Worth a listen: This Month in Music

The local and international music scene continues to evolve and thrive despite the limitations resulting from the global pandemic. In this post, I have listed the hottest news in music for the first month of 2021 for you music lovers to enjoy.

K-Pop boy group T1419 marks highly anticipated debut with ‘Before Sunrise Part.1’

January 2021 in Music

T1419, the newest nine-piece global K-Pop boy group launching under MLD ENTERTAINMENT (MOMOLAND, JT & Marcus), has finally released their highly anticipated single album, BEFORE SUNRISE Part.1.

The 3-track release showcases T1419’s affinity for pop, hip-hop, and electronic music influences, seamlessly blending the elements to create an infectious chart-topper for the modern audience to consume and enjoy.

A concept ‘single album’ that marks the beginning of the group’s four-part series, BEFORE SUNRISE Part.1 embodies different celestial phenomena, each linked with the growth and life of T1419.

BEFORE SUNRISE Part.1 opens with debut single, ‘ASURABALBALTA’—a genre-mashing banger infused with hard-hitting beats and trendy sounds. The song deals with the K-Pop group’s quest of emerging triumphant above the chaos. “This is the very first step into T1419 universe, where they strive to realize and overcome their obstacles,” according to the group’s official statement. “ASURABALBALTA is a spell that make one’s wish come true, which also portrays the wishes of all nine members of T1419 for a bright future that will unfold in the coming days.”

The second track in the single album is “Butt Out”—an upbeat track that tells the story of teenagers yearning to live by their own will, and not by the rules of others. BEFORE SUNRISE Part. 1 closes with the instrumental version of the lead single ‘ASURABALBALTA’.

Music Lane Okinawa Rescheduled to February 20-21, 2021

January 2021 in Music

Following the recent declaration of State of Emergency for the central area in Tokyo, Japan, the Music Lane Festival Okinawa 2021 (Music Lane Okinawa) and Trans Asia Music Meeting 2021 has been rescheduled to February 20 and 21, 2021.

According to a statement released by organizers, the decision to postpone the festival follows the recent rising cases of the COVID-19 in different parts of Japan. “Although Okinawa is not included in the State of Emergency, there are many artists and audiences participating from Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures. In addition, the spread of infection in Okinawa Prefecture is becoming more prominent again… We felt that pushing the festival to be held in these circumstances could cause inconvenience and trouble to the participating artists, audiences, and all the staff members.”

The announcement was made formally last week to the Japanese audience. Originally slated for January 16-17, the Music Lane Okinawa was set to be the debut edition of the multinational music showcase festival that will feature a hybrid format, combining live performances from Japanese artists and pre-recorded live sets from participating international artists from other parts of Asia, including KRNA, She’s Only Sixteen, and syd hartha from the Philippines who will be joining legendary Japanese acts Shonen Knife and Sunny Day Service from Japan.

“We should not lose the opportunities for the artists in Okinawa/Japan and Asian countries to be introduced internationally, and we strongly believe that we must continue the music and the entertainment,” the statement continues.

The festival organizers assure that the festival will proceed as planned in the new schedule dates. In addition to the previously announced participating artists, the full lineup now consists of 75 music acts from Asia, (40 domestic and 35 international). The new additions to the lineup include Japanese acts, Hashiken, Tonchi Pickles, Chiemi Jones, Saki Kowan (Shocking Momoiro), 8bit, Milk&Cookie, onoway, Ruki Sato, THE QUESTIONS, VERONICA VERONICO,  Kokoro to Kotoba, Hitomi Shimabukuro, the you, and omni sight.

The live performances will take place at Sakurazaka Theater, Sakurazaka Central, and more venues in Naha City, as well as, Music Town Oto-Ichiba, 7th Heaven Koza, Remy’s, and other venues in Okinawa City. The pre-recorded sets are free for everyone to watch, while on-site ticketed events can be enjoyed by Japan-based music fans when they purchase advance tickets at the Music Lane Okinawa website.

Bryan Estepa kicks of the new year with new single ‘Trick of the Light’

January 2021 in Music

In 2020, Bryan Estepa released two new songs, continuing on from the success of his exceptional 2019 album Sometimes I Just Don’t Know. The second of those singles, ‘Admit Now, Pay Later’, received a video premiere on Rolling Stone Australia, was featured on NME Australia and had strong national radio airplay – including selection as one of the featured Singles of the Week on 2ser FM in Sydney. Now the Sydney-based Filipino songwriter reveals the second of his collaborative efforts with multi ARIA and APRA award-winning Australian songwriter Josh Pyke.

Estepa has always had an undeniable ear for hooks. Combined with classic pop and rock arrangements, (like his heroes You Am I, The Beatles and Wilco) his songs always possess a timeless quality. He’s proved it over and over again across six acclaimed albums and live shows in Australia, Japan, the USA, UK, Spain, Sweden and the Philippines.  

On ‘Trick of the Light’, Estepa combines heavenly melodies and a melancholic air on this irresistible slice of indie guitar pop, singing about acceptance, letting go and allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that comes out while you’re treading new waters. As always with his songwriting, there are layered poetic brushstrokes in the way Estepa blends and informs his songs with multiple meanings, as he explains. “I also like the idea that the presence of light does not necessarily signal happiness or life but can also mean that emotions and perception can be blurred by its appearance.”

Working with Pyke, Estepa was impressed with the producer’s instinct and ability to enhance the inherent strengths of Estepa’s songs. “It’s exciting watching Josh work! You sense that his creative light is always on and he needs to get his ideas out quickly before it starts to flicker. He takes on what I think the song’s direction might be but adds a couple of detours that are normally right on the money.”

Pyke is quick to reciprocate the praise. “Bryan’s a great writer and collaborator. He’s got a classic pop sensibility but is really open to feedback and experimentation which made my job as producer really fun and free.”

