School Night! featuring:
Why do you listen to music? Entertainment? Distraction? Escapism?
All fair reasons. Certain albums, though, add another, deeper layer: the ability to travel both across continents and through time with a simple click of a Play button.
"Bombay Calling," the sophomore album from Norwegian singer Samsaya, isn't just a genre-busting set of songs drawing from pop, dance, hip hop, funk, soul and Bollywood. It's a long-distance call to the singer's heritage, one that augments modern pop with traditional Indian sounds that'll still fill any club in Miami or Los Angeles, but won't sound like the same clichéd Top 40 songs you've heard for years.
On "Bombay Calling," you hear the up-tempo funk of "Stereotype" and bubbly synths of "Superhero" clash against the grinding, industrial pop of "Good With the Bad" and R&B synths-meets-Indian percussion of the title track. Produced by multi-platinum-selling Roc Nation producer Fred Ball, the album fits alongside your favorite Rihanna, M.I.A. and Amy Winehouse records, with a twist.
"I like to make music that comes from an emotional place, and sometimes, that may not sound pretty, and I don't think it necessarily should," says Samsaya from her home in Norway. "It's okay for it to sound a little ugly. The music is about pureness."
This extends to "Bombay Calling"'s lyrics, which draw on the singer's experiences "growing up feeling Norwegian but not looking stereotypically Norwegian." "A lot of people are run by fear and I try to infuse so much love that you don't have to fear," the singer says. "Music is an architect with the power to build bridges. It meets you at the dance floor but it still makes you think and connects your heart."
Influenced by everyone from Mary J. Blige and TLC to OutKast and famed Indian singer Asha Bhosle, Samsaya, whose name means "doubt" in Hindi, has "always questioned everything," writing reactionary, iconoclastic lyrics as a child. "At 12, I heard Dinah Washington's 'I'm Mad About the Boy' and hearing that trumpet-type voice, something happened to me," recalls the singer. "Religious lyrics and traditional music didn't touch me. This moved me." Eschewing her parents' pleas to play classical Indian music in favor of more beat-driven tracks, Samsaya released "Shedding Skin," her debut album, in 2004, and has released a steady stream of singles since.
While her parents have accepted her career choice ("Two years ago, they handed me employment forms for various jobs"), Samsaya's rebellious streak remains. When major labels asked the singer to fix a three-millimeter gap between her two front teeth, she refused and named her own record label 3 Millimeter Records. "I thought my teeth were the prettiest, coolest thing about me," the singer says. "It later became a big symbol to me of self-perception and not compromising."
This extends to Samsaya's live performance, which always features a heart painted over her left eye. "It's a reminder that everything I meet and see, I will look upon with my heart and see it with an open mind," says the singer. "The first thing people see is the face and I was always hoping people would see beyond that. I started wearing what was inside of me on the outside."
"Heart" and "soul." Two words oft overused, but on "Bombay Calling," wholly appropriate. On "Breaking Bad", a song that could easily fit in any Top 40 radio station, generic pop tropes are replaced with the singer's upending of traditional gender and ethnic roles. It's heady stuff for pop music, but not unusual for Samsaya's strong beliefs.
Catchy pop music and smart lyricism don't have to be mutually exclusive. "Bombay Calling" is living proof.
“The four of us taught each other how to play music”, says lead vocalist Grayson Proctor. “We turned an old church sanctuary into our own base camp, and we would get together almost every day and learn how to play, perform, and write. There was a while where we were at the sanctuary more than we were our own homes. It was all we wanted to do.”
Based in Nashville, the electro-rock band started building buzz with 2012's Rebel Hill EP. Paste Magazine featured Vinyl Thief as a Band You Should Listen to Now. Killing the Cabinet described Rebel Hill as "sprinty choruses which are magnified by the effortless wide-range vocals shifting transitions fluidly into hip hop beats and lofty bridges." The guys then took their live show on the road in 2013, opening for the likes of the Joy Formidable, Little Green Cars, Youngblood Hawke, and Wild Cub. They also performed at CMJ and SXSW. In February, Vinyl Thief released “Stop Motion.” A four-song preview to the band’s upcoming full-length, “Fathoms. The EP has fans and critics eager to hear more, with support pouring out from the likes of VICE’s Noisey, Paste Magazine,Diffuser.fm, and The Deli Magazine, who coined the new release “so completely, flawlessly realized…”
The new songs are snapshots of a tumultuous year. They explore and realize the process required to get through and get on with life. It ends with redemption, of sorts: realizing that things will be different, but still, it will be all right. “If this song is any indication, their upcoming full-length is going to be a work of immense weight and power.” - New York Minute (on the single, Smooth).
The band is - Grayson Proctor (vocals, synth), Logan Purdom (guitar), Sam English (keys), & Andrew Broadway (drums).
BLKKATHY wants to make your booty bounce and ruin your makeup.
BLKKATHY is a Brooklyn-based duo, sometimes trio, of ladies who like to sing sad songs over very heavy bass beats. These are dance songs, so its okay to cry.
Doppel Gang exists because Dan Edinberg saw Graham Norwood perform time and time again as a backup vocalist all over NYC for years, and kept thinking "Graham has pipes bigger than that organ at St. Patrick's cathedral, he's gotta be a lead singer!" Dan was busy from 2010-2013 producing albums and touring full-time as bassist, keyboardist, and vocalist with The Stepkids, an influential psych-soul trio he co-founded. During a much needed hiatus from touring in early 2014 for Dan, Doppel Gang had the chance to bloom into a full-on project with Dan and Graham hunkering down in the studio day after day finding a magic musical chemistry. They've managed to craft a sound entirely their own but of course owing much to the greats that came before them: Hall and Oates, Kraftwerk, Chic, Rick James, Prince, Justin Timberlake, The Neptunes, and Steely Dan all come to mind, to name a few. Mass funk appeal is what Doppel Gang is all about. They will continue to hone in on their unique blend of funk music well into the millennium with their first full-length LP dropping in early 2015.
Guest DJ: Garth Trinidad (KCRW)
Trinidad is an award winning radio personality, celebrated international DJ, artist, and culture critic. Buoyantly molded by a novel 1980's hip-hop, skate punk upbringing in Los Angeles, his creative approach is psychedelic and philosophical. He has introduced the world to such artists as Little Dragon and Janelle Monae, interviewed the likes of Quincy Jones and Yoko Ono, is credited in part with shaping LA's modern music landscape, and regarded by press and peers as a key influencer of global music culture. Garth is currently crafting of a new genre of music dubbed Lit-House with DJ/production partner Mateo Senolia, with a debut EP release titled “Postcards From Strangers” on Yoruba Records from 2013. He can be heard most weeknights from 8-10pm on NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9fm playing his critically acclaimed international mix of music.