Denver's DJ Low Key & Red Bull Music Have Partnered for the Ultimate Block Party This Weekend

By: Nathan Sheppard

This Labor Day weekend Red Bull Music & DJ Low Key are hosting the 7th annual Goodness Block Party; a staple of Denver’s vibrant hip-hop music scene since 2012. The event will take place between 27th and Larimer St. centered around the events long time home The Meadowlark in the RiNo neighborhood this Saturday, September 1st. The party is an 18+ (with valid ID) event and starts at 4PM.

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DJ Low Key has been an integral part of Denver’s hip-hop community for over a decade, beginning with his collaboration with DJ Lazy Eyez and weekly hip-hop parties (The Solution) for over 11 years. His parties have featured local artists and brought in national acts to highlight Denver’s unique hip-hop, soul, and DJ culture. This year DJ Low Key has partnered up with Red Bull Music to feature Denver artists like Sur Ellz and YaSi, as well as national artists TiRon & Ayomari and DJ Jazzy Jeff .

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of, you can purchase yours here.

-Nathan

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

Cisco The Nomad On The City's Gentrification: Denver First, Always

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Cisco the Nomad is Denver born and bred, and proud of it.

“I grew up all over town. My parents split up when I was really young so my dad lived in Central/West Denver, from between Alameda to Federal and Federal to Evans, and my mom moved to Lakewood. I spent the time split between them.” the hip-hop artist told me recently from a SketchFam member’s living room.

“I went to all private schools,” he smiled, “I went to The Colorado Academy for middle and high school with the wealthier kids in town, but I took the public bus three hours to get to that school!” he laughed, “And I wasn’t always comfortable bringing those kids home.”

Cisco The Nomad.

Cisco The Nomad.

Outside of class, Cisco the Nomad, whose birth name is Clay Edwards, spent a lot of time riding around the streets of Denver, and getting to know the city on an intimate level.

“My dad’s a bus driver so I spent a lot of time riding the bus and writing poems about the city. Rapping for me started as poetry. I’ve always identified as a writer more than a musician.” he smiled.

Still, music has always been in his roots.

“My dad’s a percussionist so he was a drummer before I was born. He drummed with Kevin Dooley. I grew up around music and started doing musical theater when I was young and playing saxophone.” he added, “Now I purely do vocal work.”

Edwards showing us a track from his upcoming mixtape.

Edwards showing us a track from his upcoming mixtape.

After high school, Edwards found himself at Colorado College studying theater arts. It was at this point he became more serious about laying down tracks.

“When I got to college, I got serious about recording. My friend Mamoun and I started SketchFam- a collective of beat makers, visual artists, and multiple people across states bringing these talents together.” he explained.

From there, he and friend Henri Katz went on to form Lounge Records, a Denver-based DIY label with a strict focus on Denver artists.

“I put Denver artists first. I am constantly scouring this city for emcees, for talent. I want artists to know that they can launch from here. You don’t need to pull a Trev Rich and go to Atlanta. You don’t need to move to Los Angeles. We’ve got it right here for you. Let’s capitalize on the millions of people who are here.”

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However, Edwards agrees there need to be more performance spaces for hip-hop artists to launch from in Denver. Many venues have shuddered due to the gentrification of recent Mile High neighborhoods.

“I want Denver to be itself- the amount of time and work people have put into this city should shine. I was heartbroken when The Gypsy House Cafe closed down. It was a spot where young poets hung out in Denver. There was coffee, hookah. All of a sudden that spot disappeared and became like an imported sushi place or something. You can’t just expect the soul of a place to grow back in a year. If you take it, it’s gone. And that matters to me. I want artists to come here and exist, but Denver needs to define the artistic hub that lives here. People from New York shouldn’t be coming here and defining that.”

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The authentic culture of Denver is important to Edwards, and I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d see now taking the same bus ride he did as a child.

“Something like ‘RiNo’ is a bunch of bullshit. Why not call it ‘Five Points’? Why rebrand it? Why divorce it from its history and change it from its history? To make it more palatable for who? Why does everything gotta be two-syllables and end with an ‘o’? Who decided this was the identity of the city? Especially growing up where I’m from. It’s so plastic what they’re doing and how they’re marketing it- as a trendy fun place to move- when really [RiNo] is a warehouse district. I don’t see why we need to rebrand a city when people are already coming here anyway. The opportunity isn’t going to go away by calling ‘Five Points’ ‘Five Points’. ‘SoBro’ is South Broadway, ‘LoDo’ is Lower Downtown, The Highlands are just North Denver. I don’t need a LoHi. This isn’t a fast casual restaurant where you can pick your neighborhood like Chipotle options.”

Edwards isn’t alone in feeling this way. Denver’s gentrification has been a hot issue in recent years as more and more locals find themselves forced out of neighborhoods they grew up in and surrounded by corporate chains in place of local joints.

“There’s going to be a point where people who move here look to the city for what it is- for its culture- and that shouldn’t come from people who move here. That should come from Denver and from the people who have lived here.” Edwards told me.

