Phoebe Bridgers has shared a beautifully evocative cover of Tom Waits' song 'Day After Tomorrow'.

The track was released back in 2004, but receives the Phoebe Bridgers treatment as part of her long-standing Christmas tradition.

Given an entirely new arrangement, the frosted vocal is augmented by some beautiful moments, including gentle harmonies from an assembled choir.

Guest voices include Z Berg, Kaitlyn Dever, Mady Dever, Ethan Gruska, Emily Kohavi, Blake Mills, Marcus Mumford, Annie Stela and Harrison Whitford, with all monies from the release going to The International Institute of Los Angeles – The Local Integration & Family Empowerment Division.

Part of a holiday tradition for Phoebe Bridgers, 'Day After Tomorrow' follows Yule tide renditions of the likes of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', Merle Haggard's 'If We Make It Through December', and more.

A beautiful recording, you can check out 'Day After Tomorrow' below.

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Breton multi-disciplinary artist QUINQUIS has shared her potent new track 'ADKROG'.

The artist previously released under the name Tiny Feet, but recently decided to overhaul her sound and approach, with QUINQUIS paying homage to her family history.

A fresh slate, then, and new release 'ADKROG' – which translates as 'start again' – is the perfect point of departure.

Matching luminous electronics to drifting sonic textures, 'ADKROG' revolves around that digital pulse, encouraging us to view it from several different angles.

QUINQUIS comments…

“It's about finding the energy in environment and nature. When I was feeling desperate, I sat outside and I prayed for nature to give me some answers. This song is about that – if you just let go then nature gives you an answer.”

Murat Gökmen directs the full video, with QUINQUIS adding:

"Murat’s video is the counterpoint to the track. When the mind is stuck indoors, it starts looking for an answer from the outdoors…"

Tune in now.

Photo Credit: Richard Duma

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Berlin based duo Soft As Snow return with new single 'Pure Mood'.

The project has built a daring cross-discipline persona, maintaining a close association with Mexico based label Infinite Machine in the process.

New album 'Bit Rot' is out on January 28th – order it HERE – and it advances their aesthetic across a number of realms.

Alongside the groundbreaking music, fixated as it is on the future, Soft As Snow also embrace tech-edged visual arts into their world.

Album cut 'Pure Mood' is out now, a bold offering that twists brutal electronics into often unsettling yet entrancing shapes.

The video was crafted alongside 3D modelling artist Guynoid, and it's deft cyber-punk visual language perfectly augments their production stance.

Tune in now.

Photo Credit: Serge Sanchez

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Sam Wise is an erudite student of music.

Arriving on the scene as part of the Frank Ocean co-signed collective, House of Pharaohs – an intersecting network of eccentric voices spanning the music, dance and fashion worlds – the Kennington-raised rapper has subverted convention from the get-go.

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Wise's debut solo EP 'Sorry You Were Saying', released in 2019, ushered in the arrival of a raw, precocious voice but new mixtape 'Free Game' solidified his transatlantic potential; merging a homegrown, bullish charm with a crossover sound conjuring the best of trap, boom bam rap, breezy atmospherics and Dionysiac sax flourishes. 

Over 13 tracks, featuring appearances from the likes of Knucks, Venna and Lord Apex, Wise elucidates his experience languishing in the grey area; offsetting the precarity of youth and the lure of street life with offbeat humour, lackadaisical hooks and feel-good anthemics.

As part of our digital #PLTFRM series spotlighting nascent talent breaking down barriers, Sam Wise opened up about how performing arts enabled his latent creativity, the synergetic spirit of the House of Pharaohs movement, which in turn informed his solo career – and why 'Free Game' is rooted in discovery and cross-genre experimentation. 

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Sam, you've just embarked on a tour, selling out venues like Electric Brixton. How does it feel to be back performing, feeling that energy and feedback from the crowd? 

Lockdown felt like a reset and I had to sit with the reality that performing wasn't going to happen for a long time. We had a funny quarantine show in Barcelona during the first year of lockdown which was strange, but it was a little taster of what was to come. This whole tour was kind of a warm up to the headline shows but I was in the flow of performing so I didn't really stop to think about what we've missed for two years, but now I've been able to sit back and feel grateful about performing in front a crowd again because there really isn't anything better than being on stage. 

Does a lot of thought go into planning your setlist and framing your shows? You've got two projects worth of material, a lot to draw from but you have to strike the right balance between fan favourites and new music…

I take a lot of time with the setlist; it's like an algorithm or an equation. I feel fortunate enough that, as you said, there's two projects and a lot of big features – features that are well known. I put a lot of thought into the songs that people might like but there has to be a journey there to keep the show alive and interesting. I want the audience to take something from the show but I'm also thinking about how to keep the crowd engaged and give them a good time. I think I did an okay job with this one because we made sure that more of the 'Free Game' tracks are performed back to back. At the London show in particular, the setlist was a bit different to the rest. 