Sonically, there’s a beautiful weightlessness to the production and instrumentation that gracefully carries the song. Guitars sparkle and lightly jangle amid some sublime piano, backing vocals and percussive elements that add unique detailing to the melodic richness of the track.  

ZAYN scores another No.1 album in the Philippines with ‘Nobody Is Listening’

January 2021 in Music

ZAYN’s third studio release Nobody is Listening makes history once again as it debuts at No. 1 on iTunes Philippines Top 100 albums chart a few hours after its release. Co-written by ZAYN, the project highlights his R&B influences and showcases deeply personal lyrics. Nobody is Listening sees ZAYN in complete creative control, from designing the album cover art to his sound, he has created a moment in music that is all his own.

The album contains the previously released singles “Vibez” and “Better,” both of which were embraced by fans and critics alike, with Wonderland proclaiming ZAYN was here to “save 2021” with the release of “Vibez” and Billboard calling “Better” a “straightforward R&B track, expressing love in spite of disagreement and designed to showcase one of the most skilled voices in modern pop.” The latter single has accrued over 105 million streams across all platforms, and upon release the video received a half a million views in the first 10 minutes.

ZAYN’s critically acclaimed debut album Mind of Mine saw him become the first male solo artist in the world to simultaneously chart at #1 on the UK and US album charts in the first week of release. The album’s lead single “Pillowtalk” hit #1 in 68 countries around the world and was recently included in Billboard’s “Songs That Defined the Decade” list.

His follow up, Icarus Falls, captivated fans and garnered over 5 billion worldwide streams across all platforms in less than a year, a staggering feat for any artist. Alongside his solo success, ZAYN has also collaborated with a variety of artists, including Taylor Swift and SIA and most recently lent his vocals on “Trampoline” with Shaed, which received an iHeart Music Award for “Best Remix.” Alongside building a reputation as a world class music artist, ZAYN has become one of music’s biggest fashion icons. He has graced the cover of every major magazine from Highsnobiety to Vogue. In addition to being named “Most Stylish Man” at the GQ Man of the Year awards, he also was awarded “New Artist of the Year” at the American Music Awards and “Top New Artist” at the Billboard Music Awards. Nobody is Listening was released via RCA Records.

Details and images were provided in recent press releases.

Choose Your Own Adventure with jaye’s Interactive Music Video

ADHD represents the vicious-affective cycle experienced by artist, jaye in his bygone days as a hustling DJ. The four symptoms that make the acronymed A-D-H-D cycle are: Attention, Depression, Hit, and Dip. These were the formulaic-four that spun the cycle led headfirst by intoxication and party highs. All jaye could yearn for at the end was escape from its cyclical gravity. The genre-fluid single was recently released on 31 July – but that was just the shallows. Today, jaye drafts audiences into a rip-tide of immersive experiences with a powerful interactive Music Video.

Inspired by Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” jaye starts off at the deep end experimenting with the deconstruction of song and video structure to come up with the time-space defying Music Video (MV). The free-form MV is fitted much like Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch which gives users an illusion of control. Audiences get to choose their own adventure from four options (Attention – Depression – Hit – Dip) whilst vicariously living through experiences adapted from jaye’s own memories. The first chapter ends in two options (Ascend and Descend) and from there the viewer controls the narrative, or at least that’s what they think.

The postmodern video is a hands-on representation of the true viciousness of the ADHD cycle. Viewers will feel the same burden that jaye did as he realized that partying did not empower him; rather, it proved a great hindrance to his mental health and life.

jaye’s MV is a psychedelic cyberpunk microcosm with nostalgic video game elements and hair-raising horror features. Parts of the MV are also interwoven with the MVs from his former future-past releases via meta space-time warps.

With command of the concept, “the game of life”, jaye will release an 8-bit 2D Instagram filter game called HIT which will allow users to continue to engage with his Super Mario-esque hellscape (as seen in the MV). Fans will have to blink to shoot oncoming enemies with lasers in a side-scrolling virtual landscape, soundtracked by the ‘Hit’ section of the ADHD track. Prizes will be given away to those with high scores.

This track comes after the stratospheric success of previous singles ‘TOMORROW’ and ‘DEJAVU’. Both Music Videos received over half a million Youtube views after just one month, no doubt owing to their conceptual depth and edge.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Ben&Ben launches BBTV in celebration of 1M subscribers on YouTube

After reaching more than a million subscribers on YouTube, multi-awarded nine-piece collective Ben&Ben have heeded the call of fans for more exclusive content in the coming days.

The acclaimed band has recently announced the launch of their upcoming weekly series, BBTV to celebrate this important milestone in their career. 

“We’ve been making vlogs that showed our life behind the scenes, but eventually the band and its team came up with the idea,” vocalist and guitarist Miguel Benjamin shares. “Its primary goal is to simply find more ways to connect to people through more varied content.”

Extensive range of content

Aside from themed music performances and collaborations, expect an intimate look at the band’s more personal and entertaining side as they share their journey of living together under one roof.  “We decided to live together to eliminate or at least greatly lessen the risks involved with working outside,” says Miguel. “We always had the idea of living together in the future to create content and write music, but with the situation now we realized that now was the best time to actually give it a shot.”

Ben&Ben also revealed about their plans to drop a “head bang” version of their smash single “Pagtingin,” as well as cover select K-Pop songs in the future. 

The online series, which airs every Wednesday, will also feature a more extensive range of content for people to connect to, including but not limited to games, competitions, challenges and other forms of entertainment. 

Sophomore Album 

Ben&Ben are currently working on the follow-up to their platinum-selling debut album, Limasawa Street, which produced generation-defining songs such as “Pagtingin,” “Fall,” “Araw-Araw,” “War,” and more. 