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Edwards now calls a space on 14th and Federal home, where he lives with producer, guitarist, and collaborator Sherman. The two have recently been working together, with others from SketchFam and Lounge Records, to try and expand Denver’s hip-hop scene. Though a lot of this is happening DIY in people’s living rooms and basements, Cisco thinks this can change.

“I want to create space for Denver arts. As the city is expanding and transplants are coming in, there is a point we have to decide who gets to be the tastemakers and I think those should be Denver people. I’m sick of cultural transplants coming into the city and defining this city.”

Cisco is also working on his music, a mixtape called Starter Pack, which will drop later this year. It will be mostly acoustic hip-hop jams, some of which Cisco has already started to play live.

“When I hit the stage, I try to have an all-encompassing sort of presence. I want people to leave there feeling like church- like they’ve done something spiritual together.” he smiled.

Cisco also agrees there are plenty of Denver artists building the local hip-hop scene just like he is.

Edwards with some local members of SketchFam.

Edwards with some local members of SketchFam.

“I love Sur Ellz. Kid Astronaut. Yasi. And they’re not always getting the attention they deserve.” he said.

It is these artists- and others- that Edwards feels should be defining the Denver hip-hop sound.

“I think the way people speak out here is different. Denver’s sound is more lyrical- I think poetry is a huge influence in the Denver scene. I want to bring out a Baroquian lyricism- excessive, everywhere.”

But to Edwards, the issues of a redefined Denver go far beyond the local hip-hop scene, the broader music scene, and the neighborhoods he has watched change.

“I want Denver’s disenfranchised to have a certain amount of voice in the city. And if it’s not in politics and it’s not in real estate, then it damn well better be in the arts.” Edwards exclaimed.

“Denver first always. No matter where I go.”

Keep an eye out for Cisco the Nomad’s upcoming mixtape, which drops this week hereand keep up with his live performance schedule through Facebook.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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.

School of Rock Meets Musical Fame: Life Growing Up at Denver School Of The Arts

By: Sierra Voss

I remember my first music photography gig well. I was shooting for BolderBeat at Denver’s local music festival, The UMS Showcase. It was a strange but exhilarating feeling being down in the audience, watching the shows through a camera lense. My life has been filled with music from a very young age, but I was used to being the one on stage. I spent the majority of my childhood- seven years- attending Denver School of the Arts (DSA) as a vocal major. This festival was my first time using a new artistic tool to capture a musical experience I knew so intimately.  

DSA is a public magnet arts high school and middle school that offers rigorous daily involvement in a specialized art form. When I attended the school as a vocal major, students took part in over an hour and a half of their art form (or major) every day. It was a specific type of education that differed greatly from my other friends high school and middle school experiences. Although I didn’t professionally pursue voice after high school, I found art was always an integral part of my life. It was something I felt made up my genetic composition, and was at the core of how I processed and expressed the world around me.  

My love for photography came after my love for singing, but as I grew older it took priority. It wasn’t until this past year that I had the idea to explore merging the two artistic expressions I loved so dearly. It was this decision that landed me at The UMS, ready to jump into the weekend's festivities.

As I looked at the lineup, I was floored by how many acts had members that went to my high school, DSA. I had no idea so many of my peers had stuck around town to build out their musical passions and careers. I had to wonder how DSA had shaped so many of these current artist’s paths, and was so intrigued about who they had all become within Denver’s music scene. So I sat down with numerous DSA Alumni to explore just that.

Jon Shockness- Kid Astronaut (former singer in Air Dubai)

From my own experience, Jon Shockness was no doubt the cool kid on the block in middle school. He practically melted every one of our moms’ and sisters’ hearts during our 2001 “Pop Show” performace when he sang “Ben” by Michael Jackson.

Jon performing at DSA’s “Peacejam Event” in 2009.

Jon performing at DSA’s “Peacejam Event” in 2009.

How did your time at DSA influence the artist you are today?

When I think about being a singer and my history with voice, I know a lot of it started with the training I got from DSA. Even today, I create some of my vocal tones from arias I sang for master classes in high school. I am definitely influenced by my time there. Being able to harmonize with other artists was definitely learned from DSA. Overall, my time at DSA inspired me to have a lot of respect for artists and different types of voices. It instilled in me a deep respect for my own voice on a deeper level that allowed me to really grow as an artist.

On the hard days, do you have a mantra that inspires you to continue your musical career?

Oh yeah. There was this thing one of my exes told me. She said, “You're always where you need to be.” I was going through a rough time and not sure why things weren't moving the way I wanted them to or thought they should. This was like 2012 before we got signed. Anytime I feel incomplete or like I'm in the wrong place, I remind myself that I'm where I need to be and usually allowing myself to accept my position creates growth.

Portrait of Jon 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Jon 2017 per the author.

Shane Franklin- Lead singer in hip-hop band SF1

The kid that was always, always playing drums on any and every surface he could find.

Shane playing drums for his college band in 2009 at Larimer Lounge.

Shane playing drums for his college band in 2009 at Larimer Lounge.