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Sam Wise Wears Axel Arigato Arena Bomber Jacket + Billionaire Boys Club Heart & Mind T-Shirt

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Is that because it was a homecoming show? 

Yes. I added songs with features to that show, so I was intentional about not performing some of those songs on the other dates. You've got songs like 'When The Sun Comes Out' and 'Wicked' with Kadiata and Knucks. I thought about how I'd perform these songs in a way that makes sense and allows it to flow. That was my thought process, you really have to think about the order from a practical standpoint. To be fair, I don't do it one sitting. I take time going back and forth, really chisel away at it. But it was dope! 

You were born and raised in Kennington, South London – one of six kids. What was your early musical stimuli and how did it feed your creativity at a young age?  

I'm the middle child but I grew up the youngest in my household; I was the youngest out of three, so I got the youngest child treatment. In my house there was a lot of music played; my Mum had a varied musical palette and my Dad was a DJ, he still is. He'd play loads of vinyls and when I would go spend time with him, music was always relevant and current. At home my Mum would play stuff on the sound system; Earth, Wind and Fire and Bob Marley. 

Growing up, I was actually decent in performing arts, I was encouraged to express myself through dance, acting and music. I was decent, nothing really special but it was important that I could actively channel my creativity, which I'm incredibly fortunate for. In the early years, I was into dancing and performing, but I didn't really think about it much. My early teenage years were more academic, I think I wanted to go into the business realm until I was about 16. 

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Sam Wise Wears Axel Arigato Arena Bomber Jacket + Billionaire Boys Club Heart & Mind T-Shirt

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At that point you transitioned into music? 

That's when the House of Pharaohs stuff kicked off. But music started speaking to me when I was aged 14, 15. Those were the days when I was listening and dancing to Chris Brown's 'Yo (Excuse Me Miss)'. That was when I started to connect with music differently. I had phases though. There was a phase where I only listened to conscious rap by Akala and Lowkey. 

They're real stream-of-consciousness, introspective storytellers…

There was a phase when I was thinking I knew shit and I was really mind blown by these thinkers. I started to understand that life is different, things aren't so simple and it made me appreciate music more. 

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Sam Wise Wears Green Fear Of God Car Coat + Fear Of God Vintage Sky T-Shirt + Fear Of God Cargo Pants From Flannels

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You mention House of Pharaohs, this tight-knit community of intersecting creative voices. What does being part of a collective, being part of something bigger than yourself, do for you as a solo artist? 

It's really a bonus. I have this default mode where I express myself individually but then you have this space – this safe space – where you can share music, share experiences, learn and contribute. It's really a blessing to have that space and it comes in different forms for certain people in their lives. House of Pharaohs is one form where I have the freedom of making music in certain ways that I might not have been able to make on an individual level. House of Pharaohs really birthed Sam Wise, it goes that way around. It's a big blessing, you know? It's something that keeps you grounded as well and is constantly evolving like life is. 

Your sound has been co-signed by the likes of Frank Ocean as as UK OGs; you're one of a few UK artists that has transatlantic appeal. If you could define the essence of your sound and your musical identity, what would it be? 

I make world music and I make what I like. There's roots and constants – it's rooted in good rap ability and character. I explore all sorts of sounds: you might get something that sounds trappy, four to the floor, afrobeats or jazzy but it's always full of character. I guess there's little things that pop up more than others, but I think it's world music where you don't know what to expect, but you expect to get Sam Wise. 

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Sam Wise Wears Axel Arigato Neps Jackety + Patta Corduroy Hiking Pants

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You need that in an increasingly saturated, homogenous industry. Is that sense of newness something you feel separates you from your peers? 

I can only be me and that will speak for itself. When we talk about rapping, I like to add those little details and embellish things differently – it's like sugar in the music. It's that little bit of 'ooh", that's what I'm attracted to musically. 

Your first solo single 'Lizzie' had those markers and set the precedent for who Sam Wise is today. How do you feel about 'Lizzie' when you revisit it? 

'Lizzie' just makes me happy; I will always be proud of that one. It captures pockets of the culture nicely, the culture that I know. It captures the things I've seen and what I want to be projected out there. I think it speaks to people; blue skies, good times, us chilling. I guess at the time it was a statement as well, because within UK music you don't get too many artists that are trying to show their vision, their perspective, which isn't in line with what is the popular perspective. 'Lizzie' captures a reflection of my reality; you see it, you feel it and you're immersed in it. 