Paolo confirms in a statement that one of the reasons for moving in was to start writing for their second album to be released under Sony Music. “We wanted the process to be as organic and as involved as possible, and we’re so excited to see what we can come up with where distance and time isn’t a hindrance.”

New episodes of BBTV will drop every Wednesday of the week on the Ben&Ben YouTube Channel, starting August 5, 2020.

Image and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Exclusive: SB19 drops their highly anticipated debut album, ‘Get in the Zone’

SB19 pushes the envelope of pop music with the release of their debut full-length album, Get in the Zone, out now on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music.  

Mashing together various music influences with top-tier production and global appeal, the nine-track release features six original compositions, along with the EDM version of “Love Goes” and two instrumental songs.

Thematically speaking, Get in the Zone maps their creative and personal journey. “It hasn’t been long since we released our debut single ‘Tilaluha,’ but prior to that, we have been training for years already,” says Sejun. “We wanted to incorporate all the things that we have experienced during trainee days into this album by putting all the emotions that we went through into our music. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but we pulled through and we hope that we get to inspire people with our story.”

SB19’s first album kicks off with the two-punch knockout of “Alab” and “Go Up”—both chart-topping singles that bask in electronic grooves, pulsating hip-hop rhythms, and technicolored beats. These songs not only exude outsized charisma, but it also showcases SB19’s potential as a phenomenal pop group capable of defying trends and trailblazing a new movement in the international music arena.  

Get in the Zone takes a more somber turn with “Tilaluha,” a stripped-down ballad that tackles one’s remorse over reciprocated romance. It’s a refreshing misnomer in a record filled with upbeat jams and shiny pop tunes, and one that blows the roof off, vocal performance-wise. 

The winsome streak continues with the R&B-infused “Love Goes,” a song that talks about one’s suffering over a lost loved one, and its sequel, “Hanggang Sa Huli,” which allows the broken person to heal and find comfort in a kind of love that lasts a lifetime. The sonically adventurous album also includes “Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo,” a Filipino adaptation of the Korean ‘90s smash “Sarangeun Ya YaYa,” as well as an EDM remix and two bonus tracks.

According to Sejun, what sets Get in the Zone apart from other contemporary releases is the collaborative synergy between K-pop producers and Filipino talents, resulting into an exciting yet compelling final product. “It’s a great thing to get all the good traits from Korean and Philippine music/culture, and put them together into one. If you’ll dive deep into it, you’ll find a whole new sound rich in both cultures.”

As for the creative process, SB19 members Justin, Sejun, Josh, Ken, and Stell are very hands on when it comes to writing songs and creating melodies. Justin shares, “In this album, we didn’t collaborate with any other artist. We also wrote the lyrics for all the songs ourselves, but we’ve worked with Korean Producers who have also worked with famous artists in Korea already. It was a different experience for each producer since they have different styles, but overall, everything was fun and exciting.”

The award-winning band dedicates their new album, Get in the Zone to every single one of their A’TIN fans who have relentlessly supported their music through thick and thin. “All our achievements to date would not have been possible without you,” says Josh. “So in return we will work harder and continue to uplift you with more music and content so that we can give back the love we’ve received from you.”

Check out SB19’s Get in the Zone here.

Image and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Barbie Almalbis honors Filipino optimism with “Umagang Kay Ganda” music video

Filipina rock icon Barbie Almalbis hopes to encourage and inspire listeners to rise above the extraordinary times.

With the official release of “Umagang Kay Ganda,” the third single of her upcoming new album under Sony Music Philippines, the Dahilan singer-songwriter uses her platform to pay tribute to the courage and optimism of the Filipino people.

“The current situation has made so many of us experience such a profound sense of loss, and it has also given us a rare chance to stop and reassess our lives and consider the things that we really value,” the acclaimed pop-rock artist shares. “I hope Umagang Kay Ganda will be a blessing especially to our frontliners. It is our little way to say thank you for the selflessness that they have continually shown and the sacrifices that they have made to help us get through this together.”

With the help of constant collaborators, Barbie and her bandmates put a creative stamp in reimagining “Umagang Kay Ganda,” while making sure that its empowering message shines through the intricate arrangement. “Karel and I initially jammed it and he wrote lines for the instrumental section, then we arranged the rest with Nikko on keyboard and Jonard on drums. We were able to record the rhythm section just a few weeks before the lockdown.” As a result, the new version conveys the timeless appeal of the original, while exuding a warmer approach in terms of production details.

Inspiring music video

The official release of Barbie Almalbis’ latest single comes with an accompanying music video that brings to light everyday stories of hope and love for the country amidst the global health crisis.

Interspersed with scenes of the new normal, the visuals for “Umagang Kay Ganda” also showcase the heroic deeds of our frontliners and several acts of compassion and resilience from ordinary Filipino folks.

Barbie adds, “Although some people consider music and visual arts as non-essentials these days, I’ve found that many are actually turning to the arts as a way of coping and feeling connected to others. We want to remind people of the real hope that we have and can hold on to, even as we confront the invisible enemy on a day to day basis. We’ll be able to stand above difficult situations and hurdle these atrocities with the gift of love and compassion.”

The music video is also part of Magnolia Dari Creme’s campaign reminding us that in extraordinary times as in the normal times, tomorrow always brings us new chances for a brighter day as long as we are with the ones we love.

Image and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

 

Sponge Cola signs to Sony Music, releases new song “Lumipas Ang Tag-Araw”

Sponge Cola has officially signed to Sony Music—the record label that released their debut album, Palabas.

To mark this return, the award-winning band drops a new song entitled “Lumipas Ang Tag-araw,” out now on all digital platforms worldwide. 

Capturing the essence of a belated summer anthem in less than four minutes, Sponge Cola’s latest single soars into the fast lane with verses that turn romantic yearning into an inescapable sing-along, and a power pop surge that packs a ton of punch. 