What did you love the most about DSA?

I remember we used to have teachers that would base writing prompts around our major, like, write an essay about how your major correlates with The Scarlet Letter. DSA really let us create a world shaped by our art form and what we loved.

How did your time at DSA influence the artist you are today?

Students were truly limitless at DSA in terms of collaborations and exploring different art forms. We were given opportunities to collaborate across majors. I remember drumming for the vocal department, tap dancing with the dance department, doing music for the cinema majors, and auditioning for musicals. It shaped me going out into this world as an artist. You can't just keep yourself in a box. That's why my music incorporates dance and theatrics. My time at DSA made me into the collaborative artist I am today.  

Do you think you could live life without music? What would you do instead?

Music is life. It's plan A. Plan B is execute plan A!

Portrait of Shane 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Shane 2017 per the author.

Julie Be- (Julie Almeria) also singer for project STéLOUSE

Julie was the girl who always got the best part in school-wide musicals, and rightfully so. I remember being in awe as I watched her in one stunning musical theater role after the next throughout my time at DSA.

 Julie starring in DSA’s production of  Aida .

 Julie starring in DSA’s production of Aida.

What differences do you notice working with DSA artists versus non DSA artists?

I think there are a lot of generous and nice artists in the music scene in Denver. I think that’s cool because those are the main characteristics I think of when I think of artists from DSA. I definitely think that there is a total sense of comradery between DSA artists though. Like, these are people that I especially want to see succeed. I think we fit very well into a scene that is already pretty generous, and I think we add a lot of good qualities too. DSA artists are just nice people, and nice people are sometimes rare in this world.  

What's your end goal? What if you don’t get there?

The end goal… that's a damn good question, and I ask myself that every day. When I was younger, I defined "success" as being famous, a household name, rich, etc. I doubt I'm alone in that… but now, I see success as being more about how I feel about the work that I am doing as opposed to how other people feel about it. I want to continue creating- releasing my own complete album is a bucket list item for me- and collaborating with other artists in ways that feel genuine to me. If I could do away with my day job and just make music for a living, I would be so freaking happy. Yeah, it would be cool to win a Grammy or to go on a world tour. Do I want those things? Absolutely! But to me, they're not the goal. If anything, they would be a by-product of the goal. At the end of the day, I want to arrive at a place where I can look back at my musical career and say, "I did what I wanted to do, and I did it with integrity".

Portrait of Julie 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Julie 2017 per the author.

Shilo Gold- (Shayna Goldstein)

I will never forget Shayna’s first-day-of-school-outfit in the 7th grade (think platform sneakers with fire flames going down the side and basketball shorts). Shayna has been many things to me throughout my life: a mentor and a fierce competitor, but above all else, my best friend.

Shayna singing in DSA’s Vocal Department’s 2007 “Pop Show."

Shayna singing in DSA’s Vocal Department’s 2007 “Pop Show."

What led you to start your music career in Los Angeles, and why did you decided to move back to Denver?

DSA gave me a certain strength that was bred from a really young age. It enabled me to really believe in myself. We were instilled with the ideas of what we could achieve, and were given a lot of power to invent ourselves as artists. I think it gave me the courage to move to Los Angeles and take on a bigger scene.

During my time in LA, I was missing a sense of authenticity. It felt so competitive and stiff. I left on tour and spent a year playing shows in 38 states. There was no doubt in my mind that Denver was where I wanted to end up.

Have you ever consider exploring a different career? What pulls you back to your artistry?

Pursuing a career as an artist is anything but easy or stable. Everyone has different tastes, and no matter how proud or passionate you are about what you are creating, it doesn't mean that it will be widely received. I have definitely questioned my ability to pursue my craft, and in turn, contemplated what other careers would look like for me. At the end of the day, I have realized that music is something deeply engraved in my bones. It is my journal, and the greatest gift I have to give. No matter what I do to pay the bills, or put food on the table, music is the reason I wake up in the morning and the way I make others feel like they are not alone. It's not that anything in particular keeps me dedicated to music, it's that I've done my share of exploring and have come to realize that no matter what path my life takes, writing and sharing music will always be a part of it.

Portrait of Shilo 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Shilo 2017 per the author.

Nic Hammerberg- Member of SYCDVK & Petals of Spain

Nic was basically my older brother growing up. He drove me to school everyday. We became obsessed with sharing new musical discoveries like Feist, Jack Johnson, G. Love and Special Sauce, and obviously the soundtracks from 'Garden State,' 'The O.C' and 'Grey's Anatomy.'

 Nic performing in DSA’s “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.” Photo by Edward Davidson 2005.

 Nic performing in DSA’s “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.” Photo by Edward Davidson 2005.

What connects all DSA students?

We are a special breed. We all have this connection, but how do you put your finger on it? It feels special to me. It's like if we all went to Hogwarts! You know- we have that bond! We are all from the Gryffindor house is what I am saying.

