did you start touring?

Dunn: Myself and longtime Magpie fiddle player Luke Sivertson were living in this little back alley house in the Denver Five Points area. We were both pedi-cabbing, playing our first local shows, and sleeping on a bunk bed. We got kicked out of the house in the middle of the winter. I was pretty upset at the time because I had worked so hard to find some stability in the city. However, it was just the kick in the ass we needed to try out touring life and the two of us booked our first run out in the southeast where the weather was more kind.

Liam: It pretty much just fell into place. The story begins before I even wrote a single song of my own. I was playing bass, backing up my buddy Net Hua for various songs that he wrote and sang. One day, he felt the need to leave town, but he encouraged me to continue pursuing music on my own. He was the one who let me know that he believed in me even though he hadn't heard my [own solo] songs. Various places around Colorado were still asking for our band to play at shows, and I just confirmed under our newer moniker without telling them the full story. I initially had to "cover" Net Hua's songs while I was starting out. It was during this time that I was still learning how to sing, and I also was learning how to write my own songs. Eventually I came up with enough material of my own. About six months or so after my solo musical endeavors began, David Strackany (who performed under the moniker of Paleo at the time), reached out to me for a show at an art gallery.  I had been wanting to tour some, but David inspired me even further. In fact, a year or so later, he helped me book my first tour!

Rence Liam of Dear Rabbit.

Rence Liam of Dear Rabbit.

What's the most bizarre show you have played?

Dunn: I have played quite a few. Lately, it seems like we are all meeting up for just one big show in nobody's hometown which makes it hard to find a place to practice. We will find a secluded park or cemetery or bridge where we hope nobody is so we can work on the set without being interrupted. Always, a small crowd will show up out of the woodworks and we just end up playing an impromptu show for the random audience and forget about the whole practice thing. But probably the most bizarre was one time when somebody hired me to write a birthday song for their friend in Boulder. I barely knew her. I rang the doorbell singing telegram style, and sang this cheesy birthday song I made up. She loved it. I think.    

Liam: Many shows have been bizarre, but one that comes to mind is when we performed in a trench by the L.A. River. I had just finished writing "Don't Let South Dakota Spiders Eat You," so I recorded it for my own personal criticism for further improvement. But I liked the way my voice carried underneath that bridge so much that I posted the recording to SoundCloud (along with a completely different, plugged in version performed in Phoenix).

Magpie.

Magpie.

What's the craziest place you have slept?

Dunn: The van was always great ‘cause you could sleep comfortably anywhere; in the countryside or on most any city street. Pre-van days are a different story. One time, three of us were traveling in this tiny car that barely had enough room for our gear. We had a day off and wanted to check out the Grand Coulee Dam up in Washington. We pitched a tent right above it.  There were all these spooky owls flying around. The clouds started to build and we were really in for it. It poured so hard that it drowned our tent. We ran for the campground bathrooms and found a ratty, longhaired terrier dog crying by the entrance. Someone had abandoned it and it had this disgusting eyeball that was protruding out of its socket. We were actually kind of afraid of it. We ended up bringing it into the bathroom with us and we all slept on the floor that night. We didn't know what to do with the dog ‘cause we had shows coming up. Luckily, the very next day we found a lady to take in the pup. She named it Magpie.

Liam: I will admit that some sleep options can seem sketchy at times. I am really thankful for my strong network of friends, throughout the states and in Canada, who are usually able to find me better options when I run into those situations. But during one of my touring gaps, I was looking for a free campsite, and I wound up in the vicinity of this northeastern Montana town called Fort Peck. The town seemed weird to me, as it had no gas station and no grocery store; yet it had a coffee shop, a tourist center for the dam, and a fully functioning theatre amongst a couple or so other sparse attractions. I arrived in town too late for the theatre performance, but I really wanted to grab a drink there, and I had just two options. One was this cowboy-type of bar that reminded me of Texas Roadhouse or something. The other was the lounge area of an older hotel; it had this Twin Peaks vibe. Obviously, I chose to enjoy my glass of beer at the hotel lounge, but I still camped out, and the summer heat and wind were not to my liking!

Rence Liam.

Rence Liam.

What do you like about each others' live set?

Dunn: I remember the first few times [I watched Rence] he had this old plastic classical guitar plugged into a really tiny distorted amp and was kinda yelling. It was really jarring at first sight. Then I started to watch and listen, and I saw him expressing himself truly, which is rare these days. I laughed and I cried. I realized he doesn't really care much about what anyone else thinks.  I've seen him progress tremendously as a musician since those first few shows. The heart of it is still there. Rence is good at being himself and makes it ok for everyone else to be who they are.  

Liam: I especially like how [Magpie] sing songs about friends, and I personally like how the instrumentation, as well as voices, can vary from show to show. It evolves and brings a fresh and new interpretation of Zach's songs. It has been a year or so since we have shared the stage, which gets me excited and curious to see what he brings to the table on Tuesday night!

Get yourself to the Lost Lake too this Tuesday! Tickets here, and you can keep up with more adventures from Magpie and Dear Rabbit on their websites.

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

Silver and Smoke: The New Faces of Western Rock and Blues Grit

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Western rock forces: unite.

Close your eyes and imagine you’re atop a dusty mountain peak, overlooking the oranges, yellows, and purples of a Colorado sunset. The warm, dry wind tousles your hair, and you feel alright. I’ve told many people that music of my heart is classic western rock: musicians like Neil Young and John Denver, whose music is interwoven with soul and grace. Music that evokes powerful imagery of nature’s vastness and unapologetic beauty. It’s with this that I am honored to introduce the up-and-coming Colorado western rock band Silver and Smoke.