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'Lizzie' is evoked in the lo-fi feel of 'First Little Rollie' from your new project 'Free Game'. It's like two tracks rolled into one…

You're right, 'First Little Rollie' has the essence of 'Lizzie' in it. It's in the sample and the way the drums hits, the way it allows me to explore certain pockets that other man just can't – it's kind of unique to me. It feels like vintage Sam Wise. Some people like 'Lizzie'-era Sam Wise, some people like the 'Rack Up'-era Sam Wise and then some people like 'Loophole'-era Sam Wise. 

Sometimes I think I should just focus on one strength, one that seems to be effective in this climate in the industry. But it's hard to do that when I just like to make music and challenge myself musically. It becomes a bit of conflict sometimes but I think it's a positive conflict. Like I said, 'First Little Rollie' felt like vintage material; it was built in stages, I took time with it and it's a powerful track. 

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Sam Wise Wears Paradis Green Towelling Logo Joggers + Top

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Your experimental nature comes through on tracks like 'Keep Swimming', an interlude towards the end of 'Free Game' featuring spoken word affirmations from MR. IAMNEXT. Talk me through these transitions and tempo shifts on 'Free Game'…

It's interesting you say that because 'Keep Swimming' could have been an intro. I feel like I avoided making it one because there's often a speaker in intros. 'Bankroll Intro' felt like a proper introduction to me. You hear that bass coming and you think 'wow, what is this'. That's one thing about the project, I wanted it to be very atmospheric and that's why 'Keep Swimming' feels like a meditation. When you listen to the whole project, it comes at a nice place because just before then it gets a bit heavy. it allows you to take a breath again with something a little more melodic and musical. 'Bankroll Intro' is soulful, then 'First Little Rollie' comes in with those instruments and rhythm sections; with 'Cheque Came', it's powerful again but also it's fresh, familiar but a bit different. Then the tempo picks up once more with trappier songs like '2 Mill' and 'There's Not Enough Time'. 

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I feel like 'Sorry You Were Saying' and 'Free Game' are companion pieces, part one and two. You could play them back to back, it has replay value. That being said, 'Free Game' charts your evolution and is more nuanced…

It's funny because 'Sorry You Were Saying' came on a couple of weeks ago in the car and I really enjoyed it – the project's dope! 'Sorry You Were Saying' is an EP, 'Free Game' is a mixtape but both are quite dense and packed with storytelling. They're both not traditional experiences in any capacity. 'Sorry You Were Saying' is actually a bit cleaner; 'Free Game' is rough around the edges but is still pristine to an extent. I have evolved and it comes through on 'Free Game'. 

If you had to pinpoint a lyric you feel is representative of the world of 'Free Game', what would it be? 

To be fair, several lyrics are popping out at me: "Woke up on my block feelin', My life is full of meanin'" from 'My Block' and "There's a few things I'll never forget but I could forgive (never)" from 'Forget/Forgive'. These are ironically "waking up to a new day" lyrics. I think it's interesting how I'm thinking of lyrics that start the day, maybe it's a subconscious thing. I'd also say "Give thanks and cheers" from 'First Little Rollie' sums up the whole experience. 

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Sam Wise Wears Moose Knuckes Jacket, Dr Martens Combs Tech Utility Boots + Fear Of God Pants From Flannels

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I need to touch on your personal style. You're easily one of the best dressed artists in the game. How would you describe your aesthetic? What are your references because it's as much a part of your storytelling…

It evolves quite a bit but I just throw things together, even if they're new. I'm heavily influenced by what my guys wear; my Dad's a bit eccentric, I wouldn't say I'm as eccentric but I was wearing things that were a bit more out there at the time. I went to school in South London between 2008 and 2013, this was the era when Sneakbo dropped 'Touched Ah Button'. I'm wearing Jordans, skinny jeans and an Aztec shirt and people are like "rah". We like to think we've got our ear to the streets a little bit with the fashion ting, but really I just throw on what I like. It's just effortless. 

Is a debut album on the horizon? Is that something you're working towards? 

I'm glad you said debut album because I haven't dropped an album yet. On Spotify and Apple Music, they say it's an album, but no, these are projects. They could qualify as albums but they're not. I feel like an album next year could make sense but I need a run of good singles. I think that's what I need to give the fans now. Sometimes you lose the conversation with fans as well. I don't want it to feel like a conveyer belt, but you've got to be consistent.

The album will come and is very much an intention of mine.