When I see other DSA artists performing around town, I just know so viscerally what they went through to get there. It's not to say that other people aren't as skilled, like muggles for example, they can be super great wizards too. But us magic folk are true wizards. We can just do anything that we set our minds to. We all studied our craft every day for basically all of high school and middle school. How could that be anything else but magical?

Do you have a song that you would say embodies your journey as an artist?

"Sleeping Lessons" by The Shins. That song has often been an inspiration in moments of sadness, and to really light a fire under my ass. There was something so different and mysterious about that song when I first heard it, lyrically and melodically, that acted as a psychedelic to me; opened my brain to new. There is new everywhere, and there is lots of opposition and challenges in discovering yourself. The lyrics are brilliant and provide a new support and resilience: "So enlist every ounce of your bright blood, and off with their heads…  You're not obliged to swallow anything you despise."

Portrait of Nic 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Nic 2017 per the author.

It became clear after interviewing my peers that growing up in an art school environment truly shaped who these artists are today. They confirmed my deep feelings and beliefs that students from DSA learn and refine skills that allow them to continually re-create themselves as artists. They collaborate with other singers, create an arts community, respect other forms of expression and bring to the table exceptional knowledge of music theory. DSA artists are truly an important part of Denver culture, and are creating a loving and collaborative music scene.

Other awesome DSA artists hidden among Denver’s music scene include: Wesley Watkins (founder of The Other Black and former trumpet player for Nathaniel Rateliff and Night Sweats and), Brittany Williams (of Brittany Williams & The Unstoppable Groove), Halle Spoor (who is currently recording her first album), and Khalil Arcady (Sur Ellz).  

These artists all perform frequently around town throughout the year. Keep an eye on their platforms for updates of future shows!

-Sierra

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

(Un)Traditional Love Songs: A Playlist For Your Valentine's Day & So Much More

By: Joliene Adams

Forget complaints about Valentine’s Day commercialism. Let’s think instead on the limitations of the kind of love that gets advertised to us. Love comes in all shapes and sizes far beyond romantic, and this playlist reflects all those feelings and shades of love. Wherever you are at in your love life and whoever you love in whatever ways, whether the burning embers of passion or the charcoal heart of getting burned from love; from your lover to your mother, it’s all here:

Listen to BolderBeat’s “(Un)Traditional Love Songs” Playlist:

1. “Death Hex” – The VelveteersDeath Hex (2016)

No one said love came without barbs. Hook, line, and sinker, The Velveteers rock straight for the jugular. John Demitro’s drums thunder with the urgency of foreboding storms while Demi Demitro’s tight, heavy guitar licks smack you awake. Staggered vocal notes build tension up to lift off as Demi lets melodic hollers unapologetically rip. If their rock doesn’t shatter the teacups on your shelf, you haven’t turned that heavy grit up loud enough.

And this one’s lyrical content doesn’t dote expressly on love. Demi speaks to this in an interview covered by BolderBeat’s Hannah Oreskovich, “‘Death Hex’ is about awakening from the dead and saying goodbye to the past. It was really inspired by a sense of magic I felt happening. It’s a story of coming back from a bad situation and coming out on the other side better than you ever imagined.” It might not be about love, but it’s an ages old story, that of the lover who rises from the ashes. Take your heartbreak, wipe the floor clean with it, and rise from the ashes bigger, better, stronger, faster, badder-asser.

2. “Didn’t See You There” – Red Fox RunRed Fox Run (2015)

Ever turned around or glanced sidelong at your buddy and all of a sudden SPLAT, you think, “I did NOT realize my friend was this cute let alone that that I was in love with them this whole time?” This number cascades and careens as your own feelings might at such a realization. Red Fox Run fearlessly showcase vocalist and rhythm guitarist Daniel Rondeau shouting out a proclamation from the truths that sit in the center pit of a heart. He’s proclaiming hopeful, but it’s clearly uncertain since “I couldn’t love you more than I do right now” isn’t the end of the sentence. Red Fox Run keep it playful, but in the end, they’ve said all they need to say.

It’s the year anniversary of Red Fox Run being no longer, an anniversary that may bring with it many a fan’s broken heart. But the good news is that three out of four original RFR members continue on in their new Denver-based project Wildermiss.

3. “I Like You” – Ned Garthe Explosion Flashlight Tan (2016)

Crash forward, skid in sideways, stop abruptly- you’ll travel at all different speeds in Ned Garthe Explosion’s capable hands. Splaying themselves across diverse elements is something familiar to Ned Garthe Explosion and their fans. As Andy Thomas of Westword notes, 2016’s Flashlight Tan finds frontman Ned Garthe and his co-conspirators messing around with genre and intent “writing deliberately toward a certain genre, in an earnest near-parody that’s so good you can’t tell it’s a parody. It’s a depth of vision that can only be achieved late at night, when the cops are nowhere to be found.” But isn’t that love sometimes? Crashing forward, landing backwards… and even sometimes ending in a weird parody you sort of knew existed.