Connection in separation

The captivating and relatable lyrics echo the collective frustration of not being with the people we deeply care about and love. But on the other side of the narrative, the song presents an opportunity to weather the insurmountable odds through perseverance and resilience to get through life—thanks to the support and kindness of friends and family. “It’s a story of connection in separation, and how we can be a source of comfort for each other during difficult times,” guitarist Armo Armovit adds.

Vocalist and guitarist Yael Yuzon fondly recalls the inspiration behind “Lumipas Ang Tag-araw” after driving his wife to work one morning under the new normal. He remembers becoming intensely emotional out of nowhere. “It was a strange feeling: a realization about everything that has or hasn’t happened since Covid-19, which yanked us away from our usual. And at that moment, this bright and happy melody just came to me, then some words and harmonies. When I got home, I fleshed everything out and recorded a demo within a few minutes. I guess I just needed to uplift myself, so I wrote something uplifting– something that doesn’t highlight the struggle everyone has been trying to deal with during the pandemic and the lockdown.” The creative and emotional surge led to writing the initial draft of “Lumipas Ang Tag-araw”—a love song that deals with the struggles of physical connection in the time of pandemic.

“Virtual” recording

The upbeat pop-rock tune is the first song that the band arranged and recorded in the comforts of their home, without being together in the same place. Armovit shares the challenging process that transpired during the preliminary stages of the recording. “We sent demos and voice memos to each other back and forth, tweaking parts, creating variations, until we all agreed on a final arrangement. Everyone then had to record their own parts at home and send it to a communal online drive for the producer, Angee Rozul, to bring everything together for the final track.”

Under normal circumstances, Sponge Cola would usually write the song, arrange it in a rehearsal space, and record it together in a studio. But due to the nationwide lockdown imposed in the previous months, the alternative rock quartet decided to use the time and resources available at their disposal to record individually at their own place. “There was a lot of self-editing because you’re not being policed by your bandmates or a producer constantly keeping tabs on possible mistakes or improvements, at least in person,” says Yael Yuzon. “It was all about laying in your parts when the song was passed on to you, and you had the responsibility to keep things right and easy for the next guy to add on to.”

Music video

According to Armovit, the lockdown-inspired music video of “Lumipas ang Tag-Araw” takes an intimate look into the fictional and real-life character’s personal worlds—their bedrooms, living spaces, confined homes—and the routine that they’re up to, in hopes of coping with the situation under quarantine. “It was also our first time working under special conditions, where we had to film all the scenes ourselves with our own phones and cameras. I’m very thankful for the help and guidance from King Palisoc, our director, and the creative ideas from his team.”

Image and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Singapore nu-jazz outfit The Steve McQueens drop soulful new single ‘Firefly’

Singapore nu-jazz band The Steve McQueens have released their long-awaited brand new single ‘Firefly’ via Singapore based indie label Umami Records, exactly 143 weeks after their last release, full length album ‘TERRAЯIUM’ in 2017. The release comes fresh off the band’s ‘Nerd Lounge’ tour at the start of the year where they played shows at the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival, Tokyo Big Romantic Jazz Festival and the Esplanade Singapore.

The Steve McQueens have provided the following statement announcing the new song:

“Firefly generates its own light
Firefly generates its own beauty
Passion flies like fire
Passion dies with no desire
Passion is beauty
– The Steve McQueens”

‘Firefly’ is the lead single of The Steve McQueen’s new EP ‘Nerve Endings’, scheduled for release on 7 August 2020, featuring music from the band’s ‘TAPE’ tour in 2018. The band is currently writing and recording new material for their fifth album, ‘The Observer’, to be released in 2021. The band provides some insight into the thinking behind the project: “The Observer stands apart, an indifferent spectator at the ongoing culture clash between the jazz traditionalists and the new guard, smiles quietly to himself and just makes music.”

‘Firefly’ by The Steve McQueens is available everywhere at this link.

About The Steve McQueens

The Steve McQueens refuse to be pedestrian; they don’t live in the transient, or the touch-and-go. Swerving between cool seduction and gripping magnetism, they are ambitious to light the world up with their progressive brand of self- titled neo- vintage soul- funk. They have played to growing attention at festivals like the Tokyo Jazz Festival and Summersonic (Japan), Java Jazz (Indonesia), SingJazz (Singapore), Melbourne International Jazz Fest (Australia) and Jarasum International Jazz Festival (Korea). The quartet formed in 2013 as a forging of four mercurial talents in Singapore, a small country punching above its weight in Southeast Asia’s music scene. Critically acclaimed, The Steve McQueens will leave an indomitable mark on any listener with their music.

About Umami Records

Umami Records is a Singapore-based indie record label founded in 2013. Much like the “5th taste” reputation of its namesake, the label strongly believes in discovering new, interesting sounds that run underground and away from the mainstream. The label’s tight-knit, curated roster thus far has included releases from Linying, The Steve McQueens, brb., Evanturetime, CampFire, Martin Baltser, Phoria, Oriental Cravings, and more.

UE Jam Sessions pay tribute to the frontliners with original song, “Lalaban Tayo”

UE Jam Sessions (UEJS), the premiere music organization in University of the East, released a tribute music video dedicated to the medical practitioners and frontliners of the country, who are risking their lives amidst the pandemic crisis.

“Lalaban Tayo” was written by Jenny Legapi, arranged by Choi Felipe, and executive produced by Tommy Tanchanco. Featuring 34 singers and musicians from UEJS Manila and UE Caloocan, the collaborative effort was recorded and filmed during the lockdown period in the confines of their own homes.

Despite the limited resources and massive challenges that the students have to go through in the recording process, they were able to improvise and produce a studio-recording quality of the uplifting pop-rock anthem that champions the daring and uncompromised sacrifices of our modern day heroes. It’s their contribution for all the hard work that our medical, security and essential frontliners had to endure during these uncertain times.