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Sam Wise Wears Green Fear Of God Car Coat + Fear Of God Vintage Sky T-Shirt + Fear Of God Cargo Pants From Flannels

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What do you want a listener coming across Sam Wise on Spotify to stick around for when they press play? 

It's hard to pinpoint because you're in an industry that moves fast and you're trying to sell your music and that brings a whole set of other things to contemplate. When you strip that way, I want people to pick up on the little things, the details. Ultimately, I want them to enjoy it and be inspired by what they've heard, because when you get that sensory feeling you can change someone's mindset and impact them in a positive way. That's the aim for me, to make people think: 'there's something here that I hadn't considered before'.

I've done that through Sam Wise and with House of Pharaohs. I was able to make a positive contribution and to get across what I wanted. Having sit back and realised I've done it on a certain level, I'm now thinking how I elevate things and take it to a different level. That's where I'm at right now. 

What is the best, most wholesome advice you've received in your career thus far, that has served you well? Something you'd impart to the next gen coming up…

Don't hesitate. Don't hesitate and move with conviction. Dive into whatever it is in your life you feel passionate about. When I look at how House of Pharaohs started, we didn't hesitate. We had amazing tracks that we believed in: we went to shows with two tracks, an Aux, no mix, just our phones. We just didn't hesitate and we never looked back. 

If you do it with a positive energy and the correct intention, life will reward you in a way that it's supposed to. Confidence is everything. Don't hesitate, dive into it and laugh whilst you're doing it. 

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Words: Shahzaib Hussain

Photography: Sophie Mayanne

Styling: Felicia Brown & Nia Ashii

To be young is to dream. And to collect halcyon days. This is the essence of Korean girl group LIGHTSUM. When the Zoom call connects revealing their eight smiling faces and they can be seen waving hello to the camera, it immediately sets a gleeful ambiance and forecasts a light mood that will reign in the entire interview with Clash.

LIGHTSUM made their debut at the end of spring with ‘Vanilla,’ a pop-dance tune full of enthusiasm akin to their breezy spirit. Backed by CUBE Entertainment, it was an enchanting entrance propelled by versatile vocals and sharp choreography that offered a promising glance of what the future could hold for the group. Since an artistic trek — or life in general — is about taking one step at a time, Juhyeon, Sangah, Chowon, Nayoung, Hina, Yujeong, Huiyeon, and Jian prefer to focus on the day-by-day and trust in the blossoming process.

“A lot of [our artistry] has to do with showing that youthful vibe within our music,” main dancer and leader Juhyeon reflects, her voice always assertive during our conversation. “We are really trying to live that current moment [of youth] and being able to express who we are.”

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In terms of the standards in K-pop, LIGHTSUM are a rising idol group. Their musical vision is still under construction while they continue to gain recognition, which is an asset to solidify their presence in the industry. And with that opening chapter taking place, the next stride was imminent. The group’s latest single album, ‘Light A Wish’ (out now), is a not-so-subtle shift in their trajectory, leaping over to a more grown-up concept.

Lead single ‘VIVACE,’ being both the opener and the centerpiece of the album, is adorned with vivid, brassy synths that evoke a blissful and magnetic atmosphere. Lyrically driven by the promise of a free-wheeling and budding love, ‘VIVACE’ clearly signals the departure from the sparkling ‘Vanilla.’ Next in line comes ‘You, Jam,’ a rousing sonic exhibition of confidence. And last but not least, ‘Popcorn,’ a fast-paced, candied track where energy soars high. 

“With the three songs together, it is a combination of finding something that is special about us inside,” says main vocalist Nayoung. Although the musical offering of ‘Light A Wish’ oscillates between different genres, it’s a suitable blend. Each song could easily represent different aspects of youth — falling in love, discovering new places, heart-searching, etc. — that mirrors the group’s artistic growth.  

For Japan-born vocalist Hina, who is known for her sweet character and velvety voice, this first comeback means an opportunity to reveal another layer of LIGHTSUM’s collective personality. “There is definitely a contrast between the energetic and bubbly feeling from ‘Vanilla,’” she says. “But I think we are really excited about being challenged and being able to promote on showing a different side and being more mature and having that cool aspect to it too.”  

That eagerness serves as a driving force. Throughout this interview, it’s not hard to see that as the group continues to walk in the realm of K-pop, they are convinced about the message they want to deliver with their music. “Our performances are both soft and powerful, but there is definitely that positive energy to it,” vocalist Huiyeon says with a big smile while punching the air with her fist, a gesture that makes the group laugh. “So, when our fans watch, that’s the way they’ll be able to have that hope [we want to transmit] and their wishes [will] come true, by watching our performances.”