4. “Call Through the Wire” – Inner Oceans Call Through the Wire (2016)

“If I leave you in the night...” The suggestion alone leaves you indignant, does it not? The sentiment wells up from something clearly much deeper as Inner Oceans’ frontman Griffith Snyder sings lushly of the story unfolding. “I see you all the time and it hurts to think you were right,” he sings. The sound is atmospherically absorbing while the message delivers clear adoration with a twinge of regret and a still-in-love/lust-with-you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two, in life or in music, and I can’t come down on which it might be here but I’m ok with it.

5. “Shooting Star” – RossonianYou Are Your Own Dentist (2013)

Rossonian use space and astral phenomena as metaphor, delivering dreamy and delicate wonder. This one is absolutely a love song, but also earns love for the success of their symbolic narrative. It propels, then floats, taking pause to deliver changes in emphatic subtleties. Rossonian is master of small sound shifts across a slow build, lending the song a complexity that doesn’t announce itself like a smack to the face, but rather comes at and through you like the feeling of slowly waking up. This one’s a gentle journey from one end of conscious awareness to another, starting gently and sleepily as it comes to burn bright-eyed awake.  

6.  “Day I Was Born” – 5ive, Jessica Jones – Radioland (2016)

There’s romantic love, and then there’s the love for your mother. Both can overpower. If I had any doubts as to which it was here at first (the word “mama” is sufficiently vague enough terminology to always throw me off without further clear direction), Jessica Jones’ vocal turn sways results to the latter. “Mama you believed in me, even when my skies were gray, you gave me the entire world… people asked me how’d I got so strong. I tell ‘em that my mama showed me the way. You always raised me up right, with all the love you gave.” Where 5ive (Quinn Lynch) and Jessica Jones put the soul in your playlist, your mother put you and your soul into this world. So if you tell anyone you love them on Valentine’s Day, make it your mother and be sure to thank her.

7. “If I Grew a Violet (You’d Ask for a Rose)” – Andy Sydow A Little Messed Up (2016)

Ever read the children’s book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? This is an adult version of that tale in more ways than one. If you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk. They will want something else and more after the glass of milk, so on and so forth until eternity. Sydow dishes up love pangs boiled over lost hopes in the spirit of said book. Emotionally honest, raw words of disappointed love come in, combined with loving, earnest, even sweet melody. The message delivered could interpret as one lover's greed or the other’s embittered pessimistic complacency. You can’t tell who is at fault but you can tell who fell short of the two: the “I” of the singer. It sounds at once an apology, and at once a screw you.

But this tune is also for the times everything you give or have isn’t enough. It’s a song of love exhausted and felled short. Although heartbreak does lead to some great songwriting, as Andy Sydow reminds. Thank you for breaking your open heart for us, Andy.

8. “Tilt-A-Whirl” – The RailsplittersThe Faster It Goes (2015)

If Colorado’s associated with bluegrass, The Railsplitters play a huge support role in buttressing the strong reputation and taking it on tour across the nation. Clear-ringing harmonies usher in a fast-paced minimalism foregrounding wise essentials and together, they come carrying melodies at different speeds, much as a Tilt-a-Whirl carousel making circles. Research lends insight here, for when Dusty Rider songwrites he, “writes with the full band in mind, imagining an entire song in his head before it’s even heard it out loud.” This one is a reflective reminiscence on the memories of someone who came before, but is gone now. And with mind racing, you start to question yourself and all that was.

Lauren Stoval’s lead vocals are clear as sunlight on snow, while Dusty Rider and Peter Sharpe’s alternations between plucking each note and full-bodied strumming chords lend interest and supplement with distinctive, rhythmic filler. Leslie Ziegler’s bass comes in barely, but richly, serving the more invisible role, like that of editor to writer. And of course, there’s Joe D’Esposito’s fiddle coming in on the top to send the song off into its final soars of that gloriously spinning Tilt-a-Whirl.

9.  “Someone Like Me” – SF1 Inamorata (2012)

From hand drums to lyrical repetitions, SF1 keeps their sound light, and their message relatively straightforward. There’s a serious sense in which this song seems at once upbeat, and then anything but. It’s a song that wouldn’t have to come without heartbreak, but it takes its pride on walking away in fulfilled request from another. “You’ll never find someone like me” could come out all wrong in a breakup, but the cheerful sonic delivery here gives this song a quality of what you sing in your head knowingly to comfort and uplift your own self on the walk home, giving props to your emotional regulation in honoring a request, and moving on.

10. “Bloodstream” – IoliteBloodstream (2016)

Bloodstream’s sophisticated stormy pop comes through even better on headphones, as Iolite’s (Elina Odnorlav) full-bodied indie-electronica pounces at you with confident authority. She fuses an ear, talent, and a decade of piano work with electronic assets wisely, and all at the ripe old age of seventeen. Laying down this kind of sophisticated, well-calibrated arrangement with undergirding convinces you she’s worth your ear time. The sheer carnal sensuality of this tune pulses at you with a cosmopolitan sensibility, one that makes the heart beat fast. Iolite is fierce, and if you need more proof, read BolderBeat’s interview with Odnorlav by Sierra Voss.