Silver and Smoke live at Lost Lake. 

Silver and Smoke live at Lost Lake. 

Silver and Smoke draw from earthy sounds, laced with gritty blues undertones and haunting melodies. Their story is still being written, yet it goes back eight years ago, when Tyler Bray (vocals/guitar) and Dino Ianni (lead guitar/saxophone) played in a high school band together called Good News, Apollo. After playing together at their graduation, they went their separate ways; Dino venturing to Chicago for college, and Tyler studying in Greeley, CO.

Their reunion reveals the kismet nature of their relationship, returning to Aurora, CO after years of intermittent communication. After getting back in touch, they wrote one song together, and within six months, recorded an entire album.

Ianni riffin'. 

Ianni riffin'. 

Since their reunion in July 2015, Silver and Smoke have been in the midst of a creative transformation. Working previously with Jenna Moll Reyes as backup singer and Alex Sager on drums, they are now performing and recording with sound engineer and drummer Diego Valenzuela of Landlocked Records. Diego worked with the group on their Workhorse EP, which was officially released in full on iTunes today. Two songs titled “Locomotive” and “Screaming Amazing Grace” have already been leaked on Soundcloud, and after listening to these two tracks on repeat, I could not be more excited for album’s entire release.

Listen to Silver and Smoke's track "Locomotive":

Workhorse touches on the dichotomy of musicians who are discovered overnight versus those who work relentlessly for years, while having a great time and connecting with those who support them. It’s a celebration of life’s beauty and playing music for music itself, rather than playing for fame. It evokes strong imagery of iconic americana and honors the grit and passion that was exhibited in the development of the Western Rockies. They stay true to their Colorado roots and use their home as inspiration to forge on with their music.

Valenzuela slayin'. 

Valenzuela slayin'. 

Silver and Smoke are truly one of a kind; they hope to pave the way for western rock by constantly challenging themselves, twisting their sounds, and never limiting themselves to one musical identity. They ooze soul, and listening to their music is truly invigorating.

In celebration of the studio release of Workhorse, Silver and Smoke will be jamming at Herman’s Hideaway in Denver this Saturday, March 5 at 11pm. Whether you are looking to rock out to some headbangers, or vibe and sway, Silver and Smoke’s diverse performances have what you are looking for. So if you want to let off some steam this weekend, get yourself to Herman’s and watch Silver and Smoke blow the roof off the joint.

Bray croonin'.

Bray croonin'.

Silver and Smoke are also planning a West Coast tour starting in August, hitting up hot spots in Seattle, San Diego, Colorado, and more. So join them on their journey, connect via Facebook, and find their music on iTunes, Soundcloud, and on their website. And for a closer look into the making of Workhorse and a taste of their quirky personalities, watch “Workhorse: The Birth of Western Rock” and enjoy the ride.

-Jura

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

Breaking the Rules of the Music Biz: BLDGBLKS Artist Mawule

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Mawule and his music both have stories to tell.

BLDGBLKS Artist Mawule.

BLDGBLKS Artist Mawule.

Born Ebenezer Yebuah, better known by his artist name, Mawule, was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. He and his family moved to Denver when he was 10 years old and he’s remained here ever since. Music has always been an integral part of Mawule’s life, starting with his active involvement in his church’s gospel choir.

But success in the music industry has never been the only goal in mind for Mawule. His lifelong fascination with human relationships and an interest in becoming a couples counselor drove him to pursue a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies, as well as a Masters in Student Affairs and Higher Education at Colorado State University. As a student, he produced his first song titled, ‘Let You Go,’ which caught the attention of two producers. While education remained his top priority, he continued to write lyrics, concoct amazing beats, and produce music as a hobby. Upon his realization that a life without music was not an option, he re-emerged as Mawule, which means “Only God Knows” in the Ewe language, native to his birthplace.

Mawule’s music reflects his passion for the human connection and he uses it as a source of both comfort and empowerment for others. He is inspired by what is real about relationships, including trust, doubts, and abuse. His songs bring awareness to the objectification of women, harassment, and sexual assault-- all donned in a cloak of deep lyrics and catchy rhythms.

Mawule recording at   The Spot Studios  in Denver .

Mawule recording at The Spot Studios in Denver.

When he is not in the recording studio, Mawule works for the University of Colorado Boulder as a Hall Director. He is also a workout junkie, a food fanatic, and an adventurer. He loves to travel, and makes the 20-hour flight back home to Ghana as frequently as his busy schedule allows.

While Mawule’s music carries hints of futuristic, R&B, and club-vibe tones, he has no plans of limiting his fanbase by genre category. It’s reasons like these that Mawule is breaking the rules of the music business. On the topic of music categorization, Mawule says:

“I don’t want to be categorized into one sound. My music is soulful. Lyrically, I write in the form of R&B, but production-wise, I am all over the board. Music is always changing, and R&B is not what is used to be. I want to cater to all audiences. I want to be the future of R&B.”

Mawule released his first EP, Reflections, in July of 2014. This year, he was featured in Denver’s 93.3 Radio’s December 2015 ‘Hometown for the Holiday’ event, where his single ‘Mirror Mirror’ was selected for one of the top 10 hits.

With an EP, a multitude of songs on SoundCloud, and a lyric stock folder filled with enough songs for three additional albums, Mawule is one artist to look out for. His newest single, ‘Chosen’ will be released online April 8th of next year, and his upcoming album Anything will be subsequently released on June 3rd, 2016.

Check out Mawule’s website for discography, merchandise, and upcoming news about his music. To get up close and personal, be sure to connect with him on Instagram and Twitter as well.

Listen to Mawule's Reflections here:

-Jura

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