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Parallel to that determination, it’s fitting the Italian musical term Vivace conjures up a high-spirited and fast tempo. In the music video, bright colors add to the liveness and group dance scenes merge with individual sequences that bring out the most charismatic aura of each member. This synergistic effect is enthralling and LIGHTSUM are the conductors.

“We are dancing with this dazzling song all night,” sings Juhyeon during the last chorus after stepping inside an elevator to joyfully twirl and jump with Hina, Chowon, and Sangah. Elevators in dreams, especially if they are ascending, could symbolise progress and important life changes. When I ask about the meaning behind this scene and how it is connected to this ongoing phase in their careers, Juhyeon takes a moment to meditate on her answer. “This is my personal interpretation,” she muses. “A lot of the concept for this music video is more about self-realization. It’s about realizing myself and the elevator scene portrays that. When [the doors open] and I meet the rest of the members, it’s like reaching a new step.”

With only five months since their debut, LIGHTSUM are still knitting rapport to improve their chemistry on and off stage. It’s not to say that they were unfamiliar with each other — main vocalist Chowon mentions they shared moments as trainees — but bonding through an environment filled with hectic schedules and the limelight that the idol life carries, it’s a different scenario.  

Earlier this year, the group recorded their first reality show called ‘Do You LIGHTSUM,’ where they went through a series of challenges (think hidden camera pranks, aquatic word games, toy archery, and more) that displayed a new playful side of them. It was also a catalyst for LIGHTSUM as a team, considering they created happy memories — like performing in front of their families for the first time — that strengthened their confidence. The apparent cautiousness grew into a collaborative harmony to deal with possible disagreements.

“We haven’t spent that much time together since our debut,” says Chowon. “But anytime we’ve had differences in opinions, which it’s been pretty rare, we get together in our living room, sit in a circle and discuss [the situation].” Blue-haired rapper Sangah observes that at the beginning, they were careful about their interactions because they didn’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. “We wanted to make sure we were respecting each other,” she adds. “After filming our reality show, I figured out the right way to communicate [with my members] and it’s really about having that open conversation [just like Chowon said].”

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Now with tuned unity, there is also that certainty of mutual reliance, anchored by a sentiment of gratitude and friendship. “Even though I am not the oldest, as a leader, I feel that each member trusts me and always supports me,” says Juhyeon. “I am thankful to my members for being that support.”

“I am one of the younger members of the group and there are some areas where I feel I am lacking,” Huiyeon adds. “But, I can look for advice from some of the older members and they make it really comfortable for me.” As the group’s maknae, Jian, whose strong stage presence contrasts with her shyness, agrees with her bandmate’s sentiment. “I am also the youngest like Huiyeon,” she says. “When I have concerns, the older members help me and support me [as well].”

In a world where digital platforms are more important than ever, ‘Do You LIGHTSUM’ provided a forum for the group to tell their stories and link with their growing fanbase (called SUMIT). Like many K-pop rookies that debuted in the past two years, LIGHTSUM haven’t had the chance to perform in front of live audiences, so developing a dynamic connection is key. Soft-spoken vocalist Yujeong, who has been quietly observing until now, says that she is “focusing on using social media and different areas where I can communicate with my fans more.”

And of course, the ultimate and cherished goal. “There’s a lyric in the bridge [of ‘VIVACE’] that says ‘Finally I have met you,’” adds Nayoung, “and it could be interpreted as an opportunity for us to meet SUMIT [in person].”

A new year is entering the door, and with it, it also comes a new dawning for LIGHTSUM to keep transforming wishes into realities. Hina says that, sometimes, she feels like living in a dream — a possible shared sentiment within the group — and wants to show the growth and the progress she has made. “When I first had this dream [of being an idol], I was not sure if I was able to achieve it, and I had worries,” she says. “Now, being able to achieve this dream with my members and everyone that has helped me, I am very thankful.”

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Words: Ivana E. Morales

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There's an age-old rule about working for 10,000 hours before you truly master something.

Now, we can't verify if that's true or not, but prodigal songwriter Tom A. Smith must surely have clocked up 10,000 hours before he was even in his teens.

The 17 year old played his first show at the ripe old age eight, supporting local heroes Detroit Social Club at a packed out show.

Since then he's worked relentlessly on his music, focussing on his individual voice in the process.

As he puts it: “It’s never normal. Every single time it happens it’s surreal. Music is always what I wanted to do. I just fell in love with it. I asked for guitar lessons when I was four. It’s all I’ve ever known.”