11. "Wait to Rust” – Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut, Sur EllzLive and Die Like This (2016)

Triple Denver whammy! This Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut (Jon Shockness), and Sur Ellz (Khalil Arcady) collaboration 110% comes out the most natural thing in the world. Lyrically and vocally caressing you with emotion, this trio allures in their fervent R&B/soul blend as soft finger snaps and harmonies soften your ear and melt into your heart chambers.

Marque caresses your emotions with intimacy in both lyric and lead vocals. Muted cymbal, reliant drums, and the hushed guitar unobtrusively lend rhythm, combining together and across this song to create instrumental romance and a certain sense of enchantment. The heart, bloodstream, nervous system, and muscle memory in you recognize the message: wanting something at a cellular level you know at a cognitive one is only going to destroy or undo you. Having a heart is a wonderful gift and real son of a gun, ain’t it?

12.  “They Love to Hate” – Molina Speaks, DJ Icewater Sex Money Ego (2016)

Robust, fresh beats thump and bump as they palpitate at heart rate speed. Chill, smooth, and with a pinch of lyrical sass, this one’s also purely carnal. It’s got sexy love and wantingness combined with a creed of holding-your-cool and enjoying all the spontaneous pleasures of life. It’s definitely a turn-up tune for cruising in your car, or even cooler, on your low-rider bike with the sweet speaker you should probably have. Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater have collaborated to make something seductive, both in romantic passions and in making you just want to live out loud to the full. So get to it.

13. “Lucid Recall” – Sunboy Yesterday Is in Love With You (2016)

Yes to a song that I’d enjoy instrumentally, yet do with its lyrics just the same. Sunboy give it a good 55 seconds before vocals seep in though, setting the feel first. If only we all had lucid recall, but memory doesn’t always work that way. Yet, at the same time, it’s by dint of the lyric “haven’t felt this way in a long time” that we remember: sometimes it isn’t the memory, but the feelings evoked that bring back lucid recall in all its vivid glory. And what a robust memory sensation it is when it hits.

Synthy sounds and a certain protraction allow emotions here to take flight. Vocals and piano instrumentation undergird a sound that might be tinny and emotionless otherwise, which would be the last desirable thing in a song so emotionally charged in content. Like Iolite’s “Bloodstream,” headphones are most recommended on Sunboy’s “Lucid Recall” for best up-close-and-personal vibes.  

14. “Medicine” – Rose QuartzAxis of Love (2015)

In the abstract, medicine is there to make us better. Humans are no strangers to using or abusing another person in this way at some time. Sometimes leaning on others is necessary and appropriate. But there is a difference between asking for help and being soul-suckingly co-dependent or reliant. Like a prescription drug, it can be toxic, and this song rails against the notion that one partner serves that role. You can use medicine or abuse it, and this one splits the difference.

A combination of electronic space-esque warble, full-bodied guitar notes, and clips on the drum machine set the scene. Lyrically unapologetic, this is a power number for those times you need to speak to your decision to leave someone who treats you like something to be used up rather than given to. Rose Quartz build and release tension with efficacy, establishing a subtle back and forth strain that fits the bill in the stark truths this electronic groove-pop song seeks to sing out and deliver sans apology. The only thing bigger than its sound may be the heart behind it. This is definitely one to get sassy to under lights on the dance floor, and that sounds like a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

BADBADNOTGOOD Talk To Us About Who They Want To Work With Next

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Toronto’s BADBADNOTGOOD are best known for their interpretations and collaborations in the realm of modern hip-hop. The four piece post-hop and jazz improv group first came together in 2010 at Humber College’s jazz program over their love of MF Doom and Odd Future. Founding members Matthew A. Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinksi (drums) actually released their “Odd Future Sessions Part 1” on YouTube after their jazz instructors were unimpressed with the project. Ironically, it grabbed the attention of Tyler, The Creator himself and went viral. Since then, Leland Whitney (saxophone) has joined the mix, and together the quartet have worked with Tyler, Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, Ghostface Killah, Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Mick Jenkins, Kaytranada, and more. The band are currently touring on their fifth studio album, aptly titled 'IV,' which BBC Radio 6 Music called the #1 album of 2016. This weekend, BADBADNOTGOOD play Denver’s Gothic Friday (01/13), and will take Boulder’s Fox Theatre stage with Sur Ellz Saturday (01/14). Grab tickets while you can here, and in the meantime, check out our chat with this crazy talented crew:

You guys had quite the international tour recently. Any spots along the way you’re really hoping to get back to in 2017?

We went to a lot of new countries we’d never seen before last year- Japan, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico- they would all be amazing to visit again but we have a great time everywhere!

BBC Radio 6 Music picked 'IV' as their album of the year for 2016. What was your initial reaction to hearing that?

Very, very surprised to be honest. There were so many incredible albums we loved on that list and we didn’t feel like ours was a serious contender! We’re extremely happy about the recognition IV has gained. We’re also eternally grateful to our friends in the UK like Gilles Peterson, and all the other DJs at the BBC and otherwise for all the support they’ve shown us over the years!