“As we move forward in these trying times, we put our hopes in one another,” 12 Stone Records CEO Tommy Tanchanco shares. “Reshaping our lives this quarantine can never be easy for all of us, but still, let us not forget those people who risk their own lives on the front line and go beyond their call of duty.”

Its accompanying music video, which was edited by Cher Manulit, interspersed individual recordings from the participating student-musicians with inspiring clips showcasing the acts of kindness and compassion of our frontliners, particularly those in the medical field.

“Lalaban Tayo (A Special Tribute To Frontliners)” is now released via 12 Stone Records.

Details and image provided in a recent press release.

Singapore electronic producer Xinister teams up with Asian-American rapper Blahza on new single “Break”

Singapore electronic producer Xinister collaborates with Los Angeles based Asian-American rapper Blahza on ‘Break,’ released via Singapore based indie label Umami Records.

The lo-fi rap tune emphasizes the importance of staying humble while grinding and hustling for that big break. Blahza shares, “Rappers nowadays feel like they have to be loud and obnoxious to get on. This song has a similar message, but approaches it in an opposite style. Plus, with the whole COVID-19 thing going on now, I feel hating is at an all-time high. People seem to be so quick to point fingers.”

Known for his intense, high-energy trap/dubstep tracks which have already been featured on Spotify’s Bass Arcade, Beast Mode, Dubstep Don, and Trap Mojito, ‘Break’ is Xinister’s first hip-hop production. “I want to be more versatile and to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone”, shares Xinister. “With ‘Break’, I was going for a chill COVID-19 stay home vibe. Blahza definitely killed it.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, from their homes on opposite sides of the world in Singapore and Los Angeles, both artists went back and forth to write and produce ‘Break’ without ever having met each other in person. Xinister says, “it’s just two guys from different countries, only talking to each other online, yet we connected with each other instantly.”

“It was pure musical chemistry”, adds Blahza.

Xinister has 3 more singles planned for release in 2020, and Blahza will be releasing his LP, Sad Songs For Happy People over the next 12 months.

Listen to ‘Break’ by Xinister and Blahza everywhere at this link.

About Blahza

Los-Angeles based Asian-American hip hop artist and producer Blahza’s makes music with a larger than life sound about his afflictions, aspirations, and accomplishments, inspired by the American counterculture of the late 1960s and music from the early 2000s.

Blahza recorded, mixed and mastered Blueface’s record ‘Next Big Thing’ in 2018. In 2019, Blahza opened for Members Only at the first stop of their album tour, and released his EP ‘Bloom’.

Born and raised in Van Nuys, of Puerto Rican and Chinese parents, Blahza grew up surrounded by music and diversity. He fell in love with rap music and especially how it bridged different cultures.

Blahza is currently working on his full-length debut album ‘Sad Songs For Happy People’ slated for release later this year.

About Xinister

Singapore electronic producer Xinister is known for his intense, high energy trap/dubstep tracks which have already been featured on Spotify’s Bass Arcade, Beast Mode, Dubstep Don, and Trap Mojito.

With more than a million Spotify streams, Xinister’s music has also been featured on Russian football club FC Zenit Saint Petersburg’s YouTube channel totalling more than 4 million views.

‘Break’ is Xinister’s first hip hop track and will not be his last as he continues to develop his versatility with several more releases planned across genres the rest of this year.

About Umami Records

Umami Records is a Singapore-based indie record label founded in 2013. Much like the “5th taste” reputation of its namesake, the label strongly believes in discovering new, interesting sounds that run underground and away from the mainstream. The label’s tight-knit, curated roster thus far has included releases from Linying, The Steve McQueens, brb., Evanturetime, CampFire, Martin Baltser, Phoria, Oriental Cravings, and more.

Image and details provided by Umami Records in a recent press release.

 

Listen to Twenty-Nine Eleven’s take on 6cyclemind’s “I”

Filipino pop-rock outfit Twenty-Nine Eleven has finally released their remake of 6cyclemind’s “I,” off the upcoming Sige I-Cover Mo Lang Project.

The song serves as the second single of the online compilation, produced by 6cyclemind and their management Soupstar Music, and released by Sony Music Philippines.

The aforementioned tribute record aims to introduce the band’s legacy as reliable hitmakers that continue to define an entire generation’s collective consciousness.

A captivating take

Twenty-Nine Eleven’s version of the alt-rock classic was handpicked as one of the three winners of the Sige I-Cover Mo Lang Project—an initiative that encouraged fans to submit covers of their favorite songs from 6cyclemind’s catalog.

Their captivating take stands out with its earnest simplicity and delicate arrangements, giving the song a refreshing spin while maintaining the original’s timelessness and emotional appeal.

According to Fony Alfonso, the lead vocalist of the five-piece band, the song is already great on its own. “However, in order to make it sound like us, we wanted to rearrange the song and add more of our personality to it. As with all of the songs that we’ve done before, we experimented with it until we got the right ‘feel’ that we wanted to express as a band.”

An inspiration to young musicians

The independent band considers 6cyclemind as one of their inspirations. “After spending time with the members of 6cyclemind, we were able to understand that it wasn’t only their music style that made them successful, but also their perseverance in pursuing their career and passion,” guitarist Alexandre Abesamis shares. “As they’ve told us back then, there were a lot of other better and more skilled bands than them, but what made them stand out is that they never stopped playing.”

Currently, Twenty-Nine Eleven is working on new material and experimenting with various sounds and techniques culled from their individual music influences. Drummer Jerell Co adds, “Ever since high school, we were subjected to various styles and genres of music from the most dramatic love songs to the heaviest rock songs. That alone has developed the kind of music we could make now.”