And then came the pandemic. Left with time on his hands, Tom A. Smith took another about-turn, and applied intense focus to his creativity.

“At the start of 2020 I probably had about eleven songs, but then I thought, ‘OK, right, I’m really going to go for it now…’ I spent seven hours a day every day working on and recording music. I think I’ve got about nine albums’ worth of songs now!”

New single 'Wolves' continues his rise, and it's a biting return from the youthful songsmith.

Bold of chorus and impeccably detailed, 'Wolves' twists and turns, keeping you guessing from first note to last.

We're able to share the daredevil visuals, another epic insight into his world – check out the video below.

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Devon's Pale Blue Eyes have shared their new single 'TV Flicker'.

The band made their debut with a self-released double A-side single in 2020, blending Krautrock's endless rhythmic expanse to some curious indie pop interplay.

Super-smart songwriting with analogue electronic inflections, Pale Blue Eyes have been snapped up by Full Time Hobby, who release their new single.

Out now, 'TV Flicker' is a wonderful return, with its biting immediacy offset by some daring aesthetic about-turns.

Drummer Lucy Board says of the song:

“It does feel full of ghostly traces – feelings and recollections from the time of a sudden family bereavement, a snapshot into an anxiety-fuelled head-space and not being able to switch off your thoughts, blankly staring at the TV.”

Recorded at their own studio Penquit Mill, south of Dartmoor, the song is light on the surface, but carries a dark resonance underneath.

Singer-guitarist Matt Board explains…

"At the time of my dad’s death I’d sometimes fall asleep in front of a flickering TV. It was calming to drift off to sound or background dialogue and it helped me sleep. The music and lyrics in 'TV Flicker' also maybe conjure ambiguous images of 1970s Cold War décor – post-apocalyptic hideouts, a hatch leading into a lost nuclear bunker."

Check out the video – made by bassist Aubrey Simpson, together with Dylan Friese-Greene – below.

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Black Country, New Road have shared their new song 'Concorde' – tune in now.

The band's debut album earned a Mercury nomination, while sessions on a follow up have proved to be incredibly fruitful.

Out on February 4th, second album 'Ants From Up There' leads the multi-faceted group into different spaces, different emotional and creative landscapes.

New song 'Concorde' is online now, and it opens with spider-like guitar lines augmented by saxophone colouring.

The vocal has a subtle yearning to it, with 'Concorde' building up into a quiet crescendo of joy.

Black Country, New Road at their most accessible, yet also their most fascinating, you can check out 'Concorde' below.

'Ants From Up There' will be released on February 4th.

Photo Credit: Rosie Foster

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There’s a lot to be said for the ability to stay focused in a world of constant change. And sometimes, it is necessary to think big and open up, say Deap Vally.

“I feel like we live in a postmodern world,” reflects Lindsey Troy. “Something about the traditional aspects of marriage is old-fashioned. We are an old-fashioned band, because we've always been very organic in a very technological, digital world, but we're analogue girls at heart.”

The Deap Vally guitarist and vocalist is talking to Clash from her home in Los Angeles, and she is keen to talk about the duo’s ambitious, new project. Having invested numerous hours and days working to complete ‘Marriage’ with her musical partner, drummer Julie Edwards. It’s the third studio album, and it represents their most democratic, experimental effort to date.

Edwards joins the conversation shortly after. Unsurprisingly, music remains what’s keeping her busy, but studying has become part of her life, too. A student of criminology, law and society, the current academic focus is on the recruitment of police forces. As fascinating as that sounds, it’s also somewhat unexpected. But it does show that Edwards and Troy are people, who are open to new challenges, whether it relates to their careers in music or their lives in a broader sense.

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Bold and free of constraints, the duo’s third record ignites the premise of bringing together key components of ‘Femijism’ from 2016 and debut ‘Sistrionix’ from 2013. Although arguing that it represents a ‘step up’ is met with some resistance. “I wouldn't say it’s a step up,” Edwards insists. “I love all of our albums so much, they're all special to me. Albums capture a point in time. When I think of each of them, I think of a different period of time. This is a different album, but it’s not better than the others.”

The title does invite an interpretation. Playing with the idea of comparing the challenge and intensity of being in band to a marriage calls for some elaboration from the two. “If you look at most projects, there are typically two people at the centre of creating everything, and with Deap Vally, there are absolutely two people,” explains Edwards. “It's definitely an intense experience, it’s like a marriage. The concept of marriage is two people, who are isolated in some way.”

She talks more about the duo’s experience of being part of a band marriage. “There has been a lot of intensity. There's so much creativity and communality. It's intimate, but it's rigorous, hard work, which isn't to say that it's a bad thing. But there’s something inherent in any really deep, intimate relationship.”

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Paradoxically, the knowledge and appreciation of what they already have would in fact instigate their desire to shake things up by bringing new people in and reinvent the setup, have more fun, and freshen everything up in the process. Mirrored in this was their approach to writing song material, which focused on introducing alternative methods and ways of working.

But sound-wise the duo’s inherent, recognisable bluesy core is intact. For Edwards it’s a component she just wouldn’t want to abandon, and Troy strongly agrees. “I guess the blues is like an electric guitar that just runs through our band, it comes across in the vocals as well, the type of vocal melodies that we write, and in the guitar parts as well. I think that's just something that runs through our DNA.”

But there is more on display, a broader, more fluid, and eclectic sound is unveiled on this record. Troy sees it as much more of a journey, a process that has transformed them. “I think it's a really fun album, because it has a lot of different flavours on there. It's got classic blues, rock-punk, and the songs are real rock bangers. Then it has got more evolved stuff on there as well. So, I think it's really cool, and it spans time.”

The list of collaborators meant that Deap Vally embraced a wide range of sound. Working with several musicians such as Peaches, KT Tunstall, Jennylee, and Jennie Vee, they worked with artists and friends whose musical body of work they admire, people they feel add distinct style and characteristic. Again combined, it shows a democratic approach to production, songwriting, and the creative process.

“It doesn't need to be this life or death struggle over several weeks, or whatever, to get to give birth to it,” admits Edwards. “We felt this was really fun. We did a lot of collaborations with people that were also on the two EPs we released. We really opened up our approach and operating theory. It’s a picture of our marriage, and what our marriage has. It has stuff that just the two of us did that was created live in a room together, jamming away, and lots of partnering with people we love and respect.”

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With a view to building a rich sound came the idea of distributing recording time across several facilities. This came to include Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 at Sound City, Allen Salmon’s Nashville studio, and Josiah Mazzaschi’s Cave Studio, it was the right decision. They also found songwriting camps productive as a tool. Being organised, having days dedicated to writing and recording songs blocked off was effective. Their approach to selecting collaborators was a blend of a wish list and what they felt a song needed.  

“We thought it would be sick if we had a female rapper on it,” Troy says with excitement. “It was like a lightbulb went off, when we thought of Peaches, she’s our friend, and we’ve also toured with her. So we called her up, and we asked if she was around. She stopped by, listened to the song, and she said it sounded great. She was ‘super down’ for this and would write something. The songs just kind of summon that energy.”

There is clearly a chemistry between Troy and Edwards, it is just something they have as musicians, as people, and it relates to a combination of character and personal quality. It also sparks questions about the shaping of their roles within the band. “Julie's very organised, which is a great skill to have,” Troy initiates. “She's very judicious in that way. I definitely have a bit more chaos theory at work.” Edwards nods in agreement, “I’m like the domestic servant, and Lindsey is more like the head of household”, she says with a grin.

“But I think we’re real opposites,” Edwards decides. “I'm super feet-on-the ground, and I’m predominantly practical and pragmatic. That's the way I cope in the world. Lindsey is the complete opposite, she is creative and spontaneous. Now, spontaneity comes with a lack of control, which is not as tenable for me. It’s like genius doesn't really know that it exists, because there's no system. We're super-opposites, and that way we always balance each other out. There’s this inherent tension.”  

Tension is clearly a good thing in this instance, it continues to fuel Deap Vally’s creativity. Their creative activities up to this point have been more than enough to inspire the making of three acclaimed albums, and their creativity shows no sign of slowing. They will stop at nothing, and that’s the only way to be.

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‘Marriage’ is out now.

Words: Susan Hansen

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There aren’t many producers who can claim to have made internet history. Clams Casino can. The pioneering New Jersey producer birthed the cloud rap movement a decade ago through ‘I’m God’ featuring cult rapper Lil B and he has continued to pop up in the background of some of contemporary hip-hop’s most influential tracks, from Vince Staples’ Norf Norf to Lil Peep’s 4 Gold Chains and A$AP Rocky’s 'Live.Love. A$AP' mixtape – the latter a modern classic celebrating its 10th birthday.

You could forgive him then for perhaps wishing to take a well deserved break, but staying true to his constant striving for different listening experience he has just released an ambient, re-contextualised album of the sounds he has become known for over the years. It’s a stripped-back listen, each component lay bare amongst an ethereal soundscape. It’s this constant drive for sonic diversity that has kept Clams Casino at the very top of most critics favourite producers lists – working with the likes of Wicca Phase, Kelela and Mac Miller on culture-defining sequences.

We caught up with Clams to chat all about the release of 'Winter Flower', the decade long legacy of 'Live.Love.A$AP' and making it onto Lil B’s MySpace page.

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Within the contemporary soundscape you are very much an inspiration for producers on the come up, but what was it that inspired you to get into making music initially?

It was just always around. I started when I was really young, the first thing I did was drums. I had a little drum set when I was about six years old. I didn’t start making beats until I was about fourteen. I just felt like trying to do it myself.

Have your influences and inspirations changed over time? You have crossed over into the pop and alternative realms, working with the likes of Kelela, Wicca Phase and Lil Peep – Did you find your creative methods changed when switching it up from hip-hop?

I like anything that stands out, something I feel is unique or I haven’t heard anything like it before. Lil B has been doing his own thing for a long time. Wicca Phase too, I’m a big fan of his music. The tone of his voice and his melodies stand out to me so I listen to a lot of that. His voice, to me, doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard before, so I gravitate towards it. Things like that inspire me, if I can give something to help out what they do then great.

Looking back at your career, what do you feel are the definitive moments? There have been so many from what I can see – from Lil B ‘I’m God’ to working with ASAP Rocky and that fantastic'Norf Norf' beat for Vince Staples…

The biggest thing for me when I first started… I was working with Lil B a lot, we started in 2008. I was a really big fan of The Pack, the group that he was in, so I was sending him stuff and he was doing freestyles on them. At the time he had, like, one hundred MySpace pages and he was putting up five freestyles on every page. He’d drop a crazy amount of music on MySpace. All my free stuff was going up on there, I’d be checking it all the time.

He had his main page where he would only put one song, so my goal was to try and get something on the main page – the official one. ‘On God’ was the first one that went up on his main page and that was HUGE. That was a big achievement for me. That’s something that people don’t really know, that was super early, around 2009.

There’s something so pure about that when you look at everything you have achieved in music now.

It was a big motivation for me, he’s one of my favourite artists. It was a big moment.

You have described your music as new age rap in the past, becoming known as the creator of cloud rap in the process. Where do you feel rap is headed today? Do you foresee a movement or term such as ‘cloud rap’ happening again any time soon?

Yeah, who knows, it’s possible. It’s going in a lot of different directions and it’s fun to watch, but I’ve no idea what’s coming next. It’s so easy to find what young kids are doing nowadays on the internet, there’s so much happening. I don’t know what the next movement will be, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff.

Hip-hop feels like it’s one of the only genres that can be implemented across anything. There’s emo hip-hop, metal hip-hop, traditional hip-hop, pop hip-hop…

Yeah there’s so many sub-categories, that’s why it keeps growing and getting more and more diverse.

Tell me about the inspiration for 'Winter Flower' – what made you want to make an ambient, textured re-contextualisation of the sounds you have contributed to so many great tracks over the years?

A lot of it came together very quickly, which isn’t very normal for me. I spend a lot of time and it’s usually quite a long process, but someone forwarded me some music and asked if I wanted to sample it. It was a Japanese artist, a group called Jazztronik. I was listening through and it all came together. I started running through the tracks and flipping ideas one by one.  

I did about one or two ideas a day, that’s not normal for me, it was coming so naturally and quickly. I was inspired by that music. The centre of it was based around what I did in quite a short time.

The 10 year anniversary of Long Live A$AP is coming up. How did you meet Rocky? How aware of his music prior to linking up? Did any of you realise how influential that record had the possibility of being? It was something quite different at the time, more inspired by Southern rap than what was going on in NYC.

I had reached out to him when he had a few videos online. He didn’t have much music out at the time. I was looking for artists close to me on the East Coast to work with,I was working with a lot of artists in California and the Bay area. When I found him he had already been making music with some of my beats. I hit him up telling him who I was and he was like, I’ve already been rapping on your instrumental tapes!

We ended up meeting up shortly after that. We were doing songs one by one, I wasn’t aware of any project in the beginning. The first track we did together was ‘Wassup’. I sent him a few beats and he went with that one. We put that out early, Spring that year. I was really excited with what he was able to do with that. I was just excited doing the songs one by one, they were getting better and better. We were locking into something special, then at the end I realised what we had done. In the build up to the release we started to realise that, but at the start I was just excited to be doing something different.

What’s next for Clams Casino?

I never really stop for too long. I take breaks and refresh when I switch working on my stuff to others, so I don’t get burnt out. Now that my stuff is out there I’ll get back into doing some sessions with other people and see where that goes.

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'Winter Flower' is out now.

Words: Andrew Moore

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