What were some of your favorite albums dropped in 2016?

Solange’s A Seat at the Table, Kaytranada’s 99.9%, Anderson.Paak’s Malibu, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, A Tribe Called Quest’s We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, and Andy Shauf’s The Party, among many others!

BADBADNOTGOOD.

BADBADNOTGOOD.

Festival lineup announcements have begun. Anything you can hint at about your summer plans?

Sure! We’re going to be playing some incredible festivals across the world- Bonnaroo and Primavera to name a couple that have been announced. We’ll be around Europe, North America, and a few other trips are in the works. We’re also going to have a lot of time at home this year to record and get into some different projects! Peace and love for 2017.

Over the past couple of years, your collaborations with various hip-hop artists have been incredibly impressive. Who is next on your short list of peeps you’re hoping to work with?

We’d love to get a concise project together with Kaytranada. We’ve got so much work in the vault that has yet to come out, and he’s a great friend who’s a pleasure to work with. That’s probably top of the list right now. There are a bunch of other friends in Toronto who we’re stoked to record with too!

Give IV a listen:

>

When are you headed back in the studio?

Pretty soon probably! No idea what we’re going to work on, or what it’s going to sound like though.

If you had to tell us in one word what it was like working with Ghostface Killah on an entire album ('Sour Soul'), what would it be?

Wow one word... Challenging but also rewarding and amazing!

Make sure to catch BBNG at their Colorado shows this weekend; keep up with BADBADNOTGOOD here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

BolderBeat's 'November's My Favorite Indoor Sport' Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

Every month, we publish a new Spotify playlist of Colorado artists for your ears. Here’s our 'November's My Favorite Indoor Sport' playlist, because it’s bound to snow here soon and make you want to curl up inside with some good tunes, right?

BolderBeat's 'November's My Favorite Indoor Sport' Playlist: 

 

1. Candy Claws, Ceres and Calypso in the Deep Time (2013), “Into the Deep Time (One Sun)”

Best song for dreaming cozily in bed about ancient sea creatures emerging from the depths of the deep blue.

How old is the ocean? That’s where things get a little bit fuzzy. And Candy Claws’ own fuzzy dream pop fuels this question with echoes like reverb in deep time, a multimillion year operation of geologic formation. For such distortion and heavy chugging guitar riffs, the atmospheric effects across this track are as divergent from your typical “ocean sounds” as they are hypnotizing. Still, this song feels like you’re looking right into the ocean, taking in the crash of waves in slow motion.

PS: Candy Claws recently expanded into a new project, Sound of Ceres, who you can check out here.

2. shark dreams, Deeep (2016), “Frozen Love”

Best song for lying down on the bed you just made, hands behind head.

Crisp hits on closed hi-hat and drum rim snare your ears into the rhythmic tap of this tune. Warm electric guitar moves by, while layered male and female vocals float and intermingle. This one picks up speed across its first minute, only to hold back and slow down. These subtle shifts pull at your emotional tide, encouraging you to just feel the sensations as its sounds ebb and flow. Relax.

3. The Lonelyhearts, Years in the Great Interior (2013), “Princess of Rubble”

Best song for doing a sock dance to in the comfort of your own home.

At least that’s the first thing their breezy, playful, jaunt-worthy, ear-pleasing, non-lyrical vocals and sounds make me want to immediately do. The sound of longboards chuck-chucking over wooden slatted boardwalks would sound great with this jam on in your headphones. But this month is an indoor sport so I’ll settle for a sock dance on the hardwoods instead.

4. Josh Dillard, The Bright Light of Shipwreck (2013), “Ever Since You’ve Been Gone”

Best song to try and swoon your holiday crush with.

Dillard’s vocals come from deeper than his diaphragm. He’s not a heavy baritone or anything. Just plenty vocally soulful. I admire how he paces out syllables. Sometimes he lets vowels linger and sometimes he wraps them up in a neat quick-time that adds a certain freshness to his tunes. Anyone who sang this to me would definitely get a first date, provided they sang it with the exact same expressiveness that convinced me here we have a man with heart, personality, and poetry.

5. Anthony Ruptak, Between the Hangman and the Halo (2015), “The Bus Song”

Best song to let your mind wander away with.

Since you can’t go skipping flat rocks on the silver pool so easily this time of year, Anthony Ruptak brings the next best-feeling thing to your living room. This sweetly woven story of gratitude will waft right in over you and walk into your daydreaming heart. The harmonica on this track lends customary nostalgia. It’s a nourishing tune that brings it home, and makes it warm inside to boot.

6. Land Lines, The Natural World (2015), “Etiquette”

Best song to listen to when you wish you could be out hiking the trails.

The hand shaker really is a staple of percussive force. My hand wants to spasm just imagining keeping pace on this one. Ross Harada persists, but never intrudes or exceeds a wise clip of pace on this percussion, and that includes his drum playing. The complex instrumental variation of this one mixed with a certain sparseness in each instrument individually empowers the sonic valleys and peaks of “Etiquette.” I’m not sure whether it’s Anna Mascorella or Martina Grbac plucking cello here, but it’s the nicest touch this song could possibly have. Oh the views.

7. The Ghost of Joseph Buck, Scenic (2015), “Not About You”

Best song to splatter paint on your bedroom walls to in large, sweeping, unapologetic motions.

The Ghost of Joseph Buck would rather break your heart slowly. Polly Beck’s lead vocals come out sultry, lyrics a smidge salty, piano wisely. You have to listen for Stephanie Schooley on bass, but she’s there as much as the spinal cord that supports your body’s basic structure without you hardly thinking about it once. Marc Walker’s drums hold off on any and all cymbals and hi-hat until 2:04, a crux moment to the song’s bursting, multi-instrumental power crescendo and caterwauling vocals. The fact that together, the group winds this one back down to its original slower pacing at 3:15 is no less an impressive transition. Killing me not so softly, but in a welcome way no less.

8. Sur Ellz (feat. Kid Astronaut), Sur Ellz (feat. Kid Astronaut) (single; 2016), “Seasons”

Best song to bump the snow off your window pane with.  

Just because November’s an indoor sport doesn’t mean the soundtrack can’t be bumpable. Neo-soul and R&B have as much a job to do to here as mellow acoustic instrumentation or synthy shoegaze. Denver’s Khalil Arcady (Sur Ellz) and Jon Shockness (Kid Astronaut) conspire to bring you raw stories across fresh, smooth beats. Here are two men that don’t fear too much for their manhood to be lyrically vulnerable, to get sonically romantic, to sing about some real feelings. Electronically reproduced hand claps with what sounds like a snare-reminiscent drum machine hit mix with a simmering electronic warbling on slow-cook. Snow gone.

9. Mesita, With Love From Laniakea (2016), “Blank Slate”

Best song to curl up in your favorite blanket with.

A little Thom Yorke to the vocals, a little Nirvana’s “All Apologies” stylistically in the chorus, and the electro fuzz juxtaposed with what sounds like a xylophone played in a piano style, if you will, demonstrate my meaning. Solo act Mesita (James Cooley) doesn’t just do layers. He uses them to create his very worthy-of-a-listen ends: richly interlaced, juxtaposed interplays that create entirely new, richly textured soundscapes. He has a humble willingness in being limitless with what he’s willing to include. For Mesita, 1+1 never equals two. It always equals three, because he takes one thing plus another, and makes a whole new third one straight from it.

10. Moda Spira, Moda Spira (2016), “She Whispers”

Best song to shave your legs, lie in silk sheets, and lament with.

Gentle keys couple with tender and light acoustic guitar. As with the sound of whispering, there is a particular intimacy in Latifah Phillips (Moda Spira’s) singing. In "She Whispers", it’s not always the vocals, but sometimes the pauses taken between sung parts that lend the breathing room in which the sounds seep across your heart and emotions. Come to find out via Reel Gospel’s 2016 She Whispers album review, Moda Spira means “just breathe” in Latin. Her talent in piano is a mainstay in the stewing build of her protracted, draw-you-in musical magnetism.

11. Maxwell Mud, Maxwell Mud (2015), “I Just Wanna Be Good”

Best song to make a New Year’s resolution never to be good again.

Maxwell Mud, as would be appropriate for chillin’ inside, cooking soup, and contemplating, goes for the slow cook much like others on this playlist. However hard Brian Kitrell’s lyrics profess he just wanted to be good, it’s quite clear in his words, guitar riffs, Kenny Jones’ accomplice bass, and Kevin Johnson’s rock’n’roll blues drums that this is a foregone conclusion. At least in the present circumstances and context. His vocals are too steamy for anything but a pot on the brink of hot boil rupture-rapture.

12. Eye and the Arrow, Eye and the Arrow (single; 2015), “Tiger”

Best song to “look out at the cold night from your warm room at the bright moon on the white snow through the window frost and the forest shadows.”

Paul Dehaven has a marvelous storytelling song-voice, and he harkens on stories Portland’s The Decemberists might tell. His own finger flicks at the guitar, Jason Haas-Hecker’s slightly foreboding bass line, and Mark Anderson’s non-deviant foreword drumming collaborate with Dehaven’s story, vocals, and backup echoes to leave you listening to the very scene of walking through the forest when it’s too uncomfortably cold to actually do so.

13. Nearby Liars, Unlearning (2016), “Wither and Rust”

Best song to reflect upon your real feelings to in the bathtub.

Lyrically, this one doesn’t happen as an outright love song. It’s just that the rest sure sounds like a heart that’s known love, is reflecting upon it, and is expressing a definite fallout story of hard facts and cold truth love experiences. It’s lamentation, regrettable, and real. Riley Sbrana’s songwriting waxes and pounds with hard earned self-knowledge for better and for worse. The backup vocals on this one prove to be an emotive staple, and the light acoustic guitar sounds that nudge their way in at 3:20 are the most perfectly subtle, elegant touch.

Thanks for playing with us this November, Colorado. Make sure to follow us on Spotify and take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All tracks per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.