Twenty-Nine Eleven’s rendition of “I” is now available on various music streaming and download platforms worldwide.

Image and song details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

 

Danzz releases fifth single “Blurred Visions (Acoustic)”

Amid these turbulent times, Danzz is back with the release of her fifth single, Blurred Visions (Acoustic) on 5 June 2020. The single was produced and recorded by dMCreative from Singapore.

Blurred Visions tells the story of someone who has hit rock bottom. Paralyzed. Unable to move and see clearly. With no way forward in sight. Someone who has lost in the game of love. Many of us have gone through extremely painful heartbreaks and Blurred Visions is a reflection of that experience. “Voices in my head, telling me to stop and look to the mirror, is this what I want,” she laments.

This acoustic rendition to Blurred Visions by Danzz, recorded during a live studio session, is her way of thanking her fans for all their support in pushing her hit single, Moonlight onto the Top Hits Philippines Spotify Editorial Playlist and hitting over 1 million streams. She delivers this heartfelt melancholic story, mixing metaphorical lyricism with honest singing, while showing a different side to her. Stripped down. Vulnerable. No beats. No noise. Raw. Just Danzz.

“Blurred Visions” is her first acoustic release. Danzz has a number of songs under production with a number of other producers as well as some collab songs with other artists, due for release later in 2020. We look forward to more from Danzz!

Image and details provided by dMCreative in a recent press release.

Shopee partners with CJ ENM to bring KCON online, featuring Kpop icons

Shopee Live Kpop Fest kicks off on June 10, with an exclusive free screening of KCON:TACT 2020 Summer featuring GFRIEND, (G)I-DLE, ITZY, MONSTA X, Stray Kids, and more from June 20-26

Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, partners with Asia’s leading entertainment and lifestyle company CJ ENM to bring KCON, the world’s largest Korean culture festival, online for the first time.

KCON is a highly-anticipated annual event for Kpop fans across the globe, entering its ninth year of bringing the ultimate Korean culture fan experience worldwide including the US, Japan, and Thailand. It will go online for the first time in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, with Shopee as the official live stream partner for the KCON:TACT 2020 Summer concert. This partnership will see Shopee air live performances, concerts, and more from KCON:TACT 2020 Summer for free to users on Shopee Live.

KCON:TACT 2020 Summer will be the highlight of Shopee Live Kpop Fest, which will kick off on June 10. Launched in collaboration with CJ ENM, the festival aims to meet the growing demand for online entertainment amid social distancing measures in the region. Popular Kpop groups including GFRIEND, (G)I-DLE, ITZY, MONSTA X, and Stray Kids will also make special appearances on Shopee Live, while Shopee users can enjoy daily Kpop themed streams and challenges.

Agatha Soh, Head of Regional Marketing at Shopee said, “Shopee is proud to be the exclusive partner of CJ ENM to stream KCON:TACT 2020 Summer to fans in Southeast Asia and Taiwan for the first time, as part of Shopee Live Kpop Fest. This partnership builds on our efforts to connect people through entertainment and shared experiences, and comes after a series of successful collaborations with Kpop stars. Shopee Live Kpop Fest and KCON:TACT 2020 Summer reflect our commitment to meet evolving needs, as people around the world stay home and turn to online entertainment. We look forward to more exciting collaborations with CJ ENM in the future.”

Don Kim, General Manager of Global Festival at CJ ENM said, “KCON is the largest festival of Korean culture in the world. Bringing the festival online, we have lined up an amazing experience for KCON:TACT 2020 Summer including interactive events with state-of-the-art technology, a star-studded concert lineup, and more. We are excited to go above and beyond what fans have experienced so far, and we are excited to partner with Shopee for fans in Southeast Asia and Taiwan to join the festival.”

From June 10 to 26, avid Kpop fans can look forward to a wide range of live streams and challenges daily at Shopee Live Kpop Fest, including:

  • Exclusive appearances by popular Kpop idols, WJSN and Weki Meki on Shopee Live at 8PM (GMT +8) on June 10 and 15 respectively. Users can enjoy first-hand access to the groups with exciting performances, interviews, games, and more in each stream.
  • Daily Kpop themed challenges for fans to show off their knowledge, recreate iconic Kpop looks, and more. The best fans stand to win attractive prizes such as vouchers and signed merchandise from their favorite idols.

Shopee will mark the finale of Shopee Live Kpop Fest by screening KCON:TACT 2020 Summer on Shopee Live from 20 to 26 June. Shopee users and Kpop fans can look forward to seven consecutive days of non-stop entertainment, including live concerts and interviews by some of the biggest Kpop stars in the world, including GFRIEND, (G)I-DLE, ITZY, MONSTA X, and Stray Kids.

Stay tuned for more updates on KCON:TACT 2020 Summer and Shopee Live Kpop Fest at http://shopee.ph/m/live-kpop-fest

Download the Shopee app for free via the App Store or Google Play.

About Shopee

Shopee is the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. It was launched in 7 markets in 2015 to connect consumers, sellers, and businesses in the region.

Shopee offers an easy, secure, and engaging experience that is enjoyed by millions of people daily. It offers a wide product assortment, supported by integrated payments and logistics, as well as popular entertainment features tailored for each market. Shopee is also a key contributor to the region’s digital economy with a firm commitment to helping brands and entrepreneurs succeed in e-commerce.

Shopee is a part of Sea Limited (NYSE:SE), a leading global consumer internet company. In addition to Shopee, Sea’s other core businesses include its digital entertainment arm, Garena, and digital financial services arm, SeaMoney. Sea’s mission is to better the lives of consumers and small businesses with technology.

 

LAY debuts at No. 1 on iTunes Philippines with new EP, LIT

International phenomenon and China’s top idol LAY (Lay Zhang) heads straight to No. 1 on iTunes Top Albums Philippines with the release of his latest EP, LIT.
A two-part release featuring six songs each, LIT also peaked at the summit of the iTunes Top Albums chart in 14 countries.

Stream Lit, Yixing (his Chinese name), and Zhang (his surname), immediately became trending topics on Twitter Philippines following its release on digital and streaming platforms worldwide.

All the tracks in the EP are co-written by LAY himself, ensuring his message and story is clearly instilled in each song. He has worked with producer heavyweight Murda Beatz (Travis Scott, Gucci Mane, Drake) on the latest release, which strongly holds a backbone in modern hip-hop with an enjoyable sound, never done before.

For this first part of the album, the hit-making team integrated familiar Chinese instruments and cultural metaphors with the soul of “Western music” and top-notch modern production techniques, mixing English and Mandarin lyrics in every song. The EP instantly grabs your attention from beginning to end. Each song has a rhythmic flow, entrancing vocals, and bass-heavy beats delving into the new “pop meets urban” sound.

Through the tunes, LAY explores the concepts of solitude, arrogance, self-confidence, loyalty, resolution and courage. These six songs blend very ancient musical elements and concepts with the modernity of contemporary pop. From the lyrics, to the production, be prepared for an emotional and auditory journey. The focus track for the EP is the booming anthem and title song “LIT” and the already released hit song, “Jade,” showcases a combination of traditional “peking opera” and Chinese instruments. The cutting-edge production for songs like “Eagle,” “H20,” “Fly,” and “Soul” will give you an extremely refreshing journey through passionate lyrics showing a whole new blend of music.

On the same day that LIT was released, LAY also dropped the cinematic music video that bears the same title via Zhang Yixing Studio. The world-class visuals amassed more than 1.5 million views and counting, and peaked on YouTube trending videos in the Philippines at No. 14.

About the Artist

LAY received tremendous success this year garnering international attention after joining forces with Steve Aoki and will.i.am for the hit cross-cultural collaboration Love You More, reaching #1 on the QQ Music China chart.
LAY first debuted in the music industry as a member of EXO. He became a household name in Asia and one of the most beloved stars in the region with a loyal 49 million followers on Weibo and over 11.8 million followers on Instagram. As a solo artist, LAY’s career has skyrocketed to becoming the highest-ranked Mandopop star on Billboard 200 chart and the first Chinese artist to enter the iTunes Top 60 in the US with his third album NAMANANA.

Outside of music, he is a powerhouse in the acting world of TV and film and hosted multiple top-rated reality shows in Asia. Last year, LAY released the digital EP titled Honey and its title track of the same name. The EP reached over 1.87 million digital sales in just three minutes after its release on QQ Music in China. The pre-order for Lay Zhang’s new digital album LIT went live on China’s QQ Music platform, and 9 certification records were instantly broken as it went live. The digital album surpassed 1.5 million pre-orders within 7 minutes and 19 seconds of launch, locking in the #1 position on QQ Music’s daily and weekly album sales chart.

LAY’s new EP, LIT is now available on all streaming and digital platforms worldwide.

Photo and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Gentle Bones and Joie Tan capture hearts with dreamy duet “Shouldn’t Have to Run”

Riding the wave of two notable collaborations this year, Gentle Bones is back with another captivating duet, Shouldn’t Have To Run, sung alongside Singapore’s melodic sweetheart, Joie Tan. Written by Gentle Bones and Fulses, one-third of R&B band, brb., Shouldn’t Have To Run explores the wistful relationship of two lovers whose stars are struggling to align.

“When Joie came on board to finish the song up with us, it became this beautiful duet that we knew we had to get out to the world.,” says Gentle Bones. “Joel and Fulses are both amazing artists I was thrilled to work with and I’m so happy with how the song turned out,” Joie adds.

Having discovered each other in the YouTube stratosphere almost a decade ago, this collaboration makes perfect sense when listening to the track. Gentle Bones and Joie Tan’s dulcet tones combined with the beat’s futuristic vibes transports listeners into a fantastic and curious dimension; whilst detailing the efforts of someone trying to reach out to his lover, but to no avail.

Enveloped in a mellow but brilliant harpsichord, Shouldn’t Have To Run imbues a vision of lilac skies and space-age aesthetic. Each chorus is preceded by the signature rising ‘boop’ of a message sent, drawing parallels with the current situation in the world right now, where many people are unable to physically meet their loved ones and have to rely even more now on virtual platforms. The song’s electronic influences intersperse nicely with a lush, vintage sound, which Bones elaborates further saying, “We intended for it to be a jazz-pop piece that was reminiscent of and influenced by a time in pop music where Corrine Bailey Rae and Norah Jones were favourites of the audiences.”

“It’s definitely one of my favourite collaborations to date,” says Joie. Shouldn’t Have To Run encapsulates a polarity of foreboding and longing captured in an intimate but all too familiar distant setting (the expressing of emotions through the phone) with its hopeful dream-pop synths.

About Gentle Bones

Born and raised in sunny Singapore, Joel Tan, who goes by his stage name Gentle Bones, is one of the city-state’s top English artists who has made waves across the globe. Since his #1 self-titled debut EP “Gentle Bones” in 2014, the 25-year-old now has three albums under his belt and has taken his music to fans across Asia with live performances, selling out solo concerts and playing festivals across South Korea, London, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Gentle Bones was the first Singaporean music act to be signed by Universal Music Group and was also the first youngest English music recording artist to achieve two sold-out concerts. In 2016, he earned himself a spot in the inaugural Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list for entertainment personalities.

Gentle Bones also boasts a range of notable songs that topped the charts, including Until We Die, Settle Down and Geniuses & Thieves. His latest EP Michelle, released in October of 2018, is his most streamed EP to date featuring its title track, I Wouldn’t Know Any Better Than You, which has amassed more than 20 million streams on Spotify alone a year after its release.

I Wouldn’t Know Any Better Than You earned him a spot in Spotify’s Top 5 Most Streamed Singapore artists in 2019, amongst his peers, namely JJ Lin, Jasmine Sokko, Tanya Chua & Stephanie Sun. Now, fully independent from 2019 and managed by The Linch Agency, the plan for 2020 is to tour his releases to the Asia Pacific region.

About Joie Tan

Joie’s foray into the scene started in 2008 with her covers on YouTube. Her vocal-heavy takes on popular songs were met with tremendously positive reception, and her audience started to swell.

From bedroom to live shows in Singapore, New York, London and Australia, the songstress dreams of sharing her stories through songs all over the World. She has crafted an iconic signature style and honeyed coo that uniquely intertwines with her personality, one that has been endorsed by chart-topping producers Avicii in his podcast and Kygo in billboard playlists & his Tomorrowland set in 2014.

Her debut album (released 2018), Joie features 10 self-written tracks and is available for streaming on all major platforms.

Details, images and links provided by Yung Lee Records in a recent press release.

The Itchyworms return with back-to-back singles under Sony Music

With live shows on a temporary standstill and the global music landscape currently at odds with the challenges that come with the complete shift to the digital realm, more artists are surprisingly making records that represent the specificity of the times. Never mind the logistical restrictions on the music-making process: What’s important is that they’re channeling their personal experiences during forced and self-imposed quarantine through songs that function like the pep talk the world needs right now—most of the time, comforting and hopeful, but sometimes a complete validation of our collective rage, loneliness, and frustration inside.

Now returning with two new singles that capture the universal sentiments of grappling with an invisible peril, The Itchyworms drops back to back releases under Sony Music Philippines—their first under a major label since 2008’s Self-Titled.

Two new singles

“Armageddon Blues” and “The Silence” are two new songs inspired by the band’s response to the ongoing social, mental, and emotional crisis that people from around the globe are facing in the midst of a pandemic.

“Armageddon Blues,” in particular, is an update of an old demo recorded by Jazz Nicolas (lead vocals, drums, piano, keyboards, keytar) and Chino Singson (lead guitarist and backing vocals). With crunching guitar riffs, Beatlesque pop melodies, and raw but in-your-face production, the latest track from the band exhibits both ends of the emotional spectrum, as filtered through the lens of happy-sappy music geeks. As Chino recalls. “I remember it being a fun song to record. If you listen to the lyrics, you’ll see it’s very tongue-in-cheek, but very heartfelt.”

Written in 2005, the song was supposed to be included on the quartet’s critically acclaimed album, Noontime Show and the follow-up record, Self-Titled, but The Itchyworms felt that it was thematically different and completely ahead of its time. “Time jump to more than 15 years later, I was the only one who had a copy of the demo,” Jugs Jugueta (co-lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion, keyboards) narrates. “Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) happened, and I sent them the demo of ‘Armageddon Blues,’ telling The Itchyworms to release the song, because it captures the somewhat end-of-the-world vibe of our present situation. A couple of weeks into the ECQ, we realized that we’re in this for the long haul, and that we had to do something creative. We decided to write and record a few songs inspired by our experiences during COVID-19.”

The songwriting sessions birthed another single, which already made its rounds on Facebook a week earlier. Following the official release of “Armageddon Blues” on all streaming and digital platforms worldwide a day late, “The Silence” was written by Jugs Jugueta and Jazz Nicolas, and recorded and produced by The Itchyworms entirely during the Enhanced Community Quarantine imposed over Metro Manila due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s what we think everyone is going through right now. Nobody could’ve foreseen 2020 to be like this,” Jugs shares the underlying theme behind the song. Musically, it’s a mish-mash of influences that put Depeche Mode, Radiohead, The Beatles, and The Walking Dead in a blender: The production seethes with soaring builds and nuanced sonic details, but ends abruptly in faded noise—as if the transmission is suddenly lost in the background, its silence “killing us” infinitely and metaphorically.

A “Quarantine” Album

Both songs are part of their upcoming album, Waiting For The End To Start, which was conceptualized and recorded while the members of The Itchyworms were confined in their homes, connected digitally by their resounding “shared” experiences. “Expect it to be unpolished and imperfect,” Jazz describes the new album. “Maybe a little lo-fi. It’s not necessarily all about COVID-19, but this is the result of what we feel during this time. So there’s restlessness, loneliness, boredom, delirium, fear, uncertainty, and all that jazz.”
Chino puts into perspective the concept behind the 8-track release, which will most likely drop sometime in July 2020. “Like any collection of music, it is a record of its time: A snapshot of the artist’s reaction to his or her circumstances. But it’s a concept album in that our aim was to create art in the midst of a pandemic, to capture our emotions in the music we record, even with the limited recording gear we have at home. So you’ll hear amp buzz and imperfect vocals, but for me that’s part of the spirit of true rock.”

Reunion with Sony Music PH

Waiting For The End To Start is their second album to be released under Sony Music Philippines. After their groundbreaking major label opus, Self-Titled, which made an impact in the local music scene at the tail end of 2008, the band was forced to go indie after the label’s short-lived hiatus handling domestic releases.

Speaking of their reignited ties with the international record label, Jugs tells in a statement: “Aside from the fact that we felt a sense of familiarity with Roslyn Pineda of Sony Music PH, as we’ve known her since our college days, we believed that Sony, being an International record company, could help us reach a wider audience. We want to reach new and foreign audiences, because our music is universal and capable of touching several hearts here and abroad.”

Chino adds, “I feel that Sony is a good place to be for an artist. Their team is small but they work hard and have their artists’ interests at heart.”

Armageddon Blues” is now out on various digital and streaming platforms worldwide. “The Silence” was officially released on May 22, 2020.

Image